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The Married Man's Lament

When the will is trapped in the state of matrimony, the imagination remains unbound.
We met, so to speak, after each of us had given our order to the barristas behind the counter. We did not really meet in any sense that could be called a meeting of anything other than the mind and perhaps, of the will. She was in the line to my left, backlit from the street. She was not a perfect beauty, but in these situations, more beauty is the enemy of enough. She was a woman buying a cup of joe. I was also buying a cup and was planning to savor it before I crawled, like a hamster, into the exercise wheel of my job and started generating cash for my employer.

We had just heard each other's voices and turned our heads to see the source of those first attractive tones. We appraised each other, just as curious people always do when someone attracts their attention. Our eyes met. The simple message that passed between us would brighten our day and inspire us to fantasize about each other the next time we each had sex with our spouse. The message, "Yes, I would do you and yes, I see that you would do me, if only..." need never be spoken.

Indeed, neither of us could dare to speak it. Speaking it would cross the line. The last part of our mutual appraisal was the noticing of the wedding rings. We both had our wallets out to pay for our morning jolt. Our symbols of bondage to others were clearly on display. The sadness in our mutual smiles said, "Yes, I am faithful to my spouse, in deed, if not in thought, and yes, it would disturb me if you made a pass at me. I would feel both complimented by the expression of desire and disgusted at the thought that you would cheat on your spouse."

When she left the coffee shop, she crossed the street and stood at the railing. Looking wistfully at the water. Drinking her coffee. Preparing for her day at her job. I crossed also and sat on a bench nearby doing the same. For me it was part of my daily routine. For her, it seemed she had found a new place of beauty and solitude to assist in steeling herself to face the day.

We are aware of each other's proximity. We are aware that we are the subject of each other's reverie. We are each aware that the other is also aware. I see the yearning in her posture. In the way she turns briefly, just enough to catch me in the corner of her eye. I am just the right distance away to reinforce the feelings of mutual attraction and mutual respect. She remains on my left, backlit by the morning sun, and I am stimulated from drinking her presence in.

I see a woman who is more beautiful than her competition, my wife, but perhaps beautiful is not the correct term. More attractive, but possibly only because familiarity with my wife has bred ennui. Her husband would probably feel the same about her and might have similar thoughts about my wife. Neither of these married women are supermodels, but both are beautiful. The additional attraction I feel toward her is merely the difference between the unfamiliar and the mundane.

I know only what I sense. We have no shared history and that makes each new moment together fresher than we are accustomed to and that is exciting. Perhaps we are both past our seven year itch and have settled in for the long haul, each consciously conforming to our society's ideal by defying our natural urge to reject a lifetime of monogamy and embrace serial monogamy with a change of partner every few years. I do not know this. I only know that I want this woman who is standing alone wanting me.

I know that she does not see me as the ideal man. I do not look like He-man, the Marlboro Man, or Magnus. I have heard how many women perceive me. I remind them of a professor they once had. The one who could have enjoyed their charms, if only they could breach his defenses. The staid Dr. Henry Walton Jones, Jr. who could become Indiana Jones and whisk them off on romantic adventures. Studious and serious and simmering with untapped potential for sexual discovery. Confident and competent in his field, but shy and reserved in a crowd. An introvert who attracts the attention of a discerning few by not trying to. An irresistible combination for some, but only a temptation for those who've decided to go the distance with the man they love despite their faded ardor.

And so we both soak up the morning sun and imagine a scenario. I would come up behind her and place my hands on her hips. That contact would fuel the fires that have been slowly smoldering in our nethers since the moment our eyes met in the coffee shop. She would turn and gaze into my eyes and lean into me, wordlessly acknowledging that the desire is mutual. That would add oxygen to our mix. The necessary elements for a blaze in place, we would lose control and kiss with more passion than our spouses have inspired in a very long time. A passion we had each begun to wonder whether we would ever again experience. There would be body contact. Lots of it. We would feel each other's growing desire for more than we could risk in public.

As if we shared one mind, we would break the kiss.

"I know a place," I would say.

"Take me there."

Aware of the double entendre in her words, I would, if only...

Author's note: I would love to hear the thoughts of married women on this story. It would be a great compliment if someone would write the married woman's complement to it.

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