Part One: Reunion

We were together so long ago. A lifetime, it seems. Maybe two. We started dating when I was still in college (she had finished). We lived together. It seemed like marriage was on the horizon.

Fortunately for both of us, that’s not what happened. We both moved on, to other lives, other loves. Our parting was amicable, but we all but lost touch. Now, we see each other once every five years or so.

Recently, we had breakfast.

She’s gorgeous. She always was. Her curly, dirty blonde hair was, for years, what I thought of as “ideal.” Her shiny white teeth, her bright, broad smile, her big welcoming mouth – all were head-turning. She wasn’t small, she had phenomenal curves, relatively large breasts.

One of my great failings in that relationship (and every other one, until quite recently) was that I never told her she was hot. She never knew I thought it. Somehow, I imagined she knew she was simply, objectively, drop-dead gorgeous. I might have even imagined that to speak that fact aloud would be to jinx my “possession” of it.

I’ve written before that a lesson I emerged from childhood with is that speaking of a woman’s beauty is to demean, to objectify her. And that objectification is, by definition, demeaning.

I thought if I told her how hot she was, she would think I was with her for that reason only, that I wasn’t into her. I thought she would think I didn’t respect her, didn’t see her as an equal.

And, for what it’s worth, she never told me she was attracted to me, either.

Our relationship quickly became what has come to be called a “peer marriage.” We were very close, good friends, but more like sister and brother than like lovers. Our sex life dried up. Completely. Even being touched by her felt… icky, wrong.

After we broke up – six months or so later – we had a last fling, a memorable session that began in her kitchen and passed through every room in her house over the course of a long afternoon. It was memorable, not least because we had utterly perfunctory, or even simply awful, sex, sex of any sort, no more than twice in the final year of our relationship.

But this break-up sex was anything but perfunctory, anything but awful. It was urgent, frantic, hot. (As, to be fair, our sex had been early in our relationship, when it was primarily her hotness that drew me to her, when I didn’t know her so well, didn’t want to protect her, but was more focused on using her.)

This is a thing: protecting, the urge to protect, to care for, is, ultimately, inimical to good sex. If I’m going to fuck you well, even if I care deeply for you, I’m going to have to push that care to the side so I can give you the pounding you want, you need.

This has always been a challenge for me.

Part Two: remembering sexless-ness

I was talking the other day with Hyacinth, my fellow dissolute. (We’ve never actually “talked.” We send each other recorded messages from time to time, and have been pondering doing some sort of a collaborative effort.) But we were “talking” about the phenomenon of seeing an ex – an ex with whom sex was bad, or non-existent, or for whom sex was manifestly unimportant – connecting with, or marrying, someone.

“Does everyone wonder what’s going on in those exes’ sex lives?” she asked me.

I don’t know about everyone, but I sure as hell do.

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