From affairs to open marriage

Four posts back, you’ll find one entitled Passion Recalled Isnt Passion. In it, I touched upon some of the sexual affairs I had starting about a decade after Peggy and I were married. Peggy later corrected me on a few points. One is that she never had affairs in the sense of screwing people without my knowledge and consent. This is true, and I didn’t mean to present things otherwise; its just that there are no good words to distinguish the various types of sexual relationships that one might have with other people while married. She also corrected me about not catching any STDs, because she and I both got chlamydia. She then told me something that I didn’t know. She said the chlamydia was what caused her to have endometriosis, and was therefore the root cause of her hysterectomy. 

Peggy also told me where she thinks she got the chlamydia, and I’ll share that with you because the incident is typical of what our lives were like at the time. By now, we were maybe thirteen years into our marriage and had gone from me having affairs to us having an open relationship. Peggy only agreed to this, because I clearly wasnt going to stop having sex with other women.

In the mid-eighties, I spent much of two years visiting communes. I’d take off in my Datsun truck and drive to wherever one was that I wanted to visit, lining up two to four per trip. These trips took me to Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire. I would be gone for up to two months, and it wasn’t unusual for me to have sex with people I met along the way. I visited two communes in Tennessee. One was the 1,200 member guru-inspired outfit called The Farm ( that was, and still is, I suppose, renowned for its midwifery program. The other was also rural, but only contained about ten or fifteen people who lived in their own houses, either as couples or singly. I stayed with a couple named Lynn and Bob, and the first night I was there, I couldn’t sleep for them having sex. Bob never made a squeak, but Lynn was a screamer, so there wasn’t anything for it but for me to lie awake and listen.

When I got up the next day, Bob was gone to work, and as she made my breakfast, Lynn asked how I slept. I figured she must have known, so I said I lay awake horny listening to her scream. She asked if I would like to make love to her the next night, and I said I would so long as it was just her and me. She said that, no, Bob had to be included, so I said okay, I would do it if I wasn’t expected to have sex with him. Lynn said that he was a heterosexual, so I needn’t worry. So the next night we all climbed into bed, and talked a bit, and then I started making out with Lynn. When I was through, Bob took my place, and then we talked a bit more and went to sleep. In hardly any time at all, I was ready to do it again, and so began another round of lovemaking with me going first and then Bob. This went on all night, and I enjoyed it immensely.

I never felt awkward in such situations because if there was any awkwardness to be felt, it happened when I was trying to decide whether a woman would say yes if I asked her to have sex with me (sometimes, the woman made things easy by beating me to the punch). Once the question of whether to have sex was out of the way, I felt completely comfortable, and the women I had sex with did too, because those who make love to a lot of people are never shy, at least about lovemaking.

A few months later, Peggy and I visited Lynn and Bob. Peggy and Bob spent the night together, and Lynn and I spent the night together. I think we did this for two nights. Once, during the daytime, I leaned over to give Lynn an affectionate hug, but she stiffened and looked displeased, so I didn’t try that again. Later, Bob and I were talking, and he said that their open marriage was Lynn
’s idea. This put him and Peggy in the same boat, so if they had each known how the other felt, they might have lay in bed and read instead of having sex. 

Not long after we got home, Peggy learned that she had chlamydia. I never gave any thought to where it came from because it seemed so minor. Only now, do realize that Peggy blamed it on Lynn and Bob. She also told me something else that I didn’t know. Her doctor said he was required to report her to the health department, but that he wasn’t going to do it out of respect for her privacy, Brookhaven, Mississippi, being too small a town for a person to have any confidence in keeping something like that a secret, especially when that person is a nurse.

I look back on those days with longing, my only regret being that I didn’t make love to a hundred times more women, but when Peggy looks back, all she sees is a lot of pointless sex. For me, sex was the point. It’s not that I didn’t want emotional intimacy because I very much did, but that there was usually too much going against it, things like geographical distance, jealous husbands, a lack of interest on the woman’s part, and an absence of emotional compatibility.

After we moved to Oregon, I had four relationships that were emotionally intimate and that lasted for a period of years. It was the women who ended three of the four, and I was very sad and angry for a long time after two of them ended. What I observed about having serious relationships while married is that most women fall into two categories. Those in one category wanted to have a relationship with me precisely because I was married, and they imagined that this would prevent us from becoming emotionally entangled. Those in the second category, whatever their initial motivation, eventually tried to win me away from Peggy and ended their relationship with me when they failed. In the first instance I felt used, and in the second, I felt abandoned. Clearly, being married doesn’t protect one from heartache, which is why Peggy says she’s done with open relationships, and this reminds me of something else she corrected me about. I wrote that if our friend Walt gets a divorce, I thought that Peggy would probably go back to having a sexual relationship with him, but she says she’s against it because it’s not worth the aggravation.

One of the women I had a long-term relationship with was Vicki, and it was she and Peggy and I who formed the group marriage. We talked of adding a second man, but we only lived together a few months short of two years, and by the time we separated, it was a case of good riddance. The last woman I had a long-term relationship with was Jackie, and that was in the late ‘90s. She was divorced at the time, and she ended her relationship with me when she decided to start looking for a husband. Since I regarded her as a a good friend whom I had sex with rather than someone I was in love with, I was okay with this, and so Peggy, Jackie, Jackie’s husband Kurt, and I are still friends all these many years later. Kurt was initially reluctant to meet me, but when he did, he realized that I had no feelings of jealousy and no remaining interest in having sex with Jackie, so we got along well. I think that with both lovers and friends, it’s often the intense relationships that burn-out fast and end miserably, which means that it’s better not to aim too high.

The painting is by Costantino Cedini, and I chose it because it captures how good sex used to feel. I'm  sorry those days are gone, but I wouldn't want them back either because for every moment of ecstasy, there were a lot more of sadness.

The pope’s mamma has four legs, eight nipples, and a waggily tail*

“If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others… There are so many people who speak badly about religions or other religions, who make fun of them, who make a game out of the religions of others. They are provocateurs. And what happens to them is what would happen to Dr. Gasparri if he says a curse word against my mother. There is a limit.” —Pope Francis

Can you imagine an eight-year-old ghetto kid standing in court beside an 80-year-old Vicar of Christ because both imagine that a “Yo mamma…” insult necessitates a violent response? Such is the shallowness of ghetto, Catholic—and Islamic—morality, yet they all agree that, as an atheist, I cannot be a moral person.

Religious people from one religion tend to hate those from other religions, yet they share an interest in censoring anyone who shows disrespect for any religion. That those who regard religion as a force for evil feel don’t feel such respect, or that religious people don't reciprocate the respect that they demand, is considered irrelevant because, as religious people see it, religious values come from God, and secular values from Satan. In his remarks, the pope did say that violence in the name of God is an aberration, but given his words about there being “a limit” to what one can say before an assault becomes necessary, along with his personal threat to assault anyone who curses his mother—much less his religion—it appears to be an aberration that he shares.

“One of Charlie Hebdo’s founding members blamed the slain editor for being murdered, calling him a “blockhead” and saying, “I really hold it against you.” —The Telegraph

If this “founding member” is consistent, I can but assume that he blames rape on women who wear short skirts, burglary on people who buy new stereos, and pedophilia on toddlers who kiss priests because, god knows, if the victims aren’t to blame, who is, their assailants bearing no responsibility?

The common ground to both of these news items is that people had damn well better back-off when it comes to criticizing religion because if they don’t, they can expect to come to a violent end, and it will be their own fault. Where does this leave me? I often criticize religion in ways that would get me fined, killed, or imprisoned in the 44% of the world’s countries that have laws against the defamation of religion. So, what do you think? If I should come to such an end, would you say that it was a travesty of justice by a people that despise free speech, or would you say I have no one to blame but myself?

When I hear about the latest Islamic atrocity, I often recall the centuries during which Christianity was no better, and I wonder if the world might not see a return to those times. When I heard the pope's latest stupid remark, I reflected that he and Islam are a lot closer than he and I when it comes to the ease with which they rationalize violence as a reasonable recompense for opinion.

*If you want to send your own message to the pope, here's the link:

In case you mistake me for a liberal

Until my last couple of posts anyway, it was my impression that many readers assumed I was a liberal. After all, I’m an atheist; I vote Democratic or Green; I support gay marriage and abortion; I’ve been in an open marriage and even a group marriage; I favor socialism over capitalism; I left the most conservative state in the Union for one of the most liberal; and am a member of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Yet, the truth is that I’m not an across the board anything, and many of my values would be offensive to both liberals and conservatives. For instance…

I favor early euthanasia for those who are born so severely retarded that they will always require 24-hour care. When I worked in a group home with such people, I would see 50-year-olds sitting bent over and drooling on themselves while strapped into wheelchairs, and wonder why the hell we were keeping them alive. Likewise, I favor euthanasia for anyone whom, later in life, has an accident or illness that reduces them to such a state—people with advanced Alzheimer’s for example.

I think prison overcrowding could be reduced with creative punishments. Specifically, I would favor less imprisonment and more humiliation. For example, teenagers who were caught going down the street knocking out car windows could be placed in prominently located stocks while wearing dunce caps.

I strongly favor gun control, yet I own guns. Some are hundred year old single shot shotguns that don’t work, but I also have a couple of handguns that do work, and when Peggy and I go camping to a remote area, or hear a bump in the night, I get one out.

If people are on welfare, I think they should be made to give something back to society. Under our current system, they can go on welfare, never hold a job, and run up their welfare checks by parenting a  houseful of children whom grow up to be as parasitical as themselves.

I don’t support people who demonstrate against what they consider racism on the part of police. Sure, I think criminals have rights, and that all people should be treated equally regardless of race, but the only situation I see people demonstrating against that involves obvious abuse is the one in which the man was killed with a chokehold, and even there, I don’t see any evidence that he was a victim of racism. But the biggest problem I have with these demonstrations is that instead of narrowing the racial divide, they
re widening it.

My only objection to capital punishment is that the wrong person might be killed. Aside from that, I could work as an executioner. The first criminal I would like to kill is the Boston bomber. If he’s found guilty, I would be quite happy to hang the bastard upside down by one ankle in downtown Boston and leave him there. I would do it in warm weather so he would last awhile, and I wouldn’t let anyone hurt him (so he would last awhile). I’d just let him hang, and when he died, I’d throw him in the garbage.

I oppose late term abortions in the absence of a pressing medical need.

I don’t regard panhandling as having anything to do with “freedom of speech,” and I don’t regard groups of kids who block sidewalks while loitering downtown as having anything to do with “freedom of assembly.” Neither do I think that people have a “right” to sleep in cars in front of my house or camp along the creek across the street.

I hate Islam, my politically incorrect opinion being that the crimes of Islam far exceed the actions of fanatics—unless you classify the citizens of every country run by Moslems as fanatical. Bombs, guns, female “circumcision,” the isolation and oppression of women, the persecution of homosexuals and non-Moslems, and the absence of freedom of speech are prominent among the fruits of Islam in the lives of millions of Moslems. I see it as a barbaric religion, and would be  pleased if we didn’t have a single Moslem living in America. (After the recent murders in Paris, I planned to make a post consisting of cartoons about Mohammed, but Peggy asked that I not do so, it being the only time she ever requested that I forgo a particular subject.)

I don’t “honor diversity” (a common bumper sticker here) because the more diverse the diversity, the more likely it is to be divisive. It’s one thing to live next door to someone who speaks English and moved to America from a country that holds similar values, and quite another to live next door to a houseful of Moonies, a black family that hates white people, a house crammed to the rafters with non-English speaking Hispanics, or a bunch of Moslems who despise the West and practice Sharia law. One of the pluses of moving to Oregon was the lack of diversity, but what did I find when I got here but people with no experience of diversity promoting diversity.

I’ll stop here with the thought that I’ve made my point. I’ve often felt badly that readers viewed me as something I’m not, but at the same time, I couldn’t think what to do about it. What inspired the answer was a recent remark by a liberal reader: “From Mississippi, are you? Please do not come near my blog again.” I considered his remark so stupid that I thought he was joking, but when I realized he wasn’t, it brought up for me the anger I have often felt toward people who make a point of boasting about how unprejudiced they are, how much they honor diversity, and so forth, only to have them turn around and trash me because I have a Southern accent. 

I came here from conservative Mississippi because I believed that liberals really did have a better way, only to find that I was forever running into people who couldn’t wait to tell me what an undereducated bigot I was, this without them knowing anything whatsoever about my schooling or values. These haters of bigotry were so overflowing with bigotry that they figured they knew everything they needed to know just from hearing my accent or having someone tell them where I was from. Clearly, not every liberal is this way, but a great many are. I even had a friend tell me that she didn't want me to meet her husband because he would make fun of me because I was from the South. When you run into that kind of thing enough, it makes you wary of liberals, and so it is that my opinions have been formed. Not all, or even most, liberals are notable for their bigotry, but enough are that theyre prominent here in Oregon, often in high positions. I'll say more about this in my next post. 

Passion recalled isn't passion

The time I’ve lost in wooing,
In watching and pursuing
The light that lies
In woman’s eyes,
Has been my heart’s undoing. 

Tho’ Wisdom oft has sought me,
I scorn’d the lore she brought me,
My only books
Were women’s looks,
And folly’s all they taught me.       

—Thomas Moore, 1779-1852

I sometimes had sex with women I had only known for a few hours. There was the woman I met on a botanical field trip and snuck away with to make love in the woods; the woman I met at a convention dinner and screwed while my roommate pretended to sleep; the woman I met on a float trip and had sex with behind a log; and the woman I made love to on a sunken grave. I had sex with Peggy’s best friend, with the town librarian, with a visiting Austrian, and with women I met during the two years I spent visiting communes. All I needed was privacy, whether it was a bathroom floor, the backseat of a car, or a schoolyard in the darkness. I was forever on the hunt, forever studying women’s words and body language for hopeful signs, forever aware that no matter who I was with or what I was doing, I would have abandoned it for a beautiful stranger.

Women like being treated as goddesses by a man who means it, a man who gazes worshipfully into their eyes and listens enraptured to their every word, but I was also a good liar. If a woman asked if cigarette-tasting kisses bothered me, I would say no. When the Austrian asked if I cared that her unshaven legs were as hairy as my own, I said I preferred them that way. If a woman complained about some defect in her appearance, I would tell her that I considered it beautiful, and in the passion of the moment, I probably did.

Peggy, like most women, interprets philandering as indicative of a moral weakness that is prevalent among men. Yet for every philandering male, there are probably several philandering females, and I never had trouble picking up married women. I hated hurting Peggy, and I hated being unable to think about anything but women for more than an hour at a time, but giving up my need for them was no more feasible than giving up my need for air. I passed much of my adult life seriously wondering if castration wouldn’t have been preferable to living as I did, and I by no means attribute my current attitude to a gain in wisdom but to a loss in hormones.

I don’t like much about growing old, but there are a few things. For instance, I like having enough knowledge about enough things that I’m more likely to do something smart than something stupid. I also like remembering things that happened before most of the world’s population was born, but I especially like not being obsessed with women, a state that I never imagined possible back when it was a wonder to me that every dead soldier in Arlington didn’t rise from the grave whenever a pretty woman attended a funeral. Now on those rare occasions when I do more than glance at a woman, lust is less likely the reason than are thoughts that her nose ring would look better on a pig, that her tattoos look like smudges of dirty motor oil, and that the ready view of her butt crack is reminiscent of a fat plumber whose ass is sticking out from under a sink. If she sees me looking at her, and her expression says, “Don’t be lusting after me, old man,” I’ll think, “Don’t flatter yourself, honey.” So it is that I have come to adore my scorn for that of which I lived most of my life in adoration, that which I would have all but killed to possess.

Age enables me to evaluate female beauty in terms that have little to do with lust, and I’ve been surprised to find that so few women are really all that attractive, and that those who go out of their way to look sexy only succeed in looking slatternly. You will surely agree that such reflections are superior to falling in love with every fifth woman I pass on the sidewalk, women that I once imagined to be demigoddesses whose very cells were of a higher order than those of ordinary women.

But what kind of women do I now regard as beautiful? Julia Jackson, whose picture accompanies this post, was Virginia Wolfe’s mother. Her aunt—Julia Cameron—took many pictures of her around 1860, all of which feature an unadorned face and a pensive, direct, and intelligent gaze. I find a nudity in her face that arouses me more than most women’s entire bodies, and compared to which the use of makeup seems desperate and concealing. So, it is that my idea of a beautiful woman is more akin to that of the stereotypical librarian than the stereotypical pouty blonde that women imagine men to prefer and that, for all I know, most men do prefer. I prefer someone like Peggy who is fit, dresses modestly, speaks softly, takes minutes rather than hours to get ready to leave the house, and is uncluttered by paint, tattoos, and bold jewelry. Understatement is what makes a woman sexy, and since I always preferred older women, I have come to regard a few wrinkles as an asset.

The other side as I imagine it

I say “as I imagine it” because I haven’t gone out of my way to investigate the views of the demonstrators, but then I didn’t go out of my way to investigate the views expressed in my previous post either. I simply write as someone who flatters himself as being a little more thoughtful, a little better informed, and a little more open to embracing unpopular opinions than the average person. That said, what I do know of the rationale of the demonstrators strikes me as case of demonstrating against a straw man rather than a reality. For instance, much was made of fact that the kid who was killed in Cleveland was only carrying a toy gun, but you look at his gun and tell me if it looks like a toy to you, much less to the cop whom it was pointed at and who had to decide in fraction of a second how to respond.

Even so, I consider it obvious that blacks don’t get an even break before the law. They receive longer prison sentences, are more likely to be executed, and are more likely to be busted for trivial offenses. Despite their gains in Civil Rights, they are still the victims of widespread white prejudice even among those whites who are say they aren’t prejudiced. For example, if you put pulse and respiration monitors on white people, and then place them on an elevator with black people, their pulse and respiration rises above what it would  if the elevator contained other white people, and this is true regardless of their expressed views on race.

Given the seeming universality of prejudice, it is only reasonable to believe that white cops are also prejudiced. Along with whatever prejudices they bring with them into law enforcement, they are often exposed to black people at their worse due the reality of the prevalence of black crime over white crime, and this increases their antipathy toward  black people. Good cops try not to act on such feelings, but they can’t help but have them just as I—and most of you who responded to my last post—can’t help but have them. The line between prejudice and reasonable fear isn’t always clear, but we still have a choice about how we behave.

For instance, I wrote recently about feeling repulsed by transsexuals. I would even say that I’m prejudiced against transsexuals, maybe the moreso because my father was one. Years ago,  a man in
women’s clothes arrived at a contra dance (a kind of folk dance that involves a lot of touching) that I attended. I didn’t know if he was a transsexual or a transvestite, but I assumed transsexual, so I’ll refer to him as a her. Contra dances involve a show of affection even toward strangers, but a chill came over the room when this woman entered. When I saw the coldness with which she was treated, I put extra effort into treating her well. This is how I often try to respond to prejudice within myself, so I’ve no doubt that a lot of white cops who are prejudiced put extra effort into treating black people as they themselves would like to be treated. Others not so much, and some are surely downright mean.

While I don’t doubt that black people have a greater reason than white people to fear the police, I think that black hatred for white people is evident among many of these demonstrators. If I thought the white society was giving me a raw deal, I would hate it too, but if I looted, burned, and called for any and every police officer to be murdered, I wouldn’t be working for justice but for revenge, the end result being a complete breakdown of law and order. Such a goal would most certainly alienate most people—whites and blacks—and it was this alienation that I felt when I wrote my last post.

“What do we want?” “Dead Cops!”

You probably won’t see the above video on network news. It won't be Brian Williams who tells you that Michael Brown’s mother and some of her friends are awaiting trial for assaulting people with steel pipes and robbing them, or Scott Pelley who informs you that Michael Brown’s stepfather intiated a night of burning, rioting, and looting by repeatedly shouting, “Burn this motherfucker down! Burn this bitch down!” And while David Muir will  report Al Sharpton's and Jesse Jackson's words of wisdom and inform you solemnly that your president and the mayor of NYC think racism is to blame when a white cop kills a black criminal, no network anchor will suggest that such rhetoric is reckless or tell you that the murders of police officers were up 56% last year. 

I live in a state where only 2% of the population is black, yet there was a movement here by black leaders to dissuade the local media from mentioning that a criminal or fugitive is black or showing his mugshot on the evening news. They took this stance because Oregon blacks commit a disproportionately high percentage of crimes, so their fellow blacks thought it would be better for an occasional fugitive to escape than for white people to be constantly reminded of black criminality. Some might claim that all of these black criminals in this bastion of white liberality are simply the victims of racist cops, racist juries, and racist judges, and I can’t disprove such a claim anymore than I can disprove earlier
claims that a dead space alien was discovered near Roswell, New Mexico.

The network news will tell you that racist white cops go around bullying black people for no reason, but they won't mention that it was blacks who invented rap music with its glorification of criminality, or that upwards of 10,000 blacks a year are murdered in this country, 93% of them by other blacks. Of course, if you’re one of those who blame white people for black people’s problems, you might argue that white cops kill all those blacks and frame other blacks for their murders. Maybe so—I can’t disprove it anymore than I can prove you wrong if you believe 
Jews run the world or that the Mafia killed Kennedy.

Given that 61-years have elapsed since the advent of the Civil Rights Movement, yet large numbers of blacks are still blaming white people for their problems, it's my opinion that far too many blacks are damn feckless at taking responsibility for their own lives. While I believe that, in isolated ways, blacks still get a raw deal, the fact remains that a high percentage of them really are criminals, and that far too many blacks choose to voice their complaints regarding police brutality through rioting, looting, and calling for the deaths of police officers. This suggests that they have problems that go well beyond what white people can remedy, and it doesn’t incline me to turn a sympathetic ear to their complaints. Instead, it  increases my perception that an alarmingly high percentage of them are dangerous.

The top video was made during a demonstration in NYC. Several seconds into it, you can  hear the demonstrators demanding that police officers be murdered. A week later, two cops were shot to death while sitting in their car. Regarding the bottom video, please hang in there until the police chief is asked why he was on his phone during a public meeting.