|Dorrie spotted an empty corner booth and suddenly remembered
that during the first years of her marriage she'd been to this cafe,
and sat in that very booth. Back when she and Matthew used to go
places to be alone together, the two of them making running
commentaries about everybody and everyplace--as if the rest of world
was a movie being put on for their benefit. The good old days. The
good old narcissistic days, Matthew always called them disdainfully
when she mentioned them now.
"Let's move," Dorrie said, carrying her place setting and glass
of water back to the booth.
Jennifer followed, brandishing her cutlery in the air like a
sword. The waitress swabbed down the table with fast sullen jerks.
She was irritated by the switch.
The cafe, Dorrie vaguely recalled, had had a different name back
Jennifer plunked forward on her elbows. Her face, round-eyed
and classically oval, turned hideously long and beseeching as a
question burst out.
"What do you do when you're not sexually compatible with someone
you live with? Stan and I have been married for seven, almost eight
years, and I know you and Matthew have been together even longer than
that. How do you make it work?"
"Matthew and I are compatible," Dorrie said quickly. She always
froze on the subject of her own sex life. The fragility of intimacy.
It needed protection. Besides, nothing quirky--not that she was
telling a lie.
She could tell that Jennifer was trying to hide her
disappointment. Clearly she'd hoped to find Dorrie in the same
pickle. A twist of guilt told Dorrie she owed Jennifer some dirty
"I know you're happy. That's why I wanted to talk to you. I
want to talk to you because," Jennifer stressed the word, eyes at
half-mast, "you're in a happy relationship, and because," she raced
past her embarrassment, "you know Bryant and so you can understand at
least that part of my problem. Remember, you said he was a wonderful
dentist. You recommended him to me, in fact." She peeked out slyly
under long blonde bangs. "And I know you said that you were charmed
by him too."
"He is charming," Dorrie said, firmly. Abruptly she
remembered what the cafe had been called. Something hip back
then. The Naked i.