Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore
July 3, 2010
She lived between commitments made with men – marriage to that one, child support from another, and a good job with one down by the river. It was difficult to tell who her women friends were, if they existed, and in our convoluted world, I fancied myself a loyal confidant.
She was an intelligent woman, not particularly learned or skilled in any established way, and the nimble way with which she negotiated the turn of the earth in her direction escaped all but the most observant. A poet, that’s what she claimed to be and it might have been so, but the only words I ever saw her put to paper were funny observations in obviously misspelled phonetic flourishes, written on cocktail napkins which she nonchalantly stuffed into my pockets.
“Hey, Antonio, come va?” She always talked to me in a phony Italian accent when she knew others could hear and her smooth strawberry blonde hair hid the heritage that gave her every right to do so. But when alone, “Someday, Tony, someday.”
Stingers were her fancy, poured over cracked ice and brimming to the edge. The shy and dainty way she ordered them belied the manner in which she sucked them down, and the coziness she exuded in a corner booth gave the promise of all that it could mean. Her lips, sticky with the creme de menthe and brandy, urged me to another world – would she lightly brush your ear with them, slowly caressing down your body, lips and soft hair whispering over your stomach, asking you where to touch her, telling you what she liked?
“Come with me,” she said, squeezing my hand, “I want to show you something.” “But your husband,” I protested, to which she coldly replied, “He no longer exists for me.”
In her escape, she’d rented a typical Aspen one-bedroom condo, kept bland and impersonal for short-term tenants. Without looking around we entered a small room, almost taken up by the cold, empty bed, ugly without covering; the pinnacle of our teasing and flirting.
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Somewhere, she found a bed sheet under which she coyly removed her clothes without saying a word and then turned to face me, an unsure but inviting glow glimmering forth in the pale moonlight.
What I expected, I don’t know. Sex, yes, but more than that, I wanted to experience the dream, a feeling of common intimacy that crescendoed with all that we were up until then. But this was nothing more than scripted physicality. We had taken the perfunctory path, hand in hand, and such commitment, even if better left to another day, must be fulfilled, just to finish it if nothing else.
Her cleavage was gummy-sweet and cool from a drink spilled earlier and the murmurs under her breath were hard to understand, but the fantasy kept me close with desire. And then, with an insistence that enveloped us both, the starkness of the room and our hesitancy was overcome by the promise that always was and we entered a cocoon of exclusivity, a slippery, intense bonding of shared longing for more, wishing it to never end.
But it did. End. We had a couple months of blissful entanglement, but soon divorced, she moved back to the West coast to finish raising her remaining daughter. She returned a few times but it was clear, a brief fling is best left that way.
She was younger, but in the strangeness of events, this spring was the second anniversary of her death and that’s what drives my writing. A tribute and a smile to a good woman. Ah, to hear again that affected Italian accent or to kiss those sticky lips.
I’d like to tell you it happened on a Fourth of July weekend, but it probably didn’t, and it doesn’t matter anyway. Life isn’t about precision; it’s about the joy of living it.
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