Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Chapter 4 (part III)


S. and I thought along parallel lines, had similar interests, were in the same astral plane at the same exact moment in time. And our flirting was safe, too: both of us knew I was married, my being married was like armor plating keeping any real danger away. I figured out I could flirt and play as much as I wanted and nothing bad would ever happen, right? He didn’t seem at all younger than me, or on the make, we were just about perfectly attuned in our attitudes and our interests. I was in control, and I remembered my mother’s warnings:

“Keep your legs closed. Don’t give boys the idea they can get anything for free.”

Ah, Child, the whole mess seems so fucking middle class and pathetic now! Maybe I even knew it was at the time, I just can’t separate the threads of the yarn any longer. I mean, why do these things happen? Couldn’t he have gone to some other college? Did it have to be Manuscripts he walked into? Couldn’t his Senior thesis have been on something besides history, my catnip? It doesn’t make sense looking for some deep-seated dissatisfaction with P. Yes, we had been married for nearly five years, yes, I’ve heard about the “seven year itch” coming on early with certain couples; the difference is, we were happily-married, we were! Our sex life was fantastic, I don’t want to leave the wrong impression for posterity— if there is such a thing. Or that anyone but me will ever care about this story. P. is the kind of man a girl wants to be married to— loving, considerate, gentle— we’re good together, he’s always telling me we’re “two halves of the same whole.” He’s smart— even if his favorite songs are The Beach Boys’ “Fun, Fun, Fun” (everyone in Philly knows the Four Seasons are TWICE as good as the Beach Boys, and can dance, too), and the Byrds’ “Chestnut Mare.” Tells me that one always reminds him of me, how he’s struggled all these years trying to tame me! He says I’m a sponge soaking up life and ideas, and he’s a wonderful guide to the many things in life I’ve never been exposed to— which is a lot if you’re from South Philly.

Plus P. and I have plenty in common— like old movies or driving in our 1965 Mustang, reading at night, listening to music, cuddling for hours in bed (even after making love) and talking. Talking with P. is almost like opening my heart to a best girlfriend. Plus I just plain feel at peace when he’s with me. He’s older than me, and I confess I sometimes feel intimidated by his brains, yet we’re kinda like Professor Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady,” he’s a wonderful teacher and mentor, as well as a good husband. He wrote a cycle of love sonnets for me after we got married, and had them printed up and bound in book form. All in all, I’m lucky to be married to him— and he tells me the same thing.

With S., I just enjoyed hanging around. I could never imagine him and me having anything serious— much less leaving P. for him, us running off and eloping, God, no! For one thing, he’s terrifically unreliable— also messy, he smokes, he’s selfish in many small ways and, worst of all, afraid of offending anyone he perceives as “above” him. He’s always deferring to the three scions of industry who share a dorm suite with him Stiles because they come from money and he doesn’t have a cent. It made me furious sometimes the way they intimidated him.

There were lots of little things that showed how off-balance he felt, but one afternoon sticks out in particular. We’d stopped by after class at Durfee Sweet Shop, it’s a grungy basement space in Durfee Hall off old campus where they sell candy and ice cream and there’s a big juke box with great tunes on it. S. and I were sitting at one of the tables shooting the shit when two of the suite mates walked in and began eyeing me.

“Who’s the skirt?” Asshole One asked S.

“She’s typing my thesis.”

He answered as if he’d been caught naked with a minor. What was it he was worried they’d think? I wasn't good enough for their blue-blood money. I wanted to scratch all three of them bloody, but especially the two jerks who think the world fucking revolves around them. Sigh! As much as I love Yale, sometimes the gap between where I come from and what most of the Yalies have given to them as part of their birthright leaves me with mixed feelings at best. Still, my dad always taught me that you can’t let other people determine who you are, or limit what you do.

The next day I called S. to see when those two would be around Stiles. 2 PM? Great. Around 1:30, I told Ellen I had to go out for awhile, and slipped into the library bathroom to change, then headed to Stiles all bundled up in my coat. When I got there, S. was working in his room with the door open, while the Deux Jerques were drinking beers on a sofa one of them had bought for the common area with its shared bathroom. As I walked in through the front door, I took off my coat— underneath, I’d put on a micro-mini I haven’t worn since high school. It ended just south of my ass, and I tugged at the edges “absent-mindedly” a little bit to make sure they didn’t miss my blunt humor.

“Hey, boys, it’s the skirt!”

I closed the door to S.’s room behind me and left them to their low-grade imaginations. They’ll probably all end up as stockbrokers after graduation. I didn’t stay long— just enough to let them sweat about what they thought they were missing.

to be continued (check back often)