by Miss Jane
You may remember, but in case you don’t, let me remind you: I’m over 40 and a virgin. I’m not talking Clintonesque technicalities, but actual fact. Absolutely.
And now I’m off with a married man, on a three-day trip two states beyond home. His wife isn’t jealous. My aged parents aren’t concerned. No one’s eyebrows are raised. It’s generally known, or at least generally assumed, that I don’t – well, do anything that raises eyebrows.
This man is probably the least touchy-feely person in all my acquaintance. He’s a northern European type who needs a wide zone of personal space. He doesn’t go for casual hugging; he shakes hands, but mostly under duress. I’ve known him for several years and never once have I seen him flirt. When someone else does, his discomfort is palpable. It’s charming in its way. Enjoyable to watch.
Not that I get to watch him routinely; we live many miles apart. However, we’ve managed to become good friends, mostly be e-mail. He has a deep well of technical information and a broad range of eccentric interests. So do I. He writes delightful narratives of daily life. So do I. And about four times a year, we see each other for some event or a meal and a stroll and a good conversation. Consistently kind and solicitous, he always maintains a proper distance. For both of us, it’s a nice, safe relationship.
Several times over the years, we’ve been together at out-of-town meetings, and that’s what we’re doing now. He comes for me and my van at 8:30 a.m. We hope to arrive at around 6:30 p.m. to hook up with the first in a tag team of personal assistants I’ve lined up. His continuing presence is a critical part of the logistical plan. He doesn’t do the tasks that involve removing my clothes or reaching under my skirt, but he’ll cover me between the appearances of the women who do.
Our drive is not entirely free of external stressors. There are a series of phone calls; I leave messages at various places for the first scheduled PA, but fail to get the reassurance I’d get from talking to her directly. And there is the distance. We’ve measured it on the highway map, but we don’t really know how we’ll manage it. I trust my tailbone and bladder will hold out, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
It’s definitely a relief when we find the hotel only 30 minutes later than projected and the PA there waiting. We go to our separate rooms. A bathroom trip, a half hour lying down, and I’m back in my chair.
We go to the hotel restaurant. When we finish eating, I tell him, “We’re trapped for the duration.” My night-time PA, an adventurous young woman who is flying in for the meeting, isn’t due until late. “Your place or mine?”
“Yours.” Something in the way he answers tells me that, as mild as it was, my remark was enough to make him a little uncomfortable.
I park my chair beside my bed. This isn’t the first time he’s put me in bed, but I talk through the steps. It’s for his comfort, more than anything else, to make the touching and closeness practical, matter-of-fact. I instruct him to pull down the covers and fold some of the bedding into a pallet to cushion my bony parts. I ought to travel with an egg crate, but the women of my family make a fetish of traveling light. When he gropes