words by Mark Teppo
music by Cecil Beatty-Yasutake
The Hour of Seduction
"I believe in long, slow, deep, wet kisses that last three days."
|--Crash Davis in Bull Durham|
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we're all hungry for a little affection. In this post-WTO riot-blasted Pacific Northwest, the winter rains have come down hard and we're all holed up inside waiting for Y2K and those sixteen days of summer sun that are too long in coming. And we all hate being indoors, 'cause there is nothing to do. Well, actually there is; we've just all forgotten how to do it. The best part of winter is seeing how long you can keep your hands off your partner before either of your heads explode.
It's a little something called foreplay and no, I'm not talking about taking off your clothes after you turn off the light and before you pull the sheets over your naked, freezing body. I'm talking about the build-up of desire that threatens to consume you, that threatens to make you walk into traffic because all you can think of is someone's neck or shoulder or curve of jaw. I'm talking about that rushing around your apartment an hour before your date arrives. How many times do you check yourself in the mirror? How quickly do you scoop the dirty clothes under the bed and promise yourself not to take your date in there? (At least not too early in the evening.) How many compact discs do you select and discard for whatever reason because they just don't seem to fit the mood that you are about to invite someone into?
We'll call it an hour. Some women will argue that a man doesn't understand enough about foreplay to last ten minutes--forget about an hour. I'll retaliate by pointing out that some women don't acknowledge that foreplay can start two weeks earlier. Either way, we'll settle on an hour because that is all the time we have. You have sixty minutes to set the mood. What will you play?
Here's a funny observation: most of the eP staff laughed and said, "Roxy Music's Avalon," without even blinking. Cecil admitted to not knowing it well enough to sing any note. We're guessing Sabrina's got an hour that'll starch a preacher man's hair white (and we're talking every hair on his body). Mark is partial to Peter Gabriel's Passion and a stack of discs he's keeping from Cecil.
The point is: everyone's got a different idea of what an hour of musical foreplay could and should be. Our intents--our goals--for that hour are different. Okay, probably not. But our methods of reaching those goals are unique and our music will reflect that individuality. As it should reflect our understanding of the person who is going to be joining us.
This hour isn't a solitary one, and your tint--your aural shade--will be colored by another person's participation. Because foreplay is a multi-player game. If it isn't, then you're listening to '70s slap funk bass and watching pornos while jerking off with a hand-puppet and telling yourself what a handsome little bitch you are. At least, that is what the guys are doing. The ladies must be watching Ally McBeal or something. (Which is about the only way I can fathom the number of viewers that it is continuing to pull in every week.) So this choice of music reflects the impression you believe it will have on that other person.
Pressure's really on for that first date now, isn't it?
Let's turn that stopcock a bit and let some steam off with a dry reading from Webster's. "Foreplay: sexual stimulation of a person, intended as a prelude to sexual intercourse." Other than that deliciously sibilant alliteration in the beginning, that sentence will, with its clinical precision, reduce any chance of the "fore" leading to "play." If we focus on the "fore" and clean up that phrase for the Bible Belt, we've got simple stimulation. And, as we all know, stimulation is never simple.
(A topical joke which will never increase your chances of getting lucky if told in a "fore" situation: What is the redneck definition of foreplay? "Get in the truck, bitch." You should save that one for your pals at the water cooler.)
Nothing is ever simple. Well, deciding to buy CDs over paying bills and blowing opportunities with potential paramours never seem to be all that hard. But this hour where you set up your "play" is doubly complicated because you've decided to move beyond verbal communication. This is the big body language arena and we're still big, clumsy apes at our genetic cores. Which means that we fire up all our senses in an effort to understand what is being left unsaid. And since your date is paying more (unconscious) attention aurally, you have an opportunity to make an influence through what he or she hears.
I made a series of tapes back in college called Seduction, wherein I made an attempt to set the mood without raising any suspicion in my intended love's head. (And no, I didn't label the tape. Duh!) But I found that the proper music would make all the difference in the course of an evening. (Naturally, I thought I was the first person to figure this out. Come on, we're all geniuses before we hit 21 and realize there is no way we're going to change the world.) But the realization that was pounded into my thick skull was that the journey was--and should be--equally enjoyable to the destination. Which would you rather have? A ten minute drive in the Range Rover to the top of the mountain or a three-hour hike that made you faint with exhaustion but left you totally drained and satiated when you reached that peak? And the best part of that hike? It's considered training and toning and all those other exercise-related words that make you think of tight buttocks and firm calves and flat abs and well-rounded shoulders and arms.
Foreplay can't be rushed. Which aggravates every one of us. We're too busy, too rushed to be bothered with anything that has to take time. In the same time that you can trace the curve of your lover's neck and the hair at the base of their skull with every one of your fingers (separately), you can probably skin a goose, generate a respectable stock portfolio by trading online, repack the bearings in the wheel hubs of your well-used mountain bike, call your mother, and watch three videos on MTV. If you can do all that in the time it takes me to fully acquaint my fingers with a woman's neck, I feel for you; you're missing out on something spectacular.
It's a fading art, much like knowing your way around the Dewey Decimal cataloguing system at your local library. But unlike antiquated archiving schemes, foreplay is an integral part of the creative process which pushes people to make music. Prince (sorry, "The Artist Formerly Known as Prince") didn't sit down and write any number of songs that are applicable to this hour because he thought that he'd make a million or two selling these albums as soundtracks to the "fuck tint." (Oh wait, he did.) He wrote these songs because of the way he felt; it was the ways and means of his foreplay. And the racks and the rosters are full of artists who hold the same belief. They make music for passionate reasons. And we listen for passionate reasons as well.
Sex is becoming like doing the drive-thru at McDonald's. "You think I could get a Happy Meal out here?" It's quick, unimaginative, you order off the menu, it's always the same, and you're home and in bed in less than twenty minutes. What ever happened to the six course meal and the brandy snifter by the fireplace afterward? We've forgotten how to slow down long enough to even ask if the other person is having a good time.
The pace of foreplay is to remind you of the exquisite moments when you want to touch, but can't. When you want to lick, but the batter isn't ready. When you want to tear the tape, but you need to save the wrapping paper for next year. How fast? How tortuously, languorously slow? You set the pace. You put on a disc and what comes out of the speakers and fills the dark corners of your candlelit room is the tempo of the evening. The choice is yours. Fill a whole hour. S t r e t c h i t o u t.
And hey, if you ask us nicely enough we'll make you a tape. You can put it on and, as you take a breather from that first kiss, your date will glance over at the stereo and say, "Hey, this is pretty good. What compilation is this?" And you'll answer, "I got it from Earpollution." And your date will raise a shapely eyebrow and ask, "You read Earpollution, too?" And your answer will be the equivalent of an in-the-park home run. Because your friend--sorry, new lover--is obviously a person of extremely discerning taste and refinement.
00:00:30 - The time it takes for her to say "yes" and for the echo of her voice to fade from the room.
Branford Marsalis "Peacocks" Renaissance