(It has been pointed out that much of what I have submitted lately is very sad. So, this story is somewhat of an anti-dote. Was fun to write, and I hope, fun to read. The pic is from my own family enjoying a Colorado reunion in 2010.)
Jill couldn’t suppress her giggles. It would be better if he and Tom were not holding hands, but at least they weren’t facing each other. Maybe they were just punchy from lack of sleep, or maybe the fact that Gerald, the family patriarch, was trying to make a solemn occasion of the “friendship circle.” This was the last time the whole group would be together for this family reunion. They always ended these get-togethers by forming a large circle holding hands, while the eldest in the group gave a tribute, led the family in a song and said a prayer.
Gerald droned on,”…and as we leave this beautiful setting, let us never turn our backs on the family that has given us so much strength.”
Tom rubbed Jill’s palm with his middle finger, which caused her to chuckle loud enough that her aunt Ethel shot a glare at her. Jill tried to make it look like a cough.
Unlike Jill’s family, Tom’s never had reunions. He liked the idea, but he couldn’t get over the formality of the thing. These people were so organized! There seemed to be a ritual for everything. But the friendship circle was the worst. This was the longest they had to be confined to the formalities, and he and Jill were not in any shape to conform to pomp and circumstance…not after what they had done last night.
“…and so let’s not forget what it means to reunite…,” Gerald continued.
But the word “reunite” was too much for Tom and Jill. It reminded them too much of their own “reuniting” last night away from the family activities. They both snickered at the same time, drawing too much attention to themselves. Gerald stopped for a bit and looked at the happy couple, who were now bowing their heads to conceal their smiles.
Tom and Jill had been married ten years, and if anyone knew how to celebrate a marriage, they did! They didn’t do everything with each other, but when they were together, it was always special. Jill loved surprises, and Tom was happy to accommodate. On their eighth anniversary, Tom arranged to descend from the air in a hot air balloon and whisk her away, where above the world they enjoyed a lunch of shrimp, cheeses and champagne. Once they got high enough, they actually took their clothes off for this aerial picnic. For Tom’s last birthday, Jill flew the two of them to Pittsburgh for a Steelers playoff game, knowing that Tom really missed his team now that they lived in Chicago. It wasn’t that they always had to do something spectacular. They could turn an evening at home watching television into a love-fest, just by the little things they did for one another, the footrubs, the back-scratching, and plain old cuddling.
As much as they were at home with each other, they felt somewhat out of place in Jill’s family. In their mid-thirties, Tom and Jill were squarely in the middle ground of the relatives. And a sparse middle ground it was! There was Jill’s cousin Nancy and her husband Neil just few years older. And then there was Phil and Paula, who were close in age. But that was about it (unless you include weird Ernie, who had trouble fitting in any group!). Jill and Tom got along just fine with Nancy and Neil, as well as with Phil and Paula. But these couples had something Jill and Tom didn’t: kids! Three in each family, ranging in age from 2 to 16 years. Not that there is anything wrong with kids, Jill and Tom agreed, but sometimes kids become the only focus of these couples. Jill and Tom could never understand why people allow that to happen, and so they vowed not to have children. Whether this plan was out of fear of what might happen to them with children, they questioned often. But the lack of children wasn’t a void in their lives. They were quite fulfilled in themselves individually and together, and when they felt a need to do something outside the cozy two-some, they often volunteered to help at the South Side Homeless Shelter.
Yesterday afternoon was sports time at the family reunion. Gerald, Ethel and the older crew entertained themselves at the horseshoe pit. Nancy and Paula supervised a game of duck-duck-goose for the little kids, while the older kids played softball. The teenagers and young adults played volleyball, a game that suited Jill and Tom just fine. But when the game broke up, it was time to clean up for the banquet that evening, and after the banquet was the family talent show. It kinda bugged Tom that so many of the activities were centered around families. Each family had been rehearsing their skits, or talent acts. At the last minute, Jill and Tom put together a comedy sketch that they had seen on a cruise ship. It would be funny if they could get their timing down, but the closer it got to talent show time, the more Jill was worried that it would be considered off-color and inappropriate for this group. On the way to the banquet, Tom convinced Jill of a way they could tone it down.
They arrived at the dining hall before most of the family. There were candles in bottles — from an earlier craft activity — on each table. Paper table-cloths were decorated with crayons (another craft activity for the kids). Handwritten place cards were at each chair…obviously written by the children in each family. Tom and Jill began to search for their names; Tom headed toward the middle of the tables, while Jill looked around the perimeter. It was then that it occurred to them: they were the only couple without children, and it was likely that no one had thought to have place cards made for them. Tom looked at Jill, who was still searching. Then she looked up and shrugged her shoulders only to be met by that slightly mischievous, but wonderful smile of Tom’s. It meant that he was up to something, or that he wanted to be. It didn’t take long for her to catch on; they were going to skip this evening with the relatives and have their own fun!
They smiled and met each other at the door, where they held hands, and managed to leave the dining hall unnoticed. They ducked around the building and went through the trees instead of taking the pathway. Holding open the door to their Toyota Chinook camper, Tom feigned grace.
“After you, madam!” Jill giggled at the thought of being called this, but once inside, her eyes glowed with excitement, and she asked, “What next, babe?”
“Well, schweet’eart,” said Tom in his best Humphrey Bogart, “I say we go check out that cute little steakhouse you saw on the hill on the way into town.” He continued, “then later, what say we duck into that dance place on the main street and cut a rug!”
“Why, Ah’d be much obliged!” returned Jill, doing her best as a southern belle.
The two were always prepared to have an elegant dinner, even while camping. Jill took along a short, black velour dress with a plunging neckline, while Tom had a cream-colored suit. Not only had they planned on dressing elegantly, but with a sexy flair, too. Jill slipped on a garter and stockings, while Tom put on a pair of silk boxers. Tom finished dressing first and began looking over the reunion schedule for the next day.
“Do we have to go to the friendship circle tomorrow?” he asked.
“When is it?”
“I don’t know, do you think we’ll be back by then?” Jill said with a sly smile. Tom returned the smile, and walked over to where Jill was putting on makeup. He placed his hands on her soft white shoulders and kissed her neck.
“How did I get so lucky?” he asked.
“Hard to say,” she answered. She turned to kiss his lips. He kissed her with passion, which she returned, placing a gentle hand around his neck. Jill could tell Tom wanted more, but she resisted him.
“Hey, big guy! They’ll be plenty of time for that later!” she said. She kissed him once more and went back to getting ready. Jill put on her perfume and a gold diamond necklace, slipped into her dress and black pumps, and stood before Tom.
“Ready?” she asked.
“You look stunning! And good enough to eat.” He wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her into him. They stood there and kissed, her arms around his neck.
“Speaking of eating,” Jill said, “I’m hungry!”
Tom jerked his head a bit.
“Something wrong?” Jill asked.
“I was just wondering whether we should have made reservations. Maybe in a town this size it isn’t necessary.”
“Well, if we have to wait, we have to wait,” said Jill, “Besides, the bar looked kinda cute…and so do you!”
Tom smiled, kissed her again, and the two got out of the back of the camper and headed for the cab.
The drive was a short one, only 5 miles. Jill sat next to Tom, which made it difficult to shift, but they made a game of it…a game that was even more fun when Jill wore a dress!
They walked into the restaurant and noticed immediately that they were overdressed, but their motto had always been that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. It seemed at first that all eyes were upon them. But they were used to this, as they made a handsome couple. Tonight they made the rest of the customers seem very ordinary. Tom looked dashing with his neatly cut blonde hair and light suit, and Jill was especially attractive tonight. Her straight auburn hair just touched the tops of her shoulders, which made a striking contrast with her smooth, cream-colored skin.
The two were told that there would be a 30 minute wait, so they went to the bar and ordered margaritas. Thirty minutes was nothing to them, as they knew they would savor the time together. At first there was small talk about the people in this place. Tom made a comment about a man at the bar “making love to his tonic and gin.” Jill recognized the Billy Joel song and laughed out loud. Then they started talking about the families at the reunion, and about how they ought to lighten up a little and have some fun. Tom maintained that having kids made that impossible, but Jill said she thought it was possible, if they would give themselves some space from the kids once in a while. Jill thought enjoying life is a mindset that people are either born with or they acquire, and kids might interfere, but they would never crush it. Tom wanted some examples. Just as the discussion was turning philosophical, their table was called.
“Shall we?” said Tom, standing up and holding his hand out for her.
“Yes, we shall,” said Jill.
A waiter showed them to a circular wooden booth in the corner with burgundy drapes marking the entrance. There was a lit candle that resembled a small lamp on the checkerboard tablecloth. Although each had entered on opposite sides, they had no intention of sitting across from each other, the way boring couples did. They went around to the opposite side of the circular table where they could see the approaching water bearer and waiter. They ordered another margarita, and resumed their earlier conversation. Jill was able to come up with examples of couples who really knew how to live, in spite of parenthood.
A waiter took their order. After requesting a bottle of white zinfandel, Tom ordered London Broil, and Jill got the garlic shrimp and pasta plate. Although Tom was used to this, he never missed a chance to tease Jill about coming to a steakhouse and ordering a non-specialty. He didn’t mind, really. He knew she was trying to maintain that fabulous figure.
Tom had noticed that when she sat down, the tops of her stockings were visible. He slipped a hand under the tablecloth and placed it on her knee. He leaned over and kissed her, sliding his hand up until it touched bare skin. She reciprocated by putting her hand on his thigh and moving it up to his crotch. They were in their own world now, exchanging hungry kisses while caressing each other. They didn’t notice when the waiter came with their meals, but they weren’t the least bit embarrassed. The two shared one last kiss, and sat up, ready to receive their plates. The embarrassed waiter refilled their wine glasses, turned quickly on his heels and left.
The two ate slowly, feasting as much on the food and drink as they did on each other. There was eye contact after every bite. During dinner they talked, and the conversation ranged from what a new rock band has to do to make it big, to how Jean-Paul Sartre could live with himself, given his stark views on life. Each listened actively to the other point of view, even though they didn’t always reach a consensus. To them, variety was the spice of life, which was no less true for opinions and feelings. They respected and admired each other. And they each adored the other.
When it was clear they were through with their meal, the waiter took their plates and asked if they cared for dessert. Tom could feel Jill laughing inside.
Tom said, “No, I think we’ll catch dessert later.” And he gave Jill a delicious smile.
When the waiter presented the bill to Tom, he gave it to Jill to pay. They enjoyed the mild surprise that this always gave waiters.
The two left the restaurant and climbed into the Chinook. Jill scooted close to Tom and laid her head on his shoulder.
“Thanks, Tom. This was a wonderful idea!”
“You mean you don’t mind missing the talent show?” Tom asked.
“Well,” Jill continued, “I did kinda want to see what Uncle Bernie comes up with, and the Johnson twins always do something cute.” She waited for his response.
After a pause, Tom said, “Well, if we hurry we can make the last two acts or so.”
“Oh Tom, I wasn’t serious,” Jill said, “this was so much better than what we’re missing. After all, we’ve been cooped up with those people long enough…and we’ll be back there with them again tomorrow morning.”
“How about hitting the dance floor?” Tom asked. Jill had been a little sleepy, but the way he said this to her energized her. She found she actually wanted to go, if he did. Anything to be with him.
After a couple wrong turns, they found the place, and walked in. It looked more like a hangout for a younger set. Many of the patrons were wearing black, and there were a few pierced body parts. The music was not exactly what they would have chosen, but it wasn’t bad. They found a small table for two, but they didn’t stay there long. Tom threw off his tie and coat and grabbed Jill by the arm. They didn’t care about fitting in…they were here for their own fun. So they danced in their own freestyle way. Jill’s dress rose revealing the tops of her garters; it turned Tom on to know that these younger guys were watching her…and watching him with envy. Tom didn’t exactly go unnoticed either. Once when Jill was in the bathroom, a sweet-looking, but brash girl with jet black hair asked him for a dance. He politely refused, saying he was waiting for his dream-girl. After about an hour there, the two were tired, and ready to keep their tacit promise for later.
Once back at the campsite, Tom said he needed to find a flashlight. So he went to the cab, while Jill ducked around the back. When Tom came around to the back and opened the door, he was overwhelmed at the sight! Jill was waiting there in a white thong teddie on the bed. There was a lit candle on the table. She smiled devilishly, and he came over to her. She sat up and undid his pants, revealing his navy silk boxers. He was already hard, and she made sure he stayed that way.
Jill said, “Come on, dream-boy, let’s have some more fun!” She pulled him down on the bed with her, where they made passionate love to each other, far into the night.
“…and so let’s not forget what it means to reunite…,” Gerald continued, trying to ignore the giggles on his right, “…to come together…” Louder giggles. “…and let’s not forget what it means to be a part of this great family, as well as the greater family of God. Let’s bow our heads in prayer.
But the only prayer Tom and Jill had in mind was to get this thing over with so they could go about the business of enjoying each other.