Yesterday I took two of my three children to grab a bite to eat at one of our favorite local lunch spots. There was a couple sitting at the next table and the man caught the attention of my fifteen-year-old daughter, who nudged me. He wore a T-shirt that read, “I’m not a gynecologist, but I’ll take a look.” He was also sporting a camo baseball cap with the Confederate flag which read “Confederate Border Patrol.” I rather suspect he was from what people in Northern Virginia call, “downstate.”
Snips of the couple’s conversation reached us. My daughter and I exchanged glances. He told his date that he drives his truck even though he doesn’t have a driver’s license and when he was stopped, the law let him off. “I told them, if I drive you’ll put me in jail, if I don’t drive then I can’t make money to pay child support and you’ll put me in jail,” he said. “My baby girl ain’t never gonna say her Daddy’s a deadbeat. No way.”
Well, I gotta respect that.
“You have a kid?” the date asked. (He certainly didn’t look old enough to be a father.) “Kids and animals love me,” she said.
It would have seemed like a first date except they were embarrassingly familiar, obviously lovers already.
Call me crazy, but I’m not into falling into bed with a fellow without some preliminary sense of who they are. (I can’t imagine falling into bed with a fellow wearing a T-shirt like that one, either.)
This morning, during the fifteen minutes I share alone with my daughter in the van every day between her brother’s school and her’s, my daughter said, “It’s kinda weird that they are probably having sex and they don’t even know each other. I guess for some people it’s like that, meaningless.” How does a mother respond to that?
Sex can mean everything or it can mean nothing.
There were so many things that Ex did in the marriage that were outrageously hurtful, but the worst was to use me sexually. I thought sex meant everything and admittedly, it wasn’t very fun, at least in part, as a result.
Our sex life was a complicated one. In retrospect I think I had a stronger drive than Ex, and as I have written before, he has some serious unresolved issues related to the concept of masculinity. He couldn’t keep up and so felt… inadequate. He turned to the internet for validation, to make himself feel desired, satisfied, manly. (He did this AT THE OFFICE.) He cultivated these long-term relationships with women online involving cybersex, phone sex, and although he swore there was never any exchange of bodily fluids with anyone, I think it’s now rather well established that you can’t get STIs from a toilet seat.
This is the part that is abusive, once it came out, this was among the big deal-breakers: He was having these intimate relationships with other women and playing them out in our bedroom with neither my knowledge nor consent. Our sex life seemed to improve which I thought was about us, about me, but it wasn’t at all. He was having sex with me while fantasizing about doing it with someone else. Then he’d tell her the next day, “I was doing my wife last night [insert details] and I closed my eyes and imagined it was you.” It was an irreparable breach of trust.
He told and kissed and kissed and told. Sex can mean everything or it can mean nothing.
Post coitum omne animal triste est (After sexual intercourse every animal is sad)
Really, I should have seen the writing on the wall with regard to Ex’s character, or if not on the wall, in his notebooks. We had been married for a number of years, my middle son was a twinkle in his Daddy’s eye, and we were clearing things out of the drafty ramshackle farmhouse we lived in while he was in law school. I came across an old spiral notebook and looked to see what it was. In Ex’s hand on the first page was a love note TO “RUTH.” The note itself was trite and would have garnered little more than an eye roll except it contained a line that he had included in nearly every love note he had ever written me: “You are my one and only, forever.”
SLAP. He had used that line before and with someone else. I don’t know why I believed he never would again. (Here, I give myself one last kick over that one.) He probably said the same things to me under the covers that he had said to Ruth, too, probably the same things he says to her now, assuming they are lovers again.
Sex can mean everything or it can mean nothing.
If it means everything to you, you are necessarily vulnerable. If your trust is well-placed, it can be intensely gratifying. If it means nothing, it means nothing. No risk involved and you gain… an orgasm (if you’re lucky) and post-coital tristesse?
A few years ago I heard Rabbi Michael Lerner advocate a return of the sacred to sexuality. If sacred belongs anywhere, the trust between lovers is a good place. There are surely some for whom nothing is sacred. (Ex.) Isn’t a meaningless sex life indicative of a life without meaning? (My friend puts in that he feels the meaning drain from his life when he has no sex life.)
Christine O’Donnell, you had it wrong, babe. Sometimes masturbation is healthy. (I highly recommend the Hitachi Magic Wand for each and every single lady out there. Ladies, love yourselves. Get one.)
In case you missed it, here is Christine O’Donnell’s 1996 Anti-Masturbation Campaign clip on MTV’s ‘Sex in the 90′s.’