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

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Saturday Morning Drunks–Trysts With ‘E’ And Sexual Epiphany

Bailey and Laura met in her Adams Morgan walk-up every Saturday morning, a tryst of last-chance adventure and a significant  relationship.  He, a mature professional of impeccable credentials – Harvard Law and Law Review, partner-in-waiting in the offices of Hastings, Potter, and Amalfi – and she, an Account Manager in a well-known eleemosynary group known for work in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean -  left all credentials and professional propriety behind, and had anonymous and restorative sex in a small, undistinguished, and ignored apartment in Washington.

He prepared for their meetings early, many vodkas and orange juice before sunup, and two on the way to her apartment.  She, by the time he arrived, had finished a bottle of Sancerre.  They observed the Five Minute Rule – five minutes between arrival and  bed – and even though both were tantalized, drunk as they were, by sexual hijinks; it wasn’t more than ten minutes before they stumbled down her narrow staircase to the bedroom.

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It was a perfect sexual union.  Both were excited by drunkenness – sexual abandon and irresponsibility; and both had lost any and every identity.  Precursory position, status, class, or education were supernumerary and insignificant.

Of course, sexuality being what it is – a felicitous contact of needy individuals – all this history was of little consequence; but what was in the field of play was their former history. She, daughter of a loving but absent father, and he, encouraged by a romantic, deceived, and desperate mother, could not have done otherwise.  Sexual union was mysterious, unaccounted for, and passionate exactly because of its antecedents.  Women marry their fathers and sons their mothers, and it has always been. Feminism, for all its cant and progressive sanctimony can never be realized until potent patriarchy has been removed from the equation.

For Bailey and Laura, such ratiocination was meaningless, for whatever the reason, their sex was a fait accompli – they could not have done otherwise.

For Bailey it was an end-of-time sexual event – at his age of declining sexual potency but increased sexual interest, it was perfect form.  As the Coleman Silk character in Phillip Roth’s novel The Human Stain says about a younger, improbable affair, “She is not my first love, nor my best love, but she certainly is my last love.  Doesn’t that count for something?”  

Bailey was not so convinced – if luck and life would have it she would not be his last love – but he was not unaware of the existential proportions of it all. An unexpected gift under the Christmas tree.  He might have other loves, but even so, the magnificence of this lovely, blonde, succulent 34-year old was to be appreciated as though it were his last.

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He always brought two bottles of Dom Perignon to top off the morning’s buzz.  They finished the first bottle on the couch, preliminaries, sexual intimation and unbuttoning – guessing the color of her lace panties, opening his old-fashioned fly, lubricating the lot with spilled champagne; and drank the second with Remy Martin.

By 9 o’clock they were downstairs in bed in her functional basement first floor, dark but lit with scented candles.  “What am I doing here?”, he asked himself, but in one’s final decades all bets are off. A sexual cinq-a-sept with a girl from Gaithersburg is but cherries and whipped cream on the frosting of the cake.  Gone are aspirations of love with ‘a like-minded’ woman, a woman of taste, culture, education, and sensitivities. He had married one, a Boston Brahmin with Main Line Philadelphia associations, Bryn Mawr undergraduate, and Penn Law, and it had gotten him nowhere – satisfying intellectual repartees but with no emotional demands, neither sexual horniness nor personal inquiries. After two decades with her Bailey was bored.

His basement trysts, while not the affairs of the Antilles, St. Bart’s, and the Comoros, were what the doctor ordered.  “Be happy that you can perform at all”, Dr. Fein said, “and don’t bother so much with how or with whom”.

Very cynical and data-based to be sure, but disturbing nonetheless.  For Bailey, however, The question about Bailey’s performance was not how satisfying it was, but where it would lead.  He would not be the first man whose sex ruled his head, and like all the rest gave little thought to how to get out of a relationship which, as for most men, was opportunistic at best.  Bailey knew that 1) he was involved in a relationship of convenience (his); 2) his lover saw it otherwise, a relationship of great status, potential, and security; 3) breaking it off would be nasty, difficult, and dangerous.  Few women who have invested in such December-May love affairs want to come out of them empty-handed.

Bailey, like most men, wanted in and out and done with it; and Laura like most women wanted her fair share.

None of this mattered during the affair; and in fact both wanted amplification; and it wasn’t long before they were having second behind E and coke and having one sexual epiphany after another, one mutual Lawrentian orgasm after another.

How they held these encounters to once a surprise. Somehow cheating on one’s wife on the weekend was within proper limits, but to do so in the middle of the week during pre-school, K Street executive meetings, and investment counselling was unseemly.

In an age of longevity, minor irritations, and prescribed institutions, sexual encounters seem to matter less than in previous years of rectitude, Church, and manners. An afternoon liaison in those days meant something; and while not the Salem of Hawthorne when sexual infidelity was mortal, transgression still carried great consequences.  

The affair of Bailey and Laura went unnoticed by all – his wife whose moral imperviousness was not uncommon in marriage, and Laura’s colleagues from whom she wanted to hide the ignominy of her love affair with an old man. 

Before long Laura realized that it was time to shed the 35 year difference in age and get on with her life; and just as quickly he realized that he would need wifely support in his final years.

The irony of life, wrote Tolstoy, is that God created man to desire women until his dying day, but that he gave them only a few, short, frustrated years of sexual performance.  So on the one hand Bailey was a Lawrentian, believing in  the salvational grace of sex; and Tolstoyian in his acceptance of life as futile and unrewarding at best.

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Sex ruled the roost of course, and Bailey, even in his declining years, hoped for another Laura.  He had no idea how physically unattractive he had become, all withered parchment and asymmetry and chicken breast; and internally, apart from the mirror, thought himself as virile as his fantasies.  

Bailey was lucky that Laura came along late in his life – for most an age of Miami beaches, chaises lounges, and grandchildren– and pulled him at least temporarily out of his cohort group. He, like every older man seduced into this idyll, assumed that not only would it continue forever, but more, and even better affairs would follow.

No matter how much men may cite the security of their end years – loving wife, children, grandchildren, and bank account – as indicators of satisfaction and of having played life’s cards well, every one of them on their deathbed thinks not of them but of loves lost.  Life was always about sex.

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