By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
@body:At the reception, as I'd whirled around in Monty's arms, in my father's, in my brothers', I'd wondered if I would ever again be so completely the center of attention. But of course I was, almost immediately. As soon as the door closed behind Monty and me at Del Webb's Townhouse, a hotel in downtown Phoenix, I was the only thing on Monty's mind. I was so unnerved by the intensity of his eyes upon me, by the way he homed in close and buried his face in my neck, that I fled into the bathroom to change into my blue, beribboned nightgown. I felt blessedly alone in there.
It was only ten o'clock when we climbed into bed, but it had been a very complicated day. I was tired and terrified, and relieved when Monty suggested that we wait until later. It wouldn't have occurred to me to suggest it, since I thought that the moment of consummation was his decision.
Each of us was wearing garments and our night-clothes over them, so that between us we possessed nearly enough raiment to populate the Paris season. Thus insulated, we lay marooned together in the center of the king-sized bed. I was afraid to touch anything. I was afraid he wanted me to touch something. We fell asleep immediately.
The deed itself was accomplished before it was light, and was a fumble I'm glad I had to live through only once. I can't imagine anything more graceless than the coupling of two virgins. I was particularly horrified by Monty's upside-down appearance. It was nothing like those slides.
We were both so confused that we quit trying to finish at some point. We lay together holding hands as sunlight came into the room. I couldn't look at Monty.
We decided to go downstairs for eggs; we were kids really, and we thought that room service was too grand for us. In the last minutes before we were preparing to leave the room, I was swabbing on mascara in the bathroom and congratulating myself on the maturity I'd shown by not mentioning to Monty my disappointment in his lack of sexual knowledge. Although Mormonism demands that both young men and women be virgins when they marry, nobody ever said a guy couldn't ask his married buddies for a few pointers. I was wishing he had, and I was also deciding that I would.
Standing in the doorway to the bathroom, Monty stood watching my ablutions with a face that had suddenly become drawn and closed. I didn't understand his expression, unless it meant that his disappointment was even deeper than mine. I didn't understand what he said, either, which was, with every word ice-cold and underlined, "I didn't know that sex would be something you were going to have to learn how to do."
The years have allowed me to adopt an attitude of affectionate wonder toward the kind of self-delusion that would enable a completely inexperienced twenty-seven-year-old man of no particular allure to blame sexual failure entirely on his partner. But at the time I felt like he'd heaved an ax between my eyebrows. His cruelty shattered the frail intimacy that had sprung up between us in bed a little earlier, and in its place was all the clawing panic I hadn't allowed myself to unleash that morning. The weight of a million damning facts about Monty and me filled my stomach, my chest, my throat; it snaked down my legs and made my feet throb. When Monty, having delivered his salvo, retreated to the bedroom, I shut the bathroom door and leaned against it, heaving not with sobs but with desperation. Trying to pull myself together, I slid down into the crouch of a baseball catcher and bounced nervously, wrestling honestly for the first time with the thought that the God who from my earliest memories had wrapped Himself around my heart, who had always been kind to me, couldn't want this--and that, even if He did, if He were really that arbitrary, maybe marriage to Monty was something I just couldn't do for Him.
I managed to bide my time for a few minutes until I heard Monty leave the room for something, but then I streaked to the phone like someone trying to get around a kidnapper. I had never been happier to hear my mother's voice. My announcement was so staggering to her that she tells the story still as a family legend, how the morning after she'd been contentedly unwrapping my wedding presents my shrill voice was tearing into her sweet memories of marrying me off. How I was talking about something that families rarely welcome, and particularly Mormon families.
I choked out to my mother, "This is terrible. I don't love this man. You've got to help me get a divorce.