“I find it hard to believe Dolph would have sex outside of marriage,” Jen said. “He’s such a prude.”
“Well, we don’t know that they have had sex,” John said. “Let’s try to share one suitcase, and I’ll put our wedding things in a garment bag and lay them flat in the trunk. Don’t pack your big jar of wrinkle cream.”
A joke: Jen did not use wrinkle cream. She cleaned her face with Neutrogena and used Kiehl’s moisturizer.
“Don’t pack extra jock straps,” she said, disappearing into their bedroom. A joke: he’d had testicular cancer and—after the double orchiectomy— most certainly did not need a jock strap. Nor did he play tennis anymore. When he’d stopped smoking, he’d gained fifteen pounds, which showed in his face and in his ass, of all embarrassing things.
“Who would go all the way to Virgin Gorda and not have had sex?” she called. He could hear the closet door sliding back.
“What do you mean? No virgins in Virgin Gorda, because it would be too ironic?”
He stood watching his wife push hangers aside, looking perplexed and preoccupied. This August, they would be married twenty-four years. His wife’s first marriage, to a harmonica player, had “ended in divorce,” as the New York Timeswedding column would say. Jen was John’s only wife, though he’d lived with two women, each for about six or seven years, and the last one he’d had to pay to go away. Actually, his father had paid her to go: a not-insignificant amount of money. His father had had a lawyer draw up an agreement. The woman had brought a fountain pen to the lawyer’s office and had—as the lawyer told him—deliberately made a big splotch where she was to sign, so that the contract had to be redone. Her name was Violet, an English girl he’d met at a photography workshop in Santa Fe when he’d been under the delusion he might change careers and become a photographer. In addition to money, she also got the Edward Curtis. The earlier girlfriend’s name had been Bonnie, just simple Bonnie, even Bonnie Smith. She had become adamant about a wedding ring and a baby, though not necessarily in that order. He had opted, instead, for a sports car and a cat. A kitten, actually, an abandoned kitten that showed up one night at his back door, though he’d soon realized he was allergic to it and took it to the SPCA when he moved from Michigan. Things had worked out so that not only was there no baby, but any lunatic could have adopted the cat. His sports car had broken down as cosmic punishment, no doubt. He’d had to spend three days in Ohio, on the way back to his parents’ house in Boston, getting it fixed. He remembered those frustrating days in a motel much more distinctly than he remembered Bonnie.
To read the rest of this piece, purchase the issue.
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