Today is Friday, and it's Melanie's turn to lunch at Kevin's. It's a semi-weekly tradition established over their long winter of under-employment. Playing hooky from the working world gives their afternoon a clandestine sweetness as well as a sense of imminent interruption. Of course, somewhere in each of their futures a summoning phone call is surely imminent. Until then, dining well is the best revenge.
Melanie is perusing the bookcase over the piano as Kevin comes in with the coffee tray.
"Oh, hey. What are these?"
She turns to him, a pair of unboxed videos in her hand, squinting at the titles on the tapes: Power Tool and Man With The Golden Rod.
"Porn, darling. Boys with boys. Not your cuppa."
"Actually, you're wrong," she demurs.
Kevin looks up in mid-pour. "Did I know this about you? I think not."
"Well, no mystery really. I'd be fascinated to spy on men in bed together. Watch what they do when left to the devices and desires of their own hearts. I'm not alone. A number of my women friends share my fascination.
"Straight men are known to be turned on watching two women in bed. Well, women can be aroused, too, by men together. We're attracted to the same bits of anatomy that gay men are."
Kevin hands her a cup, spoon and milk. "Heavens, don't stop now. Not in mid-confession." Kevin's eyes glitter. "What launched this kinky little fascination of yours?"
Melanie grins a little crookedly.
"Confession time. I was about 15, cutting through the park, coming home from school one day, when I spotted this guy through the trees, playing with himself. I'd never seen an erect penis before. I hid and watched.
"He was so attentive to it, caressing it, slowing down, speeding up, the expression on his face as he climaxed. I found it hypnotic, unbelievably exciting. A few months later I found a stash of gay mags in a dumpster. I took them home and studied the pictures. Guys doing all sort of things together.
"That's pretty much how it started."
"So it's about watching men jerking off?"
"That's the biggie. Anal penetration doesn't do it." She shrugs. "Looks too painful. A low-end visual, literally, for me. Sucking's so-so, too.
"For me, it's about a man stroking himself to climax or a couple of men stroking each other -- variants of that primal park sighting. I imprinted pretty heavily that day."
"What about straight porn?"
"There's only the one guy, and the other is the woman and she's usually not being treated well. I'm totally turned off by that. I'd like to believe that men are not into humiliation. That it's about stroking, urgent, goal-oriented sprinting down the field to the finish line."
She hardly gets her words out for laughing.
"I'm an incurable voyeur. I'd love to sneak into a bathhouse and watch from behind a potted palm. Isn't that bizarre? Actually, what's bizarre is that I'm telling you all this."
"Melanie, you're a riot. I think the only place to go with these," he nods to the videos on the couch beside her, "is straight home. Tell me if they live up to your fantasies. If not," he pulls open a drawer in the coffee table to reveal a neatly stacked display, "you'll just have to come back for more."