THE SURPRISE

THE SURPRISE

From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

The Surprise

An archaeologist is the best husband a woman can have; the older she gets the more interested he is in her.

Agatha Christie

I separated the curtain of my hotel room window slightly and peeked outside. Both the door and the window of my ground-floor room faced the hotel’s busy walkway. Not only could I see when someone was coming, but a passerby could see in, too. And he or she would certainly get an eyeful. I was dressed (if you could call it dressed) in a black lace bustier, black thigh-high nylons with elastic lace trim and a black garter belt. And, just as the article titled “How to Spice Up Your Marriage” suggested, I completed the scant outfit with what countless women’s magazine surveys guarantee men can’t resist—black high-heeled pumps. This attire was part of a planned seduction of my husband. The starring role in a live peep show I was not. I had already been embarrassed enough for one day. Checking into the hotel by myself, with virtually no luggage, in the middle of the afternoon raised quite a few curious and suspicious eyebrows. I didn’t plan on attracting any more unneeded attention—not even for the sake of “spicing up” my marriage.

When I didn’t see my husband approaching, I let the curtain fall back into place. I walked over to the suite’s full-length mirror. As I studied the reflection, I couldn’t help but think that the article that had suggested this romantic rendezvous had definitely lacked some vital information. For one thing, it neglected to mention how the lacey elastic band in the nylons squeeze your upper thighs so tightly that unless you have a figure like a Victoria’s Secret model—which I most certainly do not— an extra roll of fat will bulge out above the stocking. Why didn’t the marriage expert/author who wrote of sexy surprises and provocative garments include a warning? “Beware: If you are over the age of twenty-five, or if you have ever been pregnant, this outfit may be hazardous to your thighs.” Why weren’t the manufacturers of these unflattering stockings required to print a disclaimer on their packaging that read: “Thighs in these nylons may appear larger than they are.”

I turned around to try to see how my backside looked in the new panties. The oh-so-skinny, oh-so-young lingerie saleslady insisted they would look fabulous with the other lacey garments I had chosen. She obviously underestimated the amount of cellulite I had hidden in my jeans. I decided right then I had to do one of two things: I had to change out of this ridiculous get-up or I had to start drinking. Considering all the time and effort I spent picking this lacey ensemble—not to mention the money—I opened a bottle of champagne.

I wasn’t actually nervous about my husband’s reaction to my body. After all, he’d seen me in a teddy or two, watched my belly expand with each of our three children, and been a firsthand witness to the changes in my body over the past sixteen years. I had just never presented myself to him in such an erotic manner. I looked like a stripper. What if he didn’t appreciate seeing me looking so—sexual? And what if he didn’t like the idea of spending all his money on a night of lovemaking—when we could have done almost the same thing at home, for free?

I refilled my glass with more champagne. I needed to relax. I told myself that I was just nervous because he was late. Of course he would love this surprise. Over our sixteen years of marriage, Ron had always been receptive to my somewhat unpredictable and romantic nature, even the time we treated ourselves to a second honeymoon for our tenth anniversary. We were waiting by the luggage belt when I said, “Ron, I have a great idea.”

“Oh, God,” he jokingly moaned. “What am I in for?”

“Well, wouldn’t it be fun to pretend we’re on our honeymoon?”

“Why?”

“Because people treat you differently. They give you that extra smile that says, ‘Ahh, aren’t those two kids in love just the cutest?’ And then, before you know it, we feel like newlyweds.” Before he could answer, I gave him my most persuasive smile and pleaded, “Please, it’ll be so romantic.”

“Okay, whatever you want,” he said.

He never regretted playing my newlywed charade; we pretended to be honeymooners on that trip and every trip since then.

I’m not sure if it was the reminiscing or the champagne, but suddenly I was infused with excitement. I was about to pour myself another glassful when I heard a knock on the door. He wasn’t supposed to knock. Why would he knock? I had done just as the article had directed. I waited until I knew he was out of the office and left the room key inside a small wrapped jewelry box. I attached a note, which I lightly sprayed with his favorite perfume, that read:

Dear Ron,

Meet me at Danford’s Inn at 7:30, room 102. I can promise you this—you won’t be sorry!

Love,
You-Know-Who

A ridiculous thought occurred to me as I heard another more forceful knock at the door: What if he didn’t know who You-Know-Who was? Or worse, what if he thought he knew, but didn’t really know, and he was now angry at You-Know-Who for plotting this outrageous scheme? I had to take a deep breath. Panic and nerves, and most probably alcohol, were making You-Know-Who you-know-what—crazy.

“Are you there?” I heard him call. “Kath? Are you there?”

“Yes,” I said as I released a sigh. “Just a second.” He didn’t sound angry in the least. And, luckily for both of us, he knew it was me who left him the note.

I slid the lock open. Being careful to stand behind the door so I was hidden from view of the walkway, I opened it.

“Oh Ron!” I exclaimed. “They’re beautiful!”

“Anything for my beautiful wife,” he said as he handed me a dozen roses.

“Thank you,” I said almost shyly. I couldn’t believe it, but I was actually blushing.

After closing and locking the door, he turned and took a good look at me. His eyes visibly widened as he absorbed the surprise of my risqué attire. I’m not sure whether his slow smile was a result of pleasure or shock, but he said, “Thank you. This is a nice surprise.”

I smiled in return and whispered, “Anything for you.”

It was as though I did this all the time.

Katherine Gallagher

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