The house is empty now and you know what that means. Uh-huh, no kids to worry about walking in during sex. Sex anytime and anywhere, yee-haw!
Let me guess – you just now clicked on the ‘continue reading’ link, right? Yeah, the promise of wild sex gets ’em every time. If you are a middle age empty nester like we are now, then you know the truth. If there’s sex, it’s typically at night with lights out and in the horizontal position. Gravity and light might be our friend, but they’re no friend to aging skin.
And if you’re not an empty nester, then likely you have a standing policy whereby all kids past the age of ten must knock anytime they come within twenty feet of your bedroom door. Likely, you even make your kids wear a huge cowbell around their neck so you can sense their location at all times. Our youngest boy, the one who just flew the nest, refused to wear a cowbell and once violated the 20 foot bedroom door protocol rule (at the age of 20). I had just finished taking a shower and was getting ready to towel off. Too bad for him. He didn’t know I was there and as soon as he got a glance at his dear old dad in his birthday suit, he screamed “agh! My eyes are burning” and immediately ran out the door. Luckily, I didn’t have to run downstairs to toss baking soda into his eyes. But let’s face it – no one wants to see his/her father in his tighty-whities, let alone in his birthday suit!
I’ll tell you what, since you made the effort to come all this way, I’ll give you a PG-13 story this week. I don’t want to be a teaser, after all. Some boring personal history first.
For the first eight years of our marriage we were renters. These were the days of 17% variable rate mortgages after all; and like most new couples, we could not afford to buy a house. Back in those days, I just assumed we’d always be renters. Our first two places were apartments. We liked apartment living but after we began to have children, we started looking for houses to rent. The first place we rented was in the country, a small, one stoplight place called Millville. We didn’t last long there as Butler County experienced a summer drought that year. The house was on well water and kept running out. We had gone to school with the owners and so they let us out early from our rental agreement as we were very unhappy there. So that’s when we found the little two-bedroom on a tiny cul-de-sac named Greenway Place.
Life on Greenway was generally nice. As I recall, I think there were only ten small houses there. The street itself ran uphill somewhat sharply at the end, backing up to a small wooded area. Behind the wooded area was some sort of county property, I think having to do with the county’s fresh water delivery. It was elevated and clear so I used to take the small kids there in the winter for sledding. I suppose it has a real name, but I called it the C St Water Tower. Greenway was also not too far away from the foundry where I worked, (link). I would even ride my bike to work from there on occasion.
The house that we rented was a small two bedroom ranch. As the entire cul-de-sac was on a small hill, both bedrooms of the house were directly over the garage. On really cold winter nights, I could fit our Mazda and our tiny Tercel into the garage, butt to butt. You couldn’t really call it a two story house since all that separated the ‘stories’ was 3-4 steps leading upstairs. Directly below those steps was our living room. Inside the living room was really only a few pieces of standard furniture you’d expect to see, including a huge old school television set I bought for $10 from an older lady accountant I worked with at the foundry. If you’re over 40 then you should know the kind I’m talking about – we men call them back-breakers because it pretty much took a small fork truck to move the damn things. Dare I use a Trumpism to say they were “huge”? The greatest technological improvement in the past few decades has been the thin television. The savings in healthcare spending alone has increased domestic discretionary spending enormously.
There was a wall separating the living room and kitchen but the wall had a large cutout with a contoured glass window, making the kitchen ‘somewhat’ visible and thereby giving the feel that the house was actually larger than it was. The walk-around area leading through the living room and around the wall separating it from the kitchen I guess was meant to be some sort of dining area, but it was so small I can’t even today recall what we had there – a cabinet with a stereo system?
The kitchen was very 1960’s; white cabinets, small table, stove and fridge. There were opposing two doors at the end of the kitchen; one led into the basement and the other leading outside. Under the large sheet steel awning and placed on the large concrete slab serving as the patio, we had a nice wooden picnic table that Kim’s dad had made. This faced the back yard that had a large maple tree located in the center of the fenced backyard. The back porch was relatively nice in the summertime while it was dry but otherwise it was always moist due to never getting any sunshine.
The basement was semi finished in that it had a bar area with a linoleum floor. The steps leading down to the basement carry a bad memory for me as it was there I once heard a beloved pet fall down after what was supposed to be a standard fur trimming. The vet put her to sleep to make the shaving go smoother and we suppose he delivered too much anesthesia as Precious, (the cat’s name), never recovered. I have a sad memory of picking her up on the top step and I guess a sense of guilt because I would never put her in the basement with those steps knowing what I know today of anesthesia and surgeries.
The greatest invention for the kids in those days was the ‘Big Wheel’. If you’ve seen the horror movie The Shining, then you’ve seen Danny Torrance riding his Big Wheel plastic tricycle through the halls of the scary second floor of the Overlook Hotel. On Greenway, we had no hallways so the Big Wheel got a workout outside. I recall how Kim and I used to cringe every time we’d watch our 4-5 year old Mitchell hop on that thing at the top of the hill and come flying down the sidewalk. Just when we’d think he’d overshot our house and I would have to go flying down the street, chasing him into busy traffic, he’d pull the hand brake and brace his small feet against the pedals, sending himself into the Big Wheel’s kid version of a Vin Diesel Fast & Furious drifting, right into our driveway. Fun to watch but as parents, we never got used to that.
Overall, it was a good couple of years there and by now you’re yawning, wondering where the heck the sex is – you promised us sex Rob! Ok, ok….well, like most, (I suppose most), young couples, we were constantly like a couple of jackrabbits on a date. I’ve mentioned before that Kim and I have always had great chemistry. I don’t know if this is usual or not, but really, up until just a few years ago, there weren’t many nights in our married lives where we weren’t taking the opportunity to ‘make each other happy’. (And I apologize to my kids right now if any are reading this but, yes we are still making each other happy….sorry to spoil your meal).
Many nights we’d be sitting in our living room, watching prime time television on our ‘back-breaker’ after getting Mitch to bed, when the urge to ‘exercise’ would spring us into action. After all, bedrooms were for sleeping and for old people – we had a couch and isn’t that what couches were made for? Like hundreds of other nights before this one special night, Kim and I were having fun on the couch. On this occasion, let’s just say we were studying math, (use your imagination), when I either heard a small noise, or perhaps I felt a tiny presence in the room with us. I came up for air and to turn my head around and that’s when the fun immediately stopped. REDRUM, REDRUM!!
There, sitting on those tiny steps was our four year old. We didn’t know how long he had been there and what all he had seen. As soon as he saw me looking at him, he simply made the following statement:
Why are you guys acting so stupid?
I quickly, (very quickly), yanked my pants on and walked over to Mitch and just calmly whispered to him, “come on, let’s go back to bed”. I took him into his room and tucked him in.
Kim was mortified, scared to death that we had traumatized our precious little boy for life. I was much less scared. You know how you wake up in the middle of the night, have a few important thoughts, (every midnight thought is crucial, isn’t it), and then you fall back asleep? Nine times out of ten, don’t you totally forget those thoughts? Well that was my thinking that night, that he would go right back to sleep and forget totally about his Nightmare on Elm St. Kim was worried about what to say the next day, but I told her that if Mitch doesn’t ask questions immediately in the morning, then there’s a great chance he will totally forget the incident. He just had to because I was not ready to have the birds and the bees discussion with a four year old. Maybe I could explain that we were practicing to be poor sumo wrestlers, ones who couldn’t afford to buy the sumo diapers and that his mother had me in a suffocating headlock. (Whew, thanks for saving Daddy’s life Mitch).
This must have been a regular weeknight because I recall having to go to work the next morning and calling Kim at lunchtime to see if Mitch had been extraordinarily inquisitive over his scrambled eggs. Kim must not have had to work that day because I do remember calling her at the house, (remember kids, no cell phones so no texting, only good old Ma Bell). Kim had been very nervous, scared to death Mitch would have a hundred questions about the wrestling match, but I specifically reminded her that morning:
Remember, don’t say anything, not a word about what went on. Act perfectly natural and maybe get his mind engaged on something he’s interested in, start a conversation with him while you’re cooking his eggs. My bet is that if you do, his little four year old mind will totally block out the scary images from the night before.
When lunchtime came around, I asked Kim how the morning went, she reported in that everything, (luckily), was normal as could be. Mitch had not asked a single question about sumo wrestling, nor had he acted unusual or quiet. I said, great, this will be our game plan and we will never speak of this ever again with Mitch. We will start using our bedroom, using cowbells and he will forget all about this….until one day after I’m long gone and he decides he wants to go read Dad’s dumb growing up stories.
Mitch – I hope you’ve had a great life and I hope you are ‘acting stupid’. If this story is now bringing back scary memories that have been buried somewhere for decades, consider that your mom and I were much younger than you are now. Imagine two hot 26 year olds, (who are not your mother and father), and maybe that will help make it better.
We live and learn dear readers, we live and learn.