Thursday, March 12, 2009


Wednesday means Artesia Boulevard.

I drive down it at night, knowing my destination is another couch. A black leather three-seater. If I sleep on my side, legs curled up, I fit... but if I sleep on my stomach, my feet roll up over the armrest.

Purple curtains, metal rods, the scraping noise when I close them.
The hum of the computers, the light from their cases illuminating the back wall.
Their two cats leap around me at night, sliding on the wood floors. Their noses search me out from under my blankets.

Wednesday means her husband.

It means a dance of words, trying to be friendly, trying to deflect his 'subtle' innuendenos. It means making sure that he knows I'm not available, but in a way that does not insult his ego. It means ignoring his desperate attempts for my attention, for female attention, with his antics, and dodging his body when he comes too close.

It means listening to their low voices as they fight in their bedroom.

Over breakfast, I keep to a corner. Banana in hand, orange juice on the counter against which I lean. It means sliding just a little to one side when he comes to get dishes out of the cupboard near me, while maintaining a conversation with his wife, my friend. It means laughing with their child, diffusing their fights in front of her as best I can, turning tension into giggles, watching her blonde hair bounce up and down as she laughs and dances in the kitchen while mommy and daddy's anger shifts into amusement.

I change quickly in the master bedroom; the bathroom is occupied. He teasingly threatens to walk in on me, I pretend to misunderstand him. Jeans are tugged on at rapid speed.

He stays up later than she does to talk to me, to flirt with me. Their bedroom is, at most, twenty feet away, door is open. I keep things light, as light as I can. Sexual hints are turned into misheard sentences. I play with words, I play dumb.

It's easy to pretend stupidity around people who think they're smarter than everyone else.

I know one of her friends slept with him once, after a holiday party, on the very couch I sleep on. His wife is aware of this as well, but she has not told him she knows. Her friend also does not know that it's common knowledge that he offered to leave his marriage to be with her.

I am not that friend.

Just because it's known that I'm sexually free does not mean I sleep with my friends' partners.

I don't know how long I can keep this dance up before the tension leaks in and I can no longer diffuse his lust with confused laughter and faked stupidity. I do not know how long I can keep him off me, how long his wife will tolerate his too-obvious attentions before something breaks, either in her or their marriage.

Their daughter escapes this tension, but the resulting stress in their relationship affects her in other ways.

This isn't like other situations I'm used to. I can't stand in front of either of them to take their pain, to deflect the anger and stress. I just get to watch and hope that what I do to negate the tension balances out what my presence adds to it.

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