"I want to make love," Jack said, his voice quiet and thoughtful. He rested his hands on Diane's shoulders. "Okay?"
Diane nodded and rested her cheek against his chest. Or tried to, but Jack removed his hands and took a step back, breaking all physical contact with her. "What's wrong, darling?"
"I'm not sure about the nod," he admitted. "I need backup." He went to the phone and dialed 1-800-CONSENT. "Hi, Crisis Line? Yeah, sorry to call so late, but I'm in trouble. I told her I wanted to make love, asked her if that was okay, and she nodded." He listened for a moment. "Yes, we're married and in our bedroom. Lights are still on. She's not restrained, intoxicated, drugged, on the rebound from a bad previous marriage or screaming for her mother. Neither am I." He listened again. "I saw her head move. Immediately after I asked. Clearly a nod, not a shake."
Diane hugged herself with her arms as she admired the manly way Jack held the phone and listened so attentively to the crisis counselor. Just when she thought she knew her husband, he surprised her with another demonstration of his sensitivity to her feminine delicacy.
He glanced at her and covered the mouthpiece of the receiver with his hand. "Honey, the counselor wants to know if by nodding that you meant a) that you agree to make love with me, or b) that you know that I want to make love to you but are not consenting to any such intimacy, or c) that you want some Haagen-Dazs and I should sleep on the couch?"
Confused by the choices, she thought for a moment. "I meant A."
"A," Jack said into the phone. "Thanks, appreciate it. Yes, I plan to use a condom. Terrific. You, too." He hung up the phone and gave Diane a brilliant smile. "Sorry. I just had to be sure."
Overcome by his tenderness and concern, Diane rushed into his open arms and snuggled against him. "God, Jack, you're so wonderful."
"So are you." He hugged her close. "I'm going to kiss you and unbutton your blouse now. Okay?"
"Mmmmmm." Diane found herself at arm's length again. "What?"
"Hold on." Jack picked up the phone and dialed quickly. "Hi, it's me again, guy with the nodding wife. What's your stand on Mmmmmmm as a response? Does that mean Yes? No? Maybe?" He listened. "No, I'm not rubbing her feet or feeding her chocolate, and there aren't any Russell Crowe movies playing on the TV."
"I meant yes," Diane said, but Jack only gave her a be-quiet wave of his hand.
"Got it. How many times again?" He frowned. "Sure, if that's the way to do it. You're a doll. Thanks again. Bye." He hung up the phone and looked at Diane. "Honey, the crisis counselor says that you need to lay off the body language and making the sexy sounds and give me some definite verbal cues here. I also have to ask you at least ten more times if you want to make love before we get, you know, consensual. In case you change your mind and want to go fold laundry instead. Okay?"
Diane could not believe how lucky she was to have married Jack. He had to be the kindest, gentlest, sweetest, most considerate man on earth. "Of course."
"That's not definite enough," he told her. "I need a yes or no."
"Great. Let's try this again." Jack took her into his arms. "I'm gonna kiss you, and unbutton your blouse. Okay?"
Diane smiled up at him. "Yes."
Jack bent his head to hers, but then jerked it back. "Yes to both, or only one?"
[This community service post is brought to you by 1-800-CONSENT, the non-profit romantic crisis intervention service. 1-800-CONSENT is dedicated to supporting the right of all women to say yes, no, maybe, okay, later, I dunno, now? can we talk about this later for Heaven's sake and Mmmmm while meaning something completely different. Remember our motto, gentlemen: If you're not sure, that's what we're here for.]