Friday, December 30, 2005

Holiday Rush

After dinner on Christmas Eve, I was sent to the living room to enjoy my bourbon, my belly full of burritos, my ears full of accolades.

Family tradition: the chef is not allowed to clear dishes.

Bernard and his daughter Julia commandeered that task. He was stationed at the sink as she shuttled dishes from the table.

Meanwhile, Lucy commandeered Julia’s husband Aaron and headed to the attic.

The kids were told to stay downstairs for a while.

As long as a few pipe hits, at least.

I was soon joined by “the boys,” Richard and Paul.

Jason sat with his uncle Richard, who dropped an arm on the boy’s shoulder. Bucky pulled up chairs for herself and her girlfriend Linda, who had joined us for dinner. Linda is a sweet lady, and an artist.

Bucky tended the fire as we talked.

Everyone knew to gravitate to the living room for the next traditions of Christmas Eve.

Ever since Jason was a toddler, we’ve gathered to sing “Twelve Nights of Christmas” and to read “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.”

Richard took the lead in establishing this tradition, singing loudly and reading Clement Clarke Moore until Jason was old enough to take over that duty.

Every year, we make some of the same jokes. For example, we sing “Twelve Nights” from an illustrated book. Richard always points out that one of the Eight Maids a-Milkin’ bears a resemblance to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

He always embellishes his extension of Five Gold Rings.

We enjoy these corny touches.

The dishes done, Bernard pulled up a chair. Julia headed upstairs to join her husband and sister for a “break.”

It was about nine thirty.

Collie sat between his brother and uncle Paul.

“Do we have to sing this year?” Collie groused, crossing his arms in mock complaint.

“Yes sir, we do,” I said. “And you have to sing loud and like it.”

“No way, not me.”

“It’s a tradition, and you better love it, mister.”

Paul tickled his shoulder. Collie giggled.

“Dad?” Lillie whispered. “Where’s Mom?”

Bucky overheard. “Yes, where is she? Are we waiting for her?”

“She’s upstairs, Mother,” Richard said, with an air of admonishment. “She’ll be down.”

“Oh, upstairs, huh.” Bucky knows the score. “Well, we don’t want to wait all night. We have”—she dropped her voice to a loud whisper—“things to do.

Jason smiled.

“We know. Mother. So Linda, what are you working on?”

We talked.

Paul put another log on the fire.

Ten o’clock came and went.

Lillie counted her gifts again.

Collie’s eyes drooped.

“Now, where is Lucy?” Bucky said, interrupting conversation. “Should I go get her?”

Not a good idea. Lucy would not respond well to entreaties from me or Bucky.

I appointed a messenger.

“Lillie, would you go to the steps of the attic and tell your mom and uncle that everyone is waiting on them?”

She ran off.

I heard her laugh upstairs.

She came back to the banister.

“Mom said ‘get a grip,” she laughed.

Julia came down to join us.

“What are they doing?,” Bucky asked. “Can’t you make your sister and husband come downstairs?”

“I can only control my husband,” Julia said, looking at the fire. “He’s on his way.”

Collie looked up. “If Mom skips the singing, can I skip it?”

I took a breath. “I don’t think she will skip it.”

“Well, this is boring, just waiting,” Jason sighed.

Aaron came downstairs.

“Any word from Lucy?” Richard asked.

“She says we should get started without her. She’s putting on lipstick.”

Bucky looked at her watch. “God, it’s almost eleven.”

“Well, we’re not waiting any longer,” Richard said, flipping through “Twelve Days." “Look,” he said, holding up the book. “It’s Sandra Day O’Connor.”

Bernard and I laughed on cue.

I was annoyed; I guess we all were.

“Mom’s not here, so I don’t have to stay.” Collie leapt up and went to the study.

“Me too!” Lillie followed.

“Kids, where are you going?” Paul called. “We’re getting started.”

“Let’s just go ahead.” I said, handing Jason his copy of Clement Clarke Moore. “Do us proud, son.”

He began to read.

Lucy came downstairs as Jason threw open the sash to see what was the matter.

She sat, avoiding eye contact with everyone. She crossed her legs, tucking her hands between her thighs, extending her arms so that her shoulders nearly covered her ears.

Her freshly painted lips were pursed into a tense smile as her son read.

“ . . . But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

‘Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.’”

We applauded his rendition.

I heard Collie and Lillie giggle at the door behind me. They were spying.

We sang our way through twelve nights of gift giving.

Afterwards, I explained the Epiphany to Julia, who never understood why there were twelve days.

Richard noted that adding up all the gifts given during the course of the song numbers three hundred and sixty four.

“That's a year, minus one day.” Jason added.

“Right?” Richard said. “Coincidence? Or conspiracy?”

Lucy stood.

“Okay kids, time for bed.”

The kids kissed us all good night, and followed their mother upstairs.

Traditionally, the adults remain together for a while, until the kids are asleep.

There is the traditional passing of the peace pipe, as Lucy’s family gets stoned together. This is always fun to watch, as some are practiced stoners, and others smoke only on this occasion.

Last year, stoned, they sat speculating on the physics of shortwave radio.

Then Santa arrives.

I am usually coached through the assembly of Hot Wheels and train sets.

This year would be different.

“Well, I’m exhausted.” Bucky stood. “I’m going to bed.”

Linda stood to leave. Bernard and the boys stood to follow.

“Not staying for Santa?” I asked.

“There’s not much to do,” Bucky said. “You can handle it, right?”

“Sure . . .”

The truth is, I had no idea what Santa was bringing.

In years past, Bucky would contact me in October, pressing for a list of the kids’ Christmas preferences.

She knew to bypass Lucy, who hated being asked about Christmas before Halloween.

We would put together a list, run it past Lucy, and Bucky would order everything, having it sent to her house to await the big night.

This year, Lucy took care of it.

Julia and Aaron helped her to bring up the loot as I tended the fire.

They made one trip.

“Need help with the rest?” I asked.

“No, that’s it,” Aaron said.

I looked at the assembled loot.

One football jersey each for Collie and Jason.

A Batgirl action figure for Lillie.

An alarm clock for Collie.

“That’s it?” I was, frankly, incredulous. “That is just lame! You can’t come downstairs Christmas morning and find an alarm clock waiting.”

“Is it bad?” Lucy looked worried.

Oh, now she speaks.

“We can fix it,” I said, rummaging under the tree. “Just, please, go wrap the alarm clock.”

She took the box and left. Julia followed.

“Aaron, let’s move these piles to the center of the room,” I said.

“Okay, what, one pile for each kid?”

“Yes.” I unwrapped gifts that had been marked “From Dad.”

I had a secret weapon this Chrismas.

Bridget had taken me shopping.

For weeks in advance of our combined outing, she had shopped on her own. She was armed with the children’s sizes and quizzed me about favorite movies and books.

Bridget can shop for bargains like no one I know.

Without spending too much, she had delivered a carload of presents before the holidays.

That night, we had wrapped for a couple of hours before deciding to fuck, leaving the rest for me to finish.

With Aaron's help, I arranged the gifts. No professional window dresser could have done better.

“Nice,” Aaron admired.


We stood looking at the bounty when Lucy and Julia returned with the wrapped clock.

“Wow,” Julia said.

“You want ‘wow,’” I smiled. “It’s Christmas!”

Lucy nodded, smiling.

We turned out the lights.

Aaron and Julia drove to their hotel.

Lucy went upstairs.

I poured a bourbon and turned the tree back on. I sat among the gifts, watching the embers burn.

The next morning, I woke in the study to hear the kids whispering about the presents.

It was six thirty.

Lucy came down the stairs.

“Look at all those gifts!” she said.

I pulled on a t-shirt adorned by the assembled Peanuts gang from “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” and joined them.

(Bridget had thrown the shirt at me as we shopped at a Target in New Jersey.

“Nine ninety nine. You are wearing this on Christmas morning.”

I tossed it back. “I don’t wear logo t-shirts.”

She gave me a look and threw it in the cart. “Don’t think, just do what I tell you.”)

The kids shook boxes.

The boys put on their jerseys.

Lillie played with Batgirl.

Lucy made coffee.

We had to wait to open presents.

Family tradition: we open gifts only when everyone is assembled.

The uncles and aunts were due at nine.

When Bucky came down, she put out a spread of bagels, cream cheese, capers and lox.

The kids ate. They were very patient.

I made more coffee.

Aaron and Julia arrived.

Finally, Richard and Paul joined us, just before nine. They joined the adults in the kitchen, preparing mugs and plates in advance of the imminent orgy of wrapping paper.

Lucy joined the kids in the living room.

Lillie ran into the kitchen. “Dad, can we open presents now?”

“In a minute, baby, as soon as the grown ups are ready.”


“We’re almost ready now, Lillie,” Richard said, stirring his tea.

“Oh, you can get started,” Lucy called from the living room. “You’ve waited long enough. Come on!”

Lillie ran to the living room, already awash in the sounds of tearing paper.

Bernard looked at me, quizzical.

“Can you wait one minute, please?” I called. “It’s just a moment!”

“No, they don’t have to wait,” Lucy called. “You rushed me last night, so I can rush you this morning.”

Richard shook his head, his jaw dropped.

He looked at me.

“Did she really just say that?” he asked.

“Cool!” Collie shouted. “A new game! Thanks, Uncle Richard!”

“Uh, you’re welcome . . .,” Richard called back.

Collie didn’t hear.

He was already tearing into a new box.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Dinner Plans

By tradition, I cook dinner on Christmas Eve.

This tradition dates back to before the kids were born.

When I first began to Christmas with Lucy’s family, just after college, we were six: Lucy’s mother Bucky, her father Bernard, her brother Richard, his boyfriend Paul, Lucy and me. If Bucky had a girlfriend at the time, another chair could always be found.

(Lucy’s stepsister Julia was then in her teens and still preferred to spend Hanukah with her mother, Bernard’s second ex wife.)

At the time, the traditional dinner was lobster.

Once she got the water boiling, Bucky would call me into the kitchen.

“I don’t mind dropping in the lobsters,” she explained. “But I need you here to talk with so I don’t think about their demise.”

So she and I would chat as the lobsters met their fates, our voices drowning out their death rattles.

I’d stay to melt the butter.

As our numbers grew, it became expensive and impractical to serve lobster. So one year, I offered to make burritos and margaritas.

The menu worked and the tradition took hold.

Bucky keeps the original shopping list I prepared in the back of a cookbook. Each year, I arrive to see that everything has been purchased in advance—right down to the precise amount of raw chicken, not an ounce more or less.

Around six, Richard and Lucy built a fire.

“Collie?” I whispered.

“What?” he whispered back.

“Can you help me cook dinner?”

“Yes,” he smiled. He thought a moment. “But that means Jason can’t help, right?”

“Right, just you and me.”

He nodded happily.

“C’mon, then let’s get to work.” I took his hand.

“Now wait a minute,” Bucky said, standing. She took up her vodka. “What do you need me to do?”

“I think we’re all set, Bucky,” I said, as she followed us to the kitchen.

I’ve been cooking in this kitchen for most of my adult life.

“Well, look, I want to show you where everything is. The vegetables are by the chopping block, the rice is by the stove, the beans are over here . . .” She opened the refrigerator. “And here are the cheese, the chicken, the sour cream . . . and the salsa is over here by the chips . . .”

I closed the refrigerator door behind her.

“Okay, great,” I said. “We can take it from here.”

“Well, which knife do you want to use?”

“Do you recommend one?”

She opened a drawer. “I just sharpened this one, it’s the best, but you may want this smaller one.”

I looked in the drawer.

“Collie, you want to take the big sharp one and I’ll use the small sharp one?”

Collie looked at me, deadpan.

Bucky removed her glasses. “Well, my dear, he can’t use that knife, he is a mere child!”

“He’s kidding. Right, Dad?” Collie said.

“Yes, I’m kidding.” I scruffed his hair. “I’ve got your knife right here.” I handed him a butter knife from the silverware drawer. “This will be fine for chopping mushrooms.”

Collie took the knife as though it were his father’s light sabre.

“Now, what do you need me to do?” Bucky asked.

“I think we’re fine, thanks. It’s very simple.”

She looked around. “Well, I’ll make margaritas, then.”

“That’s a fine offer—I didn’t think of that. Collie, let me show you how to cut these.”

I put out a chopping block and piled the mushrooms. I showed him how to cut the stems, flip the heads and slice them.

“Got it?”


“Show me.”

Collie cut into a mushroom.

“That’s perfect, but for one thing. Always cut away from yourself, like this . . .”

“Oh shit!” Bucky exclaimed.

I looked to see her holding the blender carafe, confused.

“What happened?”

“Oh, well, I stupidly poured in the tequila without checking the bottom . . . and it wasn’t screwed on . . .”

Tequila streamed onto the counter.

I grabbed two sponges.

“Here, let’s clean it up. No big deal.”

“It’s just a stupid waste,” she said, wiping the counter.

Collie stopped cutting to watch.

I squeezed a sponge in the sink, and returned to help.

“Oh, I’ve got this, I’m fine,” she said. “You’re cooking, I can make drinks.”

“Okay, you seem to have the situation under control.”

“Yes,” she laughed. “Now that I know to screw the Goddamned blender in place.”

Collie looked at me.

“Let’s see you chop some more, son. Remember to cut away from yourself.”

“Like this?”


I chopped peppers, then onions.

The chicken poached as broth bubbled for the rice.

There was a crash behind me.

“Oh, dammit.”

Ice was scattered on the floor.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yes, now I’ve dropped an ice tray. What is with me?”

“Need a hand?”

“No, I can manage this.” She snorted. “You’d think I never made a drink before.

The crash brought Paul in from the living room.

“Look at you, Collie. Nice work. Anything I can do to help? Oh, there’s ice on the floor?”

“Yes,” Bucky said, stooping to pick up a cube. “I’ve dropped the ice.”

“Oh here, I can get those,” Paul said, bending to one knee.

“Thanks. I’ll get another tray and make the margaritas.”

“Are these mushrooms good, Dad?”

“They are great, son, thanks.”

Bucky finished the margaritas as Paul took down the glasses. Bucky poured them and added lime wedges.

“One for the chef,” she said, setting a glass by my side.

“Thanks, honey.” I lifted the glass. “Cheers.”

“Well, I don’t have a glass yet, but cheers.” She laughed and put a hand on my shoulder.

Paul and Bucky distributed drinks in the living room, where the fire was settling nicely.

I moved Collie to his next task, grating cheese. Uncle Aaron offered to help.

I stirred the peppers and onions. I added Collie’s mushrooms.

She’s changed, I thought. Hasn’t she?

Bucky is scared to death of Alzheimer’s.

Her mother had it. Her grandmother had it.

Bucky has always been eccentric, and she’s always been a lush. When things go awry, she has those excuses.

Maybe she was just missing part of the conversation, she could say to herself.

Maybe she was a bit in her cups, she could say.

But she knows: after decades of hiding her drunkenness, she is now using it to cover other things.

It’s different.

We’ve all dreaded the possibility of Bucky with Alzheimer’s. She is so physically strong, and so accustomed to being in control.

It will be so hard for her, and for us.

I stirred.

Well, not us, I mean. For them.

When Lucy dumped me, she took away one set of my parents.

Lucy rarely consults me about our kids. I doubt she will consult with me about her mother’s health.

I certainly have no legal authority to deal with Bucky’s health care.

That will be left to her children—her son Richard and the daughter who hates her.

Even as she hates me.

I stirred.

I sipped my margarita.

“Five minutes to dinner!” I called.

Silent Fight

My sons were watching football with their grandparents.

Their grandmother shouted at the television as the Giants blew it, again.

Jason despaired about the Falcons.

I sat in the living room playing Uno with Lillie.

The Christmas tree was lit with white lights. Ella Fitzgerald sang the Rodgers and Hart songbook.

“I get too hungry for dinner at eight . . .,” I sang along.


“I go to opera and stay wide awake.”


“I never bother with people I hate. Help me, Lillie!”


“I’ll just have to sing it louder then . . . that’s why the lady is a tramp.”

She rolled her eyes. “Dad, it’s your turn.”

“Again? Okay, green five.”

Lillie drew a card.

“Lillie?” her mother called from the sun room. She was splitting one of the two copies of the paper with Richard and Paul.

“What, Mom?”

“Do you want to go to the carousel?”

“In a minute, I’m playing Uno with Dad.”

“Okay. Finish that, and we’ll go with your uncles.”


Lillie returned to her hand.

“Ha! Draw four and the color is . . . blue. Do you have any blues, Dad?”

“That’s for me to know and you to find out.” I tossed down a card. “Blue three.”

Lillie studied her cards. “Hey Dad, do you want to go to the carousel?”

“Sure, that sounds fun.”

“Hey Mom, Dad is coming to the carousel!”

There was a pause. “Okay,” her mother shouted.

“We can try to get the gold ring,” Lillie said, putting down a blue seven. “It’s special.”

“That’s right, the brass ring means a free ride.” I discarded a red seven. “Uno!”

Lillie looked up at me, her tongue in her teeth. She put down a red six.

I tossed a red four. “I win! I win, I win, I win.”

“Whatever, that’s two games for you, six games for me.”

“And five dollars you owe me.”

Lillie lifted a bare foot to my face. “We aren’t playing for real money, Dad,” she giggled.

“Can we change the bet and say we are? I didn’t know I was going to win.”

“No, that’s not fair.”

“Fine. Fine! Maybe you can just give me five dollars anyway?”

“Dad . . .”

“Fine, I’ll just gloat.” I reached for her shoes and socks. “Let’s get ready for the carousel.”

I called to the other room. “Lucy, we’re almost ready.”


I heard chairs move. Richard and Paul passed through the room to the coat closet.

I handed Lillie her coat and put on my own.

Lillie threw her coat on the floor, upside down. This shows her the right way to put it on.

Lucy passed me without looking up. She sat on the futon to watch the game.

“You coming with us, Lucy?” I asked.

“No thank you.”

She sighed, as if uttering those three words offended every fiber of her being.

By mid afternoon of Christmas Eve, I had noticed a pattern.

Lucy wasn’t speaking to me.

If I entered a room, she left the room.

If I spoke to her, she answered in the fewest possible words.

She never initiated conversation with me.

She was employing the silent treatment.

While we were together, even before we married, this was a favored tactic.

I could ignore it at times, and enjoy the quiet. But eventually, I would panic. What if the kids noticed Mom wasn’t talking to Dad? What if the neighbors noticed?

If people knew, I fretted, they would know we aren’t normal.

Two years out of my marriage, I am less concerned.

This is Lucy’s family.

They know we aren’t normal.

She was free to take whatever bizarre turns were dictated by her mental health.

I was free to remain unaffected by her hostility.

“Okay, Lillie, you ready to go?”

“Yes, all ready.”

Lillie ran ahead as I walked with her uncles.

“Nice to be outside,” I said. “Rather chilly inside.”

“Yes, it was pretty nippy,” Richard said.

I bought two tickets at the carousel. I rode behind Lillie, as she wanted, so that I could watch her reach for the brass ring.

We waved at the uncles at each rotation.

They always waved back.

We didn’t catch the brass ring, so I bought two more tickets.

We missed again.

“Ah well,” I said. “We rode twice anyway!”

“Yeah, and on random horses!” Lillie exclaimed.

“Awesome, right?” I didn’t know what it meant to ride on “random horses,” but she liked the idea, so I played along.

We walked home along the bay.

We passed a candy store. Outside, Santa Claus was playing a banjo.

Lillie pointed to him.

“Hello, little girl!,” Santa called. “You are so beautiful with your red hair!”

Lillie grimaced and stiffened her back.

She walked on.

“Such a beautiful little girl!” Santa called to the three men behind her.

“Thanks, Santa,” I called back, waving.

“Think that will shut up the old man?” I whispered.

“I think we can get Santa on sexual harassment,” Richard said.

“You know Santa was talking about me, right?” Paul called ahead.

Lillie spun around. “Yeah, right. You don’t have red hair! You’re bald!” She laughed.

“Ooh, burned you!” I said. “Snap!”

Paul ran his fingers though his hair and grimaced.

I quietly did the same.

We walked home, entering the house through the kitchen.

“Dad! Dad!” Collie called, running to me. “You have to be nice to Jason.”

“Why on earth would I want to be nice to Jason?” I said, unzipping Lillie’s coat. “What’s he done for me lately?”

“He’s sad because the Falcons aren’t going to the play offs. Come on!” he took my hand.

“One second. “ I kicked off my shoes and put my coat in a chair.

Collie led me to Jason.

He was watching the Giants, late in the fourth quarter. When he saw Collie tugging me, he lowered his face in feigned despondence.

His lips curled at the corners.

“Oh my poor baby!” I cried. “So sad, and so much life to live!”

I crawled across the futon to him.

“Hey, you are blocking the view,” Bucky chastised.

“What do I care of that? My baby needs me.”

I took his face in my hands.

“Sweet Jason, it is a tragedy,” I said, furrowing my brow. I pulled him to my bosom. “You will never, never recover from this.”

He laughed.

“You are scarred for life.”

Collie joined me in hugging his brother.

“Poor Jason!” he moaned. “It’s too, too sad!”

“Will you please move?” Bucky asked, straining her neck. “It’s the fourth quarter.”

“Sorry,” I said, standing out of the way. “Lucy gave up on the game?”

Collie piped up. “She went on a walk with Aunt Julia and Uncle Aaron.”


I exchanged a look with Uncle Richard.

This was her third or fourth “walk” of the day.

She must be stoned out of her gourd, I thought.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Grandmother's House

“Boy, this traffic is something, huh?”

“Yep, it sure is.”

“I’m worried about getting to the airport on time.”

“I think we’ll be fine.”

“I don’t know, this traffic is really something.”

“We’ll be okay.”

Being with Bernard transforms me into a Pollyanna.

In any given situation, my ex father in law can generally find the tunnel at the end of the lights.

Driving into rush-hour traffic on a holiday weekend fit his expectations of life’s little miseries.

I put on Leonard Cohen.

After nearly two hours of bumper-to-bumper traffic, Bernard parked at the airport lot and we went to meet his son Richard and his son’s ex boyfriend, Paul.

They exited the gate moments after we arrived.

“Great timing!” I said, kissing Paul.

“We’ll never get those suitcases into the car,” Bernard said, hugging Richard.

“I know, they’re huge, but they are the only bags we have,” Richard said.

“Well, couldn’t you pack together?” Bernard asked.

Richard and Paul exchanged a look.

“No,” Paul said, with finality.

We wheeled the enormous bags to the rental car. Bernard popped the trunk.

“As you see, it’s full of je ne sais quoi.”

“Oh, we can make it work,” I said, unloading the wrapped packages. “Let’s get your bags in first.”

“Let’s try stacking them,” Paul suggested.

“I think they will work vertically,” Richard argued.

“Well, let’s try your way first and see, then we can try my way.”


I busied myself with moving small gifts to the back seat. There were already enough chefs in this kitchen.

Bernard shook his head. “I was sure that wouldn’t work. Can you try putting one in the back seat?”

“We can, Dad, but let’s try the other idea.”

“I don’t think those bags will fit in the trunk.”

“We’ll try.”

Paul hoisted one bag and wedged it vertically against the other.

It didn’t work.

Richard pondered. “Well, what if we stacked them the other way? I think my bag has bigger wheels, and that may have been the problem.”

Paul nodded. “Good idea.”

It didn’t work.

“I think you need to put one bag in the back seat,” Bernard repeated.

“May I make a suggestion?,” I asked.

“Please,” Paul said.

“What if we placed them side by side, flat, like this?,” I said, abutting my hands as a visual aid.

Richard nodded. “That’s going to work.”

“I dunno,” Paul said. “But let’s try.”

It didn’t work.

Ten minutes later, we were back on the road.

Bernard driving, me in the passenger seat, and the suitcase in the back seat, pushing Richard to Paul’s side, as close as conjoined twins.

“What do you think?” I polled, ejecting the CD. “How about some Johnny Cash?”

“How about some Joaquin Pheonix, singing as Johnny Cash?” Paul joked.

“Heresy, and so close to Christmas.”

“As if. I’m Jewish.”

I flipped ahead to “Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.”

Richard and Paul met at a party in college and soon fell in love. They moved in with one another. After graduation, they moved to New York.

In Lucy’s family, they were referred to as “the boys.”

I first met the boys in their Greenwich Village apartment, when Lucy and I visited New York.

Paul liked that the apartment afforded regular sightings of Matthew Broderick, a neighbor.

“The kid from ‘War Games?,’” I asked.

“He’s very talented, you know,” Paul said, sagely.

“And Paul’s got a crush on him,” Richard teased.

“I just admire his . . . talent,” Paul smiled.

About the time Lucy and I got married, the boys moved to Los Angeles.

Lucy and I brought the kids to visit them there.

Paul liked it that lemons grew in their backyard.

“Can we eat them?” Jason asked, handing one in his baby brother, a toddler in diapers.

“No, I don’t think that would be a good idea,” Richard said.

Jason snatched back the lemon as though it were a grenade.

Collie cried.

“Here,” Paul said. “Here’s a chip. You can eat this.”

Collie sniffled and took the chip.

Jason hid the lemon behind a cactus.

About the time that Lucy dumped me, Richard dumped Paul.

“Why?” I asked Richard. “You’ve been together so long.”

“I just don’t think it’s what I want to do with my life,” he answered.

Bernard took the news badly, blaming himself.

“If I had stayed with their mother, my kids would still be in relationships,” he said.

He had walked away from his first marriage when Lucy was four and Richard was two.

He is now in his seventies and ending his third marriage.

“Our break ups weren’t predestined,” I said. “It’s not your fault you raised impulsive children. Anyway, their mother is a lesbian, so getting divorced made sense.”

“Yeah, that’s my fault too. If I had stayed married . . .”

“I’m not sure that would have been for the best, Bernard.”

Richard and Paul are no longer boyfriends, but they remain best friends. Paul accompanies Richard to every family function.

They are still “the boys.”

As we drove to his mother’s house, Richard told us stories from his life and work.

Paul would interject if he saw a sign requiring commentary.

“’Suffolk County Vein Center.’ What do you think they do there?”

“Do they sell weather vanes?” I asked.

“No no, the kind in your body.”

“I don’t want to examine that too closely,” Bernard said. “This reminds me—though I don’t know why—but can you call your sister? We wanted to touch base about the traffic before they left.”

“I thought Lucy was driving the children out in the morning,” I said.

“No, that was last week’s plan. It was updated so that they come out tonight. Didn’t you get the memo?”

“No one tells me anything.” Of course Lucy had not told me. If she told Bernard, there was no reason for her to waste breath on me.

Bucky came to the door when we drove up.

“Well, you made good time,” she said, her arms wrapped to her torso for warmth.

“The traffic was unbelievable,” Bernard said. “Unbelievable.”

“Why didn’t you take the Sunrise?”

“We did take the Sunrise. I think Four-Ninety-Five would have been faster.”

“Not at rush hour, Bernard . . .”

“Hello, Mother,” Richard kissed Bucky as he carried gifts inside.

“Hi, Richard. No, if you take the Sunrise, you pass all those bottlenecks at exits in that county.”

“Hi, Bucky,” Paul kissed her as he passed with another stack of gifts.

“Hi, Paul. So what you have to do is take the Sunrise, get off the LIE before Lynbrook, at least, and then get back on the LIE near that exit, the one past the McDonalds.”

“Hi, Bucky,” I said, kissing her cheek.

“Hi, Jefferson. Do you know the exit I mean?”

“Not really,” Bernard said, stacking gifts on the car roof. “But c’est fini, nous somme arrives, n’est-ce pas?

“No Bernard, it is not 'fin-ee' if you plan to make this trip again.”

“Well, that remains to be seen. We could all be dead this time next year.”

“Well, that’s a cheery thought,” Bucky laughed.

She returned to the kitchen to find me and the boys scavenging for booze.

“Which of these bottles should I open, Mother?”

“Now, wait a minute, that wine is for dinner, and we aren’t eating yet.”

“What are we waiting for? It’s after nine.”

“Are you hungry?”

“We’re starving, we haven’t eaten since breakfast.”

“We were offered those lovely sausage patties on the flight,” Paul reminded him.

“Ugh, disgusting.”

“Well, I’ve made the sauce and the pasta takes ten minutes, so go ahead and open the wine, the one with the beige label. Paul, I’ve got Heineken for you and Corona for Jefferson.”

She put on her glasses to turn on the stove.

“Actually, I’d prefer wine,” Paul said.

“Me too,” I added.

“What?” she took off her glasses. “Well then, who is going to drink this beer, I’d like to know? I don’t think I have enough wine for the weekend if no one drinks beer.”

“I brought wine,” Bernard reminded her.

“Yes, but that’s expensive. We can’t drink that all.”

Richard put a hand on her shoulder. “Mother, we’ll get wine,” he said.

I turned on the stove.

Over dinner, Bernard talked about the riots in Paris.

“It makes no sense,” he shook his head. “They are burning their own neighborhoods. Why they don’t get on the Metro and burn the arrondissement quatorzieme is beyond me. It’s like Watts.It makes no sense.”

“Bernard,” Bucky asked. “Do you ever see Tony Lewis?”

“I haven’t seen Tony Lewis in years.”

“Well, I know that. I don’t mean socially, I mean on TV.”

“Who’s Tony Lewis?” Richard asked.

“My dear boy,” Bucky began, taking off her glasses. “Anthony Lewis is only one of the most famous . . .”

“Mother, please. I know who Anthony Lewis is. I just didn’t make the connection to the name 'Tony.'”

“Well, that is short for Anthony.”

“I’m aware of that, Mother.”

“We knew him in the Hamptons,” Bernard said. “Years ago.”

“Well, have you seen him on television?,” Bucky asked.


“Isn’t his hair ridiculous?”

“I thought Tony was bald.”

“Well, he is bald on top, but he has hair on the sides. He should keep it short, but its long. He looks like Bozo the Clown.”

“Smart fellow, though, Tony.”

“Smart enough to have a better barber.”

By ten thirty, the boys and Bernard were gone, having retired to nearby hotel rooms.

I kissed Bucky good night.

She told me where to find the bourbon.

Knob Creek.

Lucy’s brand.

I poured a drink.

Lucy was expected to arrive at eleven. I assumed the kids would be zonked, and I would carry them to bed.

At eleven oh one, Lucy opened the front door.

“Hello?” I called.

“Daddy!” Collie ran in and leaped on me.

“Hey Dad.” Jason said, offering his head to be kissed.

“Come on, Lillie,” Lucy said at the door. “Your dad is here.”

She ran in. “Daddy, Daddy!”

“Hey baby!”

I must be living in the past to think I would be carrying sleeping babies from the car.

I sat with the kids, asking about their trip, and their days at school. Collie was excited to talk about a class party that afternoon. Lillie kept interrupting with something about a bear.

“Okay kids, that’s enough,” Lucy said. “You need to get to bed.”

“Yeah, I’m really tired,” Jason said.

We took the kids upstairs.

Lucy took Jason and Collie to brush teeth while I put Lillie in pajamas.

She was in a very silly mood.

“Shh, keep your voice low,” I said. “Your grandmother just went to bed.”

She widened her eyes and whispered, “I don’t care.” She laughed.

“You better start caring, else she’s gonna chew you up.” I chewed on her belly.

“Okay Lillie, your turn,” Lucy whispered from the door.

I tucked in the boys, kissing them and reminding them that tomorrow would be Christmas Eve.

Collie giggled.

I tucked Lillie into bed.

“Good night, children,” Lucy called from the door. “Go to sleep now, okay?”

“Okay Mom,” Collie said.

“’Night,” Jason mumbled into his pillow.

“’Night Mom, ‘night Dad,” Lillie called.

I tuned out the lamp and left, closing the door.

The door to Lucy’s room was closed.

I went downstairs and freshened my drink.

I sat on the futon in the study, already made as my bed.

I turned on the television.

Darlene Love would be singing on Letterman. Jay Thomas would throw a football at a meatball on a Christmas tree. Holiday traditions.

I took a sip and held it in my throat.

I heard Lucy in the kitchen, around the corner. The freezer door opened. Three clinks sounded in a glass.

The door to the liquor cabinet squeaked.

Liquid glugged.

Bottles clanked.

The cabinet door squeaked again.

Lucy’s shoes crossed the kitchen and climbed the stairs.

The door to her room closed with a quiet click.

Letterman was in his monologue.

Half an hour, I swallowed.

I took another sip, and held it on my tongue.

Half an hour, during which my family arrived and we put the kids to bed.

We did not exchange a single word.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Fish Bowl

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.

Time alone.

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.

Another eXmas.

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.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Silent Rose

Of course I fucked her.

How could I do otherwise?

Rose was good enough to send me a fantasy of what might happen if we met. When she saw her efforts published on my blog, she decided she could do a better job and wrote another fantasy.

I believe diligence should be rewarded.

Rose has had a difficult year. As she recovered from health and career struggles, she decided that she wanted to change a few things in her life.

Her ex had fucked her like she was a mattress.

She wanted better sex. She wanted more sex.

Rose wanted to be transformed into a submissive slut. She wanted to serve a man who would fuck her lights out and whip her until she cried away all the sorrows of the previous months.

She looked for such a man.

She found losers.

When she discovered my blog, she stayed up all night reading and masturbating.

The next morning, she wrote to say she wanted to serve me, if I would have her. She had never considered doing many of the things I write about, she said, and now she couldn’t stop thinking about them.

I thanked her for the offer, and gave this some thought.

My failed attempt to launch an affair with Laura had left me wondering what it would be like to enter into a pure dom/sub relationship, one uncomplicated by friendship or romance.

Rose was not asking me to be her friend, or her boyfriend.

She was asking to serve me as my slut.

I read her fantasies about me. She certainly had a good erotic imagination, if tinged by romanticism. She had imagined our first date as a mixture of abject submission and fine dining.

In doing so, she gave me a few ideas. I thought of things I might give her readily, and the things she might need to earn.

I also considered the things I might learn from having a dedicated submissive slut.

Being a dom is still rather new to me, and my experiences have developed within ongoing relationships. If, for whatever reason, the dom/sub activity didn’t pan out, I would want those relationships to continue.

In this case, I had an opportunity to try my mettle with someone who had no expectations beyond serving me as I directed.

I agreed to see Rose.

I laid out the ground rules.

If she was invited to serve me, she was to learn what I enjoy, and to do those things on command. In time, if I kept her, she would need to anticipate my desires, fulfilling them before I asked.

She asked if I would punish her for failure.

Absolutely not, I said.

I don’t play childish games.

I had no interest in playing out the usual mater/slave dynamics of “yes sir” and “no master.”

That kind of nonsense may work for the middlebrows who once played “Dungeons and Dragons” and now consider J. K. Rowling to be our best living author.

It would bore me to death.

As I understood it, she sought pleasure and pain as rewards for good service. If she served me well, I was happy to supply her with the sex and beatings she craved. If not, I wouldn’t bother with her. Simple as that.

She agreed.

I told her that if she were to serve me, the sex had to be good. I wasn’t interested in simple discipline without sex. I would expect a good fuck if we were to meet.

She agreed.

Our first meeting would have a strict time restriction. Two hours, max, with no guarantee of future meetings.

She agreed.

I would not light candles, play soft music or feed her salads with shaved Romano cheese. I would offer no romance.

She agreed.

She was to bring me a bottle of Maker’s Mark and serve drinks as I like—two cubes, three fingers. If my glass was diminished, she was to anticipate that I may want more.

She agreed.

She would learn that until she was nude, she did not exist for me. I wanted immediate access to her flesh at all times.

She agreed.

Finally, she was not to speak in my presence. I required absolute silence.

She balked.

I can’t talk? she wrote. But I have so much to say to you.

I’m sure you do, I replied. And perhaps one day you will earn the privilege of speaking to me. But for now, I’m not here to be a good listener. I’m here to be served. Your service is not enhanced by the sound of your voice.

She agreed.

We had a basic contract.

She would serve me drinks and provide me with holes to fuck.

In return, I would reward her with orgasms and beatings.

One more question, she wrote. I know that “Jefferson” is a pseudonym. Will you tell me your real name?

Serve me well, I wrote. If you do a good job, I will tell you my name at the end of our first meeting. If not, you will leave without knowing my name—a good indication that I will not be seeing you again.

You can have my name after I have you.

She agreed.

We set a date.

I have to confess, the whole thing had me very turned on.

Rose was prepared to bring me bourbon and serve me, nude and silent. She would surrender her flesh to me. When I sent her away, I could decide if I wanted her back soon, or never again.

She was eager to do this, and not because she likes my looks or my personality.

She didn’t even know my name.

She wanted to please me because she likes my writing.

Now, that got me hard.

I planned our first meeting, laying the groundwork for potential developments. I wasn’t too keen on bondage or beatings on a first date—call me old fashioned, but I think those things should come in time, with trust and security.

We were just going to fuck and get acquainted.

Rose arrived at my door carrying a bag and smiling nervously.

“You are precisely on time,” I smiled. “Nicely done. Welcome.”

She stepped inside. I closed the door.

I took her head in my hands and kissed her.

It was a long, open kiss.

She trembled a little.

I stood back and smiled.

“Put down your bag and take off your coat.”

She did so, shaking.

“You may leave your coat on the floor.”

She dropped it.

I kissed her again.

“Now, you are forbidden to speak, so I will ask yes or no questions. You are permitted to nod or shake your head in response. Do you understand?”

She nodded, her eyes wide.

She had very pretty eyes, I noticed.

“Just to review—you are here to serve me and get fucked. Your ass is fair game, but new terrain. You want to be spanked. Am I right?”

She nodded.

“Any reason I need to avoid leaving marks, should I decide to beat you?”

She shook her head.


I kissed her, firmly. She leaned into my kiss.

My hand softly touched her cheek.

As we kissed, I inserted two fingers into her mouth.

“Follow me,” I said, tugging on the inside of her jaw.

She nodded.

I tugged firmly, pulling down slightly so that she would have to stoop.

I guided her to my bedroom.

At the foot of my bed, I released her from my grip. I sat in my chair.

“You should undress now,” I directed.

She danced nervously, clearly struggling with the urge to speak.

“Ah ah,” I admonished. “Remain silent. And remember, you don’t exist until you are nude.”

She took a breath and nodded. She tugged at a sweater.

“You may leave your clothes on the floor.”

She removed her sweater, and unfastened her skirt.

She dropped them to the floor and looked at me.

“All of it.”

She was clearly not accustomed to being nude, particularly in front of strangers.

We would have to work on that.

She unfastened her bra, and dropped it to the floor.

She lowered her panties.

She stood up and gestured “ta da.”

“Thank you. Did you shave your pussy for me?”

She nodded.

“That’s not required, but I do appreciate attention to details. Will you turn please?”

She wriggled her arms in protest, then turned.

Rose’s body was well suited to corsetry, I noted. Large breasts, taipered waist, ample hips.

“Bend over, please.”

She looked at me over her shoulder.


She bent at her waist.

“More, please.”

She bent more deeply.

Her ass would be a splendid target.

“Rose, did you notice that I neglected to make my bed this morning?”

She looked back at me, then at the bed.

“Would you please make it for me?”

She stood and turned to me. She pointed at her chest.

“Yes, please. Spread out the top sheet and duvet. The pillows rest on top.”

She walked to the far side of the bed and straightened the sheets. She put the blue pillow on top of the patterned one.

“Actually, the blue one goes on bottom.”

She nodded, correcting her error.

She crossed to the other side of the bed, and made it as directed.

“Rose, you may want to take a pillow. You will want it as you massage my feet.”

She nodded, and took the pillow. She placed it on the floor, and sat at my feet.

I placed a bare foot on a breast.

“Here.” I reached into a drawer. “Use this lotion.”

She took it, nodding.

As she worked my foot, I chatted easily for a while. Gradually, I grew quiet, closing my eyes and relaxing.

I rested my other foot on her thigh.

This was very pleasant, I thought.

The meter was running on the time I set aside for her.

I pondered letting the clock run down on this foot massage.

I dreamed of feeding her my toes, of smushing her face under my gentle feet.

She gently placed my foot on her empty thigh, and took the other foot.

I opened my eyes. She was gazing at my face. I smiled and closed my lids.

As she worked my foot, I looked back.

“Rose, would you like to get to know my body?”

She nodded.

“You may remove my shirt and kiss my torso.”

She nodded eagerly and stood, gently placing my feet on the pillow.

As she reached for my shirt, I pulled her into a kiss.

My hand softly caressed her hip and found her pussy. She was very wet.

I surrendered my shirt and sank into my chair.

I remained still as her light kisses trailed my torso.

Her mouth kept returning to the top of my jeans, her eyes on the bulge against my right leg.


She looked up.

“I’ll take my bourbon now.”

She nodded.

“Rose, you will be alone for a moment. You will have opportunities to read my name on my mail. I want to trust that you will not do so.”

She nodded.

“Please lower your eyes as you fetch my drink.”

She nodded, looking down.

“Thank you. Now hurry, I don’t want to be kept waiting.”

Rose was clearly a very good girl. She was a raw submissive, very new to this, but complaint and eager to please.

I pondered the responsibility of taking her on.

She returned with my drink, walking quickly, her eyes low.

“Put it on the table, please.”

She did so.

“Two cubes, three fingers. Perfect.”

She smiled.

“Rose, you are doing a fine job. Would you like to suck cock now?”

She nodded eagerly. I smiled and squeezed her hand.

“You may remove my pants.”

I took a sip as she fumbled with my thick leather belt.

God, I love bourbon, I thought.

She unzipped my pants.

I lifted my ass as she lowered my jeans.

My cock jumped to greet her.

She lowered herself to the pillow and smiled at me.

She knew this was a critical test. I can forgive many things, but I won’t tolerate a bad blowjob.

She licked my shaft as I sipped bourbon, watching.

She swallowed me, slurping quietly.

“Very good, Rose.”

Her hands rested on my thighs, then caressed my balls.

I gave into the warm feeling of her mouth and the bourbon melting in the back of my throat.

Her mouth left my cock and licked my balls, moving lower. I spread my legs as she licked my asshole.

“Rose, Rose.”

I let her eat my ass good and long.

I sipped my bourbon.

She returned to my cock.


She looked up at me.

“Rose, please lay back on my bed and spread your legs.”

She smiled, nodding.

She lay in the center of my bed and looked back to me.

“You have done a very nice job of getting to know my body,” I said, standing. “I would like to get to know yours.”

The smile seemed plastered to her face.

I kneeled between her legs, caressing her skin, talking gently.

I pinched her nipples.

I slapped her tits.

“Is this good?”

She nodded quickly.

I slapped her pussy, gently.

“You like?”

She nodded.

“I’m going to lick your pussy now.”

She nodded.

That wasn’t entirely honest. I was going to like her pussy eventually. First, I wanted my lips on her flesh.

My mouth roamed her torso.

She gasped when my tongue finally hit her clit.

She came fast.

The first sounds I heard from her were not words, but gasps and moans.

“Nice, Rose.”

I gave her two fingers and sucked away another climax.

“All right, now let’s get to business.”

I collected another orgasm.

“Okay, now I need to fuck you. Ready?”

She nodded.

I slapped her.

“You are not ready.” I handed her a condom. “You need to put this on me. My hands are greasy with girl juice.”

She opened the package and put the condom on the head of my cock. She put it on backwards, and flipped it to try again.

“First time?”

She nodded.

“You’ll get the hang of it.”

She rolled it down my shaft.

“Okay, now you are ready.”

She gasped as I entered her.

Her mouth opened and her eyes were wide. I fucked her deep and intense.

She came.

And once she came, she cried.

“It’s okay, you can cry,” I said, fucking more slowly.

I slapped her thigh as I revved up again.

Tear ran down her cheeks as we fucked.

As we rested, I told her that her time was almost over, but I had one more task for her.

I had a date later, and I couldn’t very well fuck another woman smelling like her.

She nodded.

“I want you to give me a bath.”

She nodded.

“Trouble is, I’m not sure my bathtub is as clean as it could be. Would you mind scrubbing it?”

She looked at me as if to ask if I were serious.

I told her where she could find Ajax and a scouring pad.

She stood to do as asked.


She turned.

I nodded to my empty glass.

She took the glass and returned with a bourbon, two cubes, three fingers.

I was reading. I didn’t look up.

I smiled as I heard her scrubbing.

Of course my tub was perfectly clean. She must have noticed that, but still, she scoured.

She did as told.

She came for me when the bath was ready.

She washed me.

As I soaked, she sucked my dick while I read to her and drank my bourbon.

The ends of her hair floated on my thighs.

I was very content.

“Rose, I’d like to thank you for your fine service,” I smiled. “Now our time is concluded. I want you to get the fuck out of my apartment.”

She sat back and raised a finger.

She motioned in the air.

“What are you, retarded? What do you want? I told you to leave.”

She raised a finger, then stood and left.

She came back with a Sharpie marker and an envelope.

She wrote one word: “Name?”

“Give me the pen and bend forward.”

I took the Sharpie and wrote my name in large letters, backwards, across her tits.

She looked down, trying to make it out.

I laughed. “Bend forward again.”

I wrote one more word on her belly.

“Look in the mirror, retard.”

She looked and read my name in the mirror.

Below was the word “moron.”

“Now kiss me and get the fuck out.”

She flipped me off, then kissed me.

I read as she dressed in the next room.

I soaked as she let herself out.

Before my date I sent her an email.

Rose, you did very well. I will see you again, and next time, I will beat you back and blue.

One last favor.

Please start a blog. Every time we meet, you will have twenty-four hours in which to write an account of our meeting.

You may also write about anything you choose.

See you soon.

She sent an effusive response.

She told me I had given her the first orgasm she had experienced from penetration.

She pledged to be a good submissive slut for me.

And she sent me the link to her new blog.

The Other Woman

Laura had a problem.

She was cheating on her wife.

Laura is a lesbian in a committed relationship, but she also craves sex with men now and then.

She likes a man to take charge and dominate her. She wants to be made to worship cock.

She found a good match in Pete.

Pete was also cheating on his wife, so there wasn’t much concern about him complicating things with emotional attachments. They could meet for sex on lunch breaks, satisfying Laura’s desire for cock and domination without interfering too much with her life.

They met in hotel rooms.

Pete fucked Laura hard, spewing filth as he pounded her nasty whore cunt into submission. He called her a slut and made her worship his cock.

Laura was happy.

One day, Pete introduced her to another man.

Pete fucked Laura as the man watched.

Pete told Laura to suck the man’s cock.

Laura had never met this man before. She had never had sex with two men at once.

She blew the stranger.

Afterwards, she realized she would do anything Pete asked.

Pete told her she was a slut for blowing the stranger. He told her that he would fuck her slutty pussy in front of anyone, anytime he liked.

Pete said he was sick of paying for hotels. He told her to find a man who could host their trysts in his apartment.

Laura did as instructed.

She found me.

As Laura and I traded our first notes, she remained anonymous. I didn’t know if she was male or female.

I was told that a couple needed a place to fuck now and then, and they wanted someone to watch. I wasn’t expected to participate, but that might come up.

I replied that I was happy to help them out, perfectly content to watch, and perhaps willing to participate.

We had a pleasant exchange.

Laura finally introduced herself as my correspondent.

She also confided that she was growing frustrated with Pete.

Their affair began because she wanted good, regular sex with a man. Lately, Pete had been making dates only to break them later. They had not seen each other in weeks.

That’s how it is when you date married people, she told me.

That is a pity, I agreed. It’s tough to navigate schedules when cheating.

She was glad that I was willing to host. If she and Pete could ever arrange another date, she would be in touch.

Great, I replied. And if you find yourself in the market for a new lover, I went on, we could fuck and see how it goes.

That’s super, she wrote. Thanks for the offer. She asked if I could be dominant and force her to worship my cock.

No problem, I said. I would want our first time to be more of an intake, just to feel the waters. But if we pursued this, I could be very dominant and forceful.

She asked if I could be verbal.

I’m very quiet, I confessed. But I can try.

She asked to see me the next day, at one. She would have about an hour.

I gave her the address.

The next day, she arrived promptly at one.

Laura was attractive and thin, with shoulder-length wavy black hair pulled back by a comb. Her eyes were large and clear as they took me in.

“Nice place.”

“Thanks. May I take your jacket?”

“Oh.” She removed her black jacket. “Thanks.”

I put it in the closet. “And please take off your shoes.”

“Okay.” She kicked her loafers to one side.

“Would you care for a glass of water?” I offered.

“No, thanks.”

We sat for a moment, exchanging pleasantries.

“Would you like a tour?” I asked.

She sat upright. “Yes, that would be nice.”

I showed Laura around my apartment—the living room, the kitchen, the terrace, my bedroom.

In my bedroom, I indicated a certain section of the floor.

“Here’s a spot that has special significance.”

“Really? How’s that?”

“Stand here.”

She stepped into the spot.

I stepped closer. “This place is special,” I said. “It is the site of our first kiss.”

She stiffened her back. “Okay.”

I placed my hands on her cheeks and smiled. I drew her into a kiss.

She stood still as my mouth met hers.

I prolonged the kiss.

She gave over her mouth, never relaxing her stance.

I stood back. She stood at ease.

“Nice,” I said, stroking her hair. “You know, there is another significant place in this room, just a step forward from where you are now standing.”

“You mean, here?” she asked, taking a step.

“Little to the left.”


“Yes,” I smiled, sitting in a chair. I rested a finger on my chin. “That is where you first undressed for me.”

Her back tensed. “Okay.”

She calmly unbuttoned her sweater, beginning at the bottom and working up.

She removed her sweater and looked around.

“You may place it on the bed. You may place all your clothing on the bed.”

“Okay.” Without moving from her assigned spot, she leaned forward to throw her sweater on the bed.

She pulled off her undershirt, revealing full breasts in a black bra.

She tossed the undershirt on the bed.

“Can you pause for just a moment? You belly is so well defined; I would like to watch you breath.”


She stood very still, her breath slow and regular.

She’s one cool cucumber, I thought.

“Thank you. You may resume.”


She reached to her hip and unzipped her pants. She tugged at a button.

She lowered her pants, and stepped out of them.

Her pants joined the clothes on my bed.

She stood erect, looking at me.

“Thank you,” I said. “Let me look at you.”


Her breathing remained steady.

I watched her breath.

Her underwear was black and sheer. I could see her nipples and bald pussy.

I looked at the clock. She had been at my door twenty minutes earlier. Before she knocked, we had never seen on another.

Now she stood in my bedroom, stripped to her underwear, awaiting my next command.

“I would like you to come here and kiss me.”

“Okay.” She stepped from her spot as if leaving a cage. She walked to me.

She leaned forward, resting her arms on the back of my chair. She leaned forward slowly, allowing her breasts to brush my face.

Her lips were on mine.

Her breathing picked up.

I remained fully dressed. My cock pressed against the leg of my jeans. Her hand moved to touch it.

Prior to her arrival, I pondered whether or not I would show her my cock today.

She pulled back.

She raised a leg and rested it on the arm of my chair.

She pressed forward so that the exposed flesh of her breasts grazed my cheeks.

She pressed her pussy against my cock, pushing against the denim and panties between our flesh.

Her nostrils flared as she moved on me.

I reconsidered my plan.

She would be seeing my cock today.

“Laura, take a pillow from the bed.”

She stopped grinding me, and stood erect.


She took a pillow and stood, waiting.

“Place it on the floor at my feet.”


She bent forward to place the pillow at my feet. She did not drop it.

“I would like for you to suck my cock, Laura.” I unfastened my belt.

She drew back her shoulders.


I unzipped my pants.

“You may watch as I remove my cock.”


My cock jumped from my jeans.

I lowered the jeans to my feet and kicked them aside.

“All right, Laura, the pillow is for your use. Enjoy.”

“Okay, thank you.”

She kneeled before me. With her eyes on me, she took my cock in hand.

She led it to her mouth.

She savored the head of my cock, washing it with her tongue. Every few moments, she took it full into her mouth.

“Oh, yes, Laura, that is a very good.” I commended her, petting her hair.

She stopped and sat up, her back fully erect.

“Thank you.”

She sat, waiting.

I realized that each time I spoke, she acknowledged this by stiffening her back, responding and awaiting the next command.

Someone—Pete, maybe?—had trained her very well.

I made a mental note: I would like to get a leash on Laura.

“Laura, before we met today, I asked you to masturbate while thinking of me. Did you do this?”

“Yes, last night, and again this morning.”

I touched her cheek, “That’s above and beyond. Thank you. And what did you think about as you masturbated?”

“I thought about you taking me with other men. I thought about being used.”

That was a surprise. It was certainly a fantasy I could help her to realize, in time.

I tucked a stray hair behind her ear.

“Who were the other men, Laura?”

“Pete. I don’t know who the rest were. I only know you and Pete. The rest were just men.”


“You may resume your cock sucking,” I said.

“Okay, thank you.”

She resumed.

I removed my t-shirt.

I leaned forward, caressing her shoulder and back. I noticed a tattoo in script on her lower back.

“What does your tattoo say?”

She removed my cock from her mouth and sat back on her haunches.

“It’s says ‘Trudy.’ That’s my wife’s name.”

“You have your wife’s name tattooed on your back?” I took her cheeks in my hand, and kissed her. “I think”—kiss—“that is”—kiss—“the sweetest thing”—kiss—“ever.”

I gave her a long kiss.

“Now get on my bed so I can fuck you.”

She stood. “On my belly, or my back?” she asked.

“I’m sorry for the lack of clarity. On your back.”


She lay in the middle of my bed, her black hair against my pillows.

I took her clothes from the bed and tossed them on my vacated chair.

I checked the time.

I had about half an hour remaining to fuck her.

Not much time to leave a lasting impression.

I decided to forgo pussy licking and g-spot massage. She may be getting that at home. She was here for cock.

“You have a lovely body,” I said, my hands roaming her flesh. “And I’m impressed that you are so smooth for me.”

“Thank you.”

My fingers caressed her pale pussy, and dipped into her wetness.

“I know your time is short. Should I fuck you?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “Please.”

I smiled and reached for a condom.

I tore the package and tossed it on the floor.

Slowly and deliberately, I rolled the condom onto my cock.

Her eyes watched every move.

I lifted her legs up and back, moving forward to rest my cock on her slit.



I pushed in.

This loosened her back. She arched and wriggled.

I held her thighs back and pushed deep.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes,” she said, breathing deeper. “Thank you.”

“I want to go harder.”

“Yes, okay.”

I pressed with my hands, folding her legs back to pin her down.

I looked down to see my blond pubes pressed against her bare pussy.

I arched myself up on my feet and began slowly, lifting myself out and lowering myself in, deep then shallow, shallow then deep.

I picked up the pace.

Her eyes were closed, her head listing to one side.

She was slipping away.

I would know when she was gone. In her absence, I would take care of her flesh.

I slowed, staying deep.

She was going limp.

I took her face in my hands like a vice, and fucked hard.

Laura was gone, in her bliss.

I fucked my damnedest to keep her there.

“Laura? Laura?”

“Yeah . . . ?”

“You have to leave in a few minutes, and you need to suck my cock.”

Her eyes were closed. “Oh . . . okay.”

I gave her a moment.



“You need to suck my cock. I’m pulling out now.”


She sighed as I pulled out.

And just like that, she snapped to.

I lay back. “Thanks. I want you to suck me off..”


She bent over me and took my cock.

She worked me furiously. Time was running out.

I focused. I never cum easily, but I wanted her to know this was a good date.

My hand touched my pubis, pressing in.

She bobbed on my cock, holding it firm.

We were full throttle.

“Jefferson,” she said, panting. “I have to go back to work . . .”

“What you have to do is suck my cock. Now.” I rested a hand on her head. “I’m close.”

She gave me a wary look, then went back at it.

I gave myself three minutes.

In two minutes, I shot.

She sat back, stroking wave after wave from my body.

I convulsed as she palmed me.

“You . . . if you,” I panted. I pointed to the door. “Washcloth . . .”

“Thanks,” she smiled.

A little after two, she was dressed and at my door.

I kissed her.

“Very nice to meet you,” I said. “I will do better next time to have you out in an hour exactly when necessary.”

“Oh, this is fine. I can’t believe it’s only been an hour.”

I waved at the door. She smiled.

“See you next time.”

I returned to my computer and sent her a note.

Thanks for the lovely time, I said. We were incredibly compatible. I offered to pursue a regular dom/sub affair.

She agreed. It was a really great first date. Maybe next week?

I’d like that, I wrote. I can meet Monday lunch, Tuesday lunch or after work, and Friday lunch.

I can’t meet Monday or Tuesday, she said, but Friday is possible.

I penciled her in for Friday.

Friday came and went.

The next week, I offered Monday after work, Tuesday and Wednesday lunch, and Friday after work.

Sounds great, she said.

And so it went for a month or so.

I never saw her again.

That’s how it goes, I thought, when you date married people.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Bus Driver

Seven eighteen.

“Dad, it’s seven twenty,” Jason shouted from the living room.

“Seven eighteen,” Collie corrected from my bedroom.

“Danks, dat’s fibe,” I shouted back. “D’ime ammost dube wid Diddie’s ‘air!”

“Please hurry, Dad,” Jason begged. “I can’t be late.”

I took the hair ties from my lips and looked at Lillie in the mirror. “Do you hear? We need to finish this.”

She sobbed. “Okay. But it hurts!”

“I’m being very careful, sweetie.” I held a clump of Lillie’s hair in my fingers—tight, so that there would be no pressure on the roots—and gently combed out the ends.

“Ow!” she said, watching my arms in the mirror. “That hurts!”

“Sweetie, please close your eyes. You are just watching so you can fake cry.”

“I’m not fake crying!”

“Okay, okay.” I held a clump of hair and ran the comb near her head, out of view of the mirror.


“Okay, okay, that’s enough. I didn’t even touch you.” I put a tie in my lips, and quickly braided a strand from the front to back. I tied it off. “Brush your teeth and let’s get your shoes.”

Lillie sniffed and picked up her toothbrush.

The boys sat on the couch, looking bored in coats, shoes and backpacks.

“Won’t be long,” I said, taking Lillie’s shoes from the niche by the door. I untied the laces.

“It’s seven twenty five,” Jason sighed.

“Seven twenty two,” Collie corrected.

“We’re fine. Lillie? Can you join us please?”

“I have to poop!”

“Great,” Collie said, throwing up his hands. “Now we’ll be late for sure.”

I held up a hand. “Collie, please. Lillie, wash your hands when you’re done. We’re waiting.”

She closed the bathroom door. “Okay!”

Seven thirty two.

“Lillie, come on please! We need to cross before the light changes.”

“Can you hold my backpack?”

She fumbled with the hood of her coat, the wind blowing her hair into her face. A taxicab stopped a few feet from her, revving engines for a right turn, as if my daughter were just another speed bump.

“Lillie . . . okay, give it to me, but cross the street, please. Hold my hand.”

“Dad, I’ll get the bus,” Collie shouted.

“Run like the wind, son!”

Collie jumped in the bus and waved from the door.

The kids stepped into the nearly empty bus and headed to the back, as I’ve taught them—always move to the back to allow room for more passengers.

“Good morning,” I said to the driver, pulling out my wallet. I smiled as we made eye contact.

The driver was a handsome young man, with long dreadlocks. “Good morning,” he nodded.

My MetroCard dinged off its final fare. I made a mental note to refill my card before picking up the kids that afternoon.

I returned the card in my wallet, adjusted Lillie’s backpack on my arm, and headed to the back of the bus.

“Sir? Excuse me, sir?”

I turned. “Yes?”

The driver caught my eyes in his rear view mirror. He jerked a thumb. “You got to pay fares for them.”

“No, I don’t. We never pay for kids.”

“I don’t care what you never do.” He tapped the fare box. “Read the rules.”

I adjusted Lillie’s backpack and returned to the front of the bus. On the side of the fare box was a list of regular and discounted costs.

Midway down the list was the relevant regulation. I read it aloud.

“It says ‘Up to Three Children Traveling With An Adult, Free.’ I have three children. So we’re good.”

I turned. An elderly passenger raised an eyebrow to me. I shrugged.

“No, that’s not all. Read the fine print.”

I looked back. “’Children up to forty-four inches.’ So? My kids aren’t that tall.”

“That one is.” The driver jerked his thumb again.

I looked back to the kids. They looked confused.

The elderly passenger looked confused.

We were all confused.

In nearly twelve years of using public transportation as a parent, I have never once been asked to pay fare for my children.

Now that Jason is in middle school, he travels alone at times. For this reason, middle schools provide students with reduced fare student cards that are free upon request.

“Jason, can you come up here please?”

Jason trundled to the front of the bus, still wearing his overloaded backpack. “What’s up, why aren’t we moving?”

“The driver says you need to pay. Do you have your MetroCard?”

Jason made a face. “I think so.” He dropped his backpack. His hand fished passed his French book, his Social Studies book, his homework folder, his lunch bag.

The driver sat, watching.

The elderly passenger sighed.

“Got it,” Jason said. “What, do I just put it in?”

“That’s right,” said the driver.

A virgin fare was dinged from Jason’s card.

“Thanks buddy,” I said as Jason hoisted his backpack. I put a hand on his shoulder and guided him back to his seat.

“Not so fast, sir.” The driver called. “What about them other kids?”

I turned. “You’re serious?”

“Read the rules.”

“I did read the rules. We read them together. My kids are not forty-four inches tall.”

“Sir,” he turned to face me and pointed to the door. “Do you see that, right there?”

“What? The door?”

“No sir, the post, above the handrail.”

“Yes, I see the post.”

“Will we be leaving soon?” the elderly passenger asked.

“Yes ma’am, one moment, I beseech you. Sir, do you see that gold mark on the post?”

I looked and saw a brass notch in the stainless steel.

“Yes, I do. Never noticed that before.”

“That mark is forty-four inches from the floor.”


“Your children are higher than that mark.”

His eyes watched mine. “I really don’t think so,” I said.

“Sir . . .”

“Collie? Lillie? Can you come here please?”

Another bus passed us.

The elderly passenger sighed loudly.

“Why aren’t we moving, Dad?”

“Good question, Collie. Would you do me a favor and stand by that post? Back up to it; I want to measure you.”

He giggled. “Why?”

“It will make the driver happy. Do you mind?”

“Whatever, Dad.”

Collie backed up to the post.

“You see, sir? He is clearly higher than that mark.”

“Well, what do you know, son. You are just over forty-four inches tall.”

Collie giggled.

“Is it my turn, Dad?” Lillie asked.

“Yes ma’am. Collie, step aside and let’s measure your sister.”

Collie stood to the left. Lillie backed up to the post and stood erect.

“How tall am I?” she asked.

“You are forty-four inches tall, young lady.”

“No sir, she is higher.”

“She’s just not. Look.” I pressed down on her ponytail, bringing my hand level with the mark. “What next, do I take out her ponytail to satisfy you?”

“No sir, you pay a fare for the boy.”

“Look, I just paid the last fare on my MetroCard. You made your point. You win. I’m going to sit with my children.”

I guided the kids to the back of the bus.

“Sir, it’s not about winning nothing,” the driver called. He tapped his fare box. “It’s about the clearly stated rules.”

“This is finished,” I called back.

“Can you please drive the bus, please?” the elderly passenger pleaded.

The driver watched as I sat between Lillie and Collie. Jason raised his hands. I shook my head.

I looked out the window, my hands folded on my lap.

The driver shook his head and closed the door.

He announced the next stop.

“Dad?” Lillie whispered. “Why is the bus driver so mean?”

“ I don’t know, Lillie. Maybe he is having a bad day.”

Lillie looked at Collie. “I don’t want a bad day.”

“Me too,” Collie said.

A week later, we hurried to catch the bus to school. There was a longer line than usual.

We encountered the same driver.

Jason spotted his distinctive dreadlocks behind the wheel as we waited to board. “Better get my card,” he said, dropping his backpack.

“Yes, thank you,” I said.

Jason boarded and paid his fare.

He headed to the back of the bus. His brother and sister followed.

I inserted my card for one fare.

“Sir,” the driver said. “You know you got to pay for the other boy.”

I looked at him.

He glowered.

“Kids? Can you come back please? We are not taking this bus.”

“Huh? Why Dad?”

“Sir, you don’t need to do that. Just pay the fare.”

“Just enjoy the fares you have already collected from us, on me,” I replied, curtly. “Excuse us, please.” I ushered my children past the boarding passengers. “Exiting, please.”

“Are you getting off?” a woman smiled, stepping back.

“Yes. I can’t allow an officious twit to destroy my morning.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way, sir,” the driver called.

I wasn’t listening. I had already hailed a cab.

“That driver is so mean!” Lillie exclaimed.

“What a jerk,” Jason said.

“Totally,” Collie agreed.

“What’s up with that guy?” I asked, giving the cabbie the school address.

I watched the trees as we crossed the park.

Gosh, did I really use the phrase “officious twit?,” I thought.

I must have been angry enough to spit nails.

When that happens, I don’t raise my voice or lash out.

Instead, I channel my mother’s sense of justice and my father’s measured calm, later thanking my tenth-grade grammar teacher for insisting that his students memorize lists of vocabulary words.

On my scale of angry responses in the heat of the moment, referring to someone as an “officious twit” is equivalent to beating them with a two-by-four.

We had encountered the mean bus driver twice. As we leave home at the same time on school days, and take the same route, we would likely encounter him again.

I decided to take my revenge on the mean bus driver.

Once the kids were in class, I paid a visit to the school office.

“Good morning, Ms. Vernon,” I greeted the school secretary.

“Oh, good morning, Jefferson. How can I help you?”

“Is it possible for me to get two MetroCards?”

“I think so, but do you mind waiting for the school volunteer? She issues those.”

“Thank you, I don’t mind waiting. May I sit here?” I sat on a bench, folding my hands in my lap.

Ms. Vernon sat at her desk and returned to work.

“How are the kids?” she asked. “Good?”

“Very well, thanks. And you daughter? You hear from her often?”

“Yes, nearly twice a week,” she nodded. “I kid her that we hear from her more often now that she is stationed near Fallujah.”

“That must be a great comfort.”

She looked at me. “It sure is.”

I smiled.

The principal entered the office, trailed by a fourth grade boy. Both were wearing jackets and ties.

“Good morning, Jefferson. Are you being taken care of?”

“Yes, thank you, David. Hey there Jeremy! Why are you so dressed up?”

“I’m ‘Principal for the Day,’” Jeremy beamed.

“I thought so. Congratulations.”


David smiled at me and looked to the fourth grader. “Jeremy, are you ready for your most important morning duty?”


“Okay. This is the microphone.” David held a metal device the size of a desk lamp. “I will introduce you, then you are on. Ready?”

“Yes.” Jeremy stood tall.

“Good.” David pressed a button on the microphone base. “Good morning, students and teachers. Please rise for the Pledge of Allegiance, read this morning by Principal for a Day Jeremy Meyers.”

I stood, along with the office staff, as we covered our hearts.

David covered the mike and mouthed, Are you ready?

Jeremy nodded.

David held the microphone to Jeremy.

“I pledge allegiance,” he said, pausing as he heard his voice echoed by speakers and children throughout the school. “To the flag, of the United States of America.”

Jeremy breathed in and out.

“And to the Republic, for which it stands, one nation, under God, invisible, with Liberty and Justice for all, you may be seated.”

We sat. I smiled at Jeremy.

Lillie had recently recited the Pledge while playing school with Collie.

He had to tell her that “you may be seated” is not really a part of the Pledge.

The school volunteer came in shortly after the Pledge. She said hello to everyone and went to Ms. Vernon for the morning’s assignments.

Ms. Vernon stood and went over an itinerary.

I sat, my hands folded on my lap.

“Oh yes,” Ms. Vernon added. “First thing, can you give Jefferson two MetroCards?”

“Jefferson!” the volunteer said, grabbing her neck. “I didn’t see you there. You are so quiet!”

“Good morning, Frida.”

“Good morning. Two cards, huh? Collie and Lillie?”

“Yes, please, that’s right.”

She bent to retrieve a file. “How are you? Good?”

“I’m fine, thanks. How’s Julian? Lillie’s so sad he’s not in her class this year.”

She closed a drawer. “I know,” she grimaced. “Julian’s heartbroken. Okay, give me a moment—this computer takes time.”

“Take your time, I’m fine.”

She smiled.

She walked across the office to a desk under the clock. It was eight forty three.

She reached around to flip on the Commodore 64.

“Just takes a minute,” she apologized.

“I’m fine.”

At eight fifty, she sat at the desk.

The volunteer turned to me. “Do you know their class numbers?”

“Lillie is 1-324, Collie is 4-238.”

“Thanks.” She turned back to the computer.

Nine twenty three.

“Okay, that’s that,” she said, returning the file to its drawer. She pulled out two cards and handed me a clipboard. Can you sign here, and here?”

“Of course.”

“Great.” She gave me the cards and took the clipboard. “You are all set!”

“Thanks!” I tucked the cards into my wallet. “Have a good day. You too, Ms. Vernon,” I waved.

Ms. Vernon rested the receiver on her neck and waved back.

I stopped at the office door to allow Jeremy to pass. He scarcely noticed me, intent on carrying a sheaf of papers to the principal’s office.

I stepped though the school’s front door, and put on my hat.

As I walked through the park, I plotted my revenge against the bus driver.

First, I considered my anger.

Why be mad at someone doing his job?

I was, in fact, impressed at the way he announced each stop in advance. Once we stopped, he asked passengers to step back to make room for others.

In doing so, he seemed to encourage us all to look out for one another.

He would be sure you did not miss your stop, if you paid attention.

We would all ride the bus if we made room for one another. If we cooperated, no one would have to wait for another bus.

Not all drivers care about these things. He did.

And that care gets to the purpose of public service.

It really is a special privilege to help people, and to serve the greater good, in whatever way we can.

I might have been the bus driver’s biggest fan.

But in confronting me as a parent, he crossed a line.

The greater good is served by getting kids to school on time.

I do my part by getting my children on his bus at seven thirty. The kids do their parts by dressing and brushing teeth when they would much rather be asleep. The driver does his part by driving the bus safely to our chosen stop.

If we all do our part, we serve the greater good. We all benefit.

The driver goes above and beyond his dedication to the greater good by announcing our stop in advance.

The driver negates the greater good by fixating on regulations about the heights of specific children.

The driver refutes the greater good when he refuses to do his duty until his authority is acknowledged.

By confronting me over fares, he put aside any concern of getting my kids to school on time. He put aside concerns about the elderly passenger’s appointment.

He cared only about winning a fight with me.

He won the fight, but really, he should choose his fights more carefully.

I’ll cede any nonsensical battle.

You can win any argument that you are foolish for starting.

As I walked through the park, I thought about my free MetroCards.

To gain these, I filed some information with the Board of Education. That information would be processed at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Papers would trade hands. Copies would be processed, after waiting in inboxes to be filed in duplicate manila folders.

If I did my part, these dueling bureaucracies would supply me with a card that sanctioned what I already had—free commutation for public school students.

My taxes at work.

I can’t fix bureaucracies, but I could address my situation with the mean bus driver. I rehearsed a few choice confrontations.

I would give into his insistence on MetroCards for the children, but exact a price when they were used.


“Thank you for insisting that my children get cards! If not for you, wow, my kids would grow up to be bad citizens! Please thank the nice driver, kids.”


“Bling, bling, bling! More fares for the MTA—I hope they consider that in reviewing your lifetime achievement record.”


“Guess I’m your bitch now, huh? You like it when I slip that card in your fare box? Do you? Well, you just drive the bus, baby, while Daddy reads his paper.”

Working out these options satisfied my desire for revenge.

A few days later, we were a minute or two late in leaving home.

We missed the bus.

“Come on, kids!” I rallied the troops. “Let’s run to the next stop!”

“I’ll run ahead, Dad!”

“Run like the wind, Collie!” Jason followed, waddling under his heavy pack.

As usual, there was a long line waiting.

Collie and Jason waved from the end of the line.

I waved back, tugging Lillie’s hand as I walked as fast as she allowed.

I watched as Collie stepped on the bus, half a block ahead.

Collie stepped out again, pointing back at me.

The door closed in his face.

The bus took off.

“What was that?” I asked as we caught up.

“It was the mean bus driver,” Collie said, stunned.

“He said he couldn’t wait,” Jason said.

“No problem,” I said. “We’ll get the next bus.”

You fucking motherfucker, I thought.

Weeks passed.

Seven thirty.

“I’ll get the bus, Dad!”

“Run like the wind, Collie!”

He stepped on the bus. He stepped out.

He ran to me, palm extended.

Jason dropped his backpack. He unzipped it and fished inside.

I reached back to my wallet. I gave cards to Lillie and Collie. I retrieved my own.

Jason paid his fare and went to the back of the empty bus.

Collie paid his fare and followed.

Lillie tried her card one way, then another, until it dinged. She ran to the back of the bus.

I paid my fare and followed.

I did not smile at the driver.

I did not say good morning.

I did not scowl, or make a bitchy comment, or look contrite.

The driver was invisible to me. He’s just someone who drives my bus. He does not deserve my smiles or greetings. He is not worth my anger.

He’s just someone I see, as I do what I need to do.

He’s nothing to me.

I collected the cards from Collie and Lillie, and returned them to my wallet. I asked Jason to put his card in a safe place.

“Dad,” Lillie whispered. “It’s the mean bus driver.”

“I know,” I whispered. “Get your book and let’s read.”