On Saturday night I went over to Jeremy’s. I hadn’t seen him since Christmas.
There he was, as I’d remembered him, in loose jeans and a sweater, his thick hair in his eyes with those black framed glasses I find so inexplicably alluring. We embraced, and kissed, standing in his unfinished kitchen.
“I’ve been thinking about you,” I wanted to say, but didn’t quite have the nerve. Instead I buried my mouth in his neck, and breathed him in.
His bedroom/living room (really the only inhabitable room in his apartment) is set up so that the big low Ikea bed is right by the doorway. I wondered if we were headed further in to the couch, or what. But right by his bed, I stopped still, and then he sat on the low edge of the bed.
I sank down next to him. Soon we had toppled over. “That was smooth,” I said, smiling.
He lay on top of me, both of us fully clothed. My legs were hanging off the bed. He moved them so he was right on top of me. “I don’t want to put my dirty boots on your nice clean bed,” I explained. I had worn my knee high black leather boots (square toes and a perfect stacked heel, I think stiletto heels on boots are tacky) for the occasion; I thought Jeremy might like to see them, or me in them.
“I don’t really care,” he said, smiling, and commenced kissing me again.
Slowly we undressed, grinning and one another and making out in his big room with all the low-to-the-ground furniture and ceiling-high windows.
When we were naked he lay facing me, slipping his fingers all over my clit. I was really wet. “I should tell you,” Jeremy began.
My body went hot. Oh God, he’s met someone else.
“I’ve been feeling...,” Jeremy began. Oh, he feels jealous! He wants us to be exclusive! “…Some discomfort...” Discomfort? Like, jealousy? “So I went to the doctor,” Oh. OhmyG-
“Oh my God. Are you OK? Did I give you something? Do you have something? Oh, my God,” I clasped my hand over my mouth.
He covered me with his body and leaned close to me. “It’s nothing. It’s nothing, OK?” He kissed me. “The doctor doesn’t think it’s anything. I just wanted to tell you.”
“OK,” I said. His fingers were still sliding inside me. “What did the doctor say?” I asked.
“He said it was probably nothing.”
“Oh, my God. I am so sorry.”
“It’s nothing, really.” And he started kissing and stroking me again. I was still wet, but I was not exactly feeling relaxed. He was still planning to sleep with me, if his fingers were any indication. Wasn’t he worried that I might be unhealthy, dirty? Of course, it was moot now, as if I did have anything he was already infected...
Terror and shame were my chief feelings. Mostly shame. I have always taken pride in my carefulness—I never, ever have sex without a condom, though I must admit I’m pretty cavalier about oral sex—sorry, but what’s the point of oral sex with a condom? I almost never swallow... does that matter? Anyway, I’ve always been smug about asking my awkward questions (“Have you ever had a burning sensation when you pee? How many partners have you had?”), just as instructed by the more liberal women’s magazines (thank you, ivillage!), thinking that, because I was willing to embarrass myself, I was somehow exempt.
I’d always said to myself that if I did ever catch a STD, sorry, a STI, they’re sexually transmitted infections now--I’d just be grateful I hadn’t contracted HIV. Not that I think that’s very likely, but just because compared to HIV, everything else seems relatively harmless. Of course I know STIs can cause tons of problems, including chronic illnesses and sterility, but I figured that with regular checkups and vigilant condom usage, I would be fine.
“Oh!” I said suddenly. Jeremy met my eyes. “It would be me?” Maybe I wasn’t a diseased slut. On the other hand, I didn’t like the thought of him sleeping with anyone else.
His mouth twisted upward: “Yeah.”
Maybe I should just go home. I stared at the high ceiling as Jeremy nuzzled my neck. How could he bear to fuck me?
Oh, stop it, I told myself. If you gave him anything, the damage is done, another round can’t hurt. And you’re hardly a walking plague victim.
I went back and forth in my head in this way for a good fifteen minutes, while Jeremy and I fooled around. Mostly I was just surprised at how ashamed I felt, as if carelessness or accident had made me morally questionable. Despite my best efforts, perhaps I really am Victorian when it comes to sex! That is, maybe I do think that sexually transmitted infections are a sign of moral decay rather than just ill luck or carelessness. In myself, anyway. I’ve lectured Jenny so much, feeling so smug that at least I never neglect birth control or condoms, but what if I’ve got something?
I reminded myself that that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it now, and finally it occurred to me that panicking wouldn’t help. Oh, right. I squared my jaw (figuratively) and determined to give Jeremy a really good fuck. One that he would remember when considering whether he would want to see a potentially disease-ridden slut ever again.
He slid inside me and rocked towards me, our faces pressed close together, beaming at one another. He came quickly, with a sigh and a long shudder.
I loved seeing him come, and collapse on top of me. We lay there, cuddling companionably. I stroked his arm.
“So what have you been up to?” I asked. He hadn’t been available the previous evening, and I’d wondered if he’d had another date. As it turned out, he’d been to a gallery opening instead. Aha!
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Do you want to go out, or order in? We could rent a movie...” Jeremy mentioned some Russian director, and added that he was “really good, but boring.”
I wheezed with laughter. “That’s quite an endorsement. Why would I want to see a boring movie? And how can you be really good and boring?” I mean, aren’t the two mutually exclusive?
“Well..,” Jeremy considered. “That’s not what I meant... Sometimes I like movies that you have to pay attention to, that require some concentration...”
“Jeremy,” I said, enlightened, “You’re an intellectual.”
He folded his face into the pillow and snorted.
“So you want to rent a boring movie?” I went on. “Well, that’s OK; we’d probably start fooling around, and if it's boring we won’t be missing much.”
“No, I don’t want to rent [whatever the director’s name was]; I would feel guilty,” Jeremy explained. “If we’re going to fool around, I’d rather rent… something like what’s that Will Ferrell... Ricky Bobby...movie--”
“Talladega Nights,” I supplied.
“Talladega Nights,” he continued. “So if we did start fooling around I wouldn’t feel guilty.”
“Jeremy, you just want to rent Talladega Nights, don’t you?”
In the end we decided to go to dinner. I didn’t want to get out of his bed, though, and I lay there face down, luxuriating in his pillows. “Come on, young lady,” Jeremy said, and hauled himself up, only to lie back down on top of me. His weight felt so good. Young lady: that kills me. Jeremy is all of five years older than I am, and anyway I’m 33. I sort of like it.
We went to a restaurant a few blocks from his place and split a bottle of wine. I was definitely feeling the warm, dreamy vibes you often get at the beginning of a relationship. There we were, in a cramped Italian restaurant, with an exposed brick wall. I don’t know why, but to me an exposed brick wall is shorthand for dimmed lighting, wine rather than cocktails, and decent conversation. And actually, with Jeremy, so far it’s been exactly that. Somehow we started talking about sense of smell.
“I used to date this guy, Lee,” I said. “And, you know, he was really a lovely guy, definitely my best boyfriend ever, but to me he just smelled wrong.” This is absolutely true. At first I thought it was the soap—Lee used Irish Spring, which I find a bit overpowering, but that wasn’t it. And anyway last week I had told this to Daniel, by way of rhapsodizing about how good his neck smelled. (It does, it smells really good) and Daniel told me he’d used Irish Spring that morning. So it’s hormones or pheromones or whatever.
“You smell really good,” I burbled, and stared at my plate. We were about finished with our bottle, and I suspect I’d had more than my share.
“Are you embarrassed?” He asked, seeing me duck my head.
“You don’t have to be embarrassed!”
“Embarrassment is my default state,” I explained. But I think I was lying! Or rather, I’m so used to being embarrassed that it hardly bothers me. And you know, for all my loathing of coyness, perhaps I’m coy—feigning embarrassment when I’m really not. Huh, I hope not, since being coy is pretty high on my list of sins.
So we went back to his and fucked again. And again. In the dark I whispered, “Do you like that?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“I love it, how you say ‘Yeah, I do instead of just ‘Yeah,’” I said. He smiled.
I woke up at about 4:00am, terrified that I had gonorrhea. I don’t know why gonorrhea, it just sounds so awful, much worse than syphilis, for instance. Though the word Chlamydia is also pretty off-putting, too. I could not get back to sleep. I curled myself around Jeremy, but he is a restless sleeper and kept tossing. It took so long to get light, and I whiled away the hours imagining our wedding and what his face would look like after the birth of our first genius baby, that kind of thing. I thought about how serious and awkward he would look in one of the black satin yarmulkes kept on hand at synagogues, how he might cry a bit when holding his very own newborn liberal.
Gawd, I’m sick. A few weeks ago I was ready to break up with Daniel ’cause I liked him too much, and here I was fantasizing about my future with Jeremy. I really shouldn’t be let out of the house. I’m a danger to myself. I like Jeremy (“I like you tons,” I’d confessed to him over dinner), but I’m in love with the idea of being with him. He’s the kind of guy I’ve always imagined I would end up with -- sort of geeky and cute and knowledgeable and great to talk to and lefty and (um) a non-religious Jew. And he’s a grown up! Maybe this is my future, I thought. It could all be so easy. I could slip into his cool East Side apartment and life and we’d go visit his parents and buy dishes.
My domestic fantasies are perhaps even more dangerous than my romantic ones.
Jeremy woke up briefly at seven, and then at nine, and when we fucked again at last I came, rocking on top of him. I think part of the problem is that in order to come, I like to flex my legs and point my feet and a certain angle. With Daniel, I can have my legs just so far apart. With Jeremy, his legs are splayed wider, and I don’t have that fulcrum that allows me to rock on top of him in the way best assured to make me come.
Then Jeremy got on top of me and with a sigh, his face creased into a bleary smile, he lifted my leg around his neck. Then, again, he slammed into me. I was grinning like a maniac.
He fell asleep again but at last he woke up at noon and we went out and bought food. After we ate our chic Italian sandwiches I lay sprawled on his bed, waiting for him to join me. Which he did, after checking out some boring film directors online.
Eventually, again, all our clothes came off (five times in less than 24 hours, I think that’s my record. Whoo-hoo). I was flat on my back as he pumped into me. “Jeremy. Jeremy,” I said. Sort of passionately but it’s more like I just wanted to keep saying his name, Like I’m just enjoying him so much. Which I was.
Afterwards he lay on his back and I lay on my right side, resting my head on his chest. “Ah, this is my favorite position,” I sighed. His chest made a good pillow. Plus, as I’ve said, he smelled great.
The light was fading outside, leaving us in a dreamy violet gloom. “I’m going now,” I added, but I didn’t move at all.