I was married at 22 years of age, it was 1980 and I thought I loved her.
She was a Baptist girl who grew up in a family where her dad worked 3 jobs to make ends meet. He was a captain in the police department by day, and worked several night jobs.
When I pulled into the driveway to pick Pat up for our first date in my shiny 1976 Grand Prix, he was next to the driveway in overalls chopping wood with an axe. He was a large man, who stood about six foot three and had a glass eye from a firework accident. I was intimidated by the mere site of him. I was skinny Italian boy 20 years old at the time. I asked him if it was okay for me to take his daughter out, which I think amused him.
I went up to the door and was greeted by Pat’s mother, a short nice looking woman; I could tell that she was beautiful back in the day. She let me in and called her daughter who was upstairs getting ready. I sat on the couch waiting.
Her sister was looking at me from the other room, sneaking around the corner to get a glance at me without showing herself. It felt strange.
We dated for two years, and I was thinking marriage from the second date. I was raised a Catholic and found Baptist’s to be very different. Pat was not the typical Baptist though; she was what they referred to as in ‘a backslidden condition’.
She had grown up rather mousy, not achieving her true potential as a woman until just before I met her. She had recently shed her glasses for contacts and fixed her long straight golden blond hair in a Farah Fawcett style. She had a lean body that was appealing but not anything to turn heads.
I met her on overtime where we worked. An elderly black lady encouraged Pat to ask me out, which she did. It was autumn so she asked me to a hay ride with some of her friends and her sister and brother in-law -the same girl I who was sneaking around the corner to see me.
As our relationship progressed, I noticed that she was slowly getting back into the church little by little. I think I was in denial about it even when she’d drag me there early Sunday mornings. I was a cigarette and pot smoking man, who cussed a lot. I was never very comfortable around these clean cut young adults, who seemed to measure their spirituality by what they did not do.
Before we were married, we attended counseling from the youth minister, and he concluded that we should not get married. His grounds were that I was not ‘saved’ and it would be wrong for her to marry me. We didn’t listen, and I had no idea he was trying to do me a big favor. I’m sure he would not have put it that way though.
We had a big wedding in that same church and the youth minister conducted the ceremony. Everything went fine and we moved in together. I was happy to have a wife, but she wasn’t happy with out children. I didn’t want to have kids right away, I wanted to have a wife for a while and enjoy her.
She went off the pill without my knowledge, and got pregnant less than a year into the marriage. I was not happy about this. I never had a very good relationship with my son because of it. I was simply not ready to become a father, but I was soon to learn that my involvement in these types of decisions was not required.
We ended up having three kids, all about 5 years apart. I jokingly tell people that that’s about as often as we had sex.
Sex for her was not a natural thing, it was a sterile thing. I had to take a shower before anything sexual would even be considered, and I also had to do all of the work. She was frigid. She would never touch me, and I had to do everything to her, and as a result, I became quite proficient at pleasing a woman.
About ten years into our marriage, we had a talk and she confessed that she was not in love with me anymore.
This was a shock to me. I felt that I did everything I could to make a good marriage. I worked, took care of things around the house, played with the kids, and even attended church with her. She wouldn’t work, and she didn’t really clean the house that much, and she wasn’t good in bed. She was a good cook, but I was raised by two Italian chefs, so I could cook just as good, if not better than her. So I felt that I had gotten a raw deal. I’m sure she saw things differently and it’s all water under the bridge now.
After we were married about 19 years, I was working as a computer repairman at a large retailer. They had a state of the art service center where myself and another man, Rich, worked on all the PC’s the company sold to an eight state area. One day I was at my bench working and the boss brought a new employee around to introduce her to everyone. She was to be a Customer Service Representative. When I turned around and saw her, music started playing in my head, and my heart thumped in my chest. There was a change in the force that day.
She had short curly chestnut brown hair, very fair skin and the bluest eyes I’d ever seen. She was tall, a little shorter than me, about five foot nine inches, and she was built wonderfully. I got the impression that she didn’t know just how beautiful she was. Her voice was like music and her smile was so natural. She laughed easily, and was such a flirt and tease. Her name was Cheryl.
Before my boss finished making the rounds with her, I was up at the front desk, asking Connie, the head Customer Service Rep, about her. I kept saying, -she has the most amazing blue eyes. Connie didn’t know much about her and thought I was silly for being so interested in her. I kept after her to tell me everything she could and I even enlisted her as a spy to gather info for me. She did well too, not much went on in Cheryl’s life that I didn't know about. I found out that Cheryl was previously married for 9 years to a navy man, who dumped her for someone else, had a nine year old son, and she had been single for a couple of years. She was a member of her parent’s church, but found no one there to date. She tried dating services only to meet with grabby men, and losers. She was looking everywhere for a man, but no one seemed to fit.
Connie was a good friend; she was a lady in her early 50’s with extremely high blood pressure, and very large breasts. It took me years to find out that she was the shop whore, and did just about everyone in the place, except me, and she tried for me more than once.
Once Connie and I went out after work to a local bar and had drinks all night talking about work and the guy she was after, Jesse, and of course Cheryl. When we left we were saying goodbye outside the bar and she kissed me. It was one of those kisses that said -you can do what you want to. I wanted to go home though. My wife would already be upset that I was gone all night as it was, plus I only had eyes for Cheryl.
As time went on, Cheryl and I became friends, and I soon learned that she was not cut out to be a CSR. She was too sensitive and sometimes the customers would yell at her. She’d always either come to me or call me when they upset her like that, so I told her that she could transfer the calls to me when that happened. I was already fitting into the role of her rescuer. I was glad to do it and in fact looked forward to it.
I made a guaranteed weekly salary whether I did any work or not. I usually doubled it on my commission, yet I still had time to hang around the front area and talk to Cheryl most of the day.
I’d lean on the waist high wall in front of her cubicle, and she’d lean over her desk toward me and we’d talk and flirt shamelessly. She would always use obvious body language, such as play with her hair, and flash her eyes. On several occasions she’d play with a pencil in her hands, making it slide like a cock through a hole in her other hand. I knew what she was doing, and so did she on some level.
We’d go out to lunch sometimes to a Chinese restaurant she liked called Tea Garden. It’s still there and we go sometimes just to remember what it was like back then. I had never had Chinese food before I met her. We started going out for lunch every now and then which soon it became once a week and then almost every day. We wanted to date very badly, but I was married.
More than once I told her how I felt about her, not that it needed to be said. Both of us knew exactly how it was, but I needed clarification -something more concrete than this unsaid thing hovering in the air.
It would always upset her to hear me say how I felt about her. The first time I told her was at a local restaurant down the street. I didn't want to go somewhere that we frequented in case things went badly. I didn't want it to spoil my memory of her in that place. We went to a new place for this. I remember talking to her and saying,
"You know how I feel about you, don't you?" She pretended to not know what I was talking about, but she did. "I love you, and I want to be with you." I said.
She became very upset, not angry just shaken, and we had to leave. I thought I had blown it, but the next day she asked me to lunch again.
The second time I told her was at the same bar where Connie kissed me. It was a Saturday afternoon and we had worked till noon. We stopped off for a beer before going home, and I told her again that I loved her. It went a little better, but she was frank with me,
"Look, you're married. Do you want to have an affair? How will that end? I don't want to mess this up, so what are we going to do?" She said.
I had no answer. I had never been divorced, and I was afraid that if I did, there would be so little left of me that she wouldn't want me.
The third time was at lunch once again. We had gone to a small park and pulled up by the lake and rolled the windows down and ate our sandwiches and chips. It was a beautiful spring day and the lake was like a mirror. This time I told her I loved her and I would work toward doing whatever it took for us to be together. She was still unwilling for me to do it because of my kids. We were stuck in limbo. It was heaven and hell at once.
One time driving her back from lunch, we were at a red light and our conversation had come to a stop. I looked at her and said matter-of-factly,
“You’re going to be my wife one day.”
I don’t know what possessed me to do that, but I knew it was true. I was more trusting of fate than her, still am. She just looked at me with a sad look in her eyes, like it was her fondest dream, but she had no hope it would ever come true.
Things went on like this for six months or so, we’d go to lunch and occasionally hit a bar after work with some friends or alone, but there didn’t seem to be a future for us and our relationship was in a stalemate. It had been a year and a half and still there was no physical touch what-so-ever.
I’d go out drinking with Jesse sometimes and close a bar down, and all we’d talk about was Cheryl over Crown and Coke. He liked her too and I liked him. I would tell him that as much as I love her, I’d rather see him with her than anyone else. I didn’t have any hope that things would change in my life, and Jesse would tell me I’d be a fool to leave Pat for Cheryl, because I had such a good thing with Pat, and breakups are always so messy. I guess maybe he saw something I didn’t see in my marriage. Or maybe he was expressing his regret about the tragic events of his own life.
Jesse’s wife died of cancer about a year before all this, and he was left a broken man. She died at home, because there was nothing the hospital could do for her. He and his sons had to watch this everyday until the end. I sensed there was some guilt or regret in him that would never be articulated or dealt with because of that, some grief that defined him and could never be assuaged. He was on a steady decline, but you could tell he was once a great man who could have been anything. Now he was stuck with two teenage boys who he loved more than the world, and no hope of a life again; almost the male equivalent of Marylyn Monroe, beautiful yet tragic.
Eventually he did start to date Cheryl, and she considered our relationship on hold. We no longer went to lunch. Instead, Connie and I commiserated at lunch and found some solace in being together. She loved Jesse, and I loved Cheryl, but we were the married ones not them. As much as it hurt and caused us to drink till the small hours of the morning, we had to agree it was best for them. You have to do what’s right for those you love; no matter how much it kills you.
Jesse and Cheryl had dated for about three months, and I was just about over the pain and able to feel happy for them while I worked on my computers, when one day Cheryl came back to my work area visibly upset and crying. I got up and asked her what was wrong, but she was so upset she couldn’t speak. I held her in my arms and tried to calm her down. Between sobs she told me that she had just told Jesse she didn’t want to see him anymore. They had gone to lunch and she told him there. He brought her back to work and then he took off to drink himself into a stupor.
So many thoughts and feelings washed through me at that moment, sadness for Jesse and empathy for how he must feel at this moment, and concern for his safety. I later called Connie and told her what happened and where he likely was going to drink, she left work and found him at a bar down the street and made sure he got home okay. I also felt elation that she was free again and that she chose to come to me first with her news, and I felt guilt that I should feel so happy about it.
Although she couldn’t say it, we both knew that there couldn’t be anyone else for us. We were meant to be, and that fate thing that no one believes in wouldn’t be mocked or toyed with. I was beginning to have confidence in it, and took it for a sign that what was meant to be will be. I let her go and she came back to me, just like the poster said.
We took up where we left off, but we had more to talk about now. Her relationship with Jesse, my relationship with Connie, and how we both really felt through all that happened in the last three months. We were best friends and could talk about absolutely anything, and we enjoyed having that very special relationship. It was so much better than having a sexual relationship even though I did burn for her.
I learned to enjoy my desire for her and savor it, like a fine old scotch, -slowly sipping while the feeling of intoxication crept over me gradually like a warm blanket. So many times I wanted to hold her softly and gently kiss her beautiful lips. I had imagined it but I always caught myself and directed my thoughts away. I was like a church boy practicing mental abstinence, waiting for the day when it would happen, -not wanting to spoil the precious moment even in my mind. Waiting for the day when it would be right and all my desire would be in front of me like a delicious banquet waiting to be slowly savored. I was beginning to learn that life is about the journey, not the destination.
Our relationship became better after this, more open. Cheryl was finally beginning to realize some things herself. Whereas before she was constantly concerned about my marriage and not wanting to be the "other woman", now she was starting to lose some of that reservation.
I think that the turning point was finding out that a deacon at her church had been arrested while seeing a prostitute. Yet another deacon while at her house to help her with something, made a pass at her. It made her lose faith in the Victorian ethic she had so firmly believe in and put a dint in her own resolve to live the life she knew was not possible even for these men. I can’t say for sure, I’ve never believed in such things. Whatever it was, she was starting to take us more seriously and realize that she was in control of her life and she could find strength, if only now and then, to control it; that right and wrong are sometimes not defined by a set of rules you follow, but rather by whether you follow your own heart and stay true to it.
The manager of the service center came over to see me one Friday afternoon to ask if I would help him out of a tough spot. He needed someone to run a service call a couple hundred miles away on a washer owned by a neurosurgeon who lived out in the country. No one could be home during business hours and we had to honor the warranty. I told him it would be no problem and prepared to leave.
I went over to see Cheryl before I left, and got the idea that maybe she could come with me. When I first asked her she was reluctant, but with a little prodding she gave in. I told her she could hold my tool if she liked or at least be my assistant.
She made a phone call and arranged for her mother to take care of her son and we took off.
We stopped at a country restaurant and had a nice dinner and got on the highway headed south. We talked about all kinds of things on the way down - we were both so happy to have this much time together because up to this point we could only talk at lunch for an hour or so at a time, -talking at work wasn’t the same because there were too many people around and they would always try to listen to us. We were having such a good time in our conversation that I over-shot my exit by 90 miles. We had to double back, but I just wanted to keep going on forever and never turn back. We passed a little broken down shack on the side of the highway and began fantasizing about moving in together and fixing the place up, just her and me. She was absolutely delightful to be with and every moment was pure ecstasy in her presence.
We finally found the neurosurgeons house and fixed his washer in about 15 minutes, and then we headed back, stopping along the way to get some gas, and coffee in a little road side station. They had some cassette tapes of older rock-n-roll music, so we bought a mixture tape and listened to it in the background. I took the longest way home I could think of. I didn’t want the night to end, but eventually we ended up in front of her house and we said goodnight. She asked me if I would come in tomorrow, it being Saturday, so I decided that I would.
The next day I was on the way to work and I remembered the Nextel phone the boss had given me to take with me on the service call, it was in the console, so I picked it up and keyed the microphone and Cheryl was on the other end. We laughed and alluded to the night before while some of the other girls in the front office were listening. She was really hamming it up just to make them jealous. We had a lot of fun on that road trip. We still refer to it as “the service call”.
The following Saturday, I took my kids to a small town in Kansas and we went to a park where many old trees stood. There was a playground for them and I taught them about the trees, how there were planted by the settlers as they passed through to provide wood for wagon repairs for other settlers that followed them out west. They were over one hundred years old and magnificent. My wife had gone to a women’s retreat at church and couldn’t make it with us. So I thought the following Saturday, I’d come back with her and the kids so she could see the place, it was Counsel Grove Kansas.
Pat and I hadn’t been getting along for a couple of days before we went there and on the way back we got into a terrible fight which lasted the whole nest week.
Pat had a way of making you pay dearly for upsetting her by pouting for days on end. After nineteen years of it, I’d had enough and just let her pout and act like I wasn’t even alive. I didn’t love her any more and she felt the same, so I just didn’t care. It got so bad that I put my daughter in my bed and slept in hers the entire week.
The next Saturday, I woke up early before anyone else in the house and decided to go in to work, knowing that Cheryl would be there too. I had no way of knowing that this day was going to be a turning point in my life.
As I sat on the edge of the bed that morning, I remembered Cheryl had said that Journey was her favorite rock group. I decided that I’d get some cash out of the bank on the way to work and buy her a Journey CD as a surprise gift.
I took a shower and got dressed and went to the bank’s drive though ATM. As I waited in line, I heard someone calling out my name. I had the radio on so he was practically screaming it. I turned the radio down and looked at the next line over and saw a man waving at me from inside his car. I didn’t recognize him at first so I just waved back and turned around to mind my own business. Meanwhile he had gotten out of his car and come up to my window. I recognized him as the man who operated the liquor store a couple blocks away. I had met him about a year back on the ‘Tuesday ten percent off’ wine sales. We had talked a lot and became friendly. His name was Dave, about 40, well built and very talkative.
“Hey Russ, I’m glad I ran into you this morning.” He said
“Hey Dave, what’s up?” I retuned.
“I wonder if you could help me out of a tight spot.” He said in a hopeful way.
I said, “it depends, I’m on my way to work, and haven’t got a lot of time.”
Holding his hands in a stop motion he said, “This won’t take any time now, unless you’ve got plans later on this evening.”
I was in a hurry to get going. I had my day planned and I was looking forward to it.
“Maybe I can help.” I asked him, “What is it?”
He really looked in earnest about this so I figured it must be important. He went on,
“I have these comp tickets for a concert tonight at Sand Stone Amphitheater. Something has come up and I can’t go, and I was wondering if you could take them off my hands. They’re great seats, center stage, and fifteen rows back, you can’t get much better, shit you can’t even buy these babies at the ticket outlet. The owner of the liquor store got them from some woman he’s dating who works there.”
Looking a gift horse in the mouth, I asked, “Who’s the headliner?”
To my utter shock and amazement he said, “Journey, can you go?”
I smiled broadly and said, “Dave, I’d love to help you out man, thanks for thinking of me, of course I’ll take them off your hands, and thank you.”
What luck. I was excited as hell. Fate was with me today, or something was. Now the only thing left to do was get to work and ask Cheryl to go with me.
When I got to work, I walked past Cheryl merely nodding to her, and sat at my desk planning my strategy. I wanted this to be memorable occasion so I thought it best to walk through it in my mind first.
I knew Pat was still in full blown snit mode and wouldn’t enquire about me if I came home late, and we didn’t have cell phones. Everything seemed great and then the phone at my desk rang.
It was Cheryl. She wondered if everything was okay because I didn’t stop by and talk to her. So I told her I had a lot on my mind this morning and needed to think. She asked me if I needed someone to talk to about whatever it was. I said that would be nice of her and we talked small talk for a few more minutes.
I asked her if she was going to the Journey concert at Sand Stone later that evening. She said that she wasn’t going because she had missed the deadline to buy the tickets and she didn’t have anyone to go with, plus they were sold out anyway. I felt just a wee bit wicked for toying with her this way.
I said, “Do you want to go to that concert?”
She sadly said, “They’re my favorite group, and no one has ever taken me to one of their concerts, of course I’d like to go, but….”
I said, “No, no, you misunderstand me, I mean do YOU want to go with ME? I have tickets.”
I almost lost my hearing at the shriek that came out of the phone; you could hear it echo across the interior of the entire building.
I hung up the phone and went up to her desk to find her beaming; almost in tears she was so surprised and happy.
The concert started at seven that evening, so we had the whole day to plan out. We would leave work at noon and go to the mall. She needed to buy and outfit for the occasion. Then we would go back to her place to get dressed. After that we planned to find a nice place to eat dinner and make it to the concert about an hour before it started.
The day went perfectly. She bought a cute red tank and some tight jeans. I got a new pair of tennis shoes that she picked out for me. We went back to her place and she changed. She looked sexy as hell. Then we found a nice bar and grill and had a delicious casual dinner.
Billy Squire was the opening act, he did a solo, -in July with ninety five degree humid weather, he came out in a white wife beater tee and tight leather pants. It made me feel hot just looking at him.
Next up was Foreigner, one of my favorite groups. The crowd was primed everyone on their feet dancing and having a great time. The sun was starting to set and it was getting cooler. We didn’t sit at all during Foreigner’s performance and I saw that she has some very good dance moves.
When Journey came on, Cheryl was beyond excited. I’ve never seen her like that before or since. We stayed on our feet though about eight songs before they toned it down with the song called Lights, one of my favorite songs. We collapsed in our seats. I told her my feet hurt and she said hers did too, so I reached over and grabbed her leg and lifted it to my lap and removed her sandal and gave her a foot massage. It was like we were in a small room because everyone around us was still standing.
I rubbed her foot with care, it being the first time I had ever touched her and I wanted to savor the moment. I looked over at her, and she was looking at me with a look that I cannot describe in writing. It contained friendship, trust, desire, lust, and most of all love.
I leaned over and kissed her on the lips, she responded with two years of pent up desire. To say it was hot, would not come anywhere near the mark, it was fucking hot. We didn’t come up for air for fifteen minutes.
Eventually, we got back into the concert and stood and danced, only this time we were slow dancing to everything, arms around each other, hips touching, and looking in each others eyes.
When the concert was over we walked arm in arm back to my car and headed back to her place.
Sand Stone is way out in the country so the drive home at one o’clock in the morning was easy, no cars in sight. At a stop sign I leaned over and kissed her again. I had never seen such passion in a woman. She lost herself immediately in the heat of the kiss and became breathless. I felt things in me that I thought were long dead return in my core, like an explosion of new life.
When we arrived at her house she invited me in fumbling for her keys in her haste. Once inside the door I grabbed her and kissed her against the wall. She swooned, her knees gave out and I had to hold her up. I picked her up and carried her to her bed, our lips still hungrily kissing. We fell on the bed and kissed for what seemed like hours ripping clothes off until we were natural.
The flood of emotions that we experienced that night still stands out in my mind as the pinnacle of my life. It was never better, and I doubt that it ever could be.