December 16, 1989

Dear Mrs. Watson,

I had this revelation yesterday, over my third cup of black coffee at the coffee shop. The waitress has decided to stop talking to me and just fill the cup, and every once in a while she says, Long letter, and I say, Mother-in-law, and she says, I never talked to mine even when she was mine. So you see, it’s good that I’m making this gesture. And I was thinking about there being this connection between us all—the ones whose marriages crashed and burned no matter how ornate the wedding, or how simple or how careful each person was to be nice or not, when a girl walked into the coffee shop. She made a splash in the dingy place. She gave off a scent of some musky, spicy perfume, had gleaming earrings, a long-haired exotic looking girl a few years younger than me, with a swarthy face and a hooknose. And she was on the arm of a blond whitebread guy who was dutifully carrying her bohemian-looking bookbag and hanging on her every thrilling word.
      And I realized this: I may not come from a long line of witches but I suspect that part of my appeal to Josiah was a muted version of that: a covert suggestion contained in my dark hair—of swirling gypsy skirts, those swarthy types who chewed on silver coins and divined the future in a cup of tea. And maybe once he actually experienced the genuine Russian article, my mystique lost its appeal. But again it’s a little late, this is all a rehash, I may have wondered this in a tiny little nightlight of an idea some night when we were still together and he’d just rolled over to go to sleep, and let it go, and now look.
      And then last night, thinking of how Josiah might have suddenly understood the folly of his little fantasy with me, or even suddenly realized he was bored, and whatever else he realized, or didn’t, and just went and did her anyway, I just had to cut loose. And I had a lot of loose to cut because writing this letter is letting all the ghouls out of the crypt. So I went over to the hunk’s apartment down the hall and I said, I give up, let’s do it. He didn’t hem or haw or frown or consider or analyze. He said, and this was music to my ears: I’ve got protection.
      So we did it against the wall and on the couch, on the floor, over the coffee table, and he likes to do it from the back, and he has a really thick, meaty cock, and the skin of it for some amazingly exotic reason is grayish blue, and I watched it go in and out (I am flexible, Mrs. Watson), and I came like a banshee. I have not been this turned on since high school, when me and the kinky Puerto Rican kid from trigonometry class used to freak out in his bedroom. And years ago, back in college when I met Josiah and he said, I hate the idea of women as packages, I thought, well not everyone is a voyeur, is a clown, it’s all right, but just to see if I could get a rise out of him (pun intended), I would dress up in some of my old getups from high school, my sleek black pumps from the uptown cha-cha store and this garter thing I bought in Alexander’s, just to kind of spice things up, and he would come home from his day at the library and walk into the bedroom where I’d have carefully displayed myself like living pornography on the bed, and he’d just go, Oh.
      I was the jezebel invader, the whore sent by the devil. I was so embarrassed, felt a film of dirt coating my skin, questioned why I could even think being that crass was appealing, how base, how common, how cheap I made myself—and why would I have to do that to get off anyway?
      I used to think that Josiah wasn’t into freaky stuff because he found it kind of tricky ethically, like to be nasty was not to respect women or something, and I did try to appreciate that, the p.c. aspect of eschewing role play or rough stuff for something more utopian and democratic and equal.
      The last time I tried to get all tarted up, he said, How come you do that to yourself?
      What I would do to myself if I could, I thought. But I resolved to give up the black lace, to keep my voice down (not like I’m a shrieker but hey, when the spirit moves—) to not threaten, to aspire to something more platonic but still erotic. But when it came right down to it, Josiah went to another ice cream store anyway. Good old vanilla with a Russian cherry on top, a surly vodka-soaked soviet bloc cherry. So what kind of respect is that?
      So last night just to be sure I was really letting go I said hey hold on and I threw on a towel and ran back down the hall and searched the floor of my closet until I found those old evil sisters and slipped them on my feet and tottered back in and boom. Not, Oh. Hunk is half Jamaican, half Jewish and he is built like a truck and plays the drums so his shoulders and pectorals—the latter being a word I wouldn’t even touch with aristocratically narrow Josiah—are like mountains you can climb. This guy is old-fashioned, no-holds-barred, rear-wheel drive, what a mechanism. And he knows all these positional tricks: put a pillow under the ass for traction, for g-spot targeting, all that, and he is younger than me and he is quiet and even polite and even kind of studious, and was raised by his mother and sisters in the southwest in a genuine adobe house and is not a de facto heir of the western patriarchy that just helps itself to whatever it wants.
      And he has never even been to Massachusetts and can’t name any of the pilgrims and thought the ship they came in on was called the Wallflower.
      And received much physical gratitude from me for that.