I feel a taste of success and go flying out to remedy it. It’s not something I allow myself. It’s not something I appreciate. It’s not something I feel I will ever have. This is more than alcoholism. It’s a denial of independence.
A friend of mine died recently. He died because his body couldn’t handle alcohol, but he kept on drinking. He kept on thinking he was invincible. Or else he saw that he was killing himself. I know it’s possible to see both things at the same time. Maybe he did.
I thought the lesson of his death was that we need to treat people with mental problems with more kindness. I thought that it meant that we need to show support and love in any way we can, even when it hurts, because the person I knew him to be was someone who accepted people, who showed love in a way that was profound to the ones he gave it to. I thought that if someone could have been there in the right way at the right time with the right word, or that if a thousand someones were in little ways across time, that it might not have ended this way.
But each decision he made that pushed people away sealed him tighter in the drum he was in and the chaos was a bacteria in there with him that grew and pushed at the borders of himself. For right or for wrong.
I see now that he didn’t accept himself. He was out there. There was a touch of immortal about the way he saw things and did things and because there was a divinity mixed in with the breakdowns, the upsets, the losses, the addictions, the broken friendships, the arrests, and the assaults, because of this, there was no talking to him. There was right in the same place where the wrong was and no one could square that, least of all him. There was inspiration in the self-abuse. There was strength in the veneer of denial. There was growth in the loss — a crooked, lateral growth that expanded something that seemed important and was hard or impossible to let go of.
In this last year, since I started to drink again, I thought that the hurdles alcohol took away were worth the consequences. It’s really hard for me to contemplate letting go of that ease in access to my strongest thoughts, to the shackled person inside.
When I went back to my hometown, I saw the behaviors that hurt me. They came from outside me and became part of me. I will, forever, in my mind, be an idiot, a moron, hysterical, and ashamed of my emotions. My abuse was shone in my face like a spotlight and set off a Rube Goldberg machine inside me. “This is where it comes from!” my mind shouted. I was angry and tried so hard not to show it. I am angry. Maybe it’s all I am. And all this time, I thought the recognition of what it was and where it came from made me immune from the pain. But I’m tucked right back into that cycle. I need, selfishly, to live it large to illustrate to myself what it is. It starts small: a humiliation I can pick at and chew on until I do something worse, then worse, then worse. It’s an echo that becomes a hurricane and wipes out everything good I ever do. I do it so I can be comfortable in my worthlessness. So I can be the problem that everyone can focus on and solve, so I can be the bad guy, so I can nullify myself again and again and again. Back to 0. And when I think I’m over it, I do it again. I’m the symptom exhibitor. And in the midst of a proud hour, I have to chop myself apart no matter who’s in proximity to the hatchet.
Knowing this doesn’t change anything. It’s the same as it ever was. I have always known. I will always know. The lesson has always been the same. Without alcohol, with alcohol, I manage it anyway. Drinking is the brick on the accelerator, but the car’s already pointed toward the lake and the kids are in the trunk. It’s only the destruction of my hubris that makes me who I am, and makes me hate who I have the potential be more than who I am. It’s the only thing that saves me. It kills me.
I spent yesterday trying out a binder. The wealth of information out there on how to bind your chest is really impressive. I got pretty damn flat. It looked awesome and didn’t hurt, thanks to a technique from Amber at FuckYeahBinders. I used a lumbar support brace instead of ace bandages — much better.
Today, I tried applying the beard I bought, and it’s just not right. I think, to be minutely satisfied with my appearance when I cross, I’m going to have to go spirit gum and sticking individual hairs to my face. The mustache and beard and the sideburns I bought aren’t going to work. I spent some time figuring that out today, and I got a look I like with the real hair (and there’s still someone’s human hair in my mouth) from the beard, which, when I bought it looked like something Hell’s Angels circa 1970. I bet whoever sold their hair to the wigmakers never imagined it would be stuck to some bitch’s face. The trimmings are serving me well, though the net beard itself is not.
Wednesday, I’m going to emcee a comedy show as Frank Brohaim. He’s a closeted gay sexist prick of a comedian, and a total hack, but I’m excited as hell about this.
In the process of trying on all the “costume” of Frank, though, I’m encountering a feeling that’s not foreign to me.
After I unbound my chest yesterday, I just felt sad. I wanted to keep it on, and then I had to go out and so I took it off. And I regret the shape of my body.
That’s also nothing new. As a stocky, chubby woman who’s pushing 40, the things I already hated about my body are exactly the same, only it’s exaggerated when I see a flat chest with the rest of it because nothing about my body would ever pass.
Today with the beard, it was the same thing. I had to spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, and I liked what I saw when I got it on. I cut a little out of my hairline that I can cover with my bangs. And I started watching videos of guys who have transitioned. I went on a huge binge. To a man, the change was something positive in their lives. It isn’t without its struggles. It’s clear that there are plenty of things these guys have to contend with to this day. But there’s an overall sense of self-actualization in the videos I watched.
The thing is, it’s not always that I think about my gender. It’s been more lately because of things I’m reading, the politics I follow, because I have more lesbian friends than ever and I don’t feel weird talking to them about these things (hopefully not to the point of being annoying). I also have one awesome straight guy friend I talk about it with a lot.
I feel like I’m not transgendered, then I feel like I am. If I’m riding the fence about this, I feel like it’s not true — maybe not even in part. I see these videos from guys who made the change and are happier than ever with their lives, and I have to say that my life isn’t all that bad. It took a long time to be okay with being a psycho leather freak and being out about that. I’m doing standup and look forward to doing more. My writing is for me — I have the luxury of that. I live a life of my choosing. I have great friends.
I also have a friend who made the change. She got top surgery, and then at a certain point, had to transition back. It just wasn’t right. I don’t think she regrets it now, but what she told me about it sounded painful. She struggled for acceptance as trans, passed as a man, then had to fight for acceptance again as a woman.
Before starting the sex writing challenge, I read Roving Pack by Sassafras Lowrey. I had already decided to be Frank at open mic, and gender was something I’d been thinking about more than usual because of that. Hir book showed me a lot about being trans and about trans culture that I never knew or considered. I highly recommend it to anyone. I love hir stance on the gender binary. It’s a spectrum. I’m way more about Jung than Freud (Animus in the house!).
While all this was going on, some guy I met at an SM event wrote me wanting me to top him. What he wanted was sex. And he’s much younger than I am, and totally inexperienced. I agreed to hang out, to play with him at the next event, and things got sexual. I didn’t deliver on what he wanted right away. I was concerned with taking things slowly and introducing him to the lifestyle. It seems he lost interest, but I shocked myself by becoming unbearably turned on after struggling to keep the little brat in his place all night.
Normally, I’m not very good about writing about what’s happening in my life. If you’ve read the last four entries here, you might have noticed a pattern: I write about the past when it’s all squared away and I know how I feel about it.
I’m starting to think that’s kind of a wuss move. So while normally, I keep my writing about my confusions to myself, I think it’s time for me to push myself a little more. Is this some Jodie Foster not-coming-out coming out? I don’t even know the answer to that question. What I do know is that my perception of myself is changing, and I’m letting it because to me, that’s what freedom is all about.
I was worried that it would be too soon. I said to him in butchered Spanish, “But will you call me after? I just don’t want to do it if you’re going to lose respect for me.”
He corrected my conjugation before he said he would call.
The last time we’d hung out, we were shamelessly clothes-burning all along a long walk through Villa Crespo. A dark doorway, a street corner, behind a parked school-bus, against a tree. Big-city frottage. It was a real turn-on, and the fact that his kisses lacked subtlety was okay for me then. His eagerness was something I already knew couldn’t be learned, and kissing could, I reasoned. And he seemed to be a fast learner.
Now we were leaving a pub where we’d sat on the second floor. I was long sober then, drank water and diet soda. We wrote the words we were learning from each other in my notebook, drew little pictures as we corrected each other’s pronunciation. When he pulled me to him and kissed me full on the mouth in the midst of the other patrons, no one even seemed to notice and we spent a long hour necking in the dark room with marble tables and wrought-iron chairs.
He suggested that we leave, that we go to a nearby telo. I knew that telos were common. I knew that they were “love hotels” and that their use carries little to no stigma in Argentine society. When you have a multi-generation family home, sometimes you just need to get away to do it right.
He had tattoos over almost his entire body. To behold his wide shoulders and round tattoo-covered ass, his uncut hard-on, his wide fingers, and his taut, round belly gave me a jolt. He was so visually appealing to me, looking at him felt like being high. I stared greedily. His movements were assured and graceful and masculine. He’d given up a decades-long study of martial arts in the recent past. When I looked into his eyes, I saw a pure being there: someone interested in what was happening in my mind, someone curious about life and himself, and whose emotions were not hidden. It was a refreshing dose of honesty after fucking so many jaded losers for so many years.
In the foyer, he spoke to a young man behind a plexiglass window. He put the money into a drawer that ran beneath the counter, like the money and merchandise was handled in service stations in my old neighborhood. He paid and got the keys and I felt embarrassed.
He seemed to be rock hard effortlessly. His cock just stood up at attention with the least provocation, even though he was a couple years older than my 33. I would watch him as he went to take off the rubber and clean his dick in the sink and feel like I was ready to go again.
The room was mirrored on nearly all sides. I was immediately drawn to the knobs over the bed that were so like a car console. The headboard’s black, lacquered surface housed a radio, dials to the various sets of recessed ceiling lights for any variety of mood-lighting, and a button to call the front desk. There was a menu so you could order drinks and food and ice. The shower was frosted plexi. The bed had a black rubber mattress and an ill-fitting set of cheap sheets.
That first night, we tried at least a dozen positions: standing, sitting, lying down, off the side of the bed. I felt no compunction about making a ton of noise. I was so loud, I was even more sheepish leaving than I had been going in.
I loved the shivery way he responded to me, the vulnerable sound he made when he came, the way he regarded my body. It felt so good to be seen in such an overtly sexual way, but to be treated with affection. Affection was one thing missing from my romantic life for many years by then.
I loved surprising him with odd positions or new sensations. There was a purity to his enjoyment of sex that I also saw when he ate. I used to love watching him eat, because there was this naked happiness I could see in his face. He seemed to taste with every part of himself, and it was the same thing with his sex. He was the first person whose noisy eating wasn’t something I had to tolerate because I loved seeing him get so much pleasure that I barely noticed his horrible table manners.
When he looked at me as we fucked or when I went down on him, he was obviously so pleasantly surprised by my frank handling of his tool, and I felt more sexy watching him enjoy me. His eyes would go wide as I scratched my fingernails along his balls. I could see that I was introducing him to things he’d never experienced before and watching him assimilate new sensations gave me a joy I’d never felt with another partner.
I had never been with anyone so freely physically affectionate. There were hugs and kisses and grunting bear hugs. The love I felt from him was something I could almost breathe into myself.
We were a sweaty mess. Every surface of our bodies glistened. My eyes stung with the salt from my own skin and my eyeliner bled into dark, heroin-chic half-moons. I’d glimpse my face, red and distended in orgasm or catch a glimpse of my swinging tits as he did me from behind and look away from the mirror, at him. His truth in my raw, animal sexiness was much more pleasant to look at. I felt gratified that my orgasm made him come even if it meant shortening mine. We’d lie wordlessly with the Argentine alternative radio station on low, barely touching and sweaty and spent. Then one of us would make a joke and we’d be babbling like kids at the back of the school-bus again.
When I think about it, I see why we ended up together. And it’s hard to see how it got so bad in the end.
This post is the fourth of the Sex Writing Challenge. This challenge is more to myself than anyone else, but it’s also an invitation. Want to write about how sex goes in your own life? Comment on any post here with your own.
When I pulled up outside the convenience store, he asked me for a smoke. He was cute, with a square jaw and wrinkled clothes, stubble, and blue eyes. I told him I’d give him one after I bought some.
When I came back out, he said his name was John, that he was staying at a nearby shelter. I was in one of those low-grade manias where everything seems predestined, and felt connected to him immediately. I had the day off and asked him if he wanted to hang out. He got in the car.
(Photo by contact-ts.)
He didn’t tell me about the shelter’s curfew, so when I offered him a ride back there and he told me he couldn’t go back so late, I let him stay at my apartment. He laughed easily. We got some beer. We wound up kissing, then having sex. He was rough in all the right ways — not kinky, but rough. I liked the way his hands felt on my body.
After he’d been with me for a couple days, we went to a massive bar in town called The Back Door, famous for their generous pours. Lots of the neighborhood drunks were there every night on the same barstools, and many more came to play pool and darts in the back. We got a booth, and we each got a drink. Since I was driving, I couldn’t have more than one. I saw the look in my friends’ faces when I introduced him. They were obviously unimpressed, and I could see that as far as they were concerned, I’d picked another loser.
Out in the parking lot, I was about to start the car when I noticed the people parked next to my side were smoking a joint. “God, I’d love some weed,” I said, and I waved at them with the intention of seeing if they’d sell me a little.
John was immediately enraged, and I didn’t understand why. “You can’t just ask people something like that,” he yelled. “I know a place where we can get some weed. Start the car and I’ll tell you how to get there.”
“I only have, like fifteen dollars,” I said. “Who’s going to sell me fifteen dollars’ worth?”
“It’s fine,” he said. “Just go out the back parking lot.”
I did as he said, though I was a little frightened by his tone and didn’t understand what the big deal was in asking people who were clearly already smoking weed if they might want to sell a little.
I followed his directions and we wound up in some projects that weren’t too far from my apartment. He got out of the car and I waited. He came back with a man who got in the passenger seat. John sat in the back, and the man with dark skin and a pompadour hairdo lit up a glass pipe. It smelled a little like burnt sugar.
“Oh, no,” I said. “I’m not having crack in my car. Get out.”
“It’s not crack,” said John. “It’s weed. Smoke some. You’ll like it.”
“What do you think? That I’m some kind of fucking idiot? Get the fuck out of the car.” The man handed the pipe back. John held the lighter to it and inhaled deeply, the planes of his face illuminated briefly with the flame. “John! John! Fucking cut it out! You can’t fucking smoke crack in my car.”
He ignored me and so did the man in the front seat and I started to cry in frustration. I got out of the car with the keys and hid behind some shrubbery in front of one of the identical housing units. I sobbed in the bushes, watching the spark of the lighter passing between them in the darkness. Then I watched as they got out of the car and John and the man started arguing. John pushed the man, then hit him, and the man fell down. He towered over the man in the street and yelled, “Kate, come on! We gotta go.”
I ran out from the bushes, got into the car and started it. It was clear to me that John had refused to pay the man, but he lied and said that the man had wanted me to have sex in exchange for the drugs. I was furious. My car was conspicuous, with spray-painted symbols all over it, and I didn’t live far from the projects. John hadn’t only put me in danger by smoking and running, but had made me and my car a target. The guy could have friends. The guy could impulsively take revenge for being ripped off and assaulted if he happened to see my car. This was my neighborhood and John had made me a moving target.
The ride back to my place was fueled by a crack panic. I felt culpable. I felt like we were escaping from a crime scene, that there might be people after us. He issued commands about how to get to my house, as if I didn’t know. We argued the whole way back. I concentrated on the road about 100 feet in front of me. I kept checking the speedometer, careful to stay within the limit. It was all I could do just to focus on driving while the empty nausea of fear pounded in my belly and I could feel my heart beating in my head. I decided to park behind my apartment complex, fearful that my car out front would be recognized.
I lived on the second floor. Someone had run into the wooden staircase behind the apartments with a car, and the back steps hung from the joints at the top. The bottom couple stairs were missing, and it was difficult to mount them. It was an unwarranted and delusional fear that prevented us from just going around to the front of the building. Instead, we threw ourselves up onto the dangling stairs that bucked with our weight and walked the long, unpainted wooden balcony to the front of the building where my apartment was.
We were arguing the whole way, and once we got inside, John grabbed my wrists and held my arms at my sides and kissed me. He pushed himself against me and reached under my skirt and pulled down my tights. He got on his knees in front of me and started to lick me. My fear started to evaporate in my warm arousal. When he pulled on my arms to get me down on the floor, I complied.
Then he got on top of me and started to push his cock inside of me. He wasn’t wearing a condom. “Stop it,” I yelled. “Hey, hey, hey! Stop it! You’re not wearing a rubber, god damn it. Stop.”
He didn’t stop and he’d made me wet so he’d slid in easily and was thrusting into me as I yelled. I grabbed his shoulders and pushed as hard as I could against him, but it didn’t slow him down at all. I started screaming and trying to get my feet under his legs to get enough leverage to get him off of me. “Fucking motherfucker! Get the fuck off of me. No! No! Stop!”
Nothing I said made any difference to him. He was a fucking machine, intent on getting his rocks off inside of me, and so I started to hit at him and kick at him from the side. I balled up my fist and punched him in the side of the head, but it was as if he could feel no pain and he just kept humping. The weight of his body was too much for me to lift.
I managed to get my knee under his abdomen and pushed with all my might. I pushed his cock out of me that way, and he rolled to the side and I stood. “How fucking dare you.”
He lay on the floor, his cock still hard, his pants down around his thighs. He looked up at me. His face in the light from the street-lamps outside looked lost and detached.
It was then that I heard my neighbor’s voice through the floor. “I’m calling the police,” he yelled. He’d heard the whole thing.
“It’s okay, George. I’m sorry,” I hollered back. “We’ll be quiet. There’s no need to call the cops.”
The idea of having cops in my house, of having to explain the whole crack situation, was too much. I’d stopped him before he came in me, and I told myself that what had just happened wasn’t that big a deal because I’d won.
“You sure?” he yelled back.
“Yes, George. Thanks. It’s okay.”
John wasn’t contrite until the next day. He stayed, and maybe we dozed, but early in the morning, I told him to leave. He started to apologize and I told him that I didn’t want to hear it.
A couple weeks later I was institutionalized again. One day after I got out, there was a knock on my back door on a Saturday morning. The sound startled me from sleep. The only person who ever knocked that door was the exterminator and he came on Fridays. I went to the door.
“Who is it?”
“Go away, John.”
“I just wanted to say I was sorry.”
“Good for you. Now go away.”
I never saw him again.
This post is the third of the Sex Writing Challenge. This challenge is more to myself than anyone else, but it’s also an invitation. Want to write about how sex goes in your own life? Comment on any post here with your own.
What if I used to be twins with someone? What if we had a relationship of the deepest kind and got divided? And then were reincarnated far away from each other?
Or what if that’s not right at all. What if it’s really that I was a part of a bigger soul, and those other parts are knocking around and I hear their echos? What if I hear them in recordings? What if I hear them in thin air?
What if all that connects us all is our passions? Are parts of people, great people, split and disseminated? And the rest of us are not so great? But then there’s an Einstein or a Bourgeois or a Truth or a Christ or a Curie?
What if there is nothing? What if everything in my head is just moving cogs that keep the animal alive?
What if we are a festering bacteria in the turd of a massive intergalactic space dog and the owner of the dog is going to pick up that turd and send it hurling into a waste receptacle where it will be transported and fester in something analogous to a landfill? What if it’s just that a second there is a million years here?
What if I still believed in love? What if I still do?
What if I just felt a breath in my ear and that wasn’t the fan?
What if all we can do is teach and show and build fellowship?
What if the world really does matter?
What if we keep destroying the land? The oceans?
No, now there there’s no what if. This is what we do.
This story takes place after I had been on the street in New York for a couple weeks. How I ended up there is complicated. I left Kentucky to get away from the repeated institutionalizations I’d undergone (and would again). It was almost my 28th birthday. I had been taken under the wing of a drummer who played in the subways and streets of Manhattan. A section of this larger piece has been published at The Nervous Breakdown.
Photo by alberth2.
Ayan was really attractive for an older guy, with dark skin and a kind of hangdog expression. He’d been playing drums with breakdancers for a long time and trained and took on bucket players, sharing the wealth and making noise. Ayan said he had a 19-year-old girlfriend in Las Vegas. She was a prostitute, a cute but chubby prostitute, apparently, and it was turning out that the legal (or legal-ish) competition in Las Vegas was a little stiff. Her trip wasn’t as profitable as she’d hoped. They’d talk a couple minutes here and there.
He said he was her pimp. I never saw such a nice pimp depicted anywhere in popular culture. There was never any implication that I should sell my body, too.
I’d run into him in the subway on an early morning reconnaissance mission, loose from the bus station where another nut watched over my bag and his own. I’d met said nut on the bus in, and we’d been taking shifts ever since. This would be his last shift looking after my stuff.
Ayan and I would sleep in a hotel one night, not sleep a day, then find somewhere else. I had boot-rot because I hadn’t been able to take my boots off for almost a week until then. I was hobbled. He bought me some clean socks and cheapo tennis shoes and made sure I had enough to eat. I collected money and proffered his CDs when he played.
For my birthday, and also because we needed a break, he said, we went to Atlantic City. It was a short and cheap bus ride. When we got to the hotel room, I immediately got in the bath. He said he’d be back and left his drumstick bag, which held several one dollar bills.
I was exhausted. I nodded off in the hot bath and soaked, refreshing the hot water and dragging it out. When I got out, I put on dry clothes and turned on the television and fell asleep with the lights on. I woke up a couple hours later to some back and forth Ayan was having with a woman who, when I opened my eyes, appeared to be a prostitute. It seemed they were on coke or crack or something speedy. There was a flurry of activity, mad scrambling and searching — probably for a little money for more. He left.
In the morning, he still wasn’t back. We’d stored our bags at the coat check over at the Trump Casino. The doorman and Ayan had a deal, Ayan paid above the going rate, and stored his dolly there, piled high with drums. My duffel bag was there, too. Once checkout came and went, and the hardasses at the desk wouldn’t let me hang around even an hour more, I went out onto the catwalk that bound the second floor rooms. I stood, looking at a white, cloudy sky, feeling cold, holding Ayan’s stick bag and my camera bag and thinking where to go.
I decided I would go down to Trump and leave a note for Ayan and try to find a way to meet him. As I started down the stucco-walled stairs, a chubby older guy strode out in front of me. He was dressed in a plaid shirt with a thermal vest, was round-cheeked, with a full head of white hair. He had an odd gleam, and an oblique perverted way that any other pervert can recognize.
“Hello,” he said to me.
I thought it was odd, but then got a good look at his face and knew what was coming. He asked me if I needed any money.
“No.” I said it in a matter-of-fact way. My neighborhood back home was full of whores, and any woman walking alone was approached with regularity. At least I was: on my way to the store for cigarettes or walking to the grocery store or to the bar. Once I’d even realized that a hooker was staring me down as I waited for a ride outside my apartment because she thought I was cutting into her turf. When even the hookers think you’re a hooker, you can’t waste energy getting offended.
“Are you sure?” he said. “I’ve got a room just over here. How much do you need?”
I shook my head. “No, man, no. I don’t do that.”
“Alright then,” he said. “Good luck.”
I walked down to the casino and left a note, hanging it on Ayan’s drums where he’d be sure to see it. “Leave me a note and let me know where to find you. I’ll check back later.” I took the cash and bus tickets out of the stick bag just in case they’d disappear there. And I figured I could use a little of the cash and give the rest back to him later.
I needed to eat or have a drink at least. I decided to grab a greyhound at the bar. I spent the day in the company of an older guy who was happy just to have someone to talk to and took me to the buffet and bought me some drinks. He started talking to me when he saw me drinking alone. He told me about his family, his adult children who he hardly spoke to. His retirement was boring. His wife was dead. He listened to me and let me entertain him, laughed at my dirty jokes, and then he gave me his phone number and said I could count on him if I got in any trouble. I thanked him. He regarded me with warm and sorry eyes and gave me a hug. I hugged him back, but it was important that he didn’t feel sorry for me, that he felt like he’d done something good. I gave him an upbeat smile and left the casino.
I walked out onto the boardwalk. I hadn’t asked the guy for any money. He spent plenty on me and it didn’t seem right. The sand crunched under my tennis shoes. I was wearing the same jeans I’d been wearing for the last week and my leather jacket. My shirts underneath were unwashed and sweaty.
I saw the glimmer of the water and moved closer to the beach. I had a sudden sense of buoyancy at the sight of the turf and without thinking about it, I took the next ramp down to the sand. The waves made an electric static sound and the space of the ocean was dizzying. It was still gray and when I stepped off the boards, my weight sunk. I was surprised how much resistance the sand gave and how I couldn’t help my shoes filling with it.
Then I saw him. It was the same guy from earlier. I thought about my money situation. I had bought a pack of smokes and a drink and I had $15 dollars left: not enough to get a room that night. I knew he would bring it up again.
“How are you doing?” he said. There was something of the animatronic Santa about him. His nose and round cheeks were red from alcohol abuse and the wind. He had a small glass of red wine in his hand and offered me some. I took a sip. It was bitter and made me shudder.
“Not so great,” I said.
“I’ve got fifteen dollars and some beer back in my room,” he said. If you said yes earlier, there would have been more, but I can’t get any more cash.”
“No touching,” I said. “I will take my clothes off, but I’m not touching you and you can’t touch me. I’ll stay on one bed and you’ll stay on the other.”
“I might spank you or something, but that’s as far as it’s going to go.”
“I’d try anything once,” he said.
We walked back to the boardwalk then the blocks to his room, speaking airy banter. He had been all over the world as a merchant marine and mentioned that he had two adult children who lived in Maryland. I told him that I was going back to New York and that the next day was my birthday.
When we got to the room, I was afraid. My heart rate was high and I told him I needed to go to the bathroom and wash up. I wet a washcloth in the sink outside the bathroom, went in and closed the door and took off my clothes. I could hear him crack open a can of beer through the chintzy door. I folded my dirty clothes and scrubbed under my arms and at my crotch. I shook my head to myself after taking my hair down, opened the door, walked to the sinks and examined myself in the mirror. I looked better without clothes than with — at least the ill-fitting ones I’d been wearing. I rubbed at the corner of my eyes where my eyeliner had strayed and went into the room.
He was sitting on the bed closest to the door, naked. His body was pasty white and his chest hair was almost as white as the hair on his head. He had a round belly and doughy old man arms, but strong legs. He was sitting on the edge of the bed, facing the center of the room, and looked very short. He gestured toward a tallboy on the nightstand. I picked it up and cracked it open and took a swig. It was only mildly cool and had that sweetish taste cheap malt liquor does.
I got on my bed and backed up against the wall. He grabbed his small cock and started tugging at it, but I couldn’t see too well. I spread my legs and rubbed. It was electric. I was disgusted by him and myself and it was getting me too hot too fast. I tried to hold off, but my mind was saying, “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” I watched his hard on come up. I didn’t like the way he was doing it. He let his belly hang over, so what he had and what he was doing was more of a shadowed blur than anything. He bit his lower lip. I felt a deep contempt for him and came to a shuddering orgasm that I attempted to disguise. He didn’t seem to react. I struggled to keep at myself for the sake of show, though I was sensitive and then quickly, no longer aroused. It didn’t take long then for me to start losing patience.
“Touch my balls,” he said.
“Fuck off. I’m not touching your balls,” I said. He was still at himself, something desperate about the rhythm of his tugging and it was obvious that he was nowhere close. For fifteen dollars, I felt I’d done as much as I needed to do, but his old man dick wasn’t cooperating with him. I felt somehow obligated by his piggish desperation.
I walked to the foot of his bed and told him to get on his hands and knees. I let him keep jerking off and told him to scoot back. His ass was fuzzy and round for being so flabby, and he shook the bed with his wanking. I started to spank his ass, but he winced with minor pressure and he said, “Touch my balls,” again.
“Say that one more time and you won’t like what I do with them,” I said.
I smacked him with some gusto and he collapsed forward. “No, no,” he said. “I don’t like that.”
I had no idea what to do next. I didn’t want to be there anymore. It’s hard when a man is in front of you showing you what he’s got. I felt this pressure to help him finish. Without touching him, I wasn’t sure what more could be done. I was bored, but if I showed it, it would surely take even longer. I sat down on the bed opposite him again and started touching myself. There was nothing hot about it anymore. I started thinking of him as a baby. It wasn’t hard, as red-cheeked and round as he was. He was now facing me, his legs bent and his feet, vibrating with his wanking, dangled inches from the floor.
I said, “I don’t know how much longer I can stay here for fifteen dollars.” I was angling for a little more money.
“I told you, I can’t get any more cash. Just talk to me,” he said.
Talking isn’t something I liked to do even with sex partners at that point. Sex talk was under referendum after some embarrassing quotes got thrown at me by a boyfriend’s neighbor.
“Uh, what do you want me to talk about?” I said, dropping the pretense of masturbating.
“Talk to me about big black cock,” he said.
“What?” I felt a jolt of offense. It seemed like an oddly racist request and made me ill-at-ease. I couldn’t imagine what he might want me to say, besides. “Ohhh. Yeah. Big black cock,” or “I like big black cocks,” or “Yeah, black cocks are sure big.” I thought about the men I’d had sex with and the idea of telling this guy about them made me scrunch up my face and laugh a little.
“Come on. Talk to me about big black cock.”
“Uh, I don’t know what to say. Why don’t you talk about it?”
He started haltingly as I backed up against the wall again, legs spread, feeling a little disappointed that my naked body wasn’t enough and watching him watching me as he kept pulling the pud and started to talk.
He sounded a bit like John F. Kennedy with long, flat vowels, which made the entire thing more surreal than it already was as he said, “Once, I was on shore leave. I was a little drunk and sitting in a park on a bench, and a black guy came up to me. He had a joint and he asked me if I wanted some. I said yes and he passed it to me and I smoked a little and passed it back. We got high, but he didn’t say a word and neither did I.
Then he stands up and he just stands in front of me and he unzips his pants and he just pulls out his cock. It’s huge. At least nine inches. He strokes it, but it’s already big and hard and he takes his other hand and he just puts it on the back of my head and pulls me toward it. It touches my lips and I just open up and let him. And I start sucking his cock, right there in the park, sitting on the bench. He said, ‘You like that, punk ass?’ I nodded a little but just kept sucking. Then he told me he was going to come in my face and he had a big load and I couldn’t keep it all in my mouth.”
At this point he came. I was glad it was over and got up to put on my clothes. I threw a handtowel at him from over by the bathroom and he mopped the front of his body with it. He gave me another beer and handed me the money. I was hoping to hang out a while longer. It was warm and I had no place to go, but he made it clear that I was supposed to get out. I took a long draw on the can of warm beer and stepped out into the Atlantic City evening and walked toward the casinos.
This post is the second of the Sex Writing Challenge. This challenge is more to myself than anyone else, but it’s also an invitation. Want to write about how sex goes in your own life? Comment on any post here with your own.
I started masturbating young. I don’t know how young. I used the bathtub. I would have died if anyone in the house ever busted me on the long-running water in my preadolescent, then adolescent trips.
They were trips. I had no idea about sex. And though I didn’t think of mysticism, or probably even understand the word, they were mystical experiences. I would have abstract visions. I would feel my body ballooning and shifting shape. My thighs and abdomen would expand and expand and expand in my mind until I reached climax. My head would shrink. I would surpass any possible area that could be bound by a bathtub. I would become bigger than the house. Decades later, in art history class, the Venus of Willendorf would illustrate as a concrete representation (though tiny) a reoccurring perception of my body from those times I masturbated before it had a sexual context.
I would see shifting lights in baby-blue and cobalt, flickering, undulating luminescence with bubbles and curves and being. I would see a sea of coffee-with-cream-colored liquid, wind-mottled, like the surface of a lake going on and on, forever and ever. I would see blackness with stars of every pastel color glimmering and expanding and shrinking. I would careen though space, through time. I would cease to exist, to care, to worry.
I must have been 10 by the time I started this. I had few friends once we moved away from Arizona. I’d been popular there. I was not popular after we moved, first to Indiana, then to Kentucky. It was another culture. I didn’t get it. Matters were probably not helped by the general perception in our family that Kentucky was stupid, that the people there were stupid. My attitude must have reflected this.
In my early thirties, a friend who was close with my elementary school librarian told me that she remembered me. She described me to him as a surly little girl. I laughed, but at the time I was being a surly little girl, I was not happy. I wanted to be accepted. I didn’t have the right clothes. I was a step behind. The friends I made were good ones, but I remembered being friends with my whole class, and it changed my world when I knew that wasn’t the way it was going to be anymore.
The undercurrent of hostility in our house — the screaming about infractions like the scraping of teeth on a fork at the dinner table, the mixed messages of being told I was smart, but being taunted and bullied and called stupid — bred the anxiety and worry I still live with today. My parents didn’t even seem to like each other anymore, but the party line was that they were in love with each other. It was like Santa Claus. I knew it wasn’t true, but I didn’t talk about it. The dissonance between the truth and what I was told was so much a part of me it was like a skin over my skin. I became the problem child, an emotional barometer that exploded and got punished over and over again for my tone, demeanor, and attitude. No matter how many times I told myself to keep my mouth shut, it never worked.
There were few escapes and masturbation was one. Later cigarette smoking was another. I have never stopped either for any significant period of time. And even when I started my sex life, masturbation continued to be something separate: an abstract world I went to again and again. I’d get freaky with teenage boys in cars, careful to maintain a technical virginity more from fear of pregnancy than anything else, but those fingers and tongues and cocks had nothing to do with what I thought about when I was alone.
And before any of this, I experienced the worst humiliation of my young life when one day on a school trip, dozens of my classmates started calling me a slut. I had never touched a penis with my hand. A kid who played the trumpet threw a quarter at me and said, “How far can I get on a quarter, Katie?” I was in 8th grade. I tried not to respond, not to give them the satisfaction. And when the trip was over, I reported what happened to my teachers. One of them said, “If it’s not true, then why is everybody saying it?”
I know this figures into my sexual landscape because it was something that happened to me that was out of my control. It defined me sexually before I had any idea who I was in that way. It was something I tried not to think about. And despite subsequent experiences that mirrored that one, refracting through my adolescence and early adulthood, none of it tarnished my enjoyment of sex — something I have always looked forward to and anticipated and enjoyed, body and mind. It’s only ever afterwards that there may be regrets — and fewer and fewer of those as I get older and understand myself more.
But back around the age of 18, even with explicit fantasies leading up to arousal before masturbation (reading smut and drawing dirty pictures), the things I saw as I got myself off had nothing to do with the impetus that got me going. It was a deliberate decision to start masturbating to scenarios and erotic ideas. It took effort to think about what made me excited. My fantasies were more about words and sensation than visuals, and that’s still the case. Orders surfaced in every scenario. There were commands and degrading threats. I imagined my body was the one with the cock and that my mind was the pleaser of it. Then I’d switch. My mouth would move with the words in my mind, lip-synched orders from one part of me to another.
These thoughts developed further when I got my first vibrator at the age of 20. I used to put a wig over it, so I could more easily imagine a head between my legs. I remember the porno shop — on a dirty and dark corner straddling Downtown and the South End of Louisville. There were video booths in the back, racks of VHS tapes, blow-up dolls, and a wall of smutty magazines and books. My friend and I laughed at the array of items: the huge horse-cock, the rubber fist, the novelty-sized bagel-width butt plug. I went for a sparkly purple dick of moderate size. At home, I had some thrift store wigs lying around. After I got the hang of how the batteries worked, how the rubber felt and how much spit it would need, I draped a wig over it and my hand.
When I was 25, I watched pornography with the intention of masturbating to it for the first time. It was a VHS tape given to me by the wildest sex partner I’ve ever had (A.). It contained more than four hours’ worth of smut, mostly late ’80s, early ’90s stuff with names like Debi Diamond, TT Boy, and Peter North. There was a warning at the beginning: some scenes were filmed before condom use had become a law. (Wait, that was a law?) At the end of the two-plus hours of smutty individual scenes, there was a feature entitled “Chameleons — Not the Sequel.” (A favorite scene from the first part included Peter North as a patient in a hospital getting a thorough going-over by two nurses. When he comes at the end, he yells out, “This fuckin’ hospital is too much! Oh, yeah!” On subsequent involuntary commitments to the state hospital, when the graveyard shift nurses would get loud at their station and wake me out of a drug-induced slumber [very loud, in other words], I would sometimes yell that out to let them know they woke me up. I’d go overboard with the “Ohhhhh, yeaaaaaaahhhhhhh!” They usually shut up for a couple minutes after that.)
“Chameleons: Not the Sequel” was incredible. It starred Ashlyn Gere and both Deirdre Holland and Rocco Siffredi as a shape-shifting sex fiend — or shape-shifting sex fiends. The movie opens when Ashlyn Gere demands that her hot friend with enormous tits fuck a man in the hallway of (what we discover is) a sex club by way of punishment for his mouthing off. It was totally absurd and totally hot: the idiocy of the situation, the orders, the public nature of it, the compliance, and especially the way the friend gets sicced on a stranger like a dog. On one hand, she’s an “aggressor” and on the other hand, she’s following orders and being watched.
The club is full of people fucking, and Holland sets her sights on Gere, cornering her in a bathroom, and that’s where things get even more interesting because Holland shakes her head in a sci-fi way and transforms into Rocco Siffredi. In the process of shape shifting, the person being copied loses energy while it’s happening. There’s a non-consensual power dynamic that charges up the action of the scenes because someone off-screen (and sometimes on it) is suffering.
The gender bending weirdness of this movie spoke to something in me that I hadn’t put into words. While my fantasies had transformed into sexual ones by this time, and I often imagined being a man (straight or gay), I hadn’t heard anyone talk about this, much less show it. The closest I knew of something like this in real life was a gay friend’s story about the time he walked into a hook-up in a hotel room to be confronted with a middle-aged stranger with a hole cut into the back of a pair of pantyhose who spread his cheeks and demanded, “Fuck me in my man pussy!” He’d run away, oddly terrified, and unsure if he’d done the right thing. Sex with a person moving from woman to man was just not a concept I ever saw in the world.
As wild and promiscuous as I had been, I was sheltered. It was at this time that I was starting to really understand that I was a masochist. It’s not like I ever had any trouble getting off with regular sex, it was just that I had stumbled into a relationship with a man who, the first morning we woke up together, wrangled me over his knees, pulled up my slip, and took one of his massive hands and spanked my ass until it was swollen, and I couldn’t have been happier about it. I was very embarrassed to discover that he had a roommate and that roommate was home listening to the loud smacks and my delighted squeals through a sheet that separated their rooms — another layer to the maze I was running.
A. and I didn’t talk about what we were doing, and I now realize that he assumed I’d had at least some experience in the realm of SM. I was confused and alone. I’d show the leopard-print looking bite marks on my ass to friends in a drunken exhibitionistic spree and regret it the next day. It’s not like I was hiding it, but I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it who actually got it. And being a masochist was shameful to me at times. I would feel proud of what I could take in a scene and often feel lost and confused about it afterwards.
There was an internet. I just didn’t know how to use it. And when I looked in my college’s library to try to do some reading, I was dismayed to discover that it wasn’t only my mind that was all messed up (I’d been told a bi-polar diagnosis was a life-long condition that would have to be forever managed with medication), but that my sexual desires were a pathology, too. I bet that if I hadn’t been afraid of seeming stupid, I could have gotten some talks going with A., but I didn’t want to discourage the ever more extreme progression our encounters were going in, and I didn’t want to tell him that I’d never done any of it before. In fact, I assumed he knew what I was going through, for some reason, without ever telling him that.
There was no protocol, there were no terms of address, no safe words, no discussion — just the rules he made up in our scenes that were dropped the moment they were over and a general understanding that he was the boss. We didn’t talk about anything: comfort, boundaries, limits, consent. And all I wanted to do was see him again to see what happened next.
I watched that porno tape so many times. But the disconnect between my sex life and my fantasy life was still intact. It still is. Thinking about pain did (and still does) almost nothing for me, while pain itself is an experience that I could replace sex with (if I had to choose. I hope I never have to make that choice, but still). Something in me is sated with a sound beating that sex alone can never touch.
After A. and I split, I knew something about myself that I hadn’t known before and was powerless to take back. And I was alone again.
I started going to porno shops to see what I could see. Maybe there were articles in those mags I’d seen. What I ended up with was mostly pictures. You couldn’t open the cellophane-wrapped magazines to check them out before buying them. After I bought them, I’d look at them without feeling any particular way. They didn’t turn me on. They didn’t make me feel less alone. There were a lot of nearly perfect bodies and rubber encased bodies and a fashion ideal of SM. I never saw a stripe or a bruise or any blood. And they were too fucking expensive to be so vapid. I put them in a drawer and didn’t look at them anymore. It played to a vanity I didn’t feel and have never connected with during any good SM experiences as a top or a bottom.
I found some reading on the internet, but mostly odd posts here and there without context — or maybe I just couldn’t navigate the net very well. I didn’t have a computer until 2005, and it wasn’t until 2007 that I got internet in my home.
Then I found Laura Antoniou‘s Marketplace series, about slaves selling themselves into servitude. I was captivated. After I bought the first book, I went back every time I could spare some money and grabbed more. I had never read something so hot in my life, and the thoughts of the characters as they struggled to serve, to be “real” slaves, the way they changed their identities, fulfilled roles, were analyzed and trained, the way they fucked, the way they thought about fucking: I had never found reassurance in such a way before. I’d jerk it to a scene and just keep on reading, needing to know what would happen next. Even though the covers were neutral–a black and white photograph of a building with purple lettering–I made paper covers for them so I could take them around and read them whenever I wanted to without feeling worried or weird about it. The sexual realities of the characters showed me that the way my mind was going on its own wasn’t something unique or freakish at all.
I think that helped me be truer to myself. But it’s a fine line when porno (especially visual, especially video) enters your life. I wonder about how kids now are exposed to porn — how it molds their desires before they’ve had a chance to shift and change on their own. Guy friends of mine beat off to Sears catalogues and Playboys and Playgirls if they were lucky. The women I know don’t say they looked at porn when they were young. Porn was a novelty you hoarded and memorized and processed into fantasy. If I were 12 now, surely I’d have seen porn, and I wonder how that might have changed my sexual landscape.
As it stands, I’ve played and fucked as a boy and found that the resulting hatred I have for my own body, when I decide that I’m male, is just too much self-loathing to withstand. Maybe there will come a day when I can disregard my genitals in that sort of play, but as a bottom, it somehow hasn’t worked for me, meaning once the scene is over, I despise and am so disgusted by my body and especially my crotch and breasts, and that I find it so acutely painful with effects that linger for such a long time, that it’s not worth it. I can’t get out of my body, and I don’t want to. It’s not healthy for me, that cultivated dissonance with my gender. I realize I’m lucky to have the choice, though. Personally, I just want to move toward accepting and resolving who I am, how I feel, and the body that I’m in. It might be different for me as a top.
And now? Well, now I’m a lazy wanker who’s taken advantage of free internet porn ever since I could stream it. But I think I’m going to start living in my head a little more when I masturbate, now that I’ve written this. It’s good to check in with what’s going on there to know myself.
This post is the first of the Sex Writing Challenge. This challenge is more to myself than anyone else, but it’s also an invitation. Want to write about how sex goes in your own life? Comment on any post here with your own.