A Taste of A Life Less Monogamous – Chapter 3
Ryan sat, nursing his second Jack and Coke of the evening, at the cherry wood wet bar in Noah Watkins’ basement man-cave. He stared past Noah, playing bartender at the mirror-backed shelf across the bar. Between the top tier bottles of Noah’s newfound Scotch obsession, he saw the reflection of a young man who looked exhausted. How could that be? How could life have run so roughshod over him, extracting the jubilance and joy he’d had as a young man? Now, a not so much older man sipping a drink he didn’t really like, declining every time his giddy friend offered him another Scotch while explaining where it was from and how ungodly expensive the bottle was, with a world weariness that originated from no identifiable source.
Good job. Stable. Not wealthy by any stretch, certainly nowhere in the same ballpark as the new money Watkins, flagrantly spending anywhere and anyhow they could, recession be damned. Envy maybe, then? Was that the reason for the weariness in the eyes in the mirror across the bar that must have cost more than his car? Fabulously long, with seating for ten, and magnificent flat screen televisions on either side, both running a high definition broadcast of that Christmas staple, The Yule Log.
Perhaps envy at the fact that Noah and Barbara had seemingly figured It out, where he and Jennifer had not? The indefinable It eluded him. Was it their relationship? Their money? Their jobs? Their family? Again, Ryan felt the internal assurance that he was content with the income arriving bi-monthly in the Lambert bank account. His job was perfectly fine. Both he and Jennifer mostly regarded children as an inconvenience that they would have to ship off somewhere whenever they wanted to go out for the night, however rarely that desire manifested.
Maybe they’re having sex, suggested something deep within Ryan.
There it sat, perhaps, the crux of the problem. Content everywhere, but with this little canker festering and exhausting the both of them on all topics non-sexual, so they couldn’t even see the stem. “Petrillo really should’ve noticed that,” Ryan told his Jack and Coke, now very nearly through.
Noah finished up with two loud drunkards at the opposite end of the bar and slid down toward Ryan. Ryan kept his head down toward his glass, so Noah stared at the top of his head for a while, then grabbed his small bar towel from his shoulder and began to wipe down a glass in a most theatrical fashion. “Long day?”
Ryan smirked. “What’re you doing back there?”
“You kidding?” Noah threw out rhetorically. “This way everybody has to come see me, none of that mingling crap. ‘Where’s Noah?’ ‘At the bar downstairs, if you want to get a drink.’”
“Makes perfect sense.”
“Sam!” Noah bellowed, lifting his finger of Scotch up in a salute to Sam Morton, who slid onto the stool next to Ryan.
Sam, slender, his retreating blond hairline and sallow expression suggesting an age far greater than thirty-eight, wearing a thick, ill-fitting, and likely home-knit sweater sighed before asking for a “Blind Russian.”
“The fuck is a Blind Russian?” demanded Noah, eyes squinted at Sam.
“Same as a White Russian, only with Bailey’s instead of cream.”
“Nicely done, Sam, found a way to remove the only non-alcoholic portion of your drink and replace it with more alcohol.” Ryan tipped his glass. “Cheers.”
Sam gave a dramatic sigh as he folded his hands on the bar. “It’s a constant now,” he told them gloomily. His demeanor spoke volumes and told Ryan and Noah what “it” was without their asking. Sam had, for the last few months, had a recurring problem with the dreaded erectile dysfunction, something that the three of them had hesitated to actually refer to as ED, for that would give it name, and this was something that should not be named. Ryan and Noah exchanged solemn nods as Sam continued. “She said, ‘No, don’t worry…’ and all that ever does is make you worry!”
“Yeah,” returned Noah. The flaw in this bartender impression was, as always, his inability to empathize when occasionally Ryan or, far more often, Sam spoke of difficulties in his bedroom.
“And once I start worrying about it,” Sam continued, “it’s all I can think about. And nothing says limp quite like worry. It’s like trying to push a fish into a garden hose.”
The simile hung in the air between the three men as each reflected on what it meant to them. Ryan stuck his finger in his almost empty glass and shuttled the ice about.
Noah cleared his throat. “Okay, now, I know I’ve suggested it before, and…”
“I don’t want Viagra.” Sam was firm, punctuating the sentence with a heavier than usual clink of his glass on the bar top. “It’s psychological. I can beat it.”
“Well…” said Noah with a sigh. “Godspeed.”
“When did it stop being fun for you guys?” Ryan asked.
Sam looked up from his drink. “Oh, god…years?”
“Too much worry…” Ryan finished the Jack and Coke and held it up for Noah.
Sam gave a soulful nod. “Way too much worry.”
“We’re talking sex, right?” Noah slid the finished Blind Russian over to Sam. “You poor bastards. It’s still fun for me. You know, do new things. New places. New… And when you do it, you gotta just slide it in, don’t ask permission first or you’ll get knocked down. Got very close last night. Very close. Like more than just the tip.”
“Adventurous isn’t simply sliding your dick in her ass when she’s not expecting it, Noah,” Ryan snorted.
“It’s an adventure,” he returned.
“It’s all about the attempt for you?” asked Sam.
Sam raised his glass in toast. “In that case, I’m doing spectacularly. We attempt daily.”
Ryan sucked the last of the Jack and Coke off one of his ice cubes and spit it back into the glass. “You’re having sex with Patti daily?”
“Well, I can’t—”
“Sam!” Noah slammed his hand down on the bar and his voice took on the baritone of too much drink again. “Knocking it out time and time again. And you were implying…well…less.”
Ryan stared at Sam in disbelief. Sam, married six years longer than him. Sam, balding, almost skeletal, was having sex every single day. “All that sex.”
“Well,” Sam argued, “it can hardly be called sex, can it?”
“Are you putting your penis into her vagina?”
Noah poured himself another Scotch. “Let’s drink to this wonderful revelation!”