Middle-age divorcee Lan Bellas-Ducharme comes to realize she is not the Plain Jane she had been made to believe she was. Suddenly faced with an abundance of choices, she explores sexuality and comes to realize that her actuality is obscured by the many layers of superficial integrity imposed on her over the years.
Eventually, Lan realizes it is not her charge to fit societal norms, and accepts her long-time friend Kate as a loving companion. But Lan needs one more thing to find absolution—a true loving man. With Kate’s help, she realizes that she must put her faith in the ageless power gifted to mankind at the dawn of time—her sexuality. She shows her truth, and accepts what it brings to her.
Life didn’t pass her by—it can’t even catch her.
A Fleeting Glimpse of What Was
Lan Bellas was the epitome of a Catholic school girl. Not only did she attend a Catholic school, but she had followed its values for all of her thirty-five years. Through the tumultuous sexuality of the late nineties, she saved her virginity until she married Ron Ducharme at age twenty, attributing his sexual reticence to respect and fear for her father. When the chapel bell rang at last, she and her beloved new husband spent their first night at a hotel near the airport, ready to start their honeymoon.
Entering the room, she was quick to ready herself for the passion she would finally unleash. Gone was the dirtiness and sinfulness of desire. She could finally open her precious flower to him. She all but floated in the shower, wondering why her man wasn’t popping in and throwing the shower curtain open.
No matter, she thought. She was going to grant him the celestial invitation and welcome him into her vessel of divine design—conceived in the almighty mind of the Supreme Architect of the Universe—the deepest pleasure that human kind was to be gifted in life on this planet—lying dormant for years in the design of her physical form. As she dried off, she prepared for the sweet sensation of giving and receiving the wonders of carnal delight—those that she had never known.
She skipped out of the shower to find Ron sleeping. Though her heart sank, her nurturing, understanding temperament took over. He must be tired after the long day, she thought. Casting aside her disappointment, she found comfort in lying next to him and allowing him some rest.
A few hours later, she perked as he stirred. She kissed him, but he grunted and turned his head. Now anxious to leave her virginity on a lumpy hotel mattress, she placed her soft hand on his face and sweetly sang, “Wake up, Ronnie, your bride is waiting.”
But he again pulled away, snorting. “What are you doing? I’m tired. Get some sleep.”
It was her first experience with the twilight of innocence—a bellwether of the despair to follow. She spent her honeymoon learning that she could hate golf just as much in Hawaii as she did in Rhode Island. It was the first glimpse she would get of the next fifteen years of her life.
Soon, the highlight of her day came after he went to bed, when she could enjoy a glass of wine. Maybe, she thought, innocence was better than knowledge. How could she have not seen it? She had saved herself for an ogre. If she had wanted years before, she could have found a way around her parents’ protective prison and learned about sensual passion with any number of men, but she had trusted in Ron. It was too late when she realized she’d been naive.
Though he wanted children, she understood that kids would bind her to him forever. He wanted children to show others—children for her to rear. In fact, avoiding pregnancy was the first act of deceit she had ever concocted in her life. Thankfully, it wasn’t too difficult, considering Ron’s self-regulating behavior. Once every few months he would call to her, never asking, never grateful, just a call. Without any foreplay, he would indulge himself in a three minute dry-pump followed by a grunt and quick squirt—hardly worth cleaning up after except that she resented the feel of it inside her.
Never once did any foreplay or gratification enter the picture. Any attempt at pleasure-oriented sex was admonished. Ron called it “gross” and “stupid.” She had, at one time taken stock in Ron’s distaste for her feminine scent and asked her gynecologist about Ron’s disdainful reaction. The doctor was perplexed and the reply was plain, “Lanelle,” she said, “that scent is a gift. I have trouble believing a man wouldn’t like it.”
Everything she knew was regulated—her commerce, her work hours, even the mileage on her car was noted. He scorned and mocked her in private, but among friends he was the perfect husband. She wondered if her friends might be experiencing the same private hell, but dared not ask.
By age thirty-four, she had all but given up hope on the passion she’d once believed was just on the other side of a hotel shower curtain. She had no support from family and her friends. They all believed Ron to be the perfect man. All that is, except one—her friend and coworker Kate, who offered an attentive ear and friendly realistic consul.
Kate knew of the belittling and caviling. Most of all, she believed Lan when no one else would. Kate never suggested any course of action, but her unwavering support helped Lan to realize that unless she made a hard decision, she would always be the plain Jane Ron always called her.