[Again, this is an essay from the files. Nonetheless, have a Happy Valentine's Day.]
The Good Stuff
I belong to a group that occasionally (jokingly) refers to itself as “the Society for Consenting Adults.” Some of your readers may be familiar with this organization. From time to time, throughout the year and across the country, we get together in medieval-looking tent cities for as much as two weeks at a time to study medieval Europe as living history. As one might expect when thousands of healthy, intelligent, imaginative people get together for a while, some of them get laid.
Several years ago, at such an event near Phoenix, the fellow I had traveled with lucked into magical moments with three different women in the same night. The first was a former girlfriend. The second, an old friend from California, showed up at his tent less than ten minutes after the first had left. And the third came home with him from a party (he’d never met her before) and stayed until morning.
He couldn’t explain it. In fact, he’d been running a pretty significant drought in the ol’ romance department for months. Maybe it was astrological, or his pheromones, or…what? It was driving me nuts trying to figure it out. For him, he was just in a massive post-coital glow with a slight tinge of curiosity about the evening to come.
I took it quite badly. You see, like many a shy young man, my sexual history had been fairly cautious. In fact, in that one night he had had sex with more women than I’d ever been with. I knew there had to be some way of thinking about this situation that could save my self-respect, but what was it?
If having sex with a wide variety of women was success, clearly I was unsuccessful. Sure, I thought about the STD’s I’d never had, the paternity suits my name would never be a part of, and the psycho tripping women I had correctly identified from a safe distance. I thought about being happy with my wife and kids, and about all that time and energy I didn’t have to waste cruising for a willing partner. And then I thought about how beautiful all those women are and how much I ached to be in their arms, between their legs, in their trust.
I was a mess; ferocious envy, sour grapes, dangerous daydreams, everything.
And then I had the thought that saved me. “Every woman who had ever had sex with me had stayed with me a minimum of four years.” Whatever I was bringing to the bed these women (both of them) had found it worth coming back for, night after night, for at least four years.
I’m ashamed to say that my competitive nature wouldn’t allow me to just think the thought, I also had to tell my friend, to present him with that difference between us. As I should have known, the idea hurt him. By one measure he had scored three times in one night like a fullback with a great offensive line. Yet at the same time, he had flunked three auditions between nightfall and morning. All the women had left. And sadly, a long-term stable partner was what he secretly wanted most.
When people are dating, or just doing that conversational mating dance that leads up to sex, it’s like they’re conducting a job interview or casting an actor for a part. What is the role? What is the candidate’s history? Do they seem to have the moves, the look, the accent, the potential? Will they be a good fit?
And then, after screening all the available applicants, and a careful (or casual) examination of the variables, someone gets laid. This is the audition. Don’t blow your lines. Don’t fall asleep too soon. Don’t throw up, or fart, or give up before you ought to. Don’t be a jerk. Don’t give her anything to regret later.
Clearly some people are not auditioning partners for a recurring role. Some just want auditions and aren’t even interested in callbacks. Others are satisfied with an occasional cameo appearance. Some just audition as often as they can without much regard for the part being offered. Some fail to get auditions at all because they blow the interviews or insist on interviewing for roles they do not fit. It’s a clumsy business, and often quite sad.
It’s been years since my revelation in the desert. My friend is now happy in a stable partnership, and I’m now married to a different woman. She’s only my third partner, and yes, we’ve been together more than four years. She says she first thought I’d be a good fit based on how I hugged her in college. We’ve known each other twenty-three years. Just friends from college most of that time, but all along I had been unwittingly interviewing to be with her. And now I have the part, a recurring role as husband, lover, partner, and parent.
I’m glad I passed the audition. I’m delighted that she’s been so willing to come back for more. There are a lot of beautiful women in the world. I know dozens of them. But to find one that thinks of you as the good stuff, the brand to be loyal to, the one to take home for keeps, there’s the challenge. Good luck at your next audition, and remember to be flattered if you get the part.
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