[Note from Walhydra's amanuensis: This story was written in early 1997 for the Crone Thread, a private listserv to which Walhydra still belongs, at a time when she and hubby Jim still lived with Miso the Cat in a tiny, two-room apartment in Columbia, SC. Although she has agreed to let the story be republished, Walhydra still doesn't see "what's so funny?!"]
Walhydra awoke for the third time and peered from the covers with one squinty eye. It wasn't any better than before. She felt as overcast and sullen as the morning sky outside her apartment.
The Alarmclock in the Fur Coat was meowing peevishly for breakfast—as he had been doing now for two hours.
"It's Saturday, Miso!" groaned Walhydra. "Gimme a break!"
She tossed back the covers.
"What's this cranky, aching lump of body doing in my bed?" she grouched as she threw its legs over the side. "What am I doing INSIDE this cranky lump of body? If this is 46, what the hell is 64 gonna be like?!"
Walhydra is not polite in the mornings.
She levered herself up by bracing against the night table—actually an old Boston public schools hinged‑top desk from ancient history—hers. Jim, her dearest hubby, snuggled into her warm spot without missing a snore. He is adoring and romantic even in his sleep, thank the Goddess.
Still wearing her rumpled blue sweatsuit aka winter PJ's, Walhydra plodded to the kitchen. She dug out the remains of Miso's expensive, veterinarian‑prescribed canned catfood from the fridge, warmed it in the sink and plopped it in a dish. Set down fresh water beside it. Ho hum.
She noticed that Miso was becoming more proficient at flinging bits of food onto the walls. After his initial face‑first plunge into a meal, the cat liked to lounge back on his haunches and extend a paw oh‑so‑delicately to scoop up little nibbles. In the process, he'd gotten to where he could paste food on the wallpaper anywhere in a three‑foot radius.
"Vandal!" Walhydra harumphed as she slogged toward the bathroom.
Usually Saturday mornings were a much‑welcomed private time for Walhydra. She would rise early, greet darkness or fog or pale sun, wash up and dress, start the week's laundry, and then busy herself with watering the houseplants. All 42 of them. It was a blessing and cleansing ritual, which ended with lighting candles in the entrance vestibule and raising sticks of nag champa incense to every doorway and window and to every center of energy in the tiny apartment.
Today, however, Walhydra only got as far as trudging out to the laundry room, still dressed in the baggy sweatsuit. Hey...no one else in the hallway this early on a Saturday! Then she plopped down at the computer in the living room and pushed the start button.
Jim had pulled all the plugs the night before in order to do a highly technical Heimlich maneuver on the 'puter after the A‑drive choked on a metal slide dislodged from a faulty disk.
"Hell," thought Walhydra. "Wish we could fix the ancient Camry in the parking lot just by picking IT up and shaking it!"
$900+ later and the left front quarter was still knocking and banging and squealing and grinding as much as it did three weeks ago! Not to mention that Walhydra's left front...uh...Walhydra's left hip was aching in sympathy. Or was it the car squealing and grinding in sympathy with Walhydra's hip? Her chiropractor wasn't sure which.
Wahydra groaned again as she tipped the 'puter on end and began to untangle the spaghetti of cables on the floor, trying to puzzle out which plugs—minus dust bunnies—went to which sockets. At about the time she was ready to swear, she heard a clunk from the bedroom.
Cancer/Leo hubby to the rescue.
"Where does this one go...?"
Walhydra's theory of computer maintenance and operation is: "Since MY Virgo brain always reads 'Insufficient memory at this time,' why bother to keep track when I've got JimJim to do it for me?"
[Note: This was long before Walhydra became a PC/Internet hoohah for a large public library system. She still doesn't know anything about computers...but now she knows how to talk like she does.]
The 'puter worked, the e‑mail was retrieved, and Walhydra frowned at the screen. Jim tried to nuzzle and was rebuffed. Jim tried to put on some music.
"Dvorak's New World Symphony first thing in the morning?!"
Jim tried to hug.
With a pout, Walhydra led him back to the bedroom, Major Virgo Despair now well under way. As they stretched out together, she recited her litany of aches and worries and fears. They all felt very real. Very final.
"I love you," Jim said patiently.
For their first decade together, Walhydra had always wanted to shout "Wrong answer!" when Jim said these words. "You're s'posed to confirm my problems and counsel me. Fix them would be even better."
Then she gradually realized that her dear one was telling her something far more important than any of her transient woes. It became like hearing those three words from Goddess Herself.
Not one to waste a good sulk, though, Walhydra lay there for several more minutes, indulging herself in every twist and turn of the mournful labyrinth into which she'd imagined herself. All the while, Jim kept snuggling closer.
Walhydra thinks there must be some as‑yet‑unnamed quantum particle—a "snork," perhaps—which gets exchanged in snuggling. The exchange radiates warmth and draws two bodies closer together.
She has noticed that there's sort of a challenge involved in snuggling, something like: Can we get every square inch of skin to touch? Every limb to enfold every other limb?
A long while later, after they had both melted into a mutual meditative state, that other kind of energy started to...ahem...rise. Well...Virgo modesty forbids....
Afterwards, grinning to herself, Walhydra remembered an unusually powerful session of love‑making with Nikki, English/Italian Buddhist/Witch Husband #3.
[Note: Yes, proper lady that she is, Walhydra nonetheless must admit that hubby Jim is actually Husband #4. It's a long story from her sordid twenties, but...some other time, maybe.]
This event took place while Walhydra and Nikki were both still male secretaries on the construction site where they'd met in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. They worked for a massive, multi‑national airport project—the sort which all parties contrive to draw out for as long as they can. Can you say "boondoggle"?
Their regular work week was six ten‑hour days, with Friday off for the Moslem holy day. But this week had been a series of "fire drills."
As in: one of the thousand Saudi princes is coming for a tour. Stop everything. Clean up the site. Re‑do the organizational chart again. Type up a three‑volume space allocation plan presentation. Oh, wait.... He's cancelled his trip on the morning of the inspection. Scrap the presentation. Back to work.... Wait! Noooo...! He's coming Saturday! Wants a different presentation. Five volumes!
Nikki and Walhydra, hyper‑efficient secretaries that they were, "volunteered" to come in on their day off to help their manager type the new presentation.
Now, the gentle reader must remember: this was 1980 BPC—Before Personal Computers. Yes, there were, in fact, fancy IBM word processing systems in the home office in the States. But this was Arabia, and the management was made up of straight‑white‑men‑without‑a‑clue.
So...Nikki and Walhydra were typing and editing a multi‑volumed text on Olivetti memory typewriters with 35‑character displays. That's right. 35 characters. Half a line.
Twelve hours later, the two crawled home to the expatriate compound where they shared a bungaloo—the token out gay couple in this strange polyglot community. They were both so charged up with adrenalin and coffee that there was obviously only one thing to do.
Which they did.
At great and passionate length.
As the peak moment passed, and just as the noise was subsiding, Walhydra groaned, "TWELVE HOURS OF TYPING!!!"
They collapsed into hysterical laughter.
Cut back to Saturday morning. Legs entangled, breaths slowing.
Walhydra was musing: "It doesn't have to be sex which snatches us back from the pit. The cuddling was really enough. But what a marvelous thing it is that Goddess would spend all of this energy just to make us feel good again."
Ever the Virgo, she reached for a handy towel.
Then she noticed her hubby's toes and started to nibble.