Sheer speculation, research, art, memory, and even poetry about the cosmic, tidal force of sex.
aka ‘The Hairdresser’ (1905)
Note: This is a writing exercise exploring an important memory, but one that existed like a collection of facts without much context or meaning. I find when I use writing to explore a memory that the lights come back on, and details lead to meanings along a narrative path. Every time I’ve done this I’ve been given a fresh understanding with relevance to my life in this very minute.
In college, (in Florida) during Freshman orientation I met Ally. We had nothing in common except for an instant liking for each other. Something about the other brought out the loving and playful side of us both. We had silly, warm-hearted fun every time we got together, and that was a lot. I was friends with her and her roommate, Laura, and spent time with them almost every day. Ally was tall, slim, and blonde, a bit angelic. Laura was pale with black hair and blue eyes, beautiful really.
Randomness made them roommates but they had good friend chemistry and shared the cultural reality of being good girls from the conservative, Christian south. They were both sheltered, innocent, and upright. They dressed modestly. Whereas I was some sort of oddball from the liberal agnostic dimension with a good bit of sex and drugs in my experience bank. I was a shameless male slut and good at getting into sexual situations. In fact, by this age, I had managed to be kind of a shallow manipulative asshole sexually multiple times. This isn’t ugly bragging at all, just truthtelling. Here’s the odd thing, attracted as I was to both Ally and Laura, I just loved them innocently and couldn’t have MADE myself seduce either of them. I understood half-consciously that that part of me wasn’t good for people. Spontaneously, I wanted to be good for both of them.
This doesn’t mean we were prim and distant. I’d visit and I’d talk all kinds of silly crap that made them laugh, then maybe they’d make us tea and we’d eat oranges together. Soon this would devolve into orange peel wars and finally into grunting and groaning wrestling matches across every surface in the dorm room but the ceiling. Continue reading
Years ago in my early 20s, I enrolled in a massage school in the San Francisco Bay area to get my license. There was an academic side of studying anatomy and physiology, and a practical side of learning new techniques and alternating massages with the other students for several hours each time we met. At the end of the course, we had to pass the anatomy/ physiology exam and give a practical demonstration of our massage skills. We met twice a week for a couple of months.
On day one, the group was me, one older guy, about 10 or 12 women in their 20s and 30s, and the 40ish woman who ran the school. On day 2 the other guy quit. For the rest of the course, I was the only man (naked) in a big open room full of massage tables and naked women. We were all naked, giving and receiving massages, except for breaks until the end of the day. Possibly this was to burn out any tension about nudity, if not it was just the culture of San Fransisco in the 80s. Come to think of it, it would have been really awkward dressing between rounds only to strip again minutes later.
I was comfortable with social nudity and although the situation was kind of abstractly exciting (mainly while anticipating everyone disrobing) I found that while giving massage I naturally tuned in to the personal and vulnerable story each woman’s body had to tell. Stresses, strains, and scars are written on the skin and in the muscles, and emotions like shame or sadness could be felt while passing through certain areas. The main feeling evoked was compassion. I didn’t get a hard-on because the vibe was clearly non-sexual. Context matters.
The memory that still sizzles a bit was one day when I was on the table face up, and the woman massaging me was working my thighs. This is almost an automatic erection trigger for me and I went to full extension in seconds like an inflatable emergency liferaft. I just had enough time to think “Eek!” and start mentally hissing at my dick like a misbehaving child in church. “Sit DOWN, sit down right now!”
When suddenly our teacher was at the foot of the table and calling the class to gather around with an “Oh look what I found!” tone of voice, and they did, 11 naked women gathered in a half-circle at the foot of my table, calmly staring at my hard-on. I took this in with one glance and focused instead on the ceiling. I would have expected him to roll up like a sad snail but he responded to attention like a confident runway model.
Paraphrasing, she said: “This happens with male clients all the time. Erections are spontaneous. It’s normal, often completely innocent, and nothing you ever need to do anything about.” A few students had questions and she answered them simply, and light-heartedly to reinforce the message that it was normal and no big deal.
I suspect she’d been wanting (and waiting) to make this point with the group and I was the only one present who could demo the uh… situation. I just laid there… pointing urgently at the ceiling and feeling the eyes on me in a kind of waking version of the showing-up-naked-at-High-School dream till she dismissed everyone back to their tables.
My masseuse returned to work carefully “avoiding the issue” with both of us feeling more self-conscious than usual for the duration.
and vice versa
Credit to SNOTM
(whisper it to yourself or you won't be able to feel it)
I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish Wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.
Minor premise: An organism’s life & survival script never conflicts with its sexual strategy…even if it appears to.
A complicated cultural schematic overlays our behavior: Success hinges on remaining acceptably within cultural mores while acting with sufficient energy and persistence to attain sex. We have always found it necessary to act like better-behaved people than we are, by the standards of whatever culture surrounds us. Culture presses on us from above while the force of desire presses against it from below. It’s another dynamic tension force that sustains community homeostasis.
It also means hypocrisy is structurally essential to us. We have to put on a perfectly innocent demeanor before the world or face disapproval. Even when sex is the objective we must simultaneously try, try, try to get laid while acting like it isn’t all that important to us and we’re sort of over it. It is a required best practice to be split along this line and feign nonchalance no matter how desperate for sex we may be. Perverse as it seems this behavior makes PERFECT sense for humanity. Like so many of nature’s sex settings for us, this one is about restraint and self-control. It’s about being steady and self-possessed; delayed gratification is the only kind we have. So when a male human is very horny and female human is very horny too, they approach each other and pretend they are not much interested in sex. Ladies and Gentlemen, HUMAN COURTSHIP and why it is so awful.
People who don’t worry about being morally perfect make far better sense of this than those who do. We either know what we’re about or at the extreme, we split into a creature of a dangerous naivety whose left hand is worried because it hasn’t heard from the right hand in weeks. In the first case, we are defacto hypocrites, but big deal. Society demands it. Hypocrites are generally more trustworthy, they know what’s going on and therefore have more reliable self-control and limits. In the second case, we believe our own “sheep’s clothing” and are surprised by our behavior when sexuality appears “out of nowhere”. It doesn’t have to be full submersion denial of erotic impulses, for many people brought up in the “rule following” school of goodness, getting erotically worked up is touching the downed power line of guilt and shame. We call these people Catholics.
The even MORE deeply naive will act out sexually in kind of compulsive, semiconscious state and blame the victim or claim a misunderstanding… and believe it themselves. They will harumph with wounded pride at the very idea… Naive moralists will often develop complex and bizarre rationales to forgive themselves their “trespasses”. Apparently, some predator priests convince themselves they are doing LESS harm by having sex with children than with grown-ups…BECAUSE the kids are not sexually mature, so it’s less seriously breaking the celibacy vow than if they were with adults. Notice they are concerned about themselves alone and trying to change the whole subject to theology. After a thousand years of child rape, perhaps it’s time to stop addressing priests as “Father”.
Major premise: All sexual organisms have a sexual strategy.
In part 1 I talked about how desire has sculpted human bodies into what would have been a sexual superstimulus 200 thousand years ago but I left out an essential underlying principle. Unless you are a drab shell of a person who has entirely given up, there is a layer of your daily behavior that is about sustaining fuckability. It’s unlikely you check the mirror on your way out the door and say “Awesome, still fuckable” but I’ll bet that thought HAS surfaced, maybe using different words or no words at all, many times. The fact that you can estimate your fuckability quotient by glancing in a mirror points to the underlying principle.
Even the people who would summon up an old school “harumph, well I never…” of denial at the suggestion that they glance at everyone’s naughty bits or evaluate their own fuckability this way, absolutely do operate this way but with their naivety draped modestly over their self-awareness. Nature cares about the behavior, not the self-awareness. Nothing is more representative of our behavior than to think endlessly of sex while doing everything in our power to hide those thoughts from others.
With the origin of humanity, nature launched a new project that included radical departures from her standard rules for mammals. Having a harumph reaction to sexuality is uniquely human and a frankly weird deviation from standard earthly norms. Animals have a “stop that!” reaction, and a”get that thing away from me” reaction but they lack the harumph. Why? Why do we Harumph? Why don’t they? What exactly does “harumph” accomplish for us? That end will be tied up in part 3. Continue reading
The advent of life on earth was a revolutionary uptick in the complexity of the universe. It was unlike all that preceded it but it wasn’t much to look at. It remained that way, asexually replicating till time itself grew bored and wished to go do something else.
At last another revolution appeared… a revolution of making new and different things forever: Sexual reproduction.
Top priority was making new combinations of life and new combinations out of those combinations. Obviously, any organism capable of sexual reproduction has to have a reproductive system. This is the HOW. If all we had was the HOW, the revolution would fail for want of a WHY. What is the WHY of sexual reproduction?
You look beautiful tonight, that color is incredible on you. God, you smell good. In this light, you look like an angel. I never thought I could feel this way. Kiss me.
The WHY is Attraction, Desire, Approach, and Embrace. Without desire, life would have stopped evolving at blue-green algae. Let’s imagine that nature herself wants sexual reproduction to succeed in spreading innovation, diversity, and beauty in an ever-expanding wave around the world. The first thing SHE has to do is make everything want it as badly as she does.
And Nature said, “Let there be lust”. Continue reading
In a dream more real than waking,
we were athletes, running true
and dancing hard, till breath was short
and you breathed me and I breathed you
pressed together, holding tight,
the pressure built to a teapot boil, and
off we took! Away we flew!
Plucked and held by the Angel, Eros
flown at mad speeds, swerving through
the sleeping trees, and over
the fields of aster, balsam, thistle, rue*
Faster than suddenly, lifted UP
UP to the highest open-air
and UP over green hill,
we startled the wind, who softened,
and sighed to an evening prayer
all the town spread out below
all the lights, warm loving stars
face to face, our hair askew
our mouths, as one, agape, ajar, said:
God, I hope you see this too!
*Aster, Balsam, and Thistle plants are symbolically associated with great love, Rue is associated with regret.