James LePore: Kabuki Dancer

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Kabuki Dancer, © James LePore

Kabuki Dancer, © James LePore

I was hoping my husband’s ex-wife would not attend the wedding of his younger daughter, but there she was, with his older daughter and her husband on the verandah, drinks in hand. My husband hadn’t been invited to his older daughter’s wedding. She and her mother hated him. But the younger daughter had put it plainly: you’re walking me down the aisle, you’re coming to the wedding, if mom and Mel don’t like it, they can stay home. So of course we went.

I had last seen Sarah and Melissa at Melissa’s sixteenth birthday party, ten years ago. Sam and I had been dating for six months at the time, not quite long enough for Sarah to poison the well. At the party, Sarah, her face a mask of too-thick makeup and faux composure, much the same as she looked today, had taken me aside, and told me that sluts weren’t welcome in her house and that the sooner Sam and I left the better. Soon after, Sam and I were married and Melissa basically told her father to fuck off. I don’t have to tell you how much that hurt him.

Seeing them now brought back painful memories, not of my own pain, which was minimal compared to Sam’s, but of his, of the sadness in his eyes when he thought I wasn’t looking. The passage of time had helped. It always does. But, thinking of Sam’s pain, past and future, it occurred to me that some wounds never heal completely.

I’m a smoker, sad to say. I try to control it, but sometimes a cigarette is a bridge over troubled water. I held out until the end of the cocktail hour, then made my way through the club’s kitchen to the restroom used by employees. I had been to this club many times over the past ten years and knew the layout. As I was getting near the end of my Marlboro Red, the door opened and Sarah came in. Sam had been a member of this club for twenty years, so Sarah, alas, I realized, knew its secrets too. We looked at each other for two or three long seconds. Too stunned to think straight, I hadn’t said anything when she called me a slut ten years ago. Of course I had concocted a lot of cutting replies in my daydreams since. We all come up with great come-backs when it’s too late.

Don’t go in that second stall. Sam’s in there. I just sucked him off.

I thought this, but didn’t say it. I just blew smoke in her face and slid past her.

In the dining room, I found Sam and told him I’d like to take him to the employee restroom before the night was over. He looked at me like I was crazy. I leaned over and whispered in his ear: there’s a slut I’d like you to meet.


James LePore is the author of several nationally bestselling books. You can stay up-to-date on his blog posts at his website.

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On March 10, 2015
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