Of Lisa and Lisa
I never even liked Brian Thomas Salabis, never liked him from the time his family moved to Pill Hill, a 1950s suburban development, so called because of the many doctors who lived there. He was all of six years old then, a mouthy, sometimes obnoxious kid with a penchant for mischief. I feared for my son Daniel, feared that Brian would be a bad influence. Those fears proved unfounded because Daniel, thank goodness, had the good sense to divorce himself from Brian’s antics. That didn’t stop them from being good friends when Brian behaved himself, so I saw no reason to interfere with their friendship. Because I didn’t like Brian didn’t mean that Daniel couldn’t like him.
By the time he reached his teens, Brian had settled down. He no longer broke windows, shot squirrels with a BB gun, threw eggs at trick-or-treaters on Halloween or flooded neighbors’ basements with a garden hose as payback for slights real or imagined. He blossomed academically, too, earning top grades and making the dean’s list. Girls also became a major focus of his interest, as they did my son’s. However, it didn’t change his personality. He was still mouthy, on the edge of obnoxious at times, with his lewd jokes and gauche comments, which made it difficult to forget his years of bad behavior. I couldn’t warm to him when he came over to see Daniel. Only some unforeseen, life-changing event could do that.
That event happened during the late summer of Brian’s and Daniel’s sophomore year in college. Daniel and my older daughter Rachel were away at school, while Brian, majoring in engineering, attended an in state university in the prestigious Gemstone Program. His parents saved loads of money. Not only did he commute from home, but Gemstone gave him a full four-year ride.
He was bright; I had to give him that, if not much else. Well, truth be told, there WAS something else: his looks. Try as I might, I couldn’t overlook the handsome young man that he’d become—a strapping six-footer with looks that reminded me of a young Marlon Brando, handsome and intense, with strong features that could morph instantly into mirth or serious. When I’d see him jogging around the neighborhood, I’d plant myself at the window to watch.
Which leads me into that unforeseen, life-changing event—tearing my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
I played tennis a couple days a week at the club. One warm September afternoon, I made a sharp lateral move and down I went. After my partner helped me up, I limped off the court, gritting in pain. Somehow, I managed to get dressed and drive home. By that time, seeing that my knee had swollen, I called the ER and spoke to a nurse who advised me to apply ice. So I did, sitting up in bed, ice pack on my knee, tears flowing. My son and daughter Rachel were away at college—so no help from them. On paper, I was still married, though separated from hubby Andrew by lawyers and enough acrimony to keep those lawyers in BMWs for years to come. In short, I was alone in a big house nursing a torn ACL. At least I thought it might be torn—I had yet to see an orthopedist.
An MRI ordered by my primary care doc confirmed it, and it wasn’t a day later that Brian Salabis called. Daniel had called him from college, informing him of my plight, told him that I might need help with shopping, housework, etc. Brian’s call both surprised and touched me because he knew I wasn’t crazy about him. Moreover, busy as he was with school, including working a part time job in the college bookstore, he still offered to lend assistance. “In any way I can, Mrs. Gammerman,” he said.
Food shopping while hobbling on a cane didn’t seem real doable to me, so I gave Brian a list over the phone and told him I’d repay him at the house.
“At your service, madam,” he boldly announced when I opened the door for him. Holding plastic bags of groceries, he marched in wearing jeans, a tight-fitting white T-shirt and running shoes. Think of the great Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire or The Wild One. “Looks like you just got up,” he said, referring to my attire, a lightweight robe thrown over my nightgown.
“Actually, I’ve been up for hours,” I said. “There’s not much incentive to change with no place to go.” He nodded and followed my cane hobbling self into the kitchen, where he deposited the bags on the granite countertop.
“I can’t take that,” he said, when I offered him additional cash as a tip beyond what the groceries cost. “Doing favors for an attractive woman is its own reward.”
“Well, okay,” I said, taken aback, not sure if he was sincere or simply trying to butter me up further in an effort to get on my good side. Not that I was surprised he found me attractive. Not to brag, but most men do, even those of Brian’s age. I caught him more than once ogling me, not only when I sunbathed in the backyard but also when fully dressed. I can’t deny that it gave my sensitive middle-age female ego a lift. My son once told me that most boys his age harbored older woman fantasies (his was Christie Brinkley), and I got the impression that haramidere escort Brian involved me in his. Eat your heart out, I wanted to tell him, still wanted to tell him.
But I couldn’t do it, not when he went out of his way for me, then heaped on the flattery. So I offered to fix him lunch. He helped me with that too, pulling cans of tuna from the pantry, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise from the fridge and whole wheat bread from the breadbox. He poured us tall glasses of iced tea, tossed a side of chips on our plates and then served the whole shebang in the “lunch room,” a cozy addition to the house off the kitchen and main dining room.
“So how’s the knee?” he said after we sat down. “Still swollen, I bet.”
“Still swollen, but better.”
“Can I see?”
“Never let it be said that you’re shy, Brian,” I quipped, then bit into my sandwich.
He grinned. “Just concerned is all. Do you need surgery?”
“Maybe. It depends on what the orthopedist says.” He kept glancing down at my knee, as if he was trying to see it through my robe. “Oh, all right,” I said, and then opened my garment to show him, exposing both of my smooth, tanned legs in the process. Crossing my legs with the bad knee on top, I enjoyed watching Brian’s lustful attention, watching his blue eyes flit up and down my appendages. “It’s this knee, Brian,” I giggled, pointing. “As you can see, it’s still swollen.”
“Oh yeah, I can see that,” he gushed. His wide grin spoke for itself: hubba hubba.
When he reached out to touch it, I quickly fixed my robe. “Sorry, kiddo, that’s for the doctor to do.”
He snapped his fingers. “Darn.”
I shook my head. “Do I have to remind you that I’m the mother of one of your good friends?”
“No disrespect, Lisa—woops! I mean Mrs. Gammerman. Sorry.”
If it had been anybody else, I’d think he was putting me on. But not Brian, whose social filters had always been in a state of arrested development. IQ smart he was. Tactful he wasn’t. Still, I couldn’t overlook his soap opera looks, which made his antics bearable, even cute—depending on my mood. Despite my infirmity, my spirits were up. Ironically, I had Brain to thank for some of that, for I no longer worried about resupplying myself with needed items.
Squeezing his hand, I said, “No offense taken, Brian. If you feel more comfortable calling me Lisa, go right ahead.”
On the tail end of chewing a bite of food, he looked at me, all innocent and wide-eyed. “You mean that?”
“Sure, though I don’t fully get it. I mean, I don’t think that Daniel’s other friends would feel right about being on a first name basis with me.”
“It’s not so tough for me, I’m dating a Lisa.”
“Okay, but I’m sure she’s around your age, not over twenty years older. See the difference?”
He shrugged. “Kind of, but still…”
As noted, his social filters didn’t work the way most people’s do. Moreover, I didn’t dare confess that his calling me Lisa left me with a weird, erotic feeling of taboo. What was I thinking? Actually, it wasn’t so much thinking as feeling this weird sexual tug, one both disturbing and exciting. The feeling was mutual—he had already made that clear—and I couldn’t help but wonder if he’d act upon those feelings if given the chance. A more poignant question, could I? My failed marriage and the ongoing battles that followed had upset my moral equilibrium. Except for a major (make that major major) detour in my life that only a few people knew, I had played by the rules of convention, only to discover that those rules weren’t inviolate. I had become disillusioned with my parents’ lessons slash expectations on how they thought my life should go. Now, I felt a sense of freedom outside their (and once mine) expectations. Seducing Brain wasn’t on my agenda. Yet it wasn’t out of my newfound realm of possibility either.
“So tell me about this other Lisa,” I said after moments of silence. “Are you in love with her?”
“Nah, we’re just dating. We met at a seminar for aspiring engineers.”
I sipped some iced tea. “Are you…intimate?”
“Intimate…You mean have we screwed?”
“Geez, Brian, subtlety isn’t your strong suit, is it? Okay, yes.”
He wiped a splotch of mayonnaise from the corner of his mouth and nodded. “We did that on the third date.” He grinned as if proud. “But finding the privacy isn’t easy. We both live at home, so we have to work around our parents’ schedules.”
When he took out his phone to show me a picture of Lisa and him on the beach, I gasped. The girl looked so much like me at that age. I wore my light brown hair the same way then, long and parted in the middle. She had the same wide smile, a slightly high forehead and high cheekbones. Same body type also, legs long relative to torso and breasts that might disappoint a die-in-the-wool boob man. “She’s very pretty, Brian.”
“Thanks. She reminds you of someone, doesn’t she?”
“You’re more perceptive than I gave you credit içerenköy escort for,” I said, handing his phone back.
His smile danced on the edge of smug. “I picked that up when I first saw her, her looking like a younger version of you.”
I began to perspire. “Is she from around here?”
“Not sure, why?”
“Just curious. Have you met her parents?”
“Yes, they’re very nice. They adopted a boy also.”
I choked. “Adopted?! She’s adopted?!”
He leaned back in his chair, his face a picture of confused curiously. “You act like it’s a bad thing.”
Perspiring more profusely, my stomach started to churn. “What’s her last name?”
“Taylor. Lisa, you look as pale as these walls. Are you okay?”
“Yes, just a little dizzy.” I threw a hand over my forehead. Then I began to hyperventilate.
“Anything I can do?” He placed his hand across my back when I leaned over.
“No, I’ll be okay in a few minutes.”
Who was I kidding? I lived with that major detour I took as a young teen every day. Nobody I knew in my “proper” social circle got pregnant at fourteen and then became a mom at fifteen. But I did after a romp in the car with some sixteen-year old boy I knew for just a few weeks. I didn’t fight my parents when they insisted that I give that adorable baby girl up for adoption. To whom, I never knew. “She’ll be in good hands” is all they ever told me. My college age kids didn’t know they had a half-sister out there, somewhere. Andrew didn’t know either, and it’s a good thing he didn’t. Bitter as he was, he’d no doubt use it for ammunition in our messy divorce proceedings. Somehow, my skeleton in the closet remained there, and I did not intend to include Brian in the few who were privy to it.
Of course, I didn’t know if this Lisa Taylor was even my biological child. Presumably, if she was, her adoptive parents named her without knowing my first name. My stark reaction upon seeing Lisa Taylor’s picture was a measure of my sensitivity to what happened thirty years ago. The emotions were still there, bare and raw, roiling just below the surface.
“Sometimes I get these panic attacks,” I told Brian. “They started shortly after Mr. Gammerman moved out. Once we settle, I should be back to normal.”
Brian’s look of skepticism told me he didn’t buy it. “But we were talking about my girlfriend, not Mr. Gammerman,” he said. “What gives?”
I sighed. “Nothing, other than what I told you. These panic attacks come on unexpectedly. Anything can trigger them.” I began to tear up. “I’ll be okay,” I said. I forced myself to smile, which I imagined to him looked ridiculous.
My fragile state at that moment was such that I let him take my hand, lean over and lovingly pat my neck. “You don’t look so okay,” he said, “and I won’t hassle you about why. But if there’s anything I can do other than your food shopping, please let me know.”
I grabbed a napkin and blew my nose. “Sure thing, thanks.” Asking him to hold and kiss me, what I so craved then, didn’t seem like a good idea. I craved something else in that boy’s car three decades ago, and it got me into serious trouble.
Brian kept his hand on mine, giving it an occasional pat. It made me feel secure. “By the way, this other Lisa also has hazel eyes,” Brian said. “The resemblance is uncanny. If I saw you two together, I’d have you pegged for mother and daughter.”
“She looks more like me than Rachel, doesn’t she?” I said, referring to my daughter.
“Yes. I always thought Rachel looked more like her dad. No offense.” Pause. “Sure you don’t have another daughter out there?” He laughed.
I dared not tell him that his on target remark, said in total innocence, felt like a punch to the gut. “Does Lisa ever wonder about who or where her biological parents might be? We hear all the time about grown kids who search for and then reunite with the people who gave birth to them.”
“She brought it up once, said she might one day do that. She’s in no hurry is the impression I got.” He bit into the second half of his sandwich. Then: “I guess that might work in reverse, too. If I fathered a child in my teens and gave it up, I’d never stop thinking about it. Later on, I might even search for that child. As a parent, I’m sure you can relate.”
“Yes, I can relate very well.” Indeed, because that baby girl I gave birth to, whom the nurses allowed me to hold for only a few minutes, had haunted me ever since.
“Look, not to change the subject,” he said, “but I’ve got a confession to make, and I hope you won’t get mad.”
“Well, when I make it with Lisa, I sometimes think of you.” He grinned, holding his glass of iced tea in midair, waiting for my response.
“By making it, you mean when you two get intimate, I take it.”
“Better not tell Lisa,” I said chuckling, “or you might find yourself in the dog house.”
“Nah, I’ve got more sense than that. But she does know that I have innovia escort a neighbor, a friend’s mom with the same name that looks like an older version of her.”
Going through my divorce had caused me to have dramatic mood swings, as if I was bipolar. However, I felt confident that I’d be back on an even keel once things were settled. Brian’s revelation moved me from sad to horny—or at least sad and horny.
I moved my tongue seductively across my lower lip. “I can’t resist asking you, Brian, if, hypothetically, we ever, well, got intimate, if you’d think of Lisa Taylor.”
He squirmed in his seat and brushed back his longish, dirty blond hair. “Wow! Look, I don’t mind telling you that I hope what you’re asking is more than hypothetical. Because if there was ever a model of my perfect older woman fantasy, it’s you.”
“I see,” I said, trying to keep my cool. As noted, my eyes never escaped Brian checking me out, whether I wore a bikini or less revealing street wear. So his telling me this didn’t surprise me. What did was the way in which I found myself reacting to it—not with the annoyance I might have felt in the past but with excited anticipation.
He began to rub my knee over my robe. “Now can I touch it?”
I hesitated, not because I didn’t want him to but because I didn’t know if I could stop him or myself from taking matters beyond that. “What the heck,” I said, and opened my robe. Crossing my legs, the bad knee on top, I exposed much more than necessary, namely, most of my thighs.
“Looks like you will need surgery,” he said, rubbing his fingers gently over my knee. When his fingers began to creep north, he looked up and grinned. “Can I?”
“Can you what?”
“Feel those beautiful legs of yours.”
“You don’t see me stopping you, do you?”
With both hands, he massaged my bare legs, going gently on my swollen knee. Swinging my legs around, I put my feet in his lap. “You’re obviously not a novice at this,” I said, sipping my iced tea, loving the way his fingers danced from my feet to my thighs. “Maybe you can add this to the food shopping, make it part of our regular agenda.”
“Consider it done,” he said. “Lisa loves when I do this, too.”
“I’m sure she does, I’m sure any woman would.” I began fanning myself. Aware of the moistness between my legs, I knew where this would lead if I didn’t stop him soon. Sexually, I was ready, ready to slip off my yellow panties, damp and getting damper. Emotionally, I wasn’t quite there.
“Aw, I was just getting warmed up,” he said when I swung my legs back down.
“Yeah, me too.” I fanned myself again, struggled to calm my labored breathing. “Actually, Brian, for me, warmed up is an understatement.”
He took a few deep breaths as well. Then, with gleam in his eyes, we said, “Any chance of expanding our agenda?”
“We’ll see,” I said. Minutes later, I showed him to the door. “Thanks for everything.”
“My pleasure,” he said, and then took me into his muscular arms. He gave me a long and passionate goodbye kiss, one I returned with equal passion, if there can be such a thing. On the porch, he turned and said, “Maybe I’ll bring Lisa around sometime. Would you like to meet her?”
I told him I would and meant it, leaving out the angst and reservations I felt. Yet my curiosity was stronger than any pain that might await me. But pain from what, learning that Lisa Taylor was in fact my “other daughter” or just a young girl who happened to look like me?
Meanwhile, the orthopedist echoed Brian’s amateur diagnosis; my knee needed surgical repair. A couple girlfriends saw me through the operation. Post-op, one drove me to rehab twice a week. Brian said he’d do what he did pre-op, run errands and “do anything else you might want.”
We both knew what I wanted, what he wanted as well. About three weeks after my surgery, after he brought me groceries, my sexual and emotional needs coalesced. It began with him giving me a full body massage in my bedroom. It ended with us holding each other under the sheets. The in between was beyond wonderful. It didn’t hurt that his body reminded me of those classic Greek statues of discus throwers and that he knew what to do with it. It didn’t hurt either that he knew what to say and how to say it. The irony of him being sometimes boorish out of bed but a considerate, sensitive lover in it, didn’t escape me. In short, he knew how to please. And boy, did he!
“And I didn’t think of Lisa once,” he joked. “It was all you.”
I DID think of Lisa Taylor, though hardly in the way he meant. On a rainy day in October, Brian finally brought her over. Once inside, she said, “Brian had told me that we could be mom and daughter. Now I know why.” She laughed as she said this, as if it was a coincidence and nothing more.
Momentarily lost for words, I stood there, seeing flashbacks juxtaposed with this slim, pretty girl of twenty. We had the same hair and eye color and light olive complexion. Our body types matched—the long legs and modest boob size. She was a bit taller than my five-foot five, but few offspring matched their parents’ height to the inch. No, I’d never guess that the tiny, adorable baby that I held for only minutes and Lisa Taylor were the same person. And maybe they weren’t. But now, all grown up, she looked so much like me. The resemblance indeed was uncanny.