[oasis] [arts]

Tickle Me Boyfriend

by Kevin Isom

My current beau and I had outrageous sex the other night. Yeah, I was outraged that he wanted it that late.

The next morning, as I stumbled into the shower, trying to wake myself up for a semi-productive day, I heard an ad on the television for Tickle Me Elmo. Anyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows Elmo as this year's over-hyped toy craze, a furry red doll that talks and laughs when you squeeze his tummy. Come to think of it, my current beau has a bit of a furry tummy, and he laughs when you tickle him.

And that's when it hit me.

If they can make a Tickle Me Elmo, then why not a Tickle Me Boyfriend?

It would be the perfect accessory to any relationship. For those special moments when you're not feeling too special, you could give your partner an alternative to human interaction, a stand-in, a substitute--a grown-up pacifier. A Tickle Me Boyfriend.

Just think about it. For gay men, it could be a life size doll that looks like Tom Cruise, and when you stroke his abs, he says, "Your mission is possible." Or he might look like Antonio Sabato, Jr., who murmurs sexily, "I'm not wearing my Calvins." Although, come to think of it, who would really care what Antonio Sabato, Jr. says as long, as he's murmuring sexily?

For lesbians, there could be a Tickle Me Girlfriend. She might look like Catherine Deneuve (the younger version), and when you caress her toned tummy she purrs, "I have a hunger." Or perhaps instead she might look like Melissa Etheridge, and croon, "Come to my window." (Though it's hard to resist the temptation to have her say "Come on my window" instead. But we would never sink to that level of pun.) Of course, with her fabulously raspy voice, Tickle Me Melissa could double as a handy vibrating massage tool.

Wouldn't it all be great?

But things wouldn't stop there.

In the near future, I expect to see other toys on the market competing with Elmo. And the same would doubtless be true of Tickle Me Boyfriend and Tickle Me Girlfriend. Over time, the dolls would likely become more and more specialized.

For the S & M crowd, there would be Slap Me Joe. And for the gay yuppie, there would be Decorate My House Antoine. And for the circuit party crowd, there would be Shave My Chest Rick.

Not to be left out, for the flirty girl, how about a Finger Me Jill? Or for the more serious gal, a Strap Me Down K.D. or a Cuddle Me Martina? Or for the closeted woman, the I Can't Decide Ellen. Soon, unfortunately, to be the My Show's Been Canceled Ellen.

For the super-rural crowd, there might be a whole range of Tickle Me Barnyard Animals, though they would have to be by mail order only and not available in some states.

The possibilities are mind-boggling. And that's when I really started to think. Which, with me, can be a dangerous thing.

If we were to extend the tickle me concept to the, ahem, animal lovers (and everyone knows those are heterosexual folks anyway), then why not broaden the concept to include heterosexuals in general? What a difference it could make in some of their lives! Just imagine.

For poor, beleaguered Hillary Rodham Clinton, how about a Talk to Me Eleanor Roosevelt? And for Bill? Well, he's had too many toys already, between Tickle Me Genifer Flowers and Tickle Me Paula Jones. Both of which, incidentally, came with extra big hair.

Crossing party lines, in a spirit of equal (mis)treatment, God knows Liddy Dole could use a Tickle Me Bob about now. And Newt Gingrich? I suppose no doll could be that desperate, even if Newt does look like Santa Claus, with his white hair, ever-growing waistline, and rosy red cheeks. (Scary thought, ain't it? Like Santa Claus' evil twin.) Though I'm not ruling out a Paddle Me Candace for him, just for the fun of it.

The entire world could be changed by the tickle me phenomenon, and as usual with any major fashion or art trend, it would have begun with gays and lesbians. A brighter, funnier, just-let-me-sleep world. Where boyfriends and girlfriends are always happy and satisfied, and joy is only a tummy stroke away.

Puts Elmo in a whole new light, doesn't it? And I'm just tickled at the thought.

Kevin Isom is a syndicated travel writer and humor columnist. His short story "The Fern Cellar" appears in the Winter issue of The Baltimore Review.

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