The Third Day of Their Lives
Seagate, New York
December 20, 1955: 7:53 a.m.
He awoke, as usual, before Marsha, and as usual, with the mental and, oh, yeah, physical urge to make love, and again, had to fight the urge to wake her.
Not having much in the way of dinner the night before, feeling the rumbling in his stomach, getting out of bed, he considered taking a shower, but knew that he wanted to wash the car, so, Why take a shower if I’m only going to get sweaty anyway? Instead, he washed his face, brushed his teeth, got dressed and, because he didn’t want to wake Marsha, passed on the bowl of Shredded Wheat he’d considered eating. Taking some money, hoping to find a bucket in the basement, Mitchell went downstairs.
The streets and gutters running with rivulets of melting snow, the temperature outside was in the mid-forties.
Why wash it today? he thought, It’s only going to get filthy again. But the car was caked with mud and, even though he felt it a waste, he felt compelled to clean it and, yeah, there was a bucket in the basement, and a length of coiled hose outside, that he thought he’d seen attached to a spigot in front of the building.
Driving to the A&P, he bought automotive soap, a large sponge and two cheap terry towels.
Finished, Christ, it’s beautiful! lighting a cigarette, he sat on the front stoop for a few minutes looking at the once-again lustrous car, then stored the bucket, auto soap, sponge and towels—laid out over the bucket—in their assigned shed in the basement.
Coming off the elevator, having no idea where it was coming from, reminding him just how hungry he was, the mouth-watering odor of frying bacon caused his stomach to rumble.
Not sure if Marsha was awake yet, he opened the door quietly, but at the stove turning the frying bacon, “Hi, honey!” hearing the door open, she looked over her shoulder.
Pleasantly surprised that the odor was coming from here, nestling against her back, “You know how to fry bacon, do you?”
“Yes, smarty pants, I know how to fry bacon—and eggs, too!”
Curious, “How’d you know when to start cooking this?”
When Marsha awoke, after using the bathroom and getting dressed, going downstairs to look for Mitchell, she had seen him sitting on the stoop and knowing he would be upstairs momentarily, went back to the apartment to get the bacon started.
And now, in a round-about way, the bare beginning of the ‘I know you better than you know yourself’ myth was perpetuated on yet another unsuspecting novice husband when, “Oh, I knew you couldn’t stay away from me very long,” she said, “and that you’d be upstairs any minute, starving.”
Simply said, “Oh.” he did not quite believe this, but yet—remembering his mother’s “Walt, I know you better than you know yourself,” Mitchell—did not quite disbelieve it either. Changing the subject, “Do I have time to hop into the shower?”
“Sure,” turning the fire off, “go on,” she said, thinking, Wonder if I should tell him now or wait till tomorrow? If I wait, she reasoned, it’ll probably be over by then. And if I don’t tell him now, I won’t have to fight him off all day.
Since that night in October, when Rhea had announced herself at exactly the wrong or—depending on how whomever was looking at it looked at it—right moment, Marsha had desperately wanted to complete the act because—as Mitchell viewed sex as a physical act—Marsha, being a woman, assumed that sex, when she finally did it, would not only be physical, but emotional as well. And as he craved the sensation, and idea, of being, literally, physically within her body, Marsha, too, desired the feel of him within her body. But also because she knew that their sexual coupling would be the cement that would ultimately bind their marriage vows. Also, but of far lesser importance, Marsha thought her hymen had been ruptured when she was fifteen, when after horseback riding she had discovered a swatch of blood in the crotch of her underpants, and had been curious ever since to know if, in fact, her hymen had ruptured. And also, because—once that moment of barely restrained passion last October had passed—Marsha realized that she had waited all of her life for this, and discovered that she wanted to do it her way and, over the two months that had followed, had built and mentally orchestrated a scenario for her first time—actually, as it turned out, their first time.
One thing Marsha knew for a fact: she positively wanted her first time to be at night.
Sherri Notari, the manager of Lanathins, had told Marsha to pick any negligee in the store as a wedding gift.
Marsha had choosen a long-admired gown that she felt was the absolute height of sexual sophistication, and she had, vividly—exciting herself in the process—imagined Mitchell’s reaction when he would finally see her in it.
Factually, the level of her excitement was so heightened that Marsha knew if he pushed her, or if she allowed a little more leeway than she’d allowed in the last two days, she may find it impossible to curb her desire, and the thought of intercourse at any time during her menstrual cycle, especially this first time, no matter what stage her cycle might be in, was something she did not want to happen.
And, surprising even himself, Mitchell had not pushed her.
He knew—at least from what experience he’d had with Marsha—that she was passionate. And he also knew that as soon as she felt it possible to do, they would. So rather than making a pest of himself and arousing himself and Marsha needlessly, and to no avail, backing off, he fought to control his urges, but, oh, God, it had been hard…
…for both of them.
“Marcie, when we’re done eating, what say I help you clean up and then we go into the city so I can show you around.”
“I know you’re not going to like this, but we never got around to lining the shelves and drawers yesterday, and really, I’d love to get this out of the way so I can relax the rest of the week. Also…”
“You’re right,” pointing his fork at her, “I don’t like it!”
“I’m sorry, Mitch, but I’ve been thinking about doing this stuff for two months now and I won’t relax till it’s done! And I’ll tell you something else I want to do today; I’d like to look for a job.”
“Come on, Marcie, this is supposed to be our honeymoon! You’ve plenty of time to…”
“No, Mitch! This has really been on my mind, and when it’s done I’ll be able to relax… Come on.” Reaching across the table, taking hold of his hand, “Let’s do the shelves, then take me to Bensonhurst so I can look for a job…Please!”
What could he do?
With his help, Marsha lined the drawers of the dresser, the shelves and cabinets, and the long shelf in the closet, then everything was put back—rightfully so—where, and the way Marsha wanted it.
Driving to Bensonhurst, Mitchell waited in the car as Marsha, with her glowing Lanathins recommendation in hand, went into four stores, filed an application in the second, and got a job—at Lord & Taylor starting on the third of January—in the fourth.
On their way home they stopped at the A&P to buy a few more needed items and—to keep the ingredients straight—a pound and a half package of ground chuck.
This time Marsha used:
½ t of dry mustard.
2 T of chili sauce
1 cup of corn flakes. And…
½ t ground pepper.
This time the meatloaf was delicious!