Erotic Notion #1: The Deal (Introduction)
By Hapax Legomenon

99 Erotic Notions Index
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One day, while sitting in the living room with I girl I knew vaguely, the subject of sex came up. Perhaps I mentioned it first. Occasionally it slipped out in conversation. For one so lavish in his erotic imaginings, I am also adept at skirting the subject in polite company. When should one talk about sex anyway? To talk about it was to admit that sex could be intellectualized, that it was as pedestrian a subject as the national elections or the latest murder on CNN.

Her name was Lisa. We had a common friend, Danny. She was somebody's ex, or something like that. Once upon a time she had had a love life, but now she enjoyed the uncomfortable freedom of being single. She didn't exactly say she wanted another boyfriend, but couldn't help updating me about the latest guy she'd met. The way she talked was not wistful, but detached and analytical. No doubt she yearned for the companionship of a kiss even if she no longer believed in its magic. For her, passion was a mistake everyone made and recovered from. She wasn't sad, just too ready to accept the hollowness of being unattached.

And as for me? I was Mr. Nice Guy, but no Casanova. I'd forgotten how it feels or even what it means to "fall in love." I had lots of woman friends, and around them there was always a hint of sexual tension – I wouldn't call it attraction – but an acknowledgement that the possibility of romance and even marriage had to be investigated. With women you have to be careful. Both of us had to maintain civil relations while stealthily exploring emotions and physiological reactions. Was the pursuit likely to result in something? Would I be able to stand living with her 24 hours a day? At the moment, I was sitting on Lisa's bed, a thought which would have thrilled me five years ago, but now seemed as ordinary and meaningless as going to the dentist or finding a dollar under the sofa.

"If I were Irene," Lisa said, "I wouldn't put up with Alexander's crap. I don't know what she sees in him. She's such a smart and independent person, but she needs to stop letting him boss her around." Irene was a tall slender woman with a lovely figure – a recurring sexual fantasy for me. As for Alexander, well, he wasn't perfect, but he wasn't the asshole Lisa made him out to be. Maybe I could have defended him, but could I have ever changed her mind?

"Was Irene going to meet us here or at the restaurant?" I asked.

The phone rang, and Lisa stood up. "No, Alexander will meet us over at Mark's house. Hello?"

While Lisa talked on the telephone, she seemed oblivious to the fact that I was a few feet away. She was talking to Bobbie, Mark's wife. Bobbie was nice and funny, but unattractive. I'm sorry to summarize a person in terms of her looks, but that's the way it is. I watched Lisa go over the plans, nodding periodically and twisting her necklace in a carefree, almost childlike manner. A strap from her blouse slid off her shoulder, exposing a small bit of skin underneath. Moments later, she straightened the strap over that shoulder, and that bare bit of skin would never be seen by me again.

When Lisa hung up, she said, "Are you ready?"

"I've been ready."

"Let's go then," she said, grabbing her purse and keys. But as we headed out the door and toward her car, Lisa stopped. "Wait a minute, " she said, turning and walking to her apartment.

"What did you forget?"

"This won't take a sec, "she said, opening the door and tossing her purse on a nearby chair. "I forgot to program 'Law & Order.'" Lisa turned on the TV and reached for the VCR remote control. As the picture on the screen started to appear, I could hear a woman being asked questions.

"So did you know you were speeding at the time?" went the first voice.

"Sure I did," went the second voice, which materialized into the image of a woman in her twenties sitting on stage before an audience. She was short and Hispanic, young and sexy, gleeful and animated. "But I didn't know a policeman was following me. At first, I thought he was after somebody else, but then he put his siren on, and I had no choice but to pull over."

"Richard, what did you think when you first saw Maria?" asked the interviewer. The camera moved to a uniformed man sitting beside her.

"I thought, man, she was a hot babe!" Laughter and whoa's came from the audience. "I mean, I saw she was scared and nervous, but she was also smiling and when she looked at me with those eyes, I just couldn't think straight."

"And I was nervous just talking to him," she said, picking up the story. "Absolutely terrified." But when I saw how handsome and friendly he was, I began thinking, hey, this ain't a problem. And Richard was making jokes, so I didn't worry about the ticket, I just said to myself, wow, this ain't so bad, this is just like my fantasy."

"Wait," said the interviewer. "Are you saying that you have a fantasy about policemen?"

"Oh, yes," she said, laughing. "All the time. I always used to have sexual fantasies about getting stopped by a policeman. Guys in uniform do that to me. It's funny, you know, policeman, military men, firemen –"

"Firemen?" the interviewer exclaimed, and titters came from the audience.

"Okay, let's go," Lisa said, turning off the television.

"Wait!" I said, frantically turning it on again.

"What – are you watching this?" she asked.

"– always nervous and a bit scared," the Mexican woman went on. "And then he asked where I was going and was I in a hurry."

"Yeah, I had to see her." the male guest added. "I already decided not to give her a ticket. Just a warning, but I wanted to talk to her some more."

"So what did he do, Maria?"

"Nothing, he was real polite about it. He said, 'Ma'am, I'm not going to give you a ticket or anything.' He said, 'I don't want you to get offended by what I'm going to say, because I don't want you to think I'm putting pressure on you. But I really like talking to you, and in an hour I have my break, and if you want, we can meet at a MacDonalds to talk some more."

"And what did you say to him?" the interviewer asked.

"I said, 'sure!'" The woman was smiling, and a few audience members gasped. Underneath the woman's image appeared the caption, "WOMAN FANTASIZES ABOUT SEXY POLICEMAN." Without any embarrassment at all, the woman continued, "I knew from the first moment it was love at first sight."

"I can't believe we're watching this," Lisa said to me.

"Shhh!"

"– met him at MacDonald's, and we talked for a few hours. And three hours later we were driving along –"

"In the police car?"

"Yes, in the police car – " Roars came from the audience. "He was off duty, but he took me to a nearby park, and it was dark and romantic, and then I knew he was the one."

"Would you say the romance progressed quickly?"

The man and woman looked at each other and started laughing. The interviewer started laughing too, and so did the audience. "What's so funny?" the interviewer said.

"We were making whoopee 15 minutes after we got to the park," the man said.

An older overweight woman in the audience stood up and took the microphone away from the host. "I want to say something to the man. You're a disgrace to the police force. You should be fired. I can't believe you used your position to meet women." The audience applauded.

"What do you have to say to that?" the interviewer asked.

"There's nothing to say," the man said. "It was love at first sight. Yeah, maybe I did something wrong by inviting her to MacDonald's. But if I didn't do it, that woman would be gone forever, and we wouldn't be married and sitting on your show right now."

"This is too much," Lisa said to me.

"Maria," the interviewer asked, "if Richard were not a policeman but met you on the street just as an ordinary guy, would you still fall in love with him?"

"Well, no – "

"No?" the husband exclaimed with genuine surprise.

"I mean, yes, sure, I would have fallen in love with him. Of course. But it wouldn't have been the same. Maybe I wouldn't have been attracted to him from the beginning. When he was a policeman, I was at first really afraid of him, and then when he talked to me, I realized he was the man of my dreams. He was the fantasy I'd always imagined. But if I just met him on the street, I wouldn't be afraid of him. I'd just think he was some typical guy. Oh, sure, after I talked to him for a while, I probably would have fallen in love with him, but it wouldn't happen as suddenly as it actually did."

"Was it the uniform that did it?"

"Sure," she said.

"Well, Maria, we have a special treat for you," the interviewer announced. "When your husband told us that you liked men in uniform, we prepared a little show for you. I am proud to introduce you to the NBC police squad."

Suddenly, amidst loud dance music, ten handsome men in police uniforms strutted onstage and danced in front of her. Maria stood there clapping while one of the male models dressed as a policeman gyrated his hips and teasingly removed his shirt. The rest of the audience clapped their hands to the beat, and in a flash, the scene changed to a commercial, a child crunching a potato chip, producing a noise so loud that the rest of the students in class went "Shhhh!"

"That's enough, isn't it?" Lisa said, turning the TV off.

"For today anyway," I said, walking out with her.

We drove to Mark's house in Lisa's car. Though the radio station was blaring, both of our minds were thinking about the television show.

"I can't believe that woman," she said. "She must be crazy to talk about her sex life like that on TV."

"I enjoyed it."

"Oh, you and millions of other males out there!"

"It's just for fun."

"It's a fantasy," Lisa said.

"We all have them, don't we?"

"Sure," she said, "but not many go on TV talking about them. I'm sure thousands of policemen are watching this show and thinking all women are like that. Do you know how many crazy people watch these shows?"

"Do you know how many normal people do?"

"I'm serious," she said. "What kind of world do we live in where people on TV no longer feel any shame? I'm not for censorship, but what makes people go on TV and talk about all that stuff?"

I didn't know what to say. Lisa was overreacting. I didn't agree at all. Should I indicate my disagreement or just say nothing? Obviously I wouldn't be able to change her opinion. We stared at the road and the cars whizzing by until finally I spoke up.

"I'll agree for the moment," I said, "that these shows sensationalize and even trivialize human desires. But you are uneasy with the idea of fantasy. Perhaps you feel threatened."

"So do you enjoy these shows?"

"Should I lie and say no? We enjoy sexual and romantic fantasies on TV because people's natural inclination is to conceal them. I would say – "

Lisa turned to me and laughed, "Yes, Dr. Freud?"

"Ok, never mind."

"Please continue," Lisa said.

At first I wasn't going to pursue the issue. But then I thought: the battle of the sexes can only be mediated by honesty. "Here's a question," I started. "If there were an easy and risk-free way to expose your sexual fantasies to millions of people, would you do it?"

She dismissed the question without words.

"Well?"

"What do you think?"

"I would!" I said.

She grimaced. "Somehow that does not surprise me."

"What's wrong with publicizing some of your sexual fantasies once in a while? Nowadays there are multiple ways to record sexual fantasies: Internet diaries, chat rooms, web chats – to say nothing about avatars and virtual worlds."

"How boring … and scary," Lisa said. "Who wants to be subjected to the lurid fantasies of random strangers? Ok, it might be entertaining to know the fantasies of friends, but I'm not so sure I'd even want to know their sexual hang-ups. And have you noticed how certain behavior is exaggerated in a public setting? If everyone displayed their sexual fantasies somewhere, eventually the most extreme and ostentatious examples would attract the most attention. Those with more dangerous fantasies (involving violence or rape for instance) might receive outside encouragement to act them out in real life."

"We're not talking about rape here. The woman on the TV show wasn't a victim."

"But you enjoyed watching it."

"We both enjoyed watching it!"

"I never said fantasy was wrong," she said. "I merely said it's better to keep such things to oneself."

"No," I said with hesitation. "That's not right at all. Fantasies can and should be shared. They can be artistic or entertaining – "

"Or sadistic," she added. "But most people would prefer not to hear or read these things – except perhaps from a lover."

"But then you limit your audience to a single person. No, the ideal audience for a sexual fantasy is an outsider – someone without a stake in the relationship itself. Besides, if I became familiar with the private fantasy life of other women, wouldn't I have an easier time understanding the fantasy life of a future girlfriend?"

She chuckled a bit. "Perhaps you should spend less time reading or composing fantasies and more time looking for somebody to act them out with."

"And if no such partner exists?"

"Well, no offense," Lisa said. "But shouldn't you be the one to rectify that?"

"Isn't it a woman's responsibility to rectify that?" I countered.

I looked at Lisa for a response. "The real question," I continued, "is not my right to have fantasies and share them. The real question is whether you or another person would find them worth hearing or reading."

"Well, if I had to read your kinky sexual fantasies, I suppose I should have the right to criticize them. How would you like that?"

Silence. I didn't know what to make of that statement of hers. Suddenly in a flash I understood. She was making a challenge. Should I take her up? Was it worth it? "Okay," I announced, "you have a deal."

Both of us laughed, and Lisa turned the radio louder.

Written, Spring 1998


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A man and woman talk. They make a deal. The adventure begins.
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