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Others simply gawked with blank eyes. The woman would slip nervously from her barstool, while the man scanned the room with a protective glare. You see it in all the marrieds in here. Including women. Pretty average for a Tuesday. Stick around—you might find a little something if you keep your eyes open. I oughta know. Now I know that adultery has been with us as long as marriage.
But this struck me as different: The traditional quickie at the motel with the secretary was one thing; hanging around a singles bar looking for strange action was quite another. It struck me as a new adultery. I never failed to find them out in force. But always, they were there. One man in particular, whom we shall call the Married Man, spent long hours talking with me. But more than that, he was very determined to explain himself. He was glad, it seemed to me, to have found at long last a reason to air what had become his private obsession.
Why should people regularly abandon brightly lighted homes for a murky bar? These larger social questions the Married Man, wrapped in his own obsession, never tried to answer. For now, however, we have the perspective of a single married man. Like most of the married underground, our Married Man sounds very normal. A youngish 33, who would pass for late twenties, if you ignore the fleshy paunch beginning to creep over his belt, nice looking, if only in a rather typical and middle-class way.
He likes to play a little tennis, hates yard work, watches a lot of TV cops, news, football , has a drink now and then with the guys. In short he loves the wife, the kids, the house, and wants to grow old with them. A very typical married man. The Married Man has been part of the underground for five months. Five months of leaving the office at precisely each Wednesday afternoon and gunning the Caprice up Central Expressway, exiting onto Lovers Lane and pulling into the Texaco station on the corner.
Five months of then stepping back from the mirror, heaving a long and satisfied sigh and quickly slipping the slim gold band off his ring finger and into his coat pocket. That ambience, the booze, the girls, the whole scene never failed to seduce him, consume him. He never seemed the type—not really. But then, that is the way of the married underground. It is full of typical married men and women who never seemed the type, who had always held pretty typical, middle-class feelings about adultery.
He had always felt the business of infidelity, if it must be carried on at all, ought to be carried on with some modicum of discretion. They were brief, clandestine, discreet, they bore no resemblance to prowling singles bars once a week in search of one-night action with a total stranger. That had just happened. Like a whole other self inside him that welled up one day, suddenly, inexplicably, a slight tic in the personality that had just been waiting for a reason to surface and seize him completely.
But what reason? He knows he wants to stay married. But he does have a vague and inarticulate feeling of wanting to be married somehow differently, a little more freely perhaps. Not that he would ever go for one of those tacky arrangements some of the couples in the married underground have. That is a kind of new morality-chic that turns him off: your night out is Tuesday, mine is Thursday.
Still, there is a distinction between love and sex, he thinks. Now love. You can have love without sex, he thinks, and you can have sex without love. Speaking of which, there is the problem with him and the wife in bed. That just happened too. He just lost interest in doing it—with her anyway. With him, it happens only with his wife. At any rate, one thing that remains typical and middle-class about the Wednesday night business is his guilt. During those early Wednesday nights, the guilt could be all consuming, like a rippling nausea that spread through Kim, leaving him dry-lipped and clammy-palmed.
Sometimes, as he sat in the shadows at the corner of the bar contemplating it with one of the girls in tight jeans, the question would fairly scream in his ears: What are you doing here? But gradually the guilt diminished and almost wore off, if not in essence, at least in intensity. Sometimes he called her from the office before leaving, other times from the phone booth at the Texaco station. He always told the same feeble and empty lie about his just having a few drinks with the fellows after work. And she always responded with the equally feeble and empty fib about how he must try not to be too late.
It seemed a silly hypocrisy now. After all, even after the second Wednesday, she knew and he knew she knew. It was a way they each could fool themselves, if only in a rather juvenile way. The call and the lie died abruptly one Wednesday when he boozily decided to call her from the bar instead of the office or the service station. Thinking of the icy silence at the other end of the line when he said he might be a little late still sent a chill up his back.
She knew that all along, probably. Her silence had this effect: the two of them substituted the truth for lying. And it generally only haunts him in the early hours, before the booze and the ambience of the bars have seduced him once again, and then it haunts him again in the late hours, at two-thirty or three in the morning, when he crawls drunkenly into bed and listens to the uneven breathing of her feigned sleep. In those meditative moments before deep slumber, the question comes back to him: What were you doing there?
He still spends a lot of those Wednesday nights simply looking and being looked at. At first he felt, frankly, a little perverted, like a masher or a voyeur. But with each passing Wednesday, he began to notice that looking and being looked at were what most of the people were doing most of the time, particularly the married underground.
The reason for this is simple: scoring is not as important as the hunt. And looking and being looked at is the basic ritual of the hunt. It is not idle gawking, but a peculiar and particular idiom, a silent language of certain moves and gestures calculated to communicate specific messages. This silent ritual is the principal allure of the bars for the Married Man.
After all, sex can be had at home, or bought over on Cedar Springs. The hunt can be found only in the bars. It fascinated him. It really was a language , with fixed responses for certain stimuli. A crossing of the legs, or an arching of the back, required a fidget with the stir stick of the drink or a long and obvious sigh. A suppressed yawn required a shifting in the chair. Aside from this kind of clinical fascination, the Married Man enjoyed the tingle of anticipation in the air created by the hunt. And, for the first time in his life, he enjoyed the feeling of being surrounded by strangers.
And so did the prospect that here, in these shadowy confines, one could get to know them. He often savored the irony that a ring, the one dead giveaway of the married, was not part of his detection system. This was no frivolous custom, but a commonly understood matter of survival. This happened quite a bit, for even in the post-sexual-revolution decadence of the bars, there is a curious lingering Victorianism.
He would glance back and allow a small grin. She would shift in her chair, cross and recross her legs. He would fiddle with his tie and heave a long sigh. Sometimes, deep in the midst of his body conversations with her, he got the feeling they were the only two in the bar, that their plane of communication was singular, like the act of love itself. As the evening progressed, she seemed to become as fascinated as he with the ongoing silent seduction. The moves and gestures grew more and more explicit until they were engaged in a kind of erotic dance. He took to taking bold and obvious glances at her firm, broad breasts, and she took to replying by arching her back into long and luxurious stretches, which thrust her nipples flush and tight against the gauze-thin fabric of her T-shirt.
This bothered him a little, brought back the nagging fear that his increasing involvement in the hunt was taking on perverted proportions. He knew the hunt was the essence of the bars, but he wondered a little if the others—particularly the married ones—were involved in the scene in the same sexual way he was. He never considered approaching the doe-eyed brunette that night, nor any of the other girls he flirted with during those early Wednesdays.
The talk was always the same inane stuff:. It seemed to bastardize the whole business, and it scared him. At this point anyway. But one thing le to another. He remembers literally bolting in his stool at first glimpse of them. They belonged to a long-legged, sultry-mouthed fox with a fresh Farrah Fawcett cut. In spite of her body, her face bore the unmistakable hard edges of at least From time to time, she scanned the room with an indifferent stare, basking in the attention of her audience.
The Married Man was by now very much an avid part of that audience, sitting motionless on his barstool, transfixed by the sway and jiggle of those immense polyester-covered cream puffs. Then it happened. It was just a little too much. Being here was one thing, but putting himself on public display that way was a line he knew he could never cross. When he turned back to her, his heart plummeted. Mouth slack, eyes glazed, she began to move in rhythm to the music, first with her hips, and then with them! Then slowly, very slowly, she began to move across the corridor between the dance floor and the bar, still moving in rhythm to the music, still gazing at him with glassy eyes.
He remembers realizing in one white-hot instant what was about to happen. My God! And they just put on a new record! Oh Jesus Christ! The Bump! Oh no! What if someone sees me! What if someone from the office walks in right now and sees me humping with this little fox on the dance floor! What if. It seemed like the longest song in history. Eventually, he started moving tentatively to the music, if only to look a little less ridiculous. But it was no use. As one mindless disco chorus hammered on to another, he could feel the red surging through his face and see the leering grins and the laughing eyes in the bar shadows.
That is it for this singles bar business. That is it. But this is ridiculous. Then he left the bar quickly, through the shadows of its perimeter, and went straight home. Later that night, he made love to his wife for the first time in three months. His resolve to himself in the mirror that night had been firm, nonnegotiable. But that next Wednesday he found himself falling back into the ritual, inexplicably, the way he had fallen into it in the first place.Married women for sex in dallas
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