A dear friend, newly single after 20-plus years of marriage, has fallen madly in love with a great woman. My husband and I tease them about being in “Loveland.” They are the Prince William and Kate Middleton of Los Gatos, continuously stealing kisses and double-hand holding (all 20 digits intertwined). He is always pulling out her chair and topping off her champagne glass with Veuve Clicquot, which flows like water whenever they are together.
Sometimes my friend showboats via text: “Hall & Oates just sung ‘Your Kiss is on My Lips,' ’’ he reported from a concert at the Mountain Winery. “Sugar during entire song!”
I am so happy for my friend, and his displays of affection don’t bother me. My husband, on the other hand, gets annoyed. “They’re in constant flesh-on-flesh mode. It’s like they’re on a prom date snuggling in the cable car on the way down to the Shadowbrook,” he huffs, referring to an ultra romantic restaurant where patrons are whisked through a fern-filled hillside and delivered to the entrance via cable car. “I’m surprised he doesn’t bring her a corsage.” Say what you will about “the Shadowbrookers” (as we have taken to calling them), but their timing is impeccable.
Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and professor at Rutgers University, was quoted recently as saying that touching helps keep the fire alive. She says “holding hands, walking arm-in-arm, sleeping in each other’s arms, patting, stroking or any kind of touch stimulates the production of oxytocin in the brain and can sustain feelings of deep attachment for each other.” With all this talk of passion I wondered: Does our friend's PDA annoy Jimmy because he secretly wishes we, too, could be in Loveland again?
Recently we got our chance. We went to Napa, California for a conference (two days away from the kids). When we checked into our hotel, we were given a choice: either a room facing the freeway with a king-size bed or a poolside view with two doubles. We chose the latter. We threw our stuff in the room, and headed to Oxbow Public Market, an upscale food court that sells gourmet grub, wine, antiques, and baked goods all under one roof. We had just tucked into some delish Venezuelan cuisine when I decided it was time to give the Shadowbrookers a taste of their own mushy medicine.
All day long we snapped photos of ourselves with our iPhone and texted them to our friends. In the Oxbow Produce and Grocery Store, we clutched a bunch of asparagus — and each other — and sent off the pic, quipping, “You’re not the only one in Loveland! Asparagus is a great aphrodisiac!” Kara’s cupcakes were a no-brainer: “Still sweet on each other after 20 years!” And we couldn’t resist the Whole Spice Company. “Nothing like a trip to Napa to spice up our marriage!”
After eating and drinking our way through Oxbow, we hiked off the calories in Skyline Wilderness Park. We’d been trekking for more than an hour when we stopped in a gorgeous meadow. I grabbed a bunch of wildflowers and tucked them into the elastic hair band around my wrist. Jimmy placed his hands around my waist, and we posed together for a prom portrait. “Look!” I wrote, “we went on a hike, and Jimmy even got me a corsage!” As my iPhone carried away the last of our amorous texts with a whoosh, we couldn’t stop laughing. All day long we’d been eating and drinking and being silly. That’s when I realized, we might not be as touchy feely as we once were, but Jimmy makes me laugh every day. It’s one of the things I love most about him.
Back at the hotel that night, we were so exhausted that we tumbled into bed, our cozy little double bed. I was ready to fall asleep in the arms of the man I love. We could spoon all night just like the good old days. Hello, oxytocin. As soon as we switched off the light, Jimmy started fidgeting. I knew he was feeling cramped. Plus my snoring rivals Fred Flintstone. “I’m gonna move to the other bed now,” he said.