Thursday, July 01, 2004

What I Think About Sex

Started running just a bit, just a wee small bit, yesterday and today. The problem isn't my aerobic condition; the problem is my left ankle, which tends to lock up, scream and collapse whenever I'm going through anguish in a primary sexual relationship. I took the painful ankle to a local massage therapist yesterday, who specializes in trigger point therapy, horses, and old people. She was frustratingly tentative and cerebral. She kept poking me lightly and asking, 'there?' It came to me that there are as many mediocre bodyworkers as there are mediocre painters; both are deceptively simple mediums with a nearly limitless range of potential lameness. There are kitsch massages, all swoosh and no substance; aggressive, brutal carpenter massages, where the guy knows the anatomy but forgets there's a person in there; formless Abstract Expressionist bodywork; wispy drypoint doodling that is all theory and no affect. Knowledge, coupled with humility, coupled with empathy and power is very, very rare.

A person's body is not a machine that rights itself when you press the right button. It is an instrument that sings if you caress it with skill and with passion, warps if it is left out in the rain, sulks and decays if you put it in a box. I want a bodyworker who goes straight to the sore places and sinks into them over and over, stretches out the kinks, unblocks the flow, kneads and swirls like a cat dancing on my spine. I want someone who allows energy to flow through them like a cataract, who doesn't chatter or explain, who senses my body because they are in a body too, and they know what bodies feel like. Someone who massages people just like *I* do, dammit.

Anyway. This Sex thing. I figured I'd just EXPLAIN, finally, instead of getting into all these confusing, cross-purposes tangles, tangles that have been happening to me now for nearly twenty years. These scenarios are the stuff of farce. For years I have been considering writing a comic novel that begins with me reading a Georgette Heyer Regency romance novel on my boyfriend's bed, while he quietly and elaborately ties himself up. Occasionally I prod his penis with my foot; he groans in ecstasy, and we pass the entire afternoon in parallel fetish harmony.

But if I started, the funny stories would not end, and not a jot of enlightenment would be obtained, for each story is a story of separation, confusion, isolation and miscommunication. A friend of a friend of mine, bless her heart, recently attended a "sex workshop" in Manhattan, because she felt she needed some liberation. The instructor used some sort of egg object to masturbate in front of the entire (co-ed) class, then the participants paired off to coach each other in the technique. For other classes, an "intimate partner" was needed, but if you came to the class solo, they'd pair you up with someone. Oh, blarrgh, horror of horrors. It boggles.

Okay, so don't start getting upset and calling me a repressed fascist. I didn't finish yet. Learning the mechanics of sex is not bad, wrong or evil. It's merely necessary. It's also not sex; it's practicing scales. I can't get that excited about scales. For me, sex is intimate. It is integrated. And it is singular.

Arrgh, that doesn't work. Let me try again. Sex is the top of a fiddlehead fern thrusting through the earth. It is rooted in a single place; it pulls the sun and the water and the soil through itself, it pokes, it springs, it releases lace and glory to the air. It is concentrated creative potential, at one with its surroundings.

Intimate, what is that? It means you know, and are known.

It has always baffled me when people talk about having 'great sex' with people they barely know and don't particularly like. How is this possible? Yes, you can have an intense physical release, made all the more intense by the mystery, the adrenalin, the danger of an animal encounter with another animal in the dark. It's fine as far as it goes. But it doesn't last, it goes nowhere, it isn't rooted in anything. Non-intimate sex is lowest-common-denominator plumbing, snot-rag-for-the-lower-extremities, parts is parts. How boring. How depressing.

This is why, when all my college friends were blithely entering into polyamorous angst and telling me I was an uptight prude, I didn't get laid at all. I danced instead. Can we say, "sublimation?" Freshman and sophomore year I went to parties and had five beers, and when Joe Jackson's 'Steppin' Out' came on I started whirling and didn't stop until the song was over, and only then did I notice the circle of gaping mouths around me. Later on I discovered Austin's peerless live music scene, and for three dollars I could spend the whole evening doing interpretive movement, channelled straight from the source. The musicians would ask me, 'how do you know what we're going to do before we do it?' and of course I didn't; I wasn't thinking at all, just entering the flow. I was simply present.

I didn't want to sleep with anyone who wasn't interested in my soul, was all. The boys who approached me seemed all about ego, and arrogance, and indifference. They didn't give a hoot if I got pregnant, or herpes, or heartbroken. So I kept dancing. Allowing the complexities of music to direct me was the closest I could find to an intimacy high.

Later on, I tried, I tried so hard to un-repress myself, to get it the way other people seemed to. My first lover was simply awful in the sack, worse because he thought he was the greatest. He'd slobber all over me, put his hands in the wrong places, and misinterpret me jerking my face away from his octopus tongue for thrashings of ecstasy. The second was worse, a misogynistic narcissist who thought my body was disgusting. On and on, an act which should have been about communication became an exercise in frustration and misunderstanding. I tried to separate sex from relationship, from emotion, from partnership and communication, and failed completely. My first instinct has always been to integrate, and I think it is a sound one.

Great sex, I think, is a poem about a person. What I like is fine because I like it. What you like is beautiful too. How may these specifics work together to make art?

What interests me is tantric sex, which I haven't read much about because it is too damn frustrating to think about without an interested partner. How about moving very, very slowly, just to see what it's like, or gazing into each other's eyes for twenty minutes? What is there to discover? Can our souls touch each other?

It takes an enormous amount of trust, strength, and good boundaries to embark on a project like this; also chemistry, community and committment. Which is why I've so rarely tried it. I don't want to gaze into the eyes of someone who might suck me dry, or rip me to bits, or freak out and abandon me, or smell really bad and start to bore me. So I apologize to all the people who might have felt rejected by me over the years. What they didn't understand was that when they said, "hey baby, yer cute, why don't we get it on?" what I responded to was, "hey baby, how 'bout I suck up your soul and use it for Kleenex?" Just my own freaky baggage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i so agree with you - perhaps surprisingly so - except that intimate communication with a relative stranger is not impossible, if you have the soul of a temple whore. Just as it is possible to massage strangers senstively or do therapy.

I also am having funny flashbacks to the tantric experiences i had back then with R.A. who in an actual sexual situation was much as you described with the slobbering, misinterpreting octopus, but who could make my brain have total multiple orgasms just by gently caresssing my arm for hours and talking about philosophy while gazing sometimes into my soul and sometimes off into the vague distances of the ether.

-- badgrr