Chapter Twelve; Part Two
I’ve been thinking about sex a lot lately. It’s supposedly a natural act, and yet, we make such hash about it. By we, I mean we humans. We make it convoluted and complicated, sometimes sucking the joy right out of it. We’ve infused it with sanctimony and put ridiculous constraints on it. It’s a wonder we have sex at all.
I’ve been told I’m not womanly because I don’t think sex has to be coupled with love in order to be enjoyable. It’s a tired trope that men can have sex without feelings, but that a woman cannot. I once told a female friend of mine that I would look at people on the street and think about whether I would have sex with them or not. She was aghast and told me women didn’t do that. I looked at her as if she had grown another head. She was saying to my face that what I said I did, I didn’t actually do. Or else, she was telling me that I was not a woman. Later, in talking to another female friend, she said she did the same thing. I shouldn’t have needed the outside collaboration, but it was a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one. I feel like a freak much of the time, and I don’t need someone calling me a liar to my face.
I learned a long time ago that I think about sex differently than most women. I have a high libido, and I would love to have sex every day. I’ve been very upfront with potential partners about how much I love sex, and most men are intrigued and titillated—at first. But, then when they realize I actually mean what I said, they freak out. They get hung up on thinking that they can’t satisfy me, and nothing I could say would reassure them. Sometime in my thirties, I realized what produced this gap in expectation. Many of my male ex-partners have been with women who weren’t truthful about how much they liked sex. They made their partners feel like twice a week was a lot. So, when I said I wanted sex every day, they assumed I was exaggerating. Then, when I proved I was actually as horny I said I was, that threw my partners for a loop.
It’s frustrating as hell to not be taken seriously. I don’t know if my ex-partners were just too happy to get into my pants to pay attention to what I was saying or if they really thought I was exaggerating, but I learned pretty quick not to take a man at face value when he said he loved a woman with a high sex drive. I’ve only had one male partner who matched me in that department, sadly. Ironically, I’ve had no problems with my female partners, which is my anecdotal proof that women are just as into sex as men are, if not more.
I write two more thousand words because I have plenty to say on this subject. I wish I had known when I was in my early twenties that my high libido wasn’t a fluke or a flaw. I wasted too many years worrying about hurting my (male) partner’s ego in the sack, and I refuse to do it any longer. Any man who feels threatened by my ‘insatiable’ need for sex isn’t welcome in my bed. So far, Rembrandt has been willing and able every time I want to have sex, but we’ll see if that continues. In several of my past relationships, the sex had been plentiful and hot in the first few weeks before it fell off. It’s hard to tell with Rembrandt because we met under inauspicious circumstances. We met at First Ave, and then Julianna was murdered a few days later. I saw Rembrandt a few times after that, but then his eye was gouged out in an attack by my stalker. He spent most of his time the week after rehabbing, but he managed to squeeze me in a few times. We didn’t have sex that first week he was home from the hospital, but we did, carefully, the second. I still don’t know how often he’d prefer to have sex, but I’ve made it clear that I want it as often as possible.
I get several responses to my latest post. SassyBrunette writes, “I’m a woman in my late thirties, and I only date guys in their early twenties because they can get it up early and often. The one time I dated a guy my age, he was in bed by ten-thirty after watching the news, and he was satisfied to have sex three times a week. I dumped his ass after three months of that bullshit. Right now, my paramour is a twenty-year-old sophomore studying biology. MINE!” AloneButNotLonely says, “I’m a single woman in my late fifties. Back when I was a teenagers, girls were supposed to say no whenever they were pressed for sex. The trouble was, I never wanted to say no; I always wanted to say yes. Which I did more often than not. That got me in trouble with my parents who didn’t want a slut for a daughter. They sent me off to boarding school for the rest of high school. Girls only. There were teachers, though, and some of them were male—and willing to get it on with a randy teenage girl. Fast-forward thirty-plus years, and you’ll find me on my couch watching the NFL more often than not, alone. When I do have company, it’s only for a night—two at the most. I like my privacy and plenty of legroom.” JackinIt contributes, “I am a guy in my forties, and I’ve always had a hard time with the idea that men are supposed to want sex all the time. My last three girlfriends dumped me because I’d rather talk about Nietzsche and Flaubert than have sex any day of the week. One of them called me a faggot, saying I must be into men because I wouldn’t even look at her. Truth be told, she disgusted me with her voracious appetites for Iris Johansen books and reality TV shows. I’m better off when I’m alone.”
I get several more responses like that, and it breaks my heart. So many people who want something other than the norm, and they’re made to feel guilty about it. Men are supposed to want sex all the time. Women aren’t supposed to want it at all. It’s discouraging how these stereotypes linger long past their expiration date. How much happier would everyone be if those who wanted sex could freely admit it while those who didn’t could be open about that as well? I know it’s folly to think we can actually be open about sex in this repressive country of ours, but I can’t help but hope. I write a couple replies on my blog before closing out the tab. I’m sobered by all the angst, but I’m glad to provide a space in which people can find comfort.
“Hey, babe. I missed you in your bed.” Rembrandt sits next to me on the couch and drops his head on my shoulder. There’s no heat in his voice, however, so I don’t take offense.
“I’m glad you found me.” I hug him and kiss him on the cheek. He starts snoring, and I have to chuckle at his ability to sleep. Onyx, Jet, and Ginger bound into the room and hop up onto the couch. Ginger meatloafs in Rembrandt’s lap whereas Onyx perches on my lap. Jet snuggles between Rembrandt and me before promptly falling asleep. In a few minutes, I get restless. I want to move, but I don’t want to disturb anyone. I try to get my phone, but it’s just out of reach. Sighing in frustration, I sag against the couch, trying not to resent Rembrandt for falling asleep on me. I put up with it for several more minutes before I slide out from under him. Of course, the cats all complain that I’m bothering them, but I pay them no mind. I know I can give them a few treats to make it up to them; cats have short memories when it comes to indignations. I go upstairs to take a shower before putting on a pair of black sweats and sweatshirt. I flop down on the bed, laughing internally at how I’m avoiding being with Rembrandt. I don’t mind him being in my house, not really, but I’m not used to having another person in my space. I feel guilty, though, so I go back downstairs where Rembrandt is lying on the couch with three cats sitting on him. Ginger on his chest, Onyx on his stomach, and Jet on his legs. They look so comfy, I hate to disturb them. I sit in the recliner across from the couch and pick up my phone so I can see what’s happening online. I’m stridently ignoring the election because I’m terrified as to what might happen, and denial is sometimes the best way of dealing with untenable situations.
I check my blog, and there are several more responses from people who are eager to tell their tales of sexual woe. BrightestStar says, “When I was twelve, my best friend and I were fooling around in my bedroom. We were both starting to develop breasts, and we were eager to discover what this sex thing was all about. We were a bit drunk and very nervous, but we managed to get each other off. I remember being distinctly disappointed because it was pretty much like when I masturbated. When I first made out with a boy three years later, then I realized I could really get into this sex thing.” MissusNotMizz writes, “I don’t like sex. At all. I hesitate to say it because it’s not fashionable to say so, but I could happily do without sex for the rest of my life. When I discovered the term ‘asexual’ a few years ago, I nearly cried in relief. There was a name for my condition, and there were many people who felt the same way I did. My husband feels the same, so we have a very compatible marriage.” BustedKnuckles, a first time poster, comments, “Sex is such a strange thing. It can be joyous, whimsical, capricious, and fun, or it can be tense, awkward, messy, and somewhat tedious. We make too big a deal of it, really, as it’s just a basic need such as food and shelter.”
There are a few nutters who declare that sex is an abomination against God and such nonsense. Whore, harlot, vamp, etc. I’m getting used to being called names by supposed Christians. This case has not improved my opinion of organized religion, nor has my blog, honestly. Hypocrites and liars, and I’m just disgusted by it all. I wasn’t raised Christian because my mother stopped going to church once my father walked out on us. I went with friends from time to time, but I never saw the point in it. It’s one of the few things I agreed with my mother on—religion was a crock of shit. Now, if I could have just gotten her to stop drinking, maybe I would have believed in a loving god. Seventeen years since my mother has died, and I’m still not over the bitterness yet. I sigh and take several slow, smooth breaths. One day, I’ll put my feelings about her to rest, but today is not that day.
I go outside to smoke again. I’m broody, wishing that I could be done with the case. Where is Bob? I’m frustrated because I don’t feel any closer to an answer. I have all these bits and pieces of information that don’t seem to form a whole. There might be something I’m overlooking, but I can’t figure it out for the life of me. I know Hayley is involved, but do I think she actually did something actionable towards Bob? I simply don’t know. I’m all out of options, though, so I better find out whatever I can about her. With that in mind, I Google Hayley Su. I want to learn more about her before she became Mrs. Wu. I discover that she was a mediocre student in high school, that she was involved in drama, and that her childhood was remarkably unremarkable. Drama? She’s an actor? Why, yes, she is. She was the lead in every play she tried out for in high school, including Mimi in Rent. She ran away with her high school boyfriend and was gone for three months before coming back with her tail between her legs. By all accounts, she straightened up after that and became a paragon of virtue.
I dig deeper because I never believe the hype. There’s a year missing from her life, right before she married Tony. I search some more, but I can’t find any mention of it. Whatever she had done in that year is well and truly buried. I don’t know if it has any relevance, but I hate loose ends. I’ll have to ask her about it, if I can get her to talk to me again. The only other thing I can find out is that there are rumors that Teddy isn’t Tony’s son. I lift an eyebrow. It seems as if Hayley has a wandering eye, and that might have something to do with this case. She also doesn’t seem to take no for an answer. I wonder if that’s what happened with Bob. Hayley seems to be the kind of woman that men are drawn to, but then become quickly disenchanted with after a few months. The temptress becomes the ball-and-chain, and the men want to be rid of her as quickly as possible.
“What time is it?” Rembrandt bolts upright, his eye scared.
“It’s two in the morning,” I say, hurrying to sit next to him. Onyx and Jet squeak in protest, but they allow me to sit on the couch where they used to be. They move down several inches, curl into a ball, then promptly fall back asleep. Ginger snuggles against them and dozes off as well. I hold Rembrandt in my arms and stroke his hair soothingly.
“I had a bad dream. About being attacked. It was worse than the actual experience,” Rembrandt says, his mouth turning downwards.
“I’m sorry.” Guilt floods me, and I can barely speak. It’s my fucking fault that he was attacked, and I wish I could do something to make it not have happened.
“Me, too,” Rembrandt says softly, looking down at the floor. He caresses Ginger’s fur, and she purrs in contentment as he does.
“Let’s go to bed.” I stand up and hold out my hand. Rembrandt carefully moves away from the cats before grabbing my hand and hauling himself up. Hand-in-hand, we go upstairs and get ready for bed. First, Rembrandt takes a shower, and then I take a quick one. We climb into bed and cuddle, with the three cats fanned out around us. Rembrandt conks out soon after, but I’m suddenly wide awake. I turn so my back is facing Rembrandt, but sleep still eludes me. I’ve never been a patient person, though I’m working at it through taiji, so I ease myself out of the bed without disturbing anyone. I go to the kitchen to see what I have in the fridge. The cats follow me, and I give them each four Temptations as I try to find something to eat. There’s a container of rice pudding that doesn’t smell like rot, so I heat up a large portion of it and make myself a cup of chamomile tea. I take it to the dining room and tuck in. The cats are sitting on the table, but they aren’t paying much attention to me—except Jet. He’s poking his nose in my bowl of rice pudding and eating as much of it as he can before I stop him. “Stop it, Jet. Rice pudding isn’t good for you.” I shake a finger in Jet’s face, but he’s unrepentant. He licks the tip of my finger before I snatch it away. I shield my bowl as I spoon it up, fending off Jet’s determination as best I can with one hand.
Once I’m done, I go into the kitchen and do the dishes. I don’t want to go back to bed, and it’s time for me to face up to it. I like Rembrandt. A lot. I like spending time with him, and I like fucking him. What I don’t like is sleeping with him, literally. He takes up too much of my bed, and I feel as if I have to sleep on the edges with him in the middle. It’s not strictly true, but it feels that way. I have a hard time breathing with him next to me. I’m sure it’s psychosomatic, but I can’t help it. Maybe I’ll get used to, but I’m not sure I want to. I sigh deeply. I’m feeling pressured, and I don’t like it. Rembrandt can’t help how he feels, but neither can I. I trudge upstairs and climb back into bed. I go over the facts of Bob’s disappearance in my brain until I fall asleep. It’s not very restful, and it’s filled with dreams about murder and mayhem.