Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Spit-Roasting With Tim and Marcia

Tim and Marcia drove their daughter Ashlee up to Santa Barbara to begin college. They didn’t cry, as they had three years later when they’d driven Jared to Tempe to start his own college career. As the song suggests, the first cut is the deepest. Once having survived it, one gets a little tougher, a little less tearful. Tim managed not to make a spectacle of himself even when, just before parting, he noticed the terror in Ash’s eyes. A part of her wanted to blurt, "I'm scared, Daddy. Please don't go!"

Back in the car with Marcia, he kept himself from crying by asking Marcia what he’d been wanting to ask for years, but had resolved not to ask until both kids were out of the house — if Marcia had ever been unfaithful.

“I’ll show me mine if you’ll show me yours,” she said, in that way she had, which he’d found hilarious when they were much younger and she much more beautiful, but which he’d come to find infuriating. “I always wondered if you weren’t doing the rumpy-pumpy with What’s-Her-Name, that legal assistant you had on your team in the mid-90s. Gillian. Wasn’t that her name? Gillian?”

“Are you sure you want the truth?” Tim said, remembering a movie in which Jack Nicholson had chewed the scenery while posing a comparable question. “Are you sure you can handle it?” Fair was fair. If she could toy with him, he’d toy with her right back.

“The question isn’t whether I can handle it,” Marcia said, getting out her vape, “but whether Gillian did. Or was it Gloria? I know it was a G name.”

“If we’re thinking of the same person, it was actually Genevieve. From Quebec. She was engaged, and our interaction was entirely professional. As all my interactions with women have been. I won’t pretend I haven’t been tempted, but I’ve never cheated on you, Mar.” He half expected her, in that way she had, to pretend to be outraged by his having felt tempted. But maybe he was selling her short. 

“Fair enough. Now are you sure you’re able to handle the truth,” she said.

“Do you suppose I haven’t noticed that Ash looks a little bit like you, Mar, and not at all like me?”

Marcia sighed and put her vape away, and sighed again. She looked silently out her window at the ocean for so long that Tim wondered if she’d forgotten the question. But then she spoke. “I haven’t been as good as you claim to have been. Do you remember when we were having trouble with that old Maytag dryer my folks gave us? Well, I I think the guy who came out to service it may be Ash’s dad. I probably saw him for six months. You were busy trying to make partner at the time. I felt neglected. He still sends me money for Ash every few months, even though I’ve never told her about him.”

“Well, that’s noble of you,” Tim said. 

“You asked, Tim! I’m telling you, all right? After him, there were a couple of guys from the crew who put in our pool. And before you ask, yes — simultaneously. Spitroasting had always been something I wanted to try. I wasn’t disappointed. One of them returned to Mexico because he couldn’t bring his family up. I saw the other one, Rogelio, on and off for two years.


“Use your imagination, Tim. Two guys, one woman.  And then, around the time Jared started high school, there was Dan, from next door.”

“Dan, who you were always making fun of for being so in love with his car? Dan, for fuck’s sake?”

“You might remember Madeleine had just started chemotherapy. He was beside himself with worry. It started out as me just trying to ease his pain. He was losing his wife, his life partner. The guy was in agony.”

“There are no words for what I’m feeling at this moment,” Tim said.

“Did I say I was finished yet? There was also the odd customer at my shop. Maybe half a dozen over the years. Being around lingerie makes men so adorably nervous. They’re like little boys. And I won’t pretend I didn’t enjoy seducing some of the cuter ones.”

“Cuter ones,” Tim repeated. “What are we, back in middle school?”

“Oh, and your niece’s boyfriend when they came to spend the weekend with us in Tahoe that time. I can’t remember his name. Maybe you do. Mark? Matt? One of those one-syllable M names. Now there was a young man who knew his stuff erotically, at least.”

As they crossed the Ventura County line, Tim almost regretted having raised the subject.

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