Never let it be said that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks.
At 54 and 49 respectively, Henry and I have been married 14 years, together for 17. I know the map of his body as well as my own. His flat feet kept him out of the service. The large black mole on his right shoulder blade must be removed whether it’s cancerous or not. His luxuriously furred, muscular chest is his sexiest feature. His nose is shy, leaning to the right as if it would prefer to go unnoticed.
While this familiarity breeds companionship, friendship and love, it doesn’t always deliver in bed. Days and even weeks can go by where snuggling is as good as it gets, which is why I decided Henry and I needed to go on a blind date.
So last Thursday evening, Henry returned with our daughters from soccer practice to unexpectedly find our babysitter waiting for him with a note. The note instructed him to meet me in the bar at the Avalon Hotel at 8 p.m. sharp and most importantly, that we would pretend to be total strangers.
You can imagine his excitement.
I waited for my blind date in the lounge, sipping a Grey Goose martini, even though I hate vodka, but, as you may recall, I was no longer me. 8 p.m. arrived and departed. No Henry.
Where was he? Did he get my note? Did the babysitter open it, read it and quit? Maybe he just wasn't coming?
As the minutes ticked by, I began to feel like an aged hooker with no john. Wait. Was that...?
Henry strode through the lounge and went straight to the bar to order a beer. Henry doesn't drink. He can't drink. Since his mid-30s, alcohol has been giving him blinding migraines. Could it be my reserved, buttoned-up husband was going to roleplay along with me?
But why wasn't he looking at me? I whistled at him. He didn't turn around. WTF? Waiters and busboys were falling into my cleavage never to be heard from again. How could he miss me?
Finally, Henry turned around and our eyes met. He looked at me quizzically. He was really going to go through with this! My heart melted as he approached.
"Are you…Crystal?" he asked.
Crystal? That's the best he could do? Shouldn't we be able to pick our own names? I’d planned to be Judith, a techie from Silicon Valley, who created an app that melts middle-aged fat.
"Yes," I said bitterly, "I'm...Crystal."
"I'm Paul," he said.
Paul. I could live with that. Pauls are tall, broad-shouldered and macho. I didn't want to be married to macho, but wouldn't mind visiting from time to time.
"So Crystal," Paul said, making himself comfortable on the couch next to me, "I feel like I already know you from your…videos."
M’kay. Apparently, Crystal was a porn star. Completely ignoring Tina Fey's advice that you should trust your partner during improv, I said, "I'm not in that business."
"You're not?" he said as his eyes began to dart about confusedly.
I realized I was about to blow this whole thing, so quickly backtracked. I informed Paul that I had worked as an adult performer in my misspent youth. However, I'd been such a classy, intellectual porn star whose demographic was college-educated women who preferred erotica to misogynistic wham-bam-thank-you-ma'ams, that I'd been able to create my own brand, turn it into a thriving production company that raked in so much money that I was able to retire early to Tampa, Florida where I owned several properties, including the Florida Marlins.
"Oh," said Paul, flummoxed.
We had nowhere to go but up. And so we did. It turns out Paul was also disillusioned by his profession as a porn producer, had just gotten divorced from one of his starlets and was looking for some deeper meaning in life. (Unfortunately, he made a bad porn-pun with the word "deeper" but, let's face it, I was a sure thing.)
We moved to the restaurant where our conversation improved. After filling in some more of our back stories (he had grown up in a brothel, I had had two sons from a high school relationship with a drug dealer), we had miraculously transformed ourselves into Paul and Crystal.
Everything felt wonderfully different although vaguely familiar. I genuinely laughed at all of his jokes and didn't reprimand him for eating mashed potatoes. When we touched hands across the restaurant table, it felt like we were making contact for the first time. It was electric.
In fact, our blind date went so well that we left the restaurant before dessert. Our tête-à-tête ended somewhat abruptly while we were in the back of our minivan on a public street at 11 p.m. when an overzealous police officer rapped his knuckles on the window.
Even so, this first-date-with-a-stranger pushed the reset button on our sex life. And while life will certainly get in our way again, we both know that Crystal and Paul will be there for us should we ever need them.