Simon Sees (2 of 3)


They bought the first house a year after their wedding, but they were both working too hard to indulge in new-homeowner projects like refinishing floors and stripping paint off built-ins. They satisfied themselves that the place was more of an investment than a real residence anyway — in that market of course they planned to trade up in a few years, just like they planned to trade their mortgage rate down — so it was a simple computer analysis to determine that hiring tradesmen to do the work made more sense than taking either Simon or Monica off their higher-paying endeavors.

They were into computer analysis then anyway. They were accustomed to the proprietary systems of their big corporate employers, and they also had separate little systems in their home offices. Most evenings they shifted between watching TV and working in their separate offices. They tended to different rooms, because Simon liked watching the cop shows and Monica was drawn more to the ones about lawyers or doctors. Soon it seemed that they only talked when they had to make a decision about an investment, and they only had sex when they traveled.

They sold the first house and bought a bigger one when they were 27. Simon thought it might be nice to start a family then, but Monica was more interested in acquiring a weekend place. They debated about it in a low-key way for a couple of weeks, car-to-car while driving to meetings, e-mail to e-mail from their offices, but Simon couldn’t talk Monica into losing the pills and her figure. She prevailed during a rare drive home together. She pointed out all the quality time they could have building and enjoying a place away from their regular stresses.

The next year they oversaw construction of a 1,200 square foot cabin at Sea Ranch. Afterward Simon regretted not participating in the actual building. He thought it might have been good for him, better than his continual financial analysis of the project. He spent so much time peering at the Excel spreadsheets about the building, or driving to and from the lot, that he developed a chronic stiff neck and a threatening weakness in his lower back. He discovered he had allergies to the wild grasses that grew along the coast. He sprung a hemorrhoid from all the time on the toilet, passing acidic waste because he was so tense about the real estate expenses.

Simon and Monica continued to be good-looking people. They went on a trip together every summer — usually an expensive naturalist- or docent-guided tour somewhere — and they were always a popular couple. They tended to do their business separately, but when they  entertained for one of their jobs, whether at their home or more frequently at a posh restaurant, they hosted with gracefulness and style. They were both so attractive and personable that of course they were approached; coincidentally they started stepping out within two months of each other, the spring of their 28th years, right around their fifth anniversary.

Their affairs had very different shapes. Simon realized later he must have been searching for a mate as much as for sex: sure he was eager and appreciative, vigorous and oral, but he wanted to talk as much as he wanted to fuck. He tended to have long affairs and to consider leaving Monica each time. But he was prudent enough to make himself give the relationship six months, and he always grew disappointed before he was inclined to negotiate divorce.

Monica went for momentary gratification and excitement. She was quite content to be married to Simon. But she was addicted to the feeling of power she had when she met a new man and attracted him. She loved the bestowing of herself on an appreciative male. She was drawn to sexual adventure, to under-the-table fondling, to car sex. She liked to go panty-less to bars.

They didn’t have an open marriage, but each was on the road enough that it was easy to arrange time apart. The only time Monica had a real problem was when she turned up pregnant. She and Simon had done it one time in that cycle; she remembered coming home from an incredible erotic session with Max and she must have exuded something, because Simon kind of jumped her in the upstairs hall, on the oriental runner, and she really enjoyed his raw spontaneity. She had to hide the abortion from him; that took more planning than any liaison.

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