My ex father in law Bernard is staying with me.
He woke up early the other day, still jet lagged and living in another time zone.
When I woke, I poured a cup of coffee, added cream and sugar, and sat with him. We talked about the transit strike, then in its second day, and plans for the holidays.
I got up to make my second cup of coffee.
Bernard returned to his newspaper.
I settled into my chair and looked out the window. It was a clear morning.
The fog was lifting in my mind as I prepared to work.
I signed on my computer and took a sip of coffee.
Instant messages exploded across the screen.
Mitzi: Were you with Rose when you might have seen me?
Bridget: You have another lover? What is this, a numbers game?
Viviane: Do you play Jeff Buckley for every woman you fuck?
Madeline: What will Rose have to do to earn Romano cheese?
I put down my cup.
The fog lowered.
Instant messages such as these are not at all uncommon.
I have sex with a lot of people. I write about it in a blog that most of those people read.
On the positive side, my blog keeps me honest. I’m open and transparent. Putting my sex life on display means that there are few secrets between me and my lovers.
Everyone knows everything.
On the negative side, I can’t determine how people will respond to what they read. Sometimes there are hurt feelings. And sometimes I am annoyed by prying questions.
It’s the price I pay for going public. Any other man would keep his mouth shut and run around behind his lovers’ backs.
Not me. I broadcast my life as a cad.
Normally, I take the good with the bad. But on that particular morning, I was in no mood for it.
My time is my own, Mitzi.
I can add or subtract as I wish, Bridget.
It’s a fucking song, Viviane.
She’ll get cheese when she gets it, Madeline.
I wanted to turn down the volume on all this chatter.
There are times when I don’t want to live in a fish bowl.
The transit strike had afforded me an opportunity to slow down and take time for myself.
Last weekend, I raced around town, hopping in and out of beds as I made the rounds before the holidays took over.
The transit strike clipped my wings, but offered something else.
I realized that I needed that above all.
This weekend, I am keeping the tradition of spending Christmas with my ex wife and her family.
Her divorced parents.
Her brother and his ex boyfriend.
Her sister and her new husband.
I will spend days inside a house filled with people I don’t see very often. Most of what they hear about me these days comes from my ex wife, who has been a hateful bitch to me for months.
There will be many questions about my life, my career and my romantic prospects.
I have been rehearsing responses that change the subject.
Everything I do or say will be noted by my ex wife. I don’t care to open my life to her, or to hear the way she compulsively criticizes me at every turn.
Like this: when my parents were visiting recently, my mother asked me, apropos of nothing, “TJ, how tall are you?”
“I’m five ten.”
“No,” Lucy said. “You are five nine.”
“I think I’m five ten.”
“Five nine,” she insisted, as if she were confronting the biggest liar she knew.
“Guess I’m five nine, Mom.”
She argued something so trivial as my height—which is, by the way, a verifiable fact. We can determine the answer with measuring tape. There is no place for argument.
And who the fuck cares?
The holidays will be filled with such moments.
But not everything can be predicted.
Last Christmas, to my absolute astonishment, Lucy and I had sex.
Two nights in a row.
I can’t imagine that will happen again.
Of course, I couldn’t imagine that it would happen last time.
I don’t want it to happen.
Still, there are condoms packed in my bag.
I can imagine what she will think if we start to have sex and I produce condoms.
She will think I planned it.
I am not planning it. I just have to be ready for anything.
I can also imagine what she will say if she offers sex, and I refuse.
She is bitter and angry now. She will be furious to be rejected.
My heart races as I think about it.
As this week began, I was understandably anxious about Christmas.
The transit strike shut down my social life. I canceled dates and generally kept to myself.
Just as well. I didn’t want to deal with people.
So I got snippy when my blog became a source for speculation and anxiety.
I wanted a few days away from my fish bowl before I swam into the currents of my ex wife’s family.
It is now a little after two.
In less than an hour, Bernard and I are heading out to Lucy’s mother’s house.
We will stop at the airport on the way to pick up her brother and his ex boyfriend.
Lucy will drive out with the kids tomorrow.
And so this is eXmas.