Posts Tagged ‘night’

I like to think I don’t recall when the seduction began, but I do; sitting on the front steps of an office building downtown, anonymous, hot sun warming the concrete and our bodies, he peeled a deep red apple in one, long sinuous strip. With his pocket knife, he scraped the pale flesh of the fruit, then offered it to me to eat from the blade. It never occured to me to take the knife and hold it for myself, or even to refuse. I leaned forward, opened my mouth, and let him feed the soft apple pulp to me from the sharpened edge. As I sit here now, I can feel the metal in my mouth, taste the apple, see the way his eyes took in my lips. He fed half the apple to me that way, occasionally taking some for himself, and I was aware from time-to-time of passers-by pausing to watch this oddly erotic interlude.  I like to think I don’t remember how this thing of ours began, but this was it – tempered steel and summer fruit inside my mouth and I at his mercy by choice.

The man was not handsome. He was not tall, nor well-built. He moved like a dancer, though, and his hands were delicate, like a woman’s.  His skin was a light, golden, Spanish brown, nearly hairless and soft, so soft. He was broke, this man, barely able to pay for his own liquor, of which he drank too much, too often. His clothes were second-hand, and outwardly there was little to recommend him.

But he fed me from the blade of a knife.  Would my sweet, safe husband have ever done that? Would anyone, seeing me out about my day, button-downs and loafers, wrangling children from school and dogs from their walks, choosing flowers for the dinner table from the display at the grocer, would anyone think to scrape the naked flesh of an apple and offer it to me on the edge of a steel blade?  This man did, and in a certain way, I belonged to him from that moment.

He took me dancing, this man. I who had not danced since college, and even then only to the fast songs, never the slow, romantic ones. The first time he led me onto a dance floor and pulled my body to him, began to lead me across the floor, graceful, in control, I thought I might swoon. Ridiculous, I know, a woman my age, and yet this is the truth. I was, I am, a strong woman, a woman who speaks her mind, who has things her own way, a woman who makes the tough decisions, and there I was, being moved backward across a polished wood floor, unable to even see where I was going, let alone choose my direction. And I felt light, and adored, and sexy. God, did I feel sexy. And the man pulled out all the stops for me – he taught me to twirl and dip, led me to respond to the slightest touch of his hand, to know by pressure alone whether he wanted me to turn this way or that, to know when to spin away and when to come back to him, pressing our bodies together, moving together.

There was no sex. There was innuendo, there was witty conversation. There were side-long glances and other cliche’s, but there was no sex. I was both grateful and bereft, knowing he wanted me, and knowing that while what passed between us was wrong in light of my marriage, it wasn’t irretrievably wrong as long as it didn’t go too far. My nice husband wouldn’t be too concerned about an emotional involvement, as long as there was no intercourse. I know that the time I spent thinking of this man, and the abject joy I felt in being with him was in fact a much larger betrayal of my marriage than simple fucking would have been, but my husband – like most men, in my experience – would not have seen it that way, and this was both comforting to me and desperately sad.

How my husband did not know about the man and I is unclear, and nearly unbelievable. The man tapped on the window of my bedroom late at night, while my husband slept in the front of the television in our living room, and I would slip into clothes and let myself out the back door to meet him.  We would wander the streets of our city, with its open-til-dawn bars, sweating at sidewalk cafes, washing shots of Jack Daniels down with domestic beer, always laughing, always holding hands. Or, some nights, when he would tap, tap at my window, I would step out the back door barefoot in a white summer nightgown, and we would sit in the swing on my front porch, watching the boats on the river, and talk until the sky lightened, and still, still there were things to say.

I did not neglect my children, though my mind was often somewhere else. I cooked and shopped and washed clothes, I cleaned my house or didn’t, but no more or less than before I knew this man. I helped with homework and volunteered at PTA meetings, I met my husband for lunch, I planted flowers in the boxes on the windowsills. I am not saying this was fair, I am not saying this was right, I am only saying what it was, and what it was not.

At night, in bed, he was there all around me. My husband had never really liked sex, or so he said. I know he didn’t like to have it with me. Deep into the night I would lie under the cool sheet and founder in the sense memory of my time with the man, the not-sex, the feel of his hand on the small of my back when we danced, his hand reaching for mine when we walked, the way he watched my lips when I spoke. I pleasured myself to these thoughts, if pleasure is what it was, to his image, both wanting and fearing him, stifling my voice, muted by the hum of the air conditioner.

This man was not gentle, not kind, not decent. The seemingly sweet or romantic things he did with and for me were an aberration, an exception to the way he lived his life.  In the brief glimpses of his every day that I was privy to, I found him coarse, even mean. He could be brutal in disagreements, and I am sure there is part of me that liked this, liked knowing that potential for violence existed in him, yet he chose to be otherwise with me.

One night, very late, after my family slept, he came to get me, told me to wear something sexy. I fumbled quietly through dresser drawers using only the faint light from the open bathroom door, finding stockings bought for an anniversary and never worn, a black dress cut too low, painful stiletto heels bought on sale. I dressed in the bathroom, put on too much perfume, too red lipstick, and locked the back door behind me when I left. At the sight of me, he smiled broadly, almost handsome under the streetlight, and told me I was about to feel sexier than I ever had. We drove into a neighborhood unfamiliar to me, and parked next to a run-down building with the word, “Taqueria” painted in peeling pastel paint above the door. He led me by the hand inside to a bar teeming with Hispanic men, all focused on a big-screen television shouting and cheering over a soccer game in progress. Other than the barmaid, I was the only woman in the room. I felt over-dressed, conspicuous, but the man watched me with a smile at the corner of his mouth, and I knew I would not protest.

Even before the match ended, men began to drift over to where were seated at the bar. Old, young, they spoke to the man in Spanish, and admired me openly. I was enthralled, embarrassed, excited, all at once. Thes men found me desirable, and did not care what aI thought or had to say. I was a beautiful object in that moment, and while it is not politically correct and I would not be content to live my life in this way, the man was exactly right – I felt incredibly sexy.  At one point, a young man addressed the man in English, saying the man was very lucky to be with such a beautiful woman. The man looked into my eyes and answered that we weren’t together; I was just a friend, and if the young man wanted me, he should take me.

I was crushed by this, nearly physically ill, suddenly thrown off-balance. I wanted to go home, and when we left a short time later, he was distant, and hardly spoke to me when he pulled up near my house, leaned across me to open my door, looked away out his own window as I gathered my purse, my shoes, and stepped in stocking feet out of the car. Looking back, I think it was purposeful, a way to push me away and draw me in further at the same time. I didn’t know for certain then, and I don’t know for certain now.

I cried easily for the next few days, inexplicably to my family, and was something of a mess. I told my husband I thought it was PMS; I didn’t think he’d understand if I were to explain that my boyfriend had offered to give me away to a stranger in a Spanish soccer bar. But the man wasn’t finished with me, nor I with him. It was just another step in moving us toward what we would eventually become.

When I write this, it seems almost as if he had a plan, a well-wrought way to get from Point A to Point B, but truthfully, I’m not at all sure he was that clever. And I still don’t know how much of what happened was me, my needs, my fantasies, my greed moving this forward. I have not addressed his feelings here, either. I have come to believe that he loved me, or that he thought he loved me – who is to say if there is a difference? You may say that I am fooling myself, rationalizing my actions by endowing the man with feelings he did not possess, and I can’t say that I know you are wrong. But I believe, I do, that he loved me and may in fact love me to this day. (more, later, maybe)


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