I spend a lot of time talking about my emotional distance from women. It gets lost in the shuffle that I can be a decent guy.
This one's about Paula. Paula was a relationship that emerged from talking in a professional environment. Paula was married. Paula and I confided in each other a lot. Truth be told, she is the woman who knows, by far, the most about me.
Here's the kicker. Paula's husband was dying. A slow death, years, that had paralyzed him. She was a workaholic and two of her sons were disabled teenagers. If anyone in the world ever need someone else to be emotionally open to her, it was Paula.
In many ways, Paula was my ideal partner. Why? Because I never had to worry about the her wanting to escalate the relationship. Even if her husband died, I would have lots of warning to get the fuck out before I'd be on the hook for marrying her or else.
One of my shittier qualities is that my willingness to be open with someone largely hinges on how likely I am to pay a price for that openness. If you're never gonna expect a wedding ring from me, I can be the most open man on earth with you. That's the deal Paula got.
Paula is also the rare case of a relationship that took a long time to turn sexual. I;d flirt with her here and there because I knew she enjoyed being noticed. I have no doubt that with her home life what it was, it was nice to just be dumb and cute for a little bit.
In retrospect, I think Paula escalated things in a more sexual direction. I remember the one day, after she had done a presentation at a morning meeting and everybody left (Paula was a minor poobah, I was a young shithead in the organizational chart) we were doing our usual "everybody's gone, let's talk". She was wearing a frilly green skirt that, to be honest, didn't come particularly far below her ass cheeks. But, she was one of those tall, skinny chicks that could pull that off. She was leggy and generally liked to show it.
I remember cracking wise about the skirt and telling her she looked especially cute. She laughed and seemed a little open. One of my great gifts, at my older age, is knowing when I have an opening. I stood behind her and touched the hem of her skirt. She smiled and demurred a bit. So, I ran my knuckle against the outside of her thigh. She pushed her butt back into my crotch.
We locked the doors to the meeting room and went into the adjoining storage room. All I did was pull down my pants and take of her panties. Gross, Hollywood style clothes-still-on sex. On a dirty metal table doggy-style.
The sex was like that. Being skinny, Paula was never my type, physically. But, she was very confident. A little nerdy (that always helps). And of course there was the personal bond.
And that's how our relationship worked for the next couple years. She was my work wife, emotionally. We didn't even have sex that often, but when we did it was intense. Not great sex in itself, but it's hard to not have that intensity when she has all this other shit going on.
Eventually things ended because I had to move on professionally. We kept somewhat in touch. Her husband did pass a year later. You never want to be thankful for someone dying, but for Paula's sake I was glad. I'm generally a "fight the dying of the light" kinda guy, but this was just hopeless and drawn out and emotionally exhausting.
A couple years ago we got to talking a bit. Paula told me that she never would have made it through that period without me. You don't think you could be proud of yourself for screwing another guy's wife. But, life is strange. Somewhere in there is probably a screenplay for a mediocre indie film.
I guess, if nothing else, at least for the one woman in my life who absolutely needed me to be there for her I somehow managed to be.