Those of you who have read my famous novel Acts of the Apostles know that there appears in it a hot French chick named Pascale. A lot of the Pascale parts of Acts of the Apostles are taken from "real life", for example, our visit to gay bar in San Jose late one night and our game of "Liar's Poker" there, and the part about how I (a very conflicted married man intent on not having sex with her) went into Pascale's rented house with her at 2:30 AM only because I had to pee so bad I was about to burst, and about how, when I attempted to leave & go back to my hotel she threatened to scream "RAPE" if I didn't fuck her, and in fact did scream that word, loud, until I consented to her request, which wasn't hard to manage despite my blood-alcohol level, for she was pretty damn hot, I'm not kidding.
See "Acts" for more on that topic.
That first encounter with Pascale was in the early summer of 1993, when I was a bi-coastal manager for Sun Microsystems & traveling frequently from my home in Massachusetts, where I had a wife, an 11 year old daughter, a nine year old son and an a four year old daughter. About that time Sun told me that I had to move to California & piled on the work, and I started spending a lot of time there, as my wife at home took care of the children and managed the packing up the house (which Sun paid for, back in the days when money was for nothing).
Luckily for me, Pascale stopped working at my favorite hotel (Woodfin Suites). She never said so, but I think she got fired because she was witnessed entering a hotel guest's room (mine) on the second day of our initial two-day affair.
Because I didn't want things to get out of control, I didn't tell Pascale that I was living by myself in a hotel room most of that summer, waiting for my family to move west & join me in the house I had arranged to rent in Fremont. So far as she knew, I was just some hotel guest from the East Coast with whom she had had a short fling. She knew my name, and that I was married and that I worked at Sun. She thought I was back in Massachusetts, thousands of miles away.
She didn't know that for most of that summer I was staying half a mile from her house, and that I used to drive by it often, in my rental car, slowly, resisting the urge to pull into the driveway & pick up where we had left off.
So my family's move from Massachusetts to California was arranged. After much looking and much investigation of neighborhoods and schools (by me) and checking of the checking account, we signed a lease on a house in Fremont.
We couldn't buy a house because my wife's business had gone bust and taken our life savings with it. Even if Dear Wife's business had not gone bust we could not have afforded to buy a house there, such was the disparity between inflated California prices and depressed Massachusetts prices. So, we were renters. Which was good and bad, but a topic for another day.
So anyway, the eve of the day comes, the day on which my wife and three young children are to arrive in California from Massachusetts, by areoplane. I've spent most of the summer living in a hotel room in Sunnyvale, going to work at Sun in Mountain View, missing by wife and children but horny as hell for Pascale, whom I'm avoiding by sheer force of will.
Dear Wife's & my worldly goods are in a moving van making its way across the country. My family will be here so soon! I am bursting with joy and anticipation!
But on my last free night before they are to arrive, lust and curiosity and whatever overcome me, and I go and knock on Pascale's door, at about 8:00PM. It is the night of the Persiod Meteor Shower.
Pascale is there at home, & she has a girlfriend with her. I ask her to come with me up into the high hills (low mountains) beyond San Jose, to watch the meteor shower with me.
Pascale comes to the door. Pushes me outside with both hands. Closes the door behind us. Embraces me. Kisses me violently. "You must go away. I cannot talk now. Go away. Come see me again." I tell her my wife and family are coming, arriving the next day, I will probably never see her again. I should not have come by. I apologize. "Go now!" she says. She slams the door in my face.
I go back to the hotel, relieved that I have not cheated on my wife again. I tell myself that I have never really really "cheated," since I have the virtual "get out of jail free" card that my wife gave me. If you just have to have her, then have her Dear Wife said. And boy, did I ever have to have Pascale. So I had her. But I also know that with Pascale, I'm cheating. The attraction between us is just too strong to pretend otherwise. I'm very close to playing with fire.
I consider going up into the hills to watch the meteor shower away from light pollution, but that's a long way away, it's late, and I have a big day tomorrow. My family is coming! At last! I need my sleep.
At 2:30 AM my hotel room phone rings (youngsters: cell phones were long in the future).
It's Pascale. She explains that she had a guy with her when I came by, a guy who expected to spend the night with her. That was why she pushed me out the front door & told me to go away (after putting her tongue down my throat). She has gotten rid of him, she says. Can she come get me?
But we both realize it's too late. Too late for us to drive up into the hills to watch the meteor shower, too late for us to have one last "go".
We chatted for half an hour in French and English; maybe an hour. Seldom in my life have I felt so desired.
Then we said goodbye.
Only the next morning did I realize that when I went by her house I had not told Pascale where I was staying--at a hotel ten miles from the place where she and I had met. And yes, as I later found out from her, she had called every hotel in Silicon Valley, at least fifteen of them, until she found me.
After my family moved to California the whole idea of my seeing Pascale became more dishonest, less fun, more dangerous. She sent to me at my office an essay that had been printed in Time Magazine, of all places, about how the French in particular and Europeans in general were so much more adult than Americans about the whole idea of "the affair". Pascale understood, she said, that I was a married man who loved his wife and who had three children. But come on, she said, we're adults. You and I really enjoy each other's company, and we really like having sex together! Stop being an American prude! Let me be your mistress.
It was tempting. So, so, so tempting. But I said no, because I knew that the kind of affair Pascale was suggesting was way beyond the bounds of the "get out of jail free" card that Dear Wife had given me. For me to have a full-on affair with Pascale would have been a breaking of the deal, a betrayal.
So Pascale and I went out for lunch a few times; she would drive to the Sun campus and pick me up in her little Volkswagen convertible and we would go out to a cheapo place in Mountain View or Sunnyvale & have coffee & pastry. Once, we scurried back to her house & had sex. But it was not good sex. Before, that first 2-day fling, our sex had been volcanic. Later? Let's not talk about it. It was "meh".
Pascale told me about her new boyfriends, which made me happy. I liked the idea of her having boyfriends her own age, and she had several.
But there was a problem. She didn't like them as much as she liked me, she said. They were young and crude and boring. She preferred my company.
Which made me point out my wedding ring, my balding head, the pictures of children in my wallet, and our age difference.
"You and me, it cannot work;" I said. "This is the USA, not France. It cannot work. I'll be your older brother and your friend, but I'll never have sex with you again. Never. Because the risks are too great that I'll fuck up the greatest thing a guy could have."
And I never did have sex with her again. We had coffee together perhaps ten times over the next ten months. We exchanged emails -- mostly about literature and ideas, if I remember right. But in fact I don't remember much about our emails. I remember bits of our conversations, and her face, and her scary self-possession and her breasts. I remember some jokes. But I've forgotten a lot. I do believe that she became comfortable with the idea of me as older confidant rather than as lover.
Then Son, age 10, got very, very ill and nearly died. Emergency brain surgery to save his life. It so happened that Pascale and I had had a coffee date for that morning, the morning of Son's 6:00 AM emergency brain sugery. I called Pascale from a pay phone at Lucille Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto, while my son was in surgery and my wife was pondering funeral arrangements if he didn't make it & making calls to the family.
"This is the end," I told Pascale from the pay phone. "Any further contact between me and you would be immoral. You are young, smart, and beautiful. Go have fun. But never contact me again, and I will never contact you. This is the end." That was our last communication, in early spring, 1994.
Several years later, I told Dear Wife the whole Pascale story. She was a bit pissed at first, but she did admit that I had acted with her prior blessing, and she commended me on my good taste. Eventually she came to kind of delight in the sorry as a point of pride -- for her gift was, in fact, truly awesome.
For years after that, whenever Dear Wife asked me what I wanted for a birthday, Christmas or anniversary present, I always said, "I want another get out of jail free card," and she always said "keep dreaming, shit-for-brains."
Then about five years ago I opened an envelope that Dear Wife gave me for my birthday. In it: a monopoly card, "Get out of Jail Free". Dear Wife said, "just don't bring me any diseases."
What happened to that card is a story for another day.
So anyway, I consider myself a monogamist. But like they say in the baseball record books, with an asterisk.
Tonight is the Persied Meteor Shower. I'm going to go have a cigar and look up at the sky and think about Pascale and Dear Wife and the nature of time and love and promises.
Many people have done many kind things to me that have made me feel loved and wanted. But I must tell you: when I was 40 years old, a hot, smart French chick ditched her date and then spent the next several hours calling every hotel in Silicon Valley until she found me, just so we could talk on the phone. It may be the nicest thing anybody has ever done for me. What a sweet, special memory.
Pascale also convinced me to write my first novel, Acts of the Apostles. I told her that I wanted to write this book, but that I needed to provide for my family, so would probably never have time to do it. "And if you don't write it?" she said in her glorious Parisienne French. "Then your wife's husband will be an empty, boring, bitter shell who thinks he could have been a writer. So write the novel for her, whether she wants you to or not. You fool."
Years ago Dear Wife told me I should tell this story on HuSi. "Ah, well," I said. "Some people will like it and other people will just think it's more bullshit, and HuSi is hanging on by a slender enough thread already; I don't want to add more bullshit to its burden."
But it's a story worth telling, I think. In any event, now it's told, at least provisionally.
Pascale, wherever you are, thank you. You made me feel sexy; you made me feel smart; you made me feel that I could & should and had a moral obligation to write novels, which I have since done.
I'm going to go outside now and light up a cigar and wait for the Persied meteors to arrive.
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