Jean and I had been out three times in the last couple of weeks after chatting on the phone and by e-mail for a bit. I had answered her ad in the newspaper's dating section, and we seemed to get on pretty well. It was at our last date that Jean said she thought we should 'take things to the next level' when we got together next. To be honest, I was quite happy keeping things platonic - I hadn't had much interest in that sort of thing for the last few years, and I had a bit of trouble in that department before that. But I knew that for some people, even at our age, it was pretty important.
I spoke with Jim about it when I saw him at the pool, and he was the one who suggested the blue pill. He said that loads of men our age needed a bit of help in that area and he told me how it had revitalised his marriage. He reminded me that Jean was quite a bit younger than me, so it wasn't a surprise that she would still be interested in sex. He even had a pill I could use if I wanted. He said to take it about an hour before I was going to need it.
The date was at Jean's; she had suggested I went over for an 'evening in' at her place. It was only a couple of stops on the tube, so I popped the pill twenty minutes before I left.
I think that may have been a mistake. The effect began as I neared the station on the short walk from home. I realised that my stone-coloured chinos were ballooning out at the front, and because it was a hot day I had no jacket or pullover or anything that I could use to hide it. All I had with me was a bottle of wine in a carrier bag. It was becoming apparent that cotton boxers and thin, loose fitting trousers do very little to disguise unexpected excitement. And it wasn't like I could think about something else to try to reduce my embarrassment; it seemed to be a completely physical effect, and totally out of my control.
I bought a newspaper from the vendor outside the station, and tried to cover myself a bit as I descended the steps. I purchased a ticket at a machine, which saved me from having to speak to anyone, and I ran down to the platform, pretending I was late for a train. As I got there, a train arrived and I jumped into the carriage as the doors opened, only to find that the seats were all full and I would have to stand. As other passengers crowded into the carriage behind me I found myself standing in the central aisle between two sets of fully occupied inward facing seats. I attempted to hold the newspaper in front of my unrelenting bulge but at the same time I needed to keep hold of the wine and hang onto the support handle above my head. I tried to reposition myself, but as I turned round there was a dull clang as I bashed myself on a vertical pole. Several passengers looked up and although it was painful, I had to resist the urge to double over and give the game away. Bracing myself on the pole, I put the newspaper in the bag with the wine and then held this in front of me, and this seemed to cover me in a less conspicuous fashion.
In fact, once I got off the tube and started making my way toward Jean's house, I was feeling a lot better. Although the effect of the pill had not abated in the least, the bag was proving to be a reasonable shield, and I made it to Jean's without further incident. She invited me in and I managed to turn my back as she took the bag with the wine into the kitchen. She called out for me to go through into the lounge, which I did, settling myself onto the settee and trying to arrange my trousers to hide my problem. Unfortunately this did not work, and I was left with a very obvious bulge tenting the beige material. Then I thought about how it was Jean who had suggested taking things to the next level, so maybe she wouldn't be too shocked by my condition. Maybe she would be flattered; after all it was an indication of my feelings for her. I determined to brazen it out and gave up my ineffectual attempts to disguise the lump.
I suppose looking back I should have realised what she meant about taking things to the next level. When she brought her two daughters into the lounge to introduce us I just sat there like an idiot not knowing what to say. Of course I had known that Jean had two teenaged girls that usually lived at their father's. Of course I knew that Jessica and Rose often stayed at Jean's at weekends. But of course I had forgotten.
It seemed like it was about ten minutes that I sat there mutely while the two girls and their horrified mother looked at my lap. It was probably six seconds. When I made the mistake of standing up, Jean quickly ushered the girls away, back into the kitchen. I heard Jean begin to cry as she shut the reeded glass door.
I then made the second mistake of trying to explain through the obscured glass. As I struggled to find suitable words to account for my condition I looked down at the door. My silhouette, complete with its magnified protrusion, was being projected onto the full length fluted glass pane by the lounge spot lamps.
When it became apparent that they were not going to come out of the kitchen, and that Jean or one of the girls might even call the police, I decided to leave. As I pulled the front door closed behind me I realised I now had to get home without the benefit of the newspaper in the bag. As I went down the stone steps the first few drops of rain fell, darkening and accentuating the distended front panel of my pale trousers, but doing absolutely nothing to cool down the chemically-induced embarrassment within.