While Tim was virtually sequestered in the training camp, Sharon participated in the many activities of her boat-mates, even including a game of underwater hockey in a large swimming pool. She also pursued what she jokingly called her movie career.
On the latter score, it soon became obvious that she couldn’t even act the part of a waitress who did nothing more than repeat the orders of customers. As she said to Diana, “You’d think anyone would be able to do that !”
“Actors learn to project themselves for the stage or the camera. If an actress playing the part of a waitress did the same thing in a real restaurant, she’d irritate the customers and be fired on the first night.”
“So I’d make a better waitress. That’s comforting.”
Diana replied, “Our idea is just to get a lot of shots of you being yourself. Once selected and doctored, these will be the glimpses that drive your lesbian pursuer to distraction.”
“So I don’t even have to use lipstick and make-up?”
“No. The photo-shop people will do those things better than you could. At the start, all you have to do is hang out with me among the young people at the beach, and in the cafes. We won’t even know when we’re being photographed.”
“I take it you’re not the lesbian pursuer.”
“No. According to the plot, she doesn’t get to be with you at the beginning. She only sees you now and then in the crowd. Like Aschenbach with Tadzio. I’m the mature older friend and advisor.”
“Okay. I can accept that.”
“Later on, after she starts following you, there’ll be a night scene on a deserted island where your character undresses and goes for a swim. But the body double can do that if it’s difficult for you.”
“I’ll certainly have a go at it. I’m a decent swimmer, but I may not unhook my bra in the right way.”
“That much I can teach you.”
The next day, Sharon met her body double, obviously a model. They both laughed at the dissimilarity between them. Among other things, the model, Francie, could never have passed for a lesbian. When Sharon pointed that out to Diana, she replied,
“With the things we can do with photography, lighting, and photoshop, no one will know that she’s a different person.”
When they were alone, Francie said to Sharon,
“I don’t get enough lingerie modeling jobs to support life, so I screw for the camera. On and on and on.”
“Don’t you get sore?”
“Lots of lubricant. It wouldn’t be possible without it. I know it sounds awful, but it’s a quick way of making money, and it’s better than living in Kansas.”
“Can you get better modeling jobs?”
“I’d certainly like to, but the competition’s pretty intense. This area’s overrun with beautiful girls.”
“Yeah, my brother says the NFL is overrun with great athletes.”
“Diana told me about him. That’s really neat.”
“The lucky thing is that he has a niche as a punter. A quirky little thing that every team needs.”
“Quirks and niches are good things. I’d love to be the world’s best model for earrings.”
Hanging out with Diana was fun and instructive. Looking over the beach from a café, Diana remarked, “There are a million young people with hardly a thought in their heads, which is natural enough. There are also quite a few handsome athletic men in their thirties, and even forties, who think they’ll never get old.”
“There are a couple around our marina. They get so much admiration from the ladies that it may blind them to everything else.”
“They probably can string it out for quite a while. But, will attractive women flock to the bed of a man in his seventies?”
Sharon wasn’t sure, but it seemed barely possible. Just then, she did happen to notice a photographer in the distance with some sort of special camera.
The desert isle was a lot more genuine in appearance than they had any right to expect. Right in the middle of Mission Bay, a major tourist destination, it was a former sandbar which had been bull-dozed and dredged into a little horse-shoe shaped islet with a narrow opening into the lagoon. Almost no one visited it, and, at night, the scene was entirely deserted. The script called for Sharon to kayak to the isle at dusk while her lover would secretly follow in another kayak. It was to be a scene full of shadows and deep foreboding, with the young lady having only an inkling of the sinister intentions of her would-be lover.
Since the film was being shot in disconnected parts, the lover, an LA actress, wouldn’t be in the present filming at all. Indeed, the pursuer and the pursued, would, in fact, be separated by some hundred miles and a week or two in time. Moreover, Sharon, far from being victimized, could easily have beaten off the supposed predator. But, she was assured, that wouldn’t occur to the viewers. The upshot was that Francie wouldn’t be needed in San Diego at all if Sharon could handle the sequence.
Sharon, plunked down among professional kayakers, had already put her natural ability to good use, becoming a competent paddler. She looked good in a kayak, and, followed by a power-boat full of lights and cameras, she paddled to the islet.
As Sharon beached her kayak on the sand bordering the lagoon and hopped out of it, she realized that there were a million variables in what was to come, but she was told that they would repeat the process at least three times before deciding whether to call in Francie. She knew well that movie people often shot a scene a dozen or more times, but it was thought that she wouldn’t have that much patience.
While the equipment was being unloaded from the boat and they waited for just the right degree of darkness, Ted pointed out where Sharon should stand and face as she removed her clothes. When the signal came, she unbuttoned her blouse deliberately, laid it carefully on the sand, and slid her shorts down. In white nylon panties and bra, chosen for their look of innocence, she went to the water and dipped her toe in. Suspense was to be created by suggesting that she might go in without undressing further. Then, as if on second thought, she moved away from the water, turned partly to the camera, and got slowly out of her bra while taking pains to stand erect.
Turning away again, Sharon briefly wondered what the form was for panty removal. It would obviously be a mistake to bend away from the camera and yank them down. Characters in a movie might moon one another, but she didn’t think they were supposed to moon the camera, and hence the audience. In the end, she executed what she took to be a lady-like maneuver, and tossed the garment on top of her other clothes. She then ran into the water. Before she got her hair wet, Ted called a cut and Sharon waded out to Diana, who was holding a large towel.
Everyone seemed favorably surprised, including Francie, who said she wouldn’t be able to do it better. In the end, they did the sequence three times. They also did some shots of Sharon wading out of the water.
Ted had it in mind to show Sharon, still naked, as she was surprised by the appearance of the second kayak. However, showing surprise turned out to be too challenging for Sharon. Moreover, Francie wasn’t enough of an actress to do convincing facial expressions on demand. It was decided to get an actress in LA who looked a little like Sharon to do that.
When the training camp finally broke up, the rest of the group had already been in residence on the boat for some time, and had adjusted to the local culture. Arriving with Tim was Enoch Maddox, who had rented a condo in the city, but was visiting out of curiosity about the boat and the members of Tim’s group.
Sharon knew from her telephone conversations with Tim that Enoch was a famous player, but knew little else about him. He first struck her as someone older than his age, only 28, but she supposed that it was because of what he had experienced. He was also very quiet for such a prominent person, and seemed almost whimsical at times.
According to Tim, they were both in trouble for good things they had done. In the last so-called ‘pre-season’ game, Enoch, trapped after a short completion, had thrown a long lateral pass across the field to a lineman who rumbled for a first down. The coaches didn’t want people throwing dangerous laterals, and regarded it as inexcusable showboating.
Tim, after fumbling a long snap from center, had picked up the ball, raced to the right sideline, and then gone twenty yards downfield for a first down before being knocked out of bounds. He was criticized for fumbling the snap through lack of concentration. Moreover, since he had been claiming to be too hamstring hampered to run fast, he was now shown to be a malingerer.
Sharon said, “I bet being knocked out of bounds wasn’t gentle.”
“It was a bit of a jolt. It’s the speed of these guys that magnifies the impacts.”
“Too many of those, and you’ll have a permanent limp.”
They then turned to more general issues concerning football, and Enoch said,
“We’re really in the entertainment business and the old maxim that any publicity is good publicity comes close to being true. So my practice is to download certain controversial statements on to carefully selected news people.”
Sharon asked, “Why selected ones?”
“First, you need one who’ll quote you accurately and not make up quotes for you. That’s not so common.”
“Having picked the right one, you want to give the others only the barest information, so that they won’t like you. Their criticism of you in print will then spark interest and controversy.”
Sharon laughed happily at the thought of discomforted sports reporters, and asked what kinds of statements were to be funneled out to the public.
“The first criterion is that they be true, so that they can subsequently be defended.”
“The second is that they be such uncomfortable truths that the NFL commissioner, on reading them, will be unable to achieve sexual intercourse for some little time.”
Sharon replied, “It must be fun to sit around thinking up such things.”
“It is. And there’s a special reason just now that I’ve discussed with Tim. Go, Tim.”
Tim replied, “The reason football players are ruined is that, when they should retire, monetary greed keeps tempting them into one more year.”
“Just so. I’m consequently going to say some things that may force
my retirement even if I weaken later on. I’m suggesting to Tim that he
do the same thing.”
Her movie career having already been discussed in the group, Sharon said,
“I could be in a somewhat similar position, but, apart from having the wrong body, I’m too inept as an actress to be sucked even into the pornography industry. I can’t imagine what a person with the right porno body could say to disqualify herself.”
Enoch, looking surprised, said, “I’ve always assumed that, given any industry or institution, there would be some truths that it couldn’t handle. But you may have found an exception.”
“Is pornography then uniquely without hypocrisy?”
Everyone laughed, but the possibility remained on the table.
They had been sitting on deck during this time, and, as the other residents of the boat came up, a party developed around them. After a few beers, the kayak instructors began making fun of their clients, one of the female instructors doing an imitation of a fictional ‘Tawni’ with her boyfriend. Tawni wiggled, delivered a flirty look over her shoulder, and said, “I think all these kayak men are like awesome.”
Off to the side, Sharon asked Enoch if he thought that there would be things that kayak instructors couldn’t say. He replied, “Oh yes. No instructor in anything will drive away paying clients by telling them that they’re hopeless. Even if they are.”
“I think people are sometimes told that.”
“It’ll happen in a ghetto school. But, even in a relaxed organization like the one run by our kayak friends here, it wouldn’t be tolerated.”
“Come to think of it, a porn star might turn off a good part of her audience by making fun of macho sexuality, or, more subtly, by being publicly outspoken against gun ownership.”
Enoch replied, “There you are!”
“It does sound as if greed might tempt someone who has talent to get so deeply into pornography that she wouldn’t say such things.”
“Do you really have no acting talent?”