Bill Burkett
6 min readJun 5, 2024
Available at Amazon Books

I know it’s late…I know you’re weary
I know your plans
Don’t include me
Still here we are
Both of us lonely
Longing for shelter
From all that we see…

Bob Seger, We’ve Got Tonight

Chapter 57: Finally astray at a conference

The depressing grind of a job I did not love dragged through another year to a spring where no volcano blew its stack. The agency’s store-manager conference was at a resort on Hood Canal. Management by policy forbade spouses at the annual event. With over three hundred store managers across the state almost equally distributed between sexes, it was sort of understood anything went.

As usual in organizations I served in the seventies and eighties my role as headquarters functionary meant I was automatically invited. I had attended conventions and conferences for other organizations — and this one — but never participated in extracurricular sex. That spring I had no reason to look for or expect anything different.

Things got off to a rousing start. One of the district supervisors carelessly forgot he was married to a store manager. To compound his error, he enjoyed vigorous bedroom calisthenics with another manager in front of an open beach-cottage window. It was low tide. His wife, among others, was beach-walking and saw the show. It became instant gossip and she vowed immediate revenge.

All unaware, I was her target of opportunity. All I knew was she was an aggressive, attractive woman whose kisses promised an end to my convention celibacy. At the last minute she backed out, a belated addition to my life-list of near-misses. Couldn’t decide if I was relieved or disappointed.

Later, two other female managers soaking with me in the resort’s communal hot tub were worried my male pride was wounded by last-minute rejection. They explained she feared work complications if she took revenge so publicly. Preferred a private dish of revenge served cold, beyond prying eyes. I should give her a call in a week or two. Years after I fell off feminist mailing lists Ms. XX Pizan force-fed me in the seventies, here was fresh insight into the thought processes of women.

We were still in the tub when a pale nubile redhead who could have stepped from one of those voluptuous French oils I found erotic joined us, and immediately flirted with me about why should we wear suits at this private resort.

She was surprised I wasn’t drunk like most of the men, almost a first-night requirement. Drunken men, she pouted, were poor performers as a rule. Which led to much feminine innuendo and merriment.

Midnight, a young spa attendant came to lock up. The women turned their flirting on him, entreating him to come back in two hours, unlock the place without removing the closed sign and join them, no suits, for a private soak. He was happily flustered, and fled. I didn’t blame him. Beneath the levity, sexual tension was thick as steam off the tub. As we prepared to leave, the redhead invited me to the showers to wash her back. One of the other women in the tub, a friend of hers, intervened quickly, telling me plainly to lay off. The redhead retorted she was a grown woman who could choose her own back-scrubber. More giggles all around, and a dare. No way would I brave the dare before those predatory females.

We dressed and stood outside in the mild night, exchanging intelligence on which rooms hosted all-night partying. Somehow the redhead was beside me, asking why I was the only male not drunk with good free liquor everywhere. I told her my wife left for work at five and I had to drive home, nearly a hundred miles, to be there to take the kids to the babysitter at eight, then drive back. So no drinking tonight. How was I going to stay awake till time to leave? I had coffee perked in my room.

“I could use a cup of coffee,” she said.

Innocent as that. I went back to my car for a spare cup. We sat on my balcony with a nice view of Hood Canal under the moon. Conference-goers wandering from party to party squinted up and waved at us. We drank my whole pot of coffee and talked comfortably about everything and nothing. When the air got chilly we moved inside. I perked a second pot. Gradually conversation lagged.

Finally she said, “Well, I’m married too, if that makes any difference.”

Answering a question I hadn’t asked. If I had been thinking of bedding her I would not have sat openly on the deck for co-workers to gossip about. But suddenly here was that moment with a woman when whatever you do next is going to be the way the rest of it goes. It always took me by surprise. God knows how many times I let such moments fade, never to return.

Not this time. “It doesn’t matter to me if it doesn’t matter to you.” We shed our clothes and went to bed as simply as that, all questions asked and answered. Ah, the sweet mystery of the brand-new under your fingers and tongue. Very sweet when your rhythms are compatible as you discover each other. I pleasured her to repeated orgasm until finally she husked: “this could be habit-forming.” What a happy thing to hear.

There was only one uneasy blip, when I finally entered her. She groaned and said I’m not sure it’s safe in there. Even in those lost lamented days of sexual liberty, it was possible to contract one of the old diseases. I am allergic to penicillin. I pretty much wilted. She instantly reassured me.

“It’s just I have enough kids,” she laughed. “I didn’t come here prepared to do this.”

And neither had I. But damned if I was going to let that interrupt us. Sometimes I thought I enjoyed pleasuring a multi-orgasmic woman to repeated heights with my fingers and tongue almost more than the so-called main event. Enduring legacy of patient instruction by a sweet young whore in Paris when I was very young. It served me well that night.

Soon her hands found me. She seemed to enjoy stroking me back to full erection and then completion. I was too shy to ask for her mouth. A small melancholy voice inside said a hand job did not count as breaking my convention drought. I pushed the thought away.

She was an abundant woman, well-endowed of breast and hip, with thick autumn-colored hair and kissable lips. We stayed in bed until three. I was more refreshed for my long drive than any sleep could have made me.

Post-coital tristesse nagged when I got home, and I tried to suppress guilt. My wife was fully into her role as administrator of the institution our marriage had become. I had acted like a trustee with a day pass. She left for work, expressing surprise I arrived on time as promised. An administrator’s reluctant concession I behaved adequately. I roused the kids for breakfast and played parent.

In the mirror I looked the same. But something had changed behind my eyes.

Some store managers already had gone when I got back to the conference, including my companion of the early hours. She lived at the other end of the state. The pleasure of her company had banished my pernicious depression, and overpowered guilt. I finally understood those seventies feminist tracts about trysts, nothing to do with absent spouses or romantic love. I wondered if I would ever see my unexpected teacher again. And wondered how the rest of my life would go, having belatedly learned this Venusian lesson.

Bill Burkett

Professional writer, Pacific Northwest. 20 Books: “Sleeping Planet” 1964 to “Venus Mons Iliad” 2018–19. Most on Amazon for sale. Il faut d’abord durer.