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Terms You Can Understand

Terms You Can Understand

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Published by Sam Silvas
Can a marriage survive a company picnic, the heat, the booze and secrets let loose?
Can a marriage survive a company picnic, the heat, the booze and secrets let loose?

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Published by: Sam Silvas on Mar 15, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/26/2012

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Terms You Can Understand
They were on Highway 99 heading for Chico, late for Brian’s company picnicbecause he’d insisted on making love earlier that morning. Brian was a salesman for anice cream company, the best in all of Northern California everyone said, including him.He had called Tami at work yesterday and said, “I'm really in love with you today. Ican't wait to be inside you.She turned away from the ears of her co-workers andwhispered, “Thank you.” The sterility of his voice made her anxious, as if he was daringher to believe the emotions behind the tone. They'd been together eight years and she'dbegun believing early on, yet every so often her heart lurched with doubt and she had toconvince herself all over again. Then she loved him even more.Chico was thick with mulberry, spruce, and eucalyptus trees grown past the heightof the freeway, their leaves limp and brown at the tips, as if even that height was too closeto the sun. It had been brutally hot for a week, the days stale, the nights uncompromising.Tami opened a window every evening for some fresh air but soon sweat would take upresidence behind her knees, under her breasts. The time spent lying and waiting for theair conditioner to kick on was her punishment she reasoned, for ever thinking that the heatmight take a step back.They drove past the house where Brian had lived while in college. A swing hungfrom the porch, an unblemished white against gray stucco and fake rock."Did I ever tell you the story of how we got kicked out of there?" Brian said over the
 
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gushing air conditioner. He hadn't spoken in forty-five minutes, since Yuba City whenTami had slipped her hand under the seat and produced a John Lee Hooker C.D.“A present,” she said.“Damn you,” he said.Once she had bought him a pair of Birkenstocks as they were leaving for aweekend in Lake Tahoe. They'll mellow you out, she had said. He insisted on stopping atthe Chevron mini-mart on the edge of town where he bought her a key chain with aminiature car dangling from it and a half dozen plastic roses."That prick landlord," he said now. "When I was up here last month I drove by andsaw the fat bastard mowing the lawn. I honked and flipped him off.""I'm glad you're over it after only ten years.""Well, shit. He had no right to evict us.""I like the porch swing," she said. "We should get one for the house.""Sure.""Since you do owe me a present."He flinched like he'd been stung. "Dammit, woman, quit playing me."She laughed and hugged him as he drove. "I'm just trying to keep up."They turned right at the college. Downtown was still. The old brick and terra cottabuildings could take the heat without crumbling but not without paying for it with a dull,stripped look."What's the wildest thing you've ever done, sex-wise?" he asked."Marry you."
 
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"No, that was dumb."They were in the middle of their fourth month of trying to conceive, so sex hadbeen a constant topic between them, more than their jobs, more than each other. Butnow that their talk of parenthood had spilled over into action, the sex for Tami hadbecome too serious. Boring. Something their relationship had never been."Why do you care?" she asked."I don't mind, if that's what you're thinking. I'm just curious."She looked out the window as they turned into Five Mile Park, its tall pines a refugefrom the concrete strip malls that dominated the outskirts of town. She didn't feel up toone of his contests, yet still almost told him the truth."Are there that many you have to think so long?""You know how many there've been. Okay. In high school my parents were out of town and I did it in their bed.""My, my, what would Freud say about that?" he clucked. "At Chas' wedding I did itwith a married woman."She shrugged."I guess I win," he said.The division president and the sales rep from the Chico/Redding territory werestanding by the barbecue when Brian and Tami pulled up."Everyone genuflect," the rep said. "Mr. Big Swinging Dick himself has arrived.That Tami must be a saint."

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