A Taste of A Life Less Monogamous – Chapter 13
Somewhere in this closet. She knew that much.
Jennifer stood, hands on hips, staring into the walk-in closet in their tiny office. Everything they hadn’t unpacked in the six years since their last move had wound up in here, a mishmash of miscellaneous sized boxes, unlabeled, of course.
This search was inspired by a feeling from the depths inside her. She’d felt the same way for so long she’d accepted that it was just the way life felt. But now, this new yearning felt visceral, physical. The intensity of the new emotion had caught her off guard, the intensity of something different.
Since she’d begun noticing the stasis they’d fallen into, she’d been reflecting on the difference between her own marriage and those in her extended friend circles. When her coworker Marianne’s marriage had fallen apart, it had been one of those drag-out, throw-down nightmares that they make movies about. Beginning with screaming fits, transitioning to a legal arms race, and morphing a final time into desperately trying to get everything, just so the other would have nothing.
In fact, every bad marriage, even every mediocre marriage, that she knew of was worse than theirs, without question. She and Ryan loved each other. That was the cornerstone, the key. “You’re friends,” Barbara sometimes reminded her, “So many couples can’t even say that.”
“‘Friends’ may be the whole problem, eh, roomie?” Jennifer asked the empty room.
Perhaps their relationship just fell left of center. Like the aim, or the calibration was off. That’s why Dr. Petrillo. Though he hadn’t quite earned his exorbitant hourly fee yet. The mantras were a good idea, sure, but who really changed themselves or their lives like that?
She flicked open the box cutter and made swift work of the tape sealing the box in front of her. Kitchen, damn. “Wow, I thought we had all the kitchen stuff unpacked.” Party supplies, a plastic mixed drink pitcher, a couple candles (because those had made it into every box they’d packed, it seemed), and at the bottom, still wrapped in newspaper, a faux crystal punch bowl.
She sighed, and from her sitting position in front of the closet, pushed the box with her sock-clad toes as close to the door of the office as she could. That’d have to go downstairs. She hadn’t been looking for those things, but they should be where she might look, when she did want them. Should they ever actually throw a party again.
The stack of boxes immediately at the front was down to two. She slid the next one off the pile and set it between her legs.
Jennifer had initially mistaken the yearning as hunger, and she’d followed up their meager pancake breakfast with a quick jaunt through the drive-through, but even a large fries couldn’t sate her. She picked at the fries. As the feeling in her chest, and stomach, and, if she was being honest with herself, her clit, continued, it became harder and harder to dismiss it as simple hunger.
The feelings were of sexual longing, they weren’t just the funereal mourning of the bed death of a relationship, but something more substantial. This was active and present sexual interest. Directed toward a person in her life, not an absent celebrity or a character in a novel, but someone she knew. Someone she could still smell. And… Well, there was the…other thing, too.
She nodded. She was going to have to face up to the other thing, too, at some point.
The next box had, of course, more candles in jars; she set aside one that smelled like gingerbread. Beneath the candles, bedroom miscellany. The kind of things you dump in a box from the bottom drawer of a night stand, once you’ve given up on organizing at the end of a move. Promising.
Jennifer wasn’t hiding from the yearning, just trying to focus around it, because she didn’t know what to make of the other part yet. Bruce Shepard, the main part, the central thrust, as it were, she knew what to make of that. She didn’t even like mustaches and she knew what that was about.
It was about a man in almost complete control of his game. Comfortable and confident. The kind of man who only seems to look better with age. Like Clooney, or Cary Grant. The gray that appeared in his head of rich, deep brown hair conjured words like distinguished. Old didn’t enter into it, though she knew he was at least a decade, likely fifteen years older than she. No, experience, that was it.
She could be honest: at the age of thirty-one, having only experienced two penises in person, one in the dark, with a partner who didn’t want her to touch it, or taste it, for that matter, she had reason to wonder what else might be out there.
A twinge beneath her yoga pants pushed her to resume the search in earnest.
That boy, that poor religious boy. Of course, he was a grown man now, but Steve Hurley had been so conflicted when they’d turned off the bedroom lights and fumbled at each other’s clothes. The seventeen-year-old had actually stepped back, after his shirt was off, so he could remove his pants himself. She’d known because she’d heard his belt hit the floor beside them. Unsure what he wanted exactly, because they certainly hadn’t talked about it, she’d dropped the rest of her own clothes and reached forward to grab his hand.
She’d put it between her legs, his fingers cold against the growing warmth. He’d pulled away.
“Let’s do it,” he’d said, the darkness all but completely obscuring him. A shaft of light from outside played across the top of his mussed up hair. Mussed by her, of course, mussed by their make-out session, the longest one since they’d started doing that. From make-out to heavy petting to, “You should go home,” so often before.
“I want to,” she’d confirmed, “Go slow.”
He didn’t, but it didn’t much matter. Jennifer’s body was ready. After a year of build-up, finally, fucking finally. His thumb pushed inside her. Good, she thought, he’s not freaked I put his hand there. The thumb moved in and out, his body closer to her now, his breath on her neck, and then, suddenly, he pulled out, and she felt a cascade of warm liquid on her belly, sliding down into her pubic hair.
She reached out, wanting to comfort, wanting to console him for the premature finish, and was surprised to find both of his hands on the bed on either side of her. She reached to the middle as Steve tried desperately to catch his breath. She found a vast patch of hair, felt his testicles, tight against his body, and above, hanging, wet, she’d understood: He hadn’t used his thumb, and Jennifer Straub was no longer a virgin.
Jennifer stared into the overstuffed closet and frowned. Sex had been dramatically better since then, of course, but she realized that her barometer may never have been calibrated properly. She hadn’t seen Steve much after he told her she should probably go that afternoon. He’d found other routes through the halls to his classes, routes that didn’t take him by her locker.
Her dating life had stagnated until she met Ryan in college. Three years had passed between her first sexual experience with another person and her second. Ryan had lasted almost ten minutes their first time, and there’d been no mistaking his penis for a thumb! Especially since he let her put it in her mouth.
In that three year interim, though, she’d been given a gift by Tricia Albion, a year older, a year wiser perhaps, certainly sluttier. But that wasn’t fair. Jennifer didn’t begrudge Tricia her experience. “More worldly?” she offered the room.
“It feels like it’s throbbing,” Jennifer had told Tricia, under her breath, side by side at the mirror of the second floor bathroom off the gym. Tricia had turned and smiled at her, unwilling to postulate what “it” was, forcing Jennifer to say the words, “My vagina,” even more quietly.
“Yeah, you need to get yourself off.”
Jennifer Straub didn’t have a response for that.
Tricia had stared back for a long time, then looked down at her purse. “Okay, look, I just bought this. So I’ve only used it, like, once, okay? So you don’t have to feel ooky. But I think that you need it more than me.” She’d fished around in the oversized and overstuffed purse, and finally removed something that looked to Jennifer like lipstick.
The right box, at last. The purple draw string pouch that had come off a bottle of Crown Royal shone from the bottom of the box like a beacon. “Let’s just hope I remembered right.” She untied the golden drawstring and peered inside. Beneath two AA batteries, a pentacle necklace from her brief goth phase, a marker cap with no marker, a tube of cherry lip gloss, and a surely-expired condom, she saw a hint of translucent red plastic.
“I don’t know what to do,” she’d told Tricia, staring at the red cylinder in her hand. Three shiny metal bumps adorned one end, the other was a twist cap with ON and OFF in white print. In the middle, in exaggerated comic-booky text, the words Pocket Rocket, a zigzag below was probably meant to resemble lightning.
Tricia had pursed her lips. “When you get home, light a candle, lock your door, lie down on your bed.” She’d twisted the bottom of the rocket.
The intensity of the vibrations had surprised Jennifer and she’d almost dropped it. The buzz it emitted echoed off the walls. She’d reflexively glanced at the bottom of the stalls next to them, but it seemed they were alone.
“Turn it on like that, then press it here.” Tricia poked at the fly of Jennifer’s jeans, about two thirds of the way up. The poke was only for a second, but tingles had shuddered up Jennifer’s spine.
Sitting in front of the closet, Jennifer held up her prize, the words Pocket Rocket long since worn away to just a pair of CKs and some faux lightning, but the red translucent plastic was still bright. She twisted it. Nothing. She replaced the battery with one from the Crown Royal bag and tried again. This time, the vibrator snapped to life.
In her hand, this device felt so powerful, like it could make her entire body vibrate. She watched the metal balls on the top go from well-defined bumps to shuddering haziness. She felt the familiar throb, pulled the turquoise waistband of her yoga pants down, pulled her panties aside, and pressed her old and neglected friend, the Pocket Rocket, against her clitoris.
She came moments later, barely having had time to fantasize about Bruce Shepard offering her another glass of wine.
The second orgasm took longer, and this time the fantasy surprised Jennifer by involving her old friend Tricia in a supporting role.