The hotel suite spun around me as he moved in for a kiss. I dropped my coat, revealing the white lingerie underneath. He reached back and snapped my bra. I worked my way down his shirt buttons. He pulled my hair and kissed my neck, then released me to pull off his shirt. I was already working on his pants. They dropped and he stepped out of them. There is a certain hilarity few recognize that is found primarily in the exchanges of lovers as they break all physical things restraining them so their bodies can meet at last with nothing between them.
When all obstacles had been removed, he slammed my naked body against the wall, lifted me up and began to devour me with a hunger impossible to describe. Every thrust of his hips rocked my body against the wall, devoid of any fear that he might shatter me. At that moment, I felt unbreakable. I wrapped my legs around his waist and he carried me this way into the bathroom, positioning me on the long, granite sink, then pulling me down long enough to turn me around, so I could watch our reflections in the mirror.
Then, we were in the shower, the various shower heads raining down on us. The clashes continued as though eventually a savage thrust would enable our essences to mingle without the restraint of a physical form. At some point, we moved from the shower to the bed. My wet hair clung to my body, and my wet body pulled the sheets along with it as we collapsed on the mattress, soaking it through.
It didn't matter that we would be sleeping there later. Consequences had no bearing on the moment. The only thing present was the now. Arms and legs, hips and backs, fingers and lips -- they didn't need orders from the brain. No thoughts interrupted the fluid orchestration of body parts. They knew what to do. In that moment, savage instinct ruled over everything.
And then, a pause. A pause? Yes, a pause. A pause as in: stop. It was like watching something on Netflix, and just when you're getting into it, that dreaded word: buffering.
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I'm not sure what happened. The fantasy faltered and stopped transmitting.
He'd just stopped. He was looking at me.
He was looking, but it wasn't appreciation. It was... expectation? He said nothing. I said nothing. My brain got online scurrying to figure out what had happened.
Finally, my brain issued a statement. It was annoyingly concise: "Insufficient data."
"Tell me what you want me to do to you," he said finally.
I looked at him in the dim light provided by the glow of the buildings that came in through the massive windows all around us. What happened to instinct? What happened to passion? Desire doesn't need direction. Desire just takes what it wants.
"Are you speechless?" he asked me, with amusement in his tone.
Buffering complete. Loading...
"No," I replied, the words hardening in my throat so speaking felt more like spitting than it did conversation. "I simply don't think I should have to tell you."
He trust into me and looked into my eyes before a smile crossed his face.
"Oh, make no mistake," he said. "I know exactly what you want. I just want you to say it. But if you won't, then I'll tell you what you want."
He thrust into me again and bit my neck. His teeth which had, just moments before felt like the embodiment of passion, suddenly felt barbaric. The whole room swung wildly around me. Nothing had changed, but in a matter of seconds, nothing was the same. The city around us was the same city we'd crossed an hour ago to get here, but now, the endless opaque orange sky wasn't an electric canvas against which we acted out our impulses -- it was a dirty blanket blocking the vast expanse of the universe from reaching me. The windows no longer offered an awe-inspiring, nearly 360 degree-view, they were a terrible barrier locking me in.
I gasped, trying to breathe. Every pore on my body which had until that moment stood on tip-toe, mouth open and ready to take him in, slammed shut and recoiled. My whole body pushed into the mattress, trying to bury itself as his own became heavier and heavier, crushing me underneath.
"You want me to treat you like my little whore," he said, almost matter-of-factly. "You want me to use you for my pleasure then..."
He stopped, looked at me and kissed my forehead.
"And then kiss you lightly and tell you I adore you."
This is my sex life, a tragic cliche, I thought to myself pushing him off me and getting out of bed.
"Oh, come on!" he said, with irritation. "You're not going to get all upset because I called you a whore, are you? I would think you, of all people, would be able to appreciate what I meant --"
"Oh, make no mistake," I responded, lighting a cigarette. "I appreciate what you mean. But -- have you ever paid for sex?"
"You can't smoke in here."
"You didn't answer my question," I blew out the smoke without inhaling so the cloud was nice and thick around my head.
He was quiet for a moment. Buffering? Who cares -- there was no poetry left to break. He assessed me carefully.
"No, I haven't. Of course not," he said. I suspected he was lying, but it didn't matter. These questions rarely need an honest response to progress. They don't need a response at all.
You see, it had suddenly occurred to me where everything went wrong. It had happened long before the buffering cracked my narrative. At dinner, he had asked me the one thing I hated the most. My unhesitating answer had been two words: "submissive men."
These words are deceptively simple. The uninitiated don't understand the nuance between dominance and aggression. They think pushing someone around is dominating them. That burst of passion I'd seen earlier had probably been nothing more than a display of aggression. His show of dominance.
And just as aggression and dominance are confused, so too are the concepts of whore and submissive. "You little whore." The words are dropped carelessly, without the slightest understanding of their implication.
A sex worker, you see, is executing a transaction. The power dynamic between a john and a whore is equal to that which exists between a home owner and the plumber who comes to take care of a clogged drain. The "power" you hold over them as they kneel down to get to work before you is completely illusory.
That is not dominance. Only the coarsest, least experienced player on the field would think this held the same charge as creating a dynamic in which one party is dominant and another submissive. Dominance and submission are depicted with whips and chains, and its lexicon includes words like "dungeon," "slave," and "master," yes, but the most crucial thing is the one that is not discussed: that between a master and a slave there exists a relationship that is beyond a simple transaction with a beautiful creature you uncover on The Erotic Review. It's a bond.
This same man before me now, in his own city, owns a series of exquisite classic cars. Cars he's spent years working on, with his own hands. Cars he doesn't drive on the coast or in the winter because he fears what rust could do to them. Oh, yes, he has raced these beautiful machines, he has pushed them over their limits, and taken some serious risks with them. But in the end, if you know him, you know not to set a finger on the cars, even if you're just trying to get into them at his invitation. Needless to say, no one else will ever drive them. They're his. They're his treasures. Prized. Cherished. In a sense, they're an extension of him.
This is much closer to the relationship between a master and a slave. Whereas in most cases you wouldn't expect to make an investment in someone providing you a one-time service, and wouldn't necessarily care what happened to her, you would care what happened to your submissive. A submissive is an incredible investment of time and energy. Of course you would be gentle when appropriate. Dominance isn't a matter of making a "safe word," tying someone up and dealing a few whacks with your belt.
Dominance is ownership.
"In the basest terms, mistreating your property causes it to lose value," I explained in closing. "The acts viewed on the outside as cruel serve a function -- whether dispensed for their pleasure or their discipline -- they are not random cruelty. In short, there is no juxtaposition of sweet and gentle and cruel and violent. In a proper dynamic, these things are all part of the dance, the goal of which is training and fulfillment. To imply that there is a great contrast is inconsistent, juvenile and it also hints at a certain disrespect, which is neither sensual nor attractive."
"Has anyone ever told you that you top from the bottom?" he asked me from the bed.
"Only those who have no clue how to get me to kneel," I replied.
Two things can happen at this point. You can go or you can stay and try to salvage the narrative. Youth favors flight. The contrast between dressing and undressing, I noted at that moment, is incredible. The grace of stockings making their way up a leg, the decisive snaps of the garter belt. The soft swoosh of a coat wrapping itself around a body, the clack clack of stilettos down the hall -- there is a beautiful precision in these sounds made all the greater by the promise of fresh air.
I keep reading everywhere that people who are picky end up never finding the person of their dreams and are thus justly sentenced to spend the rest of their lives alone. But as someone who's been married, the fear-mongering doesn't have the same effect. I would much prefer to be alone than to feel lonely despite the body next to me in bed.
Can sex tell you that much? That's the question, isn't it? Years later, I'd receive a wedding invitation -- his -- on which he'd written, on the envelope, "This could have been you, baby!"
No, it really couldn't have been.