It’s been a year now since I started down the aisle of Cheating and Rivals. There were indeed plenty of storms. Now that I’ve made it to the end I can say it was an exhilarating ride and I’d gladly buy a ticket for it all over again. I've read the whole thing and I still have so many unanswered questions. Why did the chicken cross the road? How do you get to Sesame Street? As to Frank, well, he's a Patriots fan, he's not really going to care if Jen cheats is he? I do believe lots of the characters and their problems will be carried over I to the next story. It won't be starting completely from scratch.
For a long time now I've had unformed thoughts bouncing up and down and around and around. Maybe not even thoughts more like feelings. I think that's really what I take from stories is how they make me feel. I'm not perusing Wikipedia here. I'm reading for the emotions as much as the details. I suppose that's why the little inconsistencies don't bother me. They don't affect the way the story is making me feel.
In CandR, like Mr. X's other stories, I've got to feel lots of things. Some parts made me squirm, made me worried and anxious, some made me cry, from being both happy and sad, some made me mad, and some made me glad. Some parts made me hot. They all made me feel. When I'd read the story I never obsessed over what was making me feel the way I was. I'd just let it wash over me. Later, when I'd make a comment I'd have to figure out why and usually there was a reason I'd felt the way I did. My feelings were just following the words.
Like the candle wax scene. As hot as any bdsm scene I've read and I have read a few. It was intense. Through Frank, Mr. X was building up the fear factor. Was he really going to burn Jen's bare pussy? The fear of pain makes the endorphins run more than pain itself. And my endorphins were on overtime. But at the same time it felt safe to me. Why, cause she had her safe word, the ties weren't tight. And weird as it was I also trusted Frank, just like Jen would have trusted him. He wasn't going to give Jen a trip to the ER.
That's one thing I liked about CandR. It didn't move fast. We didn't have a wife just magically fall under some guys spell after a couple of nites of sex. I've always found that terribly shallow and demeaning to think that a woman gets something big and then just goes off the deep end becoming a submissive slut, completely forgetting her marriage, her husband, her kids. After all its just sex, it's not Candy Crush. We may be more emotional but we're not idiots. But in CandR it was slow, starting with baby steps. And more importantly it was believable.
When reading your stories, i always imagine i'm Jen. ...
Maybe Frank will get anther shot at Jen ...
Anyway, I've loved your saga with Jen a techno-world Phoebe Zeitgeist and i hope you continue them!
Techno world phoebe zeitgeist, I liked that! Well, after I figured it out I did. Zeitgeist I knew, the defining spirit of a time period. But phoebe I didn't. Now I know it's from a Greek word, Phoibē, meaning bright one. That's from Webster. But to really get it I had to go to the urbandictionary, the one where people write in their own meanings. One I liked for our Jen:
"Perfect in every which way and fun to be around. Most incredible person you will ever meet in your enitre life and very down to earth. Gets all the guys she wants and has an awesome personality. Just one of a kind."
So, a bright spirit for the modern world. Actress Blake Lively claims, “All I need is my Chanel dress, my Louboutins, and some red lipstick.” In CandR Jen showed all she needs are shorts and her black high top Converses.
I'm not so like Jen, but Like Katie I often find myself imagining being Jen. Being able to walk in a club and having my pick of guys, or maybe just going to a club where there'd be I guys I'd actually like to pick. Imagine being Ricky's infatuation, or Scott's sex puppet, or Tom's paramour, or Frank's toy. Yeah, Frank's toy ... blindfolded, tied, teased, pierced, waxed, and sexed.
Of course no ones perfect. Jen's a bit selfish and a lot selfcentered, the world does revolve around her, this song is about her. I'm selfcentered too, just ask MAB, but who expects their guy to call on HIS birthday anyways? But then Mike did try to call didn't he. For all her faults though she's truly not an evil person, she doesn't try to hurt people, she's not a "mean girl" girl, she's never broken up with multiple boyfriends via conference call, and most importantly, I'm sure she's not the girl who told Felicity to cut her hair.
When Jen had the thought that her marriage was broken and she didn't know how to fix it the general consensus was for her to just stop seeing Ricky. But is it really just that simple? Is Ricky the problem or the symptom, the disease or the indication. The game, Jen seeing other guys, Mike being excited about Jen seeing other guys has always been a part of their relationship. It's their norm. It's the thread that the fabric of their marriage has been woven from. And now it's raveled. Will cutting out Ricky alone be enough to hem the fray.
Me, I think it's more than just Ricky. But what exactly? Could it be the secret she kept about her time in California, or as a friend in pm put it, the lie that was too big? Maybe it's that a part of Ricky is growing inside her? Maybe these are part of it, that they contribute but I think it's something more basic, more fundamental. For people to be happy in a relationship they need to have their needs met. Mike's most basic need is the thing that he is compelled to repeatedly risk. His security, his belief in Jen's love for him. You see it in his thoughts about Ricky and Jen together. He imagines them going from being friends with benefits to paramours to poly. In the end, in Mike's mind, they end up together with Mike being the odd man out, the friend without benifits.
As a reader, having been allowed inside of Jen's head I know Mike's concern about Ricky is unfounded. But I've also gotten to see inside of Mike's and I can understand just how real it is to him. I've been kinda of hard on Mike in some of my comments but I do know just how real anxiety can be, even if unfounded. I can identify with his moment on that bridge. I've been there done that, I've got the t-shirt. For me it didn't happen on a bridge but sitting in my car on an unmarked gravel road at an ungated railroad crossing and I like Mike, being pulled back by the thoughts of family. Just like I can cut Mike a lot of slack I think sometimes we need to do the same for Jen. I think she had her on the bridge moments when Mike was in jail. But who was going to pull her back? Her family was Mike and he was gone. Frankie was there for her, for better or worse. If he hadn't of been she might not of made it off her bridge and we might not of had a CandR.
Whenever I go to the big city I can't help but notice all the buildings. I'm not just thinking of the skyscrapers downtown but the buildings in the suburbs even, anyone of which would be the biggest one in my hometown. I try to figure out what all goes on inside them. They don't give up their secrets easily. You can't really tell from just looking at them as even their facades offer up scant clues. If it weren't for the signs even the hospitals would look nondescript from the outside offering no clue of the life or death drama going on inside.
I think people are that way too. What's really hiding behind their beaming welcoming smiles and polite laughter. But Mr. X has let me see the inside of our characters. He's welcomed me inside their doors. I've lounged in their lounges, dined in their dining rooms and become besotted in their bedrooms.
I've spent so much time visiting inside the rooms of the people in our story that they feel like family to me, my family. I'm comfortable with them. They've shared their secrets with me and if I could, I'd share them mine. Like all family they often do things that I don't like, that make me mad, but they're family so I won't disclaim them. No, I want to be there for them, to comfort them when they're sad, council them when they're worried and experience their giddiness when they're excited. No, I won't stay mad at them. Rather I want to invite them to my house for Thanksgiving to share in my bounty served up on my once-a-year china.
I'm not glad the story is over but I also won't let myself bemoan it's ending. Instead I'll take a page from Vince Scully. I won't feel sad because it's over, I'll be glad that it happened, I'll smile when I think of it and most of all be thankful that it was shared with me.
As you might guess, I wrote the above just before the Thanksgiving holiday but for some reason I didn't get it posted then. Other than changing some phrases so they sounded better to me I've left it the same as it was. I've since read the end of the story again and had a good cry all over again. I cried from my heart over Anna being hurt and Jen's breakup with Ricky. I cried over the bittersweet thoughts of Jen and Mike finding their way together. I smiled at the happy parts, Allie finding Lou, and Jas finding Juliet. And I cried from warmth thinking about Mike and Jen being together while she's pregnant. So now I'm adding another last thought. A quote from Jen.
"But we're not ending," Jen said hugging his arm. "We're forever. That's all that matters."
You see, the stories not ending, there's another book planned for someday. But whether or not that book ever happens these stories will be in my heart forever and that's all that matters.