It was a little after 7pm. Sara was still fast asleep on my bed. I stopped reading “Sophie’s Choice” because I thought it might look tacky to kill myself in front of a guest. The sun had set. The temperature was probably 85°F. I had done periodic wellness checks on Sara and confirmed that, while she wasn’t dead, she wasn’t smelling very good.
Ten minutes later, I woke her up. Without saying a word, she sat up, drank the entire carafe of water I left on the nightstand and flopped back onto the bed. Staring at the ceiling, she looked puzzled and asked, “Did I pee on myself?”
“Yes. Yes, you did.”
“What’s that smell?”
“That would be you.”
“Really? That can’t be….oh…..Mama Bear’s very embarrassed.”
“Here, take a few towels. Take more than a few. The shower’s a couple doors down from the bathroom where, based on the sound effects, you had your supernatural encounter with the Colon Fairy.”
“Okay. Thank you. Oh, ick, ick, ick.”
“I believe a mandatory wardrobe change is in your immediate future. I present to you the latest in very fashionable t-shirts and gym shorts. You shall be the Belle of the Ball. You’ll shame all the other girls. All the boys will be enchanted and will serenade you with songs of their eternal love and admiration.”
She was gingerly walking down the hall to the shower carrying a white polo shirt and black gym shorts while muttering,”Ick, ick, ick, gross, ick, ick….”
Did you and Lukey have a tiff? You hardly mentioned him. And, since when did you start wearing skin-tight jeans and half a t-shirt? Who are you trying to impress with the white-trash, trailer-park wardrobe?
I wondered how Luke felt about it. Luke had a heart of gold and was built specifically to provide comfort and joy to the world. He was Dudley Do-Right in thought and deed. But, he was controlling in his effusively positive and highly proper way. Luke was very conservative in manner and appearance. When they first started dating, he mentioned admiring Sara for not dressing provocatively and for wearing no make-up. I thought the new look would have gotten under his skin.
Luke liked to control his environment and the people in it. Sara never seemed to be someone who wanted to be controlled. She was smart, independent and didn’t care what anyone thought of her. Luke was smart, highly dependent and deeply concerned about the opinions of others.
I didn’t see Sara lasting very long as the demure, semi-subservient girlfriend. On the other hand, they were nauseatingly gaga for each other which can mitigate many conflicting agendas.
Until the day comes when it can’t.
Sara re-emerged from the shower. My polo shirt went down to her knees. She was wearing my gym shorts but they were covered by the shirt. I found this look much more endearing than the “Linda-Lou-Looking-to-get-Laid” outfit she had been wearing earlier.
I smiled at her and said, “I do like this ensemble on you very much.”
She twirled and imitated a runway model as she strutted down the hall.
“Should we track down your lesser half?”
“He’s going to be sooooo mad at me-yeee. Told him we’d be back after lunch. Mama’s in big trouble.”
“Well, I’ll testify on your behalf vis-a-vis the religious experience you had in the bathroom. He’ll understand.”
Sara shot me a grimace that said he wouldn’t.
“He worries. Then his imagination goes wild. Then he gets insecure. Then he thinks I’ve left him forever. Then he thinks I’ll have sex with all the men in town because they’re better at it than him. Then he thinks everyone’s lying to him. Then he gets angry. Then he pouts. Then he won’t talk. Then he’ll tell me how tormented his life is when he has to wonder if I’ll ever come back. Then we’ll have sex. Then he’ll tell me he’s going somewhere for an hour but some back two hours late just so I can experience the same torture which I don’t. Then he gets insecure again because I didn’t suffer. Then he says he loves me more than I love him. Then we argue….”
“Well, at least there’s a little love making amidst the drama.”
She shrugged. “He tries too hard. I wish he could relax and play and just let it happen. He puts too much pressure on himself.”
“Sounds like our Lukey. He’s going to grit his teeth and achieve inner peace no matter how many times he has to beat his head against the wall.”
She hugged me. I hugged back. She began to cry. We kept hugging and she kept crying. This went on for a few minutes. I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t say anything. There’s a great line from the movie Glengarry Glen Ross when All Pacino tells Kevin Spacey, “You never open your mouth until you know what the shot is.”
This is excellent advice.
And, at that moment, I had no idea what the hell was going on. Whatever was weighing on her far exceeded the standard annoyances that accompany couples navigating the tunnel of love for the first time. I figured she’d elaborate if she wanted.
We hit the road to Sara and Luke’s place in their open-air World War II Jeep. Sara drove which was unfortunate because she drove like shit. It never occurred to her that one might gradually disengage the clutch when changing gears. As was the case for every other driver in Mexico, she only applied the brakes as a last resort in order to keep the jeep from flipping over because she was taking sharp turns at 90 miles an hour. Plus, the jeep, as was the case with every other car in Mexico, had no shocks. The road to their place, as was the case with every other road in Mexico, qualified as a road-hazard. Sara did a magnificent job finding every pothole and driving directly into it which was an experience made even more rewarding by the fact that the springs supporting the seats had completely rusted.
One hundred yards from a huge police station, while driving 150 miles per hour, Sara turned right and slammed on the brakes to avoid hitting a tree. Things went flying forward, me included. My forehead hit the windshield. After stopping, Sara, without saying one word, immediately backed up, navigated past the tree and we arrived at a small house shaped like a box.
Sara glanced at me. “They really need to get rid of the tree”
Do you mean the tree 20′ left of the driveway? The driveway you’re supposed to be driving on?
“They really should have someone read you your last rites before letting you drive.” I muttered that to myself.
“Oh, nothing. Am I bleeding from my forehead?”
“Yeah. Seen worse. You’re fine. Gives your pretty little face some character. Welcome to the Emperor’s Place. His Hiney might be asleep. Poor Dear left to save the world at 4:00 this morning. He’s probably upstairs.”
“Will I be disturbing the Emperor?”
“Nah, he wants to see you.” She opened the door and yelled, “Oh, Ricky, I’m home! Babba-Lou! I got some ‘splaining to doooo.”
I tried, loudly. “Yes, hi. I’m your regional Angel of Death. Our records indicate you should have died nine months ago. Bit of a clerical error on our actuarial table. So, I mean, it’s totally not your fault for still being alive….so that’s good. And, uh, just wondering if you might come down for a, uh, word.”
Sara shrugged. “Guess Mama needs to wake him up. Cerveza in the fridge. Food galore. Don’t go away-yee.”
Again, acting the part of a runway model, she sashayed upstairs. I grabbed a beer, sat on an exceptionally comfortable bean bag chair and listened to fifteen minutes of emphatic whispering. I was too comfortable to care and started drifting to sleep. A very contrite and weepy Sara came back down, told me Lukey was really angry and she felt it was all her fault. She was upset and apologetic.
“It’s not your fault. The fault falls squarely upon the hand grenade you had for lunch.”
“I’m soooo sorry. I need to talk to him but I can give you a ride back to the hotel later if that’s okay. I’m soooo sorry. I’ve been a terrible…..”
“You’ve been wonderful. Not terrible in the least. I’m happy to see you and, someday…, hopefully…, Lukey. I’m incredibly relaxed and incapable of moving. All is JFG. Go ahead and straighten out the young man. You’ll know where to find me.”
She bent down and kissed me on the lips. Not a long kiss but not a quick one, either. She followed up by taking my hand and kissing the back of it. She stood up and asked, “What’s JFG?”
“Jolly Fucking Good, of course.”
She laughed and shook her head.
I smiled. “Bonne nuit, ma Chère.”
“Night, night…and…love yeeeew.”
A kiss on the lips, a kiss on my hand and an awkward, “Love you.”
I considered all this very seriously for about eight seconds. Then, I fell asleep. Only to wake up an hour later listening to the young lovebirds who had, evidently, resolved their differences and decided to mark the occasion by having sex. Loudly. Their bedroom door was open and the bed springs sounded like they were connected to speakers you’d normally use at a Metallica concert. The entire house had no carpet so the sound of every breath, utterance, groan, kiss, thrust and position change ricocheted off the hardwood floor at full volume.
Speaking of the cartoon noises people make during sex, I remember another time I was in Mexico. It was the early 2000s. I was in Mexico City on a business trip. I was on the top floor of a 40 story hotel. I had eaten the guacamole earlier that day and I was sick as a dog. I couldn’t even stand up due to nausea. I couldn’t crawl more than five feet from the bathroom for fear of throwing up all over the hotel’s carpet. It felt as if I had a fever of 135°. I had my head on the tiled floor in hopes of cooling off. My entire body felt like I was being visited by the Cactus Fairy.
Guacamole on the rebound, by the way, leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t taste any better the second time. Thought I’d let you know that. If you intend on throwing up later in the day then best to steer clear of the guacamole.
Based on the noises coming from the next room, I must have been in the suite next to the honeymoon suite.
The couple occupying the honeymoon suite were busily consummating matters but I think they were new at this sort of thing because this was a very unrefined attempt at love making. It sounded like one of those professional wrestling matches where one guy gets body-slammed, then the other guy crashes onto a table, then they hit each other on the head with folding chairs, and then they try to pin each other. Pictures were falling from the walls, luggage was getting knocked off tables and the nightstand was getting kicked around the room.
The dialog wasn’t terribly enlightening:
Her: Hey, wait.
Her: Not so fast.
Her: Not there.
Him: Oh, sorry.
Her: Not yet.
Her: Look out.
Her: The lamp.
If you’re arranging the furniture in the honeymoon suite then I’d suggest against putting the headboard of the bed in the honeymoon suite flat on the other side of the wall from another resident’s bathroom. The sound coming from one side of the wall doesn’t necessarily enrich the lives of those on the other side of the wall.
They must have heard me throwing up and continuously flushing the toilet. I can’t imagine that was terribly inspiring for Romeo and Juliet on the other side.
Their headboard kept banging into the wall. But, not in the rhythm you’d expect. It was more along the lines of, “bump, bump……bump bump bump….bumb….CRASH…..bump bump……bump…bump….CRASH….”
What in the world are you two attempting to accomplish?
I thought that. I didn’t say it. But, I did laugh out loud at one point. I quickly flushed the toilet in hopes they didn’t hear me but I had a feeling they did as it was followed by a minute of silence before they went back into action.
Then, we had an earthquake. The hotel was swaying back and forth, I was throwing up and losing my balance while Caveman and Cavewoman carried on with their tackling drills.
Next morning, I walked out of my room just as they were walking out of theirs. They both looked pretty beat up. Caveman had a black eye. I looked at the woman and said, “The earth really DID move, didn’t it.”
She smiled but looked highly embarrassed.
Anyway, while Sara and Luke were making high-volume whoopie, I tried not to listen. I made some noise by coughing, yawning with gusto, walking loudly to the refrigerator and grabbing a beer thinking that might motivate them to close the door, at least. It didn’t. As I mentioned before, a puritan I’m not. I don’t worry about what the rest of the world is getting up to in bed. Plus, I went to college. I lived in the dormitories. Except for “Parent’s Weekend,” you heard people having sex all the time.
When I was in college, three freshmen were shoved into rooms built for one. People slept in alcoves, closets, utility rooms and any other space that would fit a bed. Privacy concerns were eased by the fact there was no privacy. For the first few weeks of the fall semester, people would attempt to have sex quietly. By the time midterms came along, nobody cared enough to be quiet about anything.
It was during a Parent’s Weekend that I experienced a painfully awkward moment. One of my roommates, Jason, set up his bedroom in the walk-in closet. Bed, portable TV, small refrigerator and a lamp. And, a girlfriend. A very loud girlfriend. Amy. That was her name. She was affectionately referred to as Screech due to the occasional screams emanating from the closet.
You probably have an idea where this is going.
It was early Sunday morning. I was staggering back to my dorm room after visiting my girlfriend’s walk-in closet for the weekend. I hadn’t slept in two days and could barely keep my eyes open. In front of my room was a well dressed, middle-aged couple who appeared to be rather appalled. They knocked on the door. As I approached, my temptation was to keep walking and pretend I didn’t live there but I was exhausted and in desperate need of sleep.
The closer I got to the room, it became very clear, based on the moaning and groaning, Amy was having a grand old time with Jason in their little love-closet. I stopped at my door, indicated to the couple I lived there and asked if I could be of assistance. By this point, Amy, in her very loud way, was letting the rest of us know she was about to reach the top of Olympus, as it were.
The couple and I stood looking at each other for a moment before the woman started the conversation:
The Woman: “Are you Jason?”
Me: “No, sorry. I’m Drew. Would you like to speak with Jason?”
(Amy in the background: “Faster!!! FASTER!!!”)
The Man: “No. No we would not.”
(Jason in the background: “I’m going as fast as I can!”)
The Woman: “We’re Amy Grayson’s parents. We were told she might be visiting someone named Jason.”
Me: “Ah, yes. We do have A Jason. I’m not sure if he’s….in….I mean, the one you’re looking for. I just got back myself and, uh, well…not sure….”
(Amy in the background: “Oh, oh, Jasonnnnnn, OOOOH!”)
The Woman: “Amy wanted to meet so we could go to church together.”
(Amy in the background: “Oh, God, oh, God, ohGod, ohGod, OHGOD!!!”)
Me: Ah, yes, I do see. Right-o. Indeed. Well, uh, let me just pop in and have a look.”
The Woman: “Do you know Amy?”
(Amy in the background: “Ooooohhhh, ooooohhhh! ARGHHHH!!! YES!!!”)
Me while fumbling with my keys: “Amy? Me? No. Well, I know of her. I mean, we’ve met. But, I don’t know her. Not in the Biblical sense, at any rate. We speak to each other. It’s casual. Completely. Like, I’m not her boyfriend or anything and…. Right. Would you like to come in?”
The Man: “No. No we would not.”
(Amy in the background having hit pay dirt, so to speak: “AAAAHHHHHHHH!!! YES!!! AAAAHHHH!!”)
During Amy’s screaming orgasm, the three of us stood silently looking past each other. That was the awkward part. Her mother looked mortified. Her father looked homicidal. This is where my fatigue became a factor because, when I’m really exhausted, everything seems hilarious. One of the greatest challenges in my life was trying not to laugh in front of Amy’s parents. It was not easy. I was biting my lip, tears started forming and I was praying to get in to the apartment before losing my resolve.
I mean, it really was funny. Here were the proud parents ready to share spiritual time with their young, innocent, delicate, God-loving and pure-as-the-Arctic-snow daughter. Traditional family time in chuch, to be born-anew, sanctified, purified and to reclaim the child-like innocence that comes from true faith. Instead, they have to listen their precious little Amy hammering way with some sleaze-bag in her unholy pursuit to satisfy desires that were definitely, and I’m being mild here, earthly. My very real temptation was to say, “It’s fine. Amy generally let’s us all know when she’s having a good time.”
I really did want to say that just to see their reactions but I was too tired to start that conversation.
Instead, I gave them a smile and said, “Well, let me just take a quick peek to see if you’re daughter…., Amy, might be here….visiting, uh, Jason. Altogether unlikely, to be sure. But, uh, one never knows, do one. Right. Don’t go away.”
I walked into the room, quickly shut the apartment door, grabbed a couch cushion, held it over my face and laughed as quietly as possible. I pulled myself together long enough to loudly announce to the closet door, “Hi, Amy. I hope all is well. Listen, I hate to interrupt your study session but you’ll be delighted to know your mom and dad are here. Now. Right now. You mentioned looking forward to attending church with your parents….who are here. At this moment.”
I heard them both scrambling around trying to pull themselves together.
I opened the apartment door very slightly and told the parents, “Well, turns out Amy….your daughter….is here. Surprisingly so. Shocking, in fact. Of all places. It’s not like she is ever, uh, here. So…, you know. She may be a minute or two. Just needs to, well, get her bearings, and, well, so….uh…..right…..bearings. She’s getting them. Currently…. Would you like to come in? She should be….”
The Man replied, “No. No we would not.”
“Right. Right. Well. I hear Amy’s is doing extremely well. Academically, I mean. You must be very…..proud. Right. Well, pleasure meeting you both. Uh, yeah….”
I shut the apartment door, flopped face-first onto the sofa and let Amy’s parents seeth in peace in the hall. Amy had flung herself together and was headed out the apartment door. She said, “Thanks, Drew. They upset?”
“Fuming. Good luck with this one.”
“I’m gonna need it.”
“I’ll put some beer on ice for when you get back. From church.”
“I’m really gonna need that.”
“It’ll be waiting for you.”
She left and I could hear the three of them walking down the hall.
No one said a word.
Where was I? Ah, Sara and Luke. I tried to fall asleep while they were having their full and frank exchange of views but no luck.*
The weird part was Lukey making very loud and enthusiastic statements to Sara about how in love he was with her, how lovely she looked with her clothes off and how fabulous she was in bed. Sara wasn’t replying in kind. She kept whispering at him to keep his voice down but he still occasionally chimed in with a statement loud enough for me to hear.
It finally occurred to me Lukey was trying way too hard to make sure I knew what a happy couple they made. But, he didn’t sound happy. He sounded contrived, obvious, insecure and unconvincing. I heard Sara say she wanted to close the door but Lukey insisted they continue their blissful love making uninterrupted.
Am I in the Twilight Zone? What is going on in my boy’s contorted, cluttered and obtuse mind?
At that time, I was still clearing off the charred remains of a relationship that exploded a month earlier. Long story, that one. Went by the name of Carolyn. She was looking for someone who’d devote himself to the care and feeding of her voluptuary psychosis. I didn’t meet her expectations in that regard. While listening to Sara and Lukey carry on, I remembered one early evening with Carolyn. Carolyn was a screamer, too. And, she let loose with a scream loud enough that the two retired nuns living next door called the police.
I’m not kidding. I had two elderly, retired nuns as nextdoor neighbors. They thought I was a total boy scout because I did their household repairs, snow shoveling and whatnot. Plus, I’d pick up the older of the two off the floor when she fell and couldn’t get up. They were two of the nicest people on the planet. As far as any understanding of the unholiness in the carnal world around them, they had none. No clue whatsoever.
We heard some commotion next door and saw the police lights. The bedroom window was open. As the neighbors started gathering, we heard the nice nuns speaking frantically to the police. Both were mortified and terribly concerned for this “poor girl.” Neither one heard a gunshot so they posited the girl screamed while being stabbed to death and asked, with much indignation, who could do something like that to a sweet, young girl.
We heard the police call their HQ to discuss next steps to locate and save this poor, frightened girl who was, no doubt, the victim of a heinous and violent crime.
I smiled at Carolyn. “I believe you are the poor girl in question.”
“Huh? What? Huh?”
Carolyn wasn’t exactly a MENSA candidate so her response wasn’t terribly surprising.
“You came. You screamed. They heard. They called the police. I think that’s the sequence of events. Before they bring in the bloodhounds and helicopters, maybe I should let the police know….”
“Nooooo, don’t, don’t, don’t. Pleeeeeze? This is, like, private. Okay?”
This was the same Carolyn who liked having surreptitious sex in public venues (story for another day) so I’m not sure how privacy became a major consideration. I explained it was best to put the fire out now before the entire neighborhood goes up in flames but I’d be discreet about it. I suggested she put some clothes on just in case.
She agreed. I meandered outside and spotted a female police officer. Figuring she’d be more discreet and professional about this than her male colleagues, I took the matter up with her. After quietly explaining the key events, she stepped into my house to see that Carolyn was doing just fine, said she’d handle it from here and even volunteered to tell my nextdoor neighbors Carolyn saw a mouse.
“They’re retired nuns. I don’t think you’re allowed to lie to nuns, retired or otherwise.”
The officer said she’d let them know everything and everyone was fine. She wished me good luck explaining what really happened to the nuns.
Anyway, Sara and Lukey eventually went to sleep as did I. But, not before wondering if all my future trips would be as strange as this one.
The answer, as it turned out, was yes.
—END OF PART FOUR—
* As far as euphemisms for sex go, “Full and frank exchange of views” is my absolute favorite. It’s brilliant. I pinched it from one of John Le Carre’s books. I can’t remember which one. Le Carre rarely mentioned sex in his books but, when he did, he had the perfect turns of phrase. “…she astonished him with a joyous and refined carnality…” I mean, how great is that?