The Voyage Part Seven – Carol and Jan Bruce McCorkill
The welcome dinner was a disaster
Carol is thinking about leaving Brian and needs advice from her friend Jan
Brian has told his mate Lenny the full story and they are still mates
The fixer is back and is wondering what to do to sort out the mess
Well, I’m back and wondering what to do about this right fine mess. I thought I’d give them all a go at steering the boat, but I reckon it’s near to capsizing. The problem is they let these other passengers on, but the boats already full. The minute I left, they just clambered over the gunnels. Who is this guy Lenny, how did he get on? But he seems to want to help Brian, maybe he can stay, as long as he works his passage. And what about this Jan? Where did she come from? Carol’s best friend is she. Why does Carol always rush off to get her advice, can’t she think for herself? I’ll have to watch out for this Jan, don’t quite trust her.
But thinking about Brian, I do feel really bad. Here I was going to throw him off the boat, not realising about his terrible secret. I should have twigged something was up. Maybe I need to brush up on my empathy skills. Anyway, now I have an obligation to get him home safely, but it’s going to be difficult until he smartens up. Maybe Rashid and Samira can help. Out of all this motley crew, they seem the most stable sailors. After all Brian’s insults, they still want to help him.
Anyway, Brian has had his say to his mate, wonder what Carol is saying to her friend.
Carol and Jan met in the usual little coffee place. They both enjoyed these meetings. It was a chance to catch up, swap stories and have a good gossip. But this meeting was different. Jan sensed something was really upsetting her friend. After the hello, hug and peck on the cheek, Carol burst out.
‘Well, I’m thinking of leaving Brian. The last year has been unbearable. We go to work, he goes to the RSL, I go to night classes, and that’s all. We don’t communicate. There’s no passion, tenderness, gentleness or feeling. I made a mistake. I married early to the first nice boy, raised lovely kids, made a home. All my married life has been supporting my family. My dues are paid and it’s my turn. It’s been coming a while, but after attending some of the women’s study groups, I’ve realised I haven’t any real identity apart from my mundane marriage. Also, I’ve met lots of women who feel the same way, so it’s not just me.’
Jan was amazed, this was a new Carol, but one she liked. Also, she was not a fan of Brian’s.
‘What happened to trigger this? You’ve always been Mrs Northern Suburbs Steady Housewife. Tell me all about it, don’t spare any details. I assume the dinner last night had something to do with this. How did it go?’
‘Well, last night made me finally realise he’s just a stupid thick headed insensitive dickhead, pardon the French. The night was a total disaster. The stupid clown finished up insulting our guests; he told all his racist jokes, laughed at Samira’s dress, insulted my food, got drunk, and just behaved like an oaf. He started off all right, I’d warned him to behave himself. He seemed to enjoy showing off the house and his stupid bloody shed. But when we all sat down he suddenly lost control and started this crazy behaviour. And Samira was really trying to be friendly.’’
‘Oh Carol, that must have been terrible for you; I totally understand how you must have felt. Remember how I’ve been warning you about Brian, how he’s not good enough for you, I think you deserve better in a partner. You deserve someone who understands what you want.’
She spontaneously leant over and gave her friend a long hug.
‘How did the evening finish?’
‘Not in a nice way. The last straw was when we were going to bed. He started to paw me and wanted sex. I just let go with all the frustrations since his job loss. I chose words to deliberately hurt him, I was so angry. He was cringing at everything I said, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to punish him. All he could do was to keep saying he was sorry, in a really pathetic way… Normally I just blast him and it’s over, but this time I really let him have it. I even finished by telling him he was a lousy lover, and sent him down to the couch to sleep. He was not a happy man. I wonder are all men like this? As you know I haven’t had much experience, Brian has been my only man. You know much more about men than me.’
She stopped talking and looked at Jan thoughtfully and said bitterly.
‘I’ve never told you this, but I nearly had an affair once, a long time ago. After I went back to work when the kids went to school. Brian was always busy and didn’t pay much attention to me. He just seemed to think of me as a mother, not a lover. There was a guy at work, he paid me a lot of attention, I was quite flattered, someone wanted just me as a person, not just a mother. It didn’t get much further than furtive meetings and kisses in the filing room, but it was exciting and I was thinking about taking it further. He was married also, but said he had lost emotional contact with his wife, and he seemed really keen on me. One time after Brian had done something to really upset me, we went out to dinner at a motel. We half planned to take it further that night. After a few wines it was getting exciting. I could see him mentally undressing me, and I might add I was thinking the same. But then would you believe that halfway through dessert his beeper went off. He phoned home to find out his kid was sick, so he went suddenly off and left and went home. That was the end of that, but I sometimes wonder what it would have been like.’
Jan was listening intently. She took Carol’s hand in hers.
‘They‘re all the same dear. They all think that little thing between their legs will solve all of our problems. They just don’t get it. You know I’ve had my share of guys over the years. I’ve never found a really worthwhile one. In fact, now that you mention it, there is something I have been meaning to share with you. It’s been happening for a while, but now’s a good time to tell you.’
‘Well, quite simply, I’ve become totally disillusioned with guys. So I decided to finish with men, they’re all useless, don’t know what a woman really needs. And guess what? I’ve been finding quite a few women who feel this way. Sick of guys only thinking through their pants, and not really understanding what women need in the way of tenderness and love, and even in bed. They think that once they put their little thing in you and wriggle it around a bit, you should be grateful to them, What a load of tripe. They just don’t get it. Anyway, to coin a cliché, I’ve tried jumping the fence and it’s great. Hope I haven’t shocked you?”
Carol stared at her friend. In some ways this confession answered a number of questions she had always had about Jan, so she wasn’t really shocked or surprised, she was more curious than anything. She eagerly responded.
‘No, because with the courses I’ve been doing, I’ve also found women who want more from a relationship than a man can give. Women like me who married the first guy, then drifted through an unsatisfactory marriage, conforming to societies’ expectations, but not knowing any better. And also who are probably duds in the bed, but we didn’t have anybody to compare them with. Now there’s lots of us waking up and discovering who we really are. As usual, Jan, we’re both on the same train, you’re just a few carriages to the front.’
She stared openly at Jan, and then blurted out.
‘I’m really curious. What’s it like? What do you do?’
Jan chuckled and looked at Carol intently, but with a little smirk on her face.
‘Why my darling, lot’s of interesting things, and I’m finding it extremely pleasing thank you. You should maybe think about trying it.’
Carol was still staring open mouthed at Jan, but in a new light. This had opened a range of possibilities. But she wanted firstly to get Jan’s advice on helping her to sort out her marriage. Then she could find out more juicy details. She asked Jan,
‘But what do you think I should do about Brian?’
‘Carol, you know I’m your best friend, and really love you, trust me, this is what you could do to get a bit of thinking time to yourself.’
She moved around to Carol’s side of the booth and put her arm around her friend.
‘I think what you need is a bit of a break from Brian, breathing space to think things through. Seems to me as though this may be the chance of a whole new life direction for you. A chance to try something different. Break away from your mundane marriage to boring Brian. Look, why don’t you stay at my place for a while. We can talk about things. As you know it’s only small, we’ll have to share the bedroom. But you know what. It will be just like the old days in school camp when we used to share that little tent and snuggle up in the camp bed.’
Carol thought about Jan’s suggestion. They had enjoyed lots of good times together. It would be refreshing to have more time with her friend. A chance to talk and laugh, rather than listen to Brian complain. She thought about the old days on the camps, they were fun, just the two friends talking in the tent.
‘Jan, that sounds like a good idea. I’ll think about it. Also, I really appreciate this talk and your advice; you always have my best interests at heart. You’re a great friend and I trust you. But now I have to go home and talk to that thick headed husband of mine. He said he’s got something important to tell me.’
They stood up and farewelled. But instead of the usual peck on the cheek, Jan gave Carol a light kiss on the mouth. Just a gentle musky brushing of the lips, but it gave Carol a little shiver of excitement.
Both left the cafe, Carol a little thoughtful, Jan with a little smile on her face.
Issues for the fixer to sort out.
What is Jan after and will she get it?
How will Carol react when Brian tells her his awful secret?
To be continued.