"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Confessions Of A Man Who Loved Women

Tolstoy wondered at the irony of an omnipotent God who had created Man, an intelligent, insightful, creative, ambitious creature, only to let him live a few decades and then consign him to eternity beneath the cold, hard ground of the steppes.

Louis Bernstein, a modern 20th century philosopher agreed entirely with the Russian’s sentiments, but modified them somewhat.  God’s worse irony was to create men with a short life of sexual potency but an long one of unremitting sexual desire. 

Image result for images tolstoy

Henry Parsons was a man well into his declining years who ate regularly at Sea Bream, an upscale restaurant with a great oyster bar, the best clam chowder east of the San Francisco Ferry Building, and an impressive array of fresh fish from Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts.  “I only eat at restaurants where I am known”, Henry said.

Henry had been a patron of Sea Bream for years, a friend of the establishment, a welcome and well-paying customer – a man with good taste and a respectful, although friendly distance.  Until he met Jessica, a young woman from Gaithersburg who tended bar at lunchtime.  She was young with the allure that only women aware of their sexual appeal can express.

In a scene in Woody Allen’s Match Point, the Scarlett Johansson character says to her male suitor who has just complimented her on her beauty, “What I am is sexy”.

“So you are aware of the effect you have on men?”, he says.

Men have always been drawn to her, she says. They think about her, dream about her, tell stories about her.  She does nothing to rouse their interest.  She is just completely and inexplicably, desirable.

It is no surprise that of all the Hollywood beauties who have appeared on screen since the beginning of film, Marilyn Monroe has had the most interest.   She was not classically beautiful, but had an unmatchable sensuousness and sensuality.  She had allure, an immediate, unmistakable and undeniable sexual appeal.  She embodied sexual desire.  Men were drawn to her not to admire her beauty but to make love to her.


Henry Parsons had passed his sexual ‘pull-by’ date.  Well into late middle-age he had certainly had his last fling.  At his age few young women were attracted to him; and those who were, were drawn more by his position, wealth, and his still obvious male confidence than his physical appeal.  But such is the nature of December-May affairs – always something in it for young women, the promise of a professional assist, collectibles, or an unconscious but familiar desire to be dominated by an intellectually powerful, dominant man; and for the older man youth, plain and simple.  Love with a much younger woman is a Christmas gift, a train set under the Christmas tree, a bicycle.

Coleman Silk, the main character in Phillip Roth’s The Human Stain, says about his young lover, “Granted, she’s not my first love; and granted she’s not my best love; but she certainly is my last love.  Doesn’t that count for something?”.  Of course it does, and although everyone including Coleman knows that his relationship with a 35 year-old part-time janitor and farmhand, divorced from a Vietnam vet psychopath, can only end badly, he continues.  There is nothing like it, he confesses to his friend Nathan.  Something far more than some hackneyed song about last love, finality, male sexuality, or some kind of ironic destiny.  “It’s about the fucking”, says Nathan who envies his older friend his adventure. 

Image result for images the human stain movie

Yes, it is, admits Coleman who says that since it had been so long since he had had sex that he had he forgotten what it was like.  Nevertheless not a day had gone by since his last satisfactory love affair that he had not thought about young women. He was one of the many men consigned by God’s cruelest irony to be obsessed by sex but unable to do much about it.

So Henry watched Jessica as she served the wine, took orders, said goodbyes and hellos, and wiped the counters.  There was an inviting way in which she bent for the chardonnay, stood up to smooth and straighten her dress, replace the curl that had come loose from her hair.  She was as appealing as the Scarlett Johansson character in Match Point and as unassumingly sensual as Marilyn Monroe, a woman who couldn’t move without a profound sensuality and sexual allure.

Image result for images marilyn monroe

Henry thought, desired, and approached Jessica just as he had when he was thirty-five years younger.  His interest, physical responsiveness, and sense of pursuit had not changed at all; and judging by the response of Jessica, she was still drawn to him. It was just that he was so old, so obviously unsaleable, so past any due date.  God’s irony was indeed harsh and unnecessary.

Or was even that a fiction? Were her smiles simply a learned response, or could there possibly be something else there, even a suggestion of sexual possibility?

His doctor suggested, when Henry had mentioned that his sex life was nil, that he – no, his wife – should arrange for a concubine. Even the Governor of New York had paid for sex at the Mayflower.  Parsons was overvaluing spontaneous, mutual sex.  In an era of fake news, realistic, hard –to- tell –from –the –real- thing news, they said, what was so off-putting about a high class call girl whose orgasms would seem as real as any he would ever experience?

No, Henry insisted, it was a matter of pride.  If he couldn’t get a woman on his own merits, no woman was worth the effort and the money.

Yet he was lined, sagging, and old.  Who was he kidding?  Although he saw Jessica just as she was – lovely, lithe, sexy, and alluring – she could only see him as he saw himself.

A close friend, hearing of Henry’s frustrated lament suggested that he dress the part of mature lover – a hand-tailored Armani suit, Italian silk tie and soft calfskin loafers, and stylish glasses.  Although he was by no means the real estate developer, K Street lawyer, or investment banker that the clothes would suggest, there was no harm in a little show.   Women were still suckers for sugar daddies, Henry’s friend advised, even in an age of feminism.

“Ask her out for dinner at the Four Seasons”, he suggested.

“So, what then?”, asked his friend when Henry demurred on both counts.  Long declining years with regret?  Muddling about the kitchen when the game was not yet finished, not by a long shot?

Yet, despite his interest, it was simply too much effort.  How, after decades of marriage, grandchildren, and the camaraderie and good fellowship  of a good wife could he even think of realizing his sexual fantasies? 

The questions answered themselves.  Artifact, artifice, circumstance, and happenstance resolved all.   As an honored patron of Sea Bream, Henry was invited to a five course, wine-paired dinner cooked by their starred chef.  The event would be catered, and the staff would enjoy the same meal, wine, and service as the patrons.

Just as the fictitious Coleman Silk needed serendipity and circumstance to fulfill his fantasies and to realize them, so did Henry Parsons.  An older man’s patience, thankfulness, and insistent desire is a delight for a young woman; and as much as Jennifer wondered what she was doing with him, she was charmed and seduced by his attention, insistence, and patience.

Little was said or done after the catered affair.  Jessica went back behind the bar, and Henry came in every week for oysters and IPA; and there were no recriminations, second thoughts, or denials.  For her it was an unusual but unimportant interlude in a long sexual life.  For him it was God’s irony overturned.  Now he could return to the kitchen, chaise lounges, South Florida, and grandchildren without once wishing he was elsewhere.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.