In the mix

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women'...

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Last night, halfway through dinner, I was asked by the woman I was with what my attitude towards ‘protection’ was. We’d come from having a few drinks together to this small Italian restaurant off the Block arcade. I was in good form. (Despite everything, it’s rare that I’m not these days, no matter how I feel.) She was entertained and flattered, attracted I guess, and puzzled that I had so long eluded the grasp of another women – a question I answered with my usual nimble evasions. And so midway through my penne ragu she asked what I thought about protected sex.

The question wasn’t entirely out of the blue, though it did surprise. We’ve met perhaps three times previously, and sex each time has lurked in the shadows even if it hasn’t been explicitly discussed. She’s the poly-amorite, and the variety of expression, sexual and otherwise, seems central to how she lives. I’m not poly-amorous, but I give off the vibe as a sexual individual apparently. Sex seemed an inevitability if I got by my poly-amorous misgivings, and didn’t fall in love (eleswhere) first. Still, this was the bluntest expression of that desire.

I answered without thinking, feeling a little discomfited by the query. Yes, well, absolutely seemed to be the generally fumbling tenor of my response. She looked at me archly: but not always? Well no I had to admit. Sometimes events overtake you. Sometimes there isn’t a condom close to hand. Or the need is just so urgent you just think fuck it. I wondered if she understood that. How its like a locomotive that has to pull into the station and nothing’s going to stop it. And of course the truth that every man knows: that it feels a good 40% better going bareback. Regrets are tomorrows business, though I assured her that 95% of the time I was all good.

She expressed her surprise – she thought I’d be different. She asked me then how often I had myself tested. She asked me with a smile. She wanted to know because she wanted to fuck me. Not tonight maybe, but sometime soon. It was in the diary, marked on the calendar, sex with the dishy H.

I answered again, but by now I was a different person to what I had been 5 minutes before. I enjoy sex. I have a hunger that seems rarely sated. I like women. I like discovering their mysteries, enjoy bringing them pleasure. I’m spontaneous with it though. I don’t mark it on my calendar. I don’t want to schedule it. It like how it naturally occurs when the different elements you mutually bring combine in some kind of intoxicating and irresistible brew: now, must be, yes… Passion I guess, and desire. For me they are warm, if not hot emotions, they flare like flames burning on a rich fuel. To lay the groundwork, to clinically anticipate the logistics of sex is anathema to me, a turn-off. And so that is what I experienced last night. Talk about it afterwards if you want, now just lets do it.

We parted sometime after that on the tram home, she happily looking forward to catching up before Christmas. I stood on the tram home alone, listening to my music.

It has been one of those interesting weeks that seem to mark out the boundaries. On Wednesday night I caught up with Becky. We’ve been friends, and just that, for a few years now. She’s a lovely person, fun, generous, kind and considerate. Sometimes I wonder at the nature of our relationship. We meet every month when we share everything between us with a spicy candour. Sometimes I wonder if her feelings for me are more than just platonic. I wonder if I imagine the long moments of sexual frisson, but I think not. It’s because I doubt, and because I am older than her, and because I value our friendship that I have done nothing.

This last Wednesday I sensed it again, though saw in her feelings perhaps something my desire had blinded me to before. It seems very strange to write it down, but I think she adores me, in the old fashioned sense of the word. I felt humbled as I cottoned to the thought. I watched as she talked to me, her eyes bright, running her hands through her lustrous dark hair. She’s a good person and she adores me, I thought. I began to see myself as through her eyes, different, separate, to what I felt within myself. I was surprised to discover that in myself I didn’t feel worthy of such devotion, but through her eyes understood completely. It was a revelatory experience. Here I am the cocky, smart, witty, confident, clever, aggressive character and all that is outside; and inside, the bits she favours, is the kind, gentle, sensitive, strong, optimistic and resilient character (she is another who compares me to George Clooney in personality). One is hard and thrusting, the other soft and accepting.

I guess in a way this dichotomy harks back to the post here a few days ago. I am all those first things I noted down, but are they me? I have assumed that mantle, if not persona, and it’s fit because there is nothing false in it – but equally the other parts that fit have been put towards the back, me, but not the me I want to project on the world. The private me. Ought I be that private?

It’s odd. Here I am last night with this woman who likes, as so many do, those alpha attributes of mine. I like them too, mostly. Becky appreciates them also, but she also knows me better than that. She knows they are but one side of the coin. She genuinely admires me I think, respects me, and though I go around as if I expect that I find myself moved by that. As if it’s for me, not for who I appear. Lately I’ve been given cause to reflect on that often as my friends come rallying. It’s not something to take for granted. It’s a great privilege, and each time I am made to think about why they care so, and in my moments of clarity wonder why I can’t be both things, the hard and the soft, rather than just presenting the one.

Since Wednesday I’ve been a lot more conscious of my underside. Why can’t I be good as well as interesting? I’ve always thought myself a good man in that square-jawed manly way – loyal, honest, true, steadfast, determined, and so on, like a boy scout. There are other, gentler ways of being good also, and I feel as if I’ve always discounted them. Not now.

So this brings us to the next moments.

I wrote about the disappointment last week of the girl I liked fading away because of an ex back on the scene. I sent her an email – you read it here – and that was that. So I thought. But then a few days later she responded. She liked the email, much I think. And I don’t know if it made her re-consider her feelings, but at least her stance had changed. She didn’t want to lose me, but understood if I felt different. She would like to see me again if she could.

I was glad of her email. I wondered what it meant. Did it mean she wanted to keep her options open? Was he not working out as she expected? I wanted to see her again, but not as some sexless male BFF. Truth of the matter is that if I see her again I’ll still want to seduce her. I felt like telling her that. That I couldn’t be second, that I couldn’t abide taking my turn. Even as I thought that it struck me as a tad hypocritical. Still. In the end I put it back onto her. At some point she will have to choose, though not yet. I didn’t say that though. I told her sure, love to catch up, give me a call. That was it. I put it all back on her. I don’t know if I’ll hear from her. Maybe not. I hope so though.

So, that’s in the background, there’s Becky and the things I learned from her, and the woman last night. I got home last night nearing 10 and put on a movie to watch: Crazy, Stupid, Love, which was pretty good, and much that seemed somehow familiar. In the meantime I had tweeted something about the evening, and as I watched the movie I continued to post tweets about the things that occurred to me. Not for the first time I had a particular follower respond to me.

I think she began following me on Melbourne Cup day, and there have been few days since where there hasn’t been some interaction. She’s smart, has some wit and attitude, and is fun to exchange tweets with. I don’t know much about her except that she lives OS somewhere, Malaysia being my pick. She’s a mystery woman, and has resisted all my enquiries, happy to remain an enigma. Fine by me, it’s kinda fun, as she points out, to leave it mysterious. In any case, thanks to the strange medium of Twitter, we’ve formed a strange bond.

Last night she was following me and asking questions. I answered, honestly. At a certain point our conversation veered from the public view to direct messaging each other. By this time our conversation had become more personal and probing, with conjectures on love and attachment and personal loss. We continued even as the movie ended and I got into bed. I lay in the dark waiting for my phone to ding signifying another response. In the dark then I would type my answer, or my question. This went on till about 1.30am. By this time it had become intimate in a way, experiences exposed along with the raw feelings associated with them.

It was strange, but very 2011. Here’s this woman I don’t know from places I have no idea of, with whom I’m exchanging quite deep and meaningful missives limited to 140 characters. And at the same time her probing and my answers have served to clarify my own perspective on many of the things I have written of here today. It’s odd sometimes forced to articulate a position you find yourself learning from your own words. So it was last night.

Today, it’s nice to know, but I don’t know where it leads. That’s the mystery I guess. I’m glad to live through these moments nevertheless, happy to be in the midst of things rather than outside of them. At some point it must mean something.

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