True to the conventions of Aristotelian theatre, the sex in this story takes place off-stage if at all
I stole my title from N F Simpson's delightful, surrealist play, and the 1964 film of the same name.
Some literotica members were kind enough to comment on my story "Norman's wiggly woo". Some liked it and some hated it, but I am grateful for all the comments, even the abusive ones. When only five percent of readers take the trouble to vote or comment, I feel warmed when anonymous calls me a brain-dead faggot. He did not have to take the trouble.
One way pendulum.
How better to begin a serious discussion than with a thumping great cliché?
"Harry love, we need to talk."
Gwen started at me intently. Did I have toast crumbs on my lips? I surreptitiously wiped my mouth on my sleeve.
Since we had spent the past ten minutes weighing up the pros and cons of buying a second-hand Honda 50 as against taking the bus on my weekly trips to the wholesale warehouse, I knew that "talk" did not mean hold a conversation.
"Ok Gwen, let's talk. Will you start or shall I?"
She looked at me severely. O dear! Impervious to my shafts of sarcasm. She must be wearing her Wonder Woman knickers.
"Harry love, we really must do something about our love-life. I can't remember when we last really made love. It seems to me we are drifting further and further apart."
I knew what was coming in some detail, as the conversation I had overheard the previous afternoon illuminated everything.
Gwen's mother, Deirdre lived a life as a moth around the flame of the Catholic Church. Her "bible" was Butler's Lives of the Saints and she attended two weekly study groups to pry into the lives of the blessed dead in almost indecent detail.
She was a stalwart of the church flower rota and the church cleaning rota. She was the laundress who cleaned and repaired the church vestments and washed and ironed the choir robes, and she prided herself on turning out the whitest surplices outside Westminster Cathedral.
Her idol was the austere Father Benedict, and she was his right-hand woman, visiting the sick and the poor, and visiting the wrath of God on the children of the parish. Her only child, Gwen, had assisted her in all these endeavours from her first conscious moments.
Deirdre had one sister, Gwen's aunt Theresa; the "scarlet women" of the family. Aunt Terry had strayed from the paths of God from the moment an obliging boy had conjoined his fingers with her clitoris in a darkened cinema. Although she now lived a model family life with her second husband Eamon and their three children, she was still sunk in iniquity as far as her sister was concerned.
When Deirdre learned that her baby sister had blithely given away her virginity at sixteen, whilst big sister had saved hers for her wedding night a furious, bitter guerrilla war broke out between the sisters that soon dragged in the whole family. The family settled into a state of exhausted truce. After all Catholic families had been dealing with this sort of problem for millennia, but between the sisters the anger and bitterness lodged in their bodies and festered like shrapnel from an old war-wound.
The curious thing is that Gwen loved her aunt Terry and kept in close touch with her. The previous afternoon I had strolled over from the canal-side boat chandlers and general store that was our livelihood, to fetch the mop to mop up some child's spilled drink in the store. As I got to the kitchen, I heard Gwen's raised voice sounding earnest and agitated. She was opening her heart to her aunt, and I could not resist stopping to eavesdrop.
Gwen was in full spate:
"But Auntie Gwen, I was sure we would have a family by now and our lives would be all different. Harry wants children so much, and so do I, but it just doesn't happen. I am sure the cracks in our marriage are getting wider all the time.
It's my fault, I know, but nowadays he never even tries to make love to me. Sometimes in bed he just spoons up behind me, and tickles me down there until I open up for him. Then he slips me a length and just gets his end away. He doesn't even hold onto my tits any more, he just holds me by the hipbones as if he's trying to stop me pulling away. And I suppose that's what it seems like to him."
"Can't you do anything to make him a bit more physical? Kiss him and snuggle up to him? Try to tempt him a bit? Show him some warmth and maybe he will give some back."
"I try, I really do. But by now he just doesn't believe me any more. Oh God. How I wish I had done all those things he wanted when we first got married. If only I hadn't been such a self-righteous little prude."
"It's not too late. You just have to upset the apple-cart. Do something that really gets him thinking."
"Yes, but what?"
"Tell him you want to have an affair. Say your love-life had got stale, and you want to experience another man. Tell him that will bring a sense of adventure back to your marriage."
"Harry would slap me senseless; and I would not blame him a bit. He is a proud man Aunt Terry. He is proud of being a good husband, and a good provider; but there's no way he's a pushover. He would throw me out on the spot if he thought I was even considering a bit on the
"Good. He'll be horrified that you even thought about it, and I'm sure he'll turn you down flat. But you will have pushed the door open a bit. Let him know that you are open to a bit of how's-your-father.
Then you let him teach you how to suck him off, and the fun and games begin. Gwen, you must have been daft to refuse him a gobbler. There's nothing better than gam for turning a man into a whimpering puppy-dog. You'll have him sitting up and begging for more."
"But it sounds so dirty. How can you put the thing he pisses with into your mouth?"
"Remember your lives of the Saints. The blessed Woody Allen said something you should meditate on. He said "If sex is not dirty, you are not doing it right." And, believe me that's spot on.
If you'd ever had a baby you'd have got over this vicious idea that the body is dirty and bodily products are vile. I've never heard anything so wicked. Gwen, when you smell the shit of your own new baby, fed at your breast with your own milk, it will fill you with joy. When you have a baby, you will breath him in like perfume, and your womb will cry out to be filled again."
At that point, I was feeling churned up by a cocktail of emotions. I wrote off the mop-bucket and returned to the shop to think.
That was yesterday, now at breakfast the shoe had dropped. Gwen had initiated "the conversation".
I was not going to make it easy for her.
"Drifting apart? Do you think that's what we are doing? For my part, I love you as much as ever. I know we are both hurting because we can't seem to have a family, but the pain only makes me love you more.
What have you got in mind? We can't spend much more time together than we do. We are here together every morning, and every evening when you get home from work we have a bit of quiet time in the garden, and I know you love that as much as I do. Maybe we could go out more at weekends, but that's our busy time in the store at this time of the year."
"Harry, don't you think our sex lives are grinding to a halt? When is the last time we sat and snogged, or I sat on your lap? How long since you simply put your hand up my skirt or in my blouse? We're in a rut, and the rut's getting deeper all the time."
Obviously I could have riposted that I stopped doing all those things because she brushed me off again and again over six years, but I didn't want to stop her flow. I needed her to carry this through to its conclusion.
"Yes love, you're dead right. It has been ages. What do you think we should do?"
"Harry, I know you're not going to like this, but I think you should let me have a fling with another man, and see if I can bring some zest back into our marriage. Maybe if you could see that another man desires me, you would want me again."
What a self-serving load of codswallop. As if I was the one who had given up. Still...
"Gwen; do you really think it could work?"
She was gobsmacked. All geared up for an outright rejection, and I had cut the legs right from under her. Oh Harry, you've lost the plot you twat. Stick to the script!
I took pity on her.
"You've given me lot to think about. I'll go over to the store and sweep around. When you've reached a stage here, come over and we'll talk some more."
Two hours or so later, she stuck her head, rather timidly, round the
door and looked at me enquiringly. I beckoned her in.
"Gwennie, I've given this a lot of thought, and I think you have a good idea..."
She looked aghast. If you ever needed a visual image for the term "hoist with her own petard", her face would do it.
"...but I have some strict conditions and you must accept them totally or all bets are off.
Firstly, this little holiday from our marriage applies to both of us, not just to you.
Secondly, You choose my partner, and I choose yours. That is non-negotiable. You know the girls at the soap factory, pretty well. Choose someone for me. She has to be as pretty as you, preferably younger, but, above all, I want her willing to do the dirty, distasteful things you have always refused to do with me.
She has to be willing to make love with the light on, and not swathed in a winceyette nightie. She needs to be able to suck me off and like it. I want to come in her mouth. I want her to try all the sexual positions in The Joy of Sex, - you know, all the ones you have always refused. Doggy style, cowgirl, knee tremblers and all. She should also be willing to allow me anal sex from time to time.
You will have to discuss all this with her and make really sure she consents. In exchange I'll take her dancing and clubbing, buy her flowers and gifts, and show her a really good time.
I'll get a couple of blokes lined up for you to meet. They will be youngish, personable and they will have bigger cocks than mine. Don't worry about money; there's easily a couple of thousand spare in the salvage account, and they won't have to pay for anything.
Now, is there anything you would want me to tell them, or shall I leave it all to you? Do you want me to say that they must not lick you or kiss you down below? Anywhere they absolutely must not touch? They may as well know the ground rules from the word go."
"Thank you for being so considerate, but best leave it to me. Perhaps the whole purpose of this is to help me break down my inhibitions. They haven't made either of us any happier."
Best leave this line of thinking alone. I decided.
She was silent for a couple of minutes on end. Then:
"Now I've got a lot to think about. I'm going back to the house to think things over.
She was going to phone Aunt Terry and fill her in. Good.
I did not care what the outcome was. Either way it was a win-win for me. If she came to me willingly and explored her sexuality, I would be delighted. If she had a fling, and came back more open minded and adventurous, that was good too, especially as meanwhile I would be indulging in the pleasures I had been forced to relinquish when I fell for Gwen. In the worst scenario, if the whole thing ended in a split-up; and I devoutly hoped that would not be the case, we might still be better off than in the hollow shell of our marriage.
Besides, an atavistic side of my brain kept nagging insistently "give her an orgasm, and she'll give you a baby." Illogical, superstitious, magical thinking maybe, but I could not shut that little voice up.
Gwen accepted my deal in its entirety. Whilst I was, ostensibly, searching for suitable lovers for her, she was overcoming her own innate prudery and reticence and chatting up young women on my behalf and gradually desensitising herself.
One evening not long after our discussions I found her sorting through photographs and choosing a few that, in her view, made me look whatever the male equivalent of nubile might be. She reported back that, according to her workmates, I had nice eyes and an open, friendly smile. I think their approval heartened her.
A welcome side-effect was that, spontaneous gestures of affection were welcomed on both sides. When Gwen came to sit on my lap in my big armchair, I hugged her ruthlessly and we kissed with less restraint than at any time since our marriage. Her protests when I slipped a finger or two under the elastic of her knickers were made with a laugh, and clearly not intended to be taken seriously.
We returned to the missionary position in our love-making, and she seemed in less need of the vaseline that I had employed to lubricate our intercourse since our wedding night. All these signs made me hopeful.
Finally, almost three weeks later, she announced that a young lady named Carole agreed to all my terms, and would like to meet me. I still refused to tell her the name of my choice, but merely said that she would know him when she saw him, and that she had a pleasant surprise awaiting her. No amount of persuasion made me relent.
The meeting was arranged at the Boathouse, a riverside pub just across the road from the canal basin. It was a warm, sweet-smelling Summer evening at haymaking time. Gwen and I arrived early and walked across the busy road hand-in-hand.
I felt relaxed in the knowledge that I was easy with whatever way things came out. Gwen was a little stiff and tense, and I knew that, although she had negotiated terms with my would-be-paramour, she was inwardly unable to suppress her jealousy. Also, I could tell that she was ambivalent about having an affair herself, but could not think of a good way out.
We sat down with my pint of Everards bitter and her half of lager and lime, in, as she always preferred, a lady's glass. I bought her a packet of the recently introduced Golden Wonder salt and vinegar flavour crisps, and I had my favourite indulgence, a packet of salted peanuts. I emphasise all this to give a glimpse of how members of the upper crust live.
Five minutes later, I was getting to my feet to greet Carole, who had recognised Gwen and was making her way towards us across the grass. She impressed me immediately; a pleasant, open-faced girl with long straight dark-blonde hair and a figure of a generous plumpness emphasised by her slightly tight, knee-length sheath dress in peacock blue. I greeted her with a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of the hand after she had hugged Gwen. I went into the pub to buy her a drink, and came back with a Beefeater and tonic for her and a pint to await the late arrival.
We chatted desultorily for five more minutes as Carole and I sized each other up. I think we were both happy with our bargain, and I think Gwen was starting in earnest to regret hers. So far so good.
Suddenly Gwen stood up and called out:
"Look, there Frank's punt. Hi Frank." She waved to our old friend who was poling his way up-river in our direction..
Frank worked on his family farm down-river at Mountsorrel. He hated cars, and when he was not riding a hack, he moved up and down river on a flat-bottomed punt. Every week he brought us a punt-load of fresh vegetables for us to sell to the canal and houseboat folk and our few dry-land customers.
Frank was tall and muscular from a lifetime of hard physical work. His hair was sun-bleached and his face, neck and forearms burned a deep, rich brown from the sun. He spoke in a slow, measured way in the earthy accent of the Leicestershire countryman. His face was the face of a man who would rather smile than talk.
I had identified him from the first as Gwen's possible lover. The two of them were friends, and I knew he fancied her and she fancied him. I was also pretty sure that Frank would not let it get out of hand. He was destined to fall head over heels in love with his second cousin Annaliese when she finished university, and everyone knew it but the two of them.
The best laid plans of mice and men go belly up with monotonous regularity, and this was no exception. Two minutes later, he was sitting with us and being introduced to Carole. Another two minutes and their eyes were licking each other's faces. Conversation died. Gwen and I watched entranced as our two friends fell headlong in love.
Half an hour later Carole was seated in the blunt ended punt as Frank poled the two of them down river to explore his grandmother's goose-down bed.
"Well Harry you bastard, you planned that didn't you?"
Gwen was laughing as she castigated me.
"It was one of the outcomes I considered. But, my love, there was not an outcome on the board that would have hurt you and me."
"So, you are left with me. Do you suppose you could make do with my saggy old bum? It is yours if you want to try it out. I will do whatever it takes to make you happy. Please let me try. You know I never wanted an affair, don't you?"
"Yes meduck, I knew from the very beginning. Maybe I was a bit manipulative, but I never wanted to hurt you. You know that."
The little voice in my head was talking to me again.
"Teach her how to have an orgasm. Then see if she doesn't get a bun in the oven.
Sounds good to me.