ANGELA DERECAS TAYLOR
I slept with Steven Tyler last night. That’s right. I had sex with the lead singer of Aerosmith, the same guy who was a judge on American Idol. And we did it right in my marital bed. I felt no guilt, only ecstasy as he raised and lowered himself upon my tired middle-aged body. Immersed in the throes of our mutual climax, I locked my arms around his neck, my fingers clutching his hair, and feathers. We were levitating, soaring above my bed, then out the window among the treetops hanging over my house and flying among the stars, far removed from my passionless marriage.
And then I woke up.
It took several minutes to segue from the dream into the reality of my life. My breath was heavy. I pulled the pillow up from between my legs to absorb the sweat from the back of my neck. When I sat up in bed, the sticky moisture between my thighs made me a smile. I looked across the room at my reflection in the full-length mirror and had a burst of guilty laughter at the sight of my wild-tussled hair and nightgown twisted up around my hips. I do believe I was glowing, until the post-sex-dream bliss faded.
I stood-up slowly, being careful not to shock my lower back into a spasm. Once on my feet, I straightened out my hair and my nightgown, hiding my in-REM indiscretion, and headed to the kitchen for the morning ritual.
My husband was in his usual spot, seated at the table, one hand absent-mindedly fiddling in his undershorts, the other hand grasping the remote, flipping between channel 7 and CNN.
“Must you?” I said. I took my gaze from his face to his groin while I waved my arm towards the other chairs around the table, where our two sons would soon be seated for breakfast. Unfazed, he took his crotch fiddling up a notch, to an aggressive wiggling of his member.
“You want some?” he said with a smile.
I ignored the invitation, defeated by his disregard for my disgust, and pained by my lack of desire for my own husband.
“Good morning, Darling,” I mumbled to myself, pretending I was in the type of marriage where my spouse said those words to me. I stared out the window to my neatly mowed back yard while I poured my coffee, and succumbed to another mundane day.
Cup in hand, I shuffled over to the table, sat in my regular spot and stared at the TV, unable to hear anything except his voice-over commentary.
“What’s with these weather girls? Big boobs must be a requirement for the job.” Click.
“Wonder what happened to that fat guy who used to give the traffic report.” Click.
“Oh these pharmaceutical commercials drive me nuts. I mean really, an erection for more than four hours!”
“Look at the time,” I said. “Don’t you have to get going?”
He looked at me and smiled with a raised eyebrow. “Yeah. Guess so. But first I need to check on my four-hour erection.” We both laughed.
“You do that,” I said, watching him retreat to the bathroom.
I remained at the kitchen table. My mind heavy with images volleying between my fantasy sex-dream and the real life truth that my husband was no doubt standing in the shower, masturbating like the equally sexually frustrated man in the opening scene of American Beauty.
I felt like a phony, hiding behind the façade of a clichéd perfect life - the happy wife and mom, in the big house with the granite counter tops and Andersen windows. Wasn’t this the life I dreamed of as a young girl? It surely was, right down to the sexless marriage.
I blamed myself for the lack of passion in my relationship. I had never lost the baby fat after my two pregnancies; I had done nothing to minimize the puckering in my thighs, nor perk-up my sagging breasts. I thought maybe it was all a subconscious attempt to make myself undesirable to a man that I was not attracted to physically. I recognized the choices I made were the ones I had to live with, and on the day he proposed I contemplated those choices.
No, the sex was not good, but of all those other men whom I had screwed over the years, had any of them ever bought me a gift I could even remember, let alone a GIA-certified-almost- perfect-solitaire-diamond engagement ring?
Had any of them sent me CD’s of love songs?
No one else had ever ignored his catatonic fear of flying to get on a plane, to come to Chicago, to bring me back to New York, to rescue me from my loneliness.
He was the only one who did those things.
So he lacked certain social graces and a college degree. So what if our conversations weren’t intellectually stimulating? At least he made me laugh.
I wasn’t getting any younger at thirty-five and he offered what I had so desperately longed for, what no other man had ever offered. Marriage. Children. Family.
So what if the sex wasn’t great? It wouldn’t matter. I could fake it.
After all, nothing is perfect. Certainly not me, and he seemed to want spend the rest of his life with me anyway.
I looked out now through the living room picture window that faced my front lawn and the street. The rising sun gently pressed it’s ochre rays through the naked tree limbs, casting a particle ridden light on Woody, our Jack Russell terrier. I envied that dog, hugging himself, all curled up in just the right spot to receive the blanket of warmth from the sun.
It made me think of the day my husband had proposed, looking out at a sublime sunrise over Lake Michigan from a hotel room window, after a night of love. He held me in his arms that morning and despite my misgivings, I leaned into his chest and felt safe and adored, like everything was going to be okay; but also, like it was my last chance to have the life I wanted.
So I said yes.
That was more than twenty years ago. And, I got what I wanted – the nice home, the beautiful family, the upper middle class suburban life.
So what was my freaking problem?
“Bye,” he said, snapping me out of my trance as he walked out the front door.
“Wait,” I said, sprinting to the door behind him. I wanted to recapture that Lake Michigan sunrise moment. I wanted him to hold me, to kiss me on the top of my head; to tell me everything was going to be okay.
“I need a hug before you go,” I said. I leaned into him, my head to his chest, my arms wrapped around his back. Hoping. Waiting.
“Wow! What’s this?” He said. “Does this mean I’ll get some tonight?”
The sadness of being misunderstood tore through my heart; then came the bitterness and the screeching rush of Steven Tyler’s song blaring in my brain.
“Dream on,” I said and pushed the door closed behind him.
“Ah. Come on. I’m just kidding,” I heard him say behind that mahogany door.
“Whatever,” I yelled back. “See you later.”
I trudged down the two steps into my sunken living room where Woody was now up on all fours. He looked at me, with his doggy smile and tail wagging in anticipation of being fed.
“Come here,” I said. “I need a hug first.”