My husband and I are private people. Never, ever would I discuss our sex life in public—offering up the most sacred, intimate moments of our marriage to be examined by strangers.
So why don't I tell you about my good friend—um—Judy, instead? Okay. Judy and Bob have always had a great relationship. It used to drive everyone crazy, how crazy they were for each other. They held hands, smooched loudly, talked baby talk. When Judy and Bob walked into a room, the temperature shot up about ten degrees; mold started to form on bread. In their first year as husband and wife, they sanctified the marriage bed at least once a day. They often dashed home from church to drink water from their own cistern before company arrived for dinner.
In some ways, the years have only improved things. Judy and Bob still get along great, and they're still very passionate. But even the happiest couples have differences, and on one intimate subject, Judy and Bob have always disagreed. Bedwear.
Judy started married life with a drawerful of bridal-gift negligees. Like so many wedding presents, they didn't exactly suit the bride's taste. The only other time in her life Judy had worn red satin, for instance, was to her sixth-grade Halloween party, when she dressed up as the Human Torch.
Mysteriously, though, Bob seemed quite pleased not only with the red satin camisole, but also the black fishnet teddy and the leopard-spotted thing (whatever it was).
This worried Judy. Bob had never shown such bad taste before! They had experienced a wonderful, almost mystical level of agreement on everything from carpet swatches to cubism. From what dark depths of his soul had sprung this passion for man-made fabrics and loud colors?
Judy went along with it as long as the wedding presents lasted. She wore the red camisole till its spaghetti straps had turned into vermicelli. She wore the leopard-spotted thing till snaps shot off the underside with a loud "ka-pop!" Then, when the last of the tasteless nighties had been trucked off to Goodwill, Judy breathed a sigh of relief and wore what she liked to bed. Most of the time, a T-shirt.
See, for Judy, what's sexiest is what's most comfortable. Bob's old T-shirt was as sexy as it got—soft, see-through (after years of heavy use), and easily removable. No snaps to fly off at awkward moments. No straps to get hooked on the bedpost by accident. No scratchy lace to cut off her circulation.
Bob seemed to think the T-shirt was temporary. "You going to wear a T-shirt to bed again, Honey?"
"Is something wrong with that?" Judy asked.
"Well, it's okay some of the time, I guess, but it's not very sexy."
"You're wearing a T-shirt, Bob. I think you're sexy."
"That's different. All I'm saying is a little variety is nice."
The next night the weather cooled down a little, so Judy hauled out her old navy-blue-and-green flannel pajamas with lace around the high collar. They looked like hand-me-downs from Eleanor Roosevelt.
"You said you wanted variety!" she declared when Bob winced.
"That's not what I had in mind."
"Bob, this is what Victoria really wore to bed."
He sighed. "No wonder she kept it a secret."
Judy didn't stop wearing her T-shirt. She had a right to be comfortable, she thought.
But then she put herself in Bob's shoes. On any given day at work he saw how many pretty, well-dressed women? Thirty? Forty? Stopping for gas on the way home he often passed racks of porn magazines, their lurid covers only half-disguised in peekaboo brown paper. Back on the road he headed past a sign for Hooters: "Made You Look." The world had it in for godly, married men like Bob. Deliciously packaged, faultless female bodies littered his life, yet he was supposed to hurry home to the woman in the Florida Gators T-shirt? Maybe it was asking too much.
Resolved to do her husband a favor, Judy headed to the lingerie store, taking a friend along for emotional support. The negligees they examined fell into two categories: pretty pastel cotton things that she liked, and slinky cartoonish numbers that would probably appeal to Bob.
"Moo," said Judy, holding up a nightie that wouldn't fit Gwyneth Paltrow on a diet. "I give up. Let's go home."
"Judy!" her friend snapped. "Remember? You're doing this for Bob."
In the end, Judy marched up to the cash register and plopped down a hot-pink negligee with the brand name "Breezy Love" printed on the tag in the back. "'Sleazy love' is more like it," she mumbled, pulling out her checkbook.
"Come on, Judy," her friend coaxed. "It's not like you're going to be wearing it all night!"
That night, Bob smiled when he pulled back the covers. "Hey, what happened to the T-shirt?"
"I gave it the night off," she said.
"Makes me feel kind of sorry for the Gators."
"Not to worry. They'll be back on the old gridiron tomorrow."
Betty Smartt Carter lives with her family near Birmingham, Alabama. Her latest novel, The Tower, the Mask and the Grave (Shaw), is a thriller.
1998 by the author or Christianity Today/Marriage Partnership magazine. For reprint information call 630-260-6200 or email@example.com.