Stopping for a traffic light, turning, looking at her son, trying to lighten the situation, “Look, you kids have all your lives to get laid. Just remember, you’re not really married…”
“Yeah, Mom, I know,” Mitchell said wearily, “in the eyes of God.”
“…until you break the glass under the huppe.” Looking forward, she accelerated away from the light.
“So, Mitchell, do I have your promise?”
“Rhea, I am not going to rape your daughter!” he said angrily. “If she’s promised she won’t, and if she doesn’t want me to, then it doesn’t matter whether I promise or not, because I love Marsha, and I would never do anything to her that she doesn’t want me to!”
“Okay, then it’s settled.” Turning, Rhea looked forward.
Oh, God! Mitchell thought. You’re going to drag this on forever, aren’t you? What have you got against me ever getting fucked… even by my own wife?__________________________________________________________________
October 15, 1955
“Mitchell, but I want you to do it this way!”
“But, Mom, it’s so embarrassing! I can’t understand why you want me to do this, now.”
“Mitchie, for me. Please, do it for me!”
Saturday evening: Both families, including Morris and Jennie, and Roger and Brenda, were at the Lipenskys for a combination engagement and nineteenth birthday party for Marsha. Having served coffee and birthday cake, after Marsha had blown out the candles, Myra had motioned for Mitchell to follow her into the den, where she’d handed him the small, square box that she’d insisted Rhea give her earlier when Myra had demanded, “I went along with you; now you go along with me!”
Returning to the dining room, Myra took her place at the foot of the table and Mitchell went back to his seat alongside Marsha, who looked at him questioningly, but, looking straight ahead, he said nothing.
Tapping her glass with a spoon, “Everyone!”
Conversation stopping, all eyes turned to Myra.
“Mitchell has an announcement to make.”
“Uh,” turning to Marsha, “Marcie, I…”
“Stand up!” Myra commanded. “Stand up so we can all hear you.”
Standing, looking down at Marsha, reaching into his pocket he removed the black box, opened it and—surprised at the size and beauty of the ring—“Ehhh-ehhh!” Nervously clearing his throat, “Uh, Marsha…” looking at Myra, who motioned for him to go ahead. “I love you and, ehhh-ehhh, will you marry me?” Becoming red in the face, without waiting for Marsha to answer, lifting her hand, the wrong hand, Mitchell put the ring on her finger, the wrong finger of the wrong hand.
Looking down at the ring, then up to Mitchell, Marsha felt embarrassment for both him and herself. She looked at Myra, who had a satisfied, smug look on her face and, though she had come close a few times, now for the first time since meeting her, Marsha allowed herself the thought, I hate her! Unwilling to prolong the embarrassment longer than necessary, shifting the ring to the proper hand and finger, “Of course I’ll marry you,” she said. Standing, she kissed him lightly on the lips, glanced at her mother, and sat down.
Breathing a sigh of relief, Mitchell gladly followed.
“Marsha,” Myra asked, “haven’t you something for Mitchell, too?”
Refusing to be manipulated, “Something for Mitchell?” Pretending to think, “No,” she said, “I don’t think so.”
Glaring at her a moment, “Walter,” turning to her husband, “I thought you were going to take some pictures.”
“Oh, yeah!” Going to the den, returning with a camera, posing everyone around Marsha and Mitchell, Walter took a number of pictures at the table, then in the living room… “Marsha,” sitting cross-legged on the floor surrounded by Roger, a very pregnant Brenda, and Larry and Morton, “hold your hand up so we can see the ring.”
Holding her hand forward, showing the ring, “Sure, Skipper.”
The picture taking through, “How’s about opening some presents!”
The last birthday gift unwrapped, looked at and thanked for, “Mitchie,” Marsha whispered, “please get our coats. I’d like to go for a ride.”
She’d been a little standoffish since dinner, and he knew why.
When they were outside, having thought this over, Marsha said, “Let’s go to where we were the last time, before you went back to New York.”
But when they got to the once-secluded spot, there was now a row of houses.
“I know where we can go.”
Driving to Oakton Park, parking at the end of the dead-end street leading into the park, turning the motor off, “Marsha, I know why you’re mad, and I’m sorry. Believe me, I didn’t want to do it that way, but…”
Having their first argument…
“But, you just had to listen to your mother, didn’t you! Is this the way it’s going to be after we’re married?”
Angered by Rhea’s decree, but not saying anything, now, his seething anger boiling over, “You’re a fine one to talk! When did you agree that we’re not going to make love, even after we’re married? How in the hell did you ever let your mother talk you into that?”
Both knowing the other was right, each stared at the other angrily, then, averting his face, Mitchell stared out the windshield. Marsha looked at him in profile, then she, too, faced forward.
In a few long seconds—Mitchell’s anger, sometimes quick to ignite, usually quicker to quench—his hand, inching across the seat, touched the outside of Marsha’s thigh, and was instantly met by hers.
“Marcie, honey,” turning to her, “I’m sorry… Believe me, I’m sorry I let my mother talk me into doing that.”
Afraid to say what she really thought of his mother, Marsha said nothing.
When Marsha did not answer, “And if you don’t want to go all the way now, it’s okay, I understand.” He chuckled, dryly.“Well, no, I don’t really, but I love you, and if that’s what you want I’ll probably go along with it. But remember, I didn’t promise nothin’!”
“Mitchie, I love you!” Her mouth finding his… As a thank you for going along with her, or, just because she knew he wanted to, or, because she wanted him to, as the kiss lengthened, making the slightest movement, reaching through her jacket, inching her blouse out of the waistband of her slacks, pushing the bottom of her brassiere up, taking his hand…
This was the first time she’d allowed him to touch her bare breast since that evening on the Undeen four months ago and, lost within the taste of their kiss, lost within the touch and taste and feel of Marsha’s tongue, for a brief moment Mitchell was not sure he was touching what he so desperately wanted to touch… Then, his heart quickening as the warm fullness that weighed in his hand registered on his brain… both brains, Oh, God! Circling the, suddenly not-so-smooth circumference of her nipple with his thumb, “God!” he said passionately, “I love you!”
“Me, too, Mitchie! Me, too!” Her mouth finding his again, her tongue touching his again, holding his hand to her breast, sensing the tightening of her nipple, Marsha, too, wanted to touch, to feel. And she certainly knew that she could, and she knew, for a certainty, that if she did touch him there one thing would certainly lead to another, and she knew, by the erotic, suddenly slick sensation within her vagina that, for a certainty, she would not stop him. And knowing that one thing was certainly, definitely about to lead to another, “Mitchie,” she said, catching her breath, “I didn’t want to give it to you at her house, but…
Oh, God! Wanting to kiss her breast, wanting to taste the taste of her breast, wanting, Oh, God! to see Marsha’s breast, about to work his way down, kissing her ear…
“I, uh,” shivering as the point of his tongue found the inside of her ear, “I have… something for you.”
Kissing the warm, lightly scented, soft flesh beneath her chin…
If she didn’t get him to stop, now… “Please, baby, let’s go for a walk.”
“A walk? Now?” He didn’t move—either his body, or his hand.
Feeling herself losing the battle, “Mitchie, please, come on!”
“Yeah, Marcie.” But still…
“Marcie, I don’t want to let go of you… ever!”
Actually thinking, I don’t want you to either, but, “Come on. I’ll let you do it again.”
“This?” Gently squeezing, loving the soft feel of her breast. “This? Just like this? Really?”
“Yes!” Thinking, Maybe. “Just like that.”
“Promise! Maybe even when we come back to the car?”
“Mitchell!” She laughed. “Yes, I promise I’ll let you hold my boobie! Maybe even when we get back to the car. Come on now! I’ve got something for you.”
Although it was mid-October, the air was cold and they could see the vapor of their breath in the light of the brightly shining moon.
Motioning to a park bench—the same bench Sandra had led him to in 1951—“Let’s sit here.”
Sitting closely together, his left arm about her shoulders…
Pressing a small box into his right hand, “Here.”
“Something for you, honey.”
Opening the box, “My God!” looking at the diamond ring, “Marcie,” he said in amazement, “you got this for me?”
“Yes.” Taking the ring from the box, putting it on his wedding finger, “We’ll switch hands before we put our wedding bands on.”
“Marcie,” holding his hand to the moonlight, “this had to cost a fortune! Where’d you get the money?”
“Actually, my mother asked if I’d like to give it to you as a wedding gift, and she paid for it.”
“And your ring, too?”
“Yes… Well, she added the difference to what you had. You’re not mad are you?”
“You like your ring?”
“My, God, Mitchie, yes! It’s the most beautiful engagement ring I’ve ever seen, I love it!”
Exhibiting one of the unselfish traits that Marsha loved about her father, “Then I don’t care,” Mitchell said. “If it makes you happy, that’s fine.”
“I’m so glad, baby! I was worried you’d be mad.”
“Nah. The only thing I’m mad about is you. Is this,” holding his hand up, “what she meant when my mom asked if you have something for me?”
“Yes.” Trying to keep her voice natural, hoping he wouldn’t notice the resentment towards his mother by the tone of her voice, “You mother, well…” choosing her words carefully, “sometimes she tries to, uh, run things. She came up with an idea sort of like what she asked you to do tonight before. I told her that you’d already proposed, and that I’d much rather you gave me the ring when we were alone.”
“And she insisted to do it her way, anyway?”
“Yes, but you’ve got understand, Mitchie”—telling him what she’d told herself the first few months—“she’s nervous about losing a son.”
Trying not to sound as if he were rebuking her, “That’s ridiculous! It’s not like I live at home! I’ve been away for two and half years and it’s not like she’s losing me, but more like she’s gaining you. And if there’s one thing I know my mother’s always wanted, it’s a daughter.”
She could have had me that way, Marsha thought. Knowing this could be, to say the least, a very sensitive subject, also knowing that it was something they had to discuss, but not wanting to argue with him again, trying to be tactful, “Mitch, your mother… she kind of pushes a little too hard. I like her, and want to be with her,” she lied, “but she can’t always be with me and my mother. And that’s kind of the problem: she expects me to act like her daughter, and I can’t—she’s not my mother; I have my own mother.” Hesitating, Marsha wondered how much she should reveal about the relationship between her mother and herself. “Mitchie, I don’t want to talk about it too much now. I’ll tell you why someday, but my mother and I have never gotten along, and now, for the first time in my life she’s treating me like she’s supposed to, like a real mother, and that’s why I agreed with her about you’n’me not doing it until after we’re married in December. Now can you understand why?”
He did, but not wanting to admit that he did, “Marsha, to be honest, about that, no! But about my mother? I think you’re a smart girl and I know you’ll do whatever’s right. And I think once the wedding and all the tension’s over with, you and my mother’ll get to know each other and everything’ll be”—he hoped—“just fine.”
“Yes, Mitchie, I’m sure you’re right.” Unfortunately, though, deep down, Marsha sincerely doubted it.