Hall Pass

My wife leaned on me at the bar we co-own with her brother up here in Eugene. I thought she was drunk and feeling frisky. She was a little drunk, but she was only showing me a video of a dog and a bunny playing together. With Marnie, everything was that is so cute.  She’s forever instagramming pictures of our bulldog doing things.

I find it boring. Tedious. My dad, in his infinite wisdom told me, yeah, it’s called marriage. And I’ve asked my friends. They say their wives would choose a good Wi-Fi over them (and often do). Well, I’m not as fatalistic as my friends and I do not want to end up on my fourth wife like my dad.

Up here, I am the only guy around whose wife was on a show on the WB network in the 1990s. I mean we once went skinny dipping with Sarah Chalke and her boyfriend.

Yeah she was a big deal. Still is, in a way. She does a bunch of benefits with Kathy Griffin and there is talk of her being on a spin-off of Dancing With The Stars.

I was about to say something about not giving a shit about that shit because we spent the afternoon in the bar (by that I mean I was drunk) when she said something tantalizing.

“Look,” Marnie said, showing me her phone. “Zooey Deschanel is cute. Don’t you think so?”

“Not close to as beautiful as you.” I know how to answer that question.

“I’m serious,” she said back. “She can be one of your freebies.”

“Freebies?” I said playing it cool. It sounded like a trap. I did not want the conversation to end though. “Like a hall pass?”

“We’ve talked about this before.” She smiled at me as if we have a shared secret, but we’ve never talked about this. So I led her into a pretend, but in-depth conversation on which celebrity the other person can sleep with. We give each other five and Marnie brings up the usual suspects. I say that deliberately because she gives the usual- Matt Damon, George Clooney, Chris Hemsworth, Johnny Depp. However her last was Stephen Baldwin. Specifically how he looked in The Usual Suspects.

The conversation still led to me wanting to go home and tear her clothes off, but we had my list to make. I kept my five around Marnie’s age and that was my downfall. Number five was JoAnna Garcia.

I don’t know why I picked her. Ever since she played the daughter on Reba, I had a crush. But when I saw a shocked look on Marnie’s face, I remembered my crush didn’t just come from seeing her on TV. She was friends with Marnie ever since they played Claudia’s classmates on Party of Five.

“What the fuck?” Marnie’s tone suggested our fun was over.

“I’m joking, I said. I may as well have cooed, Oh, yeah, daddy like. Not that I would ever say that. I’m saying my face told her I was not joking.

“No, that’s fine,” Marnie jabbed me several times. “Perv boy.”

That was in June. Marnie spent most of her summer organizing fund-raising events for the Humane Society while I took a job as assistant director for a movie being filmed in town.

What should I have done when I found out Joanna Garcia was a costar? Absolutely should have mentioned it to Marnie. A month ago would have been a little better than at the benefit JoAnna just showed up for.

JoAnna hugs Marnie. Looks at me and says, “You didn’t tell me Greg would be here. Marnie, your husband has been so good to me.”

“Is that right?” Marnie says, gripping my arm.

“I’ve been a little lonely here without knowing anyone and Greg keeps me company.”

“Really?” Marnie grips harder.

Why didn’t I tell Marnie she was in town the first day? I suppose my reptilian brain clung to that 1000th of a chance something would happen. The door is shut to cheating. However, my mind didn’t let me turn the deadbolt.

“Excuse me please,” Marnie says.

I follow her. “We’ll be right back,” I say to JoAnna already in full stride away from her. Marnie gets to the hallway. “Please stop,” I say. “Nothing happened.”

“Of course not,” she says in a way that says you are still an asshole. I notice then the differences between an actress and a wife. Marnie’s hair looks nice, but it is not an expensive Hollywood haircut and dye job. She has no lipstick on. Only some eye shadow.

I don’t know what I mean about beauty. I only know I want to go with my wife to the cat room here at the Humane Society and watch her talk to the kittens.

“I’m revising my list,” I say. “Everyone is off, except for you.”

She’s looks at me. “Your list is already revised. Down to two. Your right hand and your left.”

Thomas Cannon’s story about his son is the lead story in Cup of Comfort for Parents of Children with Autism.   His novel The Tao of Apathy is on Amazon. He cohosts the YouTube show Author Showcase, and each year he helps put on the Lakefly Writers Conference in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

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