Wherever I used to work, the other guys in the lunch room would tell jokes that I didn’t understand. I just smiled to be polite. Then one day a co-worker took me aside and asked me, “Charlie, tell me the truth. Have you ever slept with a woman?”
I took a moment to think. “No, I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so?”
“Not as I can recall.”
“Listen,” he said, patting my shoulder in a friendly way. “I’m not going to put you down. I want to help you. Now look, sooner or later…you have to sleep with a woman.”
I thought about this. “Why?” I asked.
“Because you’re a man, aren’t you?”
“You do like girls, don’t you?”
“Okay, then. A man has to sleep with women. Now and then, that is.”
“Well, how would I do that, exactly?”
“Get a woman to sleep with you.”
“Look, there are some nice women here who aren’t married. There must be one that you like well enough to sleep with. Just, you know, like make a date with her. She’ll know what you mean.”
“Invite her to your place. That’s the most direct way.”
“What if she says no?”
“Then ask someone else. Someone will say yes. Trust me.”
“You’re sure about this?”
“Absolutely. Charlie, you need to do this. It’s for your own good.”
I thought about this. I never realized such a thing was necessary. “Okay, I’ll take your advice.”
“Good,” he said, patting me on the shoulder. “It’ll work out. Don’t worry. And remember, be discreet. You don’t want other people to know.”
So I had to think of which of my female co-workers I liked best. I’d never imagined sleeping with any of them, so I didn’t know who to ask. Finally, I decided to ask Margaret, because she was always very neat and kept her desk very neat, too. She was a divorced lady in her late thirties — a brunette and rather nice-looking.
Gathering up my courage, I approached her during a break when no one else was nearby.
“Margaret, I’ve come to ask a favor.”
“Oh? All right. What can I do for you, Charlie?”
“I need to sleep with a woman.”
She gave me an ambiguous look — sort of half humorous and half suspicious. “You need…to sleep…with a woman,” she repeated.
“Yes. I’ve never done it before. And I…well, I really don’t know about these things…but I suppose they’re important…And I thought perhaps you might…you know, like…just do it with me….Just once, that’s all.”
“Are you serious or are you putting me on?”
“I’m serious. I wouldn’t know how to put someone on.”
“Well, I would agree with that. But why me?”
“Well…you’re very neat, and I like that.”
She scrutinized me through narrowed eyes. “I’m not sure what to make of all this.” The break was ending and people were returning to their desks. “Come back at five o’clock and I’ll talk to you then.”
So I waited till five and then returned to her desk. She was waiting for me after the others had left.
“Did you want me to come to your place?” she asked.
“Yes, please. If that would be convenient.”
“How about Friday?”
“All right. Write down your address.”
I wrote it down for her.
“What time shall I be there?”
“Well…I usually go to bed around eleven. I suppose you could come at ten-thirty.”
She gave me a very strange look, as if I’d said something funny. “I’ll tell you what,” she said. “I’ll come at nine, and we’ll agree that this is just a friendly visit. After that we’ll see what happens. All right?”
“Yes, yes. Thank you,” I said, shaking her hand to be polite. Then I left.
For the next couple of days all I could think of was: I’m going to sleep with a woman! And, of course, I was discreet. I didn’t say a word to anyone.
At nine o’clock on Friday evening, Margaret arrived. She was wearing a nice black dress and she was smiling. “I brought some wine,” she said, handing me a paper bag.
“Oh! Thank you!…Wine. That’s different. For me, anyway.”
I led her into the sitting room, and she sat on the couch. She was the first female visitor I’d ever had. I stood there not knowing what to do next.
“Why don’t you open the wine?” she suggested.
“Ah. Yes. Right.”
I went into the kitchen and looked for a corkscrew, which I didn’t have.
“You don’t need a corkscrew,” she called over her shoulder. “The cap just twists off.”
So I poured some wine and we sat next to each other on the couch. I wasn’t sure if I liked the wine. I had almost no experience with wine. Margaret was giving me a curious smile, although I wasn’t sure why.
“Well, then,” I said. “What shall I do to entertain you?”
“Whatever you like,” she said, still smiling.
“We could watch something on the VCR.”
“Yes, let’s. Something to get us in the mood.”
“Ah. Yes,” I agreed, not knowing exactly what she meant. I picked two cassettes from my shelf. “This is a good show. It’s from the Learning Channel. It’s about bridges and dams.”
“Bridges and dams,” she repeated.
“Yes. You know, how they’re built and all that. These big engineering projects are very complicated. And the other one is about the Panama Canal. It’s fascinating.”
So I put the first cassette in the VCR, and Margaret sat quietly, sipping her wine and occasionally giving me an odd look. I couldn’t tell what she was thinking. I wondered if perhaps I’d done something wrong, but I couldn’t think of anything.
By the time the second program was over, it was just past eleven. I looked at my watch. “Well, I guess it’s time,” I said eagerly.
She didn’t reply at once. She just put her glass down gently and said, “Lead the way, by all means.”
We went into the bedroom. I took a pair of pajamas out of the dresser and excused myself and went into the bathroom to change. When I returned, she seemed to be somewhat annoyed.
“It’s quite a big bed,” I reassured her. “Plenty of room for two.”
“Yes, I noticed that.”
“Did you, uh, bring something to, you know, sleep in?”
“Yes, actually.” She reached into her bag and pulled out a skimpy black nightie. “I brought this. I thought you might like it.”
“Oh…yes…it’s…quite well-made, I’d say.”
“Shall I put it on?”
“Yes, yes. You can use the bathroom.”
She gave me a lingering and rather serious look, then went into the bathroom to change. When she returned, I was already tucked comfortably into bed. I waited, but she just stood there. After a long pause, she got into bed. I was careful to give her as much space as possible.
“Shall I turn out the light now?” I asked.
“Whatever you wish.”
“All right, then. Good night.” I turned out the light beside the bed and settled into my customary sleeping position.
About thirty seconds went by. Then she asked, “Are you going to sleep?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“And I’m supposed to go to sleep, too? Is that it?”
“Em, yes.–Why? Is something wrong?”
She got out of bed and turned on the ceiling light. She was looking at me rather harshly. “Let me get this straight. You asked me to come here so we could sleep in the same bed together and that’s all?”
“Oh! I’ll make you a nice breakfast in the morning. I’m really a good cook.”
She stood there with her hands on her hips, eyes closed, shaking her head. I could just barely hear her say “I don’t believe this.”
“Are you upset about something?” I asked.
“Now you listen to me,” she said, looking at me sternly and controlling her voice. “I will do this on one condition.”
“Yes, yes. Whatever.”
“You will never speak of this to anyone. Do you understand?”
“Yes, yes. I won’t. I promise.”
“If anyone ever asks, I was never here. I will deny everything. Do you understand?”
“Yes, yes. Don’t worry. I won’t say a word.” And then I understood how terribly secret these things are in polite society.
“Fine,” she said. She turned off the light and got into bed, turning her back to me. “Good night,” she said.
“Good night. I won’t set the alarm. You can sleep as late as you want. And I’ll make a big breakfast.”
“Fine. Good night.”
“Good night.–And thank you.”
And so, after a little while, I drifted off to sleep with this happy thought: Finally, I’m sleeping with a woman!
Copyright@ 2013 by Crad Kilodney. E-mail: email@example.com
Reminder: my French book, Villes Bigrement Exotiques, is still in print. Published by Le Dilettante (Paris).