Monday, March 9, 2009
In The Flesh
All life is just a progression toward, and then a recession from, one phrase—'I love you.'"
-- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Out of the blue I've been thinking often and fondly about my friend Paul, a brilliant young lawyer I met in East Hampton this summer. A friend of his-- a beautiful dominatrix I worked with at the time-- brought me to his marathon birthday celebration at his vacation home with every expectation of seducing me, which fell flat when she discovered I was totally infatuated (needlessly, as it turns out) with someone else.
The upside of all of this was being introduced to Paul, who was and is, a kindred spirit of the sort one does not meet every day. Dashing, charismatic, and almost brutally intelligent, his self-assured smile made me feel welcome-- even coddled--immediately. At the time we met, he was in an open relationship with a girl I thought was very sweet but possibly a little bit too reserved for my tastes-- she was, however, of the same redheaded, fair-skinned white girl variety as myself, which I suppose must be Paul's type, based on the scant amount of time he spent dropping hints that he was very attracted to me also.
Surprisingly, he was charming, rather than vexing, in his attempts at seduction, never pushing me or pouncing, but playfully ruffling my hair or teasing me-- which I secretly loved-- and always carefully gauging my amused but distant reactions with his sparkling brown eyes.
In short, he is a bon vivant rather than a libertine, which I never do mind.
I found every conversation with him to be memorable, but our physical rapport was probably even more so. Every time we touched I felt my body relax, and every instinct told me, despite the way he openly flouted monogamy, Paul didn't have a truly mercenary or vulgar bone in his body. When we hugged it was so heavenly that I can still recall the press of his slender waist against mine, my head resting briefly against his lean but powerfully built shoulder. I wonder if he remembers my body as warmly?
However, although the sight of the sunlight dappling his dark, roguish curls as we sat by his backyard pool made my heart race, I kept things between us strictly friendly. I was hopelessly smitten with another man, and he had a girlfriend.
After all, to me a man in a relationship-- ANY kind of relationship-- becomes unappealing-- almost inhuman-- romantically speaking. Taken men are forbidden fruit of the strictly rotten variety in my estimation-- at least when it comes to cheating with them.
Anyhow, he let me know as soon as he broke up with his girlfriend, although, at the time, he was back on the West Coast where he works and lives with as much good humor as he can muster while still longing for New York.
After our summer encounters I saw him briefly in October, after he showed up-- to my delight-- at my friend Pearl's birthday party. He met the person who had been the object of my infatuation over the summer (whom he knew by name and openly loathed on sight, which shocked me) but I kept the fact that there was, after all, nothing going on between the two of us to myself. Paul just assumed otherwise, and I was somehow reticent to disabuse him of the notion.
Maybe it's the disparity in our social classes that makes me so wary-- after all, he can't even join any social-networking sites because of the gossip blogs that constantly try to unjustly portray him as a rich, reckless party animal in order to paint his endlessly Forbes-featured father in a bad light, and I'm... a stripper (at least for now).
When I told him that, in addition to my ghostwriting job, I was working as a dominatrix, he hardly cared. He was more fascinated with my religious beliefs and having conversations about ethical quandries, astral projection, etc. I suppose it's the same way I feel about him, unless I'm much mistaken, or a fool-- our occupations are only so much stage business compared to the lively affection we feel for one another. I don't really want to tell him I'm stripping just yet, though.
Anyhow, he recently invited me "Come see him in the flesh" on the west coast. I'm considering it. Since he's now fully aware I'm saving myself for marriage, he can't possibly imagine I'm an easy lay, not that finding willing girls has ostensibly been much of a problem for him. Yet, in my mind, regarding an in-person encounter, all roads lead to his bed, and I can't imagine that he feels much differently. However, I'm sure it would be very frustrating for him to take things back to junior high in terms of physical intimacy, which is my basic M.O. In fact, I get so dizzy just thinking about the possibility of his lips brushing mine that I wonder if a weekend spent together wouldn't be more like torture for both of us, really.
I've accepted that my ideas about virginity are not the only valid ones. I wish other people would do the same... it's difficult enough to be divided from such a critical aspect of human life without being thought of as backwards. What Paul will say at the critical moment, I do not know, and slightly fear.
Even so, I'd be lying if I didn't admit the half of me that still believes that romance with a man is possible, despite all my previous strike-outs, longs to find out. I would love to give him my finest attempts at intimacy and partnership for a few days and see what happens.
Would he break my heart?
Would I end up becoming as frozen and out of control as I fear and say or do something cruel to him, as a coping mechanism?
Should I go?
PS The way Paul signs his emails with a single capital X makes me bite my lip.
PS I got so much paint on my clothes they were starting to actually drip. Consequently, after stripping them off to finish I got so splattered with paint my skin began to look as mottled as Zartan's in the swamp (Remember that villaneous changeling from GI Joe?). It's even in my hair.