We all got loaded. That part wasn’t my fault. Everybody planned on that. My wife. A friend of mine. The Blond. Me. However, I was supposed to be taking it easy, as I was the driver. It couldn’t have surprised anybody that I failed to achieve that objective, though. The first part of the evening was a beer festival at Construction Junction. We parked about a mile away from it, with the intent of giving me time to get my head back on the return walk to the car. The approach was a little quiet, but the festival was wonderful. Everybody loosened up pretty quickly. Beer is good that way. I saw a saint there, Sue. College art professor, brilliant woman, she taught me how to paint. She helped me find my voice with paint. I hugged her. We talked briefly. It was good for my heart. I kept drinking. I saw a girl from work and her boyfriend. We all talked. We moved on. I was still pretty sober and didn’t say anything stupid. After about an hour and a half, everybody was hitting the bathrooms in intervals. I was left standing alone with the Blond, talking with her. That’s exactly what I wanted. My heart was going to break through my ribs. We talked about very personal things. It felt good. Her character is so inviting. She disarms me in an instant. I’m a shitty liar to begin with, but around her I can’t help but gush. Everything pours out of me. Then another girl from work showed up. She jumped up to hug me. I hugged her back, and in a moment of unprecedented lack of restraint, kissed her on the neck. She took it well, played it off like nothing happened. Her husband was talking with other people, about 20 feet away. Eventually he came over, and she introduced us. It was awkward. I felt terrible, but said nothing about it. We all talked more, and took off. I hurried everybody out the door and away from my embarrassing indiscretion. I told them about what I had just done, and everybody laughed without restraint. We moved quickly through the dark, down the sidewalk, laughing, lighting up the night. The Blond and my wife disappeared between two houses to piss. They ran and giggled like children at play. My friend had lots of questions about the arrangement that my wife and I seem to have. It was news to him, and he just couldn’t get his head around it. He didn’t understand how my wife and I allowed each other to have sex with other people. He didn’t understand how nobody would get jealous, or why were even married at all if we wanted to be promiscuous. He fired his baffled questions with confusion and subtle, restrained frustration. My wife and I did our best to explain. I think we failed. We weren’t bothered. I drove us across town to the Lava Lounge. All of our bartender friends were there. I saw Greg immediately, and hugged him. We all got a booth, and started drinking more. Katie was at the bar, just as beautiful as ever. The Blond glowed red in the bar lights. She’s always beautiful, but special lighting amplifies that to great effect. It was a new context for me to see her in. I sat in the far corner of the booth. My wife sat beside me, to my left. My friend was directly across from me. The Blond sat beside him, and across from my wife. Greg floated around between the bar and the booth and sat where he could. He was on fire, in rare form. Mischievous. Free shots. He wanted me to get into a fight. Then my friend wanted us to start some sort of game where we punch the person to our immediate right in the face. Fortunately, nobody followed through. Though he really seemed into it, and wanted me to punch him. He was starting to lose it. I take responsibility for the whole thing. I took every chance I could to get close to the Blond whenever I could. I’d send him off with my wife. Nothing was meant to come of it, and nothing ever did come of it, but the Blond was his date, and I probably got a little too touchy with her for his taste. My fault. It was nice, but my fault. The tension must have been upsetting him. As everybody was getting ready to leave, apparently my wife tried to kiss him. I didn’t see the event, and my wife was blackout drunk, so she has no recollection of it. I’ve only heard of it secondhand. I was already outside. He took my wife aside, and asked her what was going on. She did her best to level with him. We generally like to have all of the cards on the table as our modus operandi. I know my wife was generally indifferent. She would have done it, but she wasn’t as invested in it as me. I can tell when she’s into a man, and when she’s just helping to get me laid. She can be a hell of a wingman. He calmly emphasized that he couldn’t be sexually involved with her. Fair enough. It ended there. I stood outside in the cool air with the Blond while that conversation was happening, and gave her one last hug. She went back in to get my friend and my wife, who were just resolving the aforementioned conversation. They emerged from the bar. It seemed like everybody was spinning in disparate confusion. There was anger and hurt feelings, and I was oblivious to it all. I had no idea. Nobody had any clarity left anyhow. I drove the Blond and my friend down to the “T” station, where they took a train back to his place. I drove my wife and myself home. Once we got to the bedroom, we still had enough left to go at it for one good round. Then we passed out until morning.
The next day was filled with awkward correspondence, and they both blamed everything on my wife. Nothing on me. Bizarre. No matter how I tried to request blame, it wasn’t given to me. Both in the moment and in retrospect, it seemed to me that everybody was having fun and fueling the tone of the evening. My wife still has no recollection of the event, though she doesn’t deny that it was possible that she tried to kiss him. She probably did, and that absolutely entitles the Blond to be angry with her. There’s no doubt about that. My wife is still apologizing for it. It seems odd to me, though, that my friend could be so sore. He was furious. A pretty woman tried to kiss him, and he was furious. It must have been traumatic for him. For all we know, it could have been a peck on the cheek. It could have been full on the mouth. I don’t know. My wife doesn’t know. I’m pretty sure the Blond didn’t see it, so she doesn’t likely know, either. The only information anybody has comes from the victim of said kiss, my friend, and he’s been absolutely shaken to the core by it.