The party was over at about 2:00 a.m., because I ended it. My hosts were both about two tequilas away from total liver failure. So I turned off the music, turned on the lights, and started the whole crew cleaning up.
There had only been about a dozen of us left, the die-hard revelers. I was high on music, drunk on pheromones, and a bit daiquiri-happy, but relatively lucid. The rest of them were absolutely smashed.
So there we were, a bunch of thirty-something, married-with-kids suburbanites, dirty dancing and smoking and lying on the icy lawn. There was beer on the floor, and cake, and lemons and salt. I was barefoot, because I like to dance without shoes. I felt all the grime with my toes, and it grounded me.
My husband had already gone home to bed. He is not a party person, not a dancer. He enjoys cerebral human company, real discussions. He does not like people functioning on one brain cell.
My husband trusts me completely. He is maddeningly confident in himself, and in me.
He gets a lot of ribbing when he leaves early, about his being a party-pooper and a loner. People ask me if I mind. The truth is, I did, but just a little.
Actually, I noticed that many - most - of us were left there without our spouses, for one reason or another. It seemed perfectly natural to me - babysitters can't stay out that late, and neither can women in advanced stages of pregnancy. Suburban Long Island reality.
Another reality is that we were all dancing too close, talking too low, drinking too much, saying things we wouldn't want out spouses to hear - or at least listening, and not objecting. The most intoxicating part of the evening was not the liquor at all. It was sexual energy, and power. The power to tease someone to the point of almost, and the power to end it at the brink.
It was a dangerous dance on the edge.
I remember every hand that traveled just slightly where it shouldn't have, and every joking proposition that sounded just a bit too serious. I am sure most of the others don't remember any of it, and it's just as well. Many of them would be mortified.
I will make a long story short: I left in time.
At home, I looked in on my sleeping daughters, then collapsed into bed, as I was. My clothes smelled of beer and my feet were encrusted with black party ruins. It was three a.m.
My husband woke up at about 6:30, and kissed my smoky hair. I was still half-asleep, and I told him everything. About the wild dancing, the drunken whisperings and groping. I was so thankful that nothing had happened that I could not tell him. So thankful that he was the kind of man who would believe me about that, and ask no more questions.
I was struck by a new, searing love my low-key, centered, sensible husband. I had a chance with fire, but I did not take it. I went home, relatively unscathed, to my deep, still waters.
I fell back to sleep, grateful. I dreamt that someone was chipping away at the dirt on my feet.
When I woke up two hours later, my feet were clean. There was a washcloth in the sink.
My husband had cleaned my soles while I slept.