Chapter 24: Lucinda and the Condoms
Plans for the long-awaited-for weekend with Attorney were made, and it came almost a month later. They drove away, in his car, to the mountains. A little cabin in the woods. All alone. Nobody to interfere. No cell reception. They arrived Friday almost at midnight. They carried their luggage inside, settled in, put on their pajamas, and brushed their teeth. Smiling and giggling the whole time.
Lucinda knew the moment was arriving when she would have to bring out the condoms. He stood on one side of the bed and she on the other. She was so nervous that when she opened the big box of condoms, it ripped and plastic packages spilled across the bed.
“What’s that for?” Attorney gasped, horrified at the sight.
Lucinda smiled apologetically and shrugged. “You know.”
No, he didn’t. It seems he hadn’t had sex in so many years he had forgotten all about their long list of uses. He latched onto the first he remembered.
“You can get pregnant?” he screeched in a panic.
“No. But, you know, disease…” Lucinda shrugged apologetically again.
“You have disease?” He was close to hyperventilating.
“No!” Lucinda shrieked. “Do you?”
Tension broken, they laughed as Lucinda threw a condom over her shoulder and swept the rest onto the floor. They each pulled a corner of the covers back and proceeded to make mad passionate love all night long with nothing between them but sweat. Early that first morning, she lay feeling his body against hers and realized this was the first time she had made love with a man not her husband. She thought of Dancing Man and wondered what making love with him would have been like. She imagined it would have been as good. Attorney felt her stirring and, aroused, gently took her again.
“Good morning,” he said, smiling as they lay in the last radiance of their orgasms. Lucinda grinned and giggled, but not the silly cackle of a girl all excited to lose her virginity. No, this was the womanly chuckle that comes from the depth of the soul which says only a real man gets this. She thought this is how giving her virginity should have been and wasn’t, and sex never had been with the son of a bitch. But the brief thought did not mar the weekend.
And thus the whole weekend passed as they made love in between hiking, and looking at art in the little town, lunching at outdoor cafes, cooking their dinner, and dancing in front of the fireplace softly sending out beams of romantic light on their bodies as they gently swayed and teased each other until they were again taking each other in a frenzy on the way to the bed.
“There’s a song that says you make loving fun,” she said to Attorney as they lay, spent. “I’ve never had fun making love before.”
At her confession, Attorney’s look of love was a joy to behold. I love you gushed forth passionately and sincerely from him. Then he instantly got very still and his eyes went big, in other words, he made like a rabbit does when smelling a hunter in the wind, and stuttered as only a polished and professional yet naked attorney can utter the fine print words that taketh away what the big print giveth, “You know…as a friend.”
It was then Lucinda knew he wasn’t ready for her, and their relationship would all be over in two months. How she knew this with such certainty she was never sure, but know it she did. And it came to be so. But in the meantime, they made love as often as they could and laughed with each other and helped each other through. But the time came when he had to focus on the nasty divorce and custody fight and he was gone, unable to handle the pain and heartache on the one hand and the sublime joy on the other. The poor man didn’t have the energy.
He was forty-five and already tired.
Lucinda cried. Not because he was gone (she really didn’t miss him), but because her ego wanted someone to want her badly enough he couldn’t leave. Several nights in a row she contented herself by crying until sleep came and felt like a worthless old hag with no prospects. Yet she didn’t want to be a girlfriend and she didn’t want to date, ironic quotation marks inferred. Her thoughts were a muddle.
And then New Girlfriend called. It was time to go dancing again.
Dancing? Dancing. Okay, but not at the same place, please. Lucinda could only take so many grannies shaking their groove thang while trying not to trip over their canes. Okay, Lucinda admitted to this journalist, it wasn’t that bad, but she said she didn’t feel old and certainly didn’t want to surround herself with that mentality or else she’d die.
Her friend agreed and off they went to a place featuring a younger crowd, but not so young she’d be the granny.
New Girlfriend and she sat at the bar, sedately sipping glasses of wine, legs crossed just so, listening to the music. Finally, New Girlfriend said she was bored and went home. Lucinda decided she’d be brave and stay. The music cranked and Lucinda wanted badly to dance, but ladies didn’t dance by themselves. She looked down the length of the bar.
One man after the other filled the stools. Each hunched over a beer, their backs to the dance floor. Each one glancing at her furtively, scared when she caught their eyes. Lucinda decided it was unfair that responsibility for asking for a dance should lie solely on the man. She screwed up her courage and asked the man closest to her.
“Would you like to dance?”
Simple question. Asked respectfully. He saw her coming his way. It wasn’t like she sneaked up on him and hollered boo or anything. But he jumped clean off his barstool, hollered No, threw money on the bar, and ran out.
The bartender stared at her, then accusingly said, “What did you say to him?”
Dumbfounded, she stared. All the other men at the bar stared back at her like she was a witchy woman or something equally abhorrent. Now, heedless of the music and her need to dance, she paid her tab and went home. She thought a lot about what happened and analyzed it. She’d handle it differently next week. She thought of all the approaches she could take and imagined all the responses she’d get to her new methodology. Upbeat, she looked forward to the next Saturday evening. She’d be dancing plenty, she knew it.
But Lucinda was always a romantic and romantics don’t always have things turn out like they think they will.
Lucinda would soon have her eyes opened.
Chapter 25: Lucinda Asks. And Asks, and Asks, and Asks.
The next Saturday evening arrived. Lucinda chose her clothes with care. She didn’t want to look like a hoochie mama, but she didn’t want to look like she came from a business meeting either. She wore dark slacks, shoes with a slight heel, and a medium-ish sexy blouse hinting at her simmering sexuality but that didn’t say Do me. She blew her hair straight and carried her daily purse. She got to the bar early, chose a middle-of-the-bar seat, ordered dinner and wine, and waited for the men to show.
And here they came.
Bellying up to the bar.
Ordering their beers.
Saying hello to each other, over her and around her and through her, but never at her.
For her part, she simply pretended they were not there. Then one — finally! — made a comment including her and she responded wittily, and even made a little fun at her own expense, and all the men laughed. And thus a little bit of time passed in happy camaraderie, during which time she identified a man who looked like he’d dance.
She asked. Every man at the bar stopped what they were doing, turned their back on their friend, and pretended they didn’t hear her question. The man, eyes as wide as a deer’s in the glow of a semi-truck’s headlights one second before the truck slams into its body, finally muttered, “Uh…I’m not drunk enough yet.”
Lucinda said innocently and sincerely, “Oh. Okay. So you will dance when you are drunk enough. Great. When will that be?”
The men burst into raucous laughter and the bartender said, “Honey, he ain’t never been that drunk.”
Lucinda responded with something suitably witty and the tension around the bar lessened – though it was still palpable. Nevertheless, she didn’t dance any more that evening, either.
Time to rethink this whole process. Lucinda went home and for the next six days she thought of little else. She was determined to dance and, goddamn it, she was going to dance. There was nothing wrong with it. Around the world people moved singly and together in time to music. Why, whole documentaries had been made on tribes and cultures and styles of dance. There were even contests watched by thousands, millions, of people. DJs had jobs because people danced. She saw other people dancing when she went to this place, so it wasn’t like she was asking for something that wasn’t happening right in front of their eyes.
The next Saturday she came in early, ordered her dinner and ate it; ordered her wine and drank it. But this time, instead of being in the middle of the bar, she sat at the very end. This way, she reasoned, she could see all the men at one time. In they trickled. Guys she hadn’t seen before. Again, eyes cut her way. She pretended not to see them watching her. A couple of guys were talking about her. She could read their lips occasionally and thought they were talking about her. She chose to be flattered.
The music began and couples moved out onto the floor. Tonight she’d be bold. Enough of this witty chit-chat; not getting her any dances. She stood and beginning with the first man closest to her, she spoke.
“I’m not wanting to get married or anything, I only want to dance. Do you want to dance, too?”
Man #1: Not drunk enough yet, sugar. (He was mad.)
Man #2: What he said. Hahahaha…uhhhh… (He was nervous.)
Man #3: Ummmm…uhhhh…ummmm. (He panicked and couldn’t breathe. Lucinda patted him on the arm and said never mind; breathe, honey, breathe.)
Man #4: Just leaving, baby, but next time, alright? (He wasn’t lying.)
Man #5: I only dance if I know I’m getting laid. Am I getting laid? (Lucinda told him she didn’t know whether he was getting laid or not, but it was a sure bet she wasn’t doing it if that was what he was implying, because one dance with him wasn’t worth what he had to offer. The other men laughed at her spunk and his red face.)
Man #6: What he said. (He was a nervous sort, too.)
Man #7: Oh, baby, I would, but I blew my knee out this afternoon. (He wasn’t lying; the crutches were beside him, unnoticed by Lucinda.)
Either way, though, by the end of those seven rejections, Lucinda’s ego was bruised and battered. She paid her bill, picked up her purse, and walked out. The bartender didn’t say anything. Why pour salt on a wound?
Now on a mission, like a good soldier, she thought of the previous battles. Where were her shortcomings? What had she done wrong? What unexpected thing did the enemy do? How could she improve upon her responses and make the battle go her way? Of course, at this time, Lucinda wasn’t thinking war, but the process had begun.
She’d get a man to dance. She would.
And the dance’d be wonderful. It would.
She’d go to the next man who’d dance with her. And he would.
And they’d all want her and she’d have told them upfront all she wants to do is dance and that’s all she’s going to do and everybody could go home and not be heartbroken.
By the next Saturday, she realized this is what men go through all the time. With this constant rejection, she thought it a wonder mankind had not ended. There was nothing wrong with her methodology, she concluded. It was simply a matter of enough noes to get to a yes. A simple sales rule held true here. Next Saturday she was front and center at the bar.
“Hello, Mike,” she brightly said to the bartender upon seating herself. Yeah, she knew his name by now.
“The usual, Lucinda?” Mike asked.
Then the men came and Lucinda went down the line again. One by one by one until finally, after twelve men over a period of two hours, one said yes. Lucinda was dumbfounded and almost couldn’t speak, but found her voice quick enough and out to the dance floor they went. He was a fabulous dancer, an artful leader, and she followed beautifully as she knew she would. And when he tucked her hand behind her back and entwined his fingers in hers, her body couldn’t help what it did next.
Privately, she knew she was wet again. Privately, she suspected he knew it, too. But publicly her body molded to his and they finished the dance slowly and quite nicely. They were both grinning. She thought of Dancing Man and Attorney and thought Tough tooties, gentlemen. This man led her to her seat, said it was a most wonderful dance, paid his tab, and walked out. Lucinda never saw him again.
All the men at the bar watched this man dance with her and they saw how she responded to him and how she couldn’t stop grinning. But their courage couldn’t quite get them to dance with her. One dance and her evening was over. When she went to bed she could still feel his fingers entwined in hers as he held her hand behind her back and leaned over her while she melted into him.
During the night faces and bodies were a mish-mash of memories of Dancing Man, Attorney, and this man. She didn’t know which made her hornier, but finally, she lulled herself to sleep…again. In the morning, her sheets were still damp and she cursed out loud.
– – – – – – – – – –
“So you see, Gordon, I am so hungry for touch that I don’t touch you when we are in a private situation because I want you badly. You have no idea how many times I hold a pillow tight and command myself not to call and tell you to come stay with me during the night.”
She leaned over to me and said, “I want to make love to you, you…Gordon, because I love you. But until I know what the benefits to you and me are, other than the physical, I cannot escalate to a physical level.”
“What about those men you dance with, Lucinda?” I know. I was whining.
“Oh, Gordon,” she laid her hand over mine. “I’m thinking of you, baby. I don’t even remember them five minutes later.”
Small consolation, but consolation all the same. I took what I could get and made up my mind to be happy with it. She is faithful to me…in her way.
“Okay. I understand.”
“Do you, Gordon? Do you understand one-night-stands are emotional junk food to me? I cannot exist on that level.” She sat back and said, “Let me ask you.”
“Have you ever been married?” No.
“Long-term relationship?” Yes.
“Live in?” Off and on.
“One night stands?” Lots.
“Do you remember any of the women?”
“Look; I’m ashamed to admit it, Lucinda; they are a blur of hotel rooms and drunken liaisons.”
“Was it always your room you went to?” Yes.
“When you woke up in the morning, and she was still there, what did you say?”
Gordon scratched his chin and stared at her. “Lucinda, you should have been a reporter. Damn. You’re grilling me, woman.”
“Answer the question, on the record, if you will be so kind.” She winked.
“Okay. Pretty much I went to get a shower and they were gone when I came out.”
Lucinda sipped her coffee again. “How sad.”
“Your soul has never been fed all these years. You are as empty as I.”
“Damn, woman. I never thought of that. You’re gonna make me cry for myself here in a minute if you keep it up.”
“You have thought of it, Gordon. Don’t tell me you haven’t. You may have shoved the thought away time and again, but you are not such a shallow person you never thought of it.”
“You’re right. You’re right,” I nodded in agreement.
“One of two things is going to happen to us when we make love, Gordon. We will either be together or it will drive us apart.”
“Why do you say that?”
“Because those are our only two choices.”
“How possibly could making love with the person you love drive you apart?”
“It can. These are the facts, Gordon. People like you and me, we can’t have sex in a relationship vacuum without paying a price. So, when we do make love there is a lot of emotion attached to it and, furthermore, it brings up emotion we didn’t know we had.”
“Are you saying because neither of us really know what we want out of a relationship or even if we are ready for it, that when we do it we will have our answers?”
“Loud and clear.”
“What if our answers are different?”
“Nevertheless, they will be loud and clear. No denying it.”
I shook my head. “I don’t think I want to have this conversation.”
“Too late. Done been had, my sweet.”
I walked her to her car, sort of. We didn’t touch or hold hands or kiss or anything. We barely waved as I slid on over to my vehicle and she slid on over to hers. Neither did I look back as I drove away.
I didn’t like the truths about myself I was learning. Lucinda couldn’t possibly like her truths either. But I had to give her credit. She was brave to take the stand she did. Taking that stand helped me to crawl along the path to being the man she knew I could be. But who was that man?
I turned on the radio to drown out my thoughts and listened to the current propaganda. One love song after another followed each other no matter which point of the dial I hit. Switching off, I tried to remember one face from all those years of sex. Just one. What would it look like? Fleeting images flitted through my mind and yet I could never pin one down in any meaningfully clear fashion. It was time to go home and write more character studies and send them in.
This introspection was draining me of all energy. I might have to first take a nap.
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