Friday Night Story


Extra-marital affairs are legal again: the law banning them was declared unconstitutional. I heard it on the World Service, which generally means it’s to be trusted. The woman who works next to me muttered unhappily, and when I did not nod my head in agreement with her disgust, pushed out her chest to emphasize her shirt (while, more helpfully, emphasizing her bust) depicting the ABCD choice: Abstinence, Be faithful, Condom use, or Death. I abstain when no one will sleep with me, I’m faithful to my mistresses, and use condoms when they make me; do you suppose that counts?

At break I telephoned Winnie. It had been since the law passed that we had spoken, and while she was angry with me, she does not pay attention to events and did not grasp the reason for my absence.

As I drove to her home after work, I drifted back to the law. What was the world coming to when we wanted to send people to prison for having sex? I can perhaps see why a man could face punishment for having sex with a goat; particularly if it wasn’t his goat. And I can certainly understand jailing a man for having sex with a dead wife; particularly if she was not his wife. But gay, straight, lesbian: we work, we eat, we sleep, but the best part of our lives, if we’re honest and can stop being Catholic long enough to admit it, is sex.

Homosexuals in our country are another case. Yes, we are tolerant, but how tolerant can we be with an outspokenly bigoted President, and laws making homosexuality a crime? When we decry homosexuality as a Western invention, and acceptance of it a Western mistake. Perhaps we could treat AIDS as a Western device, and its prevention as Western. And what else could we denounce as Western and then carefully ignore as if it weren’t something to be dealt with? It is both amusing and sad that our society, dominated by Christians- a thoroughly Western religion- seeks to avoid the stain of “Western” problems, and more foolishly, “Western” solutions. And I am not a rights activist; I am merely amused that homosexuality is criminal under the Penal Act.

But if there is one universal right, I believe it is to get laid. And, as I’m certain that will be taken from it’s context, that is not to say I approve of sexual misconduct, rape, or, most seriously, the monstrous acts carried about by the Lord’s Resistance Army, stealing children- raping boys of their innocence by making them soldiers, and raping girls of their innocence by making them whores.

It is only the spray of dust from my braking that removes me from my diatribe, and the world seems heavier now, and a browner color than it was before. And the front door opens before I face that truest dilemma of man: that the door is too heavy, but to stay outdoors unacceptable.

Winnie is youthful and vibrant, and full of energy; all in contrast to my wife. She’s a student- of life, she jokes in the quarters she can’t pay tuition. She fancies me, I believe, because to her I am worldly, and learned; a naïve idea as I know how little I’ve lived, and more sadly, how little I will no matter the time given.

I love the words she whispers to me in Lugandan- my grasp of the tongue is far less poetic than hers, and it lends her a mystery her girl’s intellect may not yet have earned. Her fingers stop, trembling, just short of removing her shirt.

It’s been a long time in the offing, this, and I’m prepared as a man ever is, for that glassy look, on the hinge of the moment gazelle and lion connect. My hand slides to my pocket, to the hard little box that she dreams of, but never expected to see. I stop her before she asks, and get her the box in a closed fist, depositing it in her thin, uncalloused fingers. The stone is local, which probably doesn’t matter to her, but it mattered to my wife years ago- so much that she refused the first ring I gave her; and it’s those things, that familiarity, and that history, that keeps us together.

I don’t tell my wife about my mistresses, and I don’t tell my mistresses about my wife; I think we’re all happier that way. And as a point of reference I’ve clarified this with my lawyer in Kampala: bigamy may still be a crime punishable by hanging, but holding fiancés in reserve is okay.

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