“Yeah, Marcie, you know I keep trying, but I’d never force any girl to do what I think she doesn’t want to do, no matter how much I may want to and, oh, baby…” Bringing her hand to his lips, kissing her knuckles, “you know how much I’ve wanted to!”
“Yeah, I sure do. But, Mitchie, look at you! Almost every guy I know has, you know…”
“How do you know they have? Not all guys that say they have, really have.”
“And you’re a sailor, yet! Everyone knows about sailors!”
“Okay. So how do sailors meet ‘that kind of girl’?” Answering himself, “In bars! I’ve gone to bars, too, but I’ve got to, at least, like someone before, I… uh, make love to her… Hell, before I even kiss her!”
December 17, 1955: The Day of the Wedding Three: Susan
Marsha could, certainly, respect that.
“And I’ve never met a girl in a bar that I’ve liked enough to want to go to bed with.”
Well, he had, but though the girl was beautiful, her hair reeked of tobacco and her breath of bourbon, and her body had an underlying odor of sweat, and even though he had received definite “come on, let’s go do it” signals, he’d backed away.
“I did meet a girl at the USO in Manhattan, though, and”—suddenly realizing why—“do you know what attracted me to her?”
“She vas gorgeous un’ so sexy!” Marsha said in her yiddish dialect.
Laughing, “No! As a matter of fact, it was because she reminded me of you.”
“Well,” she said jokingly, “thanks a lot!”
“No, I didn’t mean it that way… It was right after I got back from leave; you know, that first time, when we saw each other at the J. And Chriss… the girl’s name was Christine… well, I didn’t know it at the time, but what attracted me to her was that she reminded me of you. She was an actress, and…”
“Yeah, that’s what I said, she was gorgeous and sexy.”
“Nah. Skinny as hell with stringy, black hair—only kidding. She had long, black hair, and was tall and thin, like you. Chriss had this great apartment overlooking the city, and she took me to it and we had some scotch—a lot of scotch—and believe me, she wanted to do it with me as much as I wanted to do it to her! But…” his voice trailed off.
“But…” He smiled. “But, she had her period.”
“Oh, no!” This said in mock horror.
“Yeah,” he replied, “and we went on patrol the next day and by the time I got back she’d moved and I couldn’t find her.”
“Oh, you poor thing!” she said facetiously.
“Yeah! Then me and the girl I love got married, and guess what?”
“Yeah! Uh-oh’s right! And then, just to be on the safe side, and sure it’s okay with God and our… your mother, we waited another two months and even got married again! And guess what again?”
“Yeah!” Becoming serious, “Really, Marcie, maybe it was meant to be this way. Maybe that’s why I always got stopped. Maybe God meant for me to do it only with you for the first time, and for you to do it with me the first time. And if you think about it, except for this,” pointing to her crotch, “you having your period now, it’s really kind of beautiful.”
Having a chance to think about it, the thought of both of them losing their virginity together, to each other, truly seemed rather beautiful. “Yes,” Marsha said, “I think so, too… You’re not mad, then, because of my period?”
“Well, yeah! Bet your ass, I’m mad! But it’s not your fault.”
“Know what, Mitch? In six days it’ll be even more beautiful.”
“Six days! I can’t wait six fucking days!”
The loud expletive surprising her, “No, Mitchell, not six…” struggling with the words, “fucking days! Six fuckless days!”
Surprised, too, “Marsha, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard you swear.” Starting to laugh. “Coming from you, it’s kind’a cute. Come on, say it again! Say ‘fuck’.”
“No!” Though pale, blushing, red spots appeared on her cheeks. “You know I never swear! It’s just that you made me so darn mad.”
“I’m sorry, but six days! We’ll miss our whole honeymoon.”
“What am I supposed do, Mitchell? You want to call it off—the wedding?”
Looking out the window, pretending to think, “Nah,” he said, “I love this car too much to give it back to your uncle.”
Marsha punched him, hard, on the shoulder.
“Ouch! Hey, you got hard, bony knuckles!”
“Yeah! And if you ever say anything like that again…”
“Yeah?” Rubbing his shoulder, faking anger, “An’ what if I do? What’ch’ya gonna do ’bout it?”
Balling her fist, tapping his chin, “I’ll sock ya in the kisser.”
“Boy-oh-boy, ain’t she ever sweet!”
“Come on,” kissing him on the cheek, “I’ve got to get to the beauty shop!”
“Where’s it again?”
“Marcie, you got a picture of your fiancé?” Standing behind the chair, combing her out, “I want to show it to her,” nodding her head towards an extremely pretty, dark-haired young woman two stations down.
“Do I have a picture?” Looking at the beautician’s reflection in the mirror, “Are you kidding?” Opening the purse on her lap, taking her wallet out, thumbing through some pictures, Marsha handed Erma a snapshot of Mitchell taken on Friendship the summer before.
Looking at it a moment, walking to the young woman, “Take a look at this guy,” Erma said, handing the picture over the woman’s shoulder.
Taking the picture, holding it in front of her face, her eyes opening widely, swallowing, chewing nervously on her lower lip, the young woman looked at the photo for what must have been at least thirty seconds, then, looking up, she looked at Marsha’s reflection in the long mirror.
Waiting, watching in the mirror to see the usual reaction to Mitchell’s looks, Marsha was baffled at the play of emotions she saw on the woman’s face.
Looking into the reflected image of the others’ eyes, the two women silently studied each other.
“He’s, uh…” Searching for the right words, seemingly unnerved, “Your boyfriend’s…”
“He’s not my boyfriend,” Marsha corrected, “he’s my fiancé; we’re being married tonight.”
“Tonight…” Blinking her eyes several times, quiet a long moment, “You and Mitchell are being married…” she questioned softly, “tonight?”
Mitchell? Sitting a bit straighter, “Yes, we are, tonight.” Watching closely, “Do you know Mitchell?”
Taking a few seconds for the other to speak, “Yes,” she said faintly, “we used to know each other.” Turning her face downward, somewhat away from Marsha’s questioning gaze, “Tell him,” the young woman said haltingly, “that…” swallowing again, her lower lip quivering, “Please tell Mitchell that Susan Friedman wishes him… both of you… good luck.”