In the original draft of My Faire Lady, we included two chapters from Josh’s point of view. We did this to try to give the reader a heads up about what Josh was thinking during certain scenes, but in the end decided this wasn’t really Josh’s book, and cut both his chapters, dropping more hints instead from Gabby and Will’s POV about what Josh was thinking. In the end, it was good for the book, but we were still sad to cut these sections. (I mean, who doesn’t want more from Josh?)
We’re including these scenes now for your reading pleasure. WARNING: these contain MAJOR SPOILERS for My Faire Lady. We recommend reading that book first.
I arrive home from work before Anna-Marie, mostly because I took off early to pick up our Eowyn and Faramir costumes from the dry cleaner’s. I hang them in the doorway to our coat closet as I strip off the dry cleaning bags and smile.
I love Anna-Marie in this dress, and I love the way she looks at me when I wear my costume. They weren’t cheap—we had them custom made—but they were worth every penny. I’m glad Gabby is working at that Renaissance Faire, because it gives us a chance to wear them when we go visit her this weekend.
God knows we can use the diversion of late.
I walk into the kitchen and shrug off my suit coat, hanging it on the back of a chair. I’ve got a package under my arm containing some Plasticard I’m going to use to build a Firefly replica to hang from the ceiling of our game room, and I take that through the den and set it on the stairs leading up to the loft.
Ever since we moved into our house, my train table and Anna-Marie’s video games live up in our large loft area, where we can hang out together and paint minis and play. It’s far from hidden like my basement was, but I don’t feel the need to hide any more. I have a hot geek wife who thinks my miniature dioramas are sexy, and I don’t care who knows it.
My phone dings, and it’s Kim Watterson, asking me if we’ve seen the offer for her latest film negotiation yet. Since I took Kim on as a client, my workload has increased significantly, mostly because she’s so in demand, but also because Kim, unlike many of my other clients, is very hands on with her business deals. She likes everything done on time and on schedule, and I remember now that the producer told me he’d have that offer over today.
Not yet, I text back. I’ll call them tomorrow.
Thanks, Kim responds.
I hear the front door open, and I meander toward the front of the house to greet my wife.
Anna-Marie steps in wearing her jeans and loose peasant top that she went to work in this morning. She kicks off her strappy heels and reaches out to feel the soft fabric of her Eowyn dress, just like I did.
I grin at her. “I am so excited to see you in that,” I tell her.
She gives me a sly smile. “As excited as you were about my sexy wookiee costume?”
I laugh. “I feel the need to clarify,” I say, “that I’m not sexually attracted to wookiees.” But I’m sure as hell attracted to the woman who goes to a sex shop and combines a furry costume and dominatrix leather to make a sexy wookiee costume just to make me laugh. That was hotter than hell.
“I don’t know,” Anna-Marie says. “I seem to recall you were into it.”
I move over and put my arms around her. “I’m into you,” I say, and she rocks up on her toes and kisses me. Yes, things have been tense, lately. Yes, I still feel terrible about how poorly I handled the sperm bank thing.
But I love my wife more than anything in this world, and our lives together are pretty fantastic, even so.
When we break apart, Anna-Marie looks up at me, and I can tell she’s got news.
“You okay?” I ask.
She groans. “Let’s sit down.”
Yikes. That’s not good. I want to ask if I did something wrong, but our last fight was about how not every single thing that bothers her means that I’ve done something wrong, so I bite my tongue.
“Come on,” I say, and lead her into the den where we can sit on the more comfortable furniture. Our parlor still has my decorator’s setup from my apartment, but we’re kind of obsessive about keeping that furniture clean and that room perfect, so we hardly use it except when we’re entertaining.
Anna-Marie sinks onto the couch, and I sit down next to her and hold out my arm. I’m worried about what she’s going to say, but I’d like to start out closer. She cuddles into my side, and then says, mostly into my shirt, “So Gabby is pregnant.”
Oh. “Shit,” I say. “Are you serious?”
She nods, and I shake my head. “That wasn’t the reaction I was supposed to have, was it? I mean, congratulations to her, I guess.”
“You sound about as happy about it as Gabby is,” she says.
My heart sinks. “She’s pregnant and she’s not happy about it.”
“I mean, really, should she be?” Anna-Marie says. I get the sense that I sounded critical enough that she feels the need to rush to Gabby’s defense, though I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just hard to think about other people getting pregnant on accident when we’re so ready and haven’t been able to. “They’re struggling financially, and she feels like they’re having trouble with their sex life. They aren’t married or even engaged, and I don’t know that they want to be right now.”
I nod. Will and Gabby are kind of like turtles when it comes to change. They’ll meander over to where they want to be eventually, but at any given moment, they don’t necessarily seem to be making progress.
Not that I should judge. Anna-Marie and I are basically the opposite, always wanting to have already accomplished all the things we’re working toward. And that has it’s own pitfalls.
“Okay, yeah,” I say. “I’m not judging her for not being happy. But she’s not here, so this isn’t about her. How are you?”
Anna-Marie groans. “I mean, it sucked to hear, right?”
“Yeah,” I say. “Obviously.”
“And I made her feel bad when she’s already going through a hard time, and that makes me feel like a shitty friend.”
“So you told her about the infertility,” I say.
She nods. “Is that okay?”
“Yeah, of course. It doesn’t have to be a secret.” It’s just that Anna-Marie and I don’t like talking about it, even with each other, so neither of us have been eager to bring it up to other people. “That’s probably good, so she doesn’t think you’re mad at her or something if you’re not wanting to hear every detail of the pregnancy.”
Anna-Marie nods. “I told her I do want her to talk to me, though.”
“Is that wise?” I ask. “I get that you want to be there for your friend, but—”
“But it’s going to hurt,” she says. “And that’s what we decided. That sometimes some of the things she says might hurt me a little, but I still want to hear them, because I love Gabby.”
“Do you, though?” I say. “Because it seems like if you don’t, she should understand. And it doesn’t make you a shitty friend if it hurts to much to be involved right now. It just makes it seriously shitty timing.”
“I know,” Anna-Marie says. “But I want to be able to be there and support her.”
I sigh. It’s not that I think she’s doing the wrong thing. It’s more that I just want to spare her pain whenever I can, and I don’t love that this is going to cause her more. “The whole situation really sucks.”
Anna-Marie wraps her arms around my waist. “I may have told her about our little visit to the sperm clinic.”
“Great,” I say. “Does she think I’m insane?” I’m still embarrassed that I freaked out about that so badly. I know Anna-Marie was insulted that I wasn’t happy to mess around with her in a medical setting, but it all just felt so clinical. Like reducing this beautiful part of our relationship to, well, a blow job in a doctor’s office surrounded by porn and Casino Royale. And the knowledge of how many other people had jacked off in that room squicked me the hell out.
“No,” Anna-Marie says. “I think she just feels bad for us. And about making me feel worse about it, which isn’t her fault. She can’t help what’s happening to her. And her problems aren’t about us.”
“That’s true,” I say. And if it was Ben in this situation, I’d be doing the same thing she’s doing. And also freaking out about whatever bizarre freak thing happened to allow Ben to get pregnant, but still.
I like Gabby, but she’s Anna-Marie’s best friend, not mine. I’m mostly concerned about my wife’s well-being here, and I think she might be underestimating how hard it’s going to be to watch her best friend have a baby she doesn’t want.
“Are you going to be expected to, like, throw a baby shower?” I ask.
She squeezes me tighter. “Probably?” she says. “Though maybe Jenna would do that. And I could just attend. God, attending will be bad enough.”
“Yeah,” I say. “I bet Jenna would do that.” I can imagine the emotional knots Anna-Marie would get tied up in buying baby shower decorations and Googling baby shower games, and I don’t think that’s going to do anyone any good.
It’s probably selfish. We’ve only been married a year, but after the condom-sabotage incident, it’s ironic that it turns out we’ve probably never needed birth control, and the longing we both feel has gotten stronger and stronger as the year has gone on.
It’s not so much that we can’t have a baby this minute as the overwhelming fear that we won’t ever be able to. We both want a family, and if we could just know for sure that that’s going to happen in a year, or five years, or even ten, I think we’d be okay.
But not knowing—we rushed the entire dating stage of our relationship because we’re both so bad at that. And this stage, unfortunately, we don’t seem to be able to skip.
“Did the visit to the sex shop help her?” I ask. It might be nice if Anna-Marie was at least able to help Gabby with one problem before she developed another.
“I don’t know,” Anna-Marie says. “She still seems to think that Will isn’t interested in sex with her anymore. Though she said the painting thing seemed to go well.”
“Yeah,” I say, “that does seem like really fantastically bad timing for them.” I don’t know Will as well as Ben does, because they have a lot more evenings free when Wyatt and Gabby are working, and I’m usually either home or out with Anna-Marie. I like him well enough.
But if he’s really acting like he isn’t interested in Gabby anymore . . . A thought occurs to me, and given her history, I think there’s a zero percent chance it hasn’t occurred to Anna-Marie.
“You don’t think—” I say, “I mean, he’s probably not, and I don’t want to jump to conclusions, especially this conclusion, because us, but—”
Anna-Marie looks up at me, and from the way her face crinkles I think she already knows what I’m going to say.
“Do you think he’s cheating on her?” I ask.
“I don’t know!” Anna-Marie says. “But he’d better not be. Because I will murder him. And then you and I will be trying to get pregnant during conjugal visits, because I will have murdered him.”
Yeah. “It’s probably not that,” I say. Because of her issues surrounding cheating, Anna-Marie and I tend to have mini-freakouts every time some celebrity gets outed for cheating on their spouse and their marriage subsequently disintegrates. Cheating is like the boogie man in our marriage. Neither of us has any inclination to do it, but the specter of the possibility haunts us, so we freak out about it far more than is necessary. Not so much that we don’t trust each other—because Anna-Marie especially has phenomenal trust in me given her issues—but that we don’t trust life, and the world, and Hollywood in general, and we don’t want to find ourselves on some Cassandra-like fated collision course with marital disaster.
We’re crazy, basically. And I don’t want us to start applying that crazy to other people’s relationships.
“Probably not, right?” Anna-Marie says. But she sounds as anxious about it as I expect her to be. “It’s Gabby, and so she tends to think any problem comes down to her not being good enough.”
“I wonder if Ben knows anything,” I say.
“Gabby did ask that you not tell Ben about the pregnancy. Because of Ben’s need to talk excessively about uncomfortable things that are not his business.”
I get that. “But I could ask him about their relationship in general, right? Not that I think Will would have told him and Ben would have kept that a secret, necessarily, but he might have more information. Or—”
This is probably a bad idea. But sitting around doing nothing isn’t exactly our specialty.
“Or?” Anna-Marie asks.
“Or I could crash Ben and Will’s movie nights and see if I can suss out the situation.”
“Would you?” Anna-Marie asks. “I think that would make me feel better. It’s probably all in Gabby’s head, but if it isn’t—”
“If it isn’t, do you want to be the one to tell her?” I ask.
“If it isn’t, I think she needs to know sooner rather than later,” Anna-Marie says. “She’s pregnant, for god’s sake.”
Good point. “All right. I’ll see what I can do.”
“But seriously, you can’t tell Ben that Gabby is pregnant. They aren’t ready for everyone to know yet.”
“I won’t,” I tell her. And then I text Ben to see if he and Will happen to be hanging out tonight.
I’m on my way to meet Anna-Marie at the Ren Faire for our afternoon as princess and man-at-arms when the periodic itching in my crotch becomes unbearable. I’ve been ignoring it, hoping it would go away, but it clearly isn’t, and I pull over at a drug store to buy some jock itch cream.
I head into the restroom at the drug store with my purchase and go to apply some to my itching genitals.
And that’s when I notice the bluish spots on my skin around my pubic hair, and the fine black dust in the crotch fabric of my boxers.
I know what this is. I’ve had it once before, my freshman year of college. I’d just pledged at my fraternity, and hooked up with a couple of girls at pledge-week parties.
The next week, half the fraternity came down with crabs.
I sit in the drug store, holding the jock itch cream. That’s not going to help. Odds are they have something out there that will, but that’s not what worries me. That’s not what makes my chest so tight it’s hard to breathe.
Holy shit, I’m going to have to tell my cheating-paranoid wife that I very definitely have an STD, even though I very definitely have no fucking idea where it came from.
She’s going to divorce me.
My marriage is over.
I remember the treatment for this being more intensive than can be done in a drug store bathroom, so I go grab some Nix for public lice and pay for it at the counter. The cashier gives me a sympathetic look.
I can feel my face turning red as my mind reels.
How the fuck did I end up with crabs?
How the fuck am I going to have this conversation with Anna-Marie?
When I get out to my car, I beat my head back against the seat and call Ben.
“Hey, man,” Ben says.
“Hey,” I say. “My life is over.”
“Did you spill something on that new suit of yours or something?”
“No!” I say. “Shut up. I have crabs.”
Ben is silent. “You have. . .”
“Crabs. Public lice. A fucking STD.”
“Oh my god,” Ben says, now sounding properly horrified. “But you didn’t cheat.”
“No,” I say. “Of course I didn’t cheat.”
“Do you think Anna-Marie. . .” He lets that dangle, wisely not accusing my wife of cheating in so many words.
It probably says something that I didn’t think about that possibility until this very moment. “No,” I say. “No way Anna-Marie cheated on me. Besides, she stays pretty Brazilian. I’m not sure you can even get crabs if you don’t have any hair down there.”
“Okay,” Ben says. “So, what? You got them from a toilet seat?”
“Oh my god,” I say. “First of all, can that even happen? And second of all, do you think I should go to my wife and tell her that I have crabs, and I think I might have gotten them from a toilet seat? There’s no way she’s going to believe that. I wouldn’t believe that.”
“Okay,” Ben says. “And you haven’t been sharing anyone else’s underwear.”
“No.” And I haven’t shared my bed with anyone who isn’t Anna-Marie. Ben and Wyatt have stayed at my place when we’re out of town, but now that we have the space, they stay in the guest room, not in our bed. And the last time they did that was months ago.
Besides, I think if Ben or Wyatt had crabs, I’d have heard about it.
“So maybe you got it at the gym,” Ben suggests.
I close my eyes. “What do you think I’ve been doing at the gym that would have caused me to contract an STD?”
“I don’t know. Like from the towels or something.”
“I don’t use people’s used towels!” I shout.
“You can’t prove which ones are used,” Ben says.
“Oh my god. So your theory is that someone used a towel, infected it with lice, dried it off, folded it, and put it back on the stack of clean towels for me to find and contract crabs from? This is what you want me to suggest to Anna-Marie?”
“Dude,” Ben says. “I’m just trying to come up with an explanation. You’re the one with the pubic lice.”
I can feel tears rising in my eyes. I have an STD. A fucking STD that materialized out of nowhere. Anna-Marie will want to believe me when I tell her that I don’t know where it came from, that I haven’t been with anyone but her since we first met, that I didn’t and would never cheat on her.
But how could she?
“I still think it could have been a toilet seat,” Ben says. “If you got like, up close and personal with it.”
“It doesn’t matter,” I say. “I have to tell her.” If I try to wash the bedding and delouse myself without her knowing and then she finds out, it’ll be even worse.
Ben is quiet. “I know, man. That sucks.”
It does. It sucks. My marriage is going to be broken, our trust shattered.
And I don’t even fucking know why.