Sunday, August 24, 2008

Three Weekends: A Short Story.

A short story.

Alternative title: "Tebaldiani" or "Poor Thing."

A gay couple, Mark and Daniel, are on the verge of a breakup--this despite what brought them together--their love for Maria Callas and hatred for Renata Tebaldi. If you want to get them mad, just talk about how the Tebaldi fans (the Tebaldiani) went to the Met when Maria appeared there just to boo poor Maria. The nerve!

Mark and Daniel would break up now, but they've rented a cottage on Fire Island for three weekends, so they have to wait.

On the first weekend, it seems that everyone is deeply in love--or on the make. Mark and Daniel are neither-nor.

On Saturday night, Daniel lingers at the disco after Mark leaves. Daniel goes home with an anonymous bodybuilder. Getting back to their cottage, Mark doesn't even ask for sex. Daniel imagines Mark can smell the testosterone right on him.

The next day, Mark meets Jacob--who's ridiculously similar to Mark in every way. They compare notes on menswear designers, restaurants, bridge, even favorite kinds of clouds (cumulus are vulgar, they both agree). Daniel isn't jealous, he's relieved. It all happens so naturally! Mark will be better off, Daniel tells himself.

The second weekend, Daniel bows out and lets Mark go to Fire Island alone, knowing full well Mark will consummate the affair with Jacob, and then he (Daniel) will soon be off the hook. The whole thing will end naturally--because of Mark, not Daniel. Daniel will be able to leave guilt-free.

The third weekend, Mark and Daniel go for their last weekend on the island, probably their last weekend together. Jacob's there constantly, almost flaunting this blossoming relationship.

But just as they're all to leave, Jacob reveals his deep passion for--Renata Tebaldi! Mark and Daniel take turns heaping scorn upon her, humiliating Jacob.

Mark and Daniel have a good laugh on the ferry ride home, and they talk about Maria. How Maria suffered, poor thing.

Perhaps Mark and Daniel will give things just one or two weekends more.

--E. R. O'Neill

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