"I've always wanted to do that."
Watching him through the windshield, “What? Wave?” Marsha said, “We’ll teach you how to use the potty next.”
“No!” Having the knack of making him laugh, his depression dissipating, “I’ve always wanted to neck with a girl on the rocks, there.”
“Necking? Oh, is that what we were doing? Freezing is more like it.”
About to step into the car, hesitating, taking one last look at the tower.
Pulling his eyes from the steel structure, looking into the car, “Yeah?”
“Will you get in the fuckin’ car already! I’m freezing my ass off!”
“Jesus, Marsha! Where’d you learn to swear like that? I’m going to tell your mother!”
Seagate, New York
The Sixth Day of Their Lives
December 23, 1955: The Widening Spiral
It didn’t work!
The clams and oysters did not help, not one bit, except for…
Not one, but two bowel movements.
But not even that…
Not even the wisdom of the ages coming from the wise and all knowledgeable sage of Surf Avenue with his free advice and all-encompassing shit panacea… No! Not even that worked.
“Shit!” Throughout his life Mitchell had very often thought of his penis as having a mind of its own, coming to attention at the most inopportune of times… Now, he had no doubt!
It didn’t matter!
No matter how hot he was! No matter how passionate his mind told him he was before, during, and right up to the time he became poised, his penis, that self-serving, unloyal member, would desert him.
No longer was there any spontaneity in their lovemaking… their attempted lovemaking.
Mitchell no longer used a prophylactic, but he did continue the use of Vaseline, because now…
Marsha had, rightful apprehension regarding Mitchell’s ability to maintain an erection long enough for penetration, and her mind—oh, yes, it did—dwelt on the same thing his mind dwelt on. And her desire became secondary and her lovemaking rote and her moisture—the loving moister needed for penile entry—dried up, and…
Marsha’s completely understandable lack of passion only added to Mitchell’s trepidation and now, it was not only impossible for him to maintain an erection, but each time they tried it became more difficult for him to achieve an erection, and…
Marsha became more aggravated, and…
Mitchell became more exasperated, and…
Each time they tried, he tried not to think about it. To think of only Marsha, and that she was there, for him! To enjoy Marsha and what she had to offer.
He tried! Oh, God how he tried to concentrate on her beauty: on her so soft, so beautiful breasts; on the so sweet taste of her nipples; on the so smooth texture of her inner thighs; on her silky pubic hair and her willing, Oh, God! so willing vagina, but…
Don’t think about it! I do not want to think about it!
So then he thought about not thinking about it, and thinking of not thinking about it didn’t help one bit.
On the sixth day of their lives, Mitchell took Marsha to see Manhattan.
Trying their best, each put forth a facade of enjoyment.
They went to the top of the Empire State Building.
They went into the crown of the Statue of Liberty.
The saw the play “Tea and Sympathy,” tickets courtesy of the U.S.O.
They had dinner at the Chinese restaurant he had told her about.
Getting lost in the pre-Christmas crowd on Fifth Avenue, they delayed going home for as long as possible, but…
Eventually they did go home, where…
They went to bed with heightened apprehension, which added to the ever-mounting tension, and…
“God-damn it! What in the hell’s wrong with me?”
“What’s wrong with you, Mitchell? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you! Your mother! That’s what’s wrong with you!”
“My mother? Marsha, what in hell’s my mother got to do with this?”
“It’s that god-damned joke she just had to tell!”
“Yeah, sure! Everything’s my mother’s fault, huh?”
“Yeah, she just had to tell…” In a mimicking, mocking voice, “the one about the guy who couldn’t keep it up on his wedding night! Remember? “
“Yeah, I remember! You bitched about that before!”
“Yeah! Well I think it’s been on your mind, and that’s why you can’t…”
“You’re full of shit, Marsha! I haven’t thought about that at all! And so long as we’re talking about my mother, I’ll tell you who’s fault I think this really is! How’s about your mother?”
“Oh, yes! I knew you were going to get around to that!”
“Yeah, I am! If she’d just minded her own god-damned business, we’d have done it when we first got married, when we damn-well should have! But no, she said, ‘Don’t do it till I say so,’ and of course, little Marsha always listens to her mommy!”
“Mitchell, Shut up! Just shut up!”
“Yeah, Marsha, I’ll shut up, okay!”
In insurmountable anger—at Marsha, but mostly at himself—turning from her, moving to the far side of the bed, Mitchell stared into the darkness.
Turning in the opposite direction, moving as far to the other side of the bed as possible, feeling lost, feeling alone, and oh, so unhappy, Marsha cried.
Mitchell heard her, but too bound in anger and too involved in self-pity, he did not turn to her.