By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
I'm disgusted with myself. What's happened to me? I used to want to change the world, but lately I'm too tired to do shit. I am determined to write a check to the Environmental Defense Fund and fuck my husband.
Naturally, my timing is completely off. It is two in the afternoon, I can't find my checkbook, and I have to work late to finish a screenplay that is due in L.A. that night. By six-thirty I sense my resolve turning to apathy. "I need to get home and fuck Jeff. We can finish tomorrow. Nobody in L.A. ever reads our stuff anyway," I tell my writing partner, Mary, a newlywed. She doesn't understand. "Are you ovulating?" she asks. "Jesus, no. The last thing I need is another kid," I say. "It's justit's been too long and I kind of decided tonight was the night." "How long has it been, Nora?" Mary looks concerned. "A couple of months," I mumble. "God, Nor, is this what I have to look forward to?" Mary's body goes slack with the thought of my sex life becoming her sex life.
By the time I get home, the baby is in bed with the flu and Jeff is ensconced on the couch with the two big kids, telling them a story. No one even notices my arrival. I watch the sweet scene from the doorway, thinking how much I love my husband. And then I notice that Jeff is wearing that appalling blue suit that makes him look like a salesman from Bay Ridge Auto and suddenly I am thoroughly exhausted and can't recall why I wanted to have sex tonight. C'mon, girl, focus, focus. If I want to change the world, I've got to start with one small step.
I enter the room and force myself to ignore Jeff's sartorial choice and plant a lingering kiss on his lips, with a hint of tongue. When I pull away, Jeff smiles, "Physical contact: That's new and different." He's right. I kiss the kids, my friends, the dog. I even kissed the super on his birthday. But when was the last time I kissed my husband?
I head into the bedroom to search for some lingerie. Shit. Nothing but old cotton undies. I make do with a ratty Speedo, from the baby's swim class, that I find hanging in the bathroom. I throw on my pj's over it. On my way out of the room, I spot the Claire Messud book that I'm dying to finish and see the pile of birthday party invitations that need to go out. Look away. Focus, focus, focus.
I sneak into the kids' rooms and turn their clocks ahead an hour. I turn my watch ahead as well. I return to the living room and announce, "Bedtime." I am greeted with confusion (Jeff) and hostility (the children). I am taking no prisoners. I am changing the world. I proudly hold out my watch for everyone to see. As we usher the kids into their rooms, Jeff whispers, "I have no idea what's going on, but I like it."
We stuff everyone into bed in record time. The house is quiet. It's not even nine o'clock and I'm awake and horny. It's too good to be true. My daughter Sally re- appears. She's feeling nauseous. I give her a glass of water and put her to sleep in our bed. Silence again.
I will be fucking my husband tonight and writing a check to the EDF in the morning. I throw off my pj's and practically run into the kitchen, where I find Jeff laser focused on a take-out menu. Without looking up, he says, "Let's order Chinese; the Knicks game starts in 10 minutes." All is lost. Jeff puts down the menu and looks at me. "Are you wearing a . . . Speedo, Nor?"
"My summer stuff is packed away," I say, on the verge of tears. "I put the kids to bed early so we could fuck." Jeff looks at me sheepishly. "I thought you put the kids to bed so we could watch the game . . . " "Just forget it," I interrupt. "Forget it? No, no, no. I don't want to forget it. I want to work with you, Nor. I know there's a very narrow window. I'll TiVo the Knicks, grab a granola bar, and then . . . " At this point, Jeff pumps both fists in the air and says, "Game on." Jesus, God, what a turnoff. "What?" Jeff says, sensing my mood seismically shifting. "Granola bars and sports metaphors are not so sexy," I say. "Guess what's also not so sexy, Nora? That one-piece racer back suit you stole from Cindy Brady."
Jeff picks me up and puts me on the kitchen counter. His hands and lips are everywhere at once, exploring places they haven't been in months. My face flushes; my palms sweat. Jeff spreads my legs and moves up my thighs with his lips. I'm tingling with anticipation, waking up after a long period of dormancy. There's something new he's doing with his tongue. God, that feels good. Wait. Suddenly I'm suspicious. "Where did you learn that?" "Do you like it?" Jeff asks. "Are you having an affair?" I want to know. Jeff laughs, "Shut up, Nora."