Connie emerged from menopause fancying pretty much anyone in trousers, and intent on making up for lost time. To age 53, she’d had only two lovers — husband Bob and the driving instructor under whom she’d studied, nudge nudge. The problem being that, a few weeks after his 51st birthday, Bob declared himself finished with sex, making it sound as though it had been military service or a prison sentence. “I’ve done my share,” he said as he tried to figure out where he could have left the TV remote. “Maybe more than my share, in fact.” Connie was to understand that he intended forevermore to enjoy less strenuous pastimes like watching footie and reading about military history, which has fascinated him since childhood, though not to the extent that he'd ever considered enlisting in the armed forces. Connie didn’t think it fair that her husband’s new lack of interest in what they’d enjoyed calling the dirty hula should be her own coital death sentence, and decided that the best course of action would be a series of discreet affairs.
She began “working late” a lot. She was her company’s regional sales manager for the whole of the USA, excluding those states (the New, West, and North and South ones) with two-word names, and Maine, as she felt no more comfortable in a state with a monosyllabic name. Bob occasionally winked and said, “And here it is not even the holidays yet,” in a way that suggested he might have some idea of what was going on, but didn’t mind. She would sigh and say, “In today’s economy, the holidays begin after Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.” An Internet radio station in their village broadcast what it called The Beautiful Music of Xmas 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Everything went fine until one of the three young forklift operator studs with whom she’d partied fell in love with her, followed her home after one of their Travelodge sessions, and presented himself, soggy with desperation and self-pity, at their front door, informing Bob, who wasn’t happy about being taken away from England gamely defending their precarious four-nil lead over Kazakhstan, that he was in love with Connie, and would prefer Bob’s killing him there and then in a frenzy of jealousy to going on without Connie, who was upstairs in the bath, listening to Enya or The Corrs. To his great credit, Bob invited the guy — Rory, as it turned out — in to watch the game with him, which invitation Rory thought it would be churlish to decline even though he was much more a rugby fan than footie.
When Connie, with her hair wrapped atop her head in a towel in a way Bob had always found oddly sexy, came downstairs to find the two of them together, but England’s holding on for a 4-3 victory had put Bob in a good mood, and it didn’t seem as though things were going to get worse than awkward. “So I gather you two have been seeing a lot of each other this holiday season,” he said, chuckling. Rory wasn’t in on the joke, and glanced at Connie for help, but she was too busy wincing to provide any.
Things got more comfortable after a few minutes and some prosecco, and it turned out that Bob wasn’t entirely unexcited by the idea of Connie’s having cuckolded him. After Rory went home, in fact, he was all over Connie like a cheap suit. Connie pretended to love it, even though he wasn’t nearly as good as Rory, or either of the other two forklift operators, for that matter. As she enjoyed a post-coital cigarette and fretted that he might expect her to revert to monogamy, Bob confessed that back in his teens he’d actually done a fair amount of sword-fighting (without swords, if you get my drift, nudge nudge) with his mate Terrence, who’d shared his fascination with military history.