Unsubbed by Jeremy Edwards – exclusive excerpt

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Jeremy Edwards
The jumble of shirts, maps, bras, panties and professional journals on my hotel room bed was a microcosm of my life. It was remarkable how quickly a sleek, shiny business-pleasure-trip came to replicate the tangled, mundane mess of one’s general existence—and how quickly excitement-charged luggage began its metamorphosis into humdrum laundry.

I’d arrived only one day early—yesterday—to tour favorite old college haunts; and yet looking at the bed now, one would think it was the location of a particularly fruitful archaeological dig that had unearthed the relics of a particularly untidy civilization.

The clothing-heaped bed reminded me of campus parties—winter parties, in which lovers of the moment could invariably be found entwined among an orgy of overcoats on someone’s mattress. The kinds of parties I’d never accepted Benjamin’s invitations to attend.

The event at the center of this visit was a bit of a jumble itself, half reunion and half conference. The celebrated archaeological theorist who ran the program I’d graduated from—a special five-year undergrad track culminating in a master’s— thought it would be both valuable and enjoyable to have his alums converge for a long weekend, on the occasion of the project’s twenty-fifth anniversary.
“The subdisciplines in our field take us in widely different directions,” Professor Burnell’s letter had noted. “In the summer of 2000, I would like to see us come together, not only as alumni but as scholars, to share our experiences and insights.”

It had always been a small program, and with a quarter-century spread defining the eligible population, the final list of attendees included exactly one person I knew: Benjamin. A twinge of guilt had gone through me when I saw his name. It wasn’t that I had an aversion to Ben in our college days. In fact, I thought he was quite cute. But I was a late bloomer, sexually speaking, and developing bedroom relationships with guys—even cute guys who kept inviting me to parties—just wasn’t a priority.

And so Ben would invite me out, and I would say no, and when the pattern became unmistakably clear, he stopped asking. I was fine with all that—I didn’t feel guilty about having said no when I wasn’t motivated to say yes. But what I wasn’t at all fine with, looking back, was the fact that I’d snubbed him for his music-listening preferences.

Sadly, I was a little too cool with my punk-or-nothing music tastes, and when I learned Ben favored progressive rock, I began ridiculing him for this at every opportunity. I didn’t mean to be cruel; in the impossibly dogmatic environment of 1980s college-radio culture, it was basically a knee—jerk reaction. But, regrettably, it became the only type of discussion I would bother to have with him—if one person snickering in condescension while the other says nothing can be called a discussion. What made it worse was this abuse had started the semester after he’d given up asking me on dates. Talk about adding insult to injury, I thought ruefully now.

In the self-induced claustrophobia of a messy hotel room, I stood wondering: was it too late to unsnub Benjamin? We were in our midthirties. Would Ben give a damn one way or another what that snotty classmate of his said or did at a two-day reunion?

Maybe not. But the snotty classmate gave a damn.

I sat awkwardly on the only available corner of the bed to analyze my feelings, which seemed to go deeper than mere repentance for immature behavior. The soul-searching was a mental exercise…but the answer came in a very physical form, as my legs spread wider over the mattress corner and my hand came to rest at the front of my cotton panties: thinking about Benjamin was acutely turning me on. The state of arousal I’d let bubble under the surface all day, lazily content in the knowledge that there was another orgasm somewhere in my immediate future, had found a compelling focus—and, having found it, demanded my urgent attention.

He wasn’t hard to spot at cocktail hour, though his neat hair and well-tailored young professor ensemble were new to me, and his face had acquired a few handsome lines. It was a face— thoughtful and gentle, with a thin but expressive mouth—that I remembered better than I’d realized.
Our eyes met, and I blushed with the memory of my frantic fingers twisting my clitoris an hour earlier—and the consciousness that my unscheduled late-afternoon solo sex had pushed me across the International Date Line, laundry-wise. In other words, thanks to a reverie involving the very man walking toward me, I was currently inhabiting tomorrow’s underwear.

“Hi, Allie!”

He seemed genuinely glad to see me. I sighed guiltily before returning his smile.

“Hello, Benjamin.”

We approached for a light-hug, cheek-graze.

When we parted, I stole another eyeful of his face, while his scent—like espresso cut with cumin—still lingered. “Cute” simply didn’t do justice to the dashing look Benjamin had grown into. If I’d been hot for his memory upstairs, I was now officially horny for his present incarnation. Horny…but guilt ridden.

“Can I get you a drink?” he offered. “Burnell has provided us with an amazing Malbec. I swear, this wine has so much personality it would stand up straight even without a glass.”

I laughed, with surprise as well as delight. I’d forgotten that Ben was funny, on top of everything else.

He touched my arm to direct me to the drinks table; I shuddered with a paradoxical mixture of abandon and selfconsciousness when I realized I’d dampened my fresh panties in response. I determined that I had to get the unsnubbing over with—or cream myself trying. After all, what was the point of melting in my underwear for Benjamin if I was too preoccupied with ancient guilt to fully enjoy it?

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