Midnight, last night: having fallen asleep putting Hank to bed at 8:45, I woke with a start, still in my tank top and cut-offs. I wandered down the stairs for water, to brush my teeth, found myself, not surprisingly, unable to fall right back to sleep. I drifted into a kind of fantasy– but that’s not really it. I’ll just be frank. I tried having dirty thoughts to lull myself to sleep, which sometimes works. When I was pregnant, and wanted to have sex, well, basically all the time, I would fall asleep almost every night imagining a myriad of sexy filth, usually involving myself, my partner (at the time), and another woman. This woman, for reasons unknown to me, always has red hair and really beautiful skin. I don’t need to detail the things we would do together, the three of us.
Those fantasies– they were made, of course, partly of images– small, pert breasts with perfect nipples, a lovely back that tapered to a tiny waist, a strong and commanding, but also gentle, man. At the time, I was with Hank’s father, who was tall, and lean, and fair, and this person, this man-out-of-air, was based in him, was, I told myself at the time, him. But they were made also out of language: filled with the taboo, the dark, the lively and lovely, and they were, like most of the sex I end up having, chatty. I like dirty talk. I like to talk, and so I suppose it stands to reason that language is one of the most active parts of any healthy sexual relationship I end up in. In other words, it wasn’t the sensual that turned me on, then, in those moments; I wasn’t thinking specifically of his smell, or the way he could pick me up and carry me around like it was nothing, or his chest against my back in the morning, although all of those things, of course, delighted me in the light of day– instead, it was the speech, the asking that made me wild with desire and delight: What do you like, what do you want, tell me…
Back to last night, then– tossing and turning, imagining my current lover– who was once my long-term, live in boyfriend, and then my very dear friend, and then my lover, again, this past winter, until it fell apart for about six weeks, until we ended up in bed, again, the night of my sister’s wedding, about a week ago– what all this means, I can’t really tell you, can’t really name. But last night, I noticed the red-head has departed. It was a twosome. Last night, I noticed the usual chatty filth had mellowed. Last night, I was suddenly struck dumb with both yearning and a kind of nostalgia when, trying to twist our bodies into a combination that made me dizzy with lust, I remembered what it felt like to rub my cheek against his chest after we make love, and everything is both humming and quiet. Reader, Last Night– reality invaded my fantasy. I was not pleased.
There is a scene in When Harry Met Sallywhen Sally details her sex fantasy to Harry– her only one, the same one she’s been having since she was 12– as they walk through Central Park on a perfect fall Manhattan day. “I can’t tell you,” she says, “it’s too embarrassing,” and then launches into the world’s most vanilla daydream– a faceless man comes in and without saying a word rips off all of her clothes and makes violent love to her.
“Well, sometimes I vary it a little,” she says.
“What I’m wearing.”
It’s a great joke, and it fits Sally’s character perfectly– we can’t actually picture her having wild sex, despite even the famed orgasm scene in the deli, or maybe partly because of that scene. She’s an expert faker. And like many of us, she has trouble reconciling the reality of her sex life with her fantasies. I have never had a red-head in my bed with my lover. Which is not to say that I wouldn’t take her up on the offer, should she materialize, just– I don’t seek it out. Sally’s faceless lover is, must be, a kind of twin to the object of her affections, who stares at her with a puzzled look on his face while the burnished leaves flutter on their trees, more like eavesdropping extras than a backdrop. And yet in order to get to the point, so to speak, he’s faceless.
And Reader, let’s be honest– who can picture Billy Crystal ripping off anyone’s clothes?
And still, I can frame and reframe and outframe this whole big mess– because even as reality invaded my fantasy, I recalled thinking dirty thoughts about him while we had sex, or made love, or fucked, or whatever– and then recalled this last night, as I pictured us: me, on top, eyes closed, delirious with pleasure, thinking of a woman with auburn bangs and a smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose, watching, smiling…