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?” …anger.
“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.
The Seventh Day of Their Lives
December 24, 1955: 10:14 a.m.
She sat at the table in the kitchen writing letters to Rosalie and Shelly. She wrote of the apartment, Seagate, Coney Island and what she’d seen of New York City, but outside of saying, “He’s fine,” Marsha did not mention Mitchell, nor, because at that time she could not think of even one, “the joys of married life.” Between letters, putting the pen down, she looked at Mitchell because…
Since last night, Marsha had been thinking, very seriously, of going back to Chicago, because…
We’ve never even had sex! she thought, Well, not all the way. And further thought, as, taking a Kleenex from the box at her elbow, dabbed at the growing moisture in her eyes, as, stifling a sob, Marsha now thought… As had Mitchell, Maybe we can get it annulled.
Laying on the sofa, facing the kitchen, pretending to read a Max Brand pocket book novel, but glancing at Marsha over the top of the book every few seconds, Mitchell urgently wanted to do something, to say something. He well knew the problem was his, but no longer had any idea of what to do about it. He knew Marsha was unhappy, but really didn’t know what to say. He wanted to apologize for what he’d said about Rhea, but did feel that he was right and could not bring himself to say the words.
They hadn’t spoken to each other, not one word, since last night and now, the silence and depressive atmosphere were becoming too much…
“Marcie,” standing suddenly, throwing the book onto the sofa, “let’s get the hell out of here!”
Looking up, her voice weary, “Where do you want to go, Mitchell?” she asked as though not caring where they would go, or what they would do.
“We’ll take the ferry to Staten Island… Come on!” Going to the table, taking the pen from her hand, bodily pulling her to her feet. “You can’t go aboard, but I’ll show you Halfmoon, then maybe we’ll head back to Manhattan, grab a bite to eat and see if there’s another play we can catch, or see a movie or something… Come on! How’s about it?”
Screwing the cap on the pen, “Okay,” she said halfheartedly. “If that’s what you want to do.”
Taking the pad of writing paper and the bottle of ink, Marsha put both into the top drawer of the dresser.
“Marcie, look, honey, I’m sorry for all this, and as soon as I get aboard ship on Monday, I’ll make an urgent request to see a doctor, and do whatever I can to solve our… my problem.”
“Okay, Mitchell. Whatever you want.”
Her unconcerned attitude made him angry, but he held it down.
Though he attempted to speak to her, Marsha was unresponsive, and the car ride from Seagate to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal was all but silent. The darkly overcast day added to the depression.
Standing inside, behind a water-stained window, Mitchell pointed to Ellis Island, then a few minutes later, the Statue of Liberty, that were both barely visible in the foggy distance.
As the ferry docked at Staten Island, going outside, they climbed the staircase to the upper deck where Marsha was able to see the expanse of the huge complex.
Still thinking of the Coast Guard in terms of red-roofed lifeboat stations, saying her first complete sentence since leaving the apartment, “I didn’t think it would be so gigantic.”
Pleased to hear her voice again, “Yeah, it is a pretty big place… There!” he said, putting an arm about her waist, pointing, “There she is!”
Looking at the forest of white smoke stacks, “Where?”
“Look, see that pier?” Pointing to the first pier past the ferry terminal. “Okay, we’re going to count piers. Stay with me now. One, two,” moving his pointing finger, “three… You still with me?”
Not moving her eyes, “Yes.”
“Okay. Now the fourth pier, and there, on the next one, that’s her.”
“Oh…” That’s the Halfmoon, she thought, Mitchell’s ship.
Once again Marsha felt as though here, now, was a dream. Turning her head, looking at him to be sure she was really here, with Mitchell…
And Marsha suddenly remembered that there was no one whom she would rather be with and no place she would rather be then here, with Mitchell, and she snuggled closer, and…
He felt the shift in her position and the easing of her posture.
“Think I can go aboard and see it up close someday?” This, of course, totally canceling all thought of going to any home other than her home in Seagate, New York.
“Sure. They allow visitors on Sundays, and some weekend when I have liberty I’ll take you aboard. Besides, I want to show you off to the guys.”
Smiling her first smile in almost fifteen hours, “You mean I might even get to see you in uniform one of these days?”
Her smile warming him, “Trust me, honey, you’re going to get sick of seeing me in that uniform! The blues are dry cleaned, but the whites and denims get washed, and ironed.”
“Something I didn’t tell you… I’m not so hot at ironing.”
“You’ll learn, or if you don’t, I’ll keep doing them.”
Put at ease, the light chatter brought them back to each other
“Marcie, I hate it when you’re mad at me.” His eyes becoming moist, “I can’t imagine life without you now and I’m so sorry that things…”
“I know, Mitchie.” Always surprised by this visible show of emotion, Marsha always responded. “I’m sorry, too. Don’t worry,” she said sincerely, “whatever your problem is, we’ll work it out.”
Crossing back, they drove to Manhattan, and bought each other a surprise Christmas gift at Macy’s.
They waited in line to see a matinee of the movie “Oklahoma” at Radio City Music Hall.
They had a pizza after the movie.
They got caught up in the Times Square, day-before-Christmas rush.
They went home.
Tomorrow afternoon (2/12/10) I will submit the last excerpt from my novel "Becoming" entitled "Christmas Eve, 1955" and something happens on that Christmas eve that possibly
is one of funniest things you've ever read.