My sister Tina’s baby shower was today. For reasons I don’t understand, they waited till the very end of her pregnancy to have her shower. I think she’s due in only a few weeks. The shower was at the house of her best friend Eleanor, about an hour south of where we live. Tina told me she had invited couples so I brought Jim along. We actually debated if he should come, since I knew my mom was going to be there. He offered not to come because he didn’t want to make trouble, but I wanted him there. I figured Tina’s shower would be unbearable if he wasn’t there.
I have been to a few baby showers for women at work and they are all completely horrible. I hate them. I have to pretend to be all excited about the baby and squee when all the other women do. And the games… oh god, the games. I can’t even discuss them without cringing. I think the worst one was when we were forced to make little Franken-babies out of magazine cut-outs, and the mother-to-be had to pick her favorite.
I didn’t know what to buy Tina and she didn’t have a registry, so I just got her a bunch of tiny blue clothing. As I held up the little blue outfits, I got this crazy ache in my chest. The clothes were so cute and tiny. I can’t believe that Tina is going to have a baby that will fit into these teeny clothes. They’re so incredibly adorable. All right, I’m being all girly now, but god, I really want a baby sometimes. I’m glad Jim seems to be on the same page about all this. Maybe a year from now, I’ll be pregnant. That would be amazing.
“I’ve never been to a baby shower before,” Jim said as we neared Eleanor’s house.
“Lucky you,” I said.
“Is it that painful?”
“Yes.” I gave him a hard look. “Don’t leave me alone, okay?”
“I’m all yours, babe.”
The irritating thing was that there was obviously no handicapped parking at Eleanor’s house and we were kind of late, so we were stuck parking practically in the woods. Jim was having quite a bit of trouble wheeling over the uneven ground. “This is kind of annoying,” he said.
To make matters worse, Eleanor had a big flight of steps to get into her house. I’d never been to Eleanor’s house before and I guess nobody thought to warn us about this. Rather than Jim drag himself up the steps, I went to the front door and asked Eleanor if she had a back entrance. She was really embarrassed about not having warned us and thank god, she DID have a back entrance with only one step, which is fine.
The back entrance brought us to the kitchen, which was where all the men at the party were huddled. It was a little bit funny. I saw my father, who came over and gave me a kiss then gave Jim a big smile. “It’s great to see you again, Jim,” he said, sounding like he meant it.
Jim ventured into the living room to say hello to Tina. I hadn’t seen my sister since early in her pregnancy and I was kind of hoping she’d be fat like a house. She wasn’t. She looked beautiful. If anything, she looked prettier now that she was in her third trimester. It’s not fair. I mean, I love my sister, but why can’t she get fat and bloated during pregnancy like normal women?
“It’s so nice to see you again, Jim,” Tina said, and she bent over to hug him. “Thank you for coming.”
“You look amazing, Tina,” he said. “Congratulations again. I hear it’s a boy. That or you really like blue.”
“Yes, it’s a boy,” Tina said. “It better be, at least.” She smiled at the two of us. “Hopefully, he’ll have some cousins in the near future.”
“Um,” I mumbled.
“I hope so too,” Jim said.
I spotted my mother in the corner of the room, eying us sort of angrily. I looked away. The last thing I wanted was to stir up a bunch of trouble at my little sister’s baby shower.
“Ma will get over it,” Tina said, noticing where my gaze was directed. She looked at Jim. “I promise, she will. She just needs time.”
Jim lowered his eyes. “Yeah. Do you think there’s any chance she’ll come to the wedding?”
Tina glanced back at our mother, who was pretty much glowering at us by now. “Well, I’ll be there,” she said.
At that point, I told Jim he could retire to the kitchen, despite his promise to me not to leave my side. I didn’t want him to be the only male in the entire living room. That would be too cruel.
The party was moderately painful, although I guess not as bad as it could have been. A year ago, I would have definitely wanted to slit my wrists at this party. I was probably the only woman in the room and if I were single, I would have gotten an outpouring of sympathy. Everyone would have been telling me in a cheerleader voice that I would totally meet someone soon.
But the giant diamond that Jim bought me meant that nobody felt sorry for me. In fact, a lot of the women seemed JEALOUS of me. They were all either cooing over my ring or eying it enviously. I’ve never been into jewelry, but the women at this party definitely were. Plus the fact that I had a huge diamond meant that I had a fiancé who could support a plush lifestyle. I have to admit, Jim knew what he was doing when he bought that ring.
The diamond was big enough that even my mother felt compelled to comment. She avoided me for most of the night, but then came over to me just before Tina was going to open her presents. “So let’s see the ring,” she said.
I held up my left hand.
Her eyes widened for a second but she tried to hide it. “I guess he feels like he has to impress you,” she said.
“Can’t you say anything nice?” I said.
The wrinkles on my mother’s face deepened. “Anastasia, I really want you to think about the mistake you’re making.”
“I heard you met Vincent Alton at work,” she said. “You know, he’s still single. He’s very handsome, don’t you think so?”
“I don’t know,” I mumbled.
She caught my hesitation. “You like him!” she said triumphantly. “I knew it! Oh Tessie, he’s so nice. And he really likes you, I could tell.” She smiled. “Tessie, just give Vincent a chance. He’s so wonderful.”
“Ma, I’m ENGAGED,” I said.
“Right,” she said. “You’re not married! It’s not too late.”
I sighed. “Ma, you can accept Jim and come to your oldest daughter’s wedding. Or you can stay home on the happiest day of my life.”
One thing my mother and I have in common is that we can both be pretty stubborn. She gave me this knowing look, said, “You’ll change your mind, I know it.” Then she got up and walked away from me. I kind of felt like bursting into tears, but I didn’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing she was getting to me.
Jim had to be at work early this morning for a meeting. He set his alarm for 6AM and got out of bed while I snuggled with the blankets. “Lucky,” he murmured in my ear. I usually don’t wake up till 7:30. He usually gets up at 7.
Even though I was pretty tired, I had trouble getting back to sleep after the alarm went off. The sound of water running in the bathroom kept rousing me from almost sleep. Finally, Jim came out of the bathroom, freshly shaved, but still in boxers and an undershirt.
My eyes were still cracked open as he pulled his undershirt off to get dressed. I feel so guilty saying this, but as I watched him, I couldn’t help thinking about the muscles under Vincent’s shirt. When Jim is sitting in his wheelchair with his shirt off, that’s probably the least flattering position he could be in. It’s not so bad while he’s lying in bed, but when he’s in his chair, the way he slumps a bit makes the lack of muscles really noticeable.
I feel really bad saying this because I do find Jim incredibly handsome, but not so much that part of him. If he were just overweight or something like that, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. I mean, I’m overweight so it’s not like I can throw stones. I guess what bothers me is that I’ve never seen anyone whose chest looked like that before. Or at least, I’ve definitely never dated someone whose chest looked like that before. When he’s part naked and sitting in his wheelchair, he looks SO disabled. I feel like people are not trained to be sexually turned on by severe disability. Evolutionary-wise, we’re probably ingrained to be repelled by disability.
Yes, I am trying to justify my feelings based on evolution.
Anyway, I’ve never mentioned this to Jim, obviously. I would never say that to him. And it’s really not that big a deal. But it’s something I think about sometimes. Especially when I see someone like Vincent, who’s kind of the opposite. If Jim knew what I was thinking about Vincent, he would be beyond hurt.
I sometimes suspect Jim knows that I prefer him with a shirt on though. Or maybe he just knows he doesn’t look good with his shirt off while sitting in his chair. Anyway, he looks incredibly good with his shirt on, especially blue shirts that bring out the color in his eyes.
Jim’s brother Eric and his wife Alicia came to visit this weekend. They brought their kids and all stayed at a hotel in the area. I know they were having some marital problems in the past, but they seemed okay now. Eric is incredibly nice and reminds me a lot of Jim, but Alicia makes me very nervous. She’s really blunt and never sugar-coats anything.
For example, the second Alicia walked into our apartment, she said to me, “So you guys got engaged, huh? Finally.” She then picked up my hand and looked at my ring. “Jesus Christ, Jim. You could have used a little restraint.” “I know, it’s big,” I said, blushing.
“Totally worth it,” Jim said.
Alicia rolled her eyes.
Eric looked a little embarrassed by his wife’s response. He hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. “Congratulations, Tessie. We’re so happy for you two.”
“Thanks,” I said.
Jim’s two nephews raced in and he was ready with presents for both of them. Jim loves kids. He is going to be such an amazing dad. In two minutes, the boys were running around the apartment and he was chasing them. I went into the kitchen to put some chips on a bowl and Alicia followed me.
“So when are you guys having kids?” Alicia asked me.
“Oh, um, I don’t know,” I said.
“I’m thinking Jim wants them right away,” she said. She squinted at me. “You okay with that, Tess?”
“Um, yeah.” I totally am. Especially with my sister so close to having her baby, I think about babies all the time these days. I would love to have a tiny little newborn to feed and take care of.
“Just don’t get knocked up before the wedding,” Alicia said. “It’s tacky.”
I didn’t say anything. I don’t think she realizes that Jim can’t ejaculate without medical assistance and I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to tell her. I didn’t really want to talk about my sex life with Jim at all, except Alicia then said to me, “So how’s my brother-in-law in bed?”
I nearly choked. I stammered something that wasn’t really an answer.
“I bet he’s really good,” Alicia said.
I didn’t want to elaborate on the fact that Jim was the absolute master of oral sex, that he practically made me levitate. So I just said, “Yeah, he is.”
“I’m not surprised,” she said. “He’s very unselfish. Unlike Eric.”
“Eric and I are getting separated,” Alicia said.
I stared at her. “You are? But I thought things were okay now.”
“Not really,” she said.
I didn’t know what to say.
“Eric is moving here,” she said. “That’s why we drove down here with the SUV, so we could bring some of his boxes. This isn’t a recreational trip. Eric got offered a job out here so we decided he should take it.”
“I’m sorry,” I finally said.
Alicia shrugged. “It was a long time coming.”
“Does Jim know?”
“Of course he knows,” Alicia said. “He helped Eric find an apartment out here.”
“He, um, he never said anything to me.” I remembered a month ago, he told me that Eric was visiting and he didn’t ask me to come out with them.
“Maybe he thought it was none of your business,” Alicia said. She added, “No offense.”
I love it when someone says something really offensive, then says “no offense.” But then again, almost everything Alicia said was mildly offensive. She should just hold a sign with the words printed on it.
“Don’t worry,” Alicia said to me. “Just because Eric and Jim seem alike, it doesn’t mean you’re going to get a divorce too. They’re actually pretty different.”
I hated to admit it, but that was exactly what I was thinking. I think she was wrong; Jim and Eric are really similar. But Alicia and I are very different. I don’t know her reasons for wanting a divorce, but I don’t think my standards are nearly as high. Eric seems like a really great guy. He’s nice, clearly a good guy, and pretty good looking too. I don’t know how Alicia could do better.
Eric and Alicia stayed all afternoon, then left together, but not necessarily to the same place. I guessed Eric was going to his new apartment and Alicia and the kids were going to her hotel. It was weird because they weren’t fighting, but they also weren’t talking. I noticed Jim and Eric spent a lot of time talking alone and they hugged when Eric left.
“You didn’t tell me Eric and Alicia were getting divorced,” I said to Jim, when they were gone.
“Oh,” Jim said distantly. “Yeah, sorry. Eric told me not to mention it to you. They’re trying to keep things quiet until they can break the news to our parents.”
Jim looked really troubled. I know he and his older brother are really close. “It’s awful,” I said. “Eric is so nice.”
“He is,” Jim said. “He’s been a really good husband and father. He doesn’t deserve this.”
“I guess they weren’t… compatible?”
Jim made a face. “You could say that. You could also say that Alicia was cheating on him.”
I gasped. “Are you serious?”
Jim nodded and told me the whole story. Apparently, around the time Eric lost his previous job, Alicia started having an affair with some other guy where she worked. And somehow it got serious and now they were in love. Alicia apparently told Eric that the new guy was a “real man.”
“That’s awful,” I gasped when he finished the story.
“He never should have married Alicia,” Jim said. “Nothing he ever did was good enough for her. And he’s a great guy. Classic example of how nice guys always finish last.”
“Do you finish last?” I asked. I was teasing a bit, but not entirely.
“Well, it’s not a RULE,” he said, smiling at me. He wheeled closer to me and pulled me into his lap. He buried his face in my hair. “I’m so glad I have you, Tessie. Truly.”
I don’t know how women cheat. I mean, I know how they do it, but I just couldn’t do something like that myself. It’s just too horrible. Then again, I’m sure not many women go into a relationship thinking they’re going to cheat on the guy.
All right, I have a confession to make and it’s going to sound weird after my last entry: lately, Vincent and I have been emailing a lot. There is absolutely nothing going on. Nothing. But he emailed me a couple of times about work-related stuff and then we got to sort of joking around and it’s escalated. We’ve been exchanging a few emails every day.
And I would be lying if I said that Vincent’s tone wasn’t a bit flirty. I can’t even say what we really email about, mostly just joking around about work. But that bothers me more than anything. If we were actually exchanging information, it would be okay. But we’re not.
Jim doesn’t know about this, obviously. Even though I’m not actually doing anything wrong, I’m scared to tell him. I guess because I feel like I’m sort of doing something wrong. Or he’d be hurt, at least. And tell me to stop.
I love Jim. I really do. I would never do anything to hurt him. I don’t think these emails are a big deal and I don’t even think Vincent really likes me. And even if he did, it doesn’t matter. I’m marrying Jim.
To be continued...