The USA news media, movies, TV programs even education in the 1970’s centered on sex to catch up for its past suppression. Sex wasn’t just for procreation. Sex was for pleasure, casual fun like chewing gum. It was free love; sex on demand, whatever floats your boat. With “the pill” procreation became an afterthought, something put off until later in life. Why get married after Woodstock?
Married with kids hubby and I were limited to observer status, stuck on shore having missed the free love boat.
Tired of taking “the pill”, after too much wine on 1975 New Year's Eve, with kids tucked away and midnight kisses, I broached the idea of hubby getting "fixed" for the post-midnight finish. His inebriated answer as he slid in was.
“If I’m fixed we’re going swinging”.
There it was proposed sex with others as we rang in the New Year. He had joked about swinging before but now was serious, even if tipsy.
Having sex with others was a turn on fantasy for both of us, but for me, not by swinging. The idea of anonymous sex was unappealing. I didn’t want to be a group grope toy. The concept of couples meeting for casual sex was something a male would dream up.
On the marriage bed I’d titillated myself imagining sex with actors, men flirted with, the San Francisco belly dance patron, even Joe Montana the Sf 49er quarterback. Only Joe Montana got me to watch football on TV while I prepared snacks and drinks for the guys. On occasion I led hubby, post-game once the gang left, to bed and joked about his donning a 49’er football helmet.
With his suggestion and implied acquiescence I was ready to see what I was missing, for me, not for him. While he may not be jealous, I still was, even in my fantasies.
After New Year’s he failed to bring the subject back up, embarrassed of his drinking admission. To renew the conversation, I related a girl at work swinging story, true but elaborated about to spur him on. Through alluded encouragements and subtle hints his swinging fantasy grew to open acceptance of it occurring once he was “fixed”. He then announced he made the appointment.
His decision to get "fixed" was an open admission we would try swinging to which I gave guarded consent. My possibly getting pregnant wasn’t discussed. Why his having a vasectomy justified our swinging was irrational but accepted by us both. It was the go past go Chance card. If he did it, swinging followed.
After recovery from his snipping, which he referred to as “chop chop”, he overtly planned swinging, part of the post op schedule. His 2 little testicle scars were our visas to the love boat.
During his recovery, I questioned swinging due him being jealous and not capable of allowing me to have sex with another. In response, he rationalized swinging would help me have more sexual experience since I was limited to only him. My being a virgin bride, an ideal status he ensured before marriage, now a flaw. Everyone else in the 70's had more sexual experience than me as if I had a defect. I conceded to needing more experience but harped he could not cope with jealousy. He needed to prove otherwise. I needed his assurance to proceed.
With his definitive proclamation he wouldn’t be jealous I let him commit to our going to a swinging party. To determine if we really wanted to and test his lack of jealousy. I, however, put conditions on going. It had to be in another city, with only married couples, just a "look see" and we would leave before 'activities" so we could decide if we really wanted to do it. He readily agreed and then scoured the newspaper classifieds for swinger groups. While I had my agenda I was willing to see how strong was his and rationalized.
Let’s see if he is willing to barter me to have sex with another. If he is, it won’t be swinging. I’ll find one I want but who knows, maybe a movie star or Joe Montana will show up.
Contacting a group to ensure my conditions were met he made arrangements. With his encouragement I bought a suggestive wardrobe. He bought a package of 3 condoms for me in case I changed my mind and wanted to speed the action up. With a baby sitter at home, off we went.
We drove up to the address given. It was to a modest house in Milpitas, an environment not dissimilar from Tropicana Village. The yard was unkempt, wary indicators before ringing the doorbell. Inside there were eight couples, all losers.
I was hot property. The talked the scene up but you could tell a couple of the wives were less enthused. I acted social but kept my distance and didn't want to be touched let alone have sex with any of them. The "look see" reaffirmed my swinging reluctance. They were swinging because that was the only way to entice others to have sex with them. If they were movie stars, it was a horror film. After socializing and their heavy drinking, we left. In the car I laughed about getting dressed up for a bunch of losers. He agreed.
His agenda waylaid, we went to a movie, "The Turning Point" with Ann Bancroft.
Afterwards, while disappointed he still harbored a suppressed swinging fantasy. I kept it suppressed by accusing him of having a jealousy issue. He became strident he was not guilty of jealousy. With his not guilty plea, I was free to flirt. I flirted openly to the edge. A man’s smile soon pushed me over the edge. Our accidental meeting skewed my life’s assumed projection.
It was time to cash in his, “I’m not jealous!” card. I had encouraged swinging due to a secret agenda, one which suffused into a life of fornication. My jealousy was never discussed nor revealed.
Tra la! It's May!
The lusty month of May!
That lovely month when ev'ryone goes
In my Camelot, a stranger entered, Sir Lancelot.
It was May 1975, 5 months after hubby’s inebriated New Year’s Eve innuendo, 3 months after his fixing to pursue it and a month after the swinger’s party deflation.
On a Saturday afternoon, the Valley’s Sycamore trees adorned with new velvety green leaves, its hills carpeted in vibrant spring grass, the air fresh and clean, we met at the Stanford Mall.
In a men’s shoe store, holding a pair selected for hubby, I felt his presence behind me. I turned. He was admiring me. Not with a stare or leer but with a welcome gaze and warm smile. A look of kindred recognition, the kind which draws one closer.
I looked down then back up. He still smiled. I smiled a returning invitation then blushed. He approached confidently and asked, as if no longer strangers.
"What do you think about this shoe? Does it go with me?"
I set the pair held down and observed him top to bottom. He wore expensive casual attire. His tan, polished cotton slacks creased and bent perfectly at the cuffs as they met his shoes. His linen cloth, light blue blazer matched the spring expectant weather. Over six feet tall, clean shaven, deep water blue eyed, he had a square jaw. His smile good natured, unthreatening with perfect teeth invited friendship. Not outright handsome but pleasant to look at, he appeared to be in in mid-twenties, of professional demeanor with brown hair combed straight back. I could tell he would eventually be bald.
I flirted a demur smile, turned back to the displays, walked about as if disinterested and selected a tan colored oxford with darken trim instead of the one he asked my opinion about and presented it to him.
"Try this. See if it goes with your pants."
He sat in a chair and gave the shoe I selected to an attendant salesman who scurried to get a pair his 9-D size. As my new acquaintance struggled to remove his shoes I stood aside and observed additional details. His bent neck was muscular, the straight back pompadour covered evident thinning, his shirt collar was starched, he smelled good.
The salesman returned, slid the ones I selected on his feet with his shoe horn and tied the laces. My new friend stood up and pranced around the showroom exclaiming in his chest resonant voice.
"I like them! I would never have selected them. They go with my slacks."
He then asked.
"And what are you here for?"
I stumbled and inanely blurted.
"A good-looking man, to select shoes for."
As the salesman put his old shoes in the box he replied.
"You found him."
He paid while I stood and silently and watched his movements. Once he signed for his card we walked to the Mall esplanade, surprised I exited the store with him, the shoes selected for my husband left behind. Nervous waking with a strange man, his voice calmed me. I wondered as we walked.
Why am I walking with him? I need to say goodbye. What if I meet someone?
Instead we stroll along in step. We talked moving among the shoppers as if acquaintances that accidentally met and needed to catch up on conversation as we answered each other’s inquiries.
He led us to kiosk for tea, an innocent excuse for continued contact with him. Facing one another he formally introduced himself as Edward and asked my name. I told him Eleanor. As we exchanged interests, he led the conversation. When I asked what he did he replied he was a student but when pressed revealed he was doing his medical internship. A flush of unease swept me. I was a simple girl. He would soon find me a foolish girl.
He didn’t ask, "What I did". Instead he asked. "What I liked". His confidence, demeanor, pleasant voice spawned comradeship. When I spoke, he listened attentively, responded based on what I said. He didn’t interrupt my thread to inform me of his august opinion like my husband. I stared at his full lips, mesmerized by his attention.
Our tea was innocent but we knew better. He had an agenda. I encouraged it. He could see my wedding ring but made no comment. We continued our tea act with the pot between us from which he added to my cup now and then. I thought of Alice In Wonderland and her tea party. I too was in a fantasy. For the first time, I was romantically smitten.
I’ve found what I’m missing.
He smiled each time he looked at me as if he too had found something missing.
He told me I was beautiful. I blushed.
My husband never says so. Now he wants to barter me for other women by swinging.
I was wearing jade stud earrings with gold posts, my husband's last Christmas present. As we finished tea he stared at my ears and commented.
"You should wear dangling earrings to emphasis your neck."
I blushed and scrunched my neck down.
He sees I’m a long-necked duck like my brothers.
"I have a gold hoops but don’t wear them."
"Well, how about dangling ones?"
I was not sure what he meant but suspected he was saying it would help hide my neck.
"I have an ugly neck! It's too long, only good for belly dancing."
"Only good for belly dancing? You're mistaken. It’s beautiful, needs emphasis, with earrings."
He stood up.
"We need to confirm what dangling earrings say. They’ll say your neck’s beautiful, like a swan’s."
He walked me to a jewelry store and looked at earrings under a locked glass case while I pretended to look at men's watches and checked if anyone noticed us. My Mall trip had taken an unexpected veer. I became nervous and tried to think of an excuse to leave before things went too far. I had never flirted this far. It was too close to the edge. His voice, however, kept me by his side. I was falling.
He selected a pair with a pearl at the end of a gold chain with European style ear lobe hook, real gold not platted. The saleslady opened the case with her little key and handed them to him. He held one up to my left earlobe, our first contact, just a brush, my ear and neck yearned for further caress.
He insisted I take off the jade studs and try them on. I obeyed. My hands shook as I sought the ear lobe holes as I stared down at my husband's Christmas present, laid skewed on the glass counter.
On, they caressed my neck as if his touch when I moved. Looking in the mirror my neck stood even longer. I scrunched down.
"Eleanor, you're not a turtle, please stand tall so I can enjoy the beauty of your neck."
I straightened up, a posture rarely taken, especially in the pumps I was wearing.
"Your neck is beautiful, no exquisite, the nape enticing. The earrings make it all more so."
Maybe Dad’s right; I’m a swan, not an ugly duck.
He insisted on buying them. I complained I didn’t know him, they were too expensive. He replied he was purchasing them to please himself, not me. I was thrilled.
Back on the Mall esplanade he asked for my phone number. I gave it to him but in doing said to call during the week day, not needing to explain. He wrote it down in a little leather note book, I told him I had to leave. He said he would call. A white lie I assumed. With earrings swaying and caressing my neck I walked taller than usual, erect in my pumps, elated. I didn’t look back but felt the presence of his gaze until I rounded the corner.
At home, I took off my new earrings; put them in the box they came with and hid them in my lingerie drawer. I put on my jade post ones. I looked and felt shorter.
Author Notes: A 7 year itch begins with kids in school, society sexual revolution and husband's swinging suggestion. A strange man enters and skews a life projection.