Sarah and Simon had been married five years and together eight. They had two children, Octavia and Penelope, ages two and four. Their angels and their succubus. Sarah and Simon shared a collective post-partum stress disorder that manifested itself in the certainty that their daughters would be felled by whooping cough, kidnapped by infertile women, attacked by the neighbor’s Rhodesian Ridgeback (which are bred to kill lions and small children) or would just generally be short-lived.
Doctors prescribed them both a regimen of anti-depressants to eliminate their symptoms of anxiety, which included insomnia, restless legs syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome and Dendrophobia (an inordinate fear of trees). The medication held the insanity of raising small children at bay, but Zen did not come cheap. Simon and Sarah paid for it in the currency of lust. Leaving none between them.
When every living creature was asleep, well after a long day of the various ministrations that came with the role of wife, mother and pet owner, Sarah had taken to pleasuring herself while watching Cabo San Lucas Nights on TV; soft porn included in the basic cable package.
She’d burrow beneath the family afghan in the deep wallow of the living room couch, one hand clutching the TV remote lest a sleepless child interrupt, the other hand thrust beneath her shapewear. She became a rigid mass of perspiration and effort, her orgasm as elusive as calculus.
She was twelve years old again, in the basement of her childhood home, furtively reading Irving Wallace’s The Fan Club, a novel sensitively detailing the gang bang of an abducted movie star by a nefarious quartet, one of whom manages to bring her to orgasm.
Sarah worried that, should she ever interact with other adults again, she might have an affair. That her languishing libido would rear its ever-morphing, capricious, hela-monster head and she'd be compelled to consider their late 50s gardener, Porfidio, as something other than the person who mowed and watered their lawn every Thursday at three. Suddenly she'd notice he was tall for a Mexican, over six feet.
Did that mean he was Oaxacan?
Perhaps he wasn't Mexican at all. Were men taller in Ecuador? She'd notice his stoop from hard labor, his composure and dignity, his bemusement at her fumbling Spanish. She'd notice his hands, the long, calloused fingers that might've coaxed sonatas from a baby grand, or steadfastly repaired an aortic tear, an esophageal rupture, a pre-frontal aneurism. Not to mention what they might elicit from the female body.
Sarah decided it was time to act. "I'm concerned about our sex life," she said to Simon as he watched TV. His eyes glazed over the way they always did when she interrupted South Park, his one selfish pleasure.
She told him that she didn’t want to be lulled into sexual complacency, leaving herself vulnerable to Seven-Year-Itches, Zipless Fucks, ménages a quatre. She said she wasn’t above being blindsided by a hidden force lying dormant in her pituitary that could fight her for the wheel, ultimately driving her off the road, into the desert of betrayal with a soccer coach (she left Porfidio out -- he did such excellent work with their bougainvillea).
"You never initiate," Sarah badgered. Simon shifted position on the couch, but didn't look at her. It was his lack of entitlement, she continued. It was the Catholicism he'd disavowed, religious guilt still lurking in the sub-glacial berg of his psyche. It was because he thought she was better looking than him. On some level, he felt he was trying to grope the Prom Queen.
“I’m not a fern, Sarah," Simon said, “I have a sex life.”
In the garage office Simon logged Sarah on to one of his bookmarks, fleshbot.com. His secret lover. The site wasn't Richard Gere having a small ferret encased in a condom removed from his rectum, but there were over-worked salivary glands, pneumatic breasts and Olympian throats. With something approaching relief, Sarah confessed her nocturnal trips to Cabo, happy at last to be laid bare to one another.
They would have to stage their own intervention ...
Sarah and Simon scuttled like cockroaches from their Sienna minivan across the parking lot to the Pleasure Chest in West Hollywood. It looked like a former Liquor Locker from the outside; a cinder block, split-level building replete with loitering sex offenders from Central Casting; a guy with half a nose, a woman with a tongue thrust issue.
They moved on to the bondage display. "Here's a starter kit." Simon held up a small box with a photograph of a blond woman strapped to a bed with white Velcro straps that looked identical to the harness their daughter Penelope wore as an infant to remedy a dislocated hip.
"This isn’t working,” Sarah said. “Let’s split up.” They separated like CIA operatives on a train.
Sarah wanted a movie where one woman had sex with multiple partners. The Fan Club, her seminal sexual experience, was to blame for this orgy predilection. Her enjoyment of such movies was dampened by concern for the actors; their boozy childhoods, their undiagnosed ADHD, their dental hygiene and low self-esteem.
So she held off going to the back of the store where the pornographic movies were displayed, one atop the other, in tall Plexiglas cases that customers could flip through like poster art or Pottery Barn For Kids rugs.