Tonight's podcast was an in-depth discussion with therapist and sex researcher Galen Fous ("Daka Dom") about his theory of Personal Erotic Myth and Jennifer Bangs and I had LOTS of questions.
Tonight's podcast was an in-depth discussion with therapist and sex researcher Galen Fous ("Daka Dom") about his theory of Personal Erotic Myth and Jennifer Bangs and I had LOTS of questions.
No eye his future can foretell
No law his past explain
Whom neither Passion may compel
Nor Reason can restrain.
The road to chaos is paved with impulsive decisions.
I was born into chaos, I lived in chaos, chaos was all I knew. Nothing really made sense at home. Impulsive decisions were the norm, sometimes in moments of grandiosity, sometimes in moments of anger or aggression. Any failure could be forgiven as weakness, and every flaw was only human. Unless it was committed by the youngest daughter, in which case I was demonized. It was my mother’s way and we all fell under its evil spell. There was a narrative to the household, and my role in it was to be bad.
So I was. I didn’t even have to try. I just opened my mouth, knowing full well that my mother and sister hated the way I viewed life. They wanted me in dresses with make-up and salon-coiffed hair; I wore army boots, boys’ chinos, and work shirts. They wanted me to date one boy and get engaged but stay virgin until married. I didn’t want a boyfriend, didn’t ever want to get married, and thought virginity was stupid. They were appalled by pot; I left roaches in my bedroom and when my mother railed at me, yelled back about how it was less harmful than the vodka she kept in a cabinet in the living room. The only thing my mother and I agreed on was that women could run their own lives. Unfortunately for her, that only empowered me to run mine like a steamroller over hers.
Even when I knew better, I’d give in to whatever I felt, instead of listening to the nerd in my head. I stayed home as little of the time as possible, sometimes ending up scared half to death by friends whose idea of fun was climbing cliffs in the dark or meeting their dealers in bad neighborhoods in the middle of the night. When boys invited me out, I went. I never turned anyone down. I always felt weirdly grateful and greatly relieved for an excuse to get away from my mother. Sometimes, they pushed me into having sex.. At least sex was interesting, I thought. Oh well. Sex didn’t scare me, and neither did men. It was still better than being at home.
I’d been reading books by and about notorious women, particularly Colette. I wanted to be Colette, a literary woman who had a scandalous reputation for dancing half naked on stage in her youth and indulging in dozens of mad affairs. I wanted to be Simone de Beauvoir, a serious intellectual who never married her glamorously brilliant boyfriend, and lived as a free woman. And I wanted to be Edith Piaf, fucking in the alleys and doorways of Paris, and throwing her heart into ill-fated love-affairs with heroic but doomed men. To me, they were geniuses of life, women who really knew how to live. I grieved that I didn’t know how to get from where I was – a homely, big-titted, frizzy-haired self-hating nerdy Jewess from Brooklyn – to the glittering world stage.
It helped that I was a good liar, so good, I would help friends out when they were in need of excuses to tell their parents. I was raised to lie. You had to lie because, as my mother rationalized it, people either did not deserve the information or had to be protected from it. She lied to my sister because “she was too sensitive” and lied to me because “I was too young to know” and she lied to my father to “avoid upsetting him.” Obviously, I didn’t want to upset my family, so I lied readily to them. I didn’t want people to know how weird I was, so lied to them about where I went and what I did. While I told myself I knew the difference between my lies and the truth, I’m not so sure I did. I told myself a lot of lies too. I was a sociopath, in retrospect.
I was also compartmentalized. Since childhood, I organized people in my head into boxes: the good people, the bad people, the interesting people, the dull ones. Different boxes got different treatment, and different levels of investment. So a nice boy I wasn’t terribly attracted to might enjoy a brief erotic contact with me, but I wouldn’t go out with him. Or I’d go out with a boy, but he was more attracted to me than I was to him, and I wouldn’t see him again.
I liked to cut things off quickly and quietly, without any drama. I just moved on and became unavailable. No matter if only the night before, during sexual arousal, I’d told him I loved him. For me, anything said in a moment of passion was meaningless after the passion was over. I didn’t even understand why men consistently thought “I love you” meant more than “that was a great time” when it was so obvious we had nothing in common outside of bed.
I’d learned that there were boys you fell in love with, as I’d fallen for Martin. Boys like that hardly ever came along. When they did, sex wasn’t that important, because there was some bigger intellectual connection that drew you to him. Then there were boys like Aaron, so sexy you just had to be with them or you felt like you’d explode but who, on the other hand, you found a little dull outside of bed.
And then there was everybody else. It was nice to be with them, it was fun to have crazy spontaneous adventures with them, but none of them were ever going to be more than an adventure, an episode, a story I could tell when I grew up.
Sometime in late spring, I got a notion to get away for the summer. I needed to make some money. The allowance my mother doled out was barely enough to cover snacks or smokes, so I was always scrounging for jobs. I’d babysitted, worked a few part-time clerical jobs off the books, and tutored, but no one would hire me for a real job until I was 16. Except, possibly, for a Catskills hotel which, I’d recently learned from a high school friend, was looking for counselors for their daycamp. You had to be 16 to get the job, but they didn’t require proof, so if I was willing to lie on the form, and brought my mother with me to back me up, they might hire me.
Well, fuck yeah. I became obsessed with the idea. A job in the Catskills would be perfect: earn money by day, party at night and get away from home. Being a counselor instead of a camper was going to be great. Plus, this was a day camp, so you returned the kids to the parents every evening. Piece of cake! I saw myself leading a bunk of nice kids, teaching them arts & crafts, proudly sharing my newly acquired skills at needlepoint and making copper jewelry. They would look up to me and then I’d get to party every night, smoke dope, sing folk songs, and hang out with the other counselors. Best of all, at the end of the summer I’d have a fortune. The salary itself was nothing but I was told that parents tipped generously at summer’s end, and some counselors went home with a small pile of cash.
My mother came with me to the interview. She was more than happy to assert that I was 16, and the camp director, a pious, nervous Jewish man, hired me on the spot. I seemed like such a nice Jewish girl, and my mother was delighted to play it up for him, praising my high grades and kind nature.
What none of us knew, at that moment, was that it was going to be one of the worst decisions of my life. First, it turned out I didn’t like children, with whom I had never before had much truck with; and, second, there were very very few women on staff and holy Christ, there were so many men, so many men, and so many of those men wanted me at a time in my life when I didn’t know how to turn anyone down.
Nothing could have ever prepared me for the summer of 1971, not even the adventures I’d been meticulously accumulating in the aftermath of Aaron’s betrayal.
There was a memorable afternoon of making out with Seth, a boy who didn’t know how to kiss, but did it with such annihilating ferocity it fascinated me. He lived a long block away and I’d only known him by sight – a handsome, sensitive-looking boy one grade up from me, with a thick crop of tangled curls. I don’t remember how we ended up back in his bedroom, just that he ground me so hard into the bed from head and toe that we left a crater in his bed.
I cycled through several boys in Robin’s circle, Ken was home from college and hosting parties again, and I had drifted back to Vaughn’s as well, so opportunities for random acts of eroticism abounded. I don’t remember the other boys in meaningful order, just that there were spontaneous kisses and breast-fondling, occasional blow-jobs, finger-fucking and a good bit of humping throughout the spring. There was even a make-out session with two boys at the same time. Nothing stuck but nothing was unpleasant either, it was just easy, hippie opportunistic flirtations that seldom went beyond a little oral sex.
But by the time I returned, later that summer, from a six-week adventure in the Catskills, I had changed. I was harder and colder, and deeply suspicious of men and their motivations. I didn’t see myself ever marrying or establishing a close relationship with a man. They always wanted things I didn’t have to give them. They bullied, whined, and manipulated to get their way, like overgrown children. Everything was distorted: how they saw me, and how I saw them. I didn’t know who to trust. I sure didn’t trust myself. Whatever was wrong with me, it got worse when I was around men.
Within days of getting home, Max started calling. He’d missed me. His feelings for me had grown. Max felt safe, so I went. I knew him, I thought. He’d never hurt me. I could tell him everything. He alone understood. The tutelage began once more, only now he moved the games outdoors.
Once, he had me meet him at an unfamiliar building in Brooklyn, and took me up to an apartment furnished in old-people style, with plastic covers on sofa and chairs. He insisted we have sex then and there, and easily seduced me into it, kissing me and pressing his thick cock, already hard, into my belly as he pulled me to the floor. It felt strange, kneeling on carved red carpeting, surrounded by furniture for grandmas, and sucking him off. He took special care not to let any of his cum drip onto the carpet.
“It’s my parents’ apartment,” he explained as we pulled our clothes back on, “they’re out of town. I wanted you to suck my cock on their living room floor.”
I wished he hadn’t told me that. I’d had sex in my own parents’ house, of course, but only by depressing necessity, not as a fuck you or, worse, an incestuous gesture towards my parents. It put me on an edge with Max that got sharper with each passing week.
We would have long phone conversations at night in which he would try to provoke me, particularly on the subject of male and female relationships. He wanted to prove men were stronger, more intellectual. He wanted me to accept his wisdom. Instead, it irked me and made me think he wasn’t nearly as liberated as he wanted me to believe. I was more committed to feminism than ever before, and his attempts to mitigate its place in my thinking pissed me off.
On my 16th birthday, my mother had arranged to throw a small party for some of my friends, mainly the ones in Robin’s clique. Robin valiantly volunteered to coordinate with my mother – an eye-opening experience for my sweet girlfriend, as she’d never before experienced the full phenomenon of my mother in the raw. Robin was also coordinating with me, as she had discovered I had a date with Max that same afternoon. This required her to spill the beans about my “surprise party” in order to convince me to cut my afternoon of love short and show up at my own party.
I can’t remember all the details, but through a baroque system of timed check-ins, weird conversations with my mother and whispered ones with me by phone, Robin managed to get me to bicycle right up to the front door only moments after everyone was assembled. I went from sucking Max’s cock to eating birthday cake in a few short hours that afternoon, and only Robin and I knew. Lots of coin-booths and exquisitely timed phonecalls were involved, so we were really proud of ourselves for this feat. The only hold-up along the way was that Max kept trying to delay my departure. For him, the idea that he could hold me back from others was a delicious little fillip to our erotic interlude. For me, it was so aggravating that as I pedaled home furiously, glancing at my wristwatch, I cursed him.
Sometime in the late fall, Max came up with a new idea. My homeroom teacher, Mr. Powers, a short, quiet man who reminded me of the cartoon character Droopy, with a nasal voice and sad affect, lived in Max’s building, where he shared a small flat with his mother. Jerry Powers was a lonely bachelor, and dined with her nightly. Wouldn’t it be nice of us to invite him to have dinner with us some night. We could go to a Jewish deli, Max’s treat. Jerry would love having some interesting conversation and no one could turn down good deli, right? It would be fun. I agreed whole-heartedly.
Up until now, Max had made a point of keeping me away from his friends, always coming up with excuses. I knew it was because he was embarrassed to admit to his adult friends that he was sexually obsessed with a 15 year old. Now that I was 16, was Max finally changing? Letting me into his life in bigger ways? Going out with two teachers, two educated grown-ups, and having intelligent conversation over dinner sounded great to me. Mr. Powers had always seemed shy and gentle, and someone I’d like to talk to. I couldn’t wait.
Max and I arrived before Jerry. As we were parking the car, Max asked me to remove my bra. I was taken aback and suddenly shy. Why?
“I want to see the look on Jerry’s face,” Max guffawed, “He probably hasn’t touched a woman in years.”
I was stunned. I didn’t want to do it. I was supremely self-conscious about my breasts. In fact, I hated them: they were so big and bobbly. Max beseeched me. It was harmless.
“You’ve gone braless,” he said, “it’s no big deal.”
Max knew the story of how I’d planned to attend the first big NYC Women’s Lib rally the year before and decided to demonstrate how liberated I was by going braless. In 1970, it was still a brave act, and though I was pathetically self-conscious about my boobs, as a purist, I vowed to overcome my inhibitions and walk the feminist walk. Which, in 1970, meant fighting male power by freeing your tits. So I did.
That was until my mother, seeing me about to leave the house without proper support, flew into a manic rage. She threw herself outspread against the door, all 4 foot 10 inches of her uncomely body a human shield to stop me from bobbling in public. So I did what any teenager would: I put my bra back on, passed safely out the front door while my mother screamed at my back, and the moment I was out of sight of the house, removed it again and marched that day with tits waving freely, the twin flags of my rebelliousness.
Max tried to play that angle.
“Think of it as a feminist statement,” he said. “You’re a free spirit.”
I screwed up my face at him.
“Think of it as fun, it’ll just be fun,” he said. “It’s just a tease.”
I rolled my eyes.
“Oh, come on, what’s the big deal? You’ve done it before.”
He was right, it wasn’t a big deal, I had done it before, but this time felt different.
“Think of it – Jerry probably hasn’t had sex in years. He could be a virgin. You’d be doing him a favor.”
I stormed off and went into the phonebooth of a Chinese restaurant across the street. Max followed me in and squeezed into the booth with me.
“Oh come on. If you’re really uncomfortable, you can put it back on. Please?”
He took me in his arms. He offered to take me home if I was really upset. “I didn’t realize you were such a prude about it,” he said.
That did it. I didn’t want him to think I was a prude. It really wasn’t a big deal, and I knew it, but the fact that it was such a big deal to him made me suspicious. I abruptly decided to do it, if only to shut Max up.
I slipped off my bra and we went to the deli. Jerry was waiting for us and looked happy when we got there. He was as sweet as ever, even nicer, and let me call him by his first name. We had some good conversations, too, but I felt like his Judas. I knew he was sneaking peeks at my nipples, and that Max was eating it up every time he did.
I saw it all clearly. For Max, it was all about showing off my tits as his prize, dangling them before the horny sad-sack, and laughing on the inside. I felt so bad for Jerry, being treated as a fool and too naïve to know.
I couldn’t stand it. I couldn’t stand Max. I didn’t want to be used. That wasn’t what sex was about. Max wasn’t liberated. He was corrupt. I was done. I went to the bathroom, put my bra back on and asked Max to take me home.
Buried in one of the school corridors was an armored door to a supply room operated by a part-time teacher and full-time roué. I passed his door several times a day to attend classes, sometimes detouring from other routes to see him outside the door, supervising traffic and/or checking out the girls. He was darkly handsome, almost movie star good looking, with thick bushy brown hair, fierce brown eyes, an aquiline nose and thin cold lips. He reminded me of the actor James Mason a little, and the way he spoke re-enforced the impression. His elocution was almost painfully meticulous and he talked more like a dramatic actor than a guy from Brooklyn. He was 26 and working on a graduate degree in the sciences and writing a book. He took the lab job to pay rent and tuition. He was going to be a famous writer. To emphasize that point, he dressed like a writer, in poet shirts and tight bellbottoms that hugged his crotch as tightly as he wished everyone would. Oh Max.
He wasn’t exactly a bad person. He had mad quality – great taste in everything, from music to art, to clothes and foods; he was absurdly well-educated both in sciences and literature; he had a devilish sense of humor, both dry and very wicked. He was an edge-player in bed, not with any toys or devices or complex scenarios – he played the psychological edges, making things seem risky all the time. Tutoring an eager 15 year old student became his favorite game.
That a man like him was even interested in me was both a revelation and satisfying evidence that I wasn’t a whore, but – as Max saw me – a free-spirited sexual adventurer, defying the norms of outdated convention and foolish traditions. He was without a doubt the most worldly man I’d ever dated. He even had the ultimate bachelor pad in a cool building in Flatbush. It was filled with books, fine furniture, and souvenirs from his extensive travels abroad, giving me hours of browsing fun when I visited him.
The art in the kitchen was all Max. Literally. Overhanging the table nook was a copper repousse tribute to his penis, carved in exquisite detail, down to the veins on his massive Jewish prick.
Max treated me like the sexiest girl in the world. It seemed sort of funny to me, not real, but I liked it. I’d come by the lab when I had breaks and he would steal me away to some bookcases in the back to gently kiss me, trembling with desire as he whispered about the trouble we’d be in if someone came through the door. Then he’d kiss me harder.
Spurred by the sense of danger, I’d creep into his office at odd times, tiptoeing to where he sat and rubbing the back of his neck in greeting. He acted as if he hadn’t heard the door open and close, and at first touch, would lightly moan before pulling me to the bookcases again, to whisper passionate words in my ear.
He talked to me. About everything. He gossiped about the other teachers and, upon learning that I had a mad crush on Feldman, began filling me in on unflattering details of his Feldman’s life. He was a free-spirit but it irked him that I was attracted to another teacher.
After sex, he’d talk to me about books. He too was a voracious reader. He took me to bookstores, and bought me whatever I wanted to read. I remember coming out of the Brooklyn College bookstore one day with two shopping bags full of books he thought I’d enjoy. And I did.
Max introduced me to the concept of clandestine relationships. They fascinated me. They were, as I saw them, illicit, underground and thus almost unbearably romantic relationships. They were wrong. Otherwise you wouldn't have to hide your love. Oh, how romantic to have to hide your love, I thought! How right it was to be wrong for the sake of love! How adult!
The reason Max and I had to hide was less romantic: he’d lose his job if school administrators knew he was doing a student. I thought it was a terribly unfair rule at the time, and he agreed with me, but he’d signed a contract and if they found him out, his goose would be cooked. The legal aspect of this irked me. Why did school administrators, pressured by parents, get to decide whether I could sleep with a teacher? All the more reason to rebel and fight the power and pursue this relationship, as far as I was concerned.
Perhaps Max’s biggest contribution to my sexual development, though, was that he taught me how to give a proper blow-job. Until then, and despite dispensing advice to other girls, my concept of a fellatio was that you kissed the head and licked it a little, maybe sucked it once or twice and you were done. Max corrected my misconceptions.
“Take it all the way in, as far it will go, yes, yes, like that,” he’d say, sprawled on the bed in his bedroom, where he’d drawn the shades so the afternoon sun wouldn’t blind us. “Suck on it, suck harder, yes, like that, suck like thaaaaaa,” he’d murmur, drifting into bliss.
He had a huge cock. It was beautiful too. Perfectly shaped, a dark cherry red, and he was hairy, oh my god, he was hairy. Thick black fuzz spread from toes to chin, coiling in thick masses around his genitals and nipples, lighter everywhere else. It was so manly, I swooned for him. And while I’m not a size-queen, meeting the biggest cock I’d ever seen made me wild-eyed with lust.
There was so much that was good about Max, it’s a shame he had go and do something I was never able to forgive him for.
But this holiday season, we're going to try! The Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance works year round to help bring the dream of sexual freedom closer to fruition. Now we need your support. We are crowdfunding to built a stronger infrastructure to support our plans for future growth and greater visibility. How much do sex, gender, and reproductive justice mean to you? Join my team at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Alliance's Holiday Fund-Raising Challenge on CrowdRise.
Updated 11/20 -- listen to Hardy Haberman and me discuss the holiday drive.
The unforeseen break-up with Aaron left me somber. It gave me a lot to think about. It didn’t bother me that Aaron slept with another girl so much as I wish I’d known he wanted that because then I would have felt free to sleep with other boys. I’d been faithful to him because I thought he wanted monogamy. That he chose to lie to me instead of admitting what he wanted bothered me.
I knew that sex was just sex and that sleeping with someone didn’t change your intrinsic feelings for them. That too was just part of the propaganda we learned at school. Sex didn’t ennoble anything or shift the emotional landscape, not really. You had to believe that it did for that to happen. You had to feel it in your soul. And one thing I had already learned was that you didn’t feel it in your soul for everyone, even though the basic acts still felt very nice.
But it was all so binary. Most people seemed to think that having sex in itself was a commitment, that once they had sex with one person, their lives changed. I never saw it like that. I didn’t want to get married to anyone. Sleeping with another boy would not have altered my feelings for Aaron in any way. Continuing to sleep with him, even though he’d let a second person in his life, would have been okay with me too, as long as he was honest and I could then sleep with everyone I wanted to. Then we’d be equal partners. So while I didn’t want to be with someone who lied, I was disappointed that the sex stopped.
I didn’t set myself against the idea, but I wasn’t eager to be anyone’s girlfriend after that. As much as I enjoyed being with Aaron, I remembered how boring it was to sit in on his practice sessions. As winter turned to spring, and the jackets and heavy sweaters came off, the men and boys of summer were looking damn good, and I would have rather cruised a neighborhood hang-out than pretend that every chord he played was the music of the spheres. Testosterone was passing me by outside. Being a girlfriend was tedious.
Now I was free to pursue some of the mild flirtations that had been simmering on the surface of my life.
First, there was an incredibly good-looking boy and his not at all good-looking best friend. I’d seen them hither and yon around the school, always together. I wanted that good-looking boy and I wanted him any way I could have him. But I couldn’t get near him, especially once his not good-looking best friend started coming on to me. One day at the schoolyard, he talked me into coming up to good-looking’s apartment across the street from the school and giving them both blow-jobs.
It didn’t take a lot of convincing. Not good-looking had barraged me with questions about sex and I’d admitted to him that I knew how to give blow jobs so he asked me to prove it. It was stupid but amusing. I wasn’t offended in the last. I had a crush on good-looking. Giving them blow-jobs was, to me, just a nice way to meet someone, sort of sophisticated and cool, really, to be the kind of hippie who can have sex on first meeting and handle her shit. There would be time to get to know each other afterwards. Maybe good-looking would like me more we after we hung out.
Off we went, and good-looking didn’t usher me very far into the house, merely a few steps into the living room behind the small foyer. There I knelt while they lowered their pants, side by side, anxiously. I did what I did, and I don’t remember if either of them came, I just recall that the second it was over, they hoisted their pants back up and led me to the door. I walked home feeling very confused. What went wrong?
The next few weeks, they avoided me at school. They vanished from all the places where I used to see them, and once when I spotted good-looking down a hall, he walked so fast away from me, it was plain he didn’t want to see me.
I was hurt. I was being friendly and they treated me like a whore. They had used me.
A part of me felt anguished. They were right to treat me like that, I was dirty and unlovable and easy for any man to use. Another part of me despised them for being so straight. They'd lured me up in the first place, and now they were consumed by shame. The men my own age, who looked so adult, were still babies on the inside after all. Unevolved. Unenlightened. Prudes. Probably still torn up about masturbating too.
My mild fascination with the male teachers at high school now blossomed into obsessive sexual fantasies. Most of them revolved around a history teacher in his late 20s who always wore pants that hung low and tight around his ass and were so spacious in front you couldn’t help wonder if there was an elephant in the room.
He had a special fondness for me and my now-best friend Robin, and we regularly stayed late after class to talk to him. We had a special fondness for making crude schoolgirl jokes about him behind his back and obsessively gossiping about the many mysteries that were Mr. Feldman. Did Feldman have a girlfriend? If so, what did she look like? Did he fuck her? What kind of woman would Feldman fuck? What kind of woman would fuck Feldman? OMG! Can you imagine Feldman fucking? Scrub inner eyes, scrub inner eyes! (though in secret, I wanted to imagine Feldman fucking…fucking me, that is.)
I only remember two vivid episodes involving Feldman that gave me much food for thought. First was the following year. I’d been carrying my torch for Feldman the whole time, imagining myself grown up enough for him to want to date, when I sat down outside school one day beside a very sweet girl who was also in Feldman’s class. Naturally, the chatter quickly turned to the subject of Feldman and how wonderful he was, how handsome, how smart.
“I love him,” I said wistfully, by which I meant I’d give anything to have sex with him.
“I am in love with him,” she said stiffly. She wore thick, round horn-rimmed glasses and was exceedingly pale, with a sunken chest that made me think she was asthmatic. Her eyes shimmered strangely as she spoke. “I want to have his baby,” she said.
That made my skin crawl. Whoa. If this was a competition she just won. She loved him way more than I did! Have his baby?? She was only 16. Had her unrequited love for Feldman driven her to madness? I’d read Anna Karenina. I knew what happened to women who let their fantasies run away with them. They died.
That conversation seriously dampened my lust for Feldman. I don’t know if it was the knowledge that another girl loved him more or the fear that I’d turn into her if I spent too much time obsessing over him. Either way, hearing his name associated with impregnation disturbed me. Now I had to think of him as a potential baby-maker, rather than a guy with a big dick.
The other memory I have of Feldman was when I was graduated the following year. On the last day of school, the last I’d ever see Mr. Feldman, he invited me to stop by his classroom after the bell so he could sign my yearbook. He’d just finished inscribing Robin’s, who was racing off to meet her boyfriend as I arrived. I took a seat in the empty room and we chatted while he signed.
Many things had happened since I first crushed on Feldman, and while old lusts die hard, I didn’t feel the same about him anymore. He was still attractive and interesting, but he’d told the same jokes and used the same lines a few too many times.
Meanwhile, there was another voice in my ear telling me that Feldman really wasn’t all that. The voice belonged to his friend, Max Lerner, a more handsome, and wittier, teacher who fancied himself as being all that, among them a sex teacher to yours truly. But more about Max later.
That last day at school, when I came over to take the book back, Feldman seemed to want to tell me something. He stood up and beckoned me to him. He put his arm out. I thought he wanted to hug me. I put my arms around him. He bent his head down and gave me the longest, deepest, most passionate kiss I’d ever gotten, thrusting his tongue so deep in my throat I almost gagged, pressing his hot body against mine.
Then he smiled. “Goodbye,” he said.
I ran out of there dizzy with amazement. It was so unexpected and so spontaneous and made me completely giddy. What a crazy great way to say goodbye! I couldn’t wait to add it to the fantasy machine. I couldn’t wait to tell Robin who squealed as we reviewed every little detail down to the saliva.
It didn’t occur to me to stay in touch or even to talk to Feldman again. It was the perfect goodbye kiss. I didn’t want to ruin it by dating him. Besides, like I said, Max Lerner was in the picture, and he and his big penis loomed large.
For days now, I’ve been toying with the time-space continuum in my head without success. I don’t think it’s possible to remember everyone and everything that happened sexually from the ages of fifteen to seventeen. I know I’ve forgotten names and I fear I’ve forgotten boys too. Nor am I sure about exact chronologies for those years.
1971 and 1972 are blurs of crazy capers, a few ugly misadventures, and a lot of unbelievably bad, albeit usually well-intentioned, choices. Life was an unstoppable river of oddness, fed by a seemingly endless fount of erotic opportunities and, of course, raging hormones.
It was the early 70s, man. Everything was in flux. You could sleep with someone you met five minutes ago and it wasn’t any less legitimate than wooing them and waiting months. In fact, among the people I hung with, waiting seemed absurd.
Forcing yourself to behave unnaturally was a product of straight culture, an artificial construct that we free-lovers rejected as brainwashing and propaganda. You didn’t have to love someone eternally for your love to be real. You didn’t have to marry them. You didn’t have to promise to love, honor and cherish them for any longer than the time you were together. You could follow your heart wherever it led, to any bed where you were welcome.
Times were still a-changing (or so we thought). The Sexual Revolution was still on (or so we thought). I was 15 and burbling with estrogen. There were no rules, except to have a good time and to survive.
Looking back, and despite the hormonal storm that seized me since first menstruating, what really made me want to push the bounds of sex was a combination of two factors.
First, I was a lonely and emotionally abused child who felt unloved at home, so I craved affection desperately, no matter its source. If someone was nice to me, I liked them. It didn’t go deeper than that.
Second, I was filled with ideas I got from books, and very keen on developing, even as a child, a kind of moral system modeled on lessons learned from novels.
So while I responded to affection immediately, I secretly yearned for the types of sophisticated love affairs I had read about. I had no interest in fucking or sex per se, not even that entire year I spent hounding older boys until one finally did the deed with me. What I wanted was to get fucking over with so I could enjoy the thrills and chills of an adult romantic life. Losing my virginity, I'd thought, would guarantee my passage to a better, more emotionally fulfilling life.
My experiences with Amos and Jack gave me pause. I didn’t know how I felt about sex or boys anymore. It seemed like a whole lot of complication for too little reward. I was avoiding Vaughn’s house too. I knew he gave me Chloe as bait, to lure me in to have sex with him. Now it seemed like he felt I owed him for allowing me to caress her soft nipples and kiss her cupid-bow lips. He’d intimated that he was sure sooner or later he would find the chink in the armor that led to my pussy. His sarcastic jokes and attempts to get a rise out of me put me on edge.
I had noticed there were amazing numbers of good looking boys at the new high school. It astonished me how handsome some of them were. Apparently, while I was joining riots and marching in protests at Erasmus, the boys of Sheepshead Bay had been playing sports and buffing up to look fabulous for their age. They were cleaner and more pampered, cooler and better dressed than they'd been at Erasmus. I noticed them. But.
I was on my own trip. My experiments in sex left me feeling skunky and morally ambivalent. Instead, I hung out with some high school girls who looked like me: short, busty, frizzy-haired Jewish girls. We’d read Cosmo together, talk about sex, and listen to Elton John and John Sebastian for hours.
One of the girls told us how she caught her father brushing his teeth late one night, after there had been a lot of noise in her parents’ bathroom. She was sure they’d been having oral sex.
Such stories always made me wonder about people. Her parents were the last people in the world I could imagine having oral sex, both of them middle-aged and out of shape and very proper Jewish people. She claimed that when she questioned her dad about it, he merely grinned at her and slipped back in the bedroom. The thought that a child could even raise the subject of sex, much less oral sex, with a parent blew my mind.
With winter coming on, I was also home more, watching tv every night after dinner with my parents. We never talked about sex, or anything that was particularly interesting. On the other hand, they never talked during shows, so I could spend the entire evening engrossed in the fantasies in my head while donating my body to family time.
When Robin, the girl who sat next to me in poetry class invited me to hang out with her clique shortly before Christmas, I was dubious. She was fresh-faced and wholesome, dressed in colorful, cheery outfits and had flawless teeth and skin. She was far too straight to be interesting, I thought, but she was super-smart and we had a lot of fun joking together in class, so I agreed to show up.
Her friends routinely met at yet another basement apartment inhabited by yet another disaffected teenager. A low-key boy named Manny ran this party. When I knocked on the door, Manny politely shook my hand in the vestibule before leading me into a dark cavern with day-glo posters on the walls. A seating area was arranged as a stoner mosh-pit with a hookah set out on the coffee table.
My eyes adjusting to the dim light, I looked around for Robin. She was sitting on the couch, with boys on all sides egging her on, and sucking down a joint in a lung-busting super-toke that made everyone shout yay. Obviously, Robin was not too wholesome. She was just right!
Someone passed me a pipe and then a joint and before long, I was on the couch with Robin, and we were laughing and getting high. They were incredibly mellow, and they were all my age. This was new and strangely comfortable. I could let down my guard with them. They all seemed really nice.
Robin dragged me to a corner. She was filled with wonderful surprises. Her sense of humor killed me, she had strong opinions about life, she was a staunch feminist, and she was uninhibited about sex. Under that supremely wholesome presentation, the product inside was deliciously wicked and delightfully wise.
After a few hours, things quieted down and Robin went to sit with her boyfriend. I realized there was one boy who’d been there all night that I hadn’t met. He was off by himself, strumming a guitar, having a more meditative high than the rest of us. He seemed different from us too, older, more serious.
“Who’s that?” I quietly asked Manny.
“That’s my friend Aaron,” Manny said, “He’s a year older than us, but I’ve known him all my life. He lives down the street. You should meet him. Come on.”
Manny introduced us, and I sat down to hear him play the guitar. Aaron was proud of his skills and with good reason. His riffs were soulful and sweet. His fingers made love to the strings. He was self-taught. Music was his life. The more he talked, the more handsome he grew.
He was the real thing. He was sexy and he was an artist. Fair blonde hair stuck out of the top of his pale blue shirt. He was tall, a little thick and very masculine. He looked more like 18 than 16. He had a red beard and hurt, gentle eyes. He didn’t smile much. His air of sadness touched my heart.
We talked for a while, as he strummed some chords and then he asked. “Would you give me a back massage?”
I suddenly knew I wanted to be with this boy physically. I wanted to touch him, to feel his shoulders and thighs, to kiss his lips. It was more than wanting. I needed to feel his flesh against mine.
I followed him to the couch and he lay down, telling me it was okay to sit on him, and please would I rub his shoulders first. I straddled his spine and dug in, wordlessly. I could feel his young muscles through his shirt, solid and strong, and pushed my thumbs into his flesh as deep as I could. He writhed a little and I clamped my thighs tighter, the seam of my jeans digging tighter into my pussy.
He smelled of Brut cologne. The smell was fresh and earthy and minty and I wanted to dive into it and under it and be covered with his smell. Everything about him was so beautiful, so perfect, so sexy, so masculine. He was hairy in all the right places, and his beard was so soft it was like velvety fur. His long blonde hair fell in shimmering strands. His ass was full and round like a girl’s, but his legs were all man.
Within a few days, I was his girlfriend. I was incredibly happy about it too. He was nothing like any of the boys I’d known. He was so serious about his music, it was all he ever thought about it. I did not entirely mind that he placed our relationship second to his relationship with his guitar. That made sense to me, and made me respect him, and even envy him. His passion was so intense, it was impossible not to think of Aaron without thinking of his commitment to music.
It wasn’t perfect. He was not a reader, so outside of music and mutual friends, we had little to talk about. He spent most of his time in his room practicing, and both of us were broke, so there were no dream dates or exciting adventures. Still, I couldn’t complain about Aaron, even if secretly I was a little bored, because the things we did have in common made up for everything else.
We were both stoners and since Aaron provided all the pot, I was grateful. I loved getting high and I loved getting high with a man. I could completely relax and find the humor in every situation when I was stoned. He made sure I was provided, even when we were apart.
Best of all, though, was the sex. Aaron was the perfect partner for me at that moment in my life. His willingness to be the submissive receiver, rather than aggressor, gave me a sense of control over partnered sex that I’d never felt before. He was horny all the time, and content to lie back and let me do him. His ever-ready virility meant that any time I was in the mood, he was in the mood. This was like having my very own sex man-doll!
Until then, sex was a bewilderment of clumsy advances and awkward caresses, confusing needs and weird, often uncomfortable sensations. But now, Aaron let me do whatever I wanted to him and just lay back. It took my pussy off the table, both as a conversation piece and a commoditized object, and let me hide the shameful truth that I wasn’t as fuckable as I looked.
I spent hours touching his naked body. Caressing him, exploring him, watching his dick get hard, then shoot, then grow soft, then get hard again after a while so the cycle could repeat. I’d watch his balls crawl under the light scattering of red fur between his legs, and I’d watch the muscles on his torso stretch as he arched and succumbed to orgasm.
My lust had come to life. My vagina throbbed for him, profound, almost excruciatingly painful and yet wondrously ecstatic deep throbs that emanated from my core. Mere affection, mere intellectual commitment to adventure? Nevermore. I wanted sex sex sex.
Or at least a kind of sex. The kind where I was in total control.
I didn’t want Aaron in my pussy. Instead, I waited until I got home, and then masturbated frenziedly, as if there wouldn’t be time for orgasms when I grew up. The more he bored me, the less I talked to him, the more I focused on worshiping his nakedness with my hands and seeing how he reacted to the sensations I gave him, and then jerking off to the memories of what we’d done. I sensed he wanted more – more blow jobs than handjobs, and maybe some fucking too but I loved what we had and getting to play with his body whenever I could.
One day, about six months into our relationship, Aaron called me on the phone. He told me he had to break up with me. I was shocked. He explained that a girl we both knew, Ophelia, had tried to commit suicide the night before. Ophelia had been wooing me as a friend for months. We met in dance class and she claimed she was a professional ballerina, but I knew she was too fat to be a ballerina. I liked her well enough but she was clearly very troubled. She’d cut her wrists repeatedly with light cuts that had left faint scars, and was given to bizarrely dramatic reactions to minor problems. When I discovered she’d lied to me about a few things, I stopped answering her calls.
So she called my boyfriend. She had called him after midnight last night, he explained. She had locked herself in a closet. Only he could save her. Valiantly he went there, and rescued her from the closet. She flew into his arms. He spent the night.
Something told me he fucked her too.
“But you know…” I stumbled, “she’s always threatening to commit suicide and never does? I mean, you know she’s really really neurotic, and why did she call my boyfriend in the first place?”
“Well….” He got suspiciously quiet.
“Isn’t it strange that, out of the blue, she would call my boyfriend to rescue her?”
“Well, urm,” he hemmed and hawed. “We’ve been talking for a few weeks.”
“You mean you’ve been dating her behind my back?” I felt all cold inside.
“It’s not like that,” he said.
“What’s it like?”
“She needs me, Gloria,” he said pleadingly. “She’s weak. She needs me.”
And that was that. I couldn’t argue with that. I was not weak. If he needed a weak girl, then we were wrong together from the start. I heard the clear implication: she needed him and I didn't. He was right. I didn't need him because I didn't need people, not the way other people needed people, not the way girly girls seemed to need manly men.
It was okay. It would be fine. It wouldn't have lasted anyway. I didn’t want him now. He was tainted. He'd lied to me. My lust for him died with that lie.
Besides, my lust was my own and I had lust enough in me for hundreds more men.
Why does an author want to reach out to people she doesn't know and tell them the stories of her life? Why expose the secrets everyone else keeps? Is it to teach, to entertain, or is it sheer narcissism, the ultimate act of exhibitionism? What is my autobiography to you?
I'll tell you what it is to me: a solo performance on a stage lit so badly I can't tell if anyone is even sitting in the audience.