Monday, August 3, 2009

Letter to a stranger...

What am I supposed to say to you?

Sunday morning, I woke up to a man's hands running all over my body, my shoulder, the dip of my waist, cresting my hip, sliding between my legs as I lie still on the mattress, barely audible moans starting to emmanate from my throat.

He slides into me and we spend the next few hours engaging in different forms of sexual activity. My teeth and tongue on his chest and shoulders have him calling me an animal, and even though I'm on top, I know he could flip me over and subdue me in an instant.

It doesn't matter.

Breakfast and laughter, shared silence in the morning over coffee, watching the trickling of "early" risers on Sunset Boulevard.

We separate, and I go and write, I go and fill pages with my thoughts.

A few hours later, I'm in the arms of another man.

We're on the top story of a parking structure that overlooks all of Hollywood and Los Angeles, the moon is up behind us, the sun to my left, wind blowing my hair back as he presses his body against me roughly, fingers sinking into my flesh just below my collar bones, elicting whimpers and high pitched gasps, he traps my wrists against the wall behind me and grinds his pelvis into mine. I trail my tongue down the side of his neck, to his earlobe and back, he's quietly moaning and I writhe, undulating against him with that dancer sway I use at the clubs.

I know if I said the word, we'd be back at his place, in his bed.

But I hold off. Too many factors in play.

As the sun slides behind a building, we begin to lose our light and I know, I know that I'm going to be late to my friend's birthday dinner.

His girlfriend texts him, she's coming back from her mini-vacation with her other lover. My friend calls me, to ask when I'm arriving.

So we split, making plans for the next time.

I drive down the 101, to the 110, listening to Placebo. I get off at the wrong exit on a whim, but I memorized a map of the area earlier that morning, so it was no issue to find the place.

Steak, wine, bread. Friends are drinking and eating. I talk and laugh, am introduced to strangers, and when I go to leave, people begin to chant at me to kiss the birthday boy.

I decline.

The drive back home has me fading, has me loving the feel of forward motion, the rhythms of my car rocking me to sleep, but I drive like this more often than not.

I get home. My mother is up still, sitting in the family room, reading a book. I set my bags down and join her on the couch, tilting sideways and bringing my legs up, wrapping my body around a pillow, chin resting on the upper corner.

She asks me if I had a chance to talk to my sister. We speak on it for a minute, and then my sister and her boyfriend walk in the door. The boyfriend sits down in the armchair, my sister sits on top of him.

He's a robot. He's lost all personality as he scrapes by, intent on his depression, in love with being a victim.

My sister talks to my mom, obviously having built herself a shell of detachment and mild irritation to cover her fear and anger, her hurt at the situation.

But she's not as practiced as I am, and the shell starts to crack in front of me. Minor fractures that only I would recognize.

My eyes flutter closed and I listen to them talk, chin rubbing lightly on the pillow beneath me.

Ten minutes pass, and the pair goes upstairs to regroup. The airconditioner is on in full force because of the recent mini-heatwave, and it covers the whispered words my mother and I exchange.

She asks me how I think the talk went, about the opinions she gave, how frustrated everything is, how she is so distraught over the whole messed up situation, how much she has given and how little my sister acknowledges it. She asks if I'm upset, and I tell her no, that the only two things that bother me about the situation are that my father disrespected my mother's wishes and did not consult her before unleasing his temper, and that my sister is unable to see the flaws in her choice of mate, looking at him with blind love, which I find imbalanced and foolish.

At first, my mother denies any anger at her husband for going behind her back to deal with the situation. But I leave the space open, I let her talk, and as she does, her words shift, the emotions shift, and she opens. She is upset, she is hurt, she was furious and so sad about what happened, but there's nothing she can do about it at this point. Disrespect, so easy for my father to engage in, and never before has my mother opened up to me about how hurt it makes her feel. She's always denied it in the past.

I listen to her talk, leaning my side against the couch, eyes still half-closed.

When she says something I think is incorrect, I gently point out how my sister sees what's going on, and acknowledge that, yes, it does seem incorrect, but incorrect or not, it's how she feels and my mother needs to be aware of it and respect her feelings.

We talk about my past a little, and how my father handled it. The endless lectures, the constant judgment and total inacceptance.

And then I go upstairs to shower.

When I get out, toweling myself off, I hear voices through the bathroom door.

My sister is on the stairs, my mother at the base of them, and they're talking. My sister feels that my mother and father have not given enough help to her and her boyfriend. She wants money, or she wants to give up college so she and her boyfriend can move to Las Vegas, where rent is cheaper.

I brush my teeth, debating for a few minutes if I should speak to her boyfriend, who is in the next room.

To tell him to listen to the conversation downstairs, that my sister is willing to give up her future, her comfort, her wellbeing, for him. That he's the pressure on her, tearing her apart from her parents. That she hasn't truly been happy since she's been dating him. And how he could ever say he truly loves her? If you love someone, you want them to be the happiest, healthiest, and best off they can be. If that's with another person, you let them go. If that's in another state, you let them go.

Because you want the world for them.

He's a self-centered leech. He would allow her to give up her schooling, allow her to move to Las Vegas, in order to keep her. He lets her fight all his battles, lets her help pay his bills, when he needed a place to live, she was the one looking for it, not him.

I did not. I finished brushing my teeth and went to bed.

We dance between worlds, between beings, between ways of being. Because there are parts of us that we can't show other people. I take up with men who understand that a relationship is not currently for me. I take up with men who expect no promises, but value my friendship, value my body, value the dynamic we have in bed. I swing through devoted lover, bedwarmer, sex-starved slut, confidant, therapist, teacher, coworker, student, and writer, and I do this all with the constant voice in the back of my head analyzing and watching, urging me to manipulate, engineer. Body language, tones, word selection. Information is relayed in what people say and what they don't, and I listen for what they don't.

Going between two partners in less than four hours is no issue. I've had weeks where I was out, and/or sleeping with, a different man almost every night. Five dates over the course of a weekend is no issue, though I won't sleep with most of them, though I could.

I go through this. I go through watching GV8 test the waters, watching him to see what he does, to see what he wants. I listen to his word choice, I watch the angle and drive of his stories, and learn about his goals. His body language in bed cements it, and I understand, make estimates and probabilities. My brain is a constant flow-chart of "if..., then..." statements.

When I spoke to my sister on the phone before I arrived home, she told me of her plan now that her boyfriend would have to move out, complete with the logic behind it.

To a perfect 'T', it was exactly as I predicted. Her reasoning was mine, word for word, presented to my mother weeks ago.

So I made a counter-point to her, one that was easy to make, that followed her own logic. The one that would cause minimum damage.

When I got up this morning, my father was up in the kitchen, putting on his shoes, his white button-up not yet tucked into his slacks. I was eating applesauce, leaning against the counter, and he asked me, casually, if I had talked to my sister.

I gave him an affirmative, but no more. I let him draw himself out, listened to the slow, careful queries, the ones that would indicate how he actually felt. Left that gaping space open so that if he wanted any information, he would have to provide it to me first.

I had been awake for fifteen minutes, after spending a good chunk of the night listening to my mother and sister, but not interfering.

Fifteen minutes and barely awake, and I was pushing the buttons I needed to push in order to operate the machine that is my father.

What are you supposed to say to that?

I'm turning into a puppeteer.

And you know what you're doing, too, when you move the pieces around the board with this combination of self-loathing and supreme satisfaction. The dark hero, plagued by demons. It's not a fakery, but it's not everything. We both know that if there wasn't a love, a drive, a desire, to do it, to do what we do, the way we do it, we'd stop.

Even when we're falling apart, even at emotional heights, there's always a part that isn't reaching us. A part of us to reserved, so isolated and untouchable, that whatever emotions we experience, we're not fully experiencing them.

Disconnected naturally, and then disconnected once more by the sheer fact that we aren't quite with everyone else.

Yes, I know.

So I keep myself separate. Relationships are a no go. You dive right in, and I wonder if you feast on the destruction that follows, or if it's just a sidenote.

What do you want? Do you know?


  1. I'm having a hard time understanding why your father isn't right.

    Sure he should have consulted your mother first. Which isn't the same thing as giving her veto power, assuming he's the one that's bringing in the dough paying for the house and everything else for the most part. Well I'd have a prenup that would give away as little of my economic power as I could under state law, given current divorce laws esp. in Cali.

    Although are you sure he really didn't? Has he not had a lot of discussions with her about how he was at the point of demanding this character, your sister's bf leave, if he didn't do this or that by then, or if he did any more of this other thing? Are you sure she didn't really have any good rejoinders to it? Maybe your mother mostly just doesn't want to take any responsibility for this "nasty, hard" move, with your sister but also with you, after you quizzed her on it. Maybe your mother always wants to be the softer more unconditionally loving one (of the two) and seem that way. OR maybe your dad did make that last small step on his own.

    Ideally he would have talked her into at least "abstaining" on the issue, before acting. Though as I suggest above, he may have done that more or less. Or not.

    Your sister's bf's sinking into victim lassitude is or should be very unattractive in a man. Why should your father go on supporting him by giving him room and board free in his house, while his daughter further supports him? Why should he tacitly approve or at least not really strongly disapprove by kicking him out?

    Why shouldn't he "judge" this guy? Fathers do you know. They're supposed to in any culture I want to belong to. (A lot of mothers do too but your's in what I've read so far which is a fair bit but by no means all here, seems weak in that regard, though strong in other ways.) Hopefully he does so wisely and open mindedly, but not without standards that exceed the bare minimum.

    So again finally, though his apparent failure to final consult with your mother wasn't great, why isn't your father right to kick this freeloader that he doesn't in any way approve of out of his house?

    (btw you do note the double standard right? A gf who was depressed about looking for work and so wasn't and was freeloading and playing victim would tend to be treated with far more sympathetic an eye by the parents of her bf she's living with, if they let her live there at all. (Which they'd do at least as much for a son's gf as for a daughter's bf.)

    I'm not against this double standard in female's favor here, I think this one's natural, and there are MANY; I just insist on some in the other direction, despite feminism.

  2. To address your thoughts in order:

    Yes, I have not put up all the details here about what has been going on, so there are significant blindspots.

    My mother has been planning on what to do about this for the last month, hesitating on the execution and timing, waiting for my father's input because it is his house and his daughter as well. But he's been fairly quiet about the whole thing. Finally, about a week ago, my mother determined what she was going to do, asked my father (again) what he thought, and he gave a bit of a noncommital grunt and that was that. She's been trying to figure out what he wants and how he wants to do it, but he hasn't told her. It's been very frustrating.

    They've been married for over twenty-five years now, not sure if a prenup exists.

    And, yes, I am 100% positive that he just lost it on Sunday morning and moved without consulting. My mother would not have stopped him, but it would have been good to know before it happened, what my father was planning. He has a temper, so this isn't at all out of character for him. This is actually pretty typical.

    The boyfriend is increasingly undesirable in all ways due to his behavior, outlook, and complete inability to take care of himself. I blame my sister for this, partially, because she's mothering him and doing everything for him, and he's just laying back and getting used to it, which is so very unattractive and feminine.

    And I did not agree with him staying in the house either. I found it perfectly reasonable for my parents to want to kick him out.

    My father is wise, but not open-minded at all, which is odd given his background. My mother hates the boyfriend, has for awhile. She has judged him as unfit material for her daughter. But she also steps back and realizes that if my sister marries this man, and my mother has not treated him in a friendly fashion, this man could easily remove my sister from our family through distance whether physical, emotional, or both. She also believes in being very polite.

    Aside from not consulting with my mother, he did perfectly fine in kicking him out.

    And, yes, I have noted the double standard. Especially with my mother, who is constantly saying, "I wished he'd just take care of his life and be a man." Things along those lines are constant.

    I do know that if he got his life together, if he pulled his weight around the house, if he took care of the living space my parents had rented him, they would've let him stay as long as he needed.

    I think there are an equal number of double standards in western society. I just think some of them are so standard and accepted, we don't notice them at all.

  3. dad is right in what he did, maybe not in how he did it. could it be that the bad memories of how he treated you are coloring your view of this situation? because doug is correct: he's obviously right.

    what was the point and counterpoint?

    who is the we in "we both know?" - you and some fictitious dark demon? or you and your dad? pronoun/antecedent problem ... related confusion with I/you in last para. whole last bit unusually overripe in style for you, btw. yes, i'm here in part for the writing...

  4. Overripe? That doesn't sound complimentary, sir.

    I was actually writing that entire post to a particular person who I doubt will ever read it, someone I don't know very well, but I see bits of me in bits of them. Hence the title. Everything I said would make perfect sense to the right person.

    I know my father is right. He's been right. Her boyfriend should have been kicked out last month, instead is given temporary help, here until October because my father is, apparently, too nice. Execution was the flaw, the only flaw in my opinion.

    Oh well.

    Powerman 5000? Seriously??

  5. Poetry--

    What double standards to we have left in the West that benefit men? Which ones aren't feminists working hard to erase?

    The sexual double standard, or the stud/slut one, is certainly something feminists are working hard to finish overturning, having already had some success in casual dating if in a lot fewer men's marriage choices, despite it's deep groundedness in humans' evo psych. (Girls tend to use slut as an insult more than anyone, actually. Not in your crowd much I understand.)

    What other double standards still benefit men these days in the young urban parts of this country?

  6. i googled "dark hero" and that's the funniest link that came up.

    who's the mysterious addressee?

  7. doug1,

    Double standards that feminism isn't struggling to erase? I can think of none where some sort of battle is not being waged. I find it laughable, in my own way, but I know that in the past it has done some good. I find social/sexual double standards to be the ones that, really, feminism should just leave alone.

    You'd be correct that, in my crowd, "slut" is not an insult. But, in my crowd, we don't tend to insult people.

    Double standards that still benefit men? While I agree with you significantly more often than not on your sentiments concerning feminism and the way the modern male is treated, I also think that, for the majority of women, there is a significant imbalance in how they are viewed and treated as compared to men. I know that, whenever I enter a new social arena, I have to make efforts to establish myself as not the "standard female". Because, in their view, the "standard female" is a self-absorbed, unintelligent, drama-loving being. But the "standard male" is not viewed this way. Most of the adjectives used to describe the "standard male" are positive or neutral. I don't know if that exactly falls under the double-standard heading, but it is a point of imbalance, of unequal views. And it's a sign of greater imbalance.


    Sorry, not telling. A girl has to keep some secrets. You know too many of them already. ;P