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True Stories: Girls Don’t Count
I slept with a married woman, with her husband's permission.
By Sarah T. Schwab
I should have recognized the hand-on-the-upper-thigh maneuver. But I didn’t expect to be hit on by my happily married friend Celeste; we were just splitting a cab downtown. So I slurred on about the delicious and strong drinks we’d had that evening.
“Did you know tequila’s supposed to be an aphrodisiac?” I said.
“I didn’t,” she smiled, her hand lingering.
“Yeah. This bartender I dated...”
And she was kissing me. My brain swirled. She tasted like green margaritas.
We arrived at her apartment. When she hopped out, the hem of her skirt slightly exposed the waves of her ass.
“We have to do this again soon,” she said. The cabbie chuckled and we were off. On the ride home my thoughts roamed from, “That was awesome” to “Is she latently gay? Am I?” I opened the window for fresh air. The scent Celeste left in the cab — vanilla — was making me dizzy.
After a few months of being a laser-hair-removal technician on Madison Ave., I started waitressing at a sports bar in Hell’s Kitchen. Besides the occasional groping customer or shitty tip, the job was fun. I was working every Friday and Saturday night, pocketing double what I made zapping hairy vaginas and dicks, and making friends.
About a month in, the first week in December, I was scheduled to serve a private party on the third floor with a bartender I’d never met. I’d never had any sexual experiences with women, but have always felt an appreciation for the female body. And Celeste, the bartender, was beautiful: straight brunette hair down to her full breasts, skin the color of coffee with cream, full lips. She was the sort of woman who, I imagined, rarely heard the word “no.”
The party never showed up. While waiting for our manager to let us go, Celeste taught me how to mix and drink like a bartender. After three drinks and the typical exchange of “Why did you move to the city? How long ago?” the conversation began to comfortably ebb.
“Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked. I did at the time, one I had been with for five years. He’d recently moved into my cramped Astoria apartment. In general, I told her, things weren’t swell — somehow we’d stopped having fun together and seemed to have run out of things to talk about.
“Sorry to hear that,” she said. I noticed the diamond on her finger.
“How long have you been married?” I said.
“Five years,” she said, all teeth.
“Do you believe he’s the one?” It was supposed to be a joke, but ended up sounding cynical.
“You know how people say, ‘you just know?’ Well, I really ‘just knew.’ It sounds lame, but he’s the love of my life.”
It was like a refrain from that cheesy Ben Folds’ song, “The Luckiest.” Celeste’s marriage reminded me of my parents’ white-picket-fence marriage — the kind of relationship that I rolled my eyes at, and probably secretly longed for. “That’s nice,” I said, and took a shot. Soon after, our boss showed up and Celeste and I stumbled our different ways.
Throughout the winter, we worked together sporadically. Each time, she slipped me a few drinks and we chatted about our lives. When Valentine’s Day rolled around, my boyfriend and I had broken up, and I decided I’d volunteer to work and keep my mind off the fact I was Valentine-less.
Celeste was not working — I imagined her at home, sipping champagne on a bed of rose petals with her husband. Red and pink paper hearts bobbed on wires from the bar’s ceiling, hitting me in the head throughout the night. But it was better to be at work — there were more miserable singles at the bar than there were bushy-tailed couples.
Both coming from broken families, my parents were high-school sweethearts, got married after graduation, and moved to a town actually called Eden, where they restored a tattered old country house and moved in. My parents’ marriage was the kind others envied: they were happy together being ordinary and quiet.
Maybe it was my family’s “boring” life growing up in Hicksville. Or maybe it was my father’s death the year I graduated from college. But I have always been skeptical of the “white picket fence” life — it never seemed to align with my ideas of happiness.
The first week after my breakup, I moved through all the stages of grief — denial, anger, sadness — and then landed on “horny.”