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Happy Wife, Happy Life
From the upcoming collection of short stories titled “The Secret Society.”
Plausible deniability is a woman’s best friend. What am I talking about? Take, for instance, this one situation I found myself in recently. I was out at a chain restaurant with my girlfriend, Anaïs, and her friends, and as we were seated at a table, she made sure that she sat on one side of me while her best friend, Jasmine, sat on the other.
Jasmine was going on and on about how, despite their many invitations to join them at the gatherings they would have, where their circle of friends would all get together and sometimes have their boyfriends—husbands—tag along and hang out because apparently, playdates for adult men are a thing, I would always decline.
I have better things to do with my time, and the last thing I want to do is spend time among men who, through their desire to please the women in their lives, talk that happy wife, happy life bullshit. I can’t relate to that anymore, as my experiences have proven to me that the saying is bullshit. It’s more like, if I’m happy, then my happiness trickles down to everyone in my life.
Based on the stories Anaïs would share with me after returning from their gatherings, combined with the experiences from the few times I’ve met these men at parties hosted by her friends at their homes, it seems to me that these men would be willing to set themselves on fire if it meant keeping their girlfriends warm, just so they could hear that they were their good boys.
Anyway, Anaïs had been insistent that this time I come, and Jasmine was strangely happy to see that I was there, cross-talking with Anaïs, joking, “Wow, I feel honored.”
Jasmine’s boyfriend was not there. In fact, I was the only guy at the table, and the rest of Anaïs’s friends made the same joke that they too felt honored to have pulled me away from my work: I’m a boudoir photographer.
Then came the question: Doesn’t Anaïs get jealous that I take pictures of naked women? To which she replied, “These ladies have nothing on me.”
Or the other question: Why would any woman want these types of pictures taken by a man? To which I responded, “Because something in them wants to feel like a bad girl but is afraid of the judgment of other women.”
Many at the table said the answers I was sharing were interesting. Something that they had never considered—the cruel judgments women place on each other are as bad as anything men could say or do, leading to shaming.
The final question came: “Why do you want to take those kinds of pictures?”
I understood what this gathering had now become: the interrogation. My girlfriend had gone through it too and had grown tired of her friend’s constant drilling of questions: why did she allow her man to be around beautiful women?—as if they thought she could control me and what I do. So she brought me along to tell them myself, and I gave them the same answer that I had given to Anaïs when we started dating: “Because I want to. And also because there are women out there who, for reasons personal to them, want—need—‘the male gaze’ while having the plausible deniability that it was all for a boudoir photo shoot... That it’s for their empowerment, and there’s a market for that, and it’s found among women who don’t want to be shamed by other women. In my way of thinking, I’m meeting that demand.”1
That got a laugh from Anaïs’s friends—some called me toxic, as if that meant anything to me—and that’s when I realized Jasmine’s foot was slightly on top of mine. I looked over at Anaïs, who was looking at me with smiling eyes.
I moved my foot away from Jasmine’s. She shimmied her foot back over, placing it slightly on top of mine again, and there it remained while Jasmine and Anaïs cross-talked with the rest of the table until the end of the night when we all said goodbye, and Jasmine gave me a long hug.
On the drive home, I mentioned to Anaïs that Jasmine’s foot had been on mine.
“Maybe she didn’t know,” was Anaïs’s response. “Sometimes, when we wear those kinds of shoes, we can’t feel where we are.”
“When I moved my foot away, she moved it again.”
Anaïs smiled, said, “It’s just your imagination,” then changed the subject.
I knew exactly what was going on—it was the buildup for what came next. Over the weeks, after having turned down several more invites to their gatherings—again, I was busy—I accepted, but only after Anaïs insisted. When we got to the restaurant, Anaïs insisted on the same seating arrangements, and again, it was just her friends. The only thing that was different was the setting; whereas before, it was a chain restaurant they had gathered at, this time it was a lounge where the atmosphere was dark, with moody music playing in the background while everyone around us snacked while drinking wine.
After much cross-talk, instead of her foot, Jasmine inched her leg closer until it was against my leg. Then, after a long moment, she lifted her leg to drape it over mine, so that now she was spread-legged while talking to Anaïs, who was looking at me again with smiling eyes. As far as I could tell, the rest of the friends at the table were oblivious to what was going on under it.
All sorts of thoughts flashed through my mind, but the one that stood out was the memory of the day my grandmother’s friends came over to tell her they’d seen my grandfather out with another woman. My grandfather—the player, seducer—the man’s man who made good things happen for my grandmother—was everything the men in her friend’s lives weren’t. And it was these friends who had come to my grandmother with the plausible deniability that their intent was to help another woman.
My grandmother replied, “Why are you trying to break up my marriage? Do you want him for yourselves? I see how you putas look at him.” After they acted like they didn’t know what she was talking about, and after they called my grandmother dumb, she gave up the game. “You don’t think I don’t know? A good-looking man like that is gonna be a man, but I would rather have someone like him—someone with swagger—than a faithful pendejo who’d always be up my ass, kissing it. So as long as he doesn’t spend my money and gets other women pregnant, it’s fine. I’m more mad that he didn’t do a better job of hiding it. Now I’ve gotta talk to him.”
When I first met Anaïs, I had told her that story, and since then, she has called my grandmother a smart woman, especially considering my grandfather has been dead for decades while my grandmother is still alive and has never worked a day in her life because of his hustling. It was in Anaïs’s smiling eyes that I understood that, because I make things happen for my girlfriend, her motto had become “When he’s happy, I’m happy.” And it made me happy to place my hand on Jasmine’s thigh, massaging it as my fingers inched closer to her pussy, stopping just short to feel her pulse through her jeans in the fold of her groin as she slightly writhed.
A friend sitting across from Jasmine asked, “Are you okay?”
“Because your face is red.”
Anaïs interjected, “I’m sure it’s an allergic reaction to the dip.” She looked over at Jasmine. “Remember when you said you hoped the dip didn’t have any gluten or peanuts?”
“Yeah,” Jasmine said. “I guess this does.”
Jasmine then turned her focus to another friend sitting across from us, all the while spreading her legs wider, as if signaling for me to stop lingering at the edges and touch her pussy, which I didn’t. Where would the fun be in that? For the rest of the night, I teased Jasmine while Anaïs grabbed my thigh and was doing the same to me, inching her hand up. But instead of lingering, she grabbed my cock and began massaging it through my pants, and kept massaging it until it was time to leave, and we all had to awkwardly stand and dance around so that no one else at the table could notice how aroused Jasmine, Anaïs, and I were, so apparent with my bulge in my pants and spots of their wetness seeping to the surface of their jeans.
Jasmine walked us out to our car, gave me a long hug, and then said, “I hope you come to our next outing. I know I’ll be coming.”
On the drive home, Anaïs talked about some of the women at the table and how miserable they were in their relationships. Her friends had complained to her that their boyfriends—husbands—had no edge. They had nothing going on and had stopped working on staying attractive, choosing instead to let themselves go; they no longer had any swagger and were now boring. What made Anaïs and me shake our heads was when she shared that her friends, especially Jasmine, couldn’t trust that their men, who would watch tons of porn but would say awful things about the women in these videos, would not say the same things about them if they were to reveal their real sides—the bad girl in them. They always had to worry that anything they would do for their men in bed could be thrown back in their faces.
“I don’t have to worry about that with you,” Anaïs said, smiling. “You know how to play the game.”
It was in that game that, when we got home, Anaïs and I had the most intense and passionate sex; it was as if we had met again, except this time I was meeting her real self, and in this meeting, where she was at her most vulnerable, she was able to reclaim the freedom to be authentic. Anaïs came hard when I called her my bad girl, and in return, when she hunched her body over mine so that she could whisper in my ear, “Next week, this bad girl wants you to fuck Jasmine,” I came hard, deep inside.
More short stories from the forthcoming collection, The Secret Society, will soon be available on this platform.
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