It was 5:30 Sunday morning and I had already been awake for at least a half hour. I had tried to get back to sleep but I was just too keyed up. Nancy, her long blonde hair obscuring the lovely features of her face in the predawn light, lay next to me sleeping peacefully. I slipped carefully out of bed so that I would not wake her and went downstairs to the kitchen. I started a pot of coffee then sat starring out the window toward the brightening sky in the east while in my mind I kept asking myself 'How did I let this happen? How could I put my marriage in jeopardy this way?' I had to admit that I enjoyed myself the night before but I don't think it was worth the price I'll have to pay this morning.
This whole thing started last Saturday night when my friend John suggested that we get together for dinner and a movie, which meant that we would all contribute something to the dinner and we would rent a movie. When we got to John's house he and I went out to the garage to see the 69 Firebird he was restoring. We were talking cars and drinking a beer when Jill came out and said that she and Nancy would cook the dinner and clean up afterward if they got to choose the movie for the evening. John and I agreed to their terms and opened another beer.
For dinner we had T-bone steaks, baked potatoes and tossed salad and along with that we polished off two bottles of an excellent red wine. After dinner John and I sat in the living room and watched a baseball game while the girls cleaned the kitchen. When they were finished in the kitchen the girls ran down to the video store for a movie.
When Nancy and Jill came back with the movie John made pitcher of whiskey sours in his blender and then we sat down for the movie. The girls had rented 'The Ice Storm'. I guess they thought it would be a chic flick but I am not sure what I would call it. It was a quirky movie with some strange subplots. The most important thing about this movie was a scene about a wife swapping party. The time period of the movie was the seventies and it was the stereotypical swappers party where the men all put their car keys in a bowl and the women drew keys to see who they were going to have sex with. This scene in the movie only became important later in the evening.
After the movie we sat around drinking whiskey sours and discussing the many strange characters in the movie and how it ended. By then I had plenty to drink and was feeling no pain and I think everyone else was pretty well smashed too. It was at this point that John said, "What'd you think of that wife swapping party? You think anyone does that anymore?"
I said, "I doubt it. Not in this day and age."
Nancy said, "You really think not?"
I said, "It's too dangerous. You might find some couples that would swap if they all knew each other well enough to feel safe doing it?"
Then John asked me, "If you had the chance to go to a party like that and knew that it was safe, no AIDS, no herpes or anything like that would you do it?" I looked at my wife to see her reaction but before I could see anything in her expression John interrupted me, "Don't look at her. I didn't ask what she would want to do. What would you want to do?"
Being that I had way too much to drink, I didn't really think about my answer. I just blurted out, "Well it's always been kind of a fantasy of mine to do something like that, but I really don't think I would ever go through with it." Both women were looking at me like I just shit on the floor and John was laughing his fool head off.
Next John turned to the women and asked "Have either of you thought about swapping?"
I could tell John was ripped. He would never have asked a question like that otherwise.
Jill said, "I have fantasized about that a couple of times after reading a story about it or seeing it portrayed in a movie like tonight. But it is only a fantasy, I would never really do it."
Then Nancy said, "I've thought about it but don't think I would go through it either."
I was just drunk enough to say perhaps the stupidest thing I have every said even if I did only meant it as a joke. "Well we're all friends, maybe we should try it together." I laughed after I said it but I noticed that my wife didn't even smile but John was laughing with me.
John said, "Well I am all for it, but I know you're full of shit. You would never have the nerve to do it."
I should have known that John was bating me by presenting me with a challenge. But in my less than lucid condition I challenged him right back. "Don't under estimate me." This time I didn't look at either of the women. I saw this as a point of honor.
John said, "All right, let's do it right now."
I said, "I don't think that would be a good idea. I think we have all had way to much to drink. It will have to be another time."
"Chickening out already?" John asked.
I was actually trying to back out of the hole I had dug for myself but I wasn't going to be called a chicken. "No, I am not backing out. Let's do this next week." Then an idea came to me that I thought would give me some chance to get out of this. I said, "Let's make a game of this. We will come over here next Saturday evening at seven o'clock. When we get here you and I will put slips of paper with our names on them an envelope. The girls will each draw a slip from the envelope and the one who draws my name will leave with me. That sound okay to you?"
John agreed then said, "What guaranty can you give that you will go through with this?"
I said, "The same guaranty you can give. We will each put up $1000. If one of us
doesn't go through with this he forfeits his money."
John thought for a minute then said, "Done!"
I noticed that Nancy and Jill hadn't said a word the whole time that John and I were discussing the terms of our wife swapping arrangement. When they were still silent afterward I decided that it was probably time to go home. I knew I was going to be in trouble but I was still drunk enough to think that this wasn't that big a deal. Boy was I wrong.
As soon as we got into the car it started. "How could you? Do you think I am some kind of whore you can just pass around? This is not going to happen so you better call John tomorrow and resolve this matter."
The rest of the ride home was more of the same and it continued for an additional hour after we got home. Finally she let me go to sleep.
When I got up in the morning I was terribly hung over. My head hurt so bad I couldn't sit up and my stomach was so upset that I couldn't keep anything down. And all the while I was being nagged to call John. It wasn't till nearly three o'clock in the afternoon that I felt well enough to make the phone call. After we exchange greetings I said, "That was some little party we had last night. We were pretty drunk."
John agreed and said, "My head still hurts a little."
I asked, "How did it go after I left? You get any flack about the party we planed for next weekend?"
As John spoke I felt as if I was being punched in the stomach. "No flack here. We are both looking forward to Saturday. How about you, did you have any problems?"
I don't know why, but I lied, "No problems at this end."
John said "Good, because I would hate to have to take your 1000 dollars."
I said, "Don't worry, we'll be there." Then I hung up the phone.
When I turned around she was standing there with a stare that could kill a large animal and I was the animal she wanted dead. "I didn't hear you tell him that you were not going to go through with this. What I heard you say was that we would be there Saturday. Why?"
I told her it was the money. I said, "I am sorry I got us into this but I don't know how to get out of it without losing the $1000 yet. I need time to figure something out. If I can't come up with anything we will have to sacrifice the money." I looked down at my feet for a moment and when I looked up again she was gone.
For the rest of the week it was very quiet in our house. She wouldn't speak to me and I knew better than to try to start a conversation. I just wished that I knew what she was thinking. I was worried about losing the money but I was more worried about losing her so I was going to leave it up to her to do whatever she felt she had to do. I was hoping that she would at least let me know what she was thinking.
All day Saturday, still no conversation. Then finally at 5:30 that evening I found a note, addressed to me, on the kitchen counter. The note just said, "We can't afford to lose $1000. I'll be ready on time." There was no signature.
.... There is more of this story ...