“Shall I get condoms?”
“It’s like having band-aids in the house,” I say. “Good to have around. Just in case.”
I turn to my son, see the grin, and make one of those critical parental decisions. The kind you feel in your gut.
I’m long past embarrassment when I purchase anything. Well, almost. It was a Kroger day. Groceries. Pharmaceuticals. So I went for the Trojans.
Can’t help but picture a huge horse, Brad Pitt, those pecs.
I’m only human.
Shit. I’ve been out of the market for a very long time. Were there more choices than there used to be?
I grab two boxes, one blue and the other purple. Why not?
A girl can dream.
“I’m short,” he says.
“How much? Where are you going?”
“Seven,” he replies. “Burgers.”
These days, conversation is monosyllabic. I’ve learned to expect it and not take it personally. I also know that seven means ten, and the quick walk to the local burger place to buy greasy little minis. He and his friend will stuff themselves over video games, all of which is fine with me as long as the grades stay up and priorities are clear.
I dig through my pockets and hand him two fives.
The swarm of adolescent boys is larger and noisier than usual. The nightly visits are on the upswing again, with imminent college departures. I need to block their sound to keep editing.
TV. It always works.
The night before it was From Here to Eternity, and I couldn’t help but wait for the famous scene… Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster stretched out on the beach, their bodies pressed together, waves crashing against them. She was gorgeous, and he was hot. He moved like a powerful animal ready to pounce on his prey, ripped and dangerous.
White Palace, no cougars
White Palace is on cable, uncut. Susan Sarandon and James Spader, late 80s, predictable plot of unsuitable older woman and troubled younger man. But chemistry, characters, and strong performances.
Just what the doctor ordered.
20 years ago no one used the term “cougar.” No doubt the age difference in the script (17 years) would be just as hard to swallow today as it was then. Unless you’re talking celebrities.
Ironically, Sarandon herself paired up with a much younger man – Tim Robbins – and they built a life together.
No one’s calling her a cougar.
I can’t help but fume over the sexist and ageist attitude towards women pairing up with younger men. Still.
He’s standing over me, holding something. I look up.
“What does this mean?”
A four-word sentence. It must be important.
“Excuse me?” I say.
“What does it mean, Twisted Pleasure? And all these other names? What difference… exactly… does all this make?”
Shit. I’d put fancy condoms in the boys’ bathroom, and the regular ones were tossed on my dresser with the Excedrin, Neosporin, and cotton balls.
Besides, I don’t have an answer.
The more things change…
I remember something called a French Tickler, from a lifetime ago. The stuff of jokes in college, mostly, when I was clueless. I don’t want my boys to be clueless. Then again, times have changed.
But I have no recent experience relative to “non-standard” products of this nature.
I take the box and turn it over. Great! Illustrations!
“Look on the back,” I say. “As for how well these work…”
He flushes, and interrupts me.
“Never mind,” he says.
I point. “There’s another box, on my dresser.”
He takes it and exits fast, shaking his head, laughing a little. Muttering.
“Waste, did you say?”
There’s a great scene in From Here to Eternity – one I pay attention to. It’s 1941 on an Army base, just before Pearl Harbor. Kerr plays an unhappily married officer’s wife who enters into a steamy, adulterous affair with Lancaster’s character, Sergeant Warden.
His take on her, initially?
Just another score. A bored, one-dimensional tramp.
But she sets him straight, in this scene:
Lancaster: I just hate to see a beautiful woman going all to waste.
Kerr: Waste, did you say? There’s a subject I might tell you something about. I know several kinds of waste, Sergeant. You’re probably not even remotely aware of some of them. Would you like to hear?… My husband’s off somewhere, and it’s raining outside, and we’re both drinking now. You’ve probably only got one thing wrong. The lady herself. The lady’s not what she seems…
I consider these words. About waste and a woman’s so-called prime. I reflect on a long, quiet marriage, on appearances, on men and women. Younger men. Twisted pleasure.
Apparently, around here, it’s the next generation taking up the torch, or thinking about it. Safely at least.
It’s the next morning, and out in the kitchen there are little wrappers strewn across the table. I cannot make them out clearly, though someone is asleep on the couch with his (or her) back to me. I imagine there is another teenager in the storage-closet-turned-guestroom, as is often the case.
I put my glasses on.
Remains from the burgers.