Is it cleaning day again? I’m so sorry, Marjorie. I would’ve forewarned you if I’d remembered. No, no, please come on in. There’s no need to reschedule. I’ll just finish my sandwich while I explain, and you can go ahead and start cleaning the kitchen if you’re able to tear your eyes away from Stephen. Really, it’s too bad you had to see this.
Marjorie, do you remember the party we had a few months back when Stephen turned thirty-five? Well, that very night, he had an epiphany: We should give up on trying to get pregnant. Cancel those IVF treatments, he said. He likes our lifestyle the way it is, and he wants us to focus on our (his) other needs: Let’s try this, let’s do it that way, aren’t you curious? etc. He nagged me into going with him to see this sex therapist, an intimidating middle-aged amazon with dyed black hair and tattooed wrist bracelets.
Almost as if they had consulted beforehand, she immediately agreed with Stephen that a bit of erotic experimentation was in order. When I brought up other issues, she would spout some crap like “kids aren’t for everyone,” and then go back to pushing the role of sexual vibrancy in a healthy marriage. She chuckled and repeated Stephen’s mantra (“Aren’t you curious?”) as she handed me a coupon worth twenty percent off on all merchandise at a shop called Not Too Naughty.
So yes, Marjorie, to please my husband, I let him drag me into that bizarre place, where we acquired a variety of “playthings,” including this whip you see on the table in front of me and the handcuffs that are now securing Stephen to his chair. Kinky sex is not my thing, Marjorie. But I’m a pleaser by nature, and besides, I don’t like thinking of myself as a tight-ass, so I tried. I really did try. I swallowed my distaste—and at times, my nausea, as we experimented with games, apparatuses, and slutty underwear with snaps and zippers, but then he started asking me to do crazy things that were far outside my comfort zone.
I’m the type of person who captures cockroaches and puts them outdoors, Marjorie. If I had to wring a chicken’s neck to eat dinner, I’d turn vegan in a heartbeat. Stephen knows all this, yet despite my obvious reluctance to put on that awful outfit and wield the whip, he continued to rag me about my lack of interest in erotic adventures: Aren’t you curious? Aren’t you curious? Honest to God, I thought I’d puke if I heard that question one more time: Aren’t you curious?
I wanted to make him happy, Marjorie. But I just couldn’t pull off the dominatrix thing without giggling, which according to Stephen is unsexy as hell, and anyway, the corset was so tight it pinched and made me self-conscious about the extra ten pounds I’ve put on since we married. But Stephen insisted, “That’s how they wear them.”
So now it’s come to this, and it’s unfortunate that you had to find us this way: me at the kitchen table, dressed for the office, eating this BLT I just fixed for myself. Stephen naked except for the lacy jockstrap, bound to the chair across from me, blushing like a virgin and thoroughly pissed, judging by his bulging eyes. And although his cries are choked off by the panty-wrapped gag-ball, it’s clear he wants one of us to untie him. But don’t be tempted, Marjorie. He’s in no danger, I promise you. We’re just having a little therapy session.
You see, Marjorie, sleep has eluded me lately. Questions and doubts swim through my head like tiny fishes with stingers. Why did I cave so easily to Stephen on the IVF treatments? Should I broach the subject again? Maybe we could swerve in the direction of adoption.
So today, sleep deprivation caught up with me, and I came home from work at lunchtime, exhausted, planning to grab a quick nap. I walked in and found Stephen as you see him: handcuffed to his chair, gag-ball in mouth. The tattooed amazon, packed into my flab-hugging corset and fishnet stockings, the whip between her teeth, was standing with one stiletto-heeled foot between his thighs on the chair. She split faster than you can say “twenty percent off,” abandoning the whip—which we’ve no further use for, so you can toss it into the trash bin, if you don’t mind. I’ve found a more satisfying punishment technique. More satisfying for me, anyway.
Notice how every visible inch of Stephen’s body—which is in fact his entire body minus about six inches—is the color of an angry serrano pepper? And yes, he’s crying now, but don’t be alarmed: it’s only because he’s mortified. Rightfully so, don’t you think? As you may have guessed, Marjorie, I didn’t really forget that today was cleaning day—although apparently it did slip Stephen’s mind.
But pay no attention to us, Marjorie. You’ve got a house to clean, and Stephen and I need to finish up here and get ourselves back to work. Isn’t that right, Stephen? What direction will our marriage take now, Stephen? Will I stay or will I go? What will become of those photos I took? Aren’t you curious? Stephen, wouldn’t you love to know what Marjorie is thinking right now? Aren’t you curious, Stephen? Aren’t you curious?