tagNon-EroticFriends Ch. 01

Friends Ch. 01


Ch. 1 Progressive Dinners

Following is a story of fact and fiction. The initial progressive dinner took place exactly as presented. What happened afterward is pure fiction, but fiction couched in the context of the social network that grew as described and existed for several years. This chapter is almost completely background, developing the main characters with little sexual content. If you must have the latter, read chapter 2 first and then this chapter.


It was an unusual set of circumstances that brought us together. It was the right time, the 70's. It was the right place, a new development somewhat isolated from others in the community. The right opportunity, many in the development were of similar ages, 30's and professionally connected through their industry, defense. Few were locals. Some were military (officers), others were civil servants while the rest were contractors. Most had kids the same age in a nearby elementary school. It was the kids that brought us together.

The kids met and formed friendships in school with others from the neighborhood. One thing led to another and before long parents met parents and a social network formed that lasted for several years until circumstances and opportunities caused the group to slowly dissolve as one-by-one its families moved out of the area. While it lasted though, it was a unique environment for kids and their parents, alike.

Early on some of the more outgoing wives organized a progressive dinner to be an icebreaker among the men [it was a time and circumstances that caused most (all?) of the wives to be stay-at-home moms]. If a single event could be identified as the catalyst for the social network to gel it would be that initial progressive dinner. Planned for New Year's Eve, it snowed heavily in the afternoon after having done so off and on several days. The snow and ice pack caused the schools and most businesses to close. Everyone, kids and adults alike, gathered at a large, long hill in the back of the development with sleds, toboggans, inner tubes, and large aluminum and plastic dishes. It was one block from our home.

Some of the husbands had the foresight to bring something to keep them warm while on the hill. None of wives had planned to stay out as long as they did and so, as the afternoon wore on and temperatures dropped they would ask for sips to bind them over until the dinner began. Depending upon their personal tastes [refreshment preferences] they approached whoever was packing for a sip regardless of who they were [or were not]. I brought Benedictine, a strong licorice-flavored elixir that does a good job warming the insides. Not many were familiar with it, which left more for me.

By the time the sun went down pre-New Year's Eve celebrations and spirits were in high gear. It was also time for me to go home and prepare the hor d'oeuvres, the first course of the evening. Since my wife was one of the organizers we staked claim to entertain first so we would be free to enjoy the rest of the evening.

One of the wives was notorious for always being late. With that in mind and fully expecting her to arrive late we told Marilyn the starting time was 5PM at our house. Everyone else was told the start time was 6PM, including her husband. He knew of the subterfuge but on that day he was on the hill with the rest of the neighbors. Forgetting what had been planned he told her he would meet her at our house. Sure enough, at 5PM sharp there was a knock at the front door. I had only returned moments before. Having spent hours on the hill I was cold and wet, the Benedictine notwithstanding. I started by removing all my clothes, leaving them heaped in a puddle in the foyer and was padding around the kitchen in my underwear prepping the food for assembly when the knock came. Fortified with Benedictine and in a hurry, I answered the door. There stood Marilyn decked out for the festivities. Nonplussed, she came in and followed me to kitchen. After getting her a glass of her favorite [I don't recall what] she made herself comfortable at the kitchen table and started her usual inane chatter, drawing me into it as I put together a checkerboard of caviar and smoked salmon on crackers as if her being fully dressed and well turned out while I was wet and undressed was normal.

[More than 30 years later one of the evening's participants reminisced on the spectacular presentation of the salmon and caviar, and Marilyn arriving early and catching me in my underwear. It is testament to the uniqueness of the evening.]

My youngest came in cold and wet. All she wanted was to jump in a hot bath. She came into the kitchen with red cheeks and a runny nose while dripping snow and ice melt on the floor shouting, "Hi, Daddy!" She stopped dead in her tracks at the sight of Marilyn. Looking back and forth between the two of us, Marilyn sitting in her finery and me in my skivvies. Shocked, she responded to Marilyn's greeting with, "What are you doing here?" It was an awkward moment for all. She vividly remembers it to this day.

As the first hostess of the evening my wife came back early to layout plates, glasses and the accoutrements needed for a cocktail party before going to transform herself from Nanook of the North to a stylish, 30-something housewife hostess. To my surprise she thought nothing of the Marilyn and me scene in the kitchen. When she returned moments before the other guests arrived, it was my turn to get cleaned up and dressed. Marilyn never stopped, she simply shifted focus to her new audience and continued talking [and saying nothing].

With few exceptions, everyone came directly from the hill, cold and wet. In the next hour everyone got warm and even more convivial. Then it was off to the next house and course. All transportation was on foot. It was a special night, cold, crystal clear, full moon and bright stars, with friends and neighbors strolling down the middle of the snow-covered road holding simultaneous conversations and occasionally singing seasonal songs. The composition of the group changed slightly after each course for the host and hostess of the next course to sprint ahead to prepare their homes for the guests soon to arrive. Alcohol was consumed with as much gusto as food causing the mood and antics of the group to become more raucous with every trip.

By the time midnight arrived everyone was everyone else's best and closest friend. Men and women alike sought out others to hug, kiss and wish each other well, some more aggressively than others. By 1AM the last course served, everyone was full and content. It was time to call it a night. The walk home was short and the air colder but, at that point no one cared.

The kernel of the social network forged that night changed shape and size as time wore on to include more neighbors and like-minded friends that didn't live in our community. Subsets formed around mutual interests but always there was a grand gathering every couple of months where all members coalesced into a single larger group to reinforce the sense of community. At some point the nature of these grand gatherings became thematic. My memory isn't clear on when it actually began but I'll assign responsibility to my wife, always the organizer.

The first theme was medieval. While in college she prepared a research paper on cuisines appropriate to that period complete with menus. It was mostly roasted wild game and overcooked stews with little seasoning. She prepared a meal that followed her research as closely as possible but jacked up to make it edible to a contemporary pallet. Prior to each course she explained what was included and why, and how it should have been prepared to be authentic to the period before telling them what she had done to make it more appealing.

While the meal was just acceptable the history behind it made it interesting. Of course, the group's sense of humor made a bigger deal of it than warranted causing a good time to be had by all. The liquor, wine and beer before, during and after contributed a great deal to the evening's success.

Over time and with successive grand group gatherings true friendships were made and relationships with and among neighbors and acquaintances strengthened causing the thematic evenings to be well attended. While not everyone was enthralled with every theme all participated in good spirits. Slowly, factions formed to include like-minded couples of which one really got into the thematic scene. To accommodate that interest and what followed it met more frequently than the plenary sessions. We found ourselves in that group of six couples.

Before continuing I need to digress a bit to explain my wife. Her role in the group(s) is pivotal to this story and, instead of springing her behavior and personality on you, it is necessary to give you some of her history. She comes from a large Italian-American family with many aunts, uncles and cousins. She is third generation American and uncharacteristically an only child. An only child in a large, yet close and extended family, she is also the youngest of her generation, the only one to complete college, one of few to marry someone not of Italian descent, and the only one to move out of the area. Any of these qualifiers could have been the basis for a debilitating neurosis for the rest of her family. In spite of her background she is surprisingly normal, at least by my measure. Of all the influences on her while growing up I'm convinced her years at an out-of-town college had the greatest effect on making her who she is today.

Thrust into an environment where there wasn't someone in the 'family' looking over her shoulder at her every move she rebelled, big time [she started rebelling in high school but family and social pressures kept a lid on it]. Joining and aggressively participating in every politically active group on campus she became a professional malcontent. You may recall this period as the sexual revolution of the 60's and the make love not war mindset of that generation. She fit right in.

Bra burning, tie-died clothing and drug experimentation were de rigor. She tried not shaving her legs and armpits but gave that up after finding less enlightened men [boys?] didn't appreciate her liberation manifested that way. She came to college a virgin and left a seasoned veteran. She tried everything that the human body and libido can conceive, and came away sexually liberated with broad tastes and clearly understanding her and men's preferences. She started off wanting to become a teacher, shifted to political science and graduated with a BA in history. She claimed it gave her perspective she didn't have but intuitively felt it was needed in a more rapidly changing world. I was less philosophical. I earned a BS in economics at a different school.

By now President Johnson had ramped up the US involvement in Southeast Asian politics making my being drafted and joining the war a certainty unless I took drastic action. I applied to law school and received a deferment. That's were I met the love of my life, Rosemary. She didn't agree with that assessment in the beginning. She was amused that a WASP [for those of you politically correct, that stands for white, Anglo-Saxon protestant] would be interested in a nice Italian girl like her.

Of course, she had dated [and slept] with every color and stripe of ethnicity found on college campuses at the time and was not without some experience with people of my color and stripe. But, I was the first that was interested in her for more than just a fuck and her politics. She later told me she never dated someone without bedding him or her early on. From her frame of reference, sleeping with someone on a first or second date was expected. I waited and held off her advances for more than a month before fucking her. At the time she was vastly more experienced than I, and it might therefore be more appropriate to say she fucked me on that first encounter. Truth be told, she used me as her personal fuck toy for at least a month before I started asserting myself. To this day we approach our lovemaking as a test of wills to see who will prevail. When fucking others she's usually dominant.

We struggled through law school together. After the first year her curriculum took her down a trial law path [read: adversarial and advocacy] while mine reflected a predisposition for detail. I became a contract lawyer. In hindsight, this was very fortuitous; we wouldn't find ourselves competing. We both graduated in the upper third of our classes. Neither of us made Law Review. We took associate positions in respectable and well established practices in our hometowns. Busy and eager to get ourselves on partnership tracks we worked ridiculous hours leaving no time to see each other, or any other for that matter.

We spent a lot of time on long distance [this was before PCs and email, and text messaging], and less writing letters. The latter took too much time and we had precious little of that.

While neither of us had proclaimed our love for the other we had been monogamous since starting our second year at school.

[I can say with surety that I only had sex with her during that time. Rosemary made the same claim but her sexual appetite was, and is prodigious enough susch that I have often wondered just how monogamous she was back then. No matter, I knew she loved me deeply, and still does.]

We never explicitly discussed having a shared future. It was just assumed we would raise a family together. No mention of marriage was ever made due to her rabid adherence to the feminist dogma of the time. Before starting the third year of school we took the obligatory trips to visit each other's parents. To a much greater degree Rosemary's parents and cousins pestered her, and to a lesser extent, me about our intentions toward each other. By this time Rosemary was the only one of her generation in her family not married with children. They dismissed our claim of never having discussed marriage. Their constant heckling drove us out of her parent's house to seek solace in her apartment before going to meet my parents. We received much the same treatment there. We left early and drove to my apartment for a few days of solitude and sexual exploration, exploration in the sense of how many organisms can one have in a 24-hour period? It was necessary to rerun the experiment several times before drawing any conclusions. Depleted and our love for each other renewed [yes, by then we talked in those terms], Rosemary flew home.

Two more years passed with our struggles and separation before we confronted our lives and each other to make decisions that would profoundly affect our futures. Both our careers and relationship were too important to abandon requiring us to find a solution that could accommodate both. The solution was for me to join corporate American as in-house counsel for a moderately sized company in Rosemary's hometown where she could continue her long, upward climb to a partnership in her firm as a trial attorney.

We took the opportunity this consolidation of interests provided to marry. While little changed on the outside it had a profound effect on the minutiae in our lives. Where we wouldn't have given a moment's thought deciding or doing something before we now found ourselves first reviewing it in our minds to determine if it was in both our best interests before proceeding. At one level of analysis, we were conceding control of ourselves to the other. Once realized, this didn't go down well with either of us but least of all, Rosemary.

We settled in a community populated with young professionals, like ourselves. We did all the suburban yuppy [a term coined at that time] things: barbeques, weekend evening cookouts, cards [duplicate bridge was big then, probably still is], wine and cheese parties, fondue parties [it was all the rage then], and such. Occasionally several of the men would play golf or go to a professional ballgame or race leaving more women than men at the weekly gatherings. That was my first exposure to the sexual appetites of married women. On those occasions I would receive more than my share of unattached [for the evening] women's attentions. Initially flattered, my ego caused me to return their favors and before long found myself in deep shit with my wife. It was at that time that it dawned on me that she was keeping me on a close rein. I don't think she was jealous or insecure in our marriage. Rather, she didn't want us to become the object of rumors, innuendo and ridicule. She had a very public, professional reputation to maintain and wanted to avoid all possibility of scandal. There was an upside to her interventions. She was sexually insatiable for the remainder of the weekend and into the following week when my rein drew tight.

After a while it dawned on me what was happening. I plead guilty to hitting on women even when their husbands were nearby just to get great sex from my wife. Being the veteran in bed, on those occasions she would roll out some rarely used tricks and tools to make sure that her sex was the hottest and most desirable around. She rarely disappointed.

[Years later that I found out she would occasional go off the reservation herself during that period in our lives but only away from the neighborhood and our friends. Now older (and wiser?) I realize hers was a good strategy. I had more great sex than I could handle and she had all the sex she wanted.]

After a few years living the American Dream two events changed everything. First, Rosemary was made a full partner in her firm. In the legal community she had garnered a reputation for being well prepared and taking no prisoners. She was her most comfortable in the courtroom and used it as if she was on stage. She would unabashedly use her femininity to beguile the men on the jury and her sincerity to evoke sympathy from the women. She is an attractive woman and when in battledress was extremely conservative in her presentation not wanting to alienate jury women. In short, she was formidable. Fortunately for me, her colleagues, and our friends that persona evaporated when she walked out of the courtroom.

She enjoyed her new status for six months before the second event occurred. She became pregnant with our first child. She tried to live the feminist's dream of having and doing it all. She pulled it off during that pregnancy. She won every case while showing. It's hard for someone to assume an adversarial posture against a pregnant woman glowing from her condition.

She had her family to help with the baby during the day and charged ahead with her career taking on assistants, paras and aspiring partner attorneys to do the legwork, and after hour's research and prep. This worked well until she became pregnant with child number two. And so it went until number three came along at which point we had to reassess our lives and the direction we wanted it to take.

After much soul-searching Rosemary conceded that the family needed a stay-at-home mother. This was a momentous decision on her part. It caused her to turn away from ten years of hard work and start a new career. If that wasn't enough our home was bursting at the seams with three small children. With that realization we knew we would have to move and move soon. This started another round of considering the alternatives that was inconclusive until I came up with a novel solution [its not always Rosemary that has the good ideas]: we move to a different part of the country and start fresh with a new home, surroundings, and friends. The idea of starting with a clean sheet of paper but being older and hopefully wiser to take the greatest advantage of the opportunities it presented was very appealing. Some much so that that is what we did.

To make it happen required me to get a new position. None available within my company I started an external job search. After three months an opportunity presented itself that seemed to meet all our requirements. The headhunting firm that hooked my future employer and me up did a good job negotiating on my behalf. I got a good increase in salary while moving to a part of the country where the cost of living was substantially less than where we were currently living. Being somewhat of a large fish in a small pond, I signed on as General Counsel and VP for a defense contractor that was opening a new division in the area we were to relocate to.

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