Amber realized before her honeymoon that her marriage wasn’t going to work. And, yet, here she was in Spain, her new husband lying next to her. Brad was tall, dark, and handsome; he even wore glasses. Amber found glasses very sexy. She closed her eyes for a second and imagined the man of her dreams, tossing his glasses aside so that he could ravage her. Brad was not that man.
Brad thought sex was something “that couldn’t be measured,” but perhaps not very clean. Amber sometimes felt he wouldn’t mind using liquid hand sanitizer post-coitus. Amber wanted more than percentages regarding ovulation and velocity of ejaculation. She wanted emotional attachment. She wanted someone to be involved with her in that way. She wanted it six times a day or at least an opportunity to say no to it five times. She also wanted family, kids, and a house with a yard.
Brad thought more about wave–particle duality than anything else. “It’s a central concept of quantum mechanics,” he said as they lounged on their towels, facing the crystal blue water. “It addresses the inadequacy of classical concepts like “particle” and “wave” in fully describing the behavior of objects.” Amber didn’t give a shit. She tuned him out, focusing on the sounds of ocean waves crashing and the rush of the undertow. Her breasts felt warm in her black bathing suit, and the waves that she cared for came in at perfect intervals and the only wave she cared about came in at perfect intervals. These waves would rise later at high tide licking seductively at the cool, white sand beneath where her toes lay currently at rest.
Amber sat up, reached behind her to spread sunscreen on her back but her left arm only flapped like a fin. Brad didn’t notice. Men walked by and slowed at the sight of Amber’s contortions. There was one muscular young man in particular Amber imagined walking over to help spread the lotion, hot and sticky between her shoulder blades and down on her neck. Amber felt her thighs weakening, while beside her, Brad, covered up in his crisp white shirt and pleated khakis thought of duality.
Perhaps Amber created her own bad luck but there had been many previous bad pairings. Her personal check list included an engagement with a serial cheater, an affair with a married man, then a long term relationship with a boxer, who wasn’t really a boxer. He just dreamed of a career in boxing while all he’d ever hit in his life had been her and a speed bag. These were just the last three.
So what was it about Brad that drew her to him? Brad was handsome. Brad was serious. Brad never wasted words. Brad was quiet, non-abusive, smart and other things she could never quite come up with if asked. Brad, she concluded, was safe: kind, gentle … and dull. Still, Amber pushed an early meeting with her family, who was as loose as he was starchy. Before dinner, they tried to discuss bombing Iran but Brad interjected information on how atoms were split. “Borrrrring,” the grandmother sighed, as everyone stood up from the living room. “Dull as dishwater.”
A few months later, at Christmas, Amber brought Brad over again. As gifts were exchanged between family members, Brad sat and nodded. He occupied himself in thoughts on what it took to create each present. Her mother held up a sweater and Brad reflected that a loom was a machine or device for weaving thread or yarn into textiles. They could range from very small hand-held frames, to large free-standing hand looms, to huge automatic mechanical devices. No one knitted with looms anymore. He suddenly laughed out loud. Amber’s mother stared at him.
Amber opened up a DVD from her mother, the movie “Misery”. She shot him a look as Brad interjected, “A DVD (also known as “Digital Versatile Disc” or “Digital Video Disc”) is a popular optical disc storage media format. Its main uses are video and data storage. Most DVDs are of the same dimensions as compact discs but store more than 6 times the data.”
Amber’s father received “Rachel Ray’s Red Hot BBQ Cookbook”. Brad said, “You know, barbeque has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world. Notably, in the United States, practitioners consider barbecue to include only relatively indirect methods of cooking, with the more direct high-heat methods to be called grilling.”
Amber’s grandmother left the room during his speech and came back with a small wrapped gift for Brad. “Oh my, well thank-you … you didn’t have to …” Brad stammered. He opened the package with great anticipation, only to find a washcloth.
“I saw it and thought of you,” Grandma sneered.
The next day Amber received an e-mail from her mother that included a link to the website, lovingmatches.com. Amber marched into the next room where Brad was reading by the window and pulled the book from his hands. “Brad, I want you to marry me,” she said.
Seven months later, they sat on a beach in Spain, as husband and wife, him thinking about quantum mechanics, her wishing someone had her back while going through the motions and working a slow burn.
published 29 March 2014