Marcia and Larry Leinsdorf had been married for 31 years this past June. Many considered it an ideal marriage and, as far as marriages go, it was ideal—if you get my drift. They had long ago stopped fighting over details and trying to make life perfect. As “hot and steamy” left the bedroom, a cool calm took over their relationship. It wasn’t that there wasn’t love; it was just that it was love redefined. They were the best of friends, completed each other’s stories, knew the punch line of each other’s jokes, and both liked fresh borscht with floating scallions (which were hard to catch) made by Corazonista, the Brazilian maid who had been with them for 30 of their 31 years.
The Leinsdorf’s had made four children, all boys, and given the way that some of their friends’ kids turned out, they considered themselves lucky. The boys were moderately kind to their parents, called them occasionally, and sent cards on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and birthdays. Often late, but they never forgot them totally. After weathering millions of dirty diapers, etc., rashes, etc., childhood illnesses, etc., college acceptance angst, etc., homework, etc., graduation, etc., and daughters-in-law that were not up to snuff, etc., etc., etc., Larry and Marcia accepted the fact that in almost all circumstances, they had been there and they had done that and that was just perfectly fine with them.
Their nights were the only thing that shattered the safe monotony of their committed monogamy. At nighttime they lost their well-earned synchronicity. They could not orchestrate Marcia’s menopausal nighttime sweats with Larry’s aging prostate’s frequent trips to pee. And so, like a seesaw, each blamed the other for their own lack of sleep. Their marriage was at the tipping point. As Marcia turned down the air conditioner, Larry would awaken. When she threw off the covers he said it startled him and anyway he was always cold. “I’m cold. Freezing,” he said. “I’m sweating, Larry, like a pig,” she said. She was hot; he was frigid. Marcia reminded Larry that each time he got up to pee she had just fallen asleep and could not get back to sleep and, alas, when she finally did he would get up and pee again. It went something like this:
Marcia: You woke me three times.
Larry: No, you woke me three times.
Marcia: You always have to pee and the floorboards squeak.
Larry: I peed only twice last night.
Marcia: Three, Larry, three times. Can’t you tiptoe to the bathroom?
Larry: I do tiptoe. I try. And you are always tugging my side of the bed when you violently throw off the blanket.
Marcia: I’m hot, Larry.
Larry: I’m cold, Marcia. I can’t help it when nature calls.
Now, since their youngest son, Jonathan, had gone off to law school, their sized-down apartment still had one extra bedroom. This was a tempting option and Marcia didn’t know how to break it to Larry, but she wanted Jonathan’s bed and bedroom … desperately.
Marcia: Larry, I’m going to try Jonathan’s room. The bed is close to the air conditioner and it has 12,000 BTUs.
This information was comforting to Larry who had himself thought of moving into Jonathan’s room; although, it was too far from the bathroom.
Larry: You mean separate bedrooms.
Marcia: Let’s try it.
Larry: How do we tell our friends?
Marcia: No one will ask.
Larry: What about your mother?
Marcia: Trust me, she knows about our bedroom.
Larry: I’d rather no one else knows.
Marcia: It’s not as if we do anything in bed anyway, Larry.
Larry: But no one knows.
Marcia: No one cares.
Larry: I guess. Are we still married or roommates?
Marcia: Married roommates.
Larry: OK, it’s between us. Don’t tell the kids.
Marcia: Of course not.
So, secretly, Marcia moved into her son Jonathan’s room. The room had the scent of her last child; the distant smell of the cigarettes he shouldn’t smoke, the too-sweet scent of his aftershave. She could sense his presence in the smell of this pillow—her new pillow. Moreover, Jonathan’s air conditioner was perfect. It didn’t freeze over when she needed a cool breeze in late December.
And so, the Leinsdorf’s began to sleep for the first time in years. Larry loved his new freedom. He didn’t feel guilty when he had erotic dreams or touched himself. He learned the pleasure of sleeping on the diagonal with covers that stayed still through the night. In addition, he did not have to walk on tiptoe to pee. He enjoyed a gentle stomp on the squeaky floorboards. Marcia slept naked with the air conditioner on … and she slept like a baby.
This is how the Leinsdorf’s continued to be the ideal couple. And one night Larry said to Marcia as they bid their adieus, “Now that I can sleep, I love you even more.” And Marcia said, “I love you more too, Larry Leinsdorf.” And they kissed like children on the lips without tongues.
Marcia patted Larry’s prominent bald spot and said, “Pleasant dreams, Larry.”