Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus

Dancing After Hours by Andre Dubus

Author:Andre Dubus [Dubus, Andre]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780679431077
Publisher: Knopf
Published: 1996-01-01T05:00:00+00:00

The Lover

LEE TRAMBATH WAS A FIFTY-FIVE-YEAR-OLD restaurant manager, with three ex-wives and five children. He was a slender, dark-haired man with a trimmed beard that was mostly gray, and he lived and worked in a small Massachusetts town, near the sea. The children were from his first two marriages, three daughters and two sons, grown now and spread up and down the eastern seaboard from Charleston to Portland, all in places he liked to visit. None of them was married; they all had lovers. Lee was on good terms with the two mothers of his children; time had healed him, had allowed him to forget whatever he and the women had done to each other, or removed the precision of pain from his memory; and sometimes, sitting alone in his apartment or strolling on the boardwalk along the river flowing a mile or so to the ocean, he wished as a boy does: that in some way his first marriage had never ended, yet his second had occurred so the daughter and son from that one would be on the earth; and that he and the two women and five children were one family. This frequent wish was never erotic: his images were of him and the two women and five children in living rooms, dining rooms, on lawns. It was the third wife, and the women in their forties whom he dated after his divorce from her, who made him refer to his last marriage as absolutely his last.

His third wife was nearly forty when they married; she had two daughters who were aging her with their listless work in high school, slovenly lives at home, strong-willed disobedience, and unsavory boyfriends, whose tight clothing seemed only a cover to get from their cars to the house and, with the girls, back to their cars. Lee did what he could, with tender hesitance; the girls’ father had moved to Houston when they were six and eight, and sent them checks on birthdays and at Christmas. Lee silently predicted pregnancies, abortions, and a few years of too much drinking and cocaine. Then after college, which even they would be able to attend and muddle through, they would work at jobs to pay for clothes, cars, and apartments; and, like most people, they would settle softly into mundane lives. For Lee, the household was often frenzied and barely tolerable, with three females crying at once, but he was forty-nine, he had spent most of his adult life with families, and he could bear it.

His wife did not hold up as well, and told him to get a vasectomy. He did not want to. Gently and reasonably he said he would not mind being sterile if it simply happened to him, if nature retired him from the ranks of fertility; but he did not want it done to him by a doctor; and, more importantly, he did not want to choose to have it done, but this was a hair he could not split for her.


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