Gwen had worked herself up to this over days, had calmed her nerves with drink and then waited a day to sober up. Yet, Sharon’s objections weren’t anything like she’d expected. Though she certainly had objections.
“I don’t know, Mrs. Townsend. Young Ted has always been kind to me.” She didn’t object to the affair with Ted’s father being mentioned, a no-no in the family. She did object to giving Gwen the advice she needed. “And, of course, every man is different. The office gossiped about what I had with Brian, I know that. But they merely guessed about the things you’re asking.”
“That’s a string of objections, Miss Russell. I’ll, if I may, answer them in order.” Gwen hadn’t been out of college so long that she’d lost her skill at remembering the ideas of a lecture right after she’d heard it.
“First. Yes, Ted was nice to you. I don’t think I’ve ever been rude, except -- perhaps -- with this question; but we’ve almost never interacted. If I were asking you for help in blackmailing my husband or in forcing him in some way, you would be quite right to refuse me. It would be an insult to your loyalty to his father among other things. But I’m not asking your help in hurting him. I’m asking your advice in how to please him.
“And I’m sure the two men are different.” she continued. “I’m not asking what in particular you did with Mr. Townsend. After all, you didn’t know his particular desires in the beginning. But you did know something about pleasing a man, keeping a man. You knew something, which, quite frankly, Ted’s mother didn’t know. And you were able to apply that to the man you chose to apply it to. Well, I don’t want to end up the way his mother did. They were happy once; I’ve seen the wedding album. Ted is happy. I want to keep him that way. I don’t think it was a coincidence that you kept his father happy.”
“I’m not sure that I kept Brian happy. There was much sadness in him.”
“But you kept him happier, or made him happier. Ted noticed his father’s change as a child. He didn’t connect it to you for decades, but that’s one reason he was as nice as he could be to you when he was an adult. How do I keep Ted happy?”
“Very well Mrs. Townsend.”
“‘Gwen,’ please.” Sharon Russell couldn’t be fond of the name ‘Mrs. Townsend’ considering how Ted’s mother had treated her sometimes and always tried to treat her. And Gwen still felt like ‘Gwen’ and not like ‘Mrs. Townsend.’
“Very well, Gwen.” And Sharon laid out what she understood of men. Gwen didn’t have a tape recorder with her, and she didn’t take notes at the time. When she left however, she drove to a coffee shop and put the advice in the back of a college notebook. She’d never look at her sociology notes again, but the book was certain not to arouse Ted’s, or anyone else’s, curiosity. Sharon had said a lot, but she summarized each piece of advice in a sentence, sometimes a couple of words. Almost, Gwen thought, koans. She wrote down the koans; those would remind her of the entire advice.
1) His identity.
2) Love me, love my cock.
3) Catch a dog.
4) Needs you for one thing.
5) Go with what you’ve got (X3).
Gwen figured that she didn’t have to do those in the order that Sharon had laid out. For that matter, numbers 1 and 3 were quite general. She didn’t think you could design something particular to embody either one of them. “Men’s identity is in their sexuality. If they fail in everything else, they think they’ve failed sexually, and -- thinking that -- it often becomes true. On the other hand, when they fail sexually, when they are denied sexually, every other success doesn’t compensate. I can’t believe that an impotent president or dictator is happy.”
She’d also said, “When I was a kid, I had a dog. A neighbor boy stopped me one day when I was chasing her. Pointed out that I could never catch her, but she could catch me. So, I ran away until she decided that the game was catching me, which she did easily. Men are like that. You don’t catch them; if you want them, they catch you.” Gwen could see how that was good general advice, but not some single way to use it. She decided to start with number 5.
“Was Ted your first?” Sharon had asked suddenly.
“Not really.” Not at all, but that was a damn personal question. But she had asked Sharon Russell a lot of damn personal questions.
“But you’re near enough a beginner that he’s way ahead of you. Okay, go with what you’ve got. Let him know that you want him to teach you how to please him. I went with what I had, which was different.” So much for personal questions. “But this gives you three advantages. You have shown interest in pleasing him. He is a teacher, and men like authority. When he wants something different, he can come to you. You don’t really want him going to somebody else, do you?” And she didn’t.
“What do you want?” she asked Ted that night.
“Well...” He stopped unbuttoning his shirt. “I thought we would ... I mean I thought you enjoyed it, too.”
“Sex? With you? I certainly do.” Let’s keep that clear. “But I didn’t really think you’d suggest a hot game of canasta instead. Do you want me to continue taking off my clothes, or do you want to do that for me? You used to do that. Do you want me to take off your clothes, or do you prefer doing it yourself? Y’know, as you said, I’ve enjoyed what we’ve done. But you’ve done more than I have. I might even enjoy something a little different than I’ve done before. I would certainly enjoy seeing your pleasure.”
Ted took off the rest of her clothes, and he took advantage of every new access with hands as well as eyes. When she removed his clothes, he kept his hands on her to the point it sometimes interfered. Well, speed wasn’t a priority. She hung up each piece, since he seemed to enjoy watching her. Their glasses clicked against each other in the last kiss. She laid hers on the night stand before getting into bed. She’d ask him another day whether he preferred her in a nightie or in the nude.
“Stop!” he said. Huh? She remained bent over with one knee on the mattress. He came up behind her and kissed each bottom cheek. “I love your ass.”
“Well, I’m glad. I love your kisses, too, though my favorites aren’t back there.” Although she had intended to give him the lead, he took that comment as a suggestion to kiss her face and breasts. “Yes,” she said as he kissed her left nipple. She only sighed as he kissed her right one.
“Roll over.” He pushed her, and she rolled to her belly. His hand on her bottom was holding her down as those fingers parted her cleft. “Ah!” he said. It must have been in response to touching her wetness; she could certainly feel how she was flowing now. Then he was kissing the back of her neck. The kisses trailed all the way down her spine, one vertebra per kiss. Those on the top were very sexy. The lower ones were less arousing, but knowing where the path was headed aroused her in a different way. When he’d given her a wet, smacking, kiss in the middle of her back, he kissed her bottom cheeks again.
Then his hand lifted. He was moving towards the foot of the bed, and she turned her head to watch him. He got between her legs and lifted her hips. If he’d wanted her to turn over, he should have waited to get between her legs, but -- this night -- she wasn’t going to point out anything like that. When she struggled up on her knees, his hands stopped her. He was kneeling behind her and she felt her cheeks clutch in fear of that intrusion. Well, she really didn’t want him going to somebody else.
Instead, he parted her lower lips and slid into the usual place.
“Oh, Ted.” He seemed bigger like this. Maybe he was bigger, more excited. One of his hands went to her left breast. The other stroked the front of her delta. “Let me...” She moved her hands to the headboard. “Okay.” He moved back and forth, out and in. She pressed back against him and pushed against the headboard when he pressed in. Somehow, her arousal spiraled more rapidly. She felt the fire rise just where he was stroking within her. Then it burst into a flame throughout her body.
When next she was aware of the outside world, she was bent over with her head awkwardly pressed into the corner where the mattress met the headboard. Ted was lying on her and pulsing within her. Finally, he rolled to her left. She took a deep breath before rearranging herself and finding a pillow. They were lying on their sides facing each other.
“Wow!” she said. “Do you have any other surprises like that?”
“Did you like it?”
“In several ways. Now I know what to expect, I’ll arrange the bedclothes so I end up more comfortable.”
“I was afraid when you said to stop.”
“Well, I don’t think I was communicating too clearly. All I wanted was to push back against you. I’m sure that if we tried that on a slippery floor, we’d skate all the way across the room. That was really something.”
“You enjoyed it?”
“Delightful, if tiring. I don’t know how much of the enjoyment was physical, how much was just the surprise of something new, how much was being dominated. What were you? A stallion? A lion?”
“Just the husband who loves you.”
“The husband who loves me, yes. There wasn’t anything ‘just’ about that. And being the husband who loves me, d’you think you could cuddle me to sleep?” So she turned around and nestled into the spoon. He covered them with the sheet before holding her right breast in his hand. She decided that she wouldn’t ask the question about whether he preferred nightgowns, after all. She already knew the answer.
They undressed each other on many other nights, and he had her sit on top of him one night and lie on top of him another. Mostly, though, they were doing what they’d always done. When he came home from a long day at the office, went out to a formal dinner in the evening, and came home from that tired, he didn’t want sexual adventures. Still, the fifth koan had been helpful. Would the fourth do her as much good?
“Really, men can get orgasms without us. They don’t need us to be sexy, although they enjoy it when we are. Your man needs you for only one thing. He needs you for him to be sexy. Let him know that he turns you on. She’d tried that on the special nights, but what if there hadn’t been enough of them?
It was a Friday. Since they hadn’t gone out, they were watching TV together. When the commercial came on, she got up and sat down in his lap.
“What’s up?” Ted asked.
“Just being beside you made me feel romantic,” she said. “This is more romantic.” He hugged her and then brought his hand to her right breast. She was still wearing a bra.
“Shhh,” she told him. “Just watch the show.” They watched it through the final segment, although he seemed to be paying more attention to what his hands were doing to her breasts and her legs. When the ending credits rolled, she got the remote and turned off the set. She began to unbutton his shirt.
“We do have a bed,” he said.
“Well, yeah, but I just wanted to hold you skin to skin.” But, even while she was saying that, she got up and held out a hand to him. When he got up, she went back to unbuttoning his shirt, walking backwards when he headed for the bedroom. “Stop me if I’m heading towards a wall.”
When they got close, he stopped her with his hands on her shoulders. Then he picked her up and carried her through the door. She worked on the buttons until his pants hid the next one. When he set her down, she pushed the sides of his shirt apart and kissed him through the t-shirt.
“We’re still not skin to skin,” he said.
“Once you were able to get my blouse off by yourself.” With this hint, he started unbuttoning her blouse. She opened his belt and then his pants. When those dropped, she finished unbuttoning his shirt and spread it wide. She pulled her blouse out of her skirt, and then went back to kissing him through the t-shirt. His nipples responded as much as hers ever had. When he had the blouse open, she turned around so he could remove it. When he had, he unsnapped her bra and she backed into him. His hands came around to cup both breasts.
His head was above her left shoulder. When she turned her head that way, he kissed her. Neither could get a tongue deep into the other’s mouth like this, but their tongue tips met between their lips. When he broke the kiss, she reached up over her shoulder to pluck at his t-shirt.
“Lose this, will you?” she asked him. As he let her go to remove the t-shirt, she turned around. When his arms were over his head and his face was hidden by the cloth, she kissed his chest. She concentrated on one nipple until he’d got his arms free.
When he hugged her, she lifted her face into the kiss. While their tongues wrestled, he hugged her until her breasts were squashed into his hairy chest.
“See,” she said when he finally broke the kiss to breathe, “I told you skin-to-skin kisses were better.” She bent down to suck at his other nipple.
“Lady, you’re taking a risk. Keep that up, and you’re likely to get raped.”