Yesterday Cade and I went on a date. We bought coffee at Barnes and Noble. We walked around the city, laughed and joked. But suddenly things got serious. Both of us sat at a restaurant, and talked about the past."Do you remember the night we took our vows?" Cade asked.
I didn't feel hungry anymore. "Yes," I said. Who could forget? It was the same day our son was born with defects two years later.
After we'd taken our vows, Cade's cousin drove us back to their apartment.
"So, are you excited to consummate the marriage? Are you ready?" his cousin asked.
I paled. I'd been so stupid. I hadn't thought of that.
"We can wait, Man," Cade said. "We're not in a rush."
"Oh, yes you are," the cousin said and I hated him for those words. "If you don't have sex tonight, then the marriage isn't binding. You have to do the deed. You have to do it tonight."
My insides shook. Marriage sounded like a fun fairytale, full of Godmothers, snowy veils and excitement. Sex, well that sounded horrific.
The point is that things went horribly.
Cade led me into his room. Sex lasted for a moment before I burst from the room, my hair wild and makeup smeared with tears. Cade's cousin saw me and started clapping. They were big, resounding claps that killed my ears. "Good job. Way-ta consummate the marriage."
I pulled myself from the memory and looked at Cade. It's been almost eleven years since that awkward moment, but it still bothers me.
I was so innocent back then. Hell, people still think I'm innocent now, and I hate it. I want to look like the tough chick no one messes with. Maybe if I join the Navy, it would do the trick.
I even plucked my eyebrows last year, hoping I'd come off with an air of mystery, but no . . . people just thought I was more religious--and then they asked me to watch their kids!
No one thinks I swear. No one thinks I like vodka. No one knows I'm good at playing pool or that I've been invited to sew outfits for strippers! Why? Because I look too innocent.
I was glaring at Cade by then, mad about my innocent face, so upset it seemed like everything was his fault!
I pushed the chips and salsa farther away from myself.
A bunch of people had cluttered into the restaurant. I heard their happy conversations clearly, but none of that mattered.
"What do you remember most about the night we took our vows?" Cade asked before shoving chips into his mouth.
I thought of his cousin clapping. It made me so angry, I raised my voice. "You want to know what I remember?" I asked, and everyone around hushed. "I remember, that on our wedding night, your cousin gave me The Clap."
Everyone gasped, actually gasped. I couldn't understand what they were staring at, unless they'd been listening, and knew how terrible the clapping had been!
You should have seen Cade's face. He started choking on his chips. His right hand turned into a fist and he hit himself on the chest. I've never seen someone so masochistic--in all my life! He whispered then, "He didn't give you The Clap, Sweetheart."
"Oh, yes he did! Don't you remember when I ran from that room? He was clapping like mad. He wouldn't quit clapping. It went on and on--like it was in his damn job description!"
Cade's look of horror suddenly turned to whimsical delight. "Ummm, Elisa. Do you even know what . . . The Clap is?" He looked so roguish, so absolutely handsome as he mocked me.
Yet, how could he be so degrading to his own wife? "Sure I do," I said, puffing up with the type of pride only an education can boast. "It's when someone gives you an atta-boy, a pat on the back. You've been given . . . The Clap."
"Wow . . . so, that's not what it means. The Clap . . ." He held my hand and squeezed it. "Now, get ready for this. The Clap, is an STD."
I gaped at him. Did he really think I was that stupid? He'd have to come up with something much better if he wanted to fool me! "No it's not. You re so full of crap." I knew his tactics. I wouldn't fall for his suave deceptions or his tingly touch!
"Seriously," Cade said. "You still don't believe me?"
"No," I said.
That's when Cade decided to call for reinforcements. He motioned for our waiter to come over.
"Oh, my gosh, Cade. Don't talk to our waiter about this. Please . . ." But he wouldn't relent and as the waiter came closer, I thought I could hide under the booth. Or, I could put the napkin over my head and shut my eyes really tightly. Out of sight, out of mind?
The waiter sauntered over. He held fancy drinks on a platter. He'd tied his apron just so. The man was educated, probably attending The U of U, and he wouldn't believe my husbands lies about The Clap.
"Sorry to be such an inconvenience," my sweet, charming husband said. "But we've had a disagreement and I'm hoping you can solve it for us."
"Absolutely Sir," the man said with so much pride I could have melted into my leather chair.
"Can you kindly explain to my wife, about what The Clap is."
I looked up expectantly. Here it was, the moment of truth, but instead of the man saying the REAL meaing, his face looked skidish, like a white-faced mime. His once sophisticated eyes, darted around seeking an escape. His lips turned dismal and thin!
"The Clap," he cleared his throat, "is gonorrhea."
"Ummm, excuse me?" I said.
"Yes, Ma'am. Why, what did you think it was?"
"Well, I thought it was an . . . atta-boy," my voice sounded far away.
"The waiter laughed so hard. "Seriously? You're kidding."
"Nope. I'm really not."
"That is funny . . . but why were you talking about The Clap anyway?" he mumbled, but didn't give us time to answer.
He wouldn't come near us after that. He didn't refill our drinks. Even at the end, when he asked if we'd consider having dessert, he talked from about fifty feet away.
"Cade, I can't believe I didn't know what that meant."
He laughed and I couldn't help it anymore. I laughed too--so hard I cried. Everyone stared at us again, like we'd gone insane.
I saw my mom and brother when the clapping date had ended. "Do you know what The Clap is?" I asked my mom.
"Yeah," she said. "It's a slang for getting an STD."
I turned to my brother. "Why in the Hell didn't you ever tell me what The Clap was?"
"Because." He smiled. "If you never knew what it was, we figured you'd have less chance of getting it."
"No wonder people think I'm innocent."
"Yeah, " my brother laughed, "it's probably because you are."