For our fiftieth anniversary they send us on a cruise.
We’re in bed in our stateroom aboard the Belle of the Caribbean watching “Love Boat” reruns when the wife says, “I think a threesome might spice things up.”
“This is family television,” I tell her.
“I meant for us, something to get us out of our rut.”
“How about a tattoo?” I say.
“I’m serious,” she says. She rolls over and grabs the remote with her well-manicured hand.
“I didn’t see ‘Hot Three-Way Action on the Promenade Deck at noon’ on the activity poster,” I say.
“It sounds like fun,” she says. Her plucked eyebrows jump when she says ‘fun’.
“You wouldn’t know where to start.”
“I googled it. I’d just dive right in.”
“What kind of threesome are we talking about?” I say.
She clicks off the TV. “I hadn’t thought about that,” she says. “Does it matter?”
I snort. “Well, actually, yes, it does matter.”
She slides over and curls up next to me, nibbling on my sunburned ear. “Are there some combinations you would consider?”
“Sure,” I say.
“Assuming you’re there.”
I sit up. “Now I’m not even in the room?”
“You could watch,” she says. “Or run the camera.”
“I could tweet it.”
“We could find somebody onboard. The Pirate Lounge looks promising.”
“Like Johnny Depp?” I say.
“Remember Amy? I think she’d be up for it,” she says.
I meet my wife’s eyes. “Amy? From snorkeling?”
“Amy from snorkeling.”
“I don’t like redheads,” I say.
Category Archives: Mike DiChristina
Z was President-for-Life, but inside his plump body he was a dancer. Sporting his trademark Napoleonic bicorn and gold lamé tunic, Z went viral on YouTube whenever he danced in public.
On La Fête Nationale, Z delivered an impassioned speech from the palace balcony and then tap-danced to the roar of his minions, helping them overlook the perpetual State of Emergency and the recent disappearance of a Nobel laureate.
At the following week’s UN conference in New York, Z stole the show by slipping out of his titanium-reinforced limo to breakdance with tattooed American youths on the sidewalk. The Daily News dubbed Z the “(Mentally) Ill Duce.”
Back in the Maghreb, when the French ambassador stopped in for a sanity check, Z leapt off his throne and executed thirty-two consecutive fouettés, matching Baryshnikov’s legendary Swan Lake performance at the Ballet Russe.
M. L’Ambassadeur pronounced Z a superb dancer before departing to Paris for “les consultations.”
At Z’s last cabinet meeting, as the citizens of his emirate rattled the palace’s gold-plated gates, Z hopped onto the table and performed a grand jeté that left his ministers speechless. When the crowd surged into the compound, Z and the Royal Dance Instructor were whisked away in a helicopter from the palace roof.
Z trained for months in his Alpine redoubt. Finally, the call came from America. Z jetted to Hollywood, where, dressed as a gaucho, he stuck his nose between the breasts of a fawn-eyed goddess and tangoed on Dancing With The Stars.
Paul D, a character in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, is one of my favorite characters in literature, a model of hope, strength and resilience.
Still human, still capable of love, after years of wandering through a vicious world, Paul D finds Sethe, a woman he knows from their days at Sweet Home, a Kentucky plantation.
Sethe welcomes Paul D into her house outside Cincinnati, and the two survivors soon become lovers. It is not long before Paul D realizes the house is haunted by the ghost of Sethe’s baby. Learning of Sethe’s role in her baby’s long ago death, Paul D runs off, fearful for his life and sanity.
Ultimately, Paul D forgives Sethe for her tragic act.
Returning to Sethe’s home a second time, a prodigal lover, Paul D opens the front door and stands for a moment in the quiet. Thinking Sethe must be up in her bedroom, he turns and climbs “the luminous stairs.”
When I first read Beloved, I wished Morrison had ended the story with that beautiful image.
“Less is more,” I said to my wife as we lay in bed reading.
She slid her always cold feet under my legs.
I went on: “The last few pages put you to sleep – Paul D finds Sethe; he touches her face; he holds her hand; he tells her ‘you are the best thing.’ It’s all there in those luminous stairs. End of story. You have to leave some things unspoken.”
“Shut the fuck up,” said my wife.
Canastota, New York. August 1969. Eighteen.
Working the onion fields down by the lake, dark chocolate earth forever, the muck, we call it. Warm liquid air wilts the world.
Denny leans on his hoe, bandana-hatted, t-shirt hanging out his back pocket, brown concave chest. Adams apple bobbing, he chugs the canteen, tossing it to me saying, Screw this I’m out of here. You know who they got lined up this weekend? The Who. The Band. The Dead.
Then go with Darryl I say, sucking down the gritty warm water, suddenly cool wind on my neck, all around us the muck scored with mile-long rows of spiked onion plants unraveling into the haze, never converging, melting into white sky.
We leave now, we catch Hendrix, says Denny.
We leave now, our asses are fired, I say. After work, I’ll water ski with Charlene, carving the lake with that swish of her hips.
Denny nods to the west.
Half the sky purple, we drop our hoes and walk sprint to the old wagon in the middle of the field a half-mile away and when the storm breaks we crouch under the wagon, arms wrapped around our knees, streams of rainwater gush lightning-thunder-wind. The Muck a black quagmire, onion plants flashing silver undersides like the chopper-whipped rice paddies we will soon patrol.
I stare down at my red Chuck Taylors stuck in the black earth. Rain cool, then cold on my neck and I look up to see Denny gone.
George was the dessert man at the prepared food counter. He was short and round, and sported a black caterpillar mustache. His buddy the butcher called him ‘Vanilla Pudding.’
After his Saturday shift, George went home to clean up. On the way to Ming’s apartment, he stopped by an ATM to extract five crisp twenty-dollar bills.
George had continued to visit Ming even after she fell ill and there was no chance of any carnal pleasure. Ming’s thirty-something daughter Helen opened the apartment door and wordlessly returned to the kitchen to read her books.
George and Ming watched a dancing show on the TV in the bedroom. He sat in a chair next to the bed, while Ming lay with her eyes closed, fingering the synthetic jade necklace George had given her years before. George left his twenties on Ming’s night table before kissing her hot white forehead.
In Ming’s final weeks, George and Helen gave Ming sponge baths. They laved Ming with warm soapy water. George held his breath to avoid breathing in Ming’s stench. After drying Ming off, they changed her sheets and pulled a nightdress over her body.
Ming died in March. For several weeks, George stayed home on Saturday nights. One Saturday night in April, George walked over to Ming’s, stopping at the ATM along the way. George knocked on Ming’s door. Helen opened it. She wore a pretty blue dress, her hair swept up, revealing her long white neck, upon which hung Ming’s jade necklace.
Anne-Marie squinted as she read the sign next to the octopus tank at Sea World.
“Convergent evolution,” she said.
Jimmy rapped the aquarium glass, but the pink octopus remained motionless, tucked in its cave, its unblinking eye catatonic.
“We evolved on different paths. Humans and octopuses. Octopi?” said Anne-Marie.
“Octopussy?” said Jimmy. He slipped his hand into the back pocket of her cargo shorts.
Anne-Marie said, “We both have eyes. Evolution found a different way in each case.”
Jimmy stood behind Anne-Marie, wrapping his arms around her waist. He pressed into her sun-warmed body, nibbling her ear, tasting lotion. He slipped his hands into her front-facing fanny pack.
“Wow,” he said.
Anne-Marie continued reading.
“Eyes have different anatomy, same result: sight. Like bat wings versus bird wings. Different anatomy, same result: flight,” she said.
“A poem,” he said.
“The octopus did us one better, though,” she said, “No blind spot.”
He covered her eyes with his hands. “We have a blind spot?”
“Back of the eye. Where the optic nerve enters the retina.” Anne-Marie ducked away and flip-flopped toward the stingray tank.
“I never saw any blind spot,” Jimmy said, following her.
“Your brain fills in the blanks. They have cool experiments that prove it,” she said.
He leaned over the railing and scratched a baby stingray’s back.
“Where next?” she said.
“Squid?” he said.
Anne-Marie said, “Or we could go back to the hotel and make our own eight-legged monster.”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” said Jimmy.
Standing in the dark morning cool of the front hall. Summer. Everybody snoozing – Ma and my little bros still crashed. Garbage truck grinds down on the street five floors below.
I open the door. Ricky from 12G, a knapsack on his back, hands in his pockets.
“Yo,” Ricky says. He blows a purple bubble.
I ram a handful of Cheerios into my mouth. I put my Yankee cap on crooked. My old man’s army bag slung over one shoulder, stenciled with his name my name all my eleven years. Pat my back pocket make sure I got my camp papers.
I follow Ricky down the stairwell, outside onto 157th Street. We get an egg sandwich. Ricky rips it in half and we eat it on the A train down to the Port Authority.
“Gate C5,” says Ricky.
We take the escalators up, standing close, our shoulders touch. At the gate, a table with a sign for the camp, boxes of donuts. Lady with a clipboard. A couple kids in plastic chairs.
“You boys Fresh Air?” the lady says.
I take a chocolate glazed.
“Have a donut,” she says.
Me and Ricky with fifty boys on the bus. AC. Seats soft, clean. Tinted windows. The bus spirals down the concrete ramp, into the Lincoln Tunnel.
Tunnel’s tiled walls stained brown. Lights turn everybody green.
At the end of the tunnel, we whoop.
Ricky grabs my hand and squeezes it tight as we rumble into the sun.