Sunday, April 29, 2007
I had some qualms about Evan: as I noted on our first and then second dates, he struck me as depressive. He lived with two older women, which made me wonder if he had many friends his own age. And then there was something else, which I will get to later.
We were to meet near the place we’d had drinks on our last, surprisingly successful date. As I walked down the street I saw a man in a coat loitering. I squinted: Was this Evan? I have a strange terror of not recognizing people I’ve met. Mostly it applies to men I’m involved with. I tried to determine if it was Evan while continuing mt stride. The man in the coat lifted an eyebrow at me: Oh. It was him.
“Hi!” I was so relieved I hadn’t walked past him. I kissed him.
It was cold. We started to walk and talk. “Evan,” I interrupted, suddenly, taking in his bare head, “Do you have a hat?”
“Put it on, OK?”
He obeyed, smiling. I liked this! Was that boyfriend behavior? Or perhaps he liked being bossed around by a –
My musing were interruppted by Evan, who started to ask me about my day.
We ended up at a diner, not a New York City-type Greek diner, but more of a small town diner, without twenty page leatherette bound menus. With gimmicks: there were cartons of old Trivial Pursuit cards on the table, and we amused ourselves by reading out the questions. I knew a good number of the answers. My parents bought had this very edition (Genus) – I’d been playing it since 1985.
Other things about Evan I’d noticed: in his room he had a book titled How to Shit in the Woods, which was about just that, as well as one called The Single Vegan, which struck me as depressingly austere. On his wall had been a sticky note which read: Go without hate, not without rage, which, upon reflection, I liked. As I answered the Trivial Pursuit questions I wondered, how much rage does Evan have? After he ordered his veggie burger and I my hamburger (ordering meat in front of male vegetarians and vegans – I’ve dated a few – always makes me feel frivolous), it occurred to me that Evan did nothing by halves. “I’m so glad to see you,” he was saying, and he reached across the formica table to grab my hands.
“I’m glad to see you, too.”
After dinner we walked to a video rental shop, and again, I felt pretty frivolous when Evan suggested Running With Scissors, since I'd been hoping for one of those movies that star former members of the cast of Saturday Night Live. Running with Scissors didn’t really strike me as the feel good date movie of the year. But what the hell. So he rented it and we walked back to his apartment arm in arm.
His place was empty – I was relieved. I was curious but not that eager to meet his fortysomething psychotherapist roommates. He made us both cups of tea and spent a while on the phone with one of his roommate’s boyfriends. Then, promising me he wasn’t going to check his email, he disappeared for a moment while I waited for my tea to cool down.
“I just lied to you,” Evan admitted when he returned. I was startled, because he didn’t have that rueful grimace, just a sorrowful look. What?
Oh, he’d checked his work email. “You can check it if you want,” I said. “Really, I don’t mind.”
At last he turned on the movie. We sat next to one another on the sofa, and I moved close to him. Our thighs touched, and he put an arm around me. Better, I thought.
We cuddled up closer as the movie went by, and at one point he paused the film and whispered to me, “You’ll stay with me tonight, even if I don’t put out?”
This is girl behavior, I thought. Which I was then ashamed of. “That was my plan,” I whispered back. “You don’t have to put out.”
The movie ended after midnight and we went into his bedroom, off the kitchen. I was pretty tired. I was ready to start fooling around, but Evan had other ideas: “Don’t you think I’m weird?” he said to me.
“What?” He repeated himself. I was flummoxed. How could I answer this? Because yes, I thought he was pretty weird. “Like how?” I asked cautiously.
“I don’t know, don’t you just think … I’m weird?” he asked again. “That I live with two older women, for example?”
“Well,” I said, because I had given this some thought: “I mean, they’re your colleagues, and with the cost of living in New York being what it is, real estate makes strange bedfellows…”
“Louise and Annie are good friends of mine. They’re not just housemates; they’re very important to me,” he said rather stiffly.
“OK.” Were we done?
“I mean,” and he went back to his previous theme, “Don’t you think I’m weird?”
“Well, OK,” I said, goaded. “Yes, I do think you’re weird. I saw a lot of very disturbing information about Group X on the Internet and it freaked me out and I really don’t want to have this discussion with you yet. I’m not ready to talk about it.”
“Oh,” said Evan. “That wasn’t what I meant.”
What is Group X? Well, I can’t be too explicit about this, but basically Evan had mentioned a project that he’s heavily involved with, which I will term Group X. I looked it up online, and was horrified to discover that a number of people consider it a cult. It is affiliated with various left wing causes (I can’t disapprove of that) and programs for disadvantaged youth (ditto). Group X is headed by the movement’s founder, whom I will call John Smith. And John Smith, according to the articles I’d read on the Internet, is a cultist with some unsavory characteristics, which again, for purposes of anonymity, I will not elaborate on.
Mostly the cult accusations have come from, naturally, former members. There were complaints about how much time members were expected to put into Group X, the way they were treated, etc. There was no talk of being locked in underground bunkers or denied access to loved ones, but still.
“I really don’t want to discuss this with you yet,” I said again, and my voice held the tang of panic. Because it was clear to me that Group X was a big, big part of Evan’s life and, although I am an alarmist, I don’t actually believe everything I read on the Internet. I wanted to know more about him before I decided that Evan was, in fact, the sort of person who was drawn to cults. Or if indeed a politically radical New York non-profit organization that funds summer programs for poor kids could actually be termed a cult.
I sat on the edge of his bed. I was close to tears. I’d gone and accused someone I barely knew of being in a cult. I sighed and stared at my shoes.
After a moment, Evan said, “Lily, I am Group X, and Group X is me.” This disturbed, but did not surprise me. “And John Smith is very important to me. I was at his house just the other night.” I nodded. “And tonight’s discussion might end things between you and me, but I’m not unkind. We can talk about this.”
I relaxed because of course he wasn’t unkind, was he? We could discuss this, couldn’t we? “OK,” I said. “Tell me about Group X.”
We talked – or mostly Evan talked – for several hours. He told me about how, as a child, he’d always been political, always aware of and angered by injustice and poverty. As an eleven year old, he’d volunteered at a local political campaign, taking the bus into the center of the city everyday by himself. He talked about how he’d gotten involved with Group X while at grad school, and how impressed he was by the work they did. He talked about several significant figures in the movement, who were admired by him and notorious to me.
After a long time I said, “Most of the criticism I’ve seen of Group X has been of John Smith rather than the work of the group itself. I don’t know very much about it, which is why I didn’t really want to talk about it with you yet; I wanted to know you better before we talked about it.” I went on, “I know it’s easy to be misled. I hope that while I’m skeptical, I’m not cynical; I don’t believe everything I read on the Internet.”
It was 4:00 am by this time. Even if we were finished, I was not going anywhere.
But we weren’t finished, because eventually our bodies moved closer and closer together. I didn’t reach out to touch him, but I moved my whole body so that our limbs were next to one another. We smiled at one another, and then we kissed.
When we were naked and the lights were out he said to me, “When you were walking towards me earlier I didn’t call out to you, I just wanted to watch you walk. You have an honest walk.”
I slipped my arms around him and ran my fingers along his spine. “That’s a lovely thing to say,” I whispered back. We kissed, and stretched against one another.
“You know I’m not monogamous,” I went on, anxiously. If he thought I was honest, I felt obliged to be. After the plea that I stay the night earlier, it hit me that it wasn’t that Evan was weird that worried me; it was his intensity. He was drawn to extremes. His passion made me think he had boyfriend potential, but I wasn't sure if I wanted him to be my boyfriend. Or if my passion could meet his own -- of late all my passion had been spent on unrequited longing for Jeremy.
Evan straddled me; his skin was smooth. “That’s OK,” he said, “I don’t need that from you now.”
We kissed and kissed again, lying facing one another. My skin seemed to hum. “I want to live up to your idea of me,” I said, because Evan’s admiration seemed so unsentimental and pure.
Then we fucked, and by the time we fell asleep I convinced myself that the sky was starting to pale.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
“Uh…” Mmmark laughed.
“Oh, God, Mmmark! It’s Lily, I’m so sorry.” Nice work! Nonetheless, we arranged to meet for dinner.
It was very windy and again I was in my heavy quilted parka, looking suburban and maternal and not at all sexy. When I spotted Mmmark at the bar, for a minute I couldn’t quite believe it: he is so very good looking.
I swallowed. “Hey.”
“Hi.” He was bareheaded, and wearing a leather jacket. We kissed, close-mouthed, politely. The place I’d chosen was very crowded, so we left, and eventually ended up at a restaurant in a converted carriage house off of Irving Place. And it turned out that Mmmark reads a lot of restaurant blogs and had wanted to check out the place anyway. We were seated on high stools at a table in the corner and ordered half a bottle of wine.
Earlier in the week, a few drinks had rendered Mmmark less overwhelming in his beauty, but now sobriety left me awkward. The fact is, we don’t have much in common, unless you count a penchant for sex with Jefferson. But we made a good effort, talking about restaurants, foods we liked, and a bit about our families. Towards the end of the meal I got up to go to the bathroom, and Mmmark rested his hand against the small of my back as I twisted myself past him in the narrow space; I knew I was going home with him.
We left the restaurant and walked down Irving Place. He made some joke about taking advantage of me and I said, “It appears you don’t have to get me drunk in order to have your way with me,” and I guess that clinched things. The thing is, like I said, I say these things because it just seems easier than not saying them. Not because I really am that bold; it’s just the tension and expectation and anticipation that accompanies not saying them that I can’t stand. So, thanks to my inability to deal with uncertainty, I was going home with a hot guy! Not bad! He slipped his arm around my waist and we walked, awkwardly, to find a cab.
At his place he made me a cup of tea and I settled onto the couch. Soon we were engrossed in Sarah Silverman’s Jesus is Magic. Then we started kissing. We kissed and kissed, everything concentrated in our lips and mouths and tongues. His mouth tasted great. Unfortunately, Sarah Silverman was talking about Jews and Mercedes and I was getting distracted. The kissing was expert, but when Sarah started singing, “There’s a hole…” I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing. My mouth sort of popped against his in mid-kiss. “Sorry,” I gasped, giggling. I think it was the word “doody” that made me laugh. “Doody” – now that’s comedy! We went back to one another’s mouth, and I admonished myself: Ignore Sarah Silverman!
Oh, God, it was no use: she was really funny. Finally I took the remote and just switched off the TV. Mmmark lay on the couch, and I straddled him, my hips pushing against his jeans. “So… can I drag you into the bedroom?” Mmmark asked eventually.
On one hand, yes! After all, what had I come here for? I’d decided to sleep with him on Monday, hadn’t I? On the other hand, I’d met him at an orgy. How safe was this? Of course, I’d been at the orgy too… but it was my first time! “Well,…” I said. “Can I ask you a few questions?”
Mmmark looked amused: “OK.”
“How many people have you slept with?”
Long pause. “Well.” Mmmark considered. “I’d have to count on both hands, more than twice. Not counting Jefferson’s parties.”
Well, I wasn’t surprised. “And counting Jefferson’s parties?”
His mouth twisted into a smile: “Well, I don’t know! It depends on the night... Sometimes I slept with one person, and sometimes…”
Oh, God! “And how many men have you slept with?”
He exhaled. “Hmmmm …. Twelve?”
Surely that was fewer than Jefferson, and I hadn’t kicked up a fuss about sleeping with Jefferson. Of course, by the time I’d managed to bed Jefferson, I’d a) known him for several months and b) he’d gotten a HIV test on my behalf. “When was the last time you were tested for STDs?”
“Over the summer.”
“I’d like to fuck you,” I said. “And I’d also like you to think about having an HIV test.” I felt uncomfortable saying this, because it wasn’t a request, or a demand, but perhaps a passive-aggressive suggestion. And I should have come down on one side or the other, and just made a decision. I felt really hesitant, although I did want to sleep with him.
“Well, I had my man-checkup over the summer,” said Mmmark firmly.
I was distracted, and unsure, and it occurred to me that this was due to my relative sobriety. Oh, the hell with it. We started kissing again, and I nodded. Mmmark wrapped my legs around his waist, stood up, and carried me into his roommate’s bedroom (she was out of town and his own bed had recently been stripped by some visitors who’d just left).
God, he was lovely. Alejandro had the most regular features, but he had a sort of cool, unerotic handsomeness. Daniel of course I think is just gorgeous, but it is his warmth and leanness and goofiness that so touches me. But Mmmark has a noticeable handsomeness that is also sexy, in a kind of athletic, boy way I’m not used to. He has a long, narrow face and blue eyes and a muscular athlete’s body.
Mmmark struggled to unhook my bra. I wanted him to do it all, to be in charge. I guess that was part of what I got for him, this ease and confidence about sex that isn’t part of my repertoire. When he took off his shirt I stared at him, I’d almost forgotten that I’d already seen him naked: he looked just as good as he had a week ago, at Jefferson’s.
Mmmark went down on me. It was really good. Usually I’m indifferent to oral sex (receiving it, anyway, I am a big fan of giving head). But Mmmark’s tongue was so light, so slithery and flickery, I was pretty engrossed. I liked it that it was just his tongue: no scratchy chin grinding against my pubis, no lips sucking hard at me, just his tongue slipping around. My head twisted from side to side and I heard myself sigh as his tongue insinuated itself against my clit. God, it was nice. I think I was thrashing about a bit. Then I went down on him. His dick was gorgeous, just like the rest of him. I kissed it, puckering my lips around his cock, as if it could kiss me back.
“Aaah,” said Mmmark. After a bit he pulled away. “I’m too excited,” he explained.
“I think that’s the point of giving head,” I said.
“Blow jobs are my Achilles’ heel,” Mmmark said sheepishly. It was the first time I’d seen a crack in his composure. He seemed a very unflappable person. When I’m fooling around with a guy, I want him to be flapped: I want to know I’m having an effect.
He pushed me onto my back and slid a condom on so expertly I had to check to make sure it was on. I opened my legs to him; I was terribly wet and ready. He waited, pushed a little, and waited again. I strained up towards his cock. “You’re teasing me,” I said in wonder. I wanted him.
Very slowly he pushed himself all the way inside my pussy and I sighed in relief and gratitude. He moved his hips against mine in a choreographed wave, and I felt his hard stomach muscles push against me. He was fucking skilled at this, and I say that advisedly.
“Want to get on top?” he asked.
“Yes, thanks!” I said, and hopped on: Aaah. I slid onto him, watching his face. We smiled shyly at one another. I rode him, running my hands along his long body. His pelvis rose to meet me as I ground myself against him: uh oh. “Let me work for it, OK?” I breathed. Is this totally weird? I really won’t come unless I’m doing all the work and the guy just literally lies still and lets me ride him – or do him, really—with his legs stretched out at a particular angle.
“OK,” said Mmmark, as amiable as ever.
What’s my Achilles’ heel? I thought as I pounded up and down on Mmmark’s dick. Talking, I realized, as Mmmark and I fucked in polite half-silence. What turns me on is that constant undertone of longing expressed in mildly pornographic dialogue: “Oh, yes!” “Ride that cock!” “Oh, look at those tits!” “You like that? You like that, baby?” said in what I think of as a sultry voice. Which I guess means a dehydrated, sexually consumed voice.
And it occurred to me that the best sex I have is when I feel really close to someone, and I can’t feel close to someone without dialogue, and more importantly, a sense of vulnerability in the man I’m fucking. I came with a shudder, and Mmmark took over.
He was very sweaty, his hair was damp and stuck up in cowlicks. This was the most discomposed I’d seen in him, and it impressed me considerably and made me feel more relaxed. Then he came, breathing in my ear with a tense, rhythmic grunt. “That was amazing,” he said.
What, was I amazing? “I bet you say that to all the girls,” I said at last.
I thought, then, about the vulnerability of my various recent sex partners: Dominant Jordan: not vulnerable, no connection. Sweetheart Daniel: his vulnerability stems from the fact that he is seven years my junior; his regularly verbalized awe at my beauty (?!!) and his generally teenage-boy tastes-- his love of comic books, video games and sugary cereals. Jeremy. What was it about him that made me think he was vulnerable? Perhaps his looks. He’s “not conventionally good looking,” as they say in novels when describing the anti-hero. He’s stocky, and thanks to some longstanding ear-nose thing, has a sort of nasal voice. Also, he was uber-nerdy. Now that I’ve describe him, I don’t know how I managed to fall so hard for him. But I did, grr. Anyway. I guess when I met him I was so hung up on Daniel that I felt like I had the upper hand, so I didn’t feel like Jeremy’s intelligence and success and wit made him invulnerable? I don’t know… And Jefferson. Well. In my opinion, Jefferson is not the least bit vulnerable. But he doesn’t mind pretending to be in order to put people at ease. As I think I observed to my fellow blogger greenlacewing, here, Jefferson gives the impression that he’s half in love with every woman he sleeps with. That’s quite flattering. That’s part of why he’s so appealing. I wondered what Mmmark’s vulnerability was, and if I would ever discover it.
We put some clothes on and returned to the living room to watch TV. Mmmark prefers Leno to Letterman? I wondered, seeing him in a new light. Then we watched Conan, and then Last Call, cuddled up on the couch. I never stay up this late.
Eventually we went to bed and while Mmmark was in the bathroom I stripped and slid under the covers. “You’re naked,” Mmmark noted when he joined me.
“I don’t often get to sleep next to someone else’s skin,” I explained, enlightening myself as well as him, I guess. Mmmark dutifully stripped down and joined me. Then he turned off the light and I lay alongside him in the dark, my cheek against his arm.
In the morning I woke up before him. He shifted in his sleep and I rubbed up close to him, to no avail. I really wanted to fuck him. At last he was half awake, so I began to nuzzle his mouth. This was successful and soon enough he’d climbed over me and entered me from behind: Aaah.
He was wet with sweat. God, I really liked him like this, all riled up. It was nice, though fast: “I’m always quick in the mornings,” he said. I didn’t mind; I liked seeing him like this.
Eventually we went out for brunch and afterwards I came back with him, hoping for another go-round on his roommate’s bed. To no avail. I got the feeling our romantic interlude was over, so I kissed him goodbye and then I left, struggling through the maze of his apartment complex and out into the weak winter sunshine.
Monday, April 09, 2007
We met near a bar on Sixth Avenue, and it was freezing. When he turned up, I was, again, taken aback by how good looking he was. I felt tongue tied, especially when Mmmark mentioned that he was going skiing next month. I’m not sure why his talking about sports made me feel so awkward. Possibly because I am so unathletic? In his wool sweater and red cheeks Mmmark looked really healthy and cool -- like someone who views sex as good exercise. In my quilted down coat I felt like a feeble urban wimp. Quite correctly, as a matter of fact.
We went to a nearly empty bar – it was early— and settled in with our glasses of Marker’s Marks (him) and Pinot Noirs (me). The music was almost entirely early ’80’s pop—obviously geared for old geezers such as myself: “Johnny Are you Queer?” came on, and this made us giggle, since it started just as we were talking about Jefferson and his parties.
I had assumed that Mmmark was older than I am, but when I discovered he was almost three years younger I felt a bit more relaxed. When I know that I’m older than someone, often the traits that seem intimidating become endearing instead. And Mmmark, instead of being this totally alien hot guy, was still hot, but more approachable. Not the stud I’d encountered in Jefferson’s blog, nor even the really hot stranger from an orgy, but instead a nice Midwestern guy in a wool sweater.
We talked and drank and drank and talked and I noticed he resembled not Chris O’Donnell, as I’d previously decided, but Patrick Dempsey. We agreed that it was only a matter of time before New York Sports Clubs starts offering sex fitness (“Participants must bring a towel …. No, it’s three thrusts and then a deep breath!”) and discussed the neighborhoods we’d lived in. Mmmark used to live very near Jeremy, which gave me a pang. He’s been to some of the same restaurants Jeremy and I ate at. It occurred to me that although I’d forgotten to bring my list of questions and that I was opposed to sleeping with someone I’d met at an orgy, I would nobly forgo these scruples if Mmmark was interested. Then Mmmark said he had to be home at 9:00 for 24. Dissed! Don’t you want to have sex with me? I thought, forlornly, as I emptied my second glass of wine. Then I went to the bathroom and lectured myself on the futility of assumptions. It did not cross my mind that perhaps Mmmark was likewise wary of having sex with someone he’d met at an orgy outside of said orgy. Though he did say I was the first person he’d ever had a date with from one of Jefferson’s parties. Flattery will get you everywhere, baby, I thought, and gave him a big smile.
But we ended up with our hands clasped, and my fingers stroked his palm casually. Though I didn’t feel casual, I mean, each time I touched his fingers I wondered if he liked it or what. But apparently he did, because eventually we started kissing and he asked if I wanted to come over to his place.
“I can’t stay long,” I warned, because in addition to feeling uncertain about the wisdom of sleeping with a man I’d met at an orgy—or perhaps, more importantly—I was wearing jeans and hadn’t brought a change of clothes for work in the morning.
“That’s OK,” said Mmmark. “We can just cuddle on the couch.” A man after my own heart. Obviously, he was skilled in appealing to scaredy-cat girls. He glanced at his watch: “It’s already after 9:00,” he said. “You made me lose track of time.” I smiled.
We took a cab back to his place and there we settled on the couch in front of the TV. Mmmark tried to explain some of the intricacies of 24’s plot to me, but I was more interested in the fact that both Chad Lowe and Peter McNichol were on the show as bad guys. Wimpy bad guys! This segued into an argument about Peter McNichol’s television credits. I have a distinct memory of Peter McNichol as a series regular very early in the run of Law and Order. Mmmark disabused me: “I have seen every episode of Law and Order,” he declared, “And Peter McNichol was never an Assistant D.A.” A Law and Order fan! Big points on the Geek-o-Meter! Hot. I launched myself at him.
We made out like kids: fully clothed, me lying on top of him on the sofa. He smelled delicious and it was just dreamy. By dreamy I mean thinking about it now, I feel literally sort of blurry and swoony. It was super nice and look at my vocabulary! Super nice! Lust and romantic good will have turned my brain to mush. I must say, it’s a pleasant feeling.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
I was sitting in the exam room, reading Elle, when Dr. Smith burst in: “This is the exact same thing that I told the other women I just saw; I should have just made a recording,” Dr. Smith said by way of greeting.
What? But I didn’t get a chance to ask because she plowed on: “Now what you have is a mild dysplasia. There are a few levels: mild, moderate, and severe. And cancer,” she added after a moment.
She handed me a piece of paper. After the words moderate dysplasia and severe dysplasia read the words carcinoma in situ. Carcinoma. But OK, that wasn’t me. I was Mild. Right.
I hadn’t expected the colposcopy would find anything at all, as a matter of fact. Mild dysplasia? This was a surprise. “All this means is that you should have a Pap smear every three months, we just want to monitor you,” said the doctor. “Are you in a committed relationship with someone you’re absolutely sure you’re going to marry?”
I thought about my rather hectic social life. “Um, no…”
“You should think about getting Gardasil.”
Gardasil is the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, recently approved by the FDA. According to Web MD, (among others, no doubt), some types of HPV are now thought to be responsible for the majority of cervical cancers. “How old are you?”
“I’m 33 – aren’t I too old…?”
“It doesn’t mean the vaccine won’t benefit you,” Dr Smith lectured. “Only that you’re not in the age group that the drug can be advertised to. There’s no reason that the vaccine wouldn’t be effective. But because it’s off label [meaning she could legally prescribe it for me, but the FDA had not approved the drug for someone in my situation – that situation being that I am 33], I doubt your insurance will cover it. Here--”
She handed me a form letter titled HPV Facts. The vaccine, which consists of three shots, was $450! Good grief.
I don’t really have $450. Then I had a thought: My mother! Surely the words mild dysplasia –a bona fide condition, however non-threatening, ought to leech a little sympathy out of her. She would loan me the money. I relaxed.
Then when I got home I looked up dysplasia on the Internet, possibly not the most reliable of sources. Again, according to Web MD, dysplasia is the appearance of “not normal” cells in the cervix, which can lead to the growth of cancer cells. Ooooh.And it turns out that most dysplasia is indeed caused by HPV, which, according to Dr. Smith, I should get the vaccine for. So am I someone with mild dysplasia but no HPV infection? Or does she mean I should get the vaccine when my dysplasia clears up on its own, as it sometimes does? I will have to look into this. And call my insurance company. Not to mention borrow $450 from my mother, which means I will have to bring up the topic of sex with her. The very idea makes me cringe. Even now, if I am watching TV at my parents’ place and my dad enters the room during a sex scene, I want to hide behind the sofa. “I’m too old for this,” my dad will announce jovially, and I will squirm. When, my sister, who at the time had been married for over two years, announced that she was pregnant, I thought, “This means Mom and Dad will know she has sex! Ack!”