“I dunno, Bean, I’ve never really thought about it. What would I do if you died?”
We lay on our backs in the dark, pondering in silence.
“It’s tough to say. I love you, Bean. What we have – the way it works between us? Well, it’s really cool, and so much better than I imagined it would ever work out…. Oh, you know what I mean. But I dunno… I don’t know if I would ever want to be married again.”
“Why, because it’s just been so terrible for you? Awww, poor Becky…. just so burned in marriage….Being married is just so rough on her…..”
“No. It’s not that. I love you. It works between us. It’s just… being single is easier, ya know? Marriage is a lot of work.”
“Yeah.” He falls silent. “I don’t think I’d want to marry again either. I love you, Becky.”
“I love you too, Bean.”
“I’d miss you with all my heart, but yeah… you probably couldn’t get me to ink up on marriage again. If you died,” he pauses, as if considering whether to go on. “If you died, I could have the whole bed to myself.”
I’m not offended. It’s just common sense. Besides:
“On the other hand….I dunno, Bean.. what if I live until 90? I don’t believe in screwing around outside of marriage, and 60 years is a long time to go without ‘lovin’, if you know what I mean.”
“Who are you going to be sleeping with?” He sounds vaguely insulted.
I don’t know why he’s acting all hurt – he just killed me off so he didn’t have to share the covers. I’m just admitting to a biological imperative that would be tough to ignore. Sheesh.
“Bean, don’t be silly. I’m just saying… imagine it. If I died in a freak accident, you’re only thirty years old. After today you would never, ever, ever get any nookie again. Not once.” I’ve already told him that if I die he can find someone else to marry, but that he’s not allowed to sleep around.
He pauses, considering.
“Well, in that case, if (God forbid) you died, I think I’d go be a monk.”
I snort. “Bean, you’d make a terrible monk.”
Now he sounds really insulted. “And why is that? I’d make a great monk.”
“Really? You seriously think you’d make a good monk?”
“Sure. I could sit up there on my throne…. And order people around….”
“What? Sweetie, monks are those guys that live in monasteries. They are the ones who give up all their worldly goods, shave their heads, put on a scratchy brown robe and tend a garden with a bunch of other dudes. What, are you going to grow vegetables to help the poor while maintaining a vow of silence?”
“Oh. Uh, yeah. I’d make a terrible monk.”
The bedroom fills with a comfortable silence.
“Then what are those guys called that I’m thinking about? The ones that have the lavish robes, who sit on a chair and boss their concubines around?”
“You mean like Genghis Khan?”
“Yeah!” His tone brightens.
“They don’t exist anymore. I don’t think they even have a term anymore. I dunno…… Mongolian prince?”
“Yeah! Mongolian prince. That’s it. If you died, then I would go become a Mongolian prince.”
“What about the kids?”
“They’re older in this scenario. They’ve got their own lives.”
“So, what… you’d be sitting up in your throne with people cooking you lots of steaks, ordering your servants around and sleeping all sorts of concubines?”
“Yeah!” He sounds happy.
Now I’m the one who is insulted. The silence in the bedroom isn’t quite so comfortable anymore, and he can tell.
“It doesn’t count,” he says defensively. “They’re just concubines.”
“Mmmm-hmmmm.” I’m admitting that my flesh is weak and that I one day I may have to marry some sweet Christian guy with a pot belly and a nice smile, and suddenly the Bean is dressed in velvet robes, eating filet mignong while surrounded by dozens of nubile young slave girls?
“They’re just concubines! It doesn’t count!” He is starting to sound a little desperate.
There’s an awkward pause while he tries to come up with a way to take back what he just said. Finally:
“I love you?”
“I love you, too. But no – you are not allowed to become a Mongolian prince if I die. Ever. And I don’t know what imaginary dimension you were living in, but yes, concubines count.”
He gives a heavy sigh. “Fine. Concubines count.”
We roll on our sides, silence drifting like a warm blanket across the darkness, lulling us to sleep.