Thursday, April 30, 2009

In Which I Am Subject to a Terrifying Premonition!

In the tub I examined my stubbly legs: Should I shave them? Nah.

I mean, what were the odds? Tonight I would have my second date with Brian, but I didn’t imagine we’d get up to much. Our first date had been marked by nothing so intimate as a hug.

I’d met Brian via the Nerve personals, and after a brief email exchange, we’d agreed to meet for a drink one Friday night. Brian’s photo made him look handsome and genial, and he seemed pleasant enough.

When we met I was disappointed (though not surprised) to note that he was quite a bit shorter than the men I usually date, and surprised and not at all disappointed to discover that I found him very easy to talk to. We’d swapped stories about our jobs and our secular Jewish backgrounds. I am also a little embarrassed to admit that I was impressed by his high-powered job: Brian is the second-in-command to a very powerful media mogul and clearly a high achiever. He oversees dozens of people and actually travels outside the country for work. Also rich, I assumed.

Anyway, our brief first date had ended with nary a kiss, and I’d been bemused to discover I’d like to see him again. Then I’d gone off to this party. When Brian contacted me and we made plans for a second date, I figured we would take things veeeerrrry sloooowly. So my legs remained unshaven.

This time we met at a bar downtown. I was early and waited for him to arrive before ordering a drink because I read somewhere that to do otherwise was rude, not to mention it might make you look like a lush. He was almost on time, and seemed pretty edgy. I mean “edgy” in the sense my father would use it; that is, on edge, jittery, and not particularly cheerful. (I think “edgy,” meaning cool or avant garde, is very poseur-y, personally).

I was sitting at a stool at the bar and he sat next to me, his body all clenched up (edgy, you see). I remembered something I had read: Mirroring other people’s body language puts them at ease. So I ducked my head forward and twisted one leg around the other, though I drew the line at hunching over my drink in such an uncomfortable-looking position.

Things got better when we started paying attention to the music – when I recognized The Velvet Underground and then Neil Diamond playing over the speakers, he seemed to relax a little. Ha, I thought. I can stun and disarm you with my knowledge of indie pop culture. Why yes, I can argue about Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye. For a businessman, Brian sure knew a lot of obscure stuff – the kind of stuff I picked up as a teenager in my attempt to win over shy, discerning boys, come to think of it. Not that that worked.

Eventually we moved next door to the restaurant, where we were seated by a young waitress with henna-red hair in braids and a glazed, beatific smile. Beaming at us, she recited the specials. She seemed absolutely thrilled to be our server. When she had floated off, Brian and I looked at each other: “Is she on ecstasy?”

“Maybe she found Jesus?”

“Or maybe the food here’s really good!”

When I excused myself to go to the bathroom I stared glumly at my reflection in the mirror. Why did I suspect I was going to marry this guy? Was it because despite his height, I found him attractive, meaning that at last I had met someone I could put aside my shallowness for? Because he was Jewish? Obviously wealthy and successful? At any rate, the thought filled me with dread.

But in the amber candlelight everything looked better. Especially me, apparently. “I think you’re beautiful,” Brian said as we drank our wine. “I don’t know if that’s because I like you or if you really are beautiful. Do other people think so, too?”

“No, I’m not beautiful,” I said. “You might think that because I’m friendly, and talkative. I have a mobile face,” I added, as if in explanation. I do have an expressive face, though I can remain impassive if necessary. Still. He thought I was beautiful. Why was I arguing with him? What was wrong with me? “Thank you,” I added.

I didn’t eat much of my pasta, but we finished the bottle. When we were headed out the door, he leaned over and kissed me, briefly. Outside we didn’t take one another’s hands, but walked down the crowded street in polite silence.

Around the corner it was quieter, and Brian looked at me again, then backed me up against a shuttered metal grating. Our mouths opened up, our tongues mingling. Then he took my hand. “Do you want to come back to my place?” he asked. “I mean, just to make out on my sofa, not to have sex. I’m kind of a prude,” he explained as we climbed into a cab.

“I’m kind of a slut,” I muttered as the driver pulled into the street, but I don’t think he heard me. I slid across the seat until we were nestled together. Then I placed my lips close to his neck and listened to him breathe.

***

“Oh, it’s a mess,” Brian said when he opened the door to his apartment. I looked around curiously as I followed him into the living room. What it was, was bare – a few papers on the floor, but mostly just empty. It had a stale, old apartment smell.

We collapsed on the sofa and started kissing. He pulled off my top, and my bra, and unzipped my knee-high boots. As he started to tug off my tights I giggled: “I didn’t shave my legs!”

When we were down to our skivvies he picked me up and carried me down the hall into his bedroom, depositing me on the bed. But not before I had caught a glimpse of his lair: “How long have you lived here?” The bedroom was empty, too – there was a bed, an upturned cardboard box that served as a bedside table, and a suit jacket hanging over the door, that was about it.

“I know,” he said. Then he lay on top of me. Brian is small and solidly built—not my usual type. Try as I might, I couldn’t catch the scent of his neck, which I always find so important. We kissed, and he started to go down on me but I stopped him—I wasn’t ready. Instead I clasped his dick. As he tautened in my hand it occurred to me that I hadn’t really seen it yet—I didn’t know if he was big or small or thick or what; the room was dark (there was no lamp, either). As he got stiffer I leant down and gently licked him but he shifted on top so that he could eat me: “We’re both givers,” he said, and I could hear the smile in his voice.

***

At 4 AM we rolled towards one another. He climbed on top of me and whispered, “I’m really looking forward to having sex with you. You have a great little body.”

I swallowed. “Yeah. I want to feel you inside me,” I said.

We were pushing against one another, his cock stroking the scooped-out hollows my thighs create when I open my knees. His precum was slick on my skin. He held my arms above my head. Is he dominant? Does he realize it? I thought: I’m doomed. I’m going to marry this guy.

I kept thinking he was going to slip inside me, and it was kind of a tug-of-war between my pussy and the rest of me, because I was really wet. But he didn’t. Instead he moved between my legs and seemed to fumble. “Is this OK?”

“What are you doing?”

“Putting my fingers inside you.”

“Oh no, that’s fine!” I felt my muscles pull him in, and clench around his forefinger. I was really wet. He pulsed the pads of his fingers inside me, and dialed his fingertip against my skin. Then he leant down and licked my clit. I let out a groan, my head whipping back and forth on the mattress. His fingers and tongue kept up a steady pressure, and my legs started to shake.

His tongue tapped against my clit and I heard myself gasp. Because his mouth was full and I didn’t know how to tell him, I start talking to myself, silently, saying dirty things: You slut. You little whore, opening your legs to a stranger. You like that? I do, I do. My legs shook more, and I came with great relief. Brian’s tongue kept on at my clit, slow and steady, soothing me as my limbs returned to normal. “Thank you,” I choked when he came up for air. He chuckled.

Then it was my turn, so I slid down the mattress and squatted between his legs. I took the glass of water from the cardboard box-cum-nightstand, and then I wrapped my wet mouth, full of warm water, around his dick. I still hadn’t gotten a good look at his dick and as it was now in my mouth, I wasn’t going to anytime soon.

“Oh,” he said softly. “Oh.”

I licked the underside of his shaft as gently as I could, cause I loved that “Oh…. Oh…” It was not quite a groan, just a sigh. I loved the silky feel of his dick in my mouth, against the bruised flesh of the inside of my lower lip. “Oh,” he said again, “Oh.”

My head bobbed—now I could smell him, that damp, warm smell of boy groin. I licked his balls and the join that leads from his dick to his ass, then returned my mouth to his dick. Brian was breathing hard, and soon he said, “I’m going to come.”

I assumed this was so I could avoid having his come in my mouth, so I stopped sucking but continued to lick until he said, “Just…” and I understood. I placed my fingers around the base of his dick and breathed on his dick, and then he came. My hand was covered with a thin, slick streak of liquid.

Since we’d both orgasmed I felt this was a successful evening. I went to the bathroom and when I returned he asked, “Do you prefer this side?”

“I do,” I said gratefully. I like the left side of the bed, because I sleep on my right side and, if I spoon, must be the outside spoon. “That’s OK?”

“I don’t mind,” he shifted so that I could settle in. “I’m such a neurotic person, but I don’t care about that.” I laughed, and turned on my side. Again I tried to catch his scent, and again, it was impossible. He drifted off, and I thought, Abject terror, repeating the phrase to myself. I imagined our children, and how I could possibly adjust to living in a barren apartment with a bathroom that boasted the original 1950s fixtures. I turned onto my stomach and waited to fall asleep. You don’t have to marry him, I reminded myself, and the silliness of comforting myself about a possibility that didn't even exist made me see straight for a second. The notion that this personable, intelligent stranger was my future resolved itself into what it really was: an idea I’d used to frighten myself.

Because I am frightened. I’m ready for love, so ready that I’m afraid I’ll commit myself to the first eligible guy who crosses my path. I wish I could stop thinking, I thought (ironically). Is it a sign of my capacity for happiness or my emotional neediness that I can sleep contentedly in a stranger’s arms? Of course I wasn’t dreamily asleep in Brian’s arms, I was lying beside him, terrorizing myself with an imaginary marriage. How can I relax? I fretted as I shifted again, trying to find a comfortable position. I just decided to get married! To the strange man asleep next to me.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Adventures in Offensive Dating; or, eHarmony, I Hate You

When I cut Dean loose and got serious about finding someone I could love and marry, I decided to quit banging my head against the wall with FastCupid (a.k.a. Nerve) and join eHarmony, even though I feel it’s tacky. I got a ton of remarkably unattractive matches, many of them in NJ. But I got one kind of cute guy, and here is our correspondence (edited for spelling, and general writerly incompetence, except for one really appalling instance):

Lily:
You just found the topic of your upcoming New York Times best selling biography -me! We can go 90/10 on the sales profits. Ninety % for me--I am a fair crook. I like your pictures but the red dress is very aggressive. Can you guarantee me you are not one of those online stalkers, or even worse, some guy pretending to be a woman?
Mark

I thought this was rather bombastic. Also, he described himself as a “surgeon” and I didn’t believe he was, if only because most of the doctors I’ve met online (not that there have been many) have referred to themselves MDs, or Physicians. I think if he was going to be specific, he would have been more specific, as in neurosurgeon, or, (my preferred career for a mate) pediatric oncologist (shows both serious clinical knowledge and care of children).

And we won’t get into the part where he suggested I might be a stalker, or insulted my shirt. I mean, I assume this wasn’t meant seriously, but why start a conversation with insults? I’m immediately put on the defensive. I’m not prepared to be on the defensive with a complete stranger. I reserve that behavior for someone I’m already fucked up over.

I thought I’d better ignore him.

Two days later I got another email:

Lily:

What's up? Do you have writer's block? I think the way it works is I send you a message then you send one to me. Unless of course you already know everything about me and therefore have no need to ask me anything. But how, other than stalking me, could you get this info. I knew it, you are a stalker! Well, I'll give you some help with the biography. Reserve chapters 1 - 6 for my life up until now. Chapter 7: The Humphry [sic] Bogart/James Bond hybrid (that's me) began noticing the Lady in Red (that's you) everywhere. In his rear view mirror. Behind him in line. Outside his apartment in the bushes... (LOL).
Mark

The tone here was slightly more amiable, so I felt moved to respond:

Mark,
Well, gee, I didn't know quite how to respond to your email. Do you always come on so strong? Most of my boyfriends have been shy, self-deprecating geeks. You're not like that, are you?
Best wishes,
Lily

Next I received:

Lily:
I feel for you. Most guys JUST DON'T GET IT! But that's their problem (and yours if you end up with one of them).

Went to a nice little shindig with some friends last night on the Jersey Shore. Do you ever come out this way?

So... After all that time I gave you to think about me your big question for me is, "Am I a geek ?" Hmmm... Can I have more time to think that one over (LOL), please ?

My questions for you are: Where in NYC do you live? Where do you hang out? When women at a club excuse themselves from the group and go to the ladies room, what the heck do they talk about? It doesn't take 30 minutes to take a leak. (You seem like the type that would pull this one).

Now do you think you can try to come up with some cool questions like that for me. Before I double click on the close match tab.
Later,
Mark

You seem like the type that would pull this one? Threatening to close the match on me if I don’t respond ASAP? Jackass.


Two days later:

Lily:
Are you playing hard to get? If you are I understand. I use that move all the time myself. So here I go again. How many more e-mails do I have to send until you are done playing - just give me a number so I can mark the day on my calendar. Or are you intimidated by me? All joking aside, many women are. But you don't have to be. It will be OK. I give you my word. Or do you have too many other e-mails to deal with? Delete them. Most will be dead ends anyway. Email me or send me your phone number and I'll call you some time. You seem like a daddy's little rich girl, but I think I might like you.
Later,
Mark

This pissed me off, as I suppose was the intention. I wrote back the following day:

I'm not playing hard to get, I'm busy. Also bewildered as to your flirting technique- threatening to close the match unless I respond quickly, accusing me of being a daddy's little rich girl (don't I wish!). Let me spell this out for you: I don't respond well to provocation, even if that's your preferred method of courtship. Finally, your photo — is it recent? You don't look 41. That's a compliment — you look very youthful.

Lily

Ha ha! Note both the puzzled primness and the back-handed compliment — that last part hoisting him with his own petard, I felt. I bet it was an old photo.


He slunk off, and I never heard from him again. I thought he was just a hostile lunatic, but then it occurred to me that he was a Game-r — a practitioner of seduction by boorishness (called devaluation, I believe. See also this article). I hope Mark went back to his guidebook or consulted his pickup artist mentor and they scratched their heads over how to deal with women who are too old to mistake obnoxiousness for romantic banter. Also, “daddy’s little rich girl”— Do many men secretly dream of mastering a daddy’s girl, as all women are supposed to want to tame a bad boy (a.k.a. hoodlum/lead guitarist/tortured vampire)?

Mark’s emails were calculated to make me feel a) as if he’s doing me a favor by bothering with someone he clearly thinks so little of and b) flattered that he’s spending his time telling me how I might impress him a little more. From his first email (“Can you guarantee me you are not one of those online stalkers?”), my instinct is to defend myself against his accusations, and prove him wrong. I’m inclined to go to great lengths to show him what a down-to-earth, domestic beer-drinking type of girl I am, and in the process of proving myself I end up believing that defending my character against the insults of a total stranger is a worthwhile enterprise. And I might have believed it, if I were, say, mean, popular, and 16 years old. (I think it’s assumed that the subject of any such attempts is indeed mean and popular, though hopefully not 16). These methods might also be effective with a romantic, articulate teenager who hasn’t had much experience with guys; someone primed to mistake attention for interest — that is, someone who’s seen a lot of the Hepburn-Tracy movies in which this scenario plays out. Needless to say, you can imagine what kind of teenager I was (that kind).

But now I’m torn between amusement and real irritation: This is a calculated, mean-spirited way to get a date. I’m also insulted, since he thought I would fall for this. Does anyone have any firsthand experience with this? Readers?

I've had other dating issues with eHarmony men (besides the fact that they’re invariably stocky general contractors from central Jersey. One guy, Tom, sent me this message:

Hey Lily,
Where do we go from here?
Tom

Well, nowhere, if you expect me to start the exchange you apparently wanted to initiate. This was shortly after the Mark episode and, once again, I was a little annoyed:

Dear Tom,
Well, usually you tell me you like my profile/photo/great wit, and I respond in
kind. Some awkward banter follows, and then possibly a date. But you contacted me, so it's up to you to start.

Best wishes,
Lily

I probably won’t be hearing from him again either. But really, if you want to have a conversation with me, don’t ask me to start it for you.

Finally, last night I went out with Ted, also from eHarmony. A decent guy, and very bright (U. Chicago, Berkeley, U. VA) but he asked me to dinner, suggested the restaurant, and then, when the check came, asked if I minded splitting it. This was after I had explained that I was on a budget, which was why I couldn’t eat out as much as I liked and hadn’t traveled in years. I hadn’t been planning to see him again, anyway, but Jesus! You ask someone out, you offer to pay. (This is my dating guide, and it is correct). If you balk at the thought of spending $60 (the cost of our dinner, including tax and tip) on someone you may never see again (or, if you’re an angry man, “on a spoiled princess who treats you like an ATM”), you ask her for coffee. If someone asks me out, he doesn’t have to shell out much, but Jesus! “Do you mind if we split this?” Yeah, I mind— I wouldn’t have chosen a vegan Korean restaurant if I knew I was going to be paying $30 for the tofu clay pot and a cup of date paste tea. “No, not at all,” I lied.

I don’t want to become bitter, or jaded, or pessimistic about my prospects for the whole bourgeois marriage dream — me and an employed, kind, smart, loyal and tall adult male with only minor issues to work out in therapy, and our two kids, two jobs, and three bedrooms, maybe in the East Twenties — but sometimes I hate dating. And dating websites. Grrr, arrgh.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Old School

It was only the second party since the gatherings (or, if you want to be technical about it, orgies) had started up again, but it all felt very familiar, walking down the block to Tilda’s building. When I’d first started attending Jefferson’s parties back in 2007, I’d been nervous. But now I was mostly just looking forward to seeing the people I considered friends. And, um, getting laid.

I’d meant to be fashionably late, but as it turned out I was early: the only people present were Tilda, Jefferson, the server boy — a new one this time — and Byron. We all said hello. I settled on the sofa next to Byron, where I calculated my chances of bedding him. He put an arm around my shoulder: pretty good, I estimated. I’d just had a very chaste date, courtesy of Nerve, and was feeling game. Or, you know, horny.

I ended up near the food, a strategic move on my part since Byron was hovering nearby. We exchanged pleasantries and ate extraordinarily large (biologically engineered, no doubt) strawberries. He leaned against the arm of the sofa, so we were at eye-level. I looked at him, and he grinned at me; we did that teenage-y thing where you sort of punch the other person on the arm to indicate interest. It was like an illustration from a book: Seduction for the Socially Awkward. After a bit of knocking one another on the shoulder, I finally managed some face contact.

I am much better at kissing than I am at the run-up to the kiss. My lips traveled the way stops to his mouth: his temples, the left cheek, the ears and that tender spot just below the ear, behind the jaw. Then I found his mouth and we kissed. This was interspersed with more eating of the mutant strawberries and sniggering at one another. Like I said, it was strangely reminiscent of junior high. Of course, in junior high I never kissed anyone; I was too terrified and inept to flirt. Instead I hung around the sidelines, pestering the DJ to play Depeche Mode, and pretending I was dating Andrew McCarthy.

I was flirting like the teenager I had never been, but the lights in the room were bright, and I feel a lower wattage promotes a more seductive atmosphere. Also, the room was filling up, and I may be a slut, but I like the pretense of privacy, at least.

“We could go into the other room,” I mumbled to Byron. While a few more people had turned up, none of them appeared to be getting undressed, and I felt a little flagrant, fooling around with Byron in front of the canap├ęs.

Toby arrived with a female guest I hadn’t met; she wore a white fur cape and knee high red boots, giving her the look of a burlesque superhero. Her name was Marianne. We chatted for a few minutes, but when they’d moved off, Byron turned and pushed me against the wall: “I’m going to rip your clothes off,” he grinned, and really, the correct adjective here is “devilishly.”

But I was still channeling my inner eighth grader, so I pushed him away. We tussled. Finally, after he’d tried to pull up my shirt for the second time I smirked at him: “Listen, you can be an exhibitionist, or you can get laid.” Then, trying not to laugh, I swanned off to the bathroom.

I had high hopes for this more straightforward seduction technique, but when I got out of the bathroom, he wasn’t there. So I sat on the edge of the sofa, because something was Going On: Toby was flogging Marianne. She had taken off the cape, and was wearing just knickers and her leather boots. She was bent over, facing the corner of the room and Tilda’s bookshelves. This was the same position Lisa had been in last time. Tilda, in her black party dress, went over to them and crept underneath Marianne’s prone body. Her face spooled towards Marianne’s clit.

“Tilda!” Jefferson warned, ever etiquette-wise. “That’s Toby’s scene! Ask permission!”

Some murmured discussion followed, and soon Tilda was permitted to nuzzle Marianne’s breasts and clit, as Jefferson and I watched.

But wait — I wasn’t here to watch — I had a boy to fuck. I caught Byron’s eye, and we traipsed into the middle room, where Toby was hard at work, thwacking Marianne’s ass. I had my eye on the back room, for some privacy, but it was a railroad flat and required some travel.

“Want to try?” Toby asked Byron. He handed him the flogger.

The flogger is, as I’ve noted, a sort of crop with tassels attached. These were soft leather. Byron struck Marianne experimentally, and was rewarded with an “Ooooh.” Her face wasn’t visible, but her ass was turning pink.

Toby raised his brows at me. “Oh, I’m not—” I said. Byron handed me the flogger.

I held it in my hand—it was heavy. I stood as if I was going to swing a bat, my knees bent. I squinted, and snapped, and the flogger sailed through the air, hitting nothing at all about a foot from Marianne’s ass. I have never been very good at any sport requiring hand-eye coordination. Or any sport at all, really. “Sorry,” I said.

“That’s OK,” Marianne didn’t seem too concerned.

I held the flogger out to Toby — after all, Marianne should be enjoying herself, getting flogged by someone who knew what he or she was doing, not an amateur who was going to interrupt herself to apologize every time she screwed up.

“Have you ever held a tennis racket?” Toby took my hands and placed each in the proper position: one at the top, another at the bottom. “Go ahead.”

Well… This time the flogger swiped Marianne’s outer thigh, apparently a big no-no. “You don’t want to hit her there, you could injure her,” Jefferson explained. “Are you OK?” he asked Marianne.

“I’m fine.”

“Here, try this,” Toby handed me another flogger. This one was lighter, and certainly felt easier to handle. To my surprise, when I flicked it, it met Marianne’s ass with a satisfying slap.

“Oooh!” she said.

I felt a surge of pride and looked a little more carefully at Marianne’s ass. Pink stripes were appearing in criss-crosses across her pale flesh, and I felt a strong urge to see evidence of my own efforts on her skin. I hit her again.

“Ahh!” she said.

Frowning, I changed position a little, to get a better aim. Thwack. Thwack. I hit her ass several times in rapid succession. One actually drew a squeal of real pleasure.

This is easy, I thought, as I aimed another slap at her pink ass. Nothing to it at all. I missed, slicing the air near her. Huh. I tried again, and was rewarded with my loudest slap yet.

I hit her again, thinking, This is no big deal. And that’s when I stopped. Not because I wasn’t enjoying it, but because I was enjoying it as a technical exercise, like when you practice taking shots with a pool cue. I could go on and on, perfecting my wrist flick and watching the pink stripes blossom.

That was disturbing, and not only because I’d thought I was submissive. I stopped, and handed the flogger back to Toby. “Your turn,” I said.

Then Byron and I went into the bedroom. I felt a little dazed. I sat in Tilda’s desk chair, which was hidden from the door: no one could see us unless someone tucked their head in to look. “That was kind of freaky,” I said.

“Yeah?” Byron had his hands on my knees. I nodded. I felt kid of freaked out, as I said, not because it had been such a big deal, but because I’d found it easy, and satisfying. And also because I’m a bit of a drama queen, and I wanted (or needed?) acknowledgement.

But soon Byron and I fell to kissing, and without much ado we stumbled towards the bed.

I like kissing Byron so much. And when he took off his shirt I almost swooned. I thought, These freckles. They just undo me. I liked the idea of being undone.

But the freckles — what’s up with that? This is not the first time I’ve seen Byron’s freckles but, as Laurie Colwin says, “its effect… was not dimmed by repetition.” But they are just a splay of marks, a testament to uncovered shoulders at the beach. But I find the sight of them weirdly moving.

What other body parts of the men I’ve slept with (“lovers” would be the shorter, and more accurate term, but I just never use that word) have made me feel all tender? I thought about this as I kissed Byron’s stomach.

Sweetheart Daniel — well, everything about him sort of made me swoon, cause I had an enormous crush on him. I guess I’d have to say the contrast of his very pale skin against his very dark, very abundant hair. He was always clean shaven (no five o’clock shadow there) so if I hadn’t seen him shirtless I never would have guessed at how hairy he was (even his back). I found that pale skin against the dark hair moving.

Jed — Well, I loved Jed’s long curls and how his hair would get all matted and sweaty when we fucked.

Dean — Dean had very little hair on his chest. But he did have a few long hairs sprouting from his nipples, and they were gray. Despite his seven-year advantage, in some ways (like you know, in terms of personal maturity) Dean was very young — he was the baby of the family; he had no financial responsibilities and had, let’s face it, an adolescent attitude towards his brother. He used “Just For Men” to cover his gray hair. I don’t think he was particularly vain, but he had trouble being an adult. Those gray hairs revealed just how hopeless his efforts to remain young were.

And Michael — Oh, Michael. He had a series of stretch marks running up his sides, the legacy of a sudden growth spurt at age 13. Those pale, accordion-like slivers of skin! Michael, through the year and a half of our relationship, had never felt about me as I had about him, but the stretch marks made him seem vulnerable to me. Perhaps that’s what makes me sick with longing? A physical symbol vulnerability that has nothing to do with weakness but everything to do with the way the past marks the body? Oh, I have no idea.

Where was I? Oh right, on my knees. I tugged off Byron’s gray briefs, and then I murmured, “I was at work today, wondering if I’d get the chance to do this.” It was true, I had done just that while sitting in a meeting.

“You did?”

I wrapped my mouth around his dick and sighed, tasting the sweet heat of him in my nose. “Uh huh.” I slid my mouth up and down. “I was hoping I’d get to have you in my mouth,” I murmured in between sucks.

“Oooh…” said Byron, “Ooooh, Oooooh.” I love how verbal he is, how expressive of excitement. I smiled into his groin.

My head bobbed back and forth while I licked his balls and the hairy base of his dick. When I started to suck him off again, I pulled him in as far as I could before gagging.

“Hey!” said Byron, sounding pleased, “You took a lot!” I hadn’t quite deep-throated him, but I’d wanted to. Maybe next time. But now he was removing my clothes.

We fell onto Tilda’s bed. I could smell the clean sheets, and felt a little guilty at the thought of sweating all over them. But not much. We were both naked and his skin felt very smooth and soft against mine. In the other room, I could hear people talking. “Hey, let’s turn out the lights,” I suggested. It just seemed more intimate that way. I had also taken off my watch. That, too, had struck me as the proper way to fuck. I wanted to give it due respect.

He switched off the bedside lamp and brought his face close to mine. I stretched up towards him but he scooted down between my legs where he very briefly licked me. I remembered how he’d gone down on me while I sucked Jed off that last time, how much I’d enjoyed his tongue on my lips, so was sort of disappointed when he didn’t linger there. Instead he loomed up over me.

He put a condom on and slid inside me, very easy, not at all unfamiliar territory. In the next room, I could hear voices: My Friend Jake and company had arrived. “Uuuhhhh,” said Byron.

I was breathing heavily, wishing I could block out everything else. “Get on top,” Byron urged.

I started riding him. He was dripping with sweat—another trait I find oddly endearing. His hair gets wet from the sweat, it’s like stroking the hair of someone who’s just been in the shower. “Ahh,” I said, clenching my pussy tight around his cock and then releasing. “Can you feel it when I do that?”

“Yes!” I rode him back and forth while he licked my nipples, I knew I wasn’t going to come. I don’t know if it was the awareness of people in the next room (that hadn’t stopped me on other occasions) or what, but even though my legs were stretched tight and twitching, it wasn’t going to happen. After a few minutes my muscles sort of juddered to a halt and I lay down next to him.

Then Byron fucked me and oh, I loved the weight of him and the solid thrumming tick of his dick inside me. I felt wound up again.

He groaned and twitched and buried his face in my neck, then stopped, and pulled out. We lay next to one another. “Don’t you want to come?” I asked, not very delicately.

“Nah,” he was breathing heavily. “I had a wank before the party, so I can keep going longer.” So English, wank. We both giggled a little. “I’ll come in the morning.”

This was one aspect of preparing for a sex party I hadn’t thought of. (Truthfully, mostly I just tried to remember to wear nice underwear — a matching set, if possible).

“Some other people arrived,” Byron said.

“I heard them come in.”

After a bit we got dressed and put on the lights and then, with matted sex-hair, we slithered back to the party.

Back in the main room was My Friend Jake and a number of people he’d brought. I knew most of them; I’d introduced Jake to Jefferson. I settled on the sofa next to Jefferson, who looked a little worse for wear. And as Byron disappeared into the back room with Tilda, and I chatted with a much younger man in a suit about the House of Representatives, I wasn’t sure what was missing. Other than someone being lashed to Jefferson’s bed. Well, Mmmark wasn’t there, but I hadn’t seen him in ages, anyway.

It wasn’t until I was in the cab on my way home that I realized what had been so unnerving: out of all the people at the party, I was the one who’d been attending the longest, after Jefferson. I was officially old school. I had been so used to being the newbie, and, as awkward a role as it is, it was comfortable for me: I thrive on being a geek. Only several years had passed since I first traipsed into Jefferson’s living room and gleefully sucked off two strangers, and as the circumstances and the guests and the location had changed, I wondered if it was time for me to change, too.