Ray told me he'd planned a special evening for Valentine's Day and told me to come to his place at seven. I put on a black dress and heels and took a cab, feeling excited and uncertain as we zoomed through the darkness of Central Park.
In the week since he'd shown me the pants, revealed the secret, not much had changed, except that I was seeing fish everywhere: two-dimensional guppies drawn on the walls of the subway, cheesy edible goldfish in the hands of children on the bus, starfish and sea anemones on socks and cosmetic cases and umbrellas.
He cooked me dinner, which he had done before, but this was the nicest dinner he had ever cooked me: tuna tartar, seviche, broiled calamari, fresh sole in a lemon butter sauce. The tuna came out in the shape of a heart, and on either side, he’d done our initials in ginger vinagrette.
Over dessert -- a classic chocolate souffle, airy, potent, a return to the basics he knew I loved and and relied on -- Ray explained that he’d simply wanted to devote an entire evening to the realm of things he loved, so that I could be more a part of it. I was delightfully full and lazy with wine and attention and wasn’t lying when I said I was enjoying myself.
After dinner, we settled into the couch to watch what Ray said was one of his favorite films. It was about a group of men who tended a lighthouse in northern Maine in the late 60s. They worked on a rotating basis, and apparently when one was doing his stint in the lighthouse, the others would take a fishing boat out and return a couple of days later to unload their haul and have briny intercourse with their wives. Then one of them began cuckolding another, and there were betrayals and fistfights, and then a town fight about doing away with lighthouse keepers entirely, as technology had rendered them unnecessary.
To Ray’s dismay, I dozed through some of the movie. To my dismay, I had waking dreams of orgies involving all of the characters, plus what they’d fished from the depths of the sea. When it was over, Ray poured me another cup of coffee and I stared at his backside while he did the dishes, wondering what it is that draws us together and keeps us there, what it is that makes one man love a fish, one woman love a steak.
In the middle of making love, Ray sucked his cheeks in and made a fish face at me. I laughed so hard I nearly fell off of him.
"What does that mean?" I asked him.
"I guess I’m trying to get you to admit that you think I’m insane."
"And why do you think I think that?"
He sucked in his cheeks once more and moved his lips up and down, fish bobbing for bait. "Aren’t I?"
"Aren’t we all?" I responded before closing my eyes and riding a white wave into an elysian oblivion.