Sex Without Love…


Photo by Juan Cantu, remixed by me, subject to this creative commons license

SHENAY, a set by Cantu


How do they do it, the ones who make love
without love? Beautiful as dancers,
gliding over each other like ice-skaters
over the ice, fingers hooked
inside each other’s bodies, faces
red as steak, wine, wet as the
children at birth whose mothers are going to
give them away…

Sex Without Love Sharon Olds

Most of the sex I’ve had has been without love. Of the two dozen or so women who’ve shared my bed I have loved two or three; and of those the sex came well before the loving.

Call me what you will, but I certainly found sex  without love much better than no sex at all. Before my first marriage I’d take any sex I could get – even if it came at a price. After my divorce sex came much easier; with most of the women I dated sex was presumed, a casual act without guilt (though part of me missed the spice of the forbidden…)

Those women were, of course, sadder and wiser. But then, so was I. When I was young I ascribed some meaning to coupling. It was important. As I moved through the early eighties my naive sense of awe dissolved. Sex was sex: sweaty, sometimes awkward, sometimes not, sometimes joyful and sometimes not so much.

Then I met L. She was a bit on the plump side, with large breasts and shocking short dark hair. Her large, dark eyes somehow conveyed both innocent and a knowing sensuality. I wasn’t at all sure I even liked her at first. She had a mocking way about her; she appeared to find everything  meaningless. When she asked me out I was surprised. I didn’t think she had any interest in me at all. I had no clue what would happen but I worried it might be a disaster.

She was supposed to come to my sad little, one bedroom house at seven. She didn’t show up till almost nine. By that time, of course, I was livid (this was long before cell phones became ubiquitous). She was obviously just toying with me; to her I was merely another, unimportant plaything.

I’d show her…

We where standing in my tiny screened porch. She was facing away from me, gazing at the darkness beyond the wire mesh. I wanted to run her off. I decided I’d pull her around and kiss her. She’d resist and her refusal would justify that cruel words I intended to slap her with until she left. I am not great at many things, but my tongue can be razor sharp.

She didn’t resist. She kissed me back.  With passion. My anger, my righteous sense of grievance, were immediately replaced by raw desire. My god, I wanted this woman and I wanted her now!

The sex that night, and thereafter, was sublime. In her arms – deep in her – all the sex I’d had before suddenly seemed as drab as faded black and white photos. This sex – this mindless passion -with her – was in gloriously hot, sharp color.

Those lips! Those eyes!  Sex with her was like dancing. We moved together in a delicious, synchronized rhythm. Her smell! Thirty years later it lingers in memory, a key to so much erotic recollection. I adored her crooked smile, more of a smirk, really, when ever I amused her.  And those breasts, those magnificent, round, pink, caressable,  kissable, suckable,  smothering breasts!

We broke up in the summer of 1982. It was awkward; we worked together. I’d finally realized she would not commit to me, marry me, have my children. I’d moved on. At least I thought so. Another L. An older woman whose love making was like a newborn colt taking her first tentative steps:  awkward yet endearing. In her bed, unencumbered by mindless passion, I was masterful. It was fine, it was nice – but it was very much black and white.

Then, in September,  the original L. and I visited the Knoxville World’s Fair after an afternoon spent in depositions. The fair was in its final week and the crowds were sparse. We sat in a too hot tent and had too many expensive beers. My passion for her, a dangerous if beautiful beast until now held at bay, overwhelmed my patchwork defenses. We returned quickly to our office and fucked like animals on the old plaid library couch, with an ardor that amazed me, that I had never known before. It was and remains the best sex I’ve ever had.

My resurgent love refueled our odd, stunted relationship for another six months or so. She still couldn’t – wouldn’t – commit. I met my present wife, a willful yankee redhead and amazingly fell quickly and madly in love with her on a weeklong trip to the Outer Banks in late summer of 1984.

In one of those ridiculous moments life can bring, L. now said she’d marry me. It was too late. I was ensorcled by this new ginger girl. We married less than a year later.

We’ve been together now for almost twenty-seven years; I remain bewitched, bothered and bewildered.

Read all of VISIONS

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