Coupling Couples, Two mother son couples get together, Roberta didn’t like these annual regional conferences, but being a member of her professional association made her attendance at them pretty much obligatory. She almost never made any useful contacts at them, the lectures and seminars rarely introduced her to new and interesting research findings, and the social benefits of mingling with others who had similar titles on their business cards were over-rated.
But here she was for yet another year, in yet another basic black cocktail dress that showed enough of her mature curves to get the attention of men who were treating the conference as a vacation from their wives. She stood at the edge of yet another noisy crowd in yet another hotel meeting room, sipped yet another mediocre white wine, and pretended to be listening to the sales pitch of a man in an ill-fitting tuxedo who was, at the moment, trying to pick her up. He was doing all the talking.
The business card which she had just handed to the man, in hopes of bringing their one-sided conversation to an end before she actually fainted from sheer boredom, gave her name as Dr. Roberta E. Williams and confirmed her accreditation as a Clinical Psychologist. She dutifully accepted the other man’s card, slipping it into her purse as if she might actually want to look at it one day. The man finally grasped the fact that he was wasting his time. He gracelessly excused himself, and moved off in search of some other attractive woman to work his magic on.
Roberta had finished her drink, and wanted nothing so much as another one. She worked her way through the crowd toward one of the room’s temporary bars, pretending not to notice the not-so-accidental brushings of hands and other body parts against her lower body as she squeezed through the press of men who had skillfully positioned themselves to achieve the maximum number of such contacts. A couple of them had very good hands, she noticed.
Her cellphone chirped, and she paused to answer it, cupping one hand over an ear to try to block out the crowd noise.
“Hello? … Oh hi, darling!” she said. ” Yes, I’m in the middle of a noisy … sorry about … I miss you too, sweetheart … If you were here I’d be up in my room alone with you instead of here in this crazy mob scene … Yes, I’m wearing the black one with the slit up the left leg … I know you like it … I’ll model it for you again when I get back … think of me later when you jerk off … good night, darling … I love you … Bye.”
Roberta reached the bar and refuelled. She started to turn away, heading for a quiet corner where she could be left relatively alone, and promptly collided with another woman who was as much in a hurry to get to the bar as Roberta was to move away from it. Hasty apologies were exchanged. Fortunately no beverages had been spilled. Something about the woman caught Roberta’s interest and, without knowing quite why, she stayed where she was until the woman had gotten her drink and was headed back her way. Roberta had no idea why this particular woman might be someone she should get to know, but she knew better than to ignore these kinds of serendipitous moments. Serendipity was Roberta’s favorite word.
She smiled at the woman, transferring her glass from her right hand to her left so that they could shake hands. Roberta knew that her interest in this woman wasn’t like that of a man on the mating hunt, but she certainly noticed the other woman’s sparkling eyes, charming smile, well-looked-after figure, and sense of classic elegance in her attire that matched her own. Personal introductions were exchanged, confirming to Roberta what she’d always known, that the simplest of verbal greetings made much more sense than did the business card thing. The woman’s name was Helen. Roberta liked her instantly.
Roberta and Helen hit it off from the get-go. They had so much in common that it seemed a little freaky to Roberta, even though she’d intuitively guessed such a thing when she first saw Helen. Both of them had Psychology practices in the same city, both were divorced mothers, both had sons still living at home while going to college, and both were delighted to find an oasis of friendship in the wasteland of insincerity which surrounded them.
Ten minutes later they left the ridiculously overcrowded meeting room, together. The man in the dreadful tuxedo, who had tried unsuccessfully to pick up Roberta earlier, saw them leave and felt a rush of relief in knowing that his failure with Roberta was clearly due to the fact that the bitch was a goddamn dyke. He was wrong about Roberta, but then he’d been badly misjudging women for most of his life.
* * * * *
Roberta and Helen found a small table in one of the hotel’s lounges. They sat and talked and laughed and took turns signalling the waitress for more rounds. They talked about movies they’d seen, restaurants they’d been to, books they’d read, clothes, and the challenges of raising their sons. Roberta realized that it had been too long since she’d last had a fun talk about ‘girl’ things with anyone.
Their conversation was light and casual and wonderfully comforting to both women. It made both of them feel totally relaxed and very much at ease with one another, almost as if they’d known each other for years. When their hands accidentally touched on the tabletop, or their legs accidentally brushed together underneath it, the contact was strangely exciting even though neither of them consciously felt any romantic or sexual bond with the other. It felt strange, but strangely nice, too.
Helen’s cell phone sounded its musical phrase. Helen took the phone from her purse and, after glancing at it, told Roberta apologetically that it was a call she had to take.
“Hi, hon,” said Helen to the caller. “I’m fine … I should get away from here tomorrow afternoon … I’ll see you tomorrow night … I love you too … Kiss … Bye.”
“That was my son,” Helen explained, as if some explanation was necessary. “He’s over at a friend’s house watching a late movie and he didn’t want me to panic if I tried to reach him at home and couldn’t.”
“Mine called me earlier,” said Roberta. “I don’t know how they survive without us,” she added with a laugh.
“I’d tell you about mine, but that would be too much like talking shop,” said Helen.
“I know what you mean, Helen. I feel the same way.”
“I doubt it, Roberta,” said Helen, her voice very slightly slurred by the drink. “I’ll let you in on a secret, and you’ll know why I need my professional training to help me deal with matters at home.” There was a long pause before she went on. “My son is bonded to me more than is healthy for either of us.”
Roberta looked at Helen for a moment before speaking. “So is mine, Helen. So is mine.” Coincidence after coincidence, she thought.
“I may have had too much to drink, but I’m going to tell you this anyway,” said Helen. “Frank – that’s my son’s name – is far more, uh, far closer to me than my ex ever was. So I doubt that your home situation is anything like mine.”
“My situation may be very much like yours,” said Roberta. “Have you ever wanted to have sex with your son? I have.”
Helen stared wide-eyed at her new friend. “I’ve wanted that too. In fact …” Her voice trailed off as she thought better about finishing her thought.
“I know what you were going to say,” said Roberta. “I’ve slept with my son, too.”
“Oh my God,” said Helen softly. “And I thought I was the only one…”
“If I didn’t have to get up early to take part in a panel session tomorrow morning, I’d stay up with you and talk about this all night,” said Roberta. “I never thought I’d meet someone who understood these feelings the way I do.”
They traded business cards, after writing their home phone numbers and home email addresses on the back, and left the lounge to go to their rooms. Helen gave Roberta a warm hug and a kiss on the cheek as they parted for the night, and Roberta returned it.
“I’ll tell you another secret, Roberta,” whispered Helen. “I love what Frank and I do.”
“You didn’t have to tell me that, Helen,” whispered Roberta. “I already knew that. I’ve been there too, remember? I love what Jeffery and I do too.
They felt the kind of kinship that comes from unusual shared experience, and never again would they see themselves as being alone against an intolerant and unsympathetic world.
Roberta and Helen left the conference and headed for home the next afternoon, certain that they would have some contact with one another in the coming weeks. It was even possible that they might develop a longterm friendship, a friendship founded on that part of their lives which would have to remain their shared secret forever.
* * * * *
That contact started with an exchange of emails:
My Dear Roberta, You can’t imagine how much I appreciate what you did for me last week. You’ve given me a way to look at myself, and Frank, and the intimacy we share, with pride and confidence. Last night, as we lay in each other’s arms in the warm afterglow of good sex, I told him everything I know about you. He asked me what you look like and what you were wearing (you know how men like to reduce us to porn photos in their minds). I surprised myself by being able to describe you quite easily, and I rather naughtily left out none of the stimulating details I know he wanted to hear. Apparently that cute black number you were wearing and the lovely creature enticingly sheathed within it had an impact on me, and my description of it has now had quite an impact on my son. Frank even asked me if I’d tried to tongue kiss you when we said good night in the hotel elevator! Can you believe that? I was shocked by his question. But when I asked myself the same question I had no good answer for it. You are a gorgeous and sexually striking woman, Roberta, and I can understand Frank when he says that if he’d been in my position that night one of our beds would have been left unused. He’s a hunk, by the way, and a terrific bedmate. You’d love loving him as much as I do. If Frank had his way, I’d give you a chance to do just that. Don’t you just adore permanently horny young men? LOL. Love, Helen
My Dear Helen, I’ve just re-read your letter for the fourth time. I could have written it myself. From the moment Jeff asked me how the conference went I’ve been talking about you as if you were the only thing about the week worth mentioning. You were. I’m fairly sure that if either one of us had dared to slip her tongue tip between the other’s lips that night, Frank’s fantasy of the two of us sharing a bed might have become reality. I don’t doubt that Frank is a delightful partner for bedtime romps, and he’s begun to play a part in my masturbation fantasies, but I believe that you’d find Jeff to be just as much fun and everything you could want in a young fuckstud. He tells me he’d very much like to prove that to you himself. I want to talk with you again soon, Helen, if only to assure myself that my pleasant memories of our brief first meeting were accurate and worth pursuing. I’ve reserved a table for two for lunch on Wednesday at that wonderful Italian place I told you about – the one just a block south of my office. Twelve noon sharp. I hope you’ll find a way to join me then. Love, Roberta
Roberta was waiting at the restaurant when Helen came in. They greeted each other with the kind of almost-hug and glancing pecks on the cheek that women feel comfortable with in very public settings. They scanned the menu and ordered quickly. Then they picked up their talk where they’d left it the week before. But this time there was an important difference. They had opened themselves to each other in a way they’d never done with anyone else, and the heady blend of affection and eroticism which had grown from it was not to be denied. They showed each other pictures of their sons, and managed to convey their primitive carnal desires for their sons’ strong slender bodies without attracting unwanted attention from other diners seated nearby. They felt like young girls excitingly discussing boys they knew, eagerly sharing veiled hints about the naughty things they’d like to do if they were alone with the boys, and knowing that they were turning each other at the same time. The lunch was as delicious as was the conversation that accompanied it.
A week later the women were taken out to dinner by their sons at a fashionably tacky diner-styled joint, a place that specialized in huge burgers, absurdly rich ice cream sundaes, and 1950’s music from a real jukebox that would still play Elvis’ “Love Me Tender” for a quarter. Frank unashamedly flirted continuously with both of the women, and Jeff found it easy to play the same game with them too. The women loved it.
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