“I know nothing about sex,
because I was always married.”
-Zsa Zsa Gabor
It was our wedding anniversary. A number small enough to make it romantic, yet large enough to be significant. I’m the one who craves the love songs and the poetry; she makes sure that the lights are turned on and off, the bills are paid, and everyone gets to where they’re supposed to be on time. I want romance; she will go out of her way to make sure that things work and last.
So it came as a bit of a surprise when she told me that she had arranged for dinner with one of the couples we’re friends with. She made reservations for the restaurant at a local hotel. She told me that our friends would meet us there. She asked me three times not to make any plans for the rest of the evening. Hint. Hint. Hint.
We had a nice meal and some good conversation. After we paid the bill our friends left. She announced that she had made reservations for us to stay at the hotel. Most St. Louis residents will remember the place. It was an older facility with a long and at times prestigious reputation. At this time they were best known for their “theme rooms,” bedrooms where a Jacuzzi or a hot tub had been installed. I don’t remember what each room’s themes were; I think one of them was medieval in nature. But clearly the idea was that the renters were out to have more than a good night’s sleep.
She had checked in earlier in the day. Our suitcases wee unpacked. She had brought scented candles, and a CD player, and a few flowers. She told me that she had other surprises in her purse. As soon as the door closed she went into full organizational mode, as is her nature.
Warm water faucet opened to fill the hot tub. Jet streams turned on. She asked me to get ready to go in, at the same time that she began to place candles around the tub and scattered through the room. Matches come out of her purse. And a CD full of love songs. Plus the bubble bath. She had been to a gift store earlier in the day, and she had bought bubble bath. It would look good and feel great at this special time.
“Get in.” In goes me together with a tablespoon of bubbles. She ran off to turn the music on. I sat down in the tub. Water temperature was perfect. The rushing water feels good. I lie against one of the walls, close my eyes, and begin to relax. The bubbles move up to my waist.
She turns the music on. “I Go Crazy,” the Paul Davis song that I sang to her at our wedding reception. I’m impressed that she remembered; it was a hectic night for her because we had no help at all when we arranged our wedding.
“Hello, girl, it’s been a while…” sings Paul Davis. The bubbles are up to my neck.
I think you should come here.
“Be patient. I still have to light a couple of candles.” She’s running all over the room and undressing at the same time. The bubbles now cover my head. I have to stand up.
I don’t think this is right. You better get here.
“Just a minute,” she scolds. One last candle goes on. I smell peaches and roses. I’m standing; the bubbles cover all of my body, and spill over the sides of the tub, and are on their way to reach the ceiling. I’m invisible. Paul Davis is telling his lover that when he looks in her eyes he goes crazy.
We better turn this off. How do you stop the jets? I’m in full panic mode.
Impatiently she finishes her preparations and finally turns to look at me.
“Oh ___!” She screams. She runs towards me. “What happened?”
I think maybe we overdosed on bubbles. Always the doctor; always looking for the right diagnosis.
She turns off the jets. And the water. She opens the drain. The water begins to run off. Now I’m cold, and shivering a bit. And covered with bubbles.
She turns the water back on, just a tiny stream so that we can try to dissolve some bubbles. She tries to push some bubbles down the drain. I try to gather the bubbles that have spilled over in my cupped hands, also to push them down the drain.
Get the picture. Two stark naked, mildly overweight, mid forties couple hovering over a tub, gathering bubbles in their hands and leaning over the rim in order to push them down a drain. A very inefficient process. And slow. I’m no longer cold; in fact I’m sweating.
We finally get the bubbles down to ankle level. We don’t want to risk revving up the jet streams again. We sit on the bed, which feels a bit firm. Hard, in fact. She smiles.
“It’s OK. I have something else.”
She walks to her purse. Out comes a transparent bottle, maybe four ounces of an oily liquid.
“Rubbing lotion,” she says. “And it’s supposed to be edible. Raspberries.”
I love raspberries. I smile.
She hands me the bottle. I squeeze a small amount out.
This is very thick.
“Of course. It’s for rubbing. Go ahead, try it on me.” A shy smile.
I rub some on her tummy. Wrong; I try to rub some on her tummy. This liquid acts like library glue. It’s impossible to rub. Almost all of it is stuck to my hands. It begins to solidify.
“Maybe you’re supposed to lick it off,” she says.
It doesn’t even smell like raspberries, but I comply with her suggestion. There’s a fleck of lotion next to her belly button. I taste it. A very bitter, rancid sensation takes over my mouth. I gag.
Where did you get this?
“At the gift store. I didn’t want to go to the porno place.”
Maybe the porno place would have sold you something that hadn’t been sitting on a shelf for a decade.
“You just don’t know how to use it,” she says. “Sit up. I’ll rub your back.”
I sit at the side of the hard bed. She spreads some lotion on her palms. She tries to rub my shoulders. Once. Maybe she needs more lotion. Twice. Thrice. Her hands are covered in thick paste. My back feels no different. I lie down; somewhat frustrated. Now she’s laughing uncontrollably.
By now Paul Davis is long done singing. Now it’s Gordon Lightfoot singing “Beautiful.” One of my patients sang this song for her as she walked down the aisle at our wedding. She looked absolutely beautiful that day. I remember thinking, as I stood at the altar waiting for her, how appropriate that choice of music had been.
“Come. Let’s dance.” Always trying to please me, and make thing better. I’m ready to give up this gig, but she’s worked so hard at this…
I try to stand. My back is glued to the sheets. I push harder. The sheets come off the bed, still stuck to me. Now she’s hysterical with laughter. I’m embarrassed and furious.
We hug each other. She pulls the sheets off of me.
We gave it a try. Let’s go home and have a nice warm shower. Just wasn’t our night.
Love. Passion. Humor. Life.
Our worst anniversary celebration, by far. And our best. Certainly the most memorable.
Because that’s the way life is. Things rarely happen the way we want them to, and we’d be foolish to gauge our marriage’s success by how accurately we make our fantasies happen. This is why weddings are so often the scourge of brides; why we get so tense and uptight about celebrations.
We survived the bubbles and the failed oil. We’re closer than we ever were. We still laugh.
Picture credit: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-fJO3Ysp2o2U/T4aE5ezvIZI/AAAAAAAAAbM/dVOUtxx4DLM/s1600/bubble+bath+hot+tub+jacuzzi+candles+wine.jpg