I was pissed but not surprised. As usual, I was heading off to a weeklong business trip without enjoying any sex with my wife in the days prior leaving. Yes, we've been married for twenty-five years. Yes it's not like we are burning up the sheets anywhere near as often as when we were younger. Yes, she's never had cause to distrust me while I was away. But damn it, a little something to prevent temptation is not too much to ask.
I go to the home office five or six times a year to work on a task force that provides guidance on how the company can proactively create success for the company and customers alike. The group of us works directly with partners in various divisions for specific programs, and then we get together to formulate action items before heading home. Pretty dull stuff as I write it, but not for me. My direct division partner is Bridgett.
Bridget is my fantasy woman. She stands as tall I, her body solid and toned, with auburn hair down to her shoulders (but always in a bun in a professional setting) and as friendly and energetic as one can expect for a frequent business meeting acquaintance. Only a little older than I, divorced with two children she was alluring without being overtly flirty or sexual. In short, someone I could imagine being with late in the evening during the meetings together if ever an opportunity arose.
On this particular trip, I left two days early to spend some time in the city site seeing and spend the day with Bridgett as host. The idea was to spend social time and to brainstorm on various topics in a less pressure filled way. The agenda was loose; some outdoor hiking in fresh bracing winter air (I'm from Arizona), dinner at a local landmark Italian restaurant and tickets to the local hockey game. We'd done this once before in the previous year and found that we enjoyed spending the time together and that in improved our working relationship as well.
So I drove from the airport out to her home on the lakeside. She greeted me warmly with a hug (some folks are just huggers) and indicated I should sit while she put on her hiking gear. I was relaxed and thought idly on our friendship but also how much like a date the day was mapped out. Considering my state of mind from before, my anger had evaporated into the calm projection that one uses in social situations, especially with co-workers.
And so we set off for the two mile loop around the lake. As an office jockey I'm not in the best shape, but a leisurely walk is certainly within my skill set and we went around the icy shores of the frozen lake, watching ice fishermen in their shacks and enjoying shoreline sights. She told me of the local gossip of so and so who owned this house or that house. I spoke of my few winters spent in the mountain homes when I was young. Nearly half way around our circuit, she began to talk of the challenges of raising older children through a divorce and the many complications it brings. I was sympathetic and tried to understand the logistics and issues that were so foreign to me.
After completing the circuit, we adjourned to her home to discuss the challenges up coming in her department. My role as field expert often times identified areas that would be easily implemented, others that would be resisted tooth and nail. I was drawn to how hard it really was to get work done through a demanding and unforgiving front line member of the company. For the first time, but I looked at Bridget with a different perspective. She was working so hard she was neglecting her social life. She looked in dire need of relaxation and uncritical appreciation of herself as a person. I decided to be as supportive and engaging a companion for the day as I possibly could. I even dared to think of her as a sexual object whom I could nurture and take her burdens away for a time.
We made plans for dinner at a local hot spot and arranged for tickets to the University sports arena for college gymnastics. We split up so I could check into my hotel, freshen up, and continue our day together. She'd pick me up to go out on the town.
At this point, I began to lay some groundwork for the balance of my time with her. I went out and bought some wine to chill in the rooms' ice bucket, some light chocolaty snacks, and after much deliberation, a pack of condoms. As I saw it, there was no downside to being ready. I enjoyed getting hard just thinking about what I hoped would happen. Getting lucky would be the residue of preparation. Time began to run short, so I showered, ironed my business outfit, and got ready to go out with my game face on.
The pizza place turned out to be packed. We waited in line for 30 minutes or so before we could even order. We spent the time talking about her children and how she hoped they were making good choices at school. I asked her about their girlfriends and how she coped as a parent worrying about how experienced they might be. That opened the floodgates! She shared the time she caught her son and girlfriend on the couch with their tops off, kissing each other. She had been hidden behind curved entryway and choose to simply watch them. Unsaid but implied was her memories of close contact with her boyfriend's at that age. I mentioned my own house rules for my son, no sex below the waist but keep a condom handy if needed. I shared how unrealistic it was to deny and forbid behavior that would happen anyway. Then I'd turn around and gross him out by saying hot his mother was to me. If anything will stop a teenage boy, it's the thought of his parents doing it. (The "Incest" section not withstanding). Her laughter was rewarding in its own right.
It's often uncomfortable watching women's gymnastics without feeling a little voyeuristic, especially when on a "date" as I was now committed to calling it. The balance beam makes me nervous, I keep expecting to see a busted, bloody head or similar misfortune, but it never happens.
Our seats in fact were right in front of the uneven bars. The routines were, well, routine until this one girl missed the lower bar and went crashing on her shoulder blades. We both winced in sympathy. She was obviously in pain and was unable to finish the competition. Bridget and I were simply enjoying each other's company, talking about the athleticism of the women, the hours of practice and how the college boys probably fawned over their flexibility. At that point Bridget said the women wouldn't have too much of a social life with all their school and team commitments. I realized how close the comparison was to Bridget's own work and silently cursed my reintroduction to the real world which was back in the foreground. So much for smooth.
As we drove back to the hotel, I invited Bridget for a nightcap at the bar. She agreed although one would be her limit since she was driving. We slowly toasted the conclusion of a productive and fun day. My high hopes were fading, so I played my ace in the hole. I recalled the girl who fell so hard, and wondered how long a massage it would take to get the pain to go away. I intimated I'd enjoy the challenge of massaging her back to a pain-free condition, no matter how long it took. Bridget's eyes sparkled some, lowered her voice and whispered "If you need some practice, I'm here to help."
Like a stunned in the highlights deer, I was silent for what seemed like forever. At long last, I said, "Yes, I'd like that." For the first time, I held her hand and moved us towards the elevator.