by Bruce Holland Rogers Read author interview June 15, 2008
For their fourth anniversary, he bought her rose-scented candles, a necklace with an onyx flower pendant, a bouquet, and dinner out. He bought the simultaneous orgasm, too, but he didn’t have it wrapped. It would have felt strange, presenting it among the gifts. She might mistake it for criticism. He put the unopened box on an end table in the bedroom, in plain sight.
Nothing was wrong in that department, at least he didn’t think so. They were both adults, understood that there was the world of books and movies, and then there was real life and its real and ordinary pleasures. Still.
They didn’t open the box on the night of their anniversary. Indeed, she never acknowledged that it was sitting there, next to the reading light and the massage oils. If he had really wanted to raise the issue, he could have said something, or just opened the box. Instead, the box gathered dust.
Maybe, he thought, this was a sign of just how all right things really were. Not that they didn’t fumble sometimes. Not that bodies, weights, angles, bedclothes, moods, pregnancies, day care and work schedules didn’t make things awkward now and then. Maybe he was waiting for her to open the box when she thought he should be the one to open it. Maybe she didn’t think about it at all. By then, the box was on a top shelf in the closet.
One night, a month after their youngest had gone to college and the house was too quiet, he suggested that they go for a drive. Turning into the parking lot of the sex shop, though, was her idea. He followed her as she strode through the aisles of engorged and taut and sleek and slippery to the back of the store. She picked up a box from the shelf and with an embarrassed grin, read for him the list of ingredients: how it would be for her, how many times, then how it would be for him. Such a performance!
“Whatever happened to simultaneous orgasm?” he said, and a clerk working in the next aisle said, “We haven’t sold those for years.”
They took it home, the new box. But they didn’t open it. Just walking through the store and reading the ingredients had been inspiring, though the truth is that together he and his wife weren’t exactly a good example of anything sold in stores.
The two boxes sit side by side in the closet now. Every so often, he rediscovers them. The labels are printed in colors that are out of fashion, almost quaint. If these boxes are never opened, they’ll be part of his and his wife’s legacy one day. What will the children make of them? Will they even consider that such things might, in time, come to be valued as antiques?
About the Author:
Stories by Bruce Holland Rogers have won a Pushcart Prize, World Fantasy Award, two Nebula Awards and the Bram Stoker Award. He teaches fiction writing for the Whidbey Writers MFA program, and also teaches annual fiction seminars in Greece and Italy. He lives in Eugene, Oregon.
About the Artist:
Robinson Accola creates artwork for SmokeLong Quarterly as needed.