Val was my mom’s first real girlfriend. I liked her from the moment we met. She was sweet and supportive. I wasn’t surprised when she and my mom bought a house together. They moved in with Val’s adopted kids. I flew to Kansas City and spent Christmas at their new place. We opened presents in the living room and stuffed our faces with turkey. Val wanted to know about my standup and writing. We became close over the years. She has always wanted to write. She likes to pick my brain. My mom and Val struggled like every couple. Eventually, they weren’t able to make it work. They decided to split, but when they came to our wedding, they didn’t mention the breakup. My mom didn’t want to dampen the day. I could tell something was up, but I didn’t push it. I shared a dance with Val, and she told me she’s always thought of me as her son. Until that moment, I’d only thought of her as my mom’s girlfriend. I suddenly realized she was also my mom.
I don’t like getting naked around other men. It’s not a sexual issue, but rather a safety concern. You see, in my formative years, I attended an all-boys high school, located on the border between Kansas and Missouri — a fitting spot, considering the school itself teetered between being an institution of learning and a training facility for prison. I can’t remember a single day when some unsuspecting child wasn’t hit in the balls. The thought of stripping and exposing myself in front of those animals would send me into a state of panic. When gym class ended, I’d wet my head in the sink and pretend I’d just showered. I never took off my underwear. I wasn’t just a year younger than my classmates; I was frail and hairless. I cried every morning, begging my parents to let me skip today’s Lord of the Flies re-enactment. I knew eventually one of these brutes was going to rip off my little dick, and sadly, this fear never went away.
It’s why my heart was pounding as Jess and I followed the couple from Pasadena into their hotel room. Brian and Claire ushered us inside and shut the door. Brian pulled out their bottle of vodka from the fridge. Claire put on some music.
“I hope cranberry juice is okay?” Brian said.
“That’s great,” Jess said, taking the plastic cup.
I noticed an open suitcase in the corner. I saw bras and underwear.
“I’m just sitting down because my feet hurt,” Jess said. “This isn’t an all-play bed, is it?”
Brian and Claire laughed. “No,” Brian said.
I started laughing too. I still didn’t feel comfortable being in their room, but I no longer felt they were trying to rape us. I sat on a chair by the vanity mirror. Claire joined Jess on the bed, while Brian stood off to the side, clearly unsure where to sit. I realized everyone was just as nervous and uncomfortable as I was. We made a few jokes about the weirdos we’d seen. Brian said he’d accidentally gone into a room with three biker chicks earlier. They yelled at him for having pants on.
Claire started touching Jess’s hair. “Your wife is hot,” she said.
“Yes, yes she is,” I said.
Brian asked, “How’d you hear about this party?”
“I, uh, saw it online,” I said, suddenly embarrassed.
“We kind of thought there might be single girls here,” Jess said. “But I don’t think single girls come to these things, and that we were stupid for thinking they would.”
“Yeah, we came here for the same reason,” Claire said. “But I don’t know…yeah…”
“So…do you two consider yourself…swingers?” Jess asked.
“No, I don’t know what we are,” Claire said. “We just got married really young. Like right out of high school. And…I don’t know, I guess we sort of missed out on some stuff.”
Brian said, “We only started looking into things like this a month ago. We’d fantasized and stuff, and there was one couple we met, but we were too shy and it got really awkward.”
He was so earnest and a little nerdy. It was charming, but still mostly uncomfortable.
I think Claire sensed my unease, because she quickly asked, “What about you guys? Do you consider yourself…?”
“Swingers?” Jess said. “No. We’ve had two threesomes with girls, but that’s over like five years together.”
Everyone took a sip. No one really knew what to do or say.
“Can I borrow my wife?” I said.
“Oh, sure,” Claire said.
Jess got up and followed me to the bathroom. I wanted to go outside, but I heard people in the hallway.
“What’s up?” Jess asked.
I whispered, “I just…want to check in with you.”
“Are you okay?” she whispered.
“Yeah, I don’t know. I just…we said we weren’t going to do anything, and now we’re in this room and they’re nice and all, but I…just don’t know what you’re wanting or expecting…”
“I don’t want to do anything with him, if that’s what you’re saying?”
“I mean, do you…want to see that?”
“No, I mean, she’s pretty, but, you know, I don’t want to do anything.”
“She is pretty, right?”
“Would it bother you if I…?”
“No. That would be awesome.”
“Okay, cool. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
We kissed and walked out. Brian and Claire were trying to look like they hadn’t heard our entire conversation. Brian asked, “Everything alright?”
“Yeah,” I said. “We just… If, uh, something is going to happen here, and we’re not saying it is, I mean, we’re not expecting…”
Jess jumped in. “Is it okay if it’s just us girls?”
“Oh, we would prefer that,” Claire said. She turned to me. “Not that you’re not…”
“Oh, no. And you’re…I mean…”
“Cool,” Claire said. “So it’s just us,” she said and walked up to my wife, who started to fidget and blush. The first kiss was sweet and awkward. Claire’s hand started traveling down Jess’s back. Brian seemed on the verge of giddy. Then Jess said:
“Actually, I, uh, I’m going to step into the ladies’ room.”
Everyone sort of looked at each other. Realizing we might be thinking she had to poop, Jess quickly said, “No. I just…I wanna take off my Spanx. Sorry.”
“Oh, thank God!” Claire said. “I’ve been wanting out of these all night.”
Claire lifted up her dress and peeled down her Spanx. Jess followed suit and they both were laughing, and then stripping and falling onto the bed.
Brian and I didn’t really know where to go. We were both just standing there with our drinks, giving each other little nods while our wives went at it. Finally, he sat on the corner of the bed. I sat on the other end. I still had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. My face was right next to Claire’s butt. I felt like I was staring too much. I turned and looked at the painting of a camel on the wall.
“Hey, this isn’t fair,” Claire said.
“Huh?” I squeaked.
“Why are we the only ones naked?”
“Yeah,” Jess said. “Take it off.”
I wanted to kill her.
Brian looked over at me clearly waiting to see how we should proceed. “Aw, fuck it,” I said and started unbuttoning my shirt. Brian and I were trying not to make too much eye contact, especially as he took off his belt. I was suddenly afraid of what was behind his zipper. What if he’s got a huge dong?
He was only about 5’9, but I’d seen videos of little men on the Internet packing Yule logs. Then I thought, Or what he’s got a micro-penis? How am I going to look at that?
Suddenly, I’m back in high school, terrified to get naked with another man, petrified of being judged, ridiculed.
Finally, I got down to my socks, which I just decided to leave on. I was vulnerable enough. Brian and I sat on the corners of the bed. The girls had clearly forgotten about us. Brian, trying to get comfortable, tentatively leaned over and propped himself up on his elbow. He was really close to me. He turned and whispered:
“Your wife’s really beautiful.”
“Yeah, yours too.”
He kept whispering to me, and I have to say, being naked on a bed with another man is really weird, but it’s even weirder when the guy starts whispering to you.
I tried not to be too obvious as I moved away from him. I crossed my legs, which just smashed my balls. I was very aware of my penis. I was not aroused at all. I became self-conscious. Here I was, a few feet from two gorgeous women making out, and I’m not hard at all. But, on the other hand, I was actually closer to the naked man. What if I do get aroused? What would that mean?
The room started to spin. I stopped breathing. There was a hand on my thigh. I opened my eyes, expecting to see Brian, but it was Jess. She kissed me and asked, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah…” I kissed her again.
The night went on, but nothing worth writing about happened. We got dressed and exchanged email addresses. Claire said we should go bowling or catch a movie.
“Yeah, that sounds great,” I said, but I knew this was going to be the last time we saw them. They were nice, but I was going to have too many hang-ups.
Jess and I gave them a final hug and walked out into the night. The sun was going to be up soon. Our car was parked across the street, but I didn’t want to drive. I’d had too much to drink.
“Are you hungry?” I asked.
Neither of us had eaten a carbohydrate since before the wedding in Texas. Jess spotted a Denny’s down the block. We took a booth in the back and ordered biscuits and gravy and a hamburger.
“Oh my God, this is so good,” Jess said through a full mouth.
“We should’ve just done this.”
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Before my wife and I got married we decided to have a threesome. We weren’t looking to enter the “lifestyle” or for me to grow a mustache. We just thought it’d be fun.
In college, Jess had a stint where she only dated girls. She even hooked up with a female cop, who was really into dental dams, which makes me giggle every time I see a commercial for Saran Wrap.
Six months before the wedding Jess admitted she sort of missed being with a female, and being a supportive fiancé, how could I deprive her of this wish?
Yes, my mom’s gay, and yes, marrying a lady who’s into women was not only psychologically fucked but also dangerous. What if she left me for the other woman? Still, it was a threesome, and I was willing to take the risk.
So we started looking, which was awkward, because a couple hitting on a girl at a bar is just creepy. And personal ads on the Internet are, in all likelihood, either a prostitute or a dude. This left us with friends, but neither of us felt comfortable asking anyone.
So we packed the threesome fantasy away, told ourselves it was for the best.
A few weeks later, Michelle called. She was Jess’s friend from college. They chatted for an hour. Jess walked out of the bedroom and said:
“I, uh, think we found our threesome.”
“Michelle’s coming to L.A. She wants to stay with us.”
“Okay, but how do you know she… I mean, did you two ever…?”
“Not really, but she’s working.”
“As a massage therapist.”
“Giving happy endings.”
Over the next few days, Jess and I discussed the ground rules:
Jess said, “What about kissing?”
I said, “You two should definitely kiss. Repeatedly.” Then– “Are we really doing this?”
“Yes. But if I can kiss her then you should kiss her.”
“I don’t know…”
“Anthony, I’m not going to get jealous. And if for some reason I do, I’ll tell you. We have to be open with each other. We have to communicate.”
So we covered everything, well, everything except how to bring it up to Michelle. Neither of us wanted to do it, and when Michelle arrived, we still didn’t have a plan. We sat in our living room and made small talk. Michelle seemed tired. She bitched about the airline and the flight. I talked about road construction. Finally, Jess suggested we go out for drinks. After a pitcher of beer, Michelle talked about the guy she was dating. It was becoming obvious this wasn’t going to happen. I decided to step out for a cigarette. Michelle wanted to join. She talked more about the guy, about her new apartment, about the shitty weather in New York. I asked questions and smiled and realized how awful it was that Jess and I just assumed we were going to have a threesome with this girl, who clearly thought she was just visiting a friend.
We walked back inside and slid into the booth.
“So,” Michelle said, “I have an idea.”
“Okay,” Jess said and poured herself a beer.
“I want to show Anthony what I do for a living.”
And here we go.
Check paid. Car started. We’re back at the apartment. Michelle tells us both to strip. She says she’ll be right back.
Jess takes off her sweater and whispers, “What do you think she’s doing?”
I whisper, “I have no idea.”
I hear a ding. The door opens. Michelle’s topless. She’s holding a bottle of oil. She tells me to lie down and relax. The oil is hot. The ding must have been the microwave. She’s rubbing my shoulders. I feel the oil dripping down my side. I know it’s going to stain the sheets. I hear kissing. Michelle’s on my back, so I can’t really turn, but I keep twisting and angling. Finally, I catch a glimpse, and it’s wonderful, but something pops in my back. It hurts but I don’t want to scream. I just bite the pillow. I no longer care about a happy ending. I just want the massage, but the girls are really making out. Michelle tells me to flip over. I try not to grimace or make a weird noise. There are hands all over me. I forget about my back. Jess kisses me and gives me a look. She’s trying to see if I’m okay with this. I realize we have a safe word to stop things, but we have nothing to say, “Proceed!” So I just kiss her. Everything is a blur. Everyone is adjusting and moving and it goes on for a really long time, like we’re-getting-cramps-type-of-long. But Michelle hasn’t finished. It doesn’t matter what we try. I’m thinking we should take a nap, try again later, but Jess is determined. I’ve seen this look before, like when we couldn’t figure out how to hook up our computer to our TV. Jess scoured the Internet, ordered things on Amazon. She didn’t sleep until we had Netflix on the big screen.
Now, she’s pulling out a vibrator. She has a feather and a little whip.
The next morning I wake up to Michelle snapping pictures of us with her phone. Jess and I drive her to the airport. We hug each other and wave goodbye. Jess turns to me.
“I forgot being with a woman is so exhausting.”
“But I, uh, kind of want to do it again.”
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