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With a slightly salacious nod to Dylan Thomas’s narrator in “A Child’s Christmas in Wales…”

…I can’t remember whether Jim and I fucked for six days and six nights when we’d been dating for 12 days, or whether we fucked for 12 days and 12 nights when we’d known each other for only six days. Either way, I do remember moaning these words at least once when I could feel Jim pulling out:

“Stay the course! Stay the course!”

Jim was an Army Colonel — Lieutenant Colonel actually (there’s a difference, I learned) — on temporary duty assignment at the Pentagon; I, a recent college graduate and, as he affectionately called me, “an anti-war bitch.” Our political differences enhanced the sexual frisson, and teasing was our favorite form of flirting, starting on our very first date:

It was a delicious dinner not at a fancy place called Restaurant Eve. We had met earlier that day — very early (around 6 a.m.) — working out at the Sport and Health Club in Arlington. Those were the dying days of eye-catching neon spandex, so being hit on was an anticipated part of any girl’s aerobic routine. Not to get ogled simply meant you had a few more pounds to lose. But Jim’s approach was unusually subtle; plus he was the proverbial “tall, dark and handsome.” That he was older — a lot older — made him especially sexy and knowledgeable.

And it was knowledge that I, at that age, most craved. Especially forbidden knowledge. Was he married? I didn’t care. Marital wisdom actually might make things more interesting, something foreign for me to learn about.

When at dinner I discovered that he had just returned from a tour of duty in Iraq, I showered him with questions. From the news, I knew things were now going badly: suicide bombers, wreaking havoc, making a mockery of President Bush’s premature claims of “Mission Accomplished.”

Besides wanting details, details, lots of details about what it was really like in a war zone, I also wondered how in the world, with the violence ever escalating, it would all ever end. What’s the strategy? I asked.

“Stay the course,” he said. Was there a twinkle of irony in his eyes? Regardless, I couldn’t help but start giggling.

“That’s exactly what President Bush says! Stay the course! You sound like a parrot! You, and Rumsfeld and Cheney and all the rest of them, always saying the same thing whenever confronted with embarrassing questions about mounting setbacks in Iraq. It’s become a joke. Stay the course!”

“Well, he is my Commander-in-Chief.”

“Okay, but tell me, when you say ‘stay the course,’ what does that mean? What course exactly are you staying? Ever more death and destruction?”

When the waiter cleared our table and asked if we wanted any dessert, I smiled, glanced at Jim, and said, “Stay the course.”

I think that’s when Jim decided he really wanted to fuck me.

For a longer version of this remembrance, please visit: 

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