Buckets

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It all started when my wife, Anna, turned 49. Not 39 or 50 or something typically momentous, but 49. She fell into a funk that was palpable – none of that usual joie de vivre, yet not outwardly angry or visibly depressed (not that I’m an expert in that sort of thing), just going through the paces kind of funk. She is the more introverted of our pairing, admittedly, with me usually being the one to try new foods first, want to vacation to never-before visited places, always up for a neighborhood party or occasion to dress up – but that’s mostly because once tugged into things, Anna first goes along, then gets involved, then emerges enthusiastic, and altogether likes that sort of thing – just wouldn’t think of initiating such stuff herself.

So, there we were. I’d just retired, early for my profession – we were financially pretty well set thanks to her doing well herself as a freelance editor of technical stuff – I never understood what she did along those lines, but it paid steadily, and we lived pretty modestly, and it all came together. So, we decided to ditch working and do what we wanted to do before we got too old. For her, that included daily yoga, almost daily gym workouts, and even occasional kayaking . I was more a reluctant jack of all gym workouts guy, getting there a couple of times a week, just to stave off time’s ravages – I was hardly buff, but it kept me from being embarrassed about my bod.

We’d been in that mode for almost a year – working out, doing some volunteering in the city, socializing, enjoying life’s rewards as we turned the bend in our lives, when suddenly Anna went into her funk. I tiptoed around things for a while, but finally had to confront her. I fixed dinner – simple and fresh – salad and grilled salmon – oh, and wine, a nice bottle of her favorite grocery store chardonnay. After dealing with the food, I cleaned up, and finally sat down with Anna. There was something she’d turned on, on the TV, but I could tell she wasn’t really engaged.

“Hey,” I started.

“Hey back,” she said, “nice dinner, thanks.”

“Anna, can we talk a bit?” I said, turning off the TV.

“Uh-oh. David, serious stuff?” she frowned, recognizing this wasn’t our usual.

“I really don’t know. You seem down lately. You’re quiet, not really angry or anything that I can tell, but definitely down. Is there something I’m doing wrong, or is there something you can talk about, or do you even agree? Maybe I’m imagining, but I don’t think so.”

I paused, and she paused, and after a very silent minute or so, she took a breath and answered, “It’s probably silly, and I realize how fortunate we are and all, but next month I’m going to be 49, and it’s got me spooked. That means I’ll be in my 50th year, and it’s just hitting me that my life is most probably well over half done, and I feel old all of a sudden, and useless, and worn out.” And she started sobbing.

I put my arm around her, and knew all too well not to try to “fix” things, or patronize her or anything – just to be there and see what she said next.

“You’re never bothered by this sort of thing, so I can’t expect you to understand,” she said through the tears, but more quietly, the sobs having turned to a sniffle or two.

More quiet on my part. Why do women assume that lack of male tears equals lack of male understanding and/or caring? I wasn’t about to get into that at the time, though – probably never will, in fact.

“So, don’t worry – I’ll get through this, I’m sure, and I’ll see I’m being silly, and I’ll be embarrassed that you even heard this.”

“Hey, if it bothers you, we’d be better working through it than just pretending it isn’t there,” I offered.

She digested that, and finally nodded. “But we don’t know how – we’ve never needed to deal with this before.”

“Well,” I said, carefully, “I know, and you’re right, but there’s something that we got in a seminar at work a couple of years ago, and it made sense then. It was about burnout, which you know happens to folks, and maybe this is related. Anyway, the idea was to take some time and make a bucket list of what you want to accomplish, or things you want to do, or see. According to the seminar, just making the list helped put things in perspective a little, and for some folks, having the list gave them targets to move toward, and pretty soon, just getting one or two done really rejuvenated things.”

I pressed on, “So, how about if you do that – make a bucket list. If you’d like, I’ll make one too, and we can compare, and who knows, maybe it’ll help. If not, I doubt it would hurt, and if you’re still bummed over the birthday thing, we can try something else.”

“OK, but not now – I’m not up for list making now. I just want to zone out with the TV, and sip my wine – maybe tomorrow.”

“Fine with me – whenever suits you. You let me know, and I’ll try to have one of my own done, so we can share and all.”

And that was it. I couldn’t tell that it improved her mood, but I remembered it, casino siteleri so on my own the next day, I made out my own list – it wasn’t easy, as I didn’t have any real bucket list items to speak of . . . except a couple of sex fantasies that she knew about and had rejected long ago (MFM, FMF, maybe try anal), winning the lottery, going to the moon – all non-starters for reality. Anna is great in the sack, as long as it’s vanilla. She’s gorgeous, doesn’t look 48. I don’t gamble, including lottery tickets, so odds there are long, and I don’t have the billions to finance a ticket into space. I hemmed and hawed about putting anything sexual into the list, since I sort of knew that would divert the conversation into my favored territory, and I really didn’t want to make her mad, but did want to help her, if I could, to get out of the doldrums. I ended up leaving sex out of it, and substituted going hunting for a large game animal – something I had little interest in really doing, but it sounded like fun when I was in a macho mood.

It was about a week later when Anna brought it up at supper. She asked if I’d made my list, I said I had, we agreed to discuss after dinner.

So, armed with wine for her, Scotch for me, we went over our lists, starting with hers. She wanted to travel to several international spots (do-able), wanted to look up some specific old friends (easy), wanted to get into better shape (I didn’t get that one – she’s in great shape, gorgeous 34C-30-38 [I checked her clothes for those], damned fine for 48!), wanted to read all of one major author’s works and become quasi-expert (she had several nominees along those lines – Shakespeare, Conan-Doyle, that sort of thing).

We traded list items back and forth, and I encouraged her to start right away with looking folks up and deciding what to put on her reading list. She listened to my list and scoffed at each item, but that was ok – I had no real desire to do any of mine – as I said, life is good. We ended the evening by going online and doing some exploring of websites of tour companies, to kick-start her international travel bug. It turned out great – she was energized, and by the end of the evening, we’d picked a timeframe and viewed a couple of options for an African photo (no killing, fine with me) safari four months down the road (that time needed to do the planning as well as to get past a couple of commitments we’d already made). With her cheered up considerably, I was feeling really good about the whole thing.

The next day she was back to her chipper self, and it remained, with us working on the vacation stuff together, and her starting to track down old friends on line. I was vastly relieved, but not vastly satisfied.

The next week – these things do take time – at dinner again, wine again, some discussion about just how long an African trip should need to be to ensure we didn’t cut our hopes short, and whether to go for a South African or an East African kind of safari – there’s a difference?

I finally brought it up.

“Say, I couldn’t help but notice, there was nothing about romance or sex on your bucket list. Was that conscious or just the way it came out?”

She paused at that, and I knew I’d struck something, whether a nerve or a gold mine I wasn’t sure. “Just the way it came out, why? Your list didn’t either – was that on purpose?”

“Yeah, I’ve gotta admit, I had some things along those lines, but I didn’t want to make you feel badly, not quite sure why it would have led to that, but I thought it would, so I left those out.”

“Oh? Like what?”

“Uh, I guess the standard stuff, but you’ve made it clear along the way that you don’t have an interest in veering off our pretty conventional life along those lines, so . . . “

“Wait a minute – you’re disappointed in our love life?!” she shot back, and I knew I’d hit a nerve. I saw all the signs of the buildup to the eruption, and fought to deflect it.

“I’m not disappointed – you’re gorgeous and you’re smart and we get along great, and you’re fine in the sack, and if you couldn’t tell, it takes very little of you to get me all hot and bothered – and hard! I’m just saying that after these years of pretty much the same for both of us, my imagination starts exercising, and that leads to a supply-and-demand function, where a very little initial demand, given no supply, starts to grow, and keeps growing.”

“And what do you mean by pretty much the same?” she’d calmed just a bit, not enough, but a start.

“Well, we almost always have sex in bed. We usually manage to mix up some stroking with some oral with some genital-genital intercourse. You always orgasm more than once, which is the best part in my opinion, and a major reason that I really don’t want to make this into something more than it is. But you don’t dress up to surprise me, you don’t really like sexy lingerie, as evidenced by your almost never wearing several things I’ve bought you over the years – you’ll notice I’ve pretty much stopped slot oyna even trying there. You’re not into pain which is great because neither am I, but you don’t like porn (and I agree most of it’s awful, but some isn’t that bad), you won’t talk in bed about where your head is, what turns you on, you certainly don’t ask what turns me on, which is perilously close to you don’t care what turns me on. We don’t do bondage, we don’t do costume, we don’t do fantasy, and we don’t do it with others – watching, being watched, or participating. That’s a long list, but I think if you do some research on your own, you’ll find that a lot of couples find that exploring outside of a foreplay-intercourse-cuddling regimen is good for them and doesn’t cost their relationship negatively, and doesn’t mean it’s not usually conventional, just that there are times when they spice it up a bit.

“I guess that’s what I mean by pretty much the same,” I finished, fearing I’d blathered myself into oblivion, or worse.

“I didn’t know you were so disappointed,” she sniffled, as the tears started.

“Hey, you know I’m not disappointed – I just think you’re great and that you have so much potential for even more pleasure, that you’re not tapping into, and this is that kind of an area. And, you should know that in all my fantasies, you’re the focus, and you’re having pleasure – that’s what turns me on. And yes, in them I’m having pleasure, too, but it’s never just me – it’s always you as well.”

This was followed by more sniffles, a few more tears, but I could tell she was trying to come to grips with something – I had no idea whether it was how much time she’d give me to clear my things out of the house never to speak to her again, or if this was actually a time I might be right.

I finally followed up, “Listen, take some time, think through this. Then if you’re up to it, we can each make up a bucket list for sex. It seems to have helped, doing the vacation planning thing. Let’s take a week to do it. If you really, really have nothing whatsoever you’ve ever wondered about doing, ever seen or read about that caused you some excitement, then ok, come back with an empty list. Meanwhile, I’ll come back with three and only three things that I think we could try out that would turn me on just to try and that I think wouldn’t threaten our love in any way. And this has nothing to do with the safari – that’s on, regardless of where this thread leads.

“OK?” I said after another moment of silence.

“OK, I’ll try,” she said, quietly, then picked up her wine glass, finished it, and walked away. I cleaned up the kitchen, then found her in the bedroom, lights off, covers pulled up around her, her arms enveloped in her flannel night dress – a clear sign of sexual disinterest – either asleep or feigning sleep.

I went back out of the bedroom, fixed a strong bourbon and water, and found a film noir movie detective thing (no sex) to pretend to watch for an hour, then snuck back in and went to sleep myself, next to a lump appearing to be in the same posture she’d been in earlier.

Fast forward a week – ok, I know this is taking way too long – patience, gentle reader, thanks. I’d made out my list in my head during that earlier conversation, and wondered if Anna had even considered making one. That evening, a Friday, she prepared dinner, nice and delicious as always, and I noticed she was having a bit more wine than was usual for her – nothing too much, neither of us being very heavy drinkers ever, but a bit more.

Dishes cleared, we sat back down at the table, both knowing what the conversation would next be about.

“So, babe, did you get around to making that bucket list we talked about?”

“Yes, but it’s like me – not very exciting, I’m afraid,” she answered, morosely.

“You’re definitely exciting, and I think part of you knows that, if you’d tune into it. But anyway, how do you think we should do this?”

“However you like, I guess,” she said, still not opening up at all.

“OK, then, how about if I go first, then you, with our first list item. Then we’ll see if we can accept the other’s item, and if so, we’ll give those two items a try. And then if that works out, after we try those, we’ll go to item two after that, and so on to item three – no deadlines, just take it a step at a time, if that.”

“OK.”

“So, would you like to go first, or me?”

“You. I’m embarrassed.”

“Fine, then, here goes. Please remember, I love you and this whole thing is about that and about being able, I think, to love you even more. OK, my number one is for you to make a concerted effort, for two months, just on the weekends, to be the sexy thing you know that I think you are, not the boring thing you have somehow convinced yourself you are. That means you dress sexy, you take time to pamper yourself so that you feel sexy, you think of ways to convince me that you are, without expecting me to initiate or even to reciprocate – you just do it. It may feel awkward, canlı casino siteleri especially at first, but that’s it. This is all on you – if I don’t reciprocate or notice, you don’t get mad, you don’t think less of yourself – you sign up to do this, and you do it.” I knew I was going to try my damnedest to make her efforts appreciated, but I didn’t want us keeping score – this was something she had to do without expecting a quid-pro-quo.

“Wow.” She paused, then, “OK, you’re right. I guess. I need to be an equal partner, and I’ve let myself become a passive one. I’ll try – two whole months?”

“Just on the weekends – Friday dinner to Sunday night. That’s what the list says, and as you know, lists don’t lie,” I said, trying to lighten things up. “Naturally, I’m hoping that it’ll become both habitual and pleasurable for you, but all I’m asking for is the two months.

“Your turn.”

“OK,” she said, reading from a sheet of paper she’d unfolded. “David, I want to go skinny dipping in a lake or a pool, just us two, at night.”

I resisted rolling my eyes or making any movement at all toward any sign of ‘is that all?’ or similar emotion. “Great idea, Anna. I have no idea just how to arrange that – I’ll have to do some computer searching or something to find that kind of place, or maybe we could house sit for someone with a pool? Anyway, I think that would be great, and I’ll figure out how, and we’ll do it!”

She seemed relieved at my positive reception, smiled, and took a good swallow of wine. I figured she was probably relieved that I didn’t follow up and ask why she wanted to do that, if she thought it would turn her on, or if it was something she thought I’d like. Plenty of time for that later. I refilled her glass, and reached over to take her hand, and I led her down the hallway into the bedroom, and we had fine, as usual, sex – no demands on her to be a sexpot or anything, more like my trying to comfort her that we weren’t any less for trying this than we were beforehand.

We slept well, and the next day, being a Saturday, we slept in, or so I thought. I blearily awoke to hearing the shower. She usually showers after working out, but not the very first thing in the morning. I stayed in bed, just thinking about what we’d said the evening before, then grabbed my tablet and started looking for places to night skinny dip. I was lucky – there was an old quarry in the next town over that had been turned into a swimming hole, open to the public. It was summer, so that was a popular venue. I had no idea about night time, but I emailed their “contact us” address and asked if they were open for private events at night.

By the time I’d gotten that far, I’d heard the shower shut off, and some moments later, Anna emerged, looking great wrapped only in a towel. The towel came down just far enough to shield her private parts, and showcased her nice legs. Her breasts showed a bit of cleavage above the towel, not too much, and the whole thing was sort of rolled to stay together, looking like it wouldn’t stay that way for long if suitably encouraged. She had a wonderful smile and was sashaying more than walking, her hips doing that female thing that we males are evolution-wired to key on.

“Give me a minute – I’m way behind here,” I said, scrambling out of bed and passing her on my way into the bathroom. I goosed her as I went by, just enough to send the message, and I immediately smelled that she’d doused herself in something that smelled great. I grabbed my electric shaver, shaved while standing, relieving myself in the john, then jumped in the shower myself, scrubbing all the sites that might not be the freshest, brushed my teeth vigorously, swirled some mouthwash, dried, brushed the hair, and wrapped the damp towel around me, calling her bet, as it were. I think I set about a 5 minute record for all that.

She was still standing there, looking great, but engrossed in looking down at her cell phone when I came back into the bedroom. We’ve been together long enough for me to know that her being engrossed in her phone is a defense mechanism that relieves her of needing to act. I’ve seen her at enough cocktail parties, looking at her cell phone rather than engaging anyone in conversation, to know she’s hiding behind it in her way. I didn’t want an argument, but I didn’t want to lose the moment, so I gently, but firmly, took the phone from her hand and laid it down on her bedside table, face down. I was damned if I was going to be beaten out by a phone!

“You look great, and you smell great!” I said, taking her in my arms. We usually went about a week between sex, as in usually 7 days to be exact, but here we were, only hours after our tryst the night before, and I was feeling just as randy – ok, more randy – than I had last night. My dick was making itself known in case there was any doubt, and as I pulled her to me, I knew she could feel it through the towel, trying to intrude.

“Thanks,” she answered, and continued, “so do you. Do you like the short towel look?”

“Oh, yeah!” I said, and reached behind her to cup her bare ass. I leaned down and nuzzled the nape of her neck, something she usually shivers in appreciation to – and she did. “Can you tell?”

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