Marriage; what’s a marriage?
I leaned back in this big comfortable leather chair; one of several found here in the reception of the country club we belonged to thanks to my ex-father-in-law’s exceptional wealth. I allowed my eyes to wander over to the clock in the shadows on the wall. It was past 7:00 p.m.; soon it would be time to go home. Alyssa Taylor Trevelyan nee McCloud was still gabbing about some of the odd and strange things that have occurred in her insane life. Alyssa is my former wife.
I’m Gavin McCloud. I’m forty-seven, I’m a geneticist, that’s right a scientist. I stand a short 5’10”, weigh a skinny 140 lbs., and have brown eyes and brown hair that’s sprinkled with a little grey now. I have, in my opinion quite a few qualities that make me eminently suitable as a marriage partner. I’m hardworking, honest, stable, solid, reliable, and pretty intelligent about most things. On the other hand I’m told I have about as much sex appeal as a manila folder. If anyone has any doubts about that last appraisal all they have to do is ask idiot girl sitting across from me.
Idiot girl is Alyssa over there across from me holding court the way she usually does. She’s a tidy little 5’2” forty-nine year old blue eyed blond who still weighs the same 110 lbs. she did when she was fresh out of college. By any man’s standards she’s beautiful, but she’s high maintenance too. I ought to know about the maintenance; I’ve been footing the bill for all her surgeries, and trips to the beauty shops ever since she married and then later divorced me. Believe me I’m not complaining, not really, not at all. You’ll never hear me complain, not in the least. I mean that. Hell I don’t have any money anyway.
There she sits, the ungrateful scamp; she’s is all decked out in a $2,000.00 designer dress she’ll wear just one time. Those are four inch heels she’s wearing, and God knows how much expensive jewelry. I’ll find out about the jewelry costs sometime next week. She really shouldn’t be wearing those shoes, but no one can stop her when she makes her mind up about something.
That dress is something; a pale blue mini, empire waist, tight fitting bodice that keeps pushing her up and out showing her slight but delicious little rosebuds. That plunging neckline doesn’t help either. I doubt it but maybe they’ll fall out. That skirted bottom, the short hemline and frothy wispy pleats that have refused to stay down all day are driving me crazy. She knows it too. Of course those aren’t pantyhose she’s wearing; they’re tight fitting thigh high nylon stockings. She’s used some kind of adhesive to keep them from rolling down. Sitting the way she is anyone who wants to can look right up her dress and see her frilly white panties.
She keeps crossing and uncrossing her legs exposing everything thing she’s got right up to that tiny soft little white silk lace covered pink ass of hers. I bet she’s wet too. I know why she’s doing all the shifting and moving; she’s trying to piss me off. She’s succeeding too. The God damn littler stinker. I wish she would shut up. She’s talking about me again.
I see her; she’s been watching me as much as I’ve been watching her. Look at her, she’s leaning toward the woman beside her. That would be Delores Manning, that’s Mrs. Manning to me and Alyssa. She’s approaching seventy and was Alyssa’s father’s second wife. Alyssa’s dad went home hours ago. He’s working on getting wife number four nowadays; she’s a twenty something from Poland. Alyssa’s a product of his first marriage. His first wife’s dead. Alyssa’s whispering something and pointing at me. She thinks I can’t hear her but I do.
Listen to her; there she goes again.
Alyssa looked at Mrs. Manning, “Look at him. He doesn’t fool me for a minute. Just look at him cringing over there. Why’d I do it? Tell me; who would want to marry an awkward skinny little science geek like him? Well I’m not leaving, and he’s not leaving till I feel like it.”
I listen to her. Look at her. She’s trying to make a fool of me again. Look at her as she leans forward. Oh she’s cupping her hands and pretending she has to yell to get my attention.
Alyssa calls over, “Gavin put your glasses on.”
Oh shit. I forgot my glasses. Where did I put them? I scrounge around in my tuxedo pockets. Oh here they are. They’re horned rimmed, but I’m used to them. Alyssa calls them my horned rimmed monstrosities. I guess I could get a different style, but I know these piss her off. Holding them up I tell her, “Here see, I found them.”
She thinks she’s so smart. She thinks I can’t see her without my glasses. Well I can see her. I saw her just then when she had to use her left hand to push her boobs back in place. I nod my head again and smile, “Thanks Alyssa.”
Listen to her. She thinks because I don’t see well I can’t hear either. Anyone would think after twenty-seven years, I don’t care married or not, she’d know. Listen to her...
Alyssa whispered to Mrs. Manning, “I have to smile at the dull witted son-of-a-gun. Oh sure, everybody thinks he’s so smart; what mitochondrial DNA and all, so what! DNA my stinky behind.”
I smiled sweetly at my ex-wife. She smiled back
I heard her whisper, “The idiot who used to be my husband still wants to marry me again.”
There she is she’s pointing at me, she says, “I’m talking about you so pay attention,”
I look at her and smile. I’ve got to listen to ‘our story’ again. Well I guess I better. If I don’t I won’t be able to correct her stupid lies. I ought to give her a good spanking. I’d like to. I really can’t. Listen to her-the stupid hard head! Here she goes.
“Like I was saying,” Alyssa glanced over at me again, “We met in Oslo. He was there with a team of researchers. They’d made some interesting discoveries about DNA. It seems all Caucasians have traces of Neanderthal in their DNA. Gavin was a part of that discovery. Well my mom and dad were there accompanying our English contingent. I was fresh out of college and coming off a tragically failed romantic relationship so I went along too. You should have seen Gavin. He looked like a lost little boy. He needed someone to take care of him. You know hold his hand.”
Melissa Enders, a much younger woman sitting on a nearby loveseat said, “So you decided to baby sit.”
Alyssa smiled at her, “You could say that sort of. I was there with my mom and dad, but there were lots of other people my age that were there too, and several of them were old friends. You know, college friends. We all noticed him. We talked it over, and I guess you could say I took him on as sort of a bet.”
“A bet,” stuttered the elderly Mrs. Manning.
“Oh absolutely Mrs. Manning. You should have seen him. No respectable woman would’ve given him a second look. You look at him now all neat and tidy in his spiffy white tux, but back then he was a sight. His clothes were wrinkled and ill fitting. His shoes were brown and scuffed, hair uncombed, and he was wearing white socks. Imagine white socks at a gathering for Nobel recipients! The only thing about him then that you’d recognize today would be those frightful glasses. He definitely needed help.”
She looked at me; her one-time husband. She scowled. I guess I didn’t seem to be listening so she called over, “You listening Gavin?”
I heard her and I had to say something, “It wasn’t exactly like that. I’d been up all that night with some colleagues. Some pieces of fossilized Neanderthal had come our way and it didn’t look like it was wrapped properly. The least exposure would’ve ruined the specimen so we’d been up rewrapping it. I hadn’t had any sleep, and I’d had no time to bother to get all dressed up like some people I know,” I crossed my eyes at her.
Alyssa shrugged me off and looked at the others. Two more people had shown up; old Mr. Andrews who is the current president of the country club, and Allen Showcroft Melissa’s guest.
Allyssa went on, “Be quiet Gavin. You were a ragamuffin. My friends and I flipped coins. I lost so you became my responsibility. I had to be in charge of getting you fixed up and presentable.”
“And you did it,” asked Mrs. Manning?
“It wasn’t easy Mrs. Manning.”
Melissa asked, “Did he know it was on a bet?”
Alyssa smiled, “No, not at first. Not for quite a while actually.”
Melissa seemed confused, “So you lost a bet and ended up with a husband.”
Alyssa grinned, “He’s not my husband anymore.”
I nodded and mumbled, “Thank god,” I knew right away I’d made a mistake so I said, “I didn’t mean that,” I saw Alyssa still looked hurt so I added, “She divorced me.”
Alyssa, self-assurance restored said, “I had to. No self-respecting wife could’ve stayed with him.”
Allen Showcroft, being a complete outsider asked, “I don’t get it.”
Alyssa leaned back. Her dress slid up, the tops of her nylons were clearly visible, and her panties were perilously close to exposure, “Let me explain.”
Everyone leaned in.
I interrupted, “What do you think you’re going to explain?”
She got all puffed up, “I’m going to tell them about us.”
I mumbled, “Oh shit.”
She went on, “I’d just finished college. It’d taken me a little longer. I’d had a skiing accident my senior year and lost a little time. But I was finally out and had joined my parents in Oslo for the Nobel awards. Don Juan over there,” she pointed at me her ex-husband, “he was there to get some kind of award, and like I said he was a mess. After me and my friends talked it over we all decided I should be his savior. I went to work.”
The young Melissa interrupted, “Didn’t you say you were recovering from a heartbreak?”
Alyssa replied, “Yes, well that’s partly true, but the man I’d been dating; he and I had already parted ways. He wanted something from me I wasn’t prepared to give up yet.”
“What was that,” asked Melissa.
Alyssa pulled her dress up and rubbed her crotch. I was embarrassed. Come on. I mean she’s a middle aged woman!
She didn’t notice and went on, “I was still technically a virgin at the time, and I didn’t think the boy was worth the price,” she glowered at me, “I ended up giving it to some jackass,” she winked at me, “but let me get back to ‘Jackass’, I mean Gavin. Like I said he needed more than just a bath. My friends and I got him out of the luncheon. That’s where we were; it was only a quazi-formal thing so there wouldn’t have been any real repercussions.
Once we were outside all my friends, like we’d planned, slowly drifted off leaving me with lug-head over there,” she pointed at me again.
“I told him, since I didn’t have a ride, he needed to take me home. Well idiot didn’t have a car so we ended up getting a taxi. I had to pay the taxi fare by the way. Numbskull didn’t have any money. Together we went back to where my parents and I were staying. I persuaded him to escort me upstairs where I changed into something more casual.”
I interrupted, “What she means is she took her bra off.”
Alyssa frowned at me, “Shut up Gavin this is my story. Well I took my bra off and slipped on a pretty mini-skirt and white blouse. Then I told him we were going shopping. I took him out and bought him a whole new wardrobe.”
I stopped her, “Let me say something a minute.”
Alyssa looked at me, “Keep it short. This is my story.”
I admonished, “This is your version of ‘our’ story, but I’ll keep this short,” I glanced around at everybody, “Most of you have heard this before, but in a nutshell Alyssa played Professor Henry Higgins to my Eliza Doolittle.”
Showcroft chuckled, “Oh I get it Pygmalion like in George Bernard Shaw.”
I smiled, “Well she tried.”
Alyssa took back over, “I would’ve succeeded too, but he was too stupid,” she mumbled, “still is.”
Melissa chimed in, “In ‘My Fair Lady’ didn’t Professor Higgins...”
I smiled, “That was Alyssa’s doing too.”
Alyssa broke in, “My story remember?”
We all sat back.
Alyssa went on, “Well I got him to a clothiers. My dad’s rich so money wasn’t a problem; only his stupid pride,” she pointed at me again, “but I took care of that...”
“How’d you do that,” asked Melissa.
Alyssa smiled broadly, “I have my ways ... Now where was I. Oh, I got him a new wardrobe. We went to a barber’s and I saw to it he got a decent haircut. I got him cleaned up and all freshened up, all except those stupid glasses.”
I interjected, “I can’t wear contacts.”
Alyssa pouted, “Tell me about it. Well I got him some new clothes and I had about two weeks so I started taking him out. I’d re-clothed him so I wanted to show him off. Well somewhere along the way the skinny idiot fell in love with me. Believe me I had no clue. He found out I lived in London. He got reassigned to one of the research centers in England. When I got home after the two weeks he was already there. He’d rented a flat, bought a cheap car, and started stalking me.”
Mrs. Manning was finding out some new things, “Stalking you say?”
Alyssa pondered what she’d said, “Not exactly stalking. He started calling and asking me out. I told my friends about the American idiot who’d fallen for me and kept following me around. Many of them were the same friends who’d tricked me into the bet. They took me one step further. I don’t know how they talked me into it, but they persuaded me to seduce lover-boy over there to get him to ask if I would marry him.”
I spoke up, “I didn’t know any of this.”
Melissa asked Alyssa, “Did you ... seduce him I mean.”
Alyssa went on, “It was like taking candy from a baby. Here’s a guy who’d finished American high school when he was fifteen. He’d gone straight to university, and from there to graduate school and then right into research. He knew about sex, but he’d never had a real relationship. To tell the truth I sort of felt sorry for him. Within a month he was head over heels in love with me.”
Allen Showcroft asked, “What happened then?”
I sat back. I wondered how she’d handle this.
Alyssa got a little quieter, “He really did fall for me. I mean he really fell in love. I didn’t think it would happen.”
Melissa nodded, “Yeah?’
“Well,” Alyssa was almost whispering by then, “he asked me to marry him.”
Showcroft asked, “What’d he get down on one knee?”
Alyssa looked at me. With all her problems I didn’t think she thought she’d be talking about this, not tonight.
Alyssa sighed, “Yes he did get down on one knee. In fact,” she sighed again, “he did it in a restaurant in front of a dozen of my friends. We were eating in a nice Spanish place. Everyone had been drinking. I hadn’t noticed, but Gavin hadn’t; he’d stuck with water and iced tea all night, ‘ she paused again and smiled faintly, “imagine iced tea in a Spanish restaurant in England. Anyway almost out of nowhere a musician appeared with a mandolin. He started playing something sappy...”
I interrupted, “He was playing ‘Somewhere Once upon a Dream’, and it wasn’t sappy.”
She nodded diffidently, “Yes it was; it was very sappy, absolutely sappy, but you made it even worse,” she looked at the others, “oh yes he got down on one knee. My friends didn’t know what was happening. I didn’t know. Then he got out this little box. He opened it and took out this ring. He held it up and...”
I interrupted again, “I asked her to marry me.”
Mrs. Manning asked, “What happened then?”
Alyssa was quiet, very quiet, she replied, “All my friends started to laugh.”
Melissa said then asked, “Oh my, what did Gavin do?”
Alyssa responded, “Nothing he didn’t know. He just knelt there and stared at me. He was so sincere. I mean the love on his face was palpable. I felt like a shit bastard. He looked like this homeless puppy dog. My friends slowly began to realize he was in earnest. One by one they stopped laughing. He was just kneeling there holding this stupid ring and looking at me. I think he started to realize something was wrong. He asked me, he said, ‘am I out of line here?’
I was so stunned. I couldn’t think of anything to say, then one of my friends looked over at the ring. She said, ‘oh how nice; a quarter carat?’ I was so embarrassed.”
One of my other friends grinned and said to me, ‘Looks like you won.’
Then Gavin looked at me, he said, ‘Won? Won what?’”
Mrs. Manning was clearly unhappy, “I never heard any of this before.”
Alyssa shrugged. Even after over twenty-seven years that night could still bring the beginnings of tears to her eyes, she added, “He had no idea it was all a joke, a stupid dumb joke. I never thought ... I mean he actually really did ... he’d fallen in love with me ... he’d fallen enough in love to want to marry me, then he asked me right there out in a public restaurant.”
I spoke up, “I was stupid I guess.”
Alyssa looked at me, “No you weren’t we ... I was cruel. I never ... all that time I’d never thought of you as a person. You were just a game to me. It was then that one of my friends cleared things up. He looked at Gavin and told him, ‘We’d made a bet with Alyssa. We bet she couldn’t get you to ask her to marry you.’”
Alyssa gulped, “I never dreamt. I never dreamed he’d go that far. I mean to ask me and in public. I saw the look on his face. Suddenly I realized two things. I realized we’d ... I’d done a terrible thing, and second I realized ... I realized ... I guess I realized I’d fallen for him too.”
Melissa chimed up, “What happened then?”