Wednesday, May 11, 2016

One Seven Nine: Towers

Geoff Dyer wrote an essay some years ago called "Sex and Hotels". I know that it was posted at once upon a time, and it was probably in one of his earlier collections of essays. I saw it referenced not long ago, and I'll be having the local library find me a Dyer collection with the essay. I usually like Geoff Dyer, and "Sex and Hotels" is something I do need to read--- or re-read.

Not long ago I wrote about Karley Sciortino's little essay on hotel sex, and I'd like to pair that with Geoff Dyer's essay. Hotel sex has always had a special valence for me, and I always love hearing girls' stories about the hotels where they've gone with lovers or beautiful strangers.

Location has always been an important part of sex for me. Backseats, desktops, library stacks, wagons-lits...  Location matters. It matters for establishing a mood, for establishing literary or film tradition. A lovely friend in New Zealand messaged me the other night to say that she wanted the measurements of my office desk, just in case she ever found herself spread out atop it.  Wellington NZ is something like eight thousand miles from where I'm sitting, but it never hurts to be prepared.

Hotel sex, now--- hotel sex comes with so many literary and film connections. Each hotel tells a different story about a city and about a particular affair. Each different hotel puts you in a different story.

I have my favourite hotels in Manhattan--- the Royalton, the Parker Meridien, the midtown Pod Hotel, the Night Hotel. Different lovers in each, different kinds of stories being told. My New Zealand friend told me once that she kept a log of every hotel pool where she's swum naked late at night, and that she has a list of Auckland hotels divided up into those where she's been with married men and those where she's just been with boyfriends or girlfriends. I admire a girl who keep lists of things, of course. I admire a girl who keeps score.

Karley Sciortino noted that hotel sex is about temporarily leisured, about being able to pretend for a few days that you're accustomed to luxury. Maid service, room service, the decor--- sex in hotels always feeds on class markers. Though there's something to be said for the stories you can create in decayed roadside motels or faded railway hotels in provincial towns. Both the four-star hotel and the places that probably house people who have "suspected" in front of their names promise anonymity, whether from the paparazzi or the FBI.

Hotel sex for me has always been about early mornings, too, about leaving a sleeping companion and looking out at cities just as the sky lightens. I don't smoke, but it would almost be worth starting just to stand with a cigarette and look out the window while the city began to stir. There are memories there, of course: kissing a companion's bare shoulder and slipping out of bed to watch the day begin.

If you're reading this, and if you're one of the quiet, literary girls I picture as my Imaginary Readers, I suppose you could tell me about your own favourite hotels and hotel sex memories. You could tell me about whether you see the hotel as an adventure in luxury, or an adventure in transgression (a married lover, say, or an alluring stranger), or as away to have anonymity and freedom.

Hotel rooms are for adultery,  as both Ms. Sciortino and Geoff Dyer tell us. They're for being sealed off in a room or a suite and not having to follow the rules of the outside world. Hotel sex is for call girls and clients, for escorts sent up after a discreet call to the concierge desk. Hotel sex can be about all the activities and positions and games you'd never feel comfortable trying at home. Hotel sex is about escape--- and all the best things in life are about escape from the quotidian.

If you're reading this, tell me about the hotels in your past. Tell me what desires you've been able to live out in hotels, and what you think about when the door closes behind you and you toss a carry-on bag onto a hotel bed.

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