(Author's note: This is my entry for the Christmas 2013 Contest. It builds up over time, slowly at first, as David and Lauren's relationship changes over five Christmases. Please enjoy and don't forget to vote! --Theworldspins)
***December 11, 2000: Pfeiffer and Melinda's Christmas Bash***
I wasn't completely wasted when I first met Lauren, but the alcohol was definitely flowing, the party was in full swing, and I was in a state of stupid, inebriated bliss. In part, my mood was due to the booze, of course, but it was also just the feeling of release at the end of what had been a long, dark semester. I had lost a girlfriend, sprained an ankle, survived my parents' divorce, and almost not survived a chemistry class I needed if I was ever going to graduate. It felt good to let loose, before I headed home for the holidays.
Getting drunk and spending one last night with friends for a while wasn't my only goal that night, though. I was looking forward to my chance to talk to a girl I'd had my eyes on for a month or two, a friend of friend of a friend. I'd met her at Halloween, dressed as an angel. I might have poked a hole in my costume just looking at her—she was that hot. I learned she was best friends with my friend Pete Pfeiffer's new girlfriend of the month, some chick named Melinda. This girl, who had the utterly terrible name Charleen, was just my type: petite, blonde, fair-skinned, and hot in a "girl next door" kind of way.
She was kind of shy, but I knew that this party would be my chance to get her talking. I had no expectations of actually getting lucky tonight, but I thought that I could at least plant the seeds for next semester. I was a junior in college, and I was starting to think about finding a girl for longer than a month or two. It wasn't too hard to find freshmen girls to spend the night with, but as college girls got older, they started thinking a bit more seriously about a relationship, at least back then. I hear today that college is some kind of non-stop fuckfest, which is terrifying to the thirty-three year old version of me now, with two young daughters.
I was playing it cool, talking to everyone but her, but keeping an eye out, waiting for my moment. This might sound like I was being a complete chicken, afraid to make a move, but I can assure you I had a really good plan, only I can't remember it many years later. What happened next, though, changed everything. If I would have walked up to Charleen, broken the ice, chatted her up, then asked her for her number, maybe we'd have met when we got back to campus. Maybe we'd hook up, fall in love, get married, and live happily ever after, and I'd have little blonde kids and a little blonde wife who adored me and never caused me heartache. This isn't that kind of story, though.
"What do you think?"
I turned around to see a striking girl—more a woman than a girl—standing behind me, holding a hideously blue drink and leaning in over my shoulder.
"What?" I responded.
"I say she looks sweet, but take her back to your room and she's got a huge bush. I mean, like, '70s style," she said, slurring her words a bit.
Needless to say, I was a little taken aback. I didn't even know this girl, and here she was talking about pubic hair before even introducing herself. I might have been shocked, but I was always quick on my feet, even when I was tipsy.
"No way," I told the girl. "You see how lily-white she is? I'm guessing German ancestry. She's shaved it into a swastika."
That got a laugh out of the drunk girl. I took a second to look her up and down, as sneakily as I could. She was hot—not my usual type at all, but hot, with a great laugh. I wanted to hear it again.
"Any more theories on the pubic coiffure of our friends here?" I asked her.
"Coiffure? You've got to be an English major," she replied.
"You know it's French, right?" I said drily, before cracking a smile so as not to seem like a dick.
"Excuse me," she said in an exaggerated voice. "I liked your guess better than mine. Make another."
"Oh, it wasn't a guess," I told her, winking.
"So you've fucked her, then!" she responded laughing. "Here I thought you were just slinking around like a little puppy dog in love."
The first thing that crossed my mind was that she was wrong. I was not slinking around; I had talked to everyone, told a few stories, drank more than a few drinks. She would have to have paid pretty close attention to me to even notice how I was watching Charleen.
"No, you've got it all wrong," I told her. "I've never slept with her. I've just seen her pubes—everyone's here, actually. It's a tradition at Pfeiffer's parties. Hope you're well groomed for show-and-tell later."
She laughed again. Good.
"Can't groom what you don't have!" she said, arching her eyebrows.
I must have blushed, because she looked really proud of herself. She was upping the ante since I had handled her first attempt at shocking the prude. I wasn't going to let her win this game we were playing.
"Too bad," I said. "There's a prize for fullest bush—year's worth of hedge trimming from Pfeiffer's dad's landscaping business."
I thought blue cocktail might shoot out her nose she laughed so hard.
"Ohhh, gross! Way to kill the mood, dipshit," she said jokingly, punching me in the arm.
So there was a mood, I thought. Interesting.
"Hey, so, I'm David. David Mauer," I said to her, expecting her to finally introduce herself.
She rolled her eyes.
"Lame. I'm totally not having sex with you tonight, so can we just go back to the actually fun conversation we were having?"
This time, I really was shocked.
"Hey, I never said anything about—"
"Sorry," she interrupted. "It's just...let's not ruin things with awkward get-to-know-you shit. So...you're David, David Mauer. I'm Lauren, Lauren Connors. Now be funny again, funny man."
"So is that it, huh? I'm some kind of dancing monkey here to amuse you?" I said, pretending to be hurt.
"Not at all. A dancing monkey would be really, really entertaining," she replied, her tone again lighthearted. "You're just...OK."
"Well I don't want to be funny. I want to know how you knew I was into Charleen," I told her.
Lauren smiled. She had a great smile, broad and toothy without looking silly. Again, she wasn't my "type": her skin was olive, a little Mediterranean, and her lips were thinner than I normally liked. When she smiled, her dark eyes wrinkled at the corners and her cheek bones drew upwards just a bit. She did have the button nose that I like so much, and the long, shiny hair, though hers was dark brown, almost black.
"Probably from the way you eye-fucked her while you were sipping that girly drink," she replied wryly. "I hope your eyes used protection."
"It's a gin and tonic!" I exclaimed, defending myself.
"I know, right? You might as well be wearing a dress," she replied, trying to get my goat again.
"Sorry, we can't all be drinking—is that Windex?" I said, gesturing to her electric blue concoction.
She shrugged her shoulders exaggeratedly and flung her hands out a bit, almost sloshing some of the toxic drink out onto the carpet.
"Hello: girl drink—girl. I can get away with it," she said.
"There's a world of difference between a G & T and a Smurfette," I responded.
"But she was the most special and beautiful of all the Smurfs," she said. "Oh, and G & T? Really? Sorry, busy man—can't be bothered to say the whole word? Must've saved yourself, like, what? A whole five seconds?"
I couldn't get a read on this girl. I was used to going after my kind of girl: shy, looking for a boyfriend, pretty but not too overtly sexy. I knew how to coax them out of their shell, how to make them feel comfortable with me, and then how to close the deal. I did not know what to do with Lauren, though. I couldn't tell if she wanted to fuck me or just make fun of me for an hour.
"So," I asked her, "how do you know Pfeiffer? I haven't seen you around before."
Again with the eye roll.
"Not this again. Did I hurt your feelings or something?"
"No, not at all. I'm just trying to bore the shit out of you with small talk," I told her. "I'm trying to get laid tonight, and you've already said we aren't going to have sex. I can't chat with you all night, you know."
I figured that would either piss her off or make her laugh. If it was the former, then, so what? There's another girl who doesn't want to sleep with me in the world. Otherwise, she'd laugh, and then we're back on track. Neither one happened.
"Sometimes I lie," she told me. "I'm Charleen's roommate. You're not fucking her tonight—she's got a boyfriend, and she's, like, super-faithful."
Shit! The night seemed like a waste.
"You lie sometimes? How can I tell the difference?" I asked her.
"When I'm scared or nervous, I lie. Sometimes. But I always tell the truth when it matters," she said.
It was the most serious thing she had said all night. It also gave me an idea.
"OK, you don't seem scared or nervous right now. Were you watching me tonight? Eye-fucking or otherwise?"
Lauren squirmed a bit. She wasn't as comfortable as I was when the tables were turned.
"How about eye-foreplay? Or maybe eye-third base?" she said, biting her lower lip.
Up until that point, I had been really stupid. I was trying to think of clever things to say, trying to clear my head from a fog of alcohol, and trying not to screw things up. All that trying kept me from seeing what was going on with her. Her cheeks were flushed, just a little, and her chest was heaving. She was even constantly brushing her hair back behind her ears, sub-consciously probably. She was in to me.
It sounds weird, but that was the first time I really checked her out totally. I mean, she had—has—a great face, but her body was outstanding. Lauren is tall, almost 5'9", with incredible long legs. The thing that stands out to me about her body, though, and this was, for the last time, totally not my normal type of girl, is that she's thin, but kind of wide, in an hourglass-figure kind of way. She had wide hips and really generous breasts, which made her waist look smaller than it was. That's what I meant when I called her a woman earlier: she had this look that was both sexy and strong at the same time. I remember thinking, before we had even touched, that she was going to be a hellcat in the sack, and my premonition proved true.
I'm sure some more repartee followed. Somehow we ended up back at my place, but I honestly can't tell you how that happened. What I remember—what I'll never forget—was what happened next.
"This is your lucky night," she told me. "I've heard Charleen fuck. I'm much better."
Lauren had the most wicked smile on her face. There was a moment of pause as our eyes met, then a whirlwind of clothes, discarded in piles around the floor. We were a little drunk, a lot horny, and both really young, which meant we didn't need an hour of foreplay. We dove right at each other, mouth on mouth, as our bodies intermingled. I remember sliding into Lauren's cunt with relative ease she was so wet, and there was little thought of slowly building things. She was fucking me as hard as I was fucking her, and my torch for shy, innocent blondes was extinguished.
This was a woman riding my cock, finding all the right spots to make herself cum all over me, and I loved it. A stream of nasty, dirty talk issued from that sexy mouth, and I distinctly remember learning a few choice phrases that night to add to my vocabulary.
I could feel her pussy clench tight, almost forcing me out as she came. Her body was covered in goose bumps, and she collapsed on top of me, as I came so hard that I was half-afraid that I'd rupture the condom.
"Wow," she said, "I was really good, right?"
"I'll fuck Charleen tomorrow and let you know how you rate," I said teasingly.
"Asshole!" she cried, punching my arm.
We stared into each others' eyes. I wanted to speak, to say what I hoped we were both thinking, but couldn't. Lauren could.
"So, not to be that girl, but, can I stay the night?" she asked, trying and failing to disguise the earnest desire she felt. "It can be your Christmas present to me."
"Stay the night? I might never let you go," I said, not realizing the meaning in my words.
I went to Pfeiffer's party trying to get a petite, demure, kittenish blonde's phone number. I ended up fucking a tall, foul-mouthed, sexually explosive brunette on the first night we met. We were married two years later, and two years after that I was the father of two beautiful girls, Polly and Jenny.
***December 20, 2007: Sax, Kelly, and Schmidt Christmas Party ***
2007 was shit. Total shit. I had gotten the life you're supposed to want. I had the job, the wife, the family. I loved two out of three, but the job was killing me. As it turned out, I hated the corporate world, and no amount of money would change that. I wanted so badly to go back to school, maybe even go into teaching.
Lauren, on the other hand, loved the lifestyle. She was working in management consulting for the financial industry, going to expensive dinners and conferences, getting the dream house. I couldn't just follow my heart and quit; I had responsibilities. Moreover, I wasn't sure how our relationship would work if Lauren became our primary earner while I was in school.
Maybe the job started to take over the good parts of my life. I was supposed to be "lucky" for landing a gig at a ratings agency with an English degree. I didn't feel lucky. I felt like part of a horrible machine of corruption and greed. You can probably all tell from the date what I mean: I was on the ground floor of the greatest rip-off in human history, powerless to change anything.
To clear my mind and stay sane, I started writing on the side, short stories at first. It helped to get some of the darkness inside me out into the open. That was another reason I started spending more and more time alone, away from my jet-setting wife.
That year, I had begged Lauren to let me skip out on her office Christmas party. I couldn't stand the kind of smarmy assholes that I knew would be there at my own company. Why would I want to do it twice? I was shocked at how easy she gave in to my requests, telling me it would be fine if I just stayed home with the girls. The night of Lauren's company party, though, I started to feel guilty. I was letting my own unhappiness get in the way of being a good husband. Once I got a sitter, I drove over to her office to surprise her.
When I got into the lobby of her building, I gave my name to the security guard. His look is seared into my memory. It was a mixture of pity, disgust, and a strange kind of complicity, as if we already shared a secret. Something wrong was in the air.
Thinking back, I realize how important that look was. On a normal day, I walk into that party, loudly announcing my presence, talking to Lauren's co-workers, and asking around for her. Without that warning look, she sees me coming a mile away, and maybe I never find out.
But that's not what happened. Instead I slinked in quietly, lingering at the edge of the party. I saw it, and if I could see it, I knew others could see it too, at least a few: Frank Kelly's arm around my wife's back, rubbing between her shoulders. He was Lauren's boss and a huge prick. I had even met his own wife, a silicone-enhanced trophy wife bimbo from Boca Raton. The whole arm thing might have seemed innocent, and hell, I might have shrugged it off myself if it wasn't for that look. I knew that something more was going on.
I followed them discreetly, brushing off any feeble attempts at small talk from the office drones that I already knew. The way they were talking, the way she was laughing: something was going on. I knew it. No proof, of course, but still: I could feel it.
I must have looked dejected when I came out of the elevator in the lobby only fifteen minutes after going up. The security guard looked up at me, his face knowing and maybe even sad. He held his left hand up, pointing to an empty ring finger.
"Women ain't no damn good, man," he said. "You better off without 'em."
"Does everyone know?" I asked him.
Hell, at that point, I didn't know. All I had was a couple of laughs, glances, and an arm around her. And that look.
"Naw, man, ain't like that. We just see everything down here," he said, gesturing to the bank of screens, connected no doubt to the security cameras throughout the building.
I went home. People at the party had seen me. Eventually, word would get back to Lauren. I wasn't sure what would happen then. I wasn't even home when I got her text message.
"Did you come by SKS?"
I waited until I pulled in the driveway to answer her.
"Yes," I responded. "TTYL."
She must have blown through every red light on the way home. She flung the door open, then tried to compose herself, as if she hadn't frantically raced home. Her breath was heaving, causing her tits to jiggle in the low-cut dress she'd worn. She looked absolutely stunning, only it wasn't for me.
"David, what's going on?" she said, almost out of breath. "Why didn't you stay and look for me?"
I was sitting on the couch, my blood boiling in my veins. I wanted to explode, but held my rage in check. I had sent the sitter home, and our daughters were sleeping upstairs. The last thing I wanted was to wake them to see what was about to happen.
"Are you scared?" I asked her.
"What? What do you mean?" she asked, her voice quavering.
For my part, I wanted to speak as low and monotone as possible. I thought it would keep me from screaming.
"Lauren. Are you scared right now?"
She was catching her breath and clearly wanted to try to play off her haste in coming home, as well as her own growing panic.
"I wasn't, but now you're scaring me a little," she said uneasily.
"Are you nervous?"
"David, what's going on? Why are you being like this?"
"I want to know if you're scared or nervous because I'm going to ask you a question and I want to know if you're going to fucking lie to me or not," I said.
I could tell that reminding her of what she said to me the night we met hurt her. Suddenly, her tense expression melted into a kind of recognition of what was happening. I could tell she wanted to cry but was desperately clinging to the façade of not knowing.
"David, please, don't," she begged.
"Don't what?" I asked.
"Don't do this. Don't ask me."
That made me angry. It was like she was mad at me for hurting her. Now I knew what I had to do.
"Are you fucking Frank Kelly?" I asked, matter-of-factly.
Once the question was asked, it couldn't be unasked. If I had horribly misunderstood things, we'd have a fight. She'd get mad. I'd eat shit from her for weeks. But if I was right?
For some reason, I thought about Charleen, the girl from the party seven years ago, right then. I wondered where she was. Was she married? Did she fuck her fifty-year-old boss behind her husband's back?
"Don't bother," I told her. "I hope you two have a lot of fun together."
Then Lauren made a terrible mistake. I guess she misunderstood what I meant. Maybe we'd already grown apart. Maybe she never really understood me. I knew that everything between us was really over when she spoke.
"Really?" she asked hopefully. "I love you so much, David. I should have known you would be cool with opening things up."
I learned something about myself that moment, something that many people will never know. I learned that, deep down, I am a good person. Most people probably think that, deep down, they're basically good and decent, but you'll never know until you're tested. I didn't strangle Lauren right that moment. That makes me a fucking saint.
Instead, I stood up, and walked over to her. She started to backpedal, and I stopped my advance. I honestly wasn't trying to intimidate her. I just didn't want to say what I was about to say too loudly.