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My husband and I were sitting in a limousine heading for luxurious accommodations on a cruise to the Caribbean for a honeymoon trip. Unfortunately reality and that statement are a bit at odds. Actually, we were on a bus described as a limousine – a nice bus, but still a bus. Our cruise accommodations actually involved an inside cabin and we called it a “delayed honeymoon” because we had no money for one when we were married ten years before and this would be a sort of replacement. But that bus ride and cruise took place years in the past.
In fact, I’m writing about an event that took place a little over twenty years ago, an event that had repercussions that, in a way, will mature in a few short weeks. It has been a private secret all these years and I know that I will feel relief to finally confess it in writing even if no one but me reads it. I think that it will be like the confessional in which only God, through the priest, knows of my sin. Oddly enough, however, while my actions clearly violate the Commandment “Thou should not commit adultery” and I was born and raised as a devout Catholic, I really have no strong feeling of guilt and, certainly, no regrets. No, that is not completely true – I did suffer the pangs of guilt, felt remorse and had a guilty conscience for some time, but those feelings have largely vanished with the years and with a firm belief that nothing bad, and something very good, came from my indiscretion. I’d better go back to the beginning which actually was about thirty years ago when my boyfriend, now my husband, and I graduated from college.
We were deeply in love – still are, for that matter – and had our future all planned out. He had majored in accounting and statistics and had lined up a very good job in his field. I was an English lit major and had graduated with honors and had been awarded a position as a graduate assistant teaching while I worked on my Master’s. I loved academia and my real ambition was to get a PhD and teach at the collegiate level. I had idolized many of my professors, had serious crushes on a few of them, and I wanted to be one of them. We were in complete agreement on this goal and we, necessarily, planned to put off having a family until it was accomplished.
The wedding was small but lovely. As I said before, we had no money or time for a honeymoon (although Jim’s company gave him a week off) so we just enjoyed a period of joyful togetherness in our first apartment before the new semester began. This, of course, included a considerable amount of sexual intercourse with no rubber barrier reducing our pleasure. We had used condoms (we called them rubbers then) before, but I was now on the pill. Life was good.
After that delightful week reality came back, but in a good way. I attended my first graduate courses and one seminar and, most exciting of all, faced my first students as a college instructor. It was frightening but exciting. But then, the blow fell – I was pregnant!
Something had gone wrong but neither I nor my gynecologist could think of any mistake I could have made since I was certain that I hadn’t missed any pills, but I was undeniably pregnant. Some women love being pregnant, some have easy pregnancies, but not me! I hated it and so did my body, and my academic career was put on hold. I was forced to drop out at the end of the first semester and, the following May, I had a baby girl. I loved her and I was a doting mother, but I still resented the limitations placed on me. When she was a year old, I began considering ways in which my academic career could be revived – but when she was one and a half, I was pregnant again. With what turned out to be my second daughter, my dreams of Master’s and PhD degrees turned into distant fantasies.
In some ways, making the whole situation even worse was the surprising discovery that I was one of an infinity small number of women for whom the pill simply didn’t work. Again, I was certain, I had done nothing wrong. I had never missed taking a pill, never used the incorrect schedule, etc. The pill just didn’t do its duty and stop my production of fertile eggs! I was fertile every month and, apparently, could become pregnant very easily. Even science and my body were against me, and my dreams of an academic career were banish to a distant future. So, the pill was dropped and to be replaced by the less convenient diaphragm. That problem was solved but motherhood became my career.
Why didn’t I try to make those fantasies real when the girls were older? I don’t really know, but I think I was in a rut, inertia holding me back. In addition, to be truthful, I think that I had lost my confidence. It was easier and safer to accept fate and be a housewife – while resenting it in the back of my mind. Still, it was comfortable and I loved being there as my daughters grew. In any case, time passed and as this essay began, there I was, the mother of a ten-year old and an eight-year old girl, sitting with my husband on sarıyer escort a bus going to the New York City cruise port.
This was a story in itself for we had not planned on a cruise or any other vacation at that time, but it sort of fell into our laps. We had maintained ties with the alumni association and had even participated in a number of fund raising campaigns, so I was not surprised to receive a call from the activities chairman, a friend of ours. We had received a brochure some time before for a college sponsored twelve-day cruise in the Caribbean, but, as with most things like that, we had scanned it and thrown it out. The picture changed dramatically when the call came just after Christmas.
“Hi Judy, this is Linda.” There was the usual opening chit chat and then she got to the point. “Listen Linda, you know that cruise to the Caribbean we’ve sponsored? It was what we called a ‘long cruise for well-heeled alumni’ among ourselves. We linked up with ten other alumni groups with each group offering it to their alums. Apparently we have a lot of ‘well-heeled alums’ for it went exceptionally well. The registration time expired yesterday and there are a few cabins left that are not booked and the cruise line has permitted us to offer them at half price. We have one of them and, since you’ve been very helpful with us, we immediately thought of you. I don’t know if you’re interested, but it’s a wonderful deal. We have to know pretty quickly for the line wants to wrap it up. What do you think?”
“Gods, Linda that does sound wonderful! What would it cost?”
“I don’t believe this myself, but the total cost for the two of you for twelve days would be $300.00. [$540.00 in 2014 dollars. Inflation!] Think, that’s $25.00 a day, $12.50 each, with cabin, all meals, entertainment – everything! I’d grab it myself but I’m not eligible, damn it. There is only one flaw. It’s an inside cabin so you have no view, but the cabin on a cruise is only a place to sleep. The rest of the time there is the whole ship. What do you think?”
“I’m stunned! It costs us that much to stay home! Look, obviously this is something I don’t want to pass up, but I’ll have to talk with Nick, see if he can get off, figure what to do about the girls – how much time do we have?”
“The cruise leaves just after New Year’s, January 3, and line wants the names this week. So if you can’t take it, we need time to offer it to someone else pretty quickly. I would have to know by Wednesday.”
“Ok, two days.”
I thanked her effusively for the offer and immediately called Nick. Needless to say, he was thrilled with the offer and began negotiations for vacation time in January. Fortunately we had passports gotten years ago for a possible senior year abroad that hadn’t worked out. I called my mother and she was willing to come and live at our house while we were gone so that the girls could stay in school. Nicks bosses came through and, with whirlwind preparations, we finally found ourselves on that “limousine.”
Parenthetically, I just read back over this opus and realized that I never identified or described myself or my husband. Actually, I’m writing this without really intending to make it public and have never considered the need for doing so. However, to make it more complete, I’ll say that my name is Judy Aykes and my husband is Nick Aykes. I am about 5′ 4″ and at the time these events took place I was 115 pounds. I was in good shape even after having two kids, and I can say, without false modesty, that I still had a very nice figure. I would be described more as “cute” than beautiful, but all through high school and college I was “hit on” regularly. However, when it was firmly shown that I was not interested in “putting out,” the relationships usually ended quickly.
The result was that I was still a virgin entering my senior year in college. I wasn’t prudish or frigid and I enjoyed a reasonable amount of petting, but I just wasn’t interested in doing more. It just didn’t interest me. I wasn’t a cock teaser because I made my position clear right at the beginning – which undoubtedly cut down on second or third dates! Actually, I was more interested in my classes than in sex and there may have been a hangover from my Catholic religious training. In any case, that all changed when I met Nick Aykes.
He was about 5′ 10″, quite good looking and in good shape. I was English literature, he was math and statistics, but something pulled us together. In short order my attitude changed toward sex and long before graduation, that virginity I mentioned disappeared. Within a short time we were fucking every chance we got – which was not often enough since dorms were still segregated with eagle-eyed house mothers in the women’s dorms. In my case, it certainly was waiting for the right man to come along – and he did. The ultimate result was two daughters, Malinda and Chrissie. It has worked for 30+ years and is almost sefaköy escort as hot as ever. Ok, back to the bus.
The bus ride was very convenient. The cruise line employed this “limousine service” to start, this time in Boston, and pick up passengers in designated city stops, ending up in New York. Nick and I always want to avoid the tension of arriving late, so, on departure day we started out early so we could get into the long term parking lot and get into the bus station without haste. This time, however, we had driven for about ten minutes when I exclaimed, “Where’s my tote bag? All my cosmetics and stuff is in it! It must have been left on the chair! We’ll have to go back!”
Nick calmly replied, “Calm down, you can buy any of that stuff on the ship. I’m not turning around and risk being late for a tote bag.”
“Well, it’s up to you, but my diaphragm is in it!” Talk about your clenching arguments! I couldn’t help but laugh at the alacrity with which he turned back – first things first. Our cruise trip was off to a rousing start but he was laughing too when we were in the parking lots with time to spare. When the bus arrived the waiting crowd had grown to at least thirty, but no one I recognized. However, as the luggage was being loaded and we all filed aboard, a tall, grey haired man hurried up, wheeling a large suitcase behind him. I glance through the window at him with idle curiosity, but when he turned sideways and I saw his profile I did a double take.
“Nick, I think that that man is Dr. Thomas from my department. It certainly looks like him except for the hair. It’s been almost seven years since I saw him at a meeting before Chrissie was born, but his hair was dark then. I wonder if it can be him.”
“Well, I wouldn’t know, of course, but he’s coming on this trip so you’ll have a chance to find out.”
“Oh, I really hope it is him. He was a Shakespeare scholar and I loved his courses. It would be fun to talk with him again.” Actually, I’d taken three courses and a seminar with Dr. Thomas and, while I wouldn’t admit it to anyone, he was one that I had a real crush on even before I met Nick. I had told Nick about my fantasies but hadn’t identified the target, so Thomas’s name didn’t mean anything. His seminar was the last course I had before I had to leave when I was pregnant with Malinda.
As he came aboard, looking down the aisle for an empty seat, I saw him close up and it definitely was he. Suddenly, I had the funniest series of conflicting emotions and feelings. First I wondered if he would recognize me or even remember me. The professor is the only major figure in a class and, thus, easy to remember. He, however, is looking, sometimes, at a sea of faces which blur together. Of course, there were only eight students in the seminar so maybe he would remember.
Then I felt a wave of insecurity wash through me as I remembered that it had been ten years since I had taken his course and, I was suddenly ashamed to admit, I had done no real reading, classical reading, since then. Could I even talk to him in an intelligent, educated way? Could I have a conversation that would not expose how little I really knew? I was filled with insecurity and ducked my head as he passed by. The mind is a wonderful thing, but it sure can go off the rails in a hurry. I sat there for the next hour berating myself while Nick read. My internal self-castigation was stopped short when we pulled into a MacDonald’s parking lot and the driver announced, “OK folks. Half hour restroom and snack stop. Please be back in your seats in one half hour.”
We got out to stretch a bit and were returning to the bus with Cokes in hand when I heard a still-familiar voice say, “Well, if it isn’t Judy Aykes! Isn’t this a marvelous coincidence?”
Startled, I swung around quickly, almost spilling my Coke. “Dr. Thomas, I thought that I saw you earlier, but I didn’t think that you would remember me. This is wonderful!”
“Not remember one of my all-time favorite students – ridiculous! You haven’t changed a bit. And this must be your husband.” I introduced them, of course, and he went on to Nick, “Your wife was one of our absolutely best students and certainly the most attractive. We really missed her.” Then, turning back to me again, he asked, “What have you been doing with yourself?”
I was flustered by the sudden meeting and particularly by his obvious pleasure in seeing me. I was particularly surprised by his compliments because I never thought that I had made that much of an impression. Before I could reply to his question, Nick suddenly interrupted and pointed that we were blocking the door and we had to get on.
As we made our way back to our seats, Dr. Thomas said, “I’m sitting by myself further back with an empty seat beside me. If your husband could spare you for a little while, you could sit with me and we could catch up with each other.” I turned to Nick and he just shrugged silivri escort and picked up his book, so, when the bus departed, Dr. Thomas and I were engaged in recounting our stories of the last ten years.
It was one of the most pleasurable conversations of my life, not because of what was said but, instead, the relationship. Within a few minutes we were Glenn and Judy. I had, as undergraduate and graduate student, admired and looked up to (and had a crush on) Professor Glenn R. (for Reginald) Thomas, but here we were talking together as adults and equals. That always is an awkward transition but it was made seamlessly. I found myself explaining, without embarrassment, the almost unique conditions leading me to two unexpected pregnancies and how I had really abandoned my academic dreams. He was very sympathetic and, to my surprise, assured me that it certainly was not too late now that the girls were older. That inspired me to believe that my academic dream was still alive!
We went on to personal things and after I described my daughters, he lamented that he and his late wife had had two sons and always wanted a daughter. I smiled and said that we had hoped for a son the second time but it turned out to be Chrissie. I went on with determination that I most definitely was not going to get pregnant again! I shocked and embarrassed myself later to recall that I actually said, “Now the diaphragm goes in before anything else does!” He laughed out loud at that and I guess it shows how comfortable I was with our new “adult” relationship.
I went on to describe the fantastic price deal we had been given to get the cruise and but that we had to take an inside stateroom. He, of course, repeated the mantra that “you’ll just sleep there and be out the rest of the time enjoying the trip.” I think that that comment is mandatory when talking to someone with an inside cabin! He then surprised me by saying, “Six hundred dollars is an amazing price for a twelve day cruise, But I’m paying even less for a nice balcony cabin on Deck 8.” I looked at him in complete amazement as he continued, “I’m paying absolutely nothing!”
I’m sure I looked like a guppy as my mouth hung open until I finally was able to gasp out, “How on earth does that happen? Do you own the cruise line?”
“No, nothing like that. You know that all of these university sponsored cruises seem to require some kind of learning experience to give some illusion that the whole thing has an educational value and is not just a way to get money into the general fund. Actually, all the alumni association does is send out the brochures and get a fee and percentage from the travel service that arranges the trip. On this cruise, I’m the uplifting, educational element! I’ll give a lecture each day that we’re at sea and when we leave a port early in the day. Not bad, eh?”
“My God, I don’t believe it! Now I know that I have to go back to school to work for that kind of deal. That’s wonderful, though, and I’ll certainly attend your lectures. It’ll be fun after all these years.”
By this time we were on one of the parkways going into New York, so I went back to my seat with Nick to end his reading and bend his ear with all that we had said. I don’t know when I had been pumped up and happy – a wonderful cruise before me with my loving husband, a new and personal friendship with my all-time favorite professor and, maybe best of all, the prospect of fulfilling my dream becoming a professor myself! However, as with most moments of unbridled joy, it wasn’t going to last.
Twenty minutes later we were in upper Manhattan at the cruise terminal, staring up at the massive ship that was going to take us on this marvelous trip. Compared to the modern behemoths, it really was not that big, but for the time it was enormous. Glenn had been through this a number of times before so he was very helpful in guiding us into the right lines. Embarking was a relatively slow process, but, at least, security was not what it is now. So, pretty soon our passports had been scrutinized, our tickets verified, ID cards printed and our cabin assignments confirmed. We lost Glenn there because his room assignment was handled differently, probably, as he said, due to him being an “employee.” As he left he told us that the first business would be a life boat drill and that he would meet us in the buffet after it concluded.
So, here we were, boarding a ship for our first cruise – excited, a bit nervous. We found our deck, went down a, seemingly, endless corridor till, there was our door! Nick slid the key card into the slot and opened it, revealing our home for twelve days. I immediately had qualms. It was much smaller than I had pictured and it looked exactly what it was – a utilitarian room as you might find in a moderate priced motel. There were two twin beds with room between them for a built-in bureau above which was a large, half-circle mirror – brightening the room and presumably giving the illusion of a porthole. There was a reading light over each bed and, beside the door, a small table-desk with a chair. Beside the door on the other side was a closet. There also was a door at the foot of one bed that opened into a small bathroom with a toilet, a basin and a stall shower. That was it!
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