Chapter 35: Absence and Need
We met two days later for coffee. When I arrived, sitting at the table with her was a young boy, barely old enough to shave. I waited for a few minutes, but she seemed to be quite engaged in the conversation. An hour passed as I cooled my heels. Finally he left, but not before he bent over and gave her a hug and a kiss. She smiled and said bye. She watched him walk out the door, he turned back to her and walked backwards for a couple of steps as he waved goodbye again, then she turned her eyes to me once he’d moved on. Crooking a finger, she called me over. Next!, her finger seemed to say. I did as commanded and plunked myself into the seat.
“Who’s the little fella?” I inquired.
“Yeah. Young fella you was just talking to?”
“Oh, yeah. I guess he is young.”
Sunday’s no comparison still fresh in my mind, I said, “How old is he anyway?”
I almost choked on my third cup of coffee. “Thirty-five? He didn’t look old enough to shave.”
“Well, he does.”
“What does that mean, well, he does?”
She sat back in her seat, crossed her arms, and said, “Gordon, why don’t you ask me what you want to know?”
“Do you know him?”
“That’s not what you want to know.”
“How well do you know him?”
She quickly tapped a finger on the table. Yeah, I could tell she was aggravated. “That’s not what you want to know, either.”
I couldn’t bring myself to ask it. I couldn’t do it. She said nothing and waited. Damn, I hated I was such an open book to her. Where was my professional journalistic distance when I needed it? She continued to wait and then it just blurted out.
“Did he bang you?”
A shutter came down over her face, she leaned forward so I could hear her very private whisper, “You mean to tell me, Gordon, you do not know how insulting it is to ask me if I’ve been banged?”
Put it like that, inflection placed just so, I got the suggestion loud and clear: Take off your jealous wannabe-lover dunce hat, and put on your serious-journalist cap.
To get my head back in the game, I pretended to stare at a pad of paper, pencil at the ready. Noncommittal tone. “I shall rephrase. Is this a man you have history with?”
“By history you mean —?”
“Were you lovers?”
“Ah. Better question. Answer: No.”
I went through all that for a No? Women! But she wasn’t finished.
“However, he is friends with a guy I do have history with.”
“How old is he?”
“As of now, he’s thirty-two.”
I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, could I? No comparison echoed in my mind.
“You want to hear the story, Gordon?”
Masochist that I am, I weakly nodded yes. Thus began another story illustrating the battles I had never seen or experienced. Here it is:
Dazzle was so named by Lucinda because of his eyes. A cutie pie, a hottie in the best sense of the word, still it was his eyes that sealed the deal for her. It was also those eyes that made her feel sorry for him.
She had just come from the second super-intense time with Big Rig. Her body still tingled from the memory of all they had done that long, hot, seductive, comforting night. It was three days later and she was back in town. She went out alone to eat and, as she often did, sat at the bar. People came and went. Doors opened and shut numerous times. So engrossed was she in her book and meal, Lucinda heard nothing.
Then the door opened again. This one she felt, rather than heard. There was an electricity in the air and it hit her body and buzzed all around her. She sat up straight, put her book down, and turned around. In walked Dazzle, who had barely let go of the door when he stopped in his tracks and stared at Lucinda. They smiled at each other. Everyone in the bar watched them. He sat down next to her. They shared food and talked. And it was on.
The only problem? She was almost his mother’s age and she found that awkward. So did he. But it didn’t stop him from kissing her. And three weeks later, sitting in a bar late at night, talking, eyes dazzling, he came out with the question: Do you want me to come home with you tonight?
Lucinda, who until that moment had not seriously entertained the thought, smiled slowly as the idea took root in her mind. She nodded yes. His eyes dazzled more and he smiled happily and walked her to her car, where he kissed her and let her feel his body’s arousal. He followed her home and for three hours she relived Big Rig’s lovemaking and never gave a thought to the young man on top of her.
She felt guilty about it and did not let Dazzle know that it wasn’t him she thought about. The next morning, she slid out of her bed, put on a pair of sexy pajamas, woke him, and asked if he’d like her to cook breakfast. He stared at her uncomprehendingly, then orienting himself in time and place, smiled and nodded yes. She went into the kitchen and began cooking while he dressed. He had difficulty in not staring at her breasts; Lucinda liked that.
She cooked for him a few more times. Once she thought she’d have a little fun with him and suggested he stay the night. She knew he’d say no because she had already seen his reluctance at making love to, much less explaining away, a woman his mother’s age. Thankfully they had kept their relationship a secret. It would have been embarrassing to be seen together in public as lovers. More rightly, what they had was a learning experience. Their conversations showed they had little in common; and when, upon making the suggestion for another roll in the hay and seeing the reaction she expected, they both knew it wasn’t ever gonna happen again — and she never had to cook for him again. She breathed a sigh of relief at his absence. He was such a child.
At one point, Dazzle had asked her how his member (her word) compared to other men’s. She assured him it was nice and big and could do the job. And it was nice and big and it could do the job, if the job was all she needed. She could not help but compare Big Rig to Dazzle and…well…Dazzle lost.
Passion without compassion and lust without love does not a good match make, Lucinda pointed out to this journalist. So, while both Dazzle and Big Rig had equally talented equipment (my word, not hers), the difference between them was one lived life, the other played at it. One was a fully formed man with a depth of character that made him a man, and the other a boy who had not experienced anything worse in life than having to figure out where he’d get his next stash of pot.
One time Dazzle gave a party and invited her. There, all his friends were smoking pot. She watched the change in him as he began to smoke; this is where his eyes made her sad. Dazzle’s eyes went from sparkling and happy to dead and sad. His beautiful, engaging, lively eyes in a smiling and happy face, became red rimmed and unfocused. His attitude changed from hopeful and happy to sad and cynical.
Lucinda explained Dazzle this way: Big Rig wasn’t there and she was needful. She quoted from a popular propaganda song from a battle some years back:
Don’t be angry. Don’t be sad.
Don’t sit crying over good times you had.
There’s a boy right next to you.
And he’s just waiting for something to do.
There’s a road in a distance land.
And the eagle flies with the dove.
And if you can’t be with the one you love, honey,
Love the one you’re with.
So she loved the one she was with. She assured me she learned something from it. She learned such actions only left her hungrier. I reminded her of the phrase she had used months ago: Emotional junk food. She smiled and said exactly.
But there comes a point in every reporter’s life where he loses the ability to distance himself from the subject of his story and remain completely above it all, totally objective. Yes, I knew I was past that point. But with this current story of hers, I felt myself balancing precariously on the cliff’s edge, ready to fall, full tilt, into her. I struggled to regain that journalistic balance as she finished her story.
So I went for the deep-dive question. I wanted to know her motivation for telling me these things. Was it to make me jealous? Was it to rub my nose in the fact that I wasn’t young anymore? Yes, my insecurities were out there, but I commandeered the noncommittal tone one more time. I hoped she could appreciate the effort it took.
“So, Lucinda, how is it you can talk about herself so openly?”
“Anything to help the war effort, right?” she said, a bright, sad smile on her face.
“Right,” I answered. “Of course.”
Willing self-sacrifice for a jealous slug such as myself, and my earlier crudeness, mocked me as I fell off the cliff.
Chapter 36: Toast or Waffles?
Saturday night came and we were at our regular battlefield, when I noticed the Bedonka-Donk group come in. They spied Lucinda and decided they could “out dance her ass” (their words, I heard them) and they proceeded to get out and attempt the feat. They were dressed in flip-flops, low-riser jeans with butt cracks shining in the light of the disco ball, and loose-fitting halter tops over long, stringy breasts. They got as close to Lucinda as they could and bounced around. But to keep their breasts from popping out of their halter tops, they had to dance while holding one breast in each hand. Having drank a sufficient quantity of alcohol, the bedonka-donks further thought it would be a good idea if they slowly rotated each breast in opposition to each other while occasionally allowing them escape from the confines of the cloth.
They soon found out they could not match Lucinda. Besides, they seemed to be having trouble keeping their balance holding their boobs while drunk. Lucinda did not have to hold her breasts as they were securely confined in a specially designed halter top made for dancing; and she did not get drunk.
Lucinda made the comparison of the women to young men who walk down the street cradling their package (my word, not hers). They can’t walk like a man and they certainly can’t run; they look silly, yet somehow think they are totally macho.
Two other women, both dressed to kill in six-inch heels, wearing tiny spandex tubes barely covering their assets, were just about having sex with each other on the dance floor. There seems to be this belief, almost like an urban legend, that says men like to watch woman-on-woman sex. Maybe that’s true, but not on the dance floor where men are out with girlfriends and wives, as is evidenced by uncomfortable expressions that said Mama, what the hayle are them girls doing anyway? I ain’t never seen such as that before.
Sex pots and bedonka-donks gone, Lucinda and I danced until last call. Yeah, my knees went weak. Yeah, I couldn’t focus or breathe when I was that close to her. And yeah, mojo rose and I wasn’t aware of time passing and could not form a complete or cogent sentence. The only saving grace was Lucinda was in the same boat as I.
Dancing Queen, One-Dance-Lucinda, was hot to trot. Damn, it was gonna be good when it happened. But when would that be? She said it would take us by surprise, and it would be the right time. Don’t force it, she said. So I didn’t but man, oh, man, did I enjoy the foreplay.
The foreplay continued at the car. The foreplay continued in her car. It continued when I lowered the passenger seat back and she crawled on top of me. Both of us fully clothed, but knowing what was under all that cloth, to be unwrapped one day like a surprise gift. It continued when I held her breasts and kissed the skin between them. It continued when we pushed our hips together.
Then it continued when she sat in the driver’s seat and briefly caressed Mojo. It continued when I climbed out of her car, slammed the door, and walked around and kissed her through the window.
But early the next morning, my phone chimed at the arrival of a text message. Would this spell the end to any foreplay or follow up of it?
I sure would like to cook you breakfast this morning. Do you want me to cook instead of going out?
I’m a writer. I know the power of words. I know when to use a lot and when to use a little. My reply was succinct and answered all the above:
On my way.
I took a shower and, following Mama’s advice, made sure I had on clean underwear, you know, just in case I was in an accident or something. An hour later I arrived at Lucinda’s. Rang the doorbell and heard Come in. I didn’t need the noises in the kitchen to guide me because I knew where it was.
She smiled and said, “Coffee?”
I sat and said, “Uh, huh.”
She was busy, busy, busy getting all ingredients out for breakfast. She broke eggs into a bowl. She popped the bread into the toaster where it patiently sat waiting to be lowered. The last of the bacon cooked and transferred to a platter. This rattled. That banged. And the other hissed.
She was in the process of lowering the bread into the toaster, when she paused. Pivoting toward me, she said, “Toast or waffles?”
She said it as if the fate of all mankind hung in the balance.
Toast or waffles? Choose wrongly and children will die, cities will burn.
I said toast was fine with me, but whatever she wished.
“Because if you really want waffles, I can whip some batter up real quick, you know.” She said this with a hand held out and up to the shelf holding the flour.
“Do you want waffles?” I asked.
“Oh, it doesn’t matter to me. Whatever you want. What do you want? Toast or waffles?” All this discussion for bread. Seemed a bit much. Yet —
Toast or waffles? She now stood with her back to the counter, hands on the edge of it for balance, eyes wide and serious, waiting on an answer.
Toast or waffles? Decide, boy.
I gave her the answer.
And it wasn’t toast or waffles.
– – – – – – – – –
The late morning sun barely penetrated the curtains. A thin shaft leaked through a small slit at the top between two panels and landed at Lucinda’s feet. I watched the shaft of light as it played against her languorously happy, wiggling toes. She lay in the crook of my arm, head on my shoulder. We held hands. I kissed the top of her head over and over. Couldn’t get enough of it and felt silly doing it so much, but it was as if I had a lot of catching up to do and not much time to do it in. So, kiss, kiss, kiss, and kiss again.
She moved onto her side and put a leg across me. Our bodies were still warm from our exertions. Not that we were bouncing the bed against the wall or anything. But, hey, slow and steady wins the race — we both won — and a sweat still gets worked up even so. She stroked my chest and stomach and kissed my neck and shoulders and arms like she wouldn’t mind repeating the exercise.
I had to remind her about the necessity of getting more ammunition and that it’d take about thirty minutes, minimum, before reload. She said okay, but in the meantime she wanted to use my body as her plaything. Do you mind? Ha. Did I mind? No, girl, knock yourself out. And she did and ammunition and reload arrived earlier than I thought it could and she smiled and it was on again in a most fulfilling fashion.
We slept and when I next woke, it was late afternoon, she slept still.
And here came the thoughts. At some point, I had to physically leave her presence, walk out the door, get in my car, and drive away. That was the last thing I wanted to do now. How was I going to do it feeling this way? What would happen next? What would happen tomorrow?
What would happen the next time we went out to dance?
I obsessed over the details. Not a bad thing for a true journalist to do; but as a man with a woman, why could I not relax and enjoy the now of this? Why was I already planning our futures?
I felt her stirring beside me. She rolled to her back and stretched like a cat. Her eyes still closed, she said, “Ready for breakfast?”
“Yeah. I’m starving.”
She rolled off the bed and went into the bathroom. I heard the shower. Five minutes later she was out; hair brushed, clothes on, smiling.
“If you want to take a shower, jump on in. Scrambled or fried?”
I laughed. “The last time you asked me how I wanted my food we didn’t get to it. I’m scared to answer.”
“Scrambled it is, then. Toast or waffles?”
I heard her laughing at her own joke as she walked down the hall. Deciding against a shower, I ended up dressing as I went down the hall in the reverse order in which everything came off, so that by the time I tucked in my shirt I was almost back to the kitchen.
I nodded yes. “Need some help?”
“Nope. Sit. I’m enjoying doing this for ya. Although, you can help with dishes, if you are truly wanting to be helpful.”
“Dishes I can do.”
And dishes I did and then she naturally led me to the door, kissed me goodnight, exclaimed about how very much relaxed she was thanks to my kind ministrations, and I said Likewise, ma’am, and she pushed me out the door to my car and waved bye-bye as I drove off.
Every obsessive planning thought on how to leave was completely unnecessary. I drove home on the horns of a dilemma: Was I happy she pushed me out so efficiently or was I not? On the one hand, yes; on the other, no. I loved her. She loved me. Yet she pretty much told me she wasn’t ready to have me in her space for over a few hours at a time. Or did she attempt to make me feel comfortable? She knew my leaving to be inevitable; did she not want me to feel like I carried the burden and was the bad guy by bringing up the subject?
The question was circular and giving me a headache.
I stopped thinking about it and drove.
Chapter 37: Fascination with Gray
“ ‘I depend on my penis to tell me the truth about how I feel about someone. Is there a meeting of the minds? If yes, my penis will respond. Why, if my penis has a chemical to tell it to respond, then I’d be running all over town having mindless sex and it would mean nothing to me.’ ”
“He really said that?” I asked when Lucinda stopped quoting.
“Yes. He really did.”
“He used the word penis?”
I held up my hand in a wait-a-sec pose, pulled out my wallet, opened it, and extracted a folded piece of paper.
“What’s that?” Lucinda asked.
“List of what?”
“You’ll find out soon enough. He didn’t call it his —”
I whisper-read from my list of exhaustive research of names for the male member. “Beaver Basher? One-Eyed Snake? Bishop? Bob Dole? Lizard? Bratwurst? Twig?”
She leaned back and held up a hand. “Whoa. Eww.”
I crooked my finger at her and she leaned in as I whispered a few more. “Taco Stuffer? Chubby? Cum Gun?”
She leaned away again, but this time shook her head and put her fingers in her ears.
“What?” I asked. “He only said penis?”
She nodded her head. “Yes. He said penis. Where did you find that list?”
“Find it? Baby, let me tell ya, I am a serious journalist. I do all my own research. I have been collecting these names for years. Here. Look at the list—”
She averted her eyes and said, “I can’t, Gordon. I just can’t”
“Yes, look. You don’t have to read it. Look at the different ink colors and widths of pen strokes. See —” She glanced at the ink, and looked away before she read it. “See how many there are. Every time I hear a new one, I pull out my list. Look at the paper. It’s old.” I held it out and she glanced again.
“I cannot believe you’ve done that.”
“And this isn’t even all of them; I’m still adding to the list. You called it a member, but that’s what a woman would call it, and nothing goes on this list unless a man himself has so named his package.”
Her eyes flew open. “Package? Is that what you call yours?”
“Noooo.” But even to my own ears the denial was lame. I folded my paper and put it back in its place. “Continue your story, please.”
“So, anyway, after he tells me he uses his thang, sheez, to tell him whether or not there is a meeting of the minds, he then goes on to beg me to go home with him. His line of reasoning was Baby, do you know how long it’s been since I’ve had any?”
Even I know that isn’t a good line and admitted it. She went on.
“So I said to him ‘Engineer #2, here’s the thing…see…a woman doesn’t care how long it’s been since you’ve had any. Pretty much that isn’t a selling point on getting her to volunteer for your campaign at any one point in time.’ ”
“He’s an engineer?”
“Yeah.” She leaned toward me and whispered. “Engineers are a completely different animal. I’ve had three engineers go nuts for me. Insanely nuts.”
“What does that mean? Insanely nuts?”
I asked her for this clarification because I thought I had gone insanely nuts for her, too. In the eyes of women, were all men insanely nuts? Or was there a depth of nuttiness only certain types had? She continued.
“It means they meet me, they beg to have sex with me.”
I wasn’t getting it, so I interrupted. “Uhmmm…I pretty much begged you, too.”
She laughed and said, “No, honey, you didn’t. You were a total gentleman about the whole thing. You merely suggested in an oblique fashion.”
I lowered my eyelids and tried to look sexy. “A gentleman, huh? I guess I better up my game.”
She smiled back and said, “Oh, baby, you got game, although any attempt at upping it will not be turned down by me.”
I grinned and sat back in my chair again. “Oh, yeah. You like that upping, do ya?”
She nodded and said, “Stop it or I’m gonna be crawling all over you right here and I don’t think I want the police called on me right now. Let me finish my story!”
“Okay.” I’ve got game. No comparison!
“Engineers seem to get out of control. They beg for hours and days and months. They truly believe they will die if they don’t do me. I’ve had to say to them You won’t die and make a promise about that so they will calm down. Engineer #3 asked me to dance one night and he got so excited he put his face in my cleavage — on the dance floor, mind you — and made motorboat noises. Engineer #1 couldn’t seem to uncoil his arms from around me when the dance was finished. I had to peel him off.”
“Yeah, but you have that happen all the time.”
“Not with the same intensity. No. Not the same. But that’s only half of the equation. My hormones are going insane for them, too.”
“What does that mean?”
“It means if you think my body goes crazy next to yours, you should know when engineers are in the room, my body is two times more excited.”
She patted my hand. “Don’t worry, Gordon. I like you better. See, with you, while a hormonal response is happening, I love you for your mind.”
“Yes. Your mind. It is your mind, your intellect, your wit, your compassion; all the stuff that makes you a complete person. You should know by now, Gordon, more goes into the decision to give my body than a mere hormonal response.”
“In other words, I’m sending out all kinds of good vibes.”
“Like Radar Love, huh?”
“Uh, huh. You are so funny.”
And we proceeded to commence to engage in flirtatious dialogue that’s only fun and meaningful to the lovers involved and is otherwise found boring, sickening, and disgusting by the majority of those who overhear it; therefore, I shall not bore you with it here. We took our lovey-dovey talk out the door and to the car and on the way to our homes as we talked on the phone and as we got into our houses until finally Lucinda, being the one with the working brains in this situation, told me I had work to do and she did, too, and she said she was going to hang up, and she did.
Invigorated as I was, I got a lot of writing done the rest of the week. It was amazing what the mind needs via the body. I could put it crudely and say something about the benefits of a good old roll in the hay. However, I’ve had a few entertaining rolls-in-the-hay and was never this mentally energetic after them. The component that made this energy was, purely and simply, love.
I love Lucinda.
It follows the physical act was making love not merely having sex. Ergo my mind is happy and generates good energy. Therefore, I am productive.
Here again my journalistic process kicked in. I thought of all the unproductive people in the world. Were they unproductive because they weren’t getting any? Or they weren’t getting enough or of sufficiently high quality? Can you imagine what truly good, loving nooky on a regular basis could do to enhance the bottom line of companies and thus to the gross national product of any nation? Would it be in the best interest of companies, instead of Bring Your Kid To Work days, they had Stay Home and Boink Your Spouse/Significant Other days?
Imagine, if you will, the happy smiles between co-workers. Of course, my mind carried it out to its logical conclusion and there the whole plan broke down.
If, as is the natural course of events these days, the Stay Home and Boink Your Spouse/Significant Other Day received federal funding, would those without spouses or significant others be in a position to sue their company and/or government for stand-ins? Would the company and/or government then find themselves in the position of reluctant matchmaker? Or worse, a pimp?
With the way the government and large corporations worked, they’d screw it all up, too, because politicians and Human Resources departments across the world would then weigh in on policies to effect change that would be equitable and fair and…
Individuals have been doing a fine enough job of screwing up their own love lives, they didn’t need politics or business to start in on them again. Religion already did a great job of stoking that fire.
Work accomplished, social engineering plans thought through and dismissed, I gave myself over to a fantasy of my own: What could I do for Lucinda?
To answer the question I asked myself what she needed. I pulled all the notes I had on her and read them through. She had plainly told me.
She wanted to be admired.
She wanted to be lusted after.
She wanted to be missed.
She needed to be remembered.
She couldn’t bear to be forgotten.
On a man’s deathbed, she wanted to be their last thought!
Lucinda admitted at this point in her life everything she wanted was all about her. Me, me, me, she said laughingly. She had been running on empty far too long. She was starving. Her heart needed and wanted so much because the empty places could no longer function. As she said, a dying heart is not a pretty thing. First comes the resignation to one’s fate. Then the anger that one is forced to accept that fate. Then the fear this is all it will ever be, and no better.
Lucinda had refused to die and she divorced the very man who attempted to kill her slowly with his words and actions and attitudes.
I refuse to resign.
I refuse to become that angry person.
I refuse to let fear stop me from knowing happiness can be mine.
Yet she found men can only handle so much of her at any one time and they get overwhelmed and intimidated. She goes from the highs of attention being poured out, to the lows of never hearing from them until they build their reserves. With attention, she soars and feels strong and can conquer. Without it, she feels like an idiot who cannot make a damn thing happen. She is a temporary heart salve for some and a warm place to put it for others.
Having her in their life is all about them. She needs it to be all about her.
Admittedly, she was hypocritical, yet she was unhappy with a man for expecting the very thing she said she had to have.
Me, me, me. Love only me, want only me, pine only for me, want no other than me, and let me do as I please until such time as I decide I want you in my life.
I had lived a life where it was all about me and I wasn’t happy. She had lived a life where it was all about her husband and she wasn’t happy. All-or-nothing methodologies do not work in relationships, yet finding that balance was difficult. While mystification and fascination are not bad things in themselves, they are simply another version of absolute blacks and whites. So now she is becoming everything but those absolutes and she is happier than ever living in the grays. If living in the grays made others think she was trying to push them from their comfort zones of certainty, she no longer accepted the responsibility of changing to keep them comfortable.
More and more she had less and less patience for absolute beliefs and no longer suffered fools gladly for very long.
Boo, hoo, she says silently to herself in reply to fools, cry in your beer, but don’t whine in mine.
Can you hear me playing the world’s smallest violin? The tune is “My Heart Weeps for You…NOT.”
And when she is feeling sorry for herself and a touch bitter, she even goes so far as to think: Ruht-roh, me thinkee me hear the train coming down the track. Too bad I can’t untie that freaking knot there for ya buddy. Have a nice day.
That was her satisfying mental kick to their proverbial shins.
For me? I was fascinated by her grays.
And so we went dancing Saturday night and a good time was had by all. We passed my car on the way to hers. We saw an envelope stuck in the small opening in the driver’s side window. It was simply marked: Read this.
Lucinda got in the car with me and I opened the envelope. Together we read it. What follows is word for word what was contained in it.
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