The whole business between me a Kitty the other night wasn't really as simple as throwing some confetti in the air and announcing to the world, "Hooray, I like sex now!" From the moment it ended I was grappling with the heavy implications of what I had done, or let happen. Good for Simon for finding random encounters that he can dabble with without long term connections. I have to see this person every day, and I hadn't even officially said I really wanted to be with them.
I wouldn't say my immediate feeling was 100% disappointment or regret, but those were parts of it. Disappointment because it was... more cathartic than sexually enjoyable. And you only get that once. He wasn't good, and I wasn't good. He got "in" and didn't hardly know how to move before the clock ran out. And I was, well... not that accommodating either. But is bad sex even really bad? Just... you know, different. Not what was expected, necessarily.
He apologized profusely, and I said it wasn't necessary. It happened to everyone, and just because Kitty appears to be a man of a certain age, we know he does not have the expected level of experience for that person. On the contrary, we're total beginners, here. And I think we know how much of a learning curve there is for this sorta thing. Just ask Maggie Dolan down in Mobile about 16-year-old Tyler Blake.
As to regret, well, the thought occurred to me that I had wrecked a good thing. That there was a way to get through the rest of our term here without complicating it with sex and emotions. That even if he really does love me, that maybe that love would be better off waiting for a time when we don't have such a complex dynamic. I've been known to screw up and bail when things go poorly, and right now too many peoples' lives depend on me to fall prey to that urge. (Kit's advice: so just don't this time.) And I'd be lying if I said my male pride didn't like the idea of outlasting the female body without ever crossing that threshold. But I think even readers who have never crossed the gender barrier will understand that when you have a new appliance, you can only go so long before the temptation to see how it really works overwhelms you. It don't make me less of a man, it just makes me human.
"I don't regret it," I said... probably not that reassuring. I initiated it, I pointed myself at it. I wanted it. I knew he would have me anytime I allowed it to happen, and I knew it just... had to be this way. So how can I regret it? Better this way.
So we're gonna do it again, as is our right as consenting adults. I went to the drug store, to the marital aid aisle (for my pill, initially,) and decided to pick up some accessories. Nothin' fancy, but some stuff that might make your sunday school teacher blush. Condoms, obviously. A lot of em. I'd consider the pill - I heard it'd help ease some of my symptoms, while screwing with other parts of my biochemistry. Not willing to make that trade yet, and honestly not sure it's worth the investment at this time. I also bought a few varieties of lubrication... even if the rubbers are lubricated, Judith's body is no spring chicken and it couldn't hurt. This all, I bought at the far CVS, wearing sunglasses and a pulled down cap with my hair in an unusual ponytail.
The hardest part was "the talk." I always hated talking things out in my past lives... I always felt everyone involved should know where they stand somehow without speaking it, and yet... that has worked terribly for me in the past. So I sat down with a notepad and wrote a few talking points.
When he got home from work, I sat him down and laid it out.
"First, no shame about what happened our first time. The first time sucks, full stop. There'll be more. Practice makes perfect and all that. You're, uh, probably going to want to initiate that more often than I will, and I invite you to do so. I will remind you that I'm free to decline any time at my discretion. As before, we don't owe each other sex."
He looked at me in puzzlement: "I mean, you're free to decline if I initiate, but I don't expect you will." He nodded his head to the side, allowing that.
"We'll have to work on foreplay and stamina... I wanna find out what I like, what gets me going, and I want you to last long enough to give it to me. Do you have any specific comments on my performance?"
"Hmm, only that this whole conversation is really killing my mood," he laughed.
"Fair," I said moving on. "I think we have a pretty good sense of our rights and responsibilities in this relationship. Who does what, and how... I respect you as a lead provider, hopefully you respect me as both a lead home-maker and fellow breadwinner."
"That's a way of sayin' I do a lot."
"I need you to know I will resist any attempts to assert yourself as a sole 'head of household' type. No authoritarianism. We go forward together or not at all. Right?"
"You think I'm authoritarian?"
"No, not that I'm real worried about that, but it needs saying. We're partners."
"If I piss you off, I wanna hear about it, but in a rational, straight-forward way, and I'll give you the same courtesy."
"We have a lot of disagreements about how things should be done. There's gotta be some give and take."
"What does that mean?" he asked, "You'll finally start rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher?"
"If that's what I takes to make you happy, maybe," I smiled. "But I don't wanna feel like I'm just rolling over for you. If I make a stand, will ya hear me out?"
"It's a pick-your-battles thing."
"And about Dylan... that's always a point of debate, right? But we already know how to negotiate a bit with him."
He sighed, and later told me he felt I didn't give his perspective enough credit where Dylan was concerned.
But in the moment all he said was, "Where's all this coming from?"
"You know, it's been kicking around my head for weeks."
"No, I mean, all this official-sounding talk. Where do you get it from?"
"Hm, well, I have some of the business calls I make to thank for that. Contracts I read. And I've been studying business books."
I went on, "Bottom line there... we're raising a kid because we have to, we're dating because we want to."
"Dating isn't the word I'd use..." he said.
"We're basically married, Judith."
"Ah, but... we're not. Right? Hence this discussion."
"But dating sounds so... light. Casual."
"Okay, we're 'together' because we want to be. Partnered. Coupled."
"Whatever," he sighed.
I dropped it, but to be honest he'll never get me to say we actually are "married."
"Point is, it can end. We can end it in a way married couples can't. God forbid, it doesn't work out, we don't need to get divorced. We just... you know... part ways."
He gritted his teeth. That obviously wasn't something he wanted to think about, and it was probably the "old Tyler" surfacing, hedging my bets. I moved forward quickly.
"Lastly... you love me?"
He squinted. "That's a question?"
"You've said it a few times. Does it bug you that I haven't said it back?"
He pursed his lips and nodded.
I took a deep breath: "I'm falling for you."
He looked away. Not good enough, I realized.
"I'm falling in love with you," I clarified.
He brightened up but just a shade.
"Please, this ain't easy. I'm trying to get through a lotta shit here. My own hangups aren't your fault. You somehow love me despite them. Six months ago I thought we were done. But you've changed, I've changed. And you had a big part in that... helping to make me better. I was a wild dog, even with Meghan. You've helped rein me in and... I'm better for it. I love that."
"That's great," he said flatly. I guess he wasn't feeling my point.
"You make me a great husband," I said, moving toward him. "You're dependable, determined... and yet, you can also be playful. And you're sexy when I see you having fun."
He couldn't suppress a smile. "Jude..."
"You're a sexy man, Kitty. You turn me on."
"What are you gonna do about it?" I took his hand and guided it over the curve of my chest. "Say my name again, I love hearing it on your lips."
He whispered in my ear, "Judith..."
So help me.
We fell back on the bed and began to make out like a pair of teenagers. I had my hands on the button of his slacks, when we were interrupted by somebody coming home.
"Mom! Dad! Tyler's here, when's dinner?"
Aw, shoot. "To be continued," I sighed.
He smacked his head. "After all that waiting."