My Defense

Because of excessive sweating (I feel very hot around the waist), I usually sleep only in my pajama shirt and in socks, with no bottoms on. Well, this is normal; the temperature of our bodies isn't uniform. There are people who have cold feet but warm ears, or cold hands and warm necks. In my case it could be because of all the hair but what can I do? I'm careful to put out the lights and tuck myself in before undressing.­ I do have decency and a sense of the ridiculous.

I know there are more elegant and seductive manners of undressing before a woman. I know that Marta, like all women, would prefer that I enter the room like an Olympiad with a magnificent chest under dimmed lights, that I would then undo my tie with such dexterity as not to have to look at the tie, since looking at the tie forces my eyes to cross and makes me dizzy (it would be perfect if I could keep my eyes fixed at a point in the distance as if searching infinity for a solution to some work problem, preferably a noble conundrum involving the lives of other people, some unfortunate and wronged humble people for whom I would be prepared to make enemies, ready to defy my superiors to protect them). Once I undid the knot I would slowly unbutton my crisp white shirt's buttons, beginning with that button that squeezes my Adam's apple, and ask disinterestedly, "How was your day, darling?" or something like that since my unbuttoned shirt voice always becomes a little more serious and relaxed. She would certainly notice the transformation: the change of skin, the public servant's fungus-­colored shell on the floor giving way to a partially nude vigorous man who, for better or for worse, is still a man, whose wooly armpits are two nests that exude that unmistakable and comforting man smell: jungle, sfihah, guava, onion and urea. A smell that puts women at ease. Yes, I'm sure she would approve of all of this and I wouldn't stop there either: when undoing my belt, for example, I would hold the buckle with the same firmness and virility with which I would hold a serpent's head and I would drag the serpent until it was completely off my waist, then I would throw it far away, against the wall, as if to say, "Look at what I can do to those who threaten our happiness." Then I would turn out the lights, sparing Marta the unimportant details. And in the silence of our oppressed sheets my cold feet would search for hers, succinctly communicating my depraved intentions. And she would surrender. And I, too.

But I would stop everything immediately lest her breath became heavy and she started moaning. As a responsible husband, conscious of my role and for the good of the relationship, I would never allow the pleasure of my partner to evolve into ecstasy and culminate in madness (or what women call "orgasm"). Oh, no. At that moment I would need to hold back the impulses, to interrupt the agonizing trembling of her body and soul. A slap ­ not too hard, just firm ­ on her behind would come in handy and I'd say, "Control yourself." I know women feel more protected this way, and that they begin to admire men for our experience and because we know how to save them from the temporary dizziness ensued from the loss of control of all senses in these dangerous moments during which some women even see the precipice of delirium. I know this ­ I know all of this, I wasn't born yesterday. But we have been married for eleven years. Yes, eleven years. Perhaps in the beginning, in another life, I would have gone through the trouble.

What do I know.

At least I have the decency to turn out the lights before undressing. Maybe I could behave better and, in fact, sometimes I want to say, "Good night, my darling, sleep well. Life is but contradictions and I would not know what to do without you." It would be a change from the usual, "Leave me alone." I know that my sleepwear isn't very sexy; a beige pajama shirt covered in old latte stains, and a pair of socks. But it's been eleven years! Moreover, it is Marta who complains about my cold feet at night, hence the socks.

THIAGO PICCHI was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1976, and grew up in an artistic family. He has always lived in Rio and, when not writing, he enjoys all that the Marvelous City has to offer.

He is an actor, musician and writer. His books include the novel Os rumores imprecisos das conversas alheias [Imprecise Rumors of Other People's Conversations] (2006), and the collections of short stories O papagaio e outras músicas [The Parrot and Other Songs] (2005) and A arte de salvar um casamento [The Art of Saving a Marriage] (2014). He lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

My Defense [Minha defesa] is an excerpt from the title story of A arte de salvar um casamento, in which author Thiago Picchi tells the comical story of complacent Carlos and his frustrated wife Marta, a middle-­aged couple settled into a childless middle-class routine. The story is told through the eyes of the husband, who had here just brushed his bare hairy buttocks against his wife's face in an effort to pick up the remote, which he had dared let fall off the bed.

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