"Henry. Henry, wake up! We have to have sex."
"No, we don't!"
"Yes, we do. Now come on."
"If the musicians on The Titanic could play their violas and cellos 'til the ship went down you can wake up and have sex with me."
"Please don't make me," he cried like a stoolie ready to crack, "Please just leave me alone!"
I stood there in my wedding gown, hair infested with the 500 bobby pins it took to create my updo, looking down at my husband, who lay splayed across the bed of our Four Seasons' hotel room like a gut-shot gangster. (Forgive me. Recent Sopranos binge).
We'd spent an entire day getting married; which included the usual retinue of activities:
Shellacking of hair.
Donning of the push-up bustier, (in Henry's case a waist belt around the middle).
Getting rid of whiskers (I donated mine to Locks of Love).
Drinking Schnapps with the wedding party, wondering which of them would end up in the sack by day's end. (Dan and Edie? You know you did. Didn't you??)
Walking down the aisle with my weeping father (who'd been certain I'd end my life in a nunnery sporting an atrophied womb).
The I Dos, scored with insulting, grateful sobs from my mother.
Walking into the reception to the Star Wars theme song. Or was it the Death Star march?
Dancing like Ginger and Astaire (if they were blind, had vertigo and titanium legs) for our first dance.
Talking to and kissing relatives and people we weren't sure we knew.
Gingerly feeding one another cake because Henry said he'd be really mad if I shoved it in his face, cheating me of a bride's marital right! (You'll never live that one down, Nancy Boy!)
"Can't we just sleep?" Henry moaned.
"No, we're having sex!" I declared.
He buried his head under a pillow and curled into a fetal position, the better to protect his manhood.
I realized I had to change tactics.
I spoke to Henry the way his proctologist might reassure him before inserting gloved fingers up his rectum, "I'm just going to roll you over, very gently and remove your pants and do what needs to be done. You can just lie there. You can probably even sleep through it."
Henry emitted a piteous groan.
Why? Why was it so important to me to have sex with my husband that night?
At the time it was an inchoate impulse. I couldn't explain it. I was absolutely as exhausted as Henry, but knew it had to be done.
Now, years later, I realize that sex with my husband that night consecrated my marriage. It felt, to me, that our marriage wouldn't actually begin until we made love.
Being Irish I tend toward morbidity. What if one of us died in our sleep that night? Then we never would have actually been married. I didn't want to leave anything to chance. I simply had to be Henry's wife, if only for one night, should the fates decide to be brutal.
And so we had the quickest, snoring-est, physically flaccid sex in our sexual career.
But, when I laid my head on the pillow next to his (still stuck full of all those bobby pins I was too tired to remove) I felt my ship had come in to harbor, so to speak. That I was safe, loved and complete.
I also remember the sex we had each time we got pregnant. Because we got pregnant both times in one try. (Be warned, the Irish get pregnant when you sneeze on them. If you're Irish you might get pregnant just reading this.)
Clare began in a moldy shower where we slipped and Henry bruised his coccyx while on vacation at Two Bunch Palms in Palm Desert.
Bridget began in a little cottage in Hyannis Port on a mildewy couch overlooked by an elderly couple playing a hand of Canasta in their kitchen next door.
We were very much like CIA operatives both times, trying to bring the package home; all business, no pleasure.
Yet when I close my eyes I can still see the nubbly, moss green bedspread of our Two Bunch Palms hotel room.
I can visualize the large mole on the upper lip of the elderly lady when she laid down her winning hand.
I also remember how much I loved Henry right then in those moments. And how excited and tremulous we were about our hoped-for future.
We still often make love with the sole intention of reconnecting, remembering and consecrating our marriage, now in its 13th year.
And I hope we'll continue to do so until sex threatens to snap our arthritic joints and/or send us to a watery grave. (Which would only happen if we had sex on a moving catamaran. It could happen!)
I'd love to hear your meaningful sex stories because it just makes me feel so hopeful about humankind.