Jamie Goes Greek on Me 10

chapter 10

 What Is This Thing Called Love?

That night at home, in the sterile, Jamie-less castle that was my home, I had to face my wife. I sat on the deck, and I had a much-needed glass of wine in my hand. 

I felt, rather than heard Joanne walk up behind me and as was her habit, she put her arms around my shoulders and kissed me on the head. I felt my shoulders tense in resistance but she just waited there, patient and loving. Slowly I breathed in and out and reminded myself that this was the woman I had loved for twenty years.

When I finally leaned my head back into her and looked at her upside down, I met her kind, understanding eyes with my own. She released me and walked around to sit next to me on the next chair about a meter away.

For a while we just sat there and tried to ignore the feeling that there was somebody else present. Jamie. My longing for him was palpable.

“You miss him, don’t you, My Love?”

“My God, Jo, I’m so sorry…! How could I have involved us in something like this? What was I—”

“Don’t…don’t, Douglas. Just answer the question. Be as graphic as you need to be.”

I fought to wrestle my emotions into some kind of order that I could reveal to my wife. How do you speak about your boy lover to your wife? What do you say to do justice to your heart and your history without trivializing either with lies and euphemisms?

“I miss him. Not having him with me here, is like breathing in a vacuum and… I don’t know how I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”

I heard myself make the last statement and felt the implications slam behind me like a cell door.

“Is this for the rest of your life, then?” 

Her voice was gentle as a puff of smoke.

“Jo, I don’t know the answer to that any more than you do. This has been going on for a week at the most. But I can tell you this: I am not the same man that I was when it started.”

“I know. I have watched you change before my eyes. When you sit here alone on the patio, it’s like watching somebody wander through the halls of an abandoned castle. Of course I didn’t know for sure what I was seeing until I saw you two together today.” 

There was no judgment in her voice yet her words had the haunting tone of a prophecy.

“I thought you told Nadine that you knew we were lovers.”

“I think somewhere in me I realized it in some way but when her knowing little bitch-voice came on the line there was only one possible reason and the pieces fell into place.”

“You took a helluva chance, ‘cos if it wasn’t that, then it would have been as good as true, coming from you.”

“I didn’t think about that. But you’re right, we are lucky.”

We. She still thought of us as ‘we’. 

Did I?

“Jo, what's going to happen to us?”

I looked over at her and her face was thoughtful. She pursed her lips as she pondered my question. 

“Douglas, do you remember earlier when I said that you may not know it, but I have a personal reason not to believe that sexuality can be easily separated into categories like ‘gay’, ‘straight’ and ‘bi’?”

“Yes I wondered what you meant but then it got swept away by the fishing weekend.”

“When I was at ‘varsity I shared a room with a girl from a well-to-do home in Pretoria. Her name was Elma.” 

Joanne’s voice was neutral as if she was speaking about somebody else, a sure sign that the memory was unsettling.

“She was quite troubled, but brilliant in every way…. addicted to alcohol, even as a first year student—a schoolgirl, even, it turns out. I discovered that her mother was a controlling, sadistic bitch that never let my friend enjoy any of her amazing talents. She could always improve; always do better. Eventually Elma saw herself through her mother’s eyes until she developed a self-hatred so profound that she started to hurt herself, first with alcohol and prescription drugs, and later with sharp objects.

“One night I came back from studying in the library to find her sitting on the floor in a pool of her own vomit and blood. She had scoured deep gashes in her arms and thighs in an effort to outdo the agony in her heart with physical pain.”

When I looked at Jo tears trickled silently down her cheeks.

“I nursed her that night. I washed her and dried her tears. We grew inseparable. After a while she seemed to get lighter. The disconnect in her eyes diminished until one night we were sharing an illicit glass of wine in our room.

“She put hers down on the floor by her bed and walked over to mine. She was wearing a thin nightie because the weather had been hot and the air felt like it hadn’t moved in a week. I didn’t think anything of it when she sat down cross-legged at the foot of my bed, facing me.

“I realised something was up when she used her finger to start tracing along the sole of my foot and on the top of my toes. We didn’t stop chatting and without my noticing it, her finger was making its way up my leg.”

She turned to look at me and the steel in her eyes challenged me to judge her. 

“That night was the first time of many. Dee, we lived as a couple for three years. When we were entitled to have single rooms due to seniority we opted to stay together. She taught me to find love where it found me.

“Am I a lesbian? No. I loved…love Elma. She showed me the path to my body and heart in a way that no man, not even you, has been able to follow.”

We sat there for a few minutes, and as we communed in the silence, the moon peeked out from behind the trees, an eye that peered dolefully down upon our tangled fortunes.

At last Jo broke the stillness. 

“Dee, right now you feel that nothing, nobody is nearer to you than Jamie. When I touch you, it feels like I’m a stranger groping you on the train in the dark. You feel as if, when you're not with him, your axis has tilted and you’ve lost your center of gravity. I get it. I’ve been there. 

“I am ready for whatever you decide about us and you guys. If you and Jamie end up living and loving in our house together, forever, I’m on board. But I predict that, sometime in the future, you and Jamie will find a balance, whatever that may look like. If he’s your life partner I will celebrate your commitment. 

“All I ask is that we stay honest. Don’t give in to the impulse to pull away from me to draw closer to him. Loving Jamie doesn’t mean you have to lose me. I want to be part of the discussion.”

I stood up and walked up to Jo. It was only a few steps but it felt like I was covering a continent. She stood up too. As I put my arms around my wonderful wife I wondered what I had done to deserve such a bounty.


We’d spent the day in the sun. The water had been blinding, the light eventually becoming bearable as the reflection from the dazzling star abated and the yellow globe perched on the horizon like the iridescent yolk of a celestial egg, pregnant with promise.

Jamie and I sat close to each other all day, just companionable parts of our bodies touching, no sex, no charge. We’d hardly said a word, our communication relying instead on glances, gazes, visual caresses and the occasional grateful smile. I marveled at the blessing that had given me my Jamie. I mentally gasped at my good fortune at being allowed to unearth a gem inside myself that outshone all else.

I knew that what I had been introduced to in Jamie was a vein of precious privilege that transcended the ordinary. There was a cleaving, a binding so fundamental that I would sooner disengage from myself and expire, than envision uncoupling from my Greek Boy.

The traumatic almost-disaster of the preceding few days seemed like the noxious mist from a long-forgotten stagnant pool. The last wisp evaporated as Jamie and I turned to each other as we grilled one of the fish that we’d caught over the open fire.


He was the first word I spoke all day. His name was an incantation, a magical invocation of belonging and joy that conjured yearning, but was at the same time its own fulfillment.


It was the first time he’d ever said my name that I could remember. With that word he tagged our communion forever, designated it as enduring rather than transient. His eyes pulled me in, the moisture catching the firelight in fleeting glints of invitation. When he continued, his words were shy and uncertain, as he unveiled himself for my appreciation and understanding.

“When we started this… when I started this, I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know that our love would change me.”

We momentarily returned to the ordinary, yet extraordinary task of preparing our supper.

“I know. It was like I came to a fork in the road and I took the left side, only to discover that I was on the same path but somehow it was different, more real.” 

His smile in the firelight danced with recognition.

He echoed Jo’s words of not too long ago.

 “This isn’t ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ or even ‘bi’…”

He turned the catch over on the flames and the aroma brought saliva to my mouth.

“What I feel… has your name on it. It’s who I am… and Unca D… Douglas. Doug,” he settled there like a key fitting into a lock. 

“I don’t think it’s going away.”

“I know.”

I knew, too, that this would be the night that Jamie would clinch his ownership of me. I felt my body call to him and I knew he heard. My Greek Boy was going to become a man in me tonight.

My Man.