“Bev,” Bill repeated, “What’s wrong?” I kept my silence. “Why won’t you talk to me?” He repeated that question five times before I gave up. You can’t outwait Bill. When he is on a track, only direct action gets him off -- if that.
“My mother told me to never talk to strangers.”
“Stranger? We’ve been married three years.” Four, but who’s counting? Not the numbers man, that’s for sure.
“And you’re stranger than anyone I ever met.” He laughed at that. Bill has his faults, a single-track mind, inability to take a hint, and a rotten memory -- to mention just the immediate problems. He also has his virtues. One is that he can laugh at himself; he can even enjoy laughing at himself.
“So, what did I do?” He looked at me. “What did I forget to do?” He was getting warmer. I was hungry, and he wasn’t dressed for going out. I looked in the ‘fridge to see what could make a quick meal. His lunch was still there. He’d be famished when he thought of food. Right now, though, he was thinking about placating me -- and well he should. “Aren’t you going to tell me?” Not this time. “Did you call and I didn’t get back to you?”
He took out his cell. He keeps it on silent, but listens for messages at set times -- after lunch and after dinner, for example. There were several messages. The third one was from his mother.
“Hello, darling. Happy anniversary. Now remember to set your alarm for four o’clock. Leave yourself a note to listen to this again. Dress in a suit, take plenty of money, and pick up Beverly at work. Take her out to a nice restaurant to celebrate your anniversary. Love you both.”
He looked ashamed. I tried to look stern, but couldn’t hold back my laughter. He took me in his arms and hugged me.
“You laughed!” he said. “Have you stopped being mad at me? Should we go out like Mom said?”
“You are totally hopeless.”
“And helpless. I can program for myself, but I can’t live without your direction.” That was a wild exaggeration. He’d been employed (if underpaid for a programmer) when I met him. He’d kept himself fed, dressed, clean, and punctual with nobody’s help. His apartment had been far neater than most bachelors’ places.
“Seems to me you did for thirty-five years.”
“Not lived.” Which was sweet of him to say. So, if not quite ready to say that I forgave him, I stopped pouting; pouting is a stupid way to spend your anniversary.
The dinner was great, if a late meal. After we got back to the house, I stopped him for a kiss in the garage.
This was one of the virtues associated with his faults. When Bill kissed, his attention was on the kiss. I was thinking of next steps; I’ll swear Bill wasn’t. I broke the kiss, and we went inside and upstairs. Separate undressing, separate bathroom times, but we finished in the same bed. Bill sleeps naked, and I did this night, as well. I left the bedside lamp on.
This kiss lasted even longer than the one in the garage. If his mind wasn’t going beyond the kiss, his body was; I could feel his erection press against me. My only response was to lick his lips. Soon, our tongues were licking each other. I broke the kiss to roll over on my back.
“Have you forgiven me, then,” he asked.
“Yes.” After all, he was the man I’d married four years before. I’d known he couldn’t multitask back then. And his attention, his entire attention such as few other wives ever receive from their husbands, was now on me.
“Oh, I love you.”
“And I love you, too.” I took his hand to guide it to my breast.