Page 12 Is that where I


                                                                     ROY GARDE

    It was February and both my wife and I were suffering from lack-of-sun-fever so when we both felt colds coming on that did it for us and we opted for a four-day long-weekend trip to Puerto Rico where it is around eighty degrees the year round. 

   We picked out a nice package deal for a hotel on the beach and when the courtesy van delivered us to the hotel, and we’d checked in, we dropped off our stuff in our room and put on our bathing suits, and robes, and headed for the sand where we tried to bake ourselves well. 

   It worked! By sundown we had our appetites back and so we showered and then went looking for a modest restaurant. We found one that looked to be small and good but either we’d ignored the prices on the menu that was in a brass stand out in the street near the entrance or it didn’t show them and so it wasn’t until we’d been shown to a table and could read the menu that we saw that the entrees were priced way over our budget.

  We knew each other too well to even consider slinking out of there but we did exchange wry looks and my wife whispered, “It will be hot dogs from a vendor for the next three days!”

  We decided to rescue as much as we could of a bad situation by skipping drinks and appetizers and dessert and coffee and by picking an entree that we liked and that was in the low end of the price range and just as we were ready to call over a waiter one of them came unbidden and told us that the couple at a table that was across the center barrier from us wanted us to read this note, “Por favor, Senor.” 

  It was an invitation to join them because they were celebrating twenty years of marriage. We discussed it and asked ourselves, ‘why not?’ and so we looked over to them and nodded and smiled consent.

 When we approached the table the guy stood up and his face was beaming in welcome. He was wearing a nice, smooth, dark gray suit, and one of those power ties that get you to try to remember the color and pattern so as to buy one for yourself sometime, and she was wearing a black dress that was cut so low that when I was standing over her and shaking her hand I could catch glimpses of the top arc of the dark brown aureoles of her nipples.  

 “We’re happy that you agreed to come over,” he said when we’d sat down, “because at the last moment we decided that we don’t want to be alone tonight and we picked you two because everybody else eating here seem to be senior citizens. Right?” 

We hadn’t noticed so we looked around and saw that while less than a half of the tables were being used just about all of the male diners in sight had no hair or had white or gray hair.

There was an already opened bottle of champagne in an ice bucket that was at his side and after he’d poured some for us we toasted them and wished them many more. What else? 

Already on the table was a large selection of hors d’oeuvres and we were invited to help ourselves. They were top quality and highly varied and we had to restrain ourselves.

“We’ve gotten to the point in life where we don’t like parties where there are more than six or eight people,” Paul told us after we’d done the introductions all around, “so nowadays we go away when birthdays and holidays come up, especially Christmas and the New Year’s, and well before anniversaries like this one and that way we don’t get roped into having to suffer through hours of small talk and noise and inconvenience and, inescapably, seldom seen relatives who insist on telling us what their little darlings have been up to over the last five or ten years.” 

His wife, Melody, said, “We’ve been here a week already to be sure that there’d be little danger of someone back home throwing an early party for us although we’ve been doing our disappearing act for so long now that they’re all beginning to catch on. We are now working on a plan that might well obviate the giving and receiving of presents! We’ve both long felt that it’s gone completely out of control and when we saw the pile of expensive presents that were given to me last Mother’s Day – we’ve only got three children and no grandchildren! – we were appalled and decided that we had to do something about that, too. We’re hovering between making a general announcement to that affect or simply, and brutally, stop giving presents and in that way we think that the inward flow will soon dry up to match.” 

My wife, Karen, said, “I agree with you for the most part but, although we don’t have any children yet, I think that it’ll be difficult to not buy nor accept gifts – toys for instance and clothing too – for them as they grow up.”

“Well, yes,” said Melody, “but, as I said, we haven’t worked out all the details yet and I guess that probably the prohibitions will only come into play when couples who are parents become empty nesters.” 

“Then in that case I’m with you all the way. Very sensible. It’s getting to be that the retail stores are dictating not only when we must buy but also what are compulsory purchases.” 

“Exactly, and how long will it be before we get a ‘Cousin’s Day’ and an ‘Uncle’s Day’ and an ‘In-laws Week’ ?” 

After that both women realized that they had exhausted the subject, and our patience maybe, and so they held their tongues for a spell and the conversation got to be general and we soon found out that we were all of one mind as to the deplorable state of the union and were fearful as to the fate of our country even in the face of all the promises of our new President and his administration. The subject of politics ended, in its turn, after Paul said, “Reluctantly, I have to give our previous governing party a lot of credit because they somehow succeeded in persuading the majority of the people to vote, twice no less, against their own best interests.”  

Because we had only just met it was easy for us to stay convivial seeing that we could all bring out our true and tested anecdotes that were sure to amuse although, in their case, being older and far more widely traveled, their stories had more bite and more depth but not necessarily more humor. 

We ordered our entrees and later Melody suggested that we all share two desserts with our coffee, which was a bold gesture that endeared her to both my wife and to me, and, all in all, I don’t remember enjoying a dinner more. 

Paul brushed aside my offer to pay half of the check – “We invited you.” he said and that ended that – and when he’d dealt with it we walked out to the sidewalk together. He raised his arm to hail a cab and suggested that we accompany them to their hotel, “For a night cap.” 

Karen surprised me then by jumping in to say, “Well, that’s very nice of you but we’ve had a long day and, what with that and the sun and all, I think we’d better get an early night. But thank you very much for offering.”

We made small talk until the cab pulled up and they asked us if we wanted to share it but we explained that we were staying just up the road so we all said ‘nice to meet you’ and ‘good bye’ and as Paul followed his wife into the cab we heard him tell the driver that they wanted to go to the Caribe Hilton.

“Figures,” I said when the cab had pulled away, “the most expensive hotel on the whole Island. I don’t doubt for a minute that they’ve got one of those suites that cost around $800 a night because this is the high season.”

“Don’t be mean spirited,” my wife said, “they’re nice people and generous too. I managed to sneak a look at the check when he was signing it and it came to – are you ready for this? – $537.00! The champagne alone was over a hundred a bottle and the white wine was seventy something.”

“Really? Wow! That’s about twice as much as we’re going to spend on food for the entire trip! Ha! – – – – Uh, by the way, on the plane coming down here you told me that we were going to stay up all night, every night, partying – ‘Let’s forget about sleeping altogether, except on the beach maybe,’ you said. So, how come you cut in so quickly to say ‘No thanks’ after they offered us a night cap?”

“Well, something about them turned me off. He was far too attentive to me – you know the kind? He listened to my every word as if it was gospel – and she was way too pleasant to you and not to mention the fact that she was waggling her tits at you all the time we were there.”

“Really? I didn’t notice tha – OW! – Well, maybe a little. Talking about that, let’s pick up the pace here, babe. I want to get back to our room, muy pronto. All that sun this afternoon and all that looking down the front of her dress has made me extra horny. Uh, you know what? Her breasts are almost as nice as yours.” 
        We didn’t expect to ever see them again but when we got to the airport and were waiting in line there they were, standing over at the first class check-in desk and when we went into the waiting area a few minutes before the departure time they were sitting at the far end and so we walked over to say hello.

They were as nice as could be and they complimented us on our tans – we both believe in getting our money’s worth in everything that we do – and we made small talk until our flight was announced.

We all stood up and as he was about to follow his wife to the entrance to the ramp – “First Class Passengers May Now Board” – he asked where did we live and how were we going to get home? I told him which town was ours and that we were going to call up for a limo when we got there and he said that he was going past our town on his way home and he insisted that we accept a ride.  

        On the flight down I’d been given a middle seat and I stoically suffered in silence all through the bit more than three hours that the flight lasted and by the time that we arrived in San Juan I could hardly straighten up. Because of that I’d asked for a seat with some leg room on the return trip and when I found my seat I saw that there was indeed plenty of room for my legs but, unfortunately, it was out into the little foyer in front of the toilets. To add further insult it soon became evident that the people in business class, them there rich bastards what’s behind the green curtain, had to use ‘our’ toilets which meant that there was a constant line of people and kids from up front and from the rear crowding me and standing on my feet and interrupting my reading and, consequently, for most of the flight I was exasperated.

 I don’t know what the company’s policy in such things is but I do know that the one that they practice at present borders on the feudal.

However, that said, it is still an inescapable fact that even the first class passengers don’t arrive before the Business Class and the lowly Coach people and so Paul and Melody were waiting by the carousel when we got there and when our bags came around we walked together to the exit and we saw a guy in a gray uniform and a peaked cap holding a sign that said, ‘Caudel.’ 

When Paul signaled to him we then knew what their surname was which was fortunate because we’d instantly forgotten it after he’d introduced himself and his wife back in that restaurant.

We were led to an actual limousine – a black, stretch Town Car – and when we’d pulled out from the curb I was offered, and took, the first drink that I’ve ever had poured for me in a moving vehicle. 

The journey to my house takes forty minutes or so and it went very well indeed partially thanks to the way that the vodka flowed.          When we pulled up to the curb at home the chauffeur retrieved our bags for us as we offered our thanks yet again and Karen and Melody swapped telephone numbers.

A splendid way to end a vacation. I highly recommend it.

A week or so later, when I got home from work, Karen told me that Melody had called her and had invited us both to dinner the coming Saturday night.

She’d been given the address and directions that afternoon and she couldn’t resist driving over there to check the place out and she’d found that it was a huge, white-brick, fenced in mansion with a long driveway and extensive lawns. There were other, smaller, buildings in the grounds, towards the back, and she was highly impressed. 

We’d almost bought a house in their town once but the amount of municipal taxes that we’d have had to pay turned us off and we’d settled for one in our town that was, back then, for working men mostly. In the years since then our average taxes are now the same as theirs and although our house has doubled in price the one that we’d almost bought for the same amount over there had more than tripled. 

Better fiscal management – I guess. That you can’t win – I know.  

The gate guarding their driveway had been opened for us and we drove up to the house and parked behind a gleaming red Jaguar convertible and there was a formidable-looking Mercedes further up. 

We were met at the door by Paul and he led us to a sunken living room and we talked and drank vodka until a white-coated waiter sidled into the room and signaled to Madam that dinner was ready. We sat down at a table with impressive glasses and plates and tableware and a fresh flower centerpiece that was long and low so as to not block anybody’s view.

When we were served with perfectly fashioned hors d’oeuvres I became suspicious that the meal had been catered and every succeeding course lent support to it. Everything tasted good but it was all a little too pat.

The same thing applied to the service. The waiter was immaculately dressed and didn’t have a hair out of place and he never said a word – he only gestured at Madam with one hand or with an eyebrow and Madam merely nodded or shook her head in response. 

A maid, also impeccably attired, dealt with the empty dishes and I presumed that that there was another member of the team in the kitchen or maybe two – the cook and one to wash up?

The conversation didn’t flow as well as it had in Puerto Rico because we’d all trotted out our best stories down there. Still, the vodka and then the excellent wines helped everything along.        When the others were drinking brandy with their coffees – Paul had, pointedly, not given me any brandy and had given me a coffee cup that was twice as big as the others – I saw that Paul and Karen had evidently found a topic that was mutually absorbing because she had moved her chair nearer to his end of the table.

That left me to entertain Melody and so I moved closer to her and I found that she was a film buff too so, for a reason that I forget, we got deeply into comparing the movies of Marlene Dietrich and Jane Harlow.        After a while we were interrupted by Karen who told me that she and Paul were going to his study to get on the Internet to prove out something or other and after I’d nodded that I understood I got back into the world of aged sex pots with Melody.        The waiter came in, a half hour or so later, and he made a gesture that clearly conveyed the information that he’d finished doing everything and that the kitchen had been cleaned and was immaculate and that he and the others were going to leave if that was all right with Madam?        It was and then he made another gesture with his head that said that he felt privileged to have been of service to her and that she should please consider using his services again the next time that she gave a dinner party or whatever.         When he’d gone Melody’s demeanor changed significantly and I don’t know how it happened but I had to divert my eyes upwards whenever I looked in her direction so as to not get caught staring down her dress where the familiar aureoles were mysteriously once again in plain view.

Also, instead of furthering the discussion she asked me if I’d like to see her collection of the various styles of wigs that Marlene and Jean had worn in their roles?

Because I’d been in the middle of a telling point I told her no thank you and then I firmly took the conversation back to Hollywood and the Fifties.

It was about another half hour before the other two came back to us and the evening quickly wound down after that and it soon got to be time for us to leave.

It was a nice evening so the two of them came out to see us off and Melody took an opportunity to whisper to me, “Karen has my cell phone number.” and then she moved away and went over to link arms with Paul and they both stood there and waved goodbye as I backed up and then circled their driveway to go out through the gates.        Just as I was about to say to Karen that I didn’t think that we’d ever see the inside of their home again she said the exact same thing out loud to me and we spent the rest of the drive home worrying out the why’s and where-fore’s of that joint statement. She told me that her reason boiled down to the fact that she hadn’t felt a bit comfortable there and, besides that, she worried that if we became fast friends with them she’d have to buy a second and a third expensive dress, and shoes to go with them and accessories too, and then what would she do for the fourth visit? She could see bankruptcy down the road simply from trying to keep up with Caudels, “So, no, thank you and, besides that, I don’t even want to think about how to cope with sharing vacations if that ever came to be.”

She went on to say that she thought that calling in outside catering for a dinner for just four people was a bit much and because there hadn’t been the slightest attempt at adding a personal touch to any of it she felt as if she’d dined at an Institution or had attended a Board Meeting of a large corporation and had been given dinner on the premises after it.

She also said that she’d felt intimidated all the time, and slightly overwhelmed, by Paul and that she wouldn’t mind if she never saw him again. “Way too sure of himself,” was her verdict, “thinks that he’s really something and he isn’t.”

I told her that I agreed entirely with all that she’d said except for the intimidation part and, besides that, I didn’t think that Melody was all that interesting and that without him at her side she didn’t have much to say for herself.

I told her that if Melody called again she should make up an excuse to fob her off but what I didn’t tell her was that when Melody had whispered her message to me about calling her I realized what her, “Would you like to come and see my wig collection,” invitation was all about and, from then on, whenever I thought about it I mentally kicked myself for being stupid. When I got over it my brain started to work frantically on a plan to get her between the sheets. I didn’t much want to go inside her home ever again but I badly wanted to get inside her pants and if that happened, knowing my make up all too well, I knew that guilt would see to it that I’d never want to be in the same room with Paul, or even talk on the phone with him, ever again. 
        It was easy for me to get Melody’s number from Karen because she’d entered it into her electronic memo pad and I judged that Paul would have left for work by ten o’clock so, on the Monday morning, well after Karen had gone to work, I called Melody at fifteen minutes after ten.

We indulged in very little small talk because I was sure of my ground and I asked her almost straight out if we could meet somewhere.        “Wonderful,” she answered, “I’d like that very much. Uh, make it for Wednesday afternoon, after lunch, and call me again when and where we can – uh – see each other again. OK?”

“Great,” I said, and then to be sure that we were on the same page, I added, “I’ll look for a room that’s equidistant between my office and your place. OK?”  
        Knowing that she was a classy lady and used to having the best of everything I made a reservation at a four star hotel that was only a little farther away from my office than from her home and I ordered champagne and canapés to be placed in our room at three o’clock because I was willing, even eager, to spend any amount of money to ensure that she wouldn’t have a last minute change of mind once she arrived. 

I called her when everything was fixed up and asked if three o’clock was all right by her and she said, “Perfect.” I then told her the name of the hotel and what our room number was. 
        She was ten minutes late but when I opened the door after hearing her tap on it she breezed right in and she put down her handbag and then she took off her attractive top coat and I was astonished to see that she was wearing only a bra underneath it.

Then, cool as could be, she took that off too and then held a provocative pose.        I, of course, hurried to get naked and when I went over to close with her she evaded me and slipped past me and onto the bed where she made amends for her abruptness by opening up both her arms and her legs for me. Wide.

I decided to forgive her. 
        “Wow!” she said later – around an hour and a half later – “I  knew that you’d be virile, it goes with your age bracket, but an expert too? That never crossed my mind! Karen is a very lucky woman and I hope she knows it.

“Well now – let’s see – I’m quite sure that we did it twice – and I think maybe once more when I was so far out of it that I couldn’t respond, true? – yes, I thought so and I don’t blame you even though I’m a little upset about losing out on some pleasure. Also, I lost count of the number of lovely orgasms that you gave me with your tongue. “So, well done, young man. I’ve got nothing but praise for you. Thank you. I badly needed some satisfying loving and I well and truly got it. I feel properly fucked and also very sore but that’s OK because the two things go together, or should I say that they come together? Ha!”

I had nothing witty to say, my brain wasn’t yet working properly, so I managed something about how wonderful she was and for that she reached over and kissed me nicely and then she got out of bed and went into the bathroom.        When she came out again, ten minutes later, she said, breezily, “Well. I’ve got to hurry off, I’m afraid. What a pity. Well, now, we must do this again sometime but don’t call me on my cell because it’s too risky. Let me call you, OK?”        It got through to me that there was something very wrong with her last statement and so I struggled to remember her exact words and when I’d done so I realized that I’d just been dismissed from her life as surely as if she’d told me to get lost.

She’d put her bra back on and she was doing up the buttons of her coat by the time that I got myself together enough to try to save the day, which I desperately wanted to do because she was wonderful between the sheets – no inhibitions at all – and her body was very attractive and her skin was smooth and was wonderfully perfumed and, when aroused properly, she could kiss better than anyone that I’ve ever known.        “Won’t you have some champagne and stay and talk for a while?” I pleaded.       “Champagne at four thirty in the afternoon! I don’t think so thank you and anyway, I’ve got to drive home and it’s rush hour already.”        Whining was all that I could come up with and after a few minutes of it she got annoyed no end. She obviously wanted a clean, friendly break so she stopped pulling her shoes on and, I guess, to emphasize the fact that this afternoon was the one and only time that we’d ever see each other no matter about being naked together again, she said, “You’ve got to learn to ease up a little, my friend. Take what life offers and be grateful for it.       “Oh, there’s another thing – I was once as poor as you are and so I don’t like unnecessary extravagance ever but especially when the person doing it can’t afford to waste money. This room had to be booked for the whole night, am I right? Around $400, correct? What a mistake. You should have booked us into a sleazy motel, at the four-hour ‘short stay’ rate, which would have been around $40.       “And champagne and canapés? Really? Do you think of me as being an ingénue? – Oh. Sorry. That’s a woman who has to be wined and dined and wooed – I don’t think so! Not for many years, either.      “You know, when you were at our house for dinner the other night and I asked you if you’d like to come up to my bedroom and see my wig collection – I don’t have one by the way – that, along with the fact that I’d seen to it that my tits were close to falling out in your direction for the longest time, should have been all the go-ahead that you needed and if you’d agreed to come upstairs with me; or had reached over to cop a feel; or even if you’d asked me nicely; I’d have willingly lifted up my dress – as you saw earlier I never wear panties – and I’d have bent over the bed or the table for you.       “You’re too young to know it yet but take it from me – there is nothing like doing it for the first time with a new partner. The aphrodisiac effect is marvelous and, in truth, it’s close to being essential when – uh – the bloom of youth has faded a little, shall we say?        “You know, if we’d done it last Saturday night both of our urges would have been taken care of there and then and that would have saved us both a lot of trouble and saved you all of this expense. True? So, in future young man, remember: Carpe Diem.”        When she’d put her shoes on she stood up and picked up her coat and her handbag and then she came over to the foot of the bed and said, “By the way, after this little rendezvous of ours – a highly satisfactory one I’m glad to say – you must agree that the expressions: ‘Tit for Tat,’ and ‘What’s Sauce for the Goose – etc.’ are now ‘in play,’ to use one of your sport’s expressions, and so it’s fair for me to tell you that while you were wasting the opportunity to get it on with me the other night, Karen – who, I’m told, has a deeply inverted left nipple and who has to wear close-to-industrial-strength pantyhose – was bending over the desk in Paul’s study and they, I’m given to understand and unlike poor us, did some excellent carpe diem-ing.”