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Nerve Classics: A Dram of Poison

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I roofied my wife to save our marriage.

Maybe it's the bourbon, but lately, we've been feeling nostalgic. With writing this good, can you blame us? "A Dram of Poison" originally ran in 2009.

Ten years ago, as part of our healthy sex life, my wife was always asking me to impersonate various characters: the mailman, the naughty golf instructor, the disappointed boss, the rogue police detective, you name it. Now those roles are a faded memory, giving way to the real, permanent ones of father, husband and ATM. Not lover, not in my office clothes, nor, sadly, in anyone else's. As Lenin famously asked "What is to be done?" Should I dress up as Vladimir himself and try to fuck my wife? If only it were so easy. . .

In the beginning, before we shackled ourselves to the sacrament of matrimony, the selection and playing out of sexual fantasies was not a big deal. What was the worst that could happen?

That she'd enjoy my portrayal of the depraved gynecologist so much that she'd run off with a real one? We were still early enough into things that I would have grieved, but eventually I'd have moved on.

And now? Now our fantasies would have to be safe, like the rest of our over-insured suburban existence. Layers of suspicion have complicated things. We have made too many acquaintances and performed too many double-takes on the street. We have interacted with too many real-life airline employees and personal trainers, and I have jerked off with too many grocery clerks and babysitters in mind.

Our sex life, hit-and-run by the birth of our child, lies in a coma, occasionally blinking. Three years and still it hasn't raised a hand. Three years since I've slept with my wife.

Yet one day we find ourselves negotiating. Perhaps she saw someone at work, a dad of one of her pupils maybe, and the embers were blown warm. She comes to me and says she's been thinking, has had a few ideas.

Our familiarity has bred more than our share of contempt, but I know what she's getting at. We are sitting at the table where we still share meals. Some part of us is still here for each other.

Of course I've got some ideas of my own. She asks to hear, so my gambit is first: cheerleader seeking ass deflowering? Denied. Her turn: businessman wants severe caning from the Mistress? Not happening. I want this to work, but I won't capitulate easily. Too much is at stake; it's too precedent-setting. We go back and forth. I keep meeting her baroque with rococo of my own. We're going nowhere.

I get to the bar, and, by unspoken agreement, my wife is already there, flirting madly…

Finally she proposes something new, something we had both sort of anticipated, for at this point in the game we are not really going to fool each other. But this time it will be only semi-fantasy: my wife will really be at the bar pretending not to know me, and I really will slip something nefarious into her drink.

To drug and abduct my wife — but which drug? Television seems to have convinced her that date-rape concoctions are ubiquitous, as if I could just run to the nearest GNC or have a box overnighted from a website in Mexico. The latter might be true, but I'd prefer not to add my name to any FBI lists. So while she's in the bedroom, I rifle through the medicine cabinet and find a stash of giant pink pills — some sort of narcotic from the dentist — and throw a small handful into the coffee grinder.

Decisions, decisions. My costume, my fake name, my fake identity — there is so much that has to be just right. Konked-out victim? Her part is child's play. I'll be the one who has to drive the conversation and strike the proper balance between charming and sinister, all the while maintaining some sort of backchannel of actual attraction. I douse myself in aftershave and begin humming the jingle, or what I remember of it. "There's something about an Aqua Velva man." Oh yes, there is: He drugs strange women and drags them back to his lair.

I get to the bar, and, by unspoken agreement, my wife is already there, flirting madly, squeezed in with a suitor on each side. Did she see me come in? I can't tell. In any event, within minutes I am in the men's room, masturbating furiously, recalling the days when we used to fuck in public restrooms, always the ladies', me squatting on the toilet seat during interruptions.

It was back then that she masterminded our first dress-up. She took care of all the details, became a nurse with the personality of a hairdresser, and prescribed me some weed. I will never forget that as soon as the first words were out of her mouth in that Nassau County honk, I just started laughing and laughing and did not stop for five minutes. And of course now, as I step up to introduce myself to my wife, whose radiance easily emerges through her cartoonish layer of makeup, it happens again. Everyone stares for a few seconds, but then it's game on.

"Can I buy you a drink?" I say, and she slides through the esses in "Absolut and soda."

"How about something you can't see through?"

"How about you pick?"

It's not clear that she'll be able to stand up. I don't want to be thrown off-track or to be pummeled by chivalrous strangers.

I like the fact that, though it's a small-town bar, my wife is dressed up like a mid-range prostitute — it eases the burden of my acting job. The men in attendance clearly like it too. I wait until she nears the bottom of her drink to slip in the poison, thinking that she can choke it down in one granular gulp. She rarely drinks, and I wonder how many she had before I got here. I wonder how much fun she was having before I arrived, whether she secretly hoped that I would chicken out or get lost on the way. She looks so good, she is so free from judgment, she attracts with real gravity. Everything that I love about my wife — her trusting way, her complexion, her wit — is magnified. She begins to slur and sway. She becomes fully immersed in her character, hammering the flat vowels and dropping g's all over the place. She is blabbering on about her imagined work as a secretary, her travails and her girlfriends, when she deviates from the agreed-upon script, whispering, "Take me home and fuck me."

It's not clear that she'll be able to stand up. I don't want to be thrown off-track or to be pummeled by chivalrous strangers. But she pulls off this final act with the panache and humor that has always graced her fantasy roles, teetering on her high heels, grabbing me just enough. In the parking lot I press her up against the car, kiss her deeply, briefly move my hand into her miniature skirt, and then fold her in.

Details, details. I have forgotten the birth control. It's been so long since there was any need for condoms or the pill, it didn't even dawn on me. So I screech into a convenience store on the way home and stagger into flourescent reality. I get the skins. I spy some baby oil and think that she'll deserve a rubdown later on after such a performance. I walk past the value-added coffee-brandy milk drinks and pluck one out of the cooler. I stand before the clerk in my suit, smelling like good vodka and bad cologne, my gelled hair vertical, my dick plainly horizontal. The clerk tells me that I am unfit to purchase alcohol and, furthermore, that my lubricant is incompatible with my prophylactics.

But nothing can derail me. A block from home, I am too anxious and turn down the wrong street, against one-way traffic. My victim is squirming in the passenger seat, laughing and gently touching herself. Anything seems possible.