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Living In Love In The Year Of The Tiger

Mastering the curves of Topanga

Illustration by Popularium

By Asa Beal

The only time I’ve driven the lush curves of Topanga Canyon was in a black 2014 Audi A5 Quattro while receiving a hand job. I can’t say whether the last two facts were connected then, but they sure seem that way now.

I spent the day with my then-girlfriend Angie, hiking and playing in the Malibu sunshine. We had braved 90 minutes of shitty LA traffic, so we dropped our pants and bags and sprinted into the ocean as soon as we got to the beach.

Angie was wearing a hot black one-piece swimsuit, which hugged her butt tightly. I made sure she knew it. We put our towels together and lounged: dozing, chatting and enjoying the elements. We read Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus aloud to each other, which is difficult to do without putting your hands all over someone. We reminisced about a particular afternoon we’d spent on the smooth, sun-baked bank of a glacial lake in Montana three months before. I verbally admired the swimsuit’s fit again.

At about four o’clock we shook out our towels and meandered back to the car. It was a rental, sure, but I felt a certain pride walking up to the Quattro and casually tossing our belongings in the trunk. The car was as sleek as a panther. Everything felt substantial. The soft, thick leather of the steering wheel begged for a gentle touch; the engine’s natural rumble was backed up by Audi’s turbocharged powerplant; and the 505-watt Bang & Olufsen sound system bumped harder than anyone would ever need.

After dallying a bit to make out on the shoulder of the PCH, I stomped down on the gas and headed south toward Topanga Canyon. The plan was to traverse the canyon and a stretch of Mulholland Highway as the sun set, affording million dollar views and landing us back in town around dinnertime.

Angie was acting navigator and official DJ, and as the trip consisted mainly of one left turn followed by a winding highway, she busied herself choosing the music.

“Do you remember me telling you about St. Vincent?” she asked.

“Um, yeah, think so,” I said. I was distracted by navigating a sharp S-curve much faster than I normally would have because the Quattro absolutely devoured the turns. I had to feed the beast. I could tell it was a car begging for its power to be unleashed.

The album, Strange Mercy by St. Vincent, was mesmerizing. The emphatic drum beats abetted my lead-footed tendencies. The ethereal guitars and strings fit the atmosphere of wooded bungalows and soft light. And the haunting vocal stylings of Annie Clark made the already romantic drive steamier still.

I’m not sure when the fooling around started, but before I knew it my shorts were halfway down and the ticking snare drums of “Surgeon” mirrored Angie’s subtle yet powerful stroking. First she used the taut cotton of my briefs to transmit her touch. Then there was nothing between our skin, her hands employing a direct approach. I stretched my trembling left thumb forward and turned up the volume.

My breath was coming in short bursts as her hand grew more forceful. The S-curves deepened, the road narrowed, but strangely the driving got easier. I held the wheel gently, leaning forward into the turn and the pleasing pressure. I practiced isolating the intense pleasure, fighting the urge to close my eyes and fully absorb the friction now aided by slippery saliva. I lasered my focus, locking my gaze on the swerving double-yellow line and accelerating with purpose through each turn.

St. Vincent poured out of the speakers. By the time “Year of the Tiger” with its heart-thumping bass and hypnotic chorus came on, my knees were locking up and my grip on the wheel was sweaty. St. Vincent was crashing cymbals like wave breaks. Angie was working harder than ever, encouraging me with the words she knew I wanted to hear. My breaths were spaced apart even further, each rattling exhale accompanied by a muddled vowel sound.

Moments away from coming, I saw a scenic overlook and screeched off the road, skidding into view of the burning sunset. I slammed the Quattro into park, and reached behind my head, pulling the headrest so hard the seat creaked and pressed into my back. My feet pressed the floor and I drew one deep final inhale, holding it in for one, two, three, four, beats… until the tension flowed out in a flood of warmth, ruining a beach towel and sending us into a fit of giggles.

Originally published at on November 3, 2016.

Popularium is a publisher of stories, videos, and podcasts based on our writer’s actual experiences.