Revenge of the Nerd Ch. 33byrpsuch©
The first night back I had dinner with Jeff. We went back to his house to spend some time alone.
The Goldbergs were very understanding, even Sandy.
I would have loved to take him back to my room, but after the pep talk about all the eligible prospects awaiting me in Europe, I thought it a trifle lacking in subtlety.
The truth was, at that point I did feel an urgency to get him into bed. But I felt the same urgency to be pressed up against him, to kiss him, to feel his cheek against mine, to feel the rise and fall of his chest as I snuggled against him on the couch.
If I only had the time for one or the other tonight, this pleased me just fine. Tomorrow, my comings and goings would be an afterthought to my parents.
I got up early to reach Jennifer before she left for work. She was going to try to arrange for me to see her working with the children. She was excited about her job and wanted to share it. I had no objection so we would see what happened.
Jeff took me to dinner at The Rose Tattoo in his new Civic Hybrid. Nothing but the best for his honey. He was now a man of means.
Our table sat by a wrought iron railing on the second floor, surrounded by hanging plants. Had we been told we were actually on a balcony in the Vieux Carré in New Orleans, we could have believed it. After dessert I broached the subject.
"I know it's not late, but a proper young lady should not be staying out on a week night. I'm afraid I'm going to have to ask you to take me home."
My intentions were decidedly improper.
"I understand completely. I would never wish to do anything that could tarnish your reputation in the slightest way. I, myself, was thinking of returning you safely to your parents' home."
"It pleases me to know that I am with a gentleman of such upstanding moral character."
"Whenever I am with you, I cannot help but be upstanding."
I almost spit out my coffee.
"I wonder if people had more fun back in the days when sex wasn't so readily available. The teasing and the anticipation are wonderfully exciting."
The role play was fun too.
"Perhaps we should wait until we're married."
"It's not that exciting," I said.
On the way back, I took up the topic in a more serious way.
"It's good that you're so young. At your age, you can recover easily enough to make sure I'm always satisfied."
"I don't know if that's true. We may not have fully explored just how much it takes for you to be satisfied," he said.
"I wonder how important sex is. When we get out of school, we'll have work, hopefully family. How important will it be then?"
He shook his head.
"What?" I asked.
"I think everybody may have overestimated my ability to learn."
"Very mysterious. I have no idea what you're talking about," I said.
"You continue to surprise me and you shouldn't. It should have been completely obvious by now to anyone but a complete idiot how smart you are and what amazing insight you bring to so many different situations. And yet, though you continue to do it, I haven't learned to expect it."
"You're not a complete idiot."
"If it's any consolation, I feel the same things myself. I hear you mention some great thing I've done and wonder was that really me. I've changed so much it's a little difficult to accept."
His smile was wistful.
"You put too much pressure on yourself, Jeff. You can't know everything and do everything and be everything. That's," I searched for the right word, "hubris."
"There's that insight again."
This smile was proud. I wondered how many different smiles we had.
It was not insulting. He felt both sides of this. When I came up with something he admired, he felt it was unexpected. At the same time, he expected it. He'd have to figure that out himself just like I would.
"What were we talking about?" I asked.
"The future importance of sex."
He gave it some thought.
"How important is it now?"
That was a good approach. It would become less important later, wouldn't it? Of all the things that made up our relationship, what part -
"Scale of one to ten," he said.
I guess he thought I was taking too much time evaluating it.
"All right, I can't just give you a number on this. I need to explain it."
"Sounds like a pretty low number."
Jeff was amused, not upset.
"Importance, three. Quality, ten. It's not even like it's just sex with you. It's in a whole different category.
"But there are so many wonderful things in our relationship I value more. That first letter you sent me was one hundred twenty-seven words, not that I counted them more than a hundred times.
"Nothing could have made me feel more loved. You were an ocean away and you made me feel you in fewer words than most songs. I'm still stunned by it and any time I think about it, I get that 'Oh, my.'
"I don't have a number, but I knew how I felt. I wondered how you felt about it," I said.
"You've made it easy for me to give my answer - one. If something were to happen that prevented me from doing that with you, and I can give you a pretty long list of things that could happen, you'd still be that extraordinary person I love.
"And I agree, it's a ten and I don't want to give it up. It's one of the ways I express how much I love you, but it isn't one of the reasons," he said.
"Oh, my. Sometimes you say something succinct; that expresses an idea with complete clarity. It gives me chills."
"That's how I feel when you surprise me with things that shouldn't be surprising."
"This can't last." I sighed.
"It's too intense and it's too good," I said.
Jeff responded in a matter-of-fact voice. "We're going to die. Until it becomes more imminent, we take care of our health and try to avoid dangerous situations. If we start to have problems, we work them out."
I wavered on whether to pout because he wasn't listening to me or to feel relieved because I was being silly.
Don't you hate it when you can't summon the enthusiasm to be petulant? I used to do petulance with such ease. It doesn't work if you think about what you're doing.
"Is this what people who are in relationships do? Are these, the things you learn, when you screw up the first love and move on to the next?"
"You're asking me? I don't have a clue. We can ask my mom," said Jeff.
"Outside of the fact that's not a completely idiotic idea, it sounds like a completely idiotic idea. 'Mrs. Goldberg, Sunny, are there any potential problems with Jeff doing me from behind. Oh, avoid the kitchen because we eat at that table. Thanks for the heads up.'"
When he stopped laughing, he joined in. He sounded more like Mrs. Doubtfire than Sunny.
"Well, you know dear, what you could try is using Windex on the table when you're through. But use the all-purpose Windex, not the glass cleaner."
"My God, you actually know something about cleaning up. You may not be a man's man, but you sure are a woman's man."
"Again, I'm not clear. Compliment or insult?"
"Compliment, Mr. Bill."
I thought about my conversation with Sandy. Was this the right time to start talking about that? Was there a right time?
"If I," deep breath, "let myself go, bring down all the barriers and, wind up completely in love with, completely trusting, expecting you to always do the right thing, what do I do if something goes wrong? How do I ever recover from that? How can I risk it?"
"Boy, you went from laughter to the edge of tears in a trice, whatever that is."
He damn well knew what it was.
"You handle it the best you can. You're going to screw up. I'm going to screw up. We both have to trust and remember that's not what the other person intended. We have to trust that we never intended to cause any pain and that's the last thing we would want to do.
"You have to trust yourself as well, because it can be harder to accept forgiveness than to give it."
"Where did you learn that? It sounds like you understand it from having screwed up big time."
"Not big time. But when I've disappointed my family, I take it much harder than they do.
Then, after a moment he said, "And, of course, I've read about it."
"Like reading about being a jockey."
"Like reading about being a jockey. I've thought about it and I think I'm logical enough to be able to handle problems."
"I worry about you a little. You have a completely different experience. You're used to things going pretty much the way you planned them."
He was having a lot of trouble finishing off the thought. No problem. I wasn't going to let him.
"I don't know whether to be furious or just shake my head and laugh at the idiot coming out. You're the big, strong man. Don't worry, you can take it. But you have to protect the weaker sex.
"What a crock of shit! I turned you down for a date and you didn't go out for over three years. Yeah, you'll handle it just fine. Thank God I have you to protect me from life."
Apparently I did know. It was pure vitriol.
I saw a tear slide down his cheek. He tried to hide a gulp and take a deep breath, but neither effort was successful. He didn't break down. He didn't say anything for quite some time, focusing his efforts on getting himself under control.
Was I too harsh? I had to be harsh. Did I have to be that harsh? He was hurt, and as angry as I was, and as important as this was, that was killing me.
"It's okay. I didn't think it out thoroughly," he said.
"Please, pull over and park."
He sighed and pulled over. I spoke very quietly.
"I'm sorry for the way I said it. It needed to be said. I just wish I hadn't been angry enough to come across so angry."
I ran my fingers through his hair and kissed the path of the tear.
"It's so painful to me to see that I can make you feel so terrible. You have no idea."
"Is this where I start yelling that it's condescending to think that only you can suffer from the pain you give someone else? Sorry, not funny, not helpful, not called for. How do people do it? This is such a daunting burden. I'm, not getting this at all. Why is it so hard?"
I had just the thing to pull him out his morass of self pity.
"Because there's no book to tell you how to do it."
He laughed, we hugged and the worst was over. Actually, it brightened my mood considerably.
"You're flawed," I told him.
"You seem awfully pleased with that knowledge."
"I am," I said. "Very. You have no idea what it's like to be with someone who seems perfect.
"You finish four years of damn college in a year and you barely break a sweat.
"You get the best paying job out of college I ever heard of without even looking for it. Companies are fighting over you.
"You know almost everything. You understand almost everything. It's damn intimidating.
"But now I know you don't always think everything out. You can screw up. It's so liberating. I can make a mistake. I can afford to mess up. It's fantastic."
"I never -"
"No, I did. But it doesn't matter."
"So do we get to have our first make-up sex now?" he asked.
"No. We didn't have a fight. We just blew up briefly and intensely and realized that we love and respect each other."
"Are we ever going to fight?" he asked.
"I thought sex was a one?"
"Importance is a one. Quality is a ten."
"Ah. Then we don't need it to be make-up."
I can be logical too.
"No. How do other people do it? Are we having trouble with this because we have no experience?" he asked.
"I think so. I think you screw the first one up the worst and each one after that gets easier. You just have more margin for error with the first because it's so new and so intense there's a special feeling that makes you want to stick until you get it right."
"How do you know this?"
"I don't know. I just do. I think it's like the way you look at some mathematical concept and intuitively understand it. It sure isn't because I have any experience."
"I'm a lucky guy," said Jeff.
"Never stop saying that."
We had survived, no thrived after our first significant problem. It was reflected in my bed.
It wasn't the intense, gotta-do-it-right-away love making. It wasn't the multi-course-meal love making feast. It was I think we can do this; I think we can make this last until we die.
If you haven't done it, I'm not sure you can understand the feeling. But we did.