by Brittany Fonte
Two rings, then three. (Serendipity?) She, in Chi town; he, in their town: Both hold space with desperate arms, alarmed, facing fifteen years of macramed marriage, and fears of losing an identity (or even that inkling) they created before regular sex, baby cravings, whittling siren-sex, that ex, careers of consequence….
She wonders, whiling while tones tone in a loaned hotel room of well-loved beds, if she can be content, alone, with one man; he can never be all she needs. Cannot. As fish need more than a tank, her heart sank when he forgot: her birthday, their anniversary, the condom, milk. He is not a chef, is not Hugh Hefner.
But there are never three in such a first world country of Christian zip ties and Velcro marriages, bold-faced lies of Mrs. and Ms. There can’t be three while the pope still breathes; the tethers of Steinem-feminism miss Lincoln’s nose, picks bare, there. There cannot be three, meant to be, while two boast such a lofty percent: 50. But she knows men.
She knows 50%, surely, is more than what should be, must be behind locked doors, just as those sex surveys roar: Mothers—even whores— do not make love three times per week, not even alone. There is simply no time to moan with Jif and jam, drop off and pick up, soaps and stones, rinse and dry. Dry. She knows, three rings in, he has company. She casts a line to fantasy, too.
His common syllable darts, starts a chain of Cain images. It’s quiet. Jizz-us. His mind flits to cover: that old girlfriend from ninth grade and her blonde mother, the swimsuit model from France, the Fed Ex woman’s tight pants, the front man and teenaged stage hand of the metal band he saw—just once—live, also a few lines from a do-me movie he paid $8 for when he couldn’t get laid. His wife often had a headache.
She says, “I’m here. Safe.” And the miles weight her haste to get to once-hidden alone time, “Me Time,” the mini bar or a drink at the open bar without the children shooting par into porcelain vases, or cleaning Sharpie mazes—on the wall— and a hungry husband. A dozen pared phrases and that’s it. Shit- is there nothing he can do? (Sigh.) “Love you.”
“Yes.” And he IS happy, means his merry sign off, even while mind-mapping the miles that stand between him and Hollywood, him and his truant, television third.