The Lisa Diaries

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The Lisa Diaries by Lisa Carver  

Swingers Ball

January 20, 2000

We went to Dave’s parents’ house right before the swingers thing (it was on the way). After playing blocks and cars with his nieces, we decided we were probably bad people for what we were about to do. It kind of added a zing. My lungs felt like they had glitter in them as we walked from the car to the hotel. The hotel was connected to Vinnie Testa’s, the restaurant where this thing would transpire. We picked up the key to our room — the leader of the swingers had reserved a block of suites — and thought we detected a knowing glance between the concierge and the security guard when we announced we were with the “New England Computer Users.” We hurried down the hall to our room, wondering if the other potential swappers were looking out their peepholes, grading us. Swingers gauntlet. That’s what we did for the next half-hour — kept our eyes glued to the hole, waiting for someone to pass. No one did.


We brushed our teeth twice and checked the condom situation, just like before a real date. In the time it took us to go down three flights of stairs and across two corridors, two bars, one front desk room and one restaurant, Dave had to use the bathroom three times and I re-started my bad habit of hair-chewing. I felt like I was on coke. I felt like I did in high school: weak, embarrassed, unequipped, trembling on the threshold of possibly magnificent occurrences. Oh god, we were there —


“Is this your first time?” the nice lady with the cashbox said.


“Why do you say that?” I asked suspiciously.


Dave said, “Uh . . . ”


The cashbox lady laughed.


“Well, it certainly took you long enough to get here!” a severely tanned woman said to us. A slightly less tanned male hovered at her elbow.


“What . . . what?” said Dave.


“We were right behind you at the front desk,” she said. “We’ve been down here for over an hour!”


“Oh!” I said. I thought I should make introductions, but maybe that would put their brand on us? I was frightened of everything. There was a DJ, and balloons everywhere. There were about twenty tables; each sat six. Dave and I chose the only one with no one sitting at it. Two old people approached our table and asked to sit down. “First time?” they asked immediately.


“What, do we have F’s on our foreheads?” I cried.


“There’s F’s all over your body!” the old man said. He looked like Hugh Hefner. The woman looked like a woman who takes cruises. She wore a brooch.


“You’re brave bringing a fox like her here,” Hef said to Dave. “The women are gonna be all over her. Jealousy. That’s the danger. First time I saw this here woman — this queen, my wife — with another man . . . woah! We’ve both been married before, this is my fourth marriage, her second. Got three kids each, just like The Brady Bunch. Well, once you find someone who lets you fuck other people, you never leave them. But the first time I saw a man touching her . . . the jealousy filled me. It started at my toes. It felt like fire. When she saw what was happening, she said, ‘You wanted to do this. If you don’t like it, I’ll never do it again.’ And I thought about it, thought about all the blowjobs I’d never get, and, well — here we are! I met her on a ship. Four hundred men, twenty women. And she kissed 200 men. I took one look at her — she was thirty-six, thirty-eight at the time — and I said, ‘I’m gonna marry that little tramp.’ That was fifteen years ago. It’s been like a storybook ever since, a mystery show. I gave up my profession for her, everything.” [Just like Celine Dion, I thought.] “She’s fun. She makes me laugh.”


I laughed. I leaned over and said through my teeth to Dave, “Is her hand on your thigh?”


“Yes,” he said back through his teeth.


Hef and his queen were whispering to each other, too.


“What dress size are you, dear?” she asked, leaning forward so that her velvet-encased bosom lay on the table like a pocketbook.


“I take a three,” I said.


She and her husband looked at each other knowingly, like maybe “size three” was code for “I like the elderly.” I got up to go to the bathroom. The swingers were getting comfortable. Hands were stroking backs, arms, thighs — even calves. The average age was around forty-five. Everyone looked like my art and history teachers in high school, the Berniers. The Berniers drove to school together, taught in adjoining classrooms. She had big teeth and wore humongous, homemade jewelry. He had a combover and told semi-risque jokes. I saw them on the bus recently, clinging to each other and their plastic grocery bags.


Every person here was a social outsider. They were over-the-hill, styleless people who smiled too gratefully and had short legs. All the men were bald. They were the kind of people who other people don’t call back. They each turned to look at me as I passed, and I realized what the “F” on my forehead really stood for: Fresh Meat. I’d come from the land of People Who Get Called Back; I’d come to their thing. I wanted them.


A young couple hovered at the entrance. I wondered if they had wandered in by accident from the restaurant, but then the girl said to me, “First time?” Turns out it was their first time, too. Well, second. The first one was a sort of frat party, with fifteen couples doing it on mattresses on the floor and about ten guys watching.


Our harried bartender had rushed off somewhere and showed no signs of returning. “I used to barmaid,” I announced to the young couple. “I’m taking over.” I was just making nervous conversation, but the intense enthusiasm with which the girl said,”Yes, do it!” made me realize she liked me. I liked her, too. She was quick, outgoing, amused, luminescent — she was “my kind of girl,” the first thing I’d seen tonight that felt at all familiar. She grew up in Texas, but looked like South Dakota: well-scrubbed, a little overweight. The guy hadn’t spoken yet. He seemed distracted or drunk. He had the look of a movie star on the decline. Nice leather coat, dress shirt. I asked where he was from. Mexico. He came to America for the very first time six months ago, to start a business with his friend. Oh lord, an accent. I’ll take him. I could picture having sex with him. I knew the girl wasn’t Dave’s type, but how picky could he afford to be, given the alternatives? I wondered what was going on over at the table, with old Velvet Bosom on the loose. Whenever Dave says no, it’s so quiet, and he smiles when he says it. A woman like her just walks right over his kind of no. That’s what I did, and now we’re married. The bartender returned, I took my Jack and Coke and the young people — Moira and Enrique — back to our table.


On the dance floor, people in rumpled silk and glasses and sports jackets were tickling necks and tracing circles on lower backs, gazing into each other’s eyes, laughing. I have never seen so many people so in love. They were really sexy! These people are out of the race, and so they are, by default, adventuresome. They follow their own dreams, because they can’t figure out what the American dream is. And then I felt that they weren’t the true outsiders; I was. I get depressed and I’m a workaholic. I’m competitive. I don’t laugh enough anymore. My husband doesn’t announce to strangers that I’m his queen.


I knew Dave and I were gonna end up with the only other young, good-looking couple there, because we are in the race. We have money, looks, connections, and we’re trying to hang onto them. We have something to prove. I felt like such a rat compared to the dorky wife-swappers dancing and

laughing with such abandon.


Dave didn’t have his glasses, so he asked me to go check out this woman in silver he’d seen hovering outside the Ladies’ Room. She must have been a dominatrix. She was skinny and hard and wore a miniskirt and bra made out of mirror pieces (size D fake tits, seventeen-inch waist — she was a silver hornet). Thigh-high boots, a mass of wispy black heavy-metal hair falling into her face . . . which was about one inch long! Well, okay, I’m exaggerating. Her face was about three-and-a-half, four inches long. I don’t know if she was born that way or had some terrible accident. She smiled at me; I smiled back. I looked around for her husband. It was Aldo Nova! He had on black jeans and a black short-sleeved silk shirt tucked into his washboard stomach with a silver stud belt. And he had a mullet! In New Hampshire, we call it a short-in-the-front-long-in-the-back. Then I noticed one more detail: Aldo had a bulge.


I was noticing so many things I normally don’t: shapes of noses, wallpaper patterns, ankles, chair legs, coincidences, the lines around eyes and mouths, invisible energy. If someone had given me a pad and pencil, I would have drawn scenery in charcoal with a sudden and miraculous talent. I did not know how to behave, and kept getting confused about my identity. I could be anyone. Dave must have felt it too, because when I got back to our table, he had a beer! (Dave never drinks.) Enrique was telling Dave about good beaches in Mexico not overrun by tourists, as Dave and I are planning a snorkeling vacation next month.


I reported to Dave about the one-inch face on the silver hornet. Dave was still willing to brave it, but what about me? There are some memories you just don’t

want to risk recalling on your deathbed: forty-five minutes of a short-in-the-front-long-in-the-back brushing my face is one of them.


“I’m afraid the good ones are gonna get taken if we don’t move fast,” I whispered to Dave. “Let’s stake a claim.”


Dave said okay, so I wrote on a piece of paper: “We would politely like to claim you, if that’s possible.” I signed it with two hearts, folded it and slid it across the table to Moira. She gave a thumbs-up. Enrique smiled nicely. Hef was crestfallen, but Velvet Bosom his queen beamed beatifically. She was a true optimist.


The dance hall was closing down. The swingmaster had reserved a double-suite for orgy activities: Room 114. There was some not-quite-spoken plan between Moira and me that we’d watch the orgy unfold for a few minutes just for fun, then the four of us would go to Dave’s and my room. In the foyer between the dance hall and Room 114, a fat, beautiful woman was reading palms. She told Enrique that he had a very long lifeline, but he wouldn’t be very smart in the end. In fact, she said, he might not be very smart now! And he was a bad husband! Moira and the palmreader got awfully chummy. Jealousy started at my toes, and moved up like fire. Moira and Enrique went to 114 while Dave and I got our palms read. When we entered the orgy room, Moira and Enrique were gone! Had they snuck out the back door and run off with the palmreader? I looked around. The tanned couple and the Silver Hornet/Aldo Nova pair had disappeared. There was a Pilsbury Doughboy and Doughgirl I hadn’t seen earlier, sipping Pepsi and critiquing Marilyn Manson on the thirty-two-inch TV. To my right stood the swingmaster himself, a portly, bearded man who was at this moment actually saying, “Heh, heh, heh.” I wanted to cry.


I’m leaving the story here till next week. Because after you read what ended up happening, you might never read these diaries again! I want to drag out our farewell.


Lisa Carver and, Inc.