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Simplicity, or Frank
Frank the painter was everything Tina promised he would be. He was hulking, handsome, boisterous, and sweaty. Think Marlon Brando in “A Streetcar Named Desire” – shirt ripped, drunken slur, yelling for his woman.
No, Frank was not the sensitive type. He was not the kind to buy you roses and call you beautiful. He was a painter, yes, but he painted houses, not pictures. He drank beer, not light beer and he never used words with more than three syllables. Frank came from a military family. He’d grown up in Hawaii and never lost his tan, or his militant attitude.
He was a brute. He was an animal. He was a relief.
I took Frank to my sister Martha’s wedding. This was her third wedding in five years. Of course, there is no judgment here—not from me anyway. Our mother was a different story. At the reception, mother sat with Frank and me. She sneered and made snide comments. “These men have all looked exactly alike. It’s like she’s marrying the same man over and over again. Martha’s tastes are so predictable.”
The DJ played a waltz, and Martha began her first dance with her new husband. None of us watched the dance. Frank scarfed down as much veal as he could fit in his mouth. I watched mother, who watched her (fourth) engagement ring sparkle under the chandelier. Mother and Martha were two of a kind. They changes husbands as often as they changed clothes. “Martha is so fickle!” Mother exclaimed. She never took her eyes off her engagement ring. “She needs to pick one man, and stick with him. ‘Till death do us part used to mean something. I don’t know what it is with your generation.” Yes, mother. The fault lies solely with my generation.
Mother’s ring was lovely. The reception hall was lovely. Martha’s waltz was lovely.
Frank never asked me to dance. He never held my hand. He did let his fingers creep shyly up my short bridesmaid’s dress. The dress was pink. I’d worn it at each of Martha’s previous two weddings as well.
I hated pink. I hated dresses. I hated weddings.
By the time Frank’s fingers reached that oh-so-scandalous place under my skirt. I’d had too much champagne to care about propriety. I downed another glass anyway. Frank followed my lead. He took two glasses from the waiter and knocked them back one right after another, like shots.
He was my prince charming.
Knowing full well that my mother was sitting two seats away, Frank kissed me, leading with his tongue. He tasted like sweat and sunshine, so I kissed him back. Mother was appalled.
Frank asked me to get him some more champagne, so I got it. He told me he wanted to find someplace where we could be alone, so we got up and found an empty coat closet.
Frank followed me into the closet and closed the door behind him, leaving us in the dark. He smiled. Even in the dim light, couldd see his teeth were yellow and rotting. I didn’t care.
Frank was simple. Frank knew what he wanted. And, as my prince charming leaned in to kiss me, leading with his tongue, I was more than happy to give it to him.