The Friday Night Book Club, (c) Copyright, Marie Faux 2001

It was Ernest’s idea that I join the book club. He was tired of me running around the house picking up stray socks, dusting everything I could find, nagging him to take out the garbage or do the dishes or walk the dog. Only three weeks after the end of the school term, Ernest made it clear to me that I was becoming a nuisance and that I needed to “get a life.” Easy for him to say; he had been playing this retirement game for five years longer than me. After he sold the little sports equipment shop that his father left him, Ernest promised himself that he would never do anything unpleasant again.

“I’ve suffered, I’ve worked all my life,” he would often say, “so now I want to sit back and collect the pay-off.” At first, I just laughed at his notion that massive amounts of leisure time were somehow his due for clinging to life through respiratory episodes, suspected ulcers, and countless aching bones. “I mean, why else would anyone bother getting old if they didn’t think they were going to have a party at the end? I’ve got over sixty years of mind-numbing labour behind me and I think that I deserve at least another decade of good old-fashioned fun.”

Other than his assumption that aging actually involves choice and the suggestion that his retail career had been gruelling work, what bothered me most about his little tantrums was his references to “good old-fashioned fun.” I don’t know what I thought he meant, maybe picnics in the park or home-made ice cream, but what I did not expect was to come home from school every day to find him playing the same palm-sized video game that I had just taken away from one of my students. Initially, I joked to the other teachers at school that video games had stolen my husband, but when he put an ad in the newspaper looking for a vintage Atari, I started to take the situation more seriously.

Everyday when I came home from work, often weighted with student workbooks or bags of groceries, I was greeted by the sight of Ernest sitting in his green-striped recliner, jiggling some little wand while wild cursors flashed across the television screen. On more than one occassion, I have had to put the grocery bags down on the kitchen counter and take a
short walk before I could go back in there and unload them. Video games had stolen my husband, all right, but I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t just take him away already.

His body was rooted in the living room. It seemed to me that his very flesh was turning to cushion, which might have been appealing if Ernest were one of those big, teddy-bear kind of men, but he is not. He is a big man, with a hard-earned belly, but the structure of his face is too angular for him to seem cuddly. Ernest once told me that his parents only hugged him once. And that was on his wedding day. I always tried to incorporate hugging and
touching into our casual interactions, but he never responded comfortably. Over the years, we just stopped touching all together.

We would get up to the 6:30 alarm each morning and initiate a non-wavering routine that had him  showering while I made coffee and toasted bagels for us. He would come downstairs smelling like his drugstore aftershave, adjusting his tie as I poured him orange juice and spread cream cheese on his bagel. Then he would be off to the store for the day and I would get a ride with Madeline to the school and we would live our separate lives until dinner. Dinner was much like breakfast (meaning I cooked), except we took a little more time to talk to each other; or try to talk to each other. Ernest was never easy to talk too. He liked to labour over the banal details of everyday life - how many tennis balls he had in inventory, the latest stats on cross-trainers, how many years he had left until retirement -, but I can’t say that I think we have had a substantial conversation in over twenty years.

For the first five years after he sold the store, I said to myself, Playstation can have him. But when it was my turn to enter this Elysium they call retirement, I resented not having someone with whom to share all this daunting free time. I’ve always been the kind of person who can only maintain two or three close relationships at a time. There was Madeline, but
she is several years younger than me and still busy with her teaching. There was my sister Rosie, but she too is several years younger and quite preoccupied with her career; and besides, she was teaching in Japan during those first few weeks of my retirement. Granted, I phoned her every night during this time, but I always stoically refrained from telling her how miserable I was.

There’s nothing I fear more than seeming like some pathetic menopausal woman who’s too weepy to see how good her lot really is. I wasn’t about to fall into a stereotype, so, time after time, I sucked up my tears, told my sister all about the redecorating I was planning to do, and then went up to my bedroom and cried until dinner.

I don’t know if I knew it then, but I was profoundly lonely. Not just lonely in some little old lady kind of way. I wasn’t sitting in a rocking chair knitting and asking myself why the phone never rang and why no one ever came for tea. This was a different kind of loneliness that didn’t involve the absence of people so much as the absence of touch.

One night, when I was indulging in my nightly ritual of extended hair brushing and plaiting, I realized that I was the only person to have touched my head or face in over two years. I remember spending that whole night just running my fingers down my wrinkled, but still soft cheeks, across the delicate sin of my eyelids and the dimple in my lower lip, trying to dissociate my reception from the feelings in my fingers. For the first time in my life, I wanted to be someone else. Well, I wanted part of me to be someone else: my hand. I wanted to feel touch that was unattached and therefore uncompelled to love me but loving me nonetheless. I tried to cup my breast inside my night gown, but it felt awkward and heavy in my hand. I could barely remember when they were so perky I didn’t even have to wear a bra. I touched my white belly that at one time had been bronzed and taut, and then examined my dimpled thighs. I looked at my soft and stale body in the mirror and felt the loneliness burrow deeper in my gut.

I was having so many stomach problems at this point that it became customary for me to take an antacid tablet four to five times a day. Ernest kept chastening me to relax, insisting that I was making myself sick. Finally, one Saturday afternoon when I was scurrying around the house with a bottle of Malox in one hand and a duster in the other, he just threw up his arms dramatically and told me to “get a life.” I told him I didn’t know where they were sold and he told me to open a book.

“You’ve always loved reading,” he said, “for the same reasons that I love these video games, because it’s good old fashioned fun. You don’t need to feel guilty about having a good time now. You’ve earned it.”

“But I want to live life, Ernest,” I said exasperatedly, “I want to be around people. Real people. Not just characters in books or little squiggly lines on the television set. Real people, Ernest!” And that’s when he suggested I join a book club.

The first time I went to the local library’s weekly book club meeting, I was a little apprehensive at how much younger everyone looked. The club comprised almost entirely females, mostly young professionals or graduate students. I had expected more housewives, but then I am old enough to remember when it was common for women not to work. I myself had always shunned the option of living off of Ernest’s earnings; firstly, because he didn’t really make that much in the first place, and, secondly, because I wanted to have something of my own. After I stopped working, I spent a lot of time thinking about how ambitious I used to be, how I wanted to revolutionize the education system, and I became ashamed of both my former naiveté and my present disillusionment. Looking around at all these confident women, with their sleek blazers and their angora sweaters and their no nonsense purses and smiles, I was intimidated. I suddenly felt agoraphobic and wanted to run home and lock myself in my bedroom.

I was heading toward the exit when I felt a hand on my shoulder. The hair on the back of my neck stood up, as if to greet these slender fingers stretched across my cardigan. I turned around and saw a tiny young thing with a black pageboy and glasses smiling up at me with the loveliest teeth I have ever seen in my life. Her smile was dazzling, yet surprisingly sincere.

“Hi, I’m Monique,” she extended her hand and I gratefully grasped it and introduced myself. “We’re always thrilled to have new members,” she told me, “I’m the chair-woman of this group, which means that I just do the organizing and all the bureaucratic stuff, but we decide democratically what book we will read for each following week, so if you have a book in mind, don’t hesitate to nominate it.”

Monique ushered me into one of the plastic chairs set up in a circle in the middle of the library staff room. She kept her hand on my shoulder blade as we walked and then placed it back on my shoulder when I was sitting down. I had never liked touchy-feely people, but Monique didn’t strike me as cloying. I could tell that she was one of those people who seems to know everyone, who never seems awkward, and who has never made an enemy. I used to envy girls like Monique when I was growing up because I always felt socially awkward.

At book club meetings, however, I felt surpisingly at ease. Monique’s warmth was positively contagious and I quickly found that all of the other members were equally amiable. I began to depend on their company. I looked forward to Wednesday nights all week, debating whether I should bring butter tarts or nanaimo bars. I would be so wound up after each meeting that I would usually read next week’s book that very night and then I would have to suffer through six days of not being able to discuss characters and plot with “the girls.”

Charlie, the one male member who attended consistently, was a gay bankteller who loved being considered one of the girls and always became noticabley silent when another male member did actually show up. Usually, the meeting yielded a turn-out of between 9 to 13 people, but there were times when only five or six of us showed up. I never missed a meeting, nor did Monique. I found myself becoming more and more attracted to the energy of this girl who worked as an editor at a small publishing firm, while still managing to attend and make insightful comments during every single meeting . Yes, she was peppy and tiny and firm and adorable and all those things that used to make me jealous in other women, but I had given up my petty physical jealousies at some point in the aging process. I still noticed attractive physiques, but now I felt that I was admiring rather than envying or scrutinizing them. I felt like an orange to their apples and that made it easier to appreciate the shine of their flushed skins.

Monique had the kind of body that I had always wanted, but knew I could never have. A gymnast’s body, a dancer’s body; small, lithe limbs, sculpted delicately; small taut breasts and slender hips that enabled her to pass for a girl of sixteen when she was already in her late twenties. Though she was undeniably tiny, there was no air of fragility in her body; she looked like she could bend but never break and I admired that.

I had always been a stocky girl. “Athletic,” people would say to make me feel good, but I was really just stocky. Not fat, just big and muscular, and, quite unfortunately, inept at sports. When Ernest first approached me at a community hall singles’ dance, he told me that he could tell I was an athlete and then he tried to pick me up by telling me he could get me cheap equipment from his dad’s store. Being young and unforgivably insecure, I played along and nodded my head every time he asked me if I played a certain sport. By the end of the night, I found myself a triathlete who dabbled in tennis, baseball, and soccer.

When it was clear that things were getting serious between us, I decided that I would have to try to actualize what I had told him, so I tried to participate in community sports events. When I broke my collarbone playing t-ball, Ernest told me that I might be better off just giving up on athletics. Of course, by that time, we were already planning our wedding.

It’s not that Ernest ever made me feel bad about my body, he just never made me feel good about it. Not one for compliments, he would usually just grunt when I asked him if a certain blouse looked okay or if my hair was pinned properly. When I hit menopause, I became extremely self conscious about the loose skin folding over the sides of my pants and the light hair that was starting to cluster above my upper lip. I waxed and tried to watch what I ate and applied wrinkle cream to my crow’s feet and laugh lines, but Ernest paid no attention to my efforts.

Sometimes, I think that the first night we met was the only night that he ever truly looked at me. His desire was so evident that night and I was too easily taken by his lingering eyes and slow-moving hands. For the first few years of our marriage, I often wondered if I had made a mistake by sleeping with him almost immediately. I worried that an early surrender had set the foot for our entire relationship, and I always despaired that I had so easily given up such a valuable weapon in the game of love. As the years went by, my regret about having sex with him too soon gave way to my anxiety that I might never have sex again.

What had started out hot and fast died a cold, slow death that lingered on for over two decades without any intervals of revival. Sure, in his red-blooded twenties, Ernest would sometimes close the store early so that he could pick me up from work and we could have a quick romp in the car, but by the time we reached our forties, I was turning to occasional male acquaintances for relief. While these short-lived affairs were never mind-blowing, they were more satisfying than my trysts with Ernest, when he could perform, he never lasted long enough for me to build up any substantional tension of my own, much less a full-throttled release.

When my doctor confirmed that I was infertile after several years of trying to conceive, Ernest and I pretty much ended our conjugal relations. We still slept in the same bed, but we rarely touched, and had only slipped into heaving petting once or twice over the years. Intercourse was reserved for birthdays or Valentine’s day. I had given up on the idea of a sex life before I ever really had one. I had grown up in a society and culture that taught girls to be discreet about their bodily functions, to obey their husbands, and to deny the pulsing of their own flesh. Ernest had never seen my menstrual blood and, to this day, he has never made me come.

Since many of the books the club chose to read were novels about contemporary women, many of our discussions addressed frankly sexual issues. Though at first I was hesitant to give any input as to whether Judith Rossner had pandered to the pornographic in Looking for Mr. Goodbar or how Erica Jong had rendered female sexuality with such humour in Fear of Flying, the girls soon drew me out of my silence, forcing me to express an opinion.

After reading a novel featuring a culturally-sanctioned cliterodectomy, Monique asked me if I had been aware of the widespread practice of female circumcision. I admitted I had not, and told the girls how horrified I had been when I read the description of  procedure in the book and pondered the implications of such a social practice. I remember feeling so impassioned, being swept away by my own outrage, that I actually raised my voice, something I rarely ever do. My face was flushed and I felt adrenalin rushing through me as I looked at all these other women (and Charlie) nodding and gesturing in agreement. I had always regretted being too complacent and cowardly to join the feminist movement when it first erupted in my youth, but I felt like these girls were giving me a second chance.

So, when Monique suggested that we co-chair another book club dedicated exclusively to works addressing female sexuality, I jumped at the chance to spend more time out of the arcade my house had become. I was also very flattered that Monique would ask me to be her co-chair even though I was still the most recent member of the club.

“The library won’t give us the space, but we can have the meetings at my place,” she told me, “and you can bring those delicious butter tarts of yours. There’s not a lot of space in my apartment, but I think I should be able to fit everyone in.”

“Well, who do you think will join?” I asked her.

“Oh, everyone will join, “ she grinned, “but I’m sure only a few of us will actually make it to the meeting. Debra and Lara have already expressed interest, but I can’t guarantee anyone else.”

“Except me,” I linked arms with her and we walked back to our plastic seats, preparing for Lara, a sprightly blonde college student, to explain to us why she thought Anaïs Nin’s Delta of Venus should be next week’s selection. After a few light arguments, the vote finally went to a John Irving novel. Monique consoled Lara by promising that Nin’s book could be a selection in the Friday night book club. I left that meeting brainstorming reading suggestions and reminding myself to get baking ingredients.

That Thursday night, I got a phone call from Debra, one of the mouthiest members of the book club, asking me if I needed a ride to Monique’s for the meeting tomorrow. I decided to accept because it had been so long since I had been in a vehicle with someone else. Ernest had always hated driving and he used to enrage me when he would make me drive places  will he tilted the passenger seat fully back and had a nap.

That Friday night, I made a big deal to Ernest about my girl’s night out, trying to provoke even a semblance of interest, but his eyes were glued to the t.v. so I ended up grabbing my jacket and my tarts and waiting out on the front steps. When Debra’s beige sedan pulled up, I noticed that someone was already sitting in the passenger seat. It was Bonnie, the hairdresser who was part owner of the health food store Debra managed. Both women were in their early forties with grey streaks proudly flashing through their dark hair. Debra had brown hair and eyes, but was very fair; whereas Bonnie was part Hispanic with bronze skin and deep chocolate eyes. I had talked to both of them regularly at meetings for almost six months, but this was the first time I’d seen them outside of the library.

When we got out of the car at Monique’s apartment, I noticed that Bonnie was not wearing her usual uniform of jeans and a navy sweatshirt; that both Debra and Bonnie  “Oh, I look like a slob next to you girls,” I said, as I sheepishly looked down at my thin grey sweatpants and my untucked paisley blouse.

“You always look great,” Debra smiled as the three of us got into the  elevator and headed up to the seventh floor.

“Now you’re going to qualify that with ‘for my age’, right?” I asked her. Both she and Bonnie frowned and I blushed slightly, knowing I had said something politically incorrect or distinctly unfeminist. By the time Monique answered the door to her apartment, Debra was full-swing into one of her monologues about patriarchal society circumscribing female sexuality and rendering the the menopausal female a mere artifact.

“Men look at older women as mothers or grandmothers, useful for their baking and their archival memories, but not for their bodies or their imaginations.”

“Uh, Debra, the meeting hasn’t even started yet,” Monique flashed that smile of hers as she ushered us into her living room. Her apartment was a small, one-bedroom, suite, but she had managed to make necessary restriction look like voluntary minimalism. All her furniture was Swedish assembly stuff and she had a wonderful CD stand made entirely of black wire. “Well, it may be smaller than the library,” Monique said to me as she flipped through her compact discs, “but at least here we have a sound system. Do you like jazz?”

I nodded, even though I hadn’t listened to anything other than the radio and
supermarket music in years. Monique started to sway her hips, which were wrapped snugly in a black leather skirt, to the voice of Billie Holliday. There was a knock on the door, and Lara came in with a tall girl whose thick brown hair swept down almost to her tailbone.

“Hey everyone, this is my roommate, Alyson. Alyson, this is the girls.”

“Welcome Alyson,” Monique characteristically put her arm around Alyson and I could actually see the young girl’s posture relax. Bonnie poured us each a glass of red wine as we negotiated seating for everyone in a living room that boasted only one chair and a glass coffee table.

“Let’s just sit on the floor,” Lara suggested, “so that we don’t fight over the chair.” I had no problem sitting on Monique’s lush fuschia carpet, which looked untreaded.

Debra saw me run my palm across the soft fibres and nudged me, “Monique is a carpet junkie. She keeps all these swatches and she changes the carpet like three or four times a year.”

“Well, I love this colour,” I said, looking up at Monique who was dancing to the music again. She winked down at me and then swayed over to the coffee table to pick up my plate of tarts.

“Oh good! You brought your tarts!” Lara grabbed me by my arm, “I told Alyson how delicious they are and she’s dying to try them.” Snapping two tarts off the plate that Monique was passing around, Lara turned to Alyson and whispered something in her ear.

I heard the two girls giggling behind me, but I was too busy watching Monique move silkily across the room to pay attention. When Monique disappeared into the kitchen, I turned back and saw Lara holding Alyson’s exposed breast in one of her hands. I did the kind of double-take you see in cartoons. I was afraid that I might be drunk or have food poisoning and be hallucinating. But no, Alyson’s white cotton bra really was pulled beneath her smooth white breasts, and Lara definitely was kneading an erect red nipple between her red-nailed fingers. Alyson’s eyes were closed and she was running her tongue along the bottom of her front teeth, moaning slightly.

I must have turned scarlet; my face flushed and I looked to the other girls to share my shock, but I was greeted only with the sight of Bonnie kissing Debra’s neck slowly, with tongue and lips, as her hand moved rythmically in between Debra’s slightly open legs. Though I was too taken aback to register any truly coherent thoughts at the time, I remember feeling like I had just stumbled onto the set of a blue movie and that someone was going to kick me out at any minute.

I felt a persistant tingling between my legs and I didn’t know how to react.

“Don’t look so shocked,” Monique put a hand on my shoulder and sat down beside me while the two couples wriggled in my peripheral vision, “there are other ways to converse than with words, you know.” A wave of pleasure shot through me as she ran her forefinger along the crotch seam of my cotton pants. Before I could even formulate a sentence, Monique had pushed her hand up my blouse and was cupping my overflowing breasts in one of her small hands. A moan slipped out of me and I edged away from her hand ashamedly.

“Don’t you feel anything?” she leaned towards me and moistened her lips. I
whispered yes as her mouth brushed against my neck. She hovered over me and I leaned back.

“Where?” She whispered as she fumbled with the wasteband of my pants and slipped her hand right inside my underwear.

“There.” I responded breathlessly, aware of clothes being tossed on both
sides of me. I felt momentarily ashamed of the elastic imprint on my stomach and worried about this firm girl seeing the dimples on my belly and thighs, but her touch reassured me.

“Where?” Monique whispered into my collarbone, slipping a rigid finger inside me. I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head; it had been so long since I had been probed like that. I let out another moan, and allowed Monique to push my head into the carpet so that I was completely horizontal. She was stretched out on her side, moving one, and then two, and then three fingers in and out and I felt a horrible wonderful urgent gnawing.

“Down there,” I panted.

“Where?” Monique asked, as she removed her hand and started unbuttoning my blouse, my heavy breasts feeling light in her hands.

“There,” I said almost pleadingly, instinctively moving my hand to replace hers. The throbbing  was unbearable and I could feel my juices running down my crack.

“Your cunt?” Monique asked, thrusting her fingers inside my eager hole. I
could only moan an affirmative.

“Say it,” She commanded me as she tugged my pants and underwear to my waste in one movement and then poised herself about my patch of silver-blonde pubic hair.

“My cunt,” I grunted as she stuffed her face between my legs and rubbed her nose back and forth inside my swollen lips. My damp thighs dropped open and she anchored herself by gripping my hamstrings while her tongue darted around the retracted hood of my clitoris. I could feel my labia pulsing and my hips were pumping feverishly in the air. My left hand was gripping a fistful of fuschia carpet, while my right hand rested on the back of Monique’s head. I found myself applying pressure every time she came up for air, until I was shoving her mouth forcefully into my demanding pussy. I had never felt such full-body throbbing in my entire life, and I didn’t know if I could endure it for much longer. My pink- lacquered toe nails were stretched towards the willing mouth.

I could hear low moans and slurps and breathless sighs around me, but I had reached such a fevered pitch that everything was just background sound to the pulsing, pulsing, pulsing of my clit. I couldn’t even hear the loud moans that I knew were booming out of my throat as I writhed against Monique’s tongue and four of her relentless fingers.

When the wave started, I wasn’t ready for it. I had been used to controlling
my own orgasms for pretty much my entire life so when a pulse of pleasure broke through my clit and spread through my entire pelvis with such force that it made my back arch, I wasn’t quite sure what had happened. My legs were shaking, but my arm had tensed up as though struck  with rigor mortis, keeping Monique’s face firmly pressed into my soaking slit. Just as my back
began to relax and my forearm started to loosen its grip on her neck, another pleasure pulse started throbbing in my clit and then it burst through my cunt and ass with such intensity I lashed my body to the side, still pressing against Monique. I felt my swollen lips open and gratefully release my musky wetness all over her lovely white teeth. As I tried to catch my breath, she ran her tongue along the insides of both sets of my lower lips and then she dove down for one final flick of her tongue. My clit exploded and I felt my body shaking almost epileptically, waves of pleasure rushing through me, forcing me to bite down on my wrist as I writhed to endure this
overwhelming sensation.

Monique then sidles up my body and laid her head in between my heavy breasts. My heart started to slow down and the evaporating sweat cooled my inner thighs, but I still felt like I had a sauna between my legs. I held Monique’s tiny frame against me and was pleased to find that she didn’t make me feel big or clumsy or butchy or whatever I feared I might feel if I embraced her. Instead, I felt real, sexual, physical, alive, exhausted, excited,
trembling, soaking through the fibres of her sweet ,soft carpet.

My drooping eyelids raised slightly when I saw a big chunk of one of my tarts beside me on the floor. I lifted my neck, still cradling Monique, who was stroking my soft white stomach, and I beheld Lara’s panting hole dripping brown tart filling as Alyson’s tongue lapped eagerly. On my other side, I caught a glimpse of Debra on all fours, her head bent down so that her shoulder-length hair touched the floor. Bonnie, whose naked body was covered in bits of tart, was moving a wine bottle back and forth between her legs as Debra bucked wildly against the neck. I turned back to Monique, and stroked her cheek, looking at here for the first time since this new intimacy had begun. Her cool blue eyes looked even larger with her glasses off, and I found myself taken aback by this wide-eyed beauty with her flushed cheeks and salty mouth. I loved the fact that I could taste myself on her when I ran my tongue along her lips.

I knew that I had to taste her as she had tasted me, so I pushed her skirt up above her hips and lowered my face to her already wet and waiting cunt. After kissing her velvet lips gently, I tried to ripple my tongue along her clit as she had done for me, eagerly probing the moist folds inside her with two fingers. She let out these low, loud moans that sounded like a jazzy growl and that made me want to thrust my fist inside her and scream with delight. When she finally begged me to, I pull my fingers out and curled then into my palm so that Monique could grind against my knuckles. When she finally froze in a spasm of pleasure, she frothed over my hand, soaking me up to the fingertips and forearm.

Spent and sated, none of us bothered showering after the meeting. When I finally had the energy to pull my sweats back on, I quickly felt a warm rush moisten my crotch.

“This is why we wear skirts to the Friday book club meetings.” Debra patted the wet spot of my crotch and winked at me.

After kissing Monique goodnight and hugging Lara and Alyson, I left with
Debra and Bonnie. We got coffee at a drive-through donut shop, giggling like school girls who had just skipped class.

“So what do you think of the bookclub?” Debra asked me right before she
turned into my driveway.

“I have a lot to learn” I said as the car same to a stop.

“You’re going to converse with everyone in the book club, right?” Bonnie turned around in the passenger seat and flashed her dark eyes at me, her lips slightly parted in a smile.

With a tingle between my legs and a twinkle in her eye, I nodded and kissed them both goodnight. I sauntered into the house and followed the ghostly neon flashing into the living room.

“How was the meeting?” Ernest asked without even looking up from his Alien Invaders game.

I momentarily considered telling him, but knew that it would neither arouse nor enrage him because he would probably just tune me out. I shrugged and went upstairs to brush my long grey hair, which had become unravelled and frizzy from the heat and exertion. I ran my nose along my arm and touched my fingers to my lips, knowing that as long as I had the Friday night book club to look forward to, Ernest could play with his joystick until the cows came home or the aliens destroyed the earth. I’ve been a member of the Friday night book club for almost two years now and I have never felt the least pang of conscience when it comes to Ernest. After all, I’m just an old retired lady taking the time to have some good old fashioned fun; and I’ve earned it.