Mardis Gras Mom

By Misty Chikan.

 

Can the entire trajectory of one’s life pivot on the most trivial of events?

Logan, my son, a junior in high school, was wrestling for the state championship. He and his opponent, Ryan Jones, a senior, had met in the finals the year before; my son had lost. Since then both boys had moved up a weight class and were now wrestling at 188 pounds. Logan was comfortably ahead on points. Aware that time was running out, Ryan was on the attack, but Logan executed a textbook double-leg takedown, then rolled Ryan onto his back. The clock ran out; Logan had won.

Logan and Ryan sprang to their feet and shook hands. Logan’s teammates, who had been kneeling at the edge of the mat, sprang to their feet to congratulate my son; his win all but guaranteed the team its second straight state championship. The crowd, however, did not spring. Most of it, out of condition and overweight, staggered to its feet, applauding. Even I, who did Pilates or yoga five days a week, was stiff. Daniel, my husband, who had been checking sports scores for his fantasy league, was among the last to stand. He’d put on a lot of weight.

And that’s when my life pivoted. I compared the boys to the crowd. It was time to get back into shape.

The next day, over breakfast, I asked my son about CrossFit Memorial Hill, where he worked out. He seemed mildly amused, told me it was not the part gym/part country club I was used to, but when I persisted he said sure, he’d introduce me to his trainer.

And so I started busting my butt, changing my diet, sleeping eight hours a day, adopting new habits.

*****

My husband was supportive in an I-was-free-to-do-anything-I-wanted-as-long-as-it-didn’t-interfere-with-his-life-kind-of-way. He and I had been together since high school; he’d been on the football team, a solid player, not a star; I’d been the editor of the school paper and yearbook. He had been, still was, gregarious and well-liked, which had attracted me; I was studious, private.

Our marriage was generally a happy stable one, although like most people we knew the passion had long ago drained away. Daniel and I now related more through our child than anything else, our shared activities usually involved Logan: attending his wrestling matches, rearranging our schedules to his. Otherwise, sometimes for days on end, our interactions were limited to my fixing meals, washing his clothes, answering questions about what he should wear, and remind him where’d he’d left his keys; at times I felt like his mother. The truth was Daniel preferred hanging with his high school buddies. They were all good guys, fixtures in our community, members of every civic organization they could find: Kiwanis, Rotary, Exchange Club. They were a happy close knit group, getting together to watch sports, go fishing, drink beer, cook out, and, while it should have been clear from their ever expanding waistlines that actual sports were advised, managed to play more fantasy sports that I would have thought existed. They also helped him make a nice living; he sold cars at the town’s biggest dealership and although never the top salesmen, he did well.

Unlike most of the wives, I was never really part of the group. While everyone was pleasant and polite, to them I remained Daniel’s wife. I hadn’t hung with them in high school, preferring my yearbook and newspaper buddies, most of whom had left town. I also had a full-time job, working in the public relations office of the Missouri Department of Transportation. Some years into the marriage I’d complained to my therapist about Daniel’s focus on his friends and my feeling like a third wheel, but she pointed out that I’d started dating him exactly because he was so popular and social. Now I was complaining about it? She also helped me realize that while I resented feeling like an outsider, in fact, I didn’t really want to be an insider, an integral part of the group, which would have consumed all my time. I came to accept what I had; Daniel was not perfect, but he was a good man.

Like many of our friends, our sex life had gotten pretty sketchy. Over the last few years, he’d approach me, always at night, and using at little boy voice reserved for this situation, ask whether I was in the mood. I’d say yes, even if I wasn’t, and take him in my mouth or with my hand. He’d come quickly and usually fall asleep, apologizing the next morning. Sometimes he’d stay awake, use his fingers or mouth on me, sometimes I would come, mostly I wouldn’t, but I’d pretend; it made him happy. Intercourse had pretty much stopped. I think it embarrassed him. Clearly unhappy with his pudgy body, he took great pains never to be naked before me. When, on occasion, he did enter me, he’d come almost instantly, before I could even make a pretense of doing so.

I, on the other hand, rarely wanted sex. I am pained to admit that I was no longer attracted to him.

*****

To my son’s chagrin, I became a regular at the gym. I liked it, I liked the way my body felt, and made a new group of friends, a dozen women about my own age, most much farther along the fitness path than I, but all friendly and encouraging. They were a diverse lot, some single, some married, some well off, some struggling, but when lifting weights in spandex, de rigor with this crowd, we were all essentially equal.

And so my life changed. Hanging out with my husband and his friends was supplemented by me and the girls; most weekends there was a race or fitness expo to attend. With them, I dressed to show off, let my brown hair grow out, wore it a little wilder, and favored jewelry and earrings that drew attention to myself. When I hung out with my husband and his friends, there was also a change in the dynamic. Logan had encouraged me to dress to show off the new body and Daniel’s male friends didn’t seem to mind the emerging trim, hard-bodied version of Daniel’s wife. I could feel their eyes on me and there was always a comment or two or three about how nice I looked, but there were also catty comments from the women about a skirt that was too short, a top that was too tight, or how picky my taste in food had become. Word filtered back to a few screaming fights that began with a wife complaining about her husband staring at me at a party. Initially, my attitude was screw them all, but Daniel asked me to tone it down – “Just to keep the peace” – and after a talk with Logan, I decided to frump it up. And so with my husband and his friends, I dressed conservatively, disguising the goods.

And while it took me awhile to notice – it was already irregular – Daniel stopped approaching me in that little boy voice about sex. At night, sometimes, I’d take the initiative, reach for his manhood, but he’d say he was tired, not in the mood. I stopped trying.

*****

After expressing initial doubts about my commitment, Logan became my biggest supporter. With him, I restructured my diet and learned how to exercise. Reclaiming my body became the focal point of my life and as Logan and I spent time together at the gym, working out at home, preparing meals, taking the time to massage a sore shoulder or leg, we grew closer, more intimate. He became my mentor, showing me what do, leading me.

My evenings, which had been ending with me on the couch doodling on my computer or reading a book while my husband watched sports on television, were now spent with Logan in the basement, working with weights, or doing interval training, him pushing me through each step. I felt a level of energy I hadn’t known in years and would grow antsy hanging around the house. Logan and I might go for a run, see a movie, or stroll to the local coffee shop, sit and chat, listen to a local kid strum his guitar and sing.

Now the girls in my gym group were not above ogling (or, I learned, sleeping with) the hot young guys who worked out there. At first, I shushed them, pointed out that they were young enough to be our children, that one of them was my child. But I have to admit those kids looked mighty good and the truth was I’d ogle them myself. Then one day we were at a triathlon and guys were emerging from the surf and I was admiring them and then one in particular and then I realized it was my son.

Yep, my son was a hunk.

*****

Logan turned eighteen in January of his senior year. When Daniel and I asked him what he wanted; he surprised us. He’d be headed to college soon and wanted to spend some time with each of us. He proposed that he and his Dad go fishing at a friend’s camp near Branson. For me, he said he’d always wanted to go to Mardi Gras.

The night he got back from the camp, I asked Logan how’d it gone. It turns out his father had invited his buddies to join them. Instead of time alone with his Dad, it was like any of the cook-outs the gang threw during the summer.

“I’m sorry son, I knew you were looking forward to some alone time with your Dad.”

More amused than anything else, he said, “Yeah, but it was okay. Are we really surprised? The most important thing for Dad is his friends. And they’re good guys, there’s nothing wrong with any of them.”

*****

One night, the week before we were to leave for New Orleans, my son knocked on my bedroom door. I asked him to come in. I was wearing only a night shirt but, as I’ve said, I’d gotten used to being barely dressed around him.

He had a cat that ate the canary grin on his face.

“Well,” I said.

“I asked the hotel to contact me if they had a possible upgrade on the room. Well, somebody canceled. I was able to move us to a third-floor room on Bourbon Street, with a balcony.”

I imagined what that would cost, but heck, it would be fun and after the disappointing weekend with his father, he deserved it. “That’s wonderful, son.”

“What are you planning to wear in New Orleans?”

“Tee-shirts, shorts.”

“I was thinking, I’m going to the world’s biggest, most-risque, wildest outdoor party with a total fox. Why don’t we go shopping, buy a few things a little more daring? With all the work you’ve done, wouldn’t it be fun to show the world.”

“With your Mom?”

“With my total fox of a Mom.”

Smiling, I said, “And what if I don’t want to?”

“It’s my birthday, you gotta do what I say.”

I didn’t, but opportunities to celebrate the new me at home were limited. Why the hell not?

*****

My son was serious about me displaying the goods. He’d scoped out a number of out-there shops. I’d dress up for him, he’d push me towards something a little tighter, a little shorter. I pretended not to, but I enjoyed myself as much as he did. I’d worked hard for this body; showing it off to an appreciative audience: my son, the sales clerks, and several other shoppers who gathered around was fun. Spending a few days in New Orleans advertising my physique was going to be a blast. Still, what if…

I sidled up to my son. “What if we run into someone we know.”

Logan smiled a slightly patronizing smile, and said, “It’s Mardi Gras in the French Quarter, we will not run into anyone from Dad’s circle of friends. If we do they’ll be too busy checking out your body to see anything else. But even if they do, it’s Mardi Gras, you can wear a mask or big sunglasses to hide your identity.”

He was right. It would be fun to be anonymous for a few days, to show off, and with my championship wrestler of a son with me, I’d be well protected.

“Okay, but I’m counting on you to keep me safe.”

“Yes ma’am, that’s what we boy-toys are for.”

I bought a skin tight red dress that barely covered my ass, a Saint’s tee-shirt that exposed my midriff and matching short denim skirt, a skin tight green dress that left one shoulder exposed and barely covered my ass, and a gold halter-top dress that barely held my breasts in place and barely covered my ass. Then the shoes. I’d looked at several pairs. Fabulous, way too high, impractical for a day on my feet walking around a city, but man would they make my ass and legs look good. I hesitated; Logan promised me daily foot rubs; I bought the shoes.

*****

We got to New Orleans on Saturday, checked in. The room had only one bed. I looked at me son.

“I didn’t tell you?”

“No.”

“Sorry. In all the excitement I guess I forget. I figured I had to grab the room when it came open. You can have whichever side you prefer.”

It was a big bed. We’d be fine.

*****

We’d arrived too late in the day to find a decent spot for Endymion, so decided to skip it. The hotel got us reservations at Mister’s B’s and I put on the green dress and, studying myself in the mirror, tried on several sets of shoes before deciding on blue pumps with four-inch heels. When done my son, who’d been watching me, came up from behind, placed his open palm on the back of my neck, squeezed – I could feel the strength of his hand – and said what I was, immodestly, thinking, “I love the shoes; you look wicked hot.”

Fishing for another compliment, I said, “You don’t think it’s too much?”

“Oh yeah, way too much. You should have to pay to see something that looks this good, but it’s Mardi Gras, it’s time to show off. There are no rules.”

*****

The restaurant was only a few blocks away. We walked. No one was subtle about looking at me; there were scattered wolf-whistles. Digging the attention, I curled my arm in my son’s. Logan enjoyed playing my escort and told me how good I looked. At the restaurant, eyes followed us to the table. After a couple glasses of wine I grew increasingly sanguine with the attention and when I went to the bathroom, put an extra wiggle in my walk; I sensed the heads turning. After dinner we headed for the House of Blues, Galatic was playing; we danced, laughed, got back to the room in the early morning, my hand in his.

We both showered. I wore a gown, Logan boxers. I looked at him, his body, his chest; god he was beautiful. He sat on the bed next to me, laid my feet on his lap, gave me my promised foot rub. His hands were strong and masterful; it felt wonderful.

I woke up in the middle of the night. Logan had rolled over, his body was against mine, his arm draped across my chest. My husband rarely touched me in bed. Instead, he’d put his pajamas on in the bathroom, turn off the lights, get in bed, pull a heavy blanket over himself, roll over, start snoring. It felt good to be held my a man, even if it was my son. I intertwined my fingers in his and went back to sleep.

*****

When I woke the next morning Logan was gone; there was a note on the coffee maker: “On a run.”

I was sitting on our balcony, about to make a second cup of coffee, when the door opened and Logan, wearing a tee-shirt and running shorts, held up a small bag and said, “Coffee-Au-Lait?”

For the uninitiated, coffee-au-lait is a New Orleans treat: a blend of dark roast and chicory, brewed strong, half-scalded (not steamed) milk. Good, real good.

We drank the coffee and I, in an act of supreme willpower and with my son as inspiration – he’d vowed to stay in training despite Mardi Gras – headed for the New Orleans Athletic Club. I wore some very hot very tight workout pants and a tank top. After ninety minutes with the weights, we walked back to the hotel, more than our share of eyes following our progress.

*****

We decided to spend the day wandering the French Quarter, downtown, the warehouse district, the Bywater. While my son showered I donned the Saint’s tee-shirt, denim skirt, and moderately sensible shoes, then studied myself in the mirror. I thought about the last twenty-four hours, all the men watching me, not hiding their admiration. I did look good. My body was strong and tight; my shoulders wide, my waist slim, my hips narrow, my belly flat and toned; maybe not a six pack, but pretty damn close. My arms and legs were sculpted, lean and muscular. I flexed, following the smooth lines of muscles. I turned around, looked at my ass. I don’t believe it had ever ridden so high and tight on my body. I turned back around and brought my hands to my breasts. Big “C’s,” small “D’s,” they had not reclaimed the firmness of my twenties, but the work in the gym had its effect. They were firm and, even if helped by my bra, stood high on my chest.

I looked myself over again. Some might say it was almost a masculine build, but I liked it; it showed off the reclaimed power of my body.

I turned my focus to my outfit: it emphasized, hell it advertised, all this. I was presenting myself as a sexual being, proud of my body, ready to celebrate all the things it could do for me. I was not a demure girl waiting for the right boy to notice her at the soda fountain, but a sexual predator who’d hunt down the kind of companion who could satisfy her. I thought of some of my gym pals, explicit that among the reasons they worked so hard was so they could bed the kind of hard-bodied young men who could satisfy them, tired of slovenly men their own age.

The thoughts thrilled me, but also troubled me. I was aroused: I had to dial it back. I was not out hunting for sex, I was spending time with my son, a few days of alone time before he headed for college. On the other hand, more than anyone besides myself, who had overseen this rebirth, the one who encouraged my new look, and who, in the course of my transformation, had become as much companion and friend, as a son.

We were in New Orleans, at Mardi Gras; it was a world where judgment is suspended. I took off the sensible shoes, put on heels and some big sunglasses, checked the mirror. These wide frames would maintain my anonymity; I could be whomever I wanted to be.

*****

Logan and I roamed. We sat by the river, ate crawfish and beignets (strictly off my diet), listened to street bands, danced, watched jugglers and tumblers, wandered in and out of markets. When the crowd got too dense I’d nestle my body to his and move with him through the mob. We ended the day on Canal Street, watching Bacchus, my son standing behind me, his arms wrapped around me, protecting me as rider after rider pelted me with beads, toys, and trinkets, far too many to catch or carry. When the parade passed the crowd streamed into the French Quarter. At the moment I had no desire to barge through that sea of people and Logan, sensing my reluctance, suggested we head for Woldenberg Park along the river.

We sat on a bench overlooking the Mississippi. The wind blew off the water at a steady pace; I snuggled up to my son, he draped his arm over my shoulder. I was grateful for the warmth of his body.

“Mom, I’ve been so proud of you these last months, you’ve worked so hard to get back in shape and you’ve most definitely succeeded; you’re a total fox, guys can’t take their eyes off you.”

I was a bit embarrassed but mostly pleased. “Thank you, and thank you for working with me.” I made a muscle, gestured to my body. “I couldn’t have done it without you.” I started a new sentence, “If only your…,” thought better of it, stopped.

Logan understood. “Yeah, Dad should be more interested. I mean, he’s great, but it’s his friends, his business, sports, that matter to him. But still, you gotta wonder, I mean a piece of ass like you in his bed?” He pulled me closer. “Of course, that means I get you all to myself.”

“So that’s what I am? A piece of ass?”

“Well, I mean you’re a lot more than that, but…” He stopped, then, with a mischievous look on his face, added, “I think I’ll quit there.”

I laughed and kissed his cheek.

“Ready to fight the crowd?”

“As your knight errant, milady,” he answered.

We plunged back into the French Quarter. I held tight to my son as we worked our way through the mob, strangers’ bodies pushing against mine. When we hit an open spot on Royal Street I became the immediate focus of a group of drunk young men, who pointed at my chest and shouted, “SHOW YOUR TITS, SHOW YOUR TITS, SHOW YOUR TITS.”

I looked to Logan, who, with a good-natured smile on his face put his arm around my shoulders. “Sorry guys, but those tits belong to me.”

 

Continued on the next page (link below).

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