A modest introduction:
There is a level of the old back and forth, mostly between our two main characters Cal and Arlene. Please don’t be too put off.
So here goes...
“Take a Chance!”
“If you change your mind
I’ll be first line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on me”
Cal gets to go first:
“I’d like to be able to come right to the point and tell you how this all happened. I’d like to tell you what it all means. Shit I’d like to even exactly know what happened, but even now it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me. Here I was one day thinking I was happily married to the woman I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with, and a few weeks later I’m all alone and totally in the shitter. It’s so fucking complicated, and then again it’s as simple as learning the definition of the word cuckold if that was even what it was. Well let’s try to sort this out. All I can say is you’ll be hearing from me, and from the two women who are also at the center of this confusing mess.
“I guess you could say it all started with the Local Volunteer Fire Company dinner. It was the day of the big ham and oyster supper. It was a big occasion because it was when they got as many people together as possible to eat, buy raffle tickets, play bingo, and just generally contribute as much as they could to the fire company. This year was supposed to be an especially big event because they had their eye on a brand new fire truck they hoped would replace the much older one, a hold-over from the one they’d bought right after the Vietnam War.
One of the central characters, maybe the most central character, in the big oyster-ham get-together was a girl I once knew named Arlene Brown. Now why was this true?”
“OK, back to the story. Arlene was just twenty-three when all this started to blow up in my face; she was an unmarried mom with a totally rambunctious four year old little boy. She was important because all the planning, cooking, and publicity for the dinner had fallen in her lap.
I tell you it’s creepy. After bringing her little dumpling into the world back in May 2003 Arlene had decided to go it alone; well as alone as she could afford. She never told anyone who the father was, and that proved to be a point of some gossip for a little while and a major source of consternation for even longer.”
“I guess I have to back up a little here. Arlene and I and my wife, or former wife Susan I should say all live, or lived, in the same small town just about forty-five miles northwest of Baltimore, the biggest city in Maryland. Back when I was growing up our town only had about seven hundred people so you know what that meant; everybody knew everybody’s business. You just couldn’t get away from it.”
“The high school I attended was small; there were only eighty kids in my graduating class. I graduated in 2002. While I was in school, that was when I met and fell in love with Arlene, or at least I thought I fell in love with her. I guess I must have because I started nagging her for a chance to take her out, and by the spring of out junior year she agreed. Now don’t get this wrong; we were as naïve and innocent as two foals. I tell you nothing happened, or at least nothing happened until we both were eighteen and had graduated.”
“Let me get to that. I mean how we got started, and then suddenly stopped; and all that so-called hot steamy sex that never happened that I know most of you are secretly interested in hearing about.”
“Well I want to remind you again my name is Calvin McCabe, but most people all just call me Cal. I’m the only guy you’ll need to know about in the story other than maybe my older brother Bob and this other guy you’ll probably grow to hate, or at least I hope you’ll grow to hate. His name isn’t important, not right now anyway.
“OK, well I think I actually might have fallen in love with Arlene the first time I ever saw her way back in the fourth grade. I remember seeing her and telling my mom back when I was nine that I thought I’d probably marry her. Mom said I could probably do a lot worse. She said Arlene came from a good family. I recall how she was just so damned cute. Arlene was a spritely little gal.
Even now at twenty-four I think she’s just as cute as the dickens. By the way don’t mess with me on ages and some dates. I’ve been through so much lately sometimes I just get confused, and you know how it is when you start to talk, everything kind of bleeds together.
Arlene, she stands a diminutive five foot four, weight maybe a hundred and ten pounds; she has dark brown hair she always keeps cut short, and she has dark brown eyes. Actually she’s just a mousy little thing, but by now you probably know I like them mousy.”
“Here we were in high school in our junior year. I was born In February and Arlene in April. We were both seventeen and as raw and as untested as could be. We started dating in May and by June I was so deeply in love I burst out one night and just told her. Well I think she loved me too, but was a little afraid to go as far as I did. She said she triple decker liked me. Now Arlene was as popular as hell; boys followed her around like flies follow a horse on a hot August day. I gave her my high school ring, and that sort of sealed the deal; in my mind we’d get married, settle down, I’d get a job; we’d have seven or eight kids, and live happily ever after. Too bad it never quite happened that way.
That summer my mom and dad took me, my older brother Bob and my older sister Barbara to the beach for a week. It was an important vacation for a lot of reasons, the most important of which I never understood until later was that was the last vacation we’d ever have with our dad; he had a massive heart attack while on the job later that year, and we’d never get a vacation with him again.
Well back to the story. We were gone a week, a whole week, just seven days! When I came back I went straight over to see Arlene. I wanted to show her my great tan, and I wanted to give her the Tee-shirt I’d bought her. I knew something was up as soon as I walked in her parent’s front door. She was wearing my school ring and looking at it. It didn’t take her long to tell me she’d been out on a couple dates while I was away, and she’d decided to break it off with me and start seeing another guy she met named David.”
“I thought, David, who the shit was David? David it turned out was a guy who lived a few miles from us and attended a private Catholic High School in southern Pennsylvania. Didn’t that take the cake; the girl I wanted to spend the rest of my life with had dumped me for someone else because she thought he was cuter, had a better car, and because she just knew I’d probably been sneaking around with other girls while I was at the beach.”
“Damn it, I hadn’t been sneaking around. I had my chances. I’d met a girl from Chesapeake City, but I’d spent half an evening telling her about Arlene and how much I loved her. The Chesapeake City girl got bored and went off with some other boy from Dover, Delaware.”
“What a fool I was. I learned quickly that day, first take advantage of every opportunity when it comes, and second Arlene was about as trustworthy as a cat. I blew out of that house as fast as I could, and I didn’t see or hear from her again until school started.”
“Come to find out when school started back up in September, David, the Parochial School boy, and Arlene never hit it off. Arlene and I got back together. Honestly, I never really trusted Arlene after that summer, and all that fall, winter, and spring of our senior year I didn’t know if she wanted to date me because she loved me or because I had a car. Her breaking up with me sort of gnawed at me all that year. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I’d always find a way to pick a fight with her just when she seemed the happiest. Like when we went to her grandparents for Christmas and everybody was having such a good time, and I started something that ended up making her cry. I, of course, apologized. Hell I didn’t know why I did it; I was just too young and immature.
High school graduation came, and she and I were still virgins. We kept dating all summer, but we both knew things were going to change soon. She’d signed up to go to some culinary school in Baltimore, and I’d gotten accepted at the big university down at College Park. I wondered if our love, by then I knew she really loved me, would survive the separation. I remembered oh too well our week long separation from the year before.”
I’m Arlene, and now I get to go:
“I really liked Cal when he first asked me out when we were juniors, but I was coming off a pretty bad break up with an older boy, older, he was a senior, and I wasn’t ready for another serious relationship; you know one with kissing and hugging each other every day after school and all day every weekend. Don’t forget, this was small town America, just getting a free feel was enough to brand a girl a harlot.”
Now back to Cal and our junior year. I liked Cal a lot so I agreed to be his girlfriend. He was real nice; he treated me like a lady, but I had to admit it, Cal was kind of boring. All he wanted to do was tell me how much he loved me, how he wanted to marry me some day, how pretty he thought I was, and how we’d buy a house, make a lot of babies, and live happily ever after. Cripes, I was seventeen! I broke up with him.”
.... There is more of this story ...