Erotic Notion #99: The First Time, The Last Time
By Hapax Legomenon

99 Erotic Notions Index
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Arthur Hughes, Brave Geraint, 1860
Arthur Hughes (1832-1915) , Brave Geraint

The first time was a moment of great anticipation for Teddy. He'd been trying for weeks to get Carol in the sack, and after it was over, she put on her T-shirt, kissed him and said, "So now will you let me drive your Lexus?" She was only half-joking.

The last time was pro forma. A few minutes after turning off the light, his hands moved down her body. She wasn't particularly in the mood, but was a good sport at least. It was a no-frills fuck lasting ten minutes. She let him initiate; after it was over and their breaths had settled down, he said "Thanks," and she replied, "Not a problem!" with a cheerful but perfunctory tone.

The next morning she found his body cold and dead from a nighttime heart attack. Should she tell people the circumstances? No, that would be indecorous. She maintained a respectful silence at the funeral, feigning a romantic bond that outlasted death. Some might call it a beautiful way to die. But was it really? She never really gave a damn about the relationship. Now that he was dead, she revisited that last evening. Why hadn't she made more of an effort to infuse passion into what would be a man's last day on earth? When had she stopped caring?

From that point on, she was generous in bed, offering the passions she had neglected to give Teddy when he was alive. Her lovers were appreciative, but none realized that every time Carol made love she was trying to make love to a dead man.

The best sex Alan ever had was with a crazy blonde named Sue. She was self-centered, chatty and dismissive towards anyone born into wealth. When they first made love, he alternated between thinking, "I can't believe I'm doing it with such a gorgeous woman!" and "I can't believe I am putting up with all this woman's shit just to fuck her." She smoked and cursed and badmouthed everybody. The president? A loser. Her boss? A pretender a with sexist attitude. Her ex? A cheapskate judgmental bastard. Her dad? A loser who happened to make good investments. (Behind his back, Alan knew she probably badmouthed him as well).

But the sex was great...wild and great! Sue talked like a porn star: Give me that fucking cock! Fuck me, you bastard! She always managed to be on top when the orgasms were near. She sweated and barked orders and pushed against him and even liked to sit on his face. When she came, she softened and curled beside him, picking up a cigarette. "You passed," she said sarcastically, before refilling her drink.

In other words, Sue fucked like a man. She looked like a princess (and in fact was treated like one by male onlookers), but once she opened her mouth, most people (even men) found her obnoxious and avoided her. She had (to his knowledge) not a single female friend. This made her insecure. She was acutely aware of the effect her slender body had on men, but she rebelled against it like an angry pop star. Her breasts were perfect. He longed to keep his hands on them when while she complained about random things (her father, the car, the customer representative who slighted her). Still, for a few moments after making love, she was quiet and serene and good-natured; for those brief moments she was Aphrodite – if only she wouldn't spoil it.

The last time. It was 9:30 when she called him out of the blue. She called to be picked up from a party. By now he'd grown used to these random phone calls. She didn't use email and rarely answered the phone; she called people at her convenience. These gaps in communication caused him to forget how irritating she could be. When she called, it was always to request something (usually to pick her up somewhere or drive her to a club). He gave up scolding her. He knew that whatever happened that night, at the end there would be sex – hot sweaty sex – she would be lying next to him at his apartment, letting him do whatever he wanted. It was an endless cycle, starting with the random call and ending in the morning when he called a cab to take her home. Sometimes she appeared at his place in the morning or even in the middle of the night. Then for weeks (or even months), he would hear nothing. He didn't exactly enjoy this pattern, but every time the phone call came, he would remember the feel of her skin and the certainty of having her luscious body crawl into his arms again.

He loathed her and lusted for her simultaneously. He didn't consider Sue a girlfriend, just an amoral girl he liked to do things with. Until a real girlfriend came along, there would always be Sue for a pick-me-up. Every time he became convinced she was gone for good, she would reappear. The phone call would come, and in an instant he rearranged plans and picked her up – wherever she was. When they met, she always looked amazing. That last time she greeted him with a kiss – and muttered "why are girls who work at department stores such cunts?"

This pattern continued between 2000 and the 2003. Although the intervals grew longer, Sue would call him at the most inopportune (and maddening) of times. He even enjoyed the anticipation. (Alas, this was indeed the last time – she fell in love with an Armenian businessman and never called or thought about Alan again).

The first time, she agreed without feeling strong desire. They had been arguing about the relationship, and Tom was complaining about how she had been leading him on. He was in fact correct. She liked him, but was unsure of whether he loved him; she needed more time. The male attention was nice, and Tom was a genuine guy, but his certainty that they belonged together seemed premature. How do people know? Finally, after confronting her with his passion, he criticized her for putting him off; was she just making excuses? Rather than admit uncertainty, she let her guard down and let him take her. A part of her enjoyed it (especially the fact that Tom had stopped complaining), but a part knew she was doing something stupid. Having a boyfriend was nice, but who was Tom anyway? Did she really tolerate his mood swings? The first time they did it, she had experienced a genuine orgasm, but deep down she knew it wasn't really love. Sure, he felt love's ardors, but he seemed so devoted to fulfilling his passions that he hardly seemed to care about her own. In bed, she dreamed about men from her night classes; it was easy to compose a list of more compatible men. Tom was too serious, too goal-oriented; he didn't relax, he didn't do anything without a day's worth of deliberation. For Tom, everything had to be part of a plan; she couldn't stand that! He never got around to enjoying life and didn't understand that she just coasted along. He was not handsome; maybe that was the problem. But it was not the only problem.

The last time was actually the fourth time. She had wanted to break things off from the start, but the next day, he was so attentive and charming that she was willing to entertain the possibility that she had misjudged him. Tom had a heavy-handed charm; he would treat a girlfriend well – too well in fact. The problem was – well, what was the problem? He was too demanding; he expected too much from her; he expected her passions to resemble his. He had complained that she was never really into it in the bedroom, that she wasn't being open enough. The truth was, she was indifferent. She couldn't help it. That last night was awful; he was driving his love into her, and she simply waited for it to be over. Tom wasn't a bad man; he just didn't mean anything to her. She hated pretending. The sooner she got away, the better. Tomorrow she would leave him. She would stop by Tom's apartment and tell him quickly, then leave. He would demand they talk, and maybe she would talk a little – how could she explain? All she wanted was to finish things. In the meantime, she lay in bed, watching that pathetic hulk of a man sleep peacefully. His partially nude body aroused pity in her; this would be the last night she would see it, and truthfully, his body had never wronged her. It had always treated her limbs gently and respectfully; it could not help being attached to such a dull and annoying person. But she had to turn away. This person – this body – meant nothing to her. She didn't want to have second thoughts. Two days from now she could stop feigning desire. Then, for once, she could be free … and alone.

The first time was in her boss's condo. She – a lifeguard – was 16. He said he was 26 (actually he was 30); They worked late at the swimming pool. He was handsome and well-muscled and friendly. They kissed briefly in the car, something which made her heart flutter. One day a storm came into town, and they had to shut the pool down. When he invited her to his apartment to wait the storm out, she was nervous and excited. Was he going to kiss her like before? He fixed shrimp scampi and wine and they watched a DVD on his couch. His hand slid over her knees and eventually their arms were wrapped against one another. At first, she resisted his sexual touches, but tried to keep an open mind. He was handsome after all.

"Do you want me to put it in my mouth?" she asked after they were naked on the bed.

He laughed at her precociousness. "What do you think?"

The movie – in case anyone is interested – was My Cousin Vinny.

The last time was noon on a Sunday four weeks later. She had knocked on his apartment door; he had grown weary of her surprise drop-ins, but let her in without complaint.

He had been paying his bills. Financial documents and hand-written budgets were spread across the table. She dropped her shorts, grabbed a wine bottle from the refrigerator and headed to the bedroom. She ended up waiting for 10 minutes. "Just one more minute," he called out from the living room. When she grew bored with fondling herself, she started ruffling through old magazines beside the bed.

Finally he arrived, and the orgasms came in no time at all.

Afterwards, he sat up, and said, "This can't continue."

"What?" she said, not realizing what he was talking about.

"We shouldn't be doing this anymore. I know; I like you a lot, and I think you're great and sexy. But I'm your boss, and you're still in school, and gosh, you have to know this never will work out."

She giggled and crawled atop him. "You are going to be my slave."

"Sure," he said, bringing her closer. An hour later, she lay next to him, relaxed and satisfied. Eventually he kicked her out to buy tires. At the time his manner of breaking the news seemed bashful – or even charming – but over time she regarded it as heartless – even cowardly. He was a bastard – no doubt about that. And every time she seduced a man she assumed he had a heart just like Jimmy's.

The first time was at his hotel on a business trip. Both were in town for a sales conference. Sally was a career-oriented person with a passion for golf. Jack was an ex-Marine gung-ho about fishing. They hooked up quickly and effortlessly. Both had extensive sexual resumes, and this encounter would become another thrilling addition.

The sex was outstanding. He knew the hookup had been only a weekend thing, but his mind wandered during idle moments to thoughts of Sally. She was definitely the most interesting woman he'd met in a long time. He quickly found her email and texted a mesage; she sent a flirty reply. Later he called her during a random moment. When Sally answered, she was stuck in traffic, eager for distractions. The problem was that she lived in Portland, Oregon, and he lived in Alexandria, Virginia. Arranging a meeting would not be easy. They continued the phone calls for months, talking about whatever popped in their minds– sex, job, family, weekends, vacations … she even mentioned her dates with various men. Very casual. But every time he heard her voice, he wanted her; he remembered the intimate parts of her body and the way she giggled when he teased her with caresses. On the phone she seemed indifferent to the romantic meanings people gave to sex. And yet, during that initial weekend, she had eagerly crawled into his arms.

The second (and last) time was at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Unbelievably it took eight months to arrange. She said she was busy, and maybe she was. Remember, both were in sales. They made love in the afternoon an hour after he arrived. After a quick nap, they were at the beach again, swimming and sipping iced teas. Later that evening, when they embraced, he realized that Sally lived only for the moment; the future did not concern her. He had assumed that her romantic cynicism was just a pose, but at Myrtle Beach she scowled at the mere mention of a relationship. She was there to drink and be silly and see the beaches. She was fun company and incredibly sexy in bed... but after Myrtle Beach, she seemed inclined to drop him from her mind. When he hinted at the possibility of getting together more often, she laughed.

"Don't fall for people Jack," Sally said. "One thing leads to another, and before you know it, you will have thrown your life away for nothing. Is that what you want – to live in boringsville with the well-trimmed lawn and 2.5 children, wasting your weekends at your kids' soccer matches? By the time you realize your mistake, it will be time to buy a cemetery plot."

"Do you really mean that?" Jack asked.

Amused by the earnestness of his question, Sally kissed him lightly. Then she whispered, "Jack, watch out – or the pod people will get you too."

Jack sensed the futility of trying to get a straight answer from her. Does the heart always need to attach to something? Or can it be content to catch and release? 14 hours from now they would probably say goodbye for the last time. There would be no breakup because there was nothing to break from. If he brought up the subject of romance, she would find the idea ridiculous.

During breakfast they ate and talked and laughed like a couple exuberant with love.

The first time, her husband was away and Travis had agreed to stop by. She was ready to give herself from the moment he stepped foot in her apartment, but she hid it successfully during dinner. Travis never suspected. He was charming but nervous. Later, they sat out on the porch, and he put his arms around her. She didn't object; her body was tingling with excitement. Finally, he put his hand through her blouse, and she lost it – she totally lost herself in the thrill of the forbidden moment. Every time he advanced, she lost herself – it was terrible! Yet she had been anticipating this moment for weeks – never actually believing it could happen. When he took her, she grabbed him and helplessly followed his movements. He gave a boyish cry, and she caressed his neck and shoulders, feeling his head upon her breast. She was content and felt so...naked! She had never known that raw desire could seize her so easily … or that transgression could be so easy, so dramatic and so beautiful.

The last time, he had brought Chinese food, with the intent to spend the whole evening with her. But no. The sooner she told him, the better. Travis wasn't hurt, just mad at her for ruining the evening – and the Chinese food. She knew it was the right decision. The guilt of having betrayed her husband weighed on her, something Travis couldn't understand. Travis held her and pretended everything was the same, but she repeated it louder: she owed it to her husband to break it off. Her husband was a decent man, and yes, she loved him, and if he ever found out, it would devastate him. "So you're going to cut it off – just like that." "That's right." "No more – never again?" "That's right." "So today is the last time we'll be together." "That's right." "I tell you...this just sucks, do you know that?' She said nothing. "But tonight we're still going to do it." That hadn't been her plan, but after she saw his angry outburst, she knew she had to grant him this.

In five minutes they were in bed, and Travis was ransacking her body. While they made love, she wondered where her husband was and what he was doing – what would he say if he knew? Travis needed her like an animal, but it was not love. Love was a grand feeling and a sad obligation. She had never actually wanted to hurt her husband, but as soon as she realized the enormity of her mistake – this was their marriage! – she wondered what caused her to risk so much for so little. Now that she had done it, she feared the random possibility he would stumble upon some evidence and confront her with it. She would be unable to deny it; the lies had been killing her. She had wanted to grow old with her husband, and yet her weakness was now the main obstacle. She didn't care about her husband's incompetence as a lover – she just didn't want to lose him. Travis was nothing – he was self-centered and embarrassing to look at; Travis demanded too much of her attention without having any right. She couldn't wait to get this man off her back. Tonight Travis was hypersexual, overcompensating, determined to take her ruthlessly. And though she couldn't wait to eliminate this man from her life, she could not deny the final pleasures he had forced her to feel.

With relief she returned to her role as faithful and loving wife, but even around her husband she could never extinguish the memories of those secret exhausting pleasures.

The first time she made love to Scott, she acted more out of curiosity than attraction. They met professionally (she worked in Internet marketing), and when he asked her out, she was caught off guard. She said yes just to avoid being put on the spot. The first date was all right (he had kissed her at the end), but afterwards he refused to leave her alone. His number kept showing up on her cell phone. Eventually she agreed to another date … if only to ask him to stop bothering her. But that second date turned out to be delightful – what a surprise! He was coming onto her; at first it amused her, and throughout the night she played with the idea of having a fling. Would it be that awful? Could they be discreet? He was not bad looking and had impeccable manners and offered her all kinds of compliments (more than previous boyfriends). By the end of the night she knew she would go to bed with him; when he made his move, she would let herself go. Her lower body was ready; when he laid her down and took her, she did not immediately experience ecstasy; that would come days later. But that first night was still interesting and entertaining; it reacquainted her to the sensation of having a man beside her, hearing his sexual jokes, feeling his fingers slide beneath her arms. It was not romantic perfection, but it was comfortable enough. She enjoyed his eagerness for intercourse and his melodramatic orgasms and the helpless way he hung onto her afterwards. He was too overbearing, too sarcastic, too self-assured about his opinions. Maybe she could grow used to these things. These were annoyances, not serious character flaws. The next morning he offered to run across the street for bagels. He would never be a dream lover, but at least he understood the etiquette of seduction.

The last time they had made love, she had not felt any pleasure. Perhaps Scott had noticed, but tactfully said nothing. She lay in bed all night wondering. Why did her life feel so empty? She sorted through the details of her life. Was it her legal career? Or Scott? Was it the fact she was 31 and still unmarried? Was it her finances? The fact she never had time to relax or do volunteer work? The fact she hadn't lost those 15 pounds? In her mind she went over each possibility – weighing the evidence like the lawsuits she analyzed at work.

Two or three years later she realized the problem did not involve Scott at all. He was a well-meaning person who had showed up at the wrong time. Her mood swings caused her to magnify the negative in everything; it had caused her to avoid the irritations of intimacy. Eventually, through therapy and meditation, she learned that relationships didn't need to disintegrate, that love was elusive – but never impossible. Despite past disappointments, she still wanted it – and that was good.

The first time happened over 10 hours. It started at a movie cinema. It was mid afternoon, but once the lights went off, his hands were all over her, exploring regions normally out of bounds. She said nothing and occasionally returned his hand to his lap (whenever she needed a break). Later at a sandwich shop, they dissected the film and laughed as though the caresses had never happened. Down the street was a small chapel she'd never visited. He had never been there either, so they decided to peek inside. The place was deserted and lit only with candles at the altar. "It's nice," she whispered. "I don't know why I've waited so long to go inside." Then he kissed her. It caught her by surprise. She gladly reciprocated, but for him it was more than a kiss; it was an outburst of violent need. She broke away. "You have a one-track mind," she said, walking across the pew. Then he kissed her again, holding her, moving his hands down her body and underneath her clothes. It was awkward and uncomfortable for her, but the caresses continued. She was enjoying them … it was intense, but she had to break away. "Please," she whispered, "Can't we go somewhere else?" "Come here," he said, and she did. Instead of saying something, he laughed and slid his hands up and down her blouse. Thirty minutes later, they were making love at his apartment. They did so for hours; it was exhilarating and exhausting. As she lay in his arms, she recalled the groping in the chapel and how helpless it made her feel.

The last time happened after an argument. Jim was a tightwad who complained about the credit card bill. Because she worked in the legal profession, she needed a professional wardrobe – something Jim didn't comprehend. He mentioned the clothing purchases just to antagonize her, triggering another pointless argument. Later in bed, he would make amorous advances as though nothing was wrong and expect her to be enthusiastic. Usually she just turned away and let him suffer, but on this occasion, she was tired and actually longing for physical release. While he made love to her in a mechanical way, she enjoyed the sensations for what they were, aware of how little she really liked him.

They broke up after he refused to show up for her father's 60th birthday party. This began a series of arguments about how she was trying to control her life, how he thought work was more important than family, how she always tried to make him feel guilty, how she thought the world revolved around her, how she didn't understand the pressures of running a business, how he was a workaholic, how her nagging drove him crazy, how she wouldn't have to nag if he helped out once in a while, how her family thought he was a flake, how she was always committing him to things without asking. Three days later, they broke up. They had broken up many times, but this time was the last.

Donna and Jim were as dysfunctional a couple as you could get. In fact, Donna was always cursing Jim, and every time Donna popped into his head, he became angry. It is no exaggeration to say that they hated one another during the relationship and even more afterwards.

But sexually they were totally compatible. Jim found Donna voluptuous and kinky; Donna thought Jim was a "real man" (at least more than the one she later married). Her delicate body consumed Jim's attention (especially when it awaited his next penetration). In the first few months the word "love" punctuated conversations; but after a fight (where he complained about her cell phone usage), she made him spend the night at a friend's house. The next night, he stopped over to pick up some things, and as the argument resumed, he touched her neck. "Don't do that again!" she snapped. "What – you mean this?" stroking it again. She didn't resist; he was too fast; he knew her points of weakness. The passion was still there; why deny it? From that point on, they knew better than to use the word love except during rare ceremonial moments.

A year later Donna married a lawyer with a 5 year old from another marriage. Jim hooked up with a girl two years later, but they never married. Although both Donna and Jim cursed the time they spent together, it had been the best sex of their lives. Later partners were loving and more compatible emotionally, but lousy lovers. If only David could take charge like Jim! If only Susie could be as spontaneous and uninhibited as Donna! But these were minor complaints. Both accepted their choices and were happy. Both Jim and Donnie were comfortably ensconced in warm and emotionally-fulfilling relationships.

Once Donna passed him at a mall. All sorts of emotions ran through her: anger, sadness, excitement and even affection. She had been fond of him – in a way. Had he noticed her? It wouldn't hurt to say hello; she was married and could be civil at least. But no – the emotions were too strong; she was shaking! She had no idea how he would react or the stupid things she might say. She was curious; was he married? She wanted him to see that she was happy after the divorce. But had she really gotten over him? She remembered the way he turned everything into opportunities into sex. Maybe he would try again; it would be fun to laugh in his face.

All she really wanted to see his reaction at running into her. The surprise, the curiosity, the lust. But she couldn't spurn him until Jim actually approached her. After Jim went into a shoe store, Donna walked by the shop window in plain view.

Or so she thought. In fact, Jim wasn't facing the window. So she passed again. Now he was talking to a store clerk. Damn. Okay, she'd walk by the shoe store one last time. If Jim didn't look, she would give up. When she walked by, Jim was sitting down, waiting for something, facing a different direction. Jesus. What was his problem?

Later, when making furious love to her husband, all she could think about was that heartless, horny bastard.

Her first time with Scott was at a beach house. She met him through an online dating service. His initial email was light-hearted but unremarkable, but his online profile was intriguing. He ran a business and liked water skiing. He seemed ambitious and restless. His photo was handsome enough, but in person he looked even more attractive. She couldn't believe her good luck. On the second date, they drove to the beach in his jeep. When they were in bathing suits, her eyes were drawn to his muscles; she liked his easygoing manner and the way he reaffirmed his desire for her with a smile or a casual touch against her arm. In the water they kissed almost immediately. Underneath his bathing suit, she could feel his erection against her back and the warmth of his chest against her shoulders. They were in the middle of a public beach, surrounded by kids and families and all kinds of people, and yet their embraces were hidden beneath the waves: rocking back and forth, they savored the closeness of their bodies under the water. Every few minutes a kid would swim by, and they would separate, but once the kid was gone, that magnificent embrace would continue. In the water, they were warm-blooded creatures with a natural tendency to flow into one another. It was an undeniable biological fact. In the silence, under the sun and surrounded by sounds of noisy children having fun, he was learning about her body's reactions. He was not so impudent to wind his hand underneath her bikini (although she wouldn't have minded if he had tried). Instead, his hands found the boundaries of her desire and rested there, until she no longer was sure if the advances were due to his desire or simply the rocking of the waves. That evening, when they ate at a nearby restaurant, he mentioned a nearby beach house which he owned jointly with three friends. Two hours later they were strolling into town.

"If you feel like it, we could stay overnight at the beach house and return to the city in the morning."

"That's presumptuous," she said with a laugh.

"No, that's not what I meant," he said. "I just meant that if it gets too late, we have that as an option. The beach house has two bedrooms and a fold-out sofa."

"It's always an option," she said playfully. The beach house was smaller than expected and minimally furnished. No one had been there for weeks. But Scott was proud of it; he brought out a glass of wine, and they sat on the sofa, making funny remarks and exchanging caresses. They talked about prophylactics while he stroked her underwear. Finally, they were in the bedroom, and he was going down on her, kissing the insides of her legs, making naughty remarks. The sensations were delicious, but he kept interrupting with random commentary – he adored her legs ... the beach was crowded today ... she looked sexy in that bathing suit ...this beach house was an appreciating investment .. she reminded him of Julie Delpy ... the neighborhood was full of military retirees. As her excitement grew, he veered off into a remark about California weather. Conversation was fine at the restaurant, but why now? Eventually he reached the clitoris and gave it a kiss, then made a snide remark about Hillary Clinton.

"Don't talk," she said, tapping his shoulder. "Concentrate."

"Sorry," he said, and when the conversation stopped, the pleasuring began.

The last time. She had gotten used to Scott's talkativeness in the bedroom; if that were the only problem, she could have dealt with it. But he wasn't really talking about anything; he was talking just to hear himself talk without any real desire to communicate. He never listened; he seemed clueless about how he annoyed people. He frequently answered the phone during meals or in the car to talk to a buddy or business partner. She would have to hear the whole inane conversation. When she explained how it bothered her, he apologized and made genuine attempts to change (at least in the short run). But after a while, another annoying habit would appear (which she'd eventually have to inform him about). Scott wasn't making her happy; he was simply appeasing her requests which he treated as inexplicable. She didn't like having sex with him. It sounded funny to say, because they shared a physical chemistry, but he never really seemed to know how she was feeling; he never noticed or asked. If she came, that was good, but he never seemed to notice unless she made an announcement. He talked in the bedroom not to express feelings, but simply to entertain himself with his thoughts. Mentally or emotionally they were never in the same place. She thought it was temporary, or that she was being unreasonable; but the longer it went on, the more she really hated it.

Scott wasn't a villain, just a fool. Everyone seemed to like him, and his prowess in the bedroom was undeniable. The last time with him was exciting (as always), but the enjoyment lasted only if he kept his mouth shut. Then, Scott would spoil the mood with some asinine remark, and she would turn away. Later, when he was snoring, she thought about random things. Would she break up with him or continue giving him another shot? Maybe they should see a counselor; no, they were too far gone for that. She should have never gone to that beach house. If only he could do something outrageous, she could use it as a pretext for breaking up. But neither of them really quarreled. Most of the time if she criticized his attitude, he just walked out of the room. He always took the easy way out. She didn't know what she wanted anyway. She let his arm rest over her breast; did she really mind? But this was not love; it was crazy. She couldn't deal with his shenanigans forever. Besides, she was still young. Men still found her attractive. Earlier today, at the car repair shop, a Mexican mechanic listened respectfully as she described her car problems. She didn't know much about cars, but when she described the problem in a vague and roundabout way, the man smiled and patiently went over her options. This man was the kind she usually went for – not men like Scott. No fake chitchat, just respectful conversation. Was that really so hard?

(She sulked for two more weeks before breaking up with Scott. It was still the best decision she had ever made. She visited the car place several times, but the cute Mexican never seemed to be there. She would have liked to see him again, if only to replenish her dreams).

From the very start Greg noticed Tracey's attraction to him. It caught him by surprise. Tracey was a lovely blonde with sensitive dreamy eyes. They met at a seminar and ended up at a coffee shop next door. Tracy did not talk much. Instead she asked question after question. He ended up telling his life story while Tracy listened and smiled. Was she flirting? No, she kept a serious tone, like a psychologist trying to diagnose an emotional disorder. The attention flattered him (she even enjoyed his dumb jokes) but he didn't feel at ease. She was sexy, but more concerned with assessing his personality than connecting. She was seeking something – but what? Inner strength, financial stability or simply a willingness to serve as a good husband. He didn't mind answering her questions, but she seemed too serious. They spent the rest of the night talking about personal beliefs – that was fine, but couldn't they simply have gone bowling? Despite the talk, Greg knew next to nothing about her. She grew up in Ohio and liked to draw and knew a lot about botany; what else?

Two days later they met downtown at a farmer's market by her apartment. They bought fruit and exotic berries, and he bought two pounds of a fish she recommended. He had originally intended to leave straight from the farmer's market, but she mentioned an art gallery that mildly interested him, so they headed there by foot – first dropping off the food at her apartment. By the time they returned, it was lunchtime, so they ended up at her apartment to cook the fish. She mentioned a movie by Kies'lowski he'd enjoy; minutes later, she found the DVD, and they sat on the sofa watching it. The movie was long and tedious; it involved a cute singer who loved a puppeteer and whose father had died. But once they settled on the couch and he wrapped his arm around her shoulder, the only thing he thought about was exploring the curves of her body. "Not so fast," she whispered. But when he gave her lips a kiss, she giggled. The French actress began singing, and Greg teased off Tracey's clothes. "Here, let me do it," Tracey said, dropping her brassiere and returning to the embrace. He was ecstatic. With one hand he moved up and down her bosom and with the other he slid beneath her undergarments, finding a soft pocket of skin between her legs. As soon as his hand went there, she recoiled and settled slowly back, kissing him and beginning her own explorations over his skin. Minutes later, they were in her bedroom, settling into the thrillingly familiar rhythm of lovemaking. She accepted his penetrations silently, trying to hold everything in until that final perfect moment. When it arrived, she closed her eyes, leaned forward and collapsed so suddenly and violently that he ejaculated before he knew what was happening. An instant later, she started bawling, as though the act of sex has unlocked a hidden pain. But no, she was happy.

"Greg you are so good to me. Promise you'll be good to me."

"Of course," he whispered.

"I'm glad you're not like the rest."

"I'm not that different," he said.

"It's hard for me to open up with men."

"You were fine," he said.

"I just want this relationship to work," she said, snuggling into him. "It's just you and me against the world."

"I think that's a song," he said, laughing. She said nothing, but looked ahead, lost in her emotions.

The last time he was barely interested in sex. What was wrong? Nothing, he replied. It was nothing. She insisted on talking about it. He didn't object to discussions per se. But whenever they opened up a dialogue, it usually ended up with her crying at the end and his promising to respect her feelings. Yes, she was beautiful; that was why he fell for her. When she actually undressed and made love, they almost always had incredible sex. Her body was capable of giving and receiving lots of pleasure. Once the barriers were dropped, she grabbed at orgasms without shame. But everything had strings attached. To get her in the mood meant having to listen to her vague insecurities. She wanted to be told that she was pretty. She wanted him to promise that he cared about no one else. She wanted...oh, every time, it was something different. Initially he put up with it – just to get her into bed – but soon he realized that she used the promise of sex to gain emotional support. If he made a sexual move too quickly, she retreated. Once, she even took his hand off her breast and said coldly, "You can't force intimacy unless you're willing to be vulnerable." I know, he thought, I just want to fuck! For him sex was a simple matter; it was free and spontaneous and unconditional. Yes, emotions were involved, and there was the thrill of two people helping one another towards mutually beneficial goals. That was all. For Greg, recreational cooperation was how couples became closer. For Tracey, making love was impossible until she felt that emotional synchronicity. Orgasms were not mere physiological responses (yes they were!) She couldn't release her body to passion until their souls became naked. But emotional synchronicity (in Greg's opinion) was impossible. He wasn't cynical, just realistic.

They had talked about this very conflict many times. Talk, talk, talk. The more they talked, the less tempting her body became. She genuinely wanted to help out. Perhaps a couples counselor might have helped. But no – he couldn't deal with introspection anymore; that was playing her game. He wanted sex to be simple and recreational. Was that so hard? They had been engaged for six months – the marriage was supposed to be the summer of next year. But how could he deal with this...every single day of his life? The cost of desire would be a lifetime of having to deal with her emotional issues. It was a terrifying prospect. Maybe things would improve. But it had been like this from the start – had anything changed? For Greg this relationship felt very wrong.

Two years later after the separation, he longed for her – emotional baggage and all – was she really such a witch? And she was a beauty; he remembered the plain sight of her pussy, the perfect breasts, the warmth of her insides and the way her hands moved nervously across his back. He had never encountered a woman who needed him so much and offered herself so completely. It was as close to heaven as he would ever come. Yes, she was sort of crazy, but he could have dealt with the other stuff. And now it was too late; too bad they couldn't have become fuck buddies – or something like that.

The first time actually lasted a week--the entire length of their honeymoon. They were Catholics committed to abstinence until their wedding day. Ironically, the last month before the wedding drove them crazy; everything they said or did brought them back to the distracting subject of sex. Just holding hands was a rude lascivious act which they were careful not to indulge in. His masturbations were furious and crazy; it was always about the night of June 18 and the certainty that they would finally be having sex, that finally he would become familiar with every part of her body and satisfy those sweaty needs. Getting married took on a new physical urgency. For a few moments he had even toyed with the idea of hiring a prostitute just to relieve the pressure of those final hectic weeks. Yes, he loved Yvonne dearly, but when they finally met at the altar, the only thing on his mind was that he would fuck her senseless later that night. While the preacher spoke and she looked lovingly in his direction, he imagined that same expression on her face as she put her mouth around his cock. Even later at the reception when people were dancing and eating wedding cake, he was looking at her smile and imagining that same smile in the middle of sexual climax.

By the time they got in the limousine, it was 11:30 – and when they arrived at the hotel and walked down one of the hallways, Yvonne said in a low voice, "I know it's our wedding night, and we've been waiting a long time. But I tell you – I'm exhausted – I just don't have the energy – I got up at seven this morning; it's been so nerve-racking. Would it be all right if we just sleep tonight?"

"Just sleep?" he said.

"Just sleep."

"Of course," he said calmly. "I suppose it won't hurt to put it off another day."

"Thanks," she said, giving him a weak and grateful hug. The funny thing was, he didn't mind. As important as the sex thing was, he could see her exhaustion. He wanted it to be perfect too, and it was now more important to make her happy. Let her come to him when she was ready – by tomorrow, he knew she would be. It was a small sacrifice really.

A strange peace had come over him as he lay in bed waiting for his wife – yes wife – to emerge from the bathroom. Finally, she did, wearing a beautiful red nightgown bought precisely for that occasion. He watched her put away some things, and when everything was done, she lay on the bed facing him and smiled. "I hope this won't be too distracting," she said.

"Don't worry about me," he said.

They kissed and hugged briefly, and she quickly separated, as though afraid to excite him any further. But the kiss had already affected him; his whole body was now electrified, and he lay back, hyperaware of her breaths and curvy presence. He stroked her shoulder once, not to initiate desire – he had already agreed to call it a night – but to get her attention before she faded in slumber.

"We will have many lovely evenings together," he said, gazing at the outline of her body in the dark.

"Yes," she whispered slowly, settling into sleep.

The last time was several decades later. They had tried valiantly to make love, but his illness made it frustrating. Why had he even tried? It had to be the medications. His wife had been accommodating, but this was the third time in a row they had tried. He liked her body and still felt desire but knew consummation was beyond his abilities. Was he even capable of an orgasm anymore? Sex was not really that important, but losing it was another sad milestone of his decline.

"I guess it's not meant to be," he told her.

"You worry too much," Yvonne said. "We can always go to the urologist again."

"He won't help," he said wearily. "Hell, I should just feel lucky to be alive." Yvonne patted his chest and leaned against him. "This could be the last time for us."

"Don't say that," Yvonne said.

There was an uncomfortable silence. "I'm sorry," he said.

"Oh, it's nothing," she said. "Just hold me now."

They pressed against one another, lost in thought. Half a minute later, Yvonne started giggling.

"What?" he said.

"It's nothing," she said, continuing to laugh.

"Please," he said, starting to laugh also. "What is it?"

"Do you remember...that hotel in Sarande, the time the bed broke?"

She was referring to a vacation they took around the Mediterranean, a night of their most adventurous lovemaking, a night of wine, multiple positions and things they'd never tried before.

"Does the memory of that night turn you on?"

"Sure … And you?"

"I remember it vividly," he said. "I remember that outfit you wore, the strolls we took afterwards to escape those unairconditioned rooms. I remember…"

The event was so far away, and yet once recalled it swirled about in their heads.

"There will be always be tomorrow."

"Maybe not," he said.

"There is always the past," she said, lifting his hand and putting it over her pussy, guiding him towards her desire. In a few minutes he heard her selfish pleasures and felt her hand grip his during the crucial moment of release. Her pleasure – and her pleasure alone – was the last vestige of their physical love.

"Was it good for you too?" he whispered, and she laughed.

"Who were you thinking about it this time?" he asked. "Was it David..or maybe Shelley?"

She laughed again. Shelley was a bisexual they knew decades ago, an odd woman, a small joke they had. "Oh, stop it!" she said. "You're the only one I dream about these days."

"Really?" he said.

"Of course," she said, kissing him. "You're the only man in my life. And frankly, if we never do it again, it's not that big a deal. The world wouldn't come to an end. We still have each other."

"Yes, of course," he said. In truth, he didn't believe her. She must be trying to cheer him up. Over time, however, he began to see that her proclamation was the truth, that even without physical desire, love remains the same; their hearts were just as fragile and generous as the day they met. He feared for the future, the end, the onset of powerlessness. Would she remain at his side? Silly him, how could he ever doubt that? The number of days until his death were diminishing. His sexual prowess was a distant memory, but at least their erotic past continued to inspire orgasms in his wife. For now that was enough. Or was it? He didn't want to think of desire anymore, but the act of not thinking about something only planted the notion more strongly in his head. As she lay sleeping, he was seduced by a series of teasing, unquenchable notions.

Written Feb 2008

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"She had never known that raw desire could seize her so easily or … that transgression could be so easy, so dramatic and so beautiful."
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