To worship women

I dreamed last night that Peggy and I were having a threesome with another woman and my emotions went from sublimity to despair when the other woman had to leave. Part of me has felt abandoned at least since I was a child and the first woman I wanted to sleep with (not that I knew what sex was) ended her visit with my family. I was lonely even then, and her smile, her lap, and her arms around me lifted me to paradise. I convinced myself that she was magic, that she could read my heart, that she returned my love, and that she would never leave me. I was not a child to cry, but I’ve never forgotten my anguish at her departure, or the fact that she laughed at my tears. Whatever else about me was immature at age four or five, my ability to feel despondent was as strong as it has ever been.

My dream represents a lifestyle that I once had, but now, except for Peggy, all those women and all those times are gone forever, and there is a sadness about that, although I wouldn’t go back if I could. I became attached too easily, yet no sooner had I made love to one woman than my sights would be set on another. Women were my drug, and I wanted them above all else. I would walk away from any other thing to have sex with a woman whom I considered an angel or a goddess, and my world was populated by angels and goddesses. I divided them by name, and I wanted one of each. I kept a list of the states they were from, and after I had sex with an Austrian, I started a list of countries too.

I imagined women to whom I was attracted to be of a different substance than other women. Their liquids were like holy water, and their touch made me feel as if I had entered a universe of eternal magic in which I wished more than anything I could remain. I, who couldn’t believe in God despite my best efforts to do so, worshipped women despite my best efforts to not do so. It was probably my belief in their magic that drew them to me. They interpreted it as the supreme compliment, but the downside of a man seeing a woman as more than human is the pain that comes when she disappoints him.

I never went to bed with Patty, but I still think about her after the passage of these 40 years since she sold me a used Datsun. She agreed to have some work done on it, and when I asked her to make a list of the work and sign it, she looked as if she might cry, and said that she had considered me (who she had only known for an hour) to be one man for whom trust was still possible. I was stricken to have hurt her and said that the list would not be necessary, but when I went back to have the work done, no one knew what I was talking about. When I told them that my salesperson had been Patty, they sighed knowingly and said that Patty had moved to another dealership the same day she sold me that Datsun. Even so, I still remember her with a smile because she had a smile that made me smile. She was magic.

Then there was Memory. She was the wife of a friend’s brother and had come from Missouri to help him settle his parents’ estate. Her smile was like Patty’s in that it could bring light to the darkest night. I wanted desperately to be alone with her before she went back to St. Louis, but it wasn’t possible. Ten years later, my friend moved to be near his brother, and I went to see him, presumably, but really to see her. My friend had no bed for me, so naturally I stayed with Memory and her husband. As soon as he left for work the next day, I told her of my adoration. When she found her voice, she asked me to tell her again, this time on my knees. Memory’s husband was more interested in alcohol than sex; she was feeling old at forty; and she was distressed about having gained ten pounds, so she saw me as a godsend to her ego. I stayed another day waiting for her to find time when we could be alone again, but I became bored and left hours before it was to happen. I’ve regretted that ever since.

I think I could list every woman I had sex with or very much wanted to have sex with. I hated being a slave to beings whom I forever had to persuade to give me that which I so desperately needed, but I saw no option. After she got used to the idea of an open marriage, Peggy seemed okay with it (as she later did with a group marriage), but it got to be too much, yet she didn’t even know about most of my one-time liaisons. The ones she did know about were even worse, because I often became attached to women who weren’t attached to me. Some of them had even chosen me because they imagined that my marriage would keep me from becoming attached, and that would keep them safe from having to deal with anything too intense. The opposite would also occur in that it was the woman who became the more attached. Such women would invariably try to win me away from Peggy, but there was no way I was going to give up the one certain anchor to my uncertain life, yet I would grieve when such women finally ended our relationship.

Lynn lived with her husband at a small rural commune in Tennessee. They had their own house, and I stayed with them for two nights. On the first night, her screams during lovemaking kept me awake. When she asked me the next morning how I slept, I told her that I had spent the night wanting to be with her. She suggested that I sleep with her and her husband that night. I said I had rather have her to myself, but she said it was a take it or leave it offer, so I took it. Bob and I took turns with her throughout the night with brief periods of sleep in-between. I envisioned a lasting friendship with both of them, but I soon learned that Lynn was as threatened by affection out of bed as she was enamored of sex in bed. I took Peggy to see her and Bob in the hope that a foursome might result, but Peggy had no interest in him. Like most women, Peggy needs more than looks in a sexual partner, whereas if I consider a woman beautiful, I immediately conclude that she is also possessed of every other virtue that matters to me.

Now, it all seems like a dream, sometimes heavenly, but more often like a dark pit of bottomless desire. I went from the equivalent of being content to get drunk four times a year to wanting to get drunk anytime and anywhere. Sometimes, there would be another couple, and the other man would instigate a foursome. Once, the four of us were side by side on the living room floor, and had just started our lovemaking when I reached out and touched the other man on the back. I did this because I was feeling playful and affectionate, but his wife had been led into having sex with me mostly to please him, so she began to cry and, after putting on her blouse, ran out the door.

On another occasion, the woman of the other couple was Peggy’s best friend. I had long since wanted to have sex with her, and her husband felt the same way about Peggy. Unfortunately, Peggy was repulsed by him, so while he chased her around the house, I nailed his wife as quickly as possible on the bathroom floor because I knew this was one party that was going to come to a bad end early.

I never was much of a salesman, and seducing women is salesmanship, but I did my best to learn the formula, and to use it as effectively as possible given my near terror of rejection. I discovered that most women like men who are open about their feelings, so I was open about my feelings (this was easy for me). They like a man who can cry, so I learned to cry, and this too came easily. They like a man who is playful and has a good sense of humor, and I was both of these things. Mostly, they like a man who likes them, pays attention to them, and thinks they’re beautiful, so I worshipped them, hung onto their every word, and said they were angels who were all the more beautiful for not having wings. Nothing I said was a lie, yet it was still a ploy, a formula that I knew I must follow if I wanted to get one hand beneath a woman’s blouse and the other up her thigh.

I only remember one time when I lied shamelessly. It was on a canoe trip with twenty other people, and I was smitten by one of the women who wasn't with a man. I made sure we ended up in the same canoe, and I soon realized that the attraction was mutual. She cursed with every breath, and she asked me if I minded that. I said, “No, it just proves that you have an independent spirit.” She also smoked cigarettes and asked me how I felt about kissing a smoker. “I don’t mind at all that you smoke,” I lied as I pictured her mouth as a dirty ash tray. I don’t know why we didn’t choose to fall behind the others, but instead we raced ahead and made love behind a log. We were just putting on our clothes on when the other canoes appeared, so there was no mistaking what we had done. Later, it became chilly and started to rain. For some reason, we had to leave the canoes and walk a fair distance through the rain, and we all became cold and hungry. This woman whom I had so recently wanted enough that I would lie to have her now held no interest to me. In fact, I didn’t even want to talk to her. It was the only time I ever felt that way, but I was disgusted by her vulgarity and cigarettes, and by the fact that I had lied.

Some women had sex with me to spite their husbands who they never planned to tell. One woman assured me that her husband would kill both of us, and I believed her, yet even this didn’t stop me from having sex with her in the woods and sending her home with muddy underwear. Everything else in life seemed a poor second to my sexual conquests. Peggy told me the other day that I am less needy of women now because I’ve grown more mature, but I give the credit to hormones. It’s not that I don’t want to have sex with strangers, but that I no longer want it with an ache that never gives me more than a few moments peace, and I dont want it enough to go to the trouble to get it. I used to wish I were sexless so I could be rid of my obsession, yet it plagued me for decades. Along with chronic pain and sleep apnea, being obsessed with women was the greatest trial of my life, and the best I can say for it is that I came away with my marriage intact and that I never caught anything. I’m also glad that I wasnt anymore obsessed than I was because I might have even ended up paying for sex, and that would have been the absolute bottom for me because I saw sex as more about being accepted on the inside than about getting to the inside. I wanted to be wanted. I wanted the magic that I thought women had and I didnt.

I remember working with my father to replace a roof, or a bathroom floor, or to paint a house, and in my memory, I’m perpetually tortured by the thought that I’m trading the lesser for the greater because ALL I REALLY WANT is to have sex with lots of women before the day arrives when my desirability is lost. Fortunately, when that day arrived, I no longer wanted women like I once did. At 63, younger women are friendlier (thinking, I suppose, that age makes me safe), and women above fifty are more likely to approach me than I am to approach them. Because I am more nearly free than I’ve ever been, I don’t care if they approach me or not, or even if they find me attractive or not, and I especially don’t like it when I think they’re scoping me out the way I used to scope them out.

The woman in my dream had me in the old way. She turned the darkness to light, the cold to warmth, and the commonplace to the poetic. I became so absorbed in her that time and the universe disappeared and heaven opened. She was a higher high than any drug, and I became an instant addict only to fall into withdrawal when she said she had to go. This explains the melancholy that has overtaken me. I want to rise to that heaven again, but then I remember the hell that I went through to get there. Schopenhauer wrote that pleasure isn’t, as we imagine, a positive good but a respite from longing, and that was certainly what sex meant to me. Not sex by itself because I did, after all, have Peggy, but sex with different women. The more women, the more magic until, as I thought, one day I would go up and never come down. I used to wonder how many women it would take before I could absorb enough magic to feel complete, and I decided that 300 would be enough. 

Now, I remember with fondness the smells and the stickiness of having made love the whole night through after which I would feel completely satiated for hours. The only other times I knew such freedom for more than a few moments were when I was asleep, sick, drunk, or else shivering with cold or aching with thirst. At those times, I would be aware that even my desire for sex was gone, and it would be good in the same way that you don’t mind having a headache nearly so much after you’ve dropped a hammer on your toe.

The song might make sense or it might appear absurd, but in either case it fits what I'm feeling.