It started with grapes. Grape started with a chat with Ms. Serena Blue about the modern LGBT movement, the flaccid backbone of the American Liberal Party and modern chick lit. I dropped the names of a few British poets (American women become soppy at even the thought of British accents), gave my best Hemingway reading, and untethered a feign blasé flick of the wrist to procure the wine. I did not plan to have the taste of yesterday, however sweet, on my tongue today, but I woke up this morning and discovered myself in my room lying next to a sleeping Serena Blue.
The room wasn’t spinning, but it did feel alive. The smell of grape from the evening before was still lingering on the breath of the walls. The floor was haggard with a few bottles of wine, my favorite dinner jacket, a black dress, shoes and heels. The bed was suffused with the naked bodies of Serena, our intimacy and me. Serena had her share of cracks, blotches and cellulite, but all of it together with the curve of her lower lip that slightly protruded her upper one, made her meet the prerequisites of my bedding. Not that my bed is that picky; I’m permitted to sleep in it.
I wanted water, but the taste of the rounds of her shoulders, where her perfectly fed and swarthy colored hair meets her collarbone, was still on my lips. I would have ventured off into my tiny kitchen if it weren’t for Serena opening her eyes. Watching a beautiful woman sleep is almost as fulfilling as watching that same woman wake up. Her sleep was demure. She couldn’t help but be beautiful even when she is sleeping. Her attractiveness never took time off. At the moment her eyelashes unveiled her pupils, I placed my palm on the side of her cheek.
“So, this isn’t just going to be drunken sex if we keep going.” She said. She did not want to think about the consequences of having “sober-sex.” Sober-sex means sex with clarity, sex with intention and without excuse. To blame this, or our little affair, on alcohol is one thing, but to blame it on feelings is something else.
“You didn’t want to have sex?”
“No. I did, but I didn’t want to follow through…”
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“I was going to go into my room, but when you kissed me, I knew that I would have sex with you. You’re fun to kiss.”
I was worried about my kissing. I’ve always been worried about my kissing. My lips are larger than most and I have a phobia of bad smells, particularly when it is coming from me, but we were embarrassingly rich in kisses last night. Kisses on the floor, kisses on hands, kisses clothed and kisses unclothed.
“So, if I want to have sex with you, I just need to start making out with you?”
“No. I mean…I do want to have sex, but if I have sex with you again, I’m going to want to have sex with you all the time and that’s exactly the problem. I have to see you everyday.”
“Does that mean you can’t look at me without thinking about having sex with me?” I served the question with a hint of sarcasm and a smile, hoping to receive some sort of validation.
“Don’t you think it would be weird? To sleep with your roommate?”
“It only makes sense to sleep with someone you are living with. The real issue is when you aren’t having sex with the person you are living with.” Serena didn’t know I knew she and her beau, Tim, were temporarily abstinent. The locus of their issue was Serena’s wanting to live with him and to marry but Tim was in quasi “bachelorhoodum.” They were working out the chastity in their relationship, but their sometime-on-sometime-off solidarity did not deter my moral compass. I seemed to be able to navigate my way into (so to speak) having sex with a “taken” woman.
Sex with Serena wasn’t weird at all. It did not take long for our bodies to be acquainted. She touched well and with purpose. She wrapped her arms around my back to pull me close and catch her rhythm. We breathed together, moved together and she wiped the droplets of sweat from my face like a mother would tears. There were aspects of our sex, however, that could have been more gracious. Dressing myself in the condom was one of the more ungainly tasks. Trying to not notice myself roll lubricated rubber up my skin felt like trying on a suit in a department store. My father taught me every man should own a good suit and wear it well. Putting on a good suit is not like dressing in leisure jeans and T-Shirt. Effortlessly sliding the arms down and out the sleeve and tugging the collar of the suit jacket for the perfect fit around the chest and shoulders is an art. It’s especially unattractive for a man to lack the ability to wear a suit and walk in one.
“I can see how it would be a little weird, but I’m not worried about it.” I answered.
“And I don’t want to like you.” Serena cathartically confessed.
“I can see that.”
“But I do want to have sex with you.”
“I can see that.” ‘I can see that’ was my stock reply when I was hearing someone, but not listening or at least not caring, which is to say “I can see that” is my defense mechanism for things I can’t see or unsee. It was the same type of stock reply my father would give me every time I asked a series of nonsensical questions, to which he replied in spates of indolent “yeahs.” Ostensibly, sober-sex is sex that will lead to feelings. It is sex that does not trespass on inhibitions. For Serena, sober-sex could mean the end.
“How are you going to feel when Tim comes over?” She asked as if I should feel something.
“I’ll be fine. What happens in your relationship isn’t my business. But I’m not going to say anything, if that is what you are asking.” But of course I will say something. Not to Tim, though. Not to the Adonis reincarnate – doctoral candidate in Education, Tim. Not the Tim whose words are only slightly less attractive than his voice. Serena will talk about it, but not with Tim. Not with her boyfriend of two years. Not with the man she wants to like and to share feelings with. But, she will talk. All women talk. In the world of mass loquacity, someone will talk. Some evidence will surface: A tweet, Facebook post or a conversation alluding to the bond Serena and I have developed over the last six months. Someone will be privy to my insecurities that manifested themselves during sex. Someone will know about the way I forged passion in my hands to touch Serena. Someone will know I was afraid to make eye contact because she would see that I already did like her. Someone will know that, to Serena, I am a fleeting thought.
The doorbell rings. It’s Tim. Serena and I were in bed latched onto each other. A leg wrapped around here, a leg wrapped around there, my hand on her waist and my arms around her shoulder. There is a knock on the door. It’s Tim. We roll out of bed and tidy up the secret in my room. Serena greets Tim at the door. Their kiss, in public, is not what our private ones just were. Their kiss looked stale and antiquated. He flopped on the couch noticing the weather on my face.
“Long night John? You look as if you’re dying.”
My hangover was dying. My grape was dying. When your feelings need pampering the heart will beat, kick, and piss feeling from your eyes and if you’re lucky enough you’ve recently cried, so the acidity of tears won’t hurt as much. And my tears had already been brushed away from my face by Serena.
I looked over at Tim and once back at Serena realizing why Serena will not like me and why we will not have sober-sex and replied to Tim, “I can see that.”