Monday, June 6, 2016

One Eight Two: Thrill Rides

The other night I went back and re-read a blog entry from three or four years ago--- an American expat girl writing about her life in London. I know the girl a bit, or knew her once, when she was shuttling between the Pacific Northwest and DC, a self-destructive, hyper-aware, ghostly-beautiful co-ed. The entry itself is an  account of her No-Names-Please encounter with an English guy she picked up at a club in Camden Town.  I can't tell you much about the setting or the club life she wrote about.  London's not my town. I'm a creature of cities out on the Donau and not the Thames. Anyway, the story did call up memories of my own.

When the expat girl took the English guy home, she shook off the warning of a girl with her at the club not to do it: I never heed warnings.  When he fingered her in the taxi (a £35 ride? Bloody hell--- a long way back to her rooms at LSE) and told her very graphically what he's going to do to her, she thought---

You're thinking this is horrible, but the horrible part is that I only smirk. I'm not offended or scared. I feel calm and cool...

In bed, he did hurt her, and when she was loud he bit her nipple hard enough to draw blood and said, Stop making noise, you fucking slag.  What she thought was---

I'm terrified but I'm enjoying this.

I'm terrified that I'm enjoying this.

Oh, the story never goes very much farther into anything dark. Don't think that. There's rough sex all night, and some fairly gentle sex and conversation the next morning, and then he charged his phone (nice touch), dressed, told her that he did have a girlfriend, and left. She wasn't even really annoyed about that; she liked being hot enough to entice a stranger to cheat on his girlfriend. The next day she was too sore to walk much, sore from no-lube anal, and her left breast was bruised and the nipple erect with a smeared ring of dried blood all around it. No regrets, though, or only the dim and tired awareness of how much she likes courting danger. It's a very hot story, and I'm...well, envious of her for having it to tell. I can't wish I'd been the guy, though. She likes her men tall and handsome and with the whole rock-hard abs thing. And she always did strike me as a girl who's harsh enough to comment on a male partner's looks and...ummm...endowment to his face. Not anything I'd risk. There's no point at all in wanting to be the guy. I meet none of her criteria, and probably never have or will.

What I am thinking about tonight is her  whole elision of arousal and terror:

I'm terrified but I'm enjoying this.

I'm terrified that I'm enjoying this.

I envy that--- I envy anyone who has that said about them, who can evoke that in an attractive girl.

I have no idea if anyone has ever thought that around me. Or thought those things in any serious way. I've always been the Theme Park Thrill Ride for a certain kind of co-ed. They can do things that they've been taught were Bad, or at least risky, and they can do them with someone like me, who really does meet all the criteria for a Lifetime Movie of the Week villain. They can do those things--- go home with the much-older man who's certainly a predator of some kind and just might be dangerous ---and still know that it's like getting aboard the much-hyped thrill ride at the theme park. Faux-danger--- you get the adrenaline rush and get to pretend to be terrified, and you know that in a few minutes you'll be able to walk away from the ride and feel like you've had an adventure, like you've done something, like you have a story to dine out on for weeks.

I've played to that image, of course, the image of being dangerous and depraved. It's all part of roué-hood, isn't it.  I used to laugh about it. Work the creepy, I'd say. Tell the girl that, yes, you are everything Lifetime Channel and her parents and Dr. Drew and Women's Studies 101 told her to be afraid of, and is she up for the risk? It works a fair amount of the time. It really does. Faux-danger is an alluring thing. Horror films and theme parks make piles of money off the idea.

And people do dine out on stories. I've done it myself for years--- sought out experiences specifically for their value as stories. I've known many a posh girl, many a girl with a professional degree and a serious career, who's deployed stories to suggest that she had a wicked, interesting, intriguing past, one that got pretty heavy, one that endows her with a hint of danger still, one where her tales of escape will leave friends and dates begging for more.

It's still a bit exhausting for me, of course--- being the dark lover. And unsettling, too. A lovely, vodka-fueled co-ed stretched out on a bed late one night, back arched, thrusting sharp hipbones up at you and begging you to hurt her raises problems. There's always the morning-after regrets issue. There is always that. And as incredible as it is to have some lovely girl yielding herself up to you and asking you to go further, to not have any limits with her, it does put you in an awkward position. You have to be pitch-perfect at things. The girl can be telling you to do all these things she's read about or fantasized about or seen in films, and you have to get them exactly right. There's no room for error. I've said no to things, which has surprised girls. I've said no to choking girls when they've asked--- that's not something where you can make a mistake. (Scarves. I might do it a bit with a scarf, if a girl asked, but never with my hands. Not that way. Never.) There was a flat no to the one seriously MDMA-dreamy girl who asked me to cut her. That I wouldn't do; that I won't do. That's not something I ever want to have to explain to anyone later. That particular girl had faded scars on her hipbones and thighs--- she'd cut herself in high school ---and she wanted to have a lover do it for her. That was her fantasy, she said. Be clear, now: I had no moral objection. It wasn't even that I distrusted myself or thought I'd turn into Patrick Bateman. But I wasn't going to become the target and the Bad Guy if she had morning-after regrets.

I do suppose there's another kind of Thrill Ride that's easier. It's one that girls I have loved wanted. I don't have to be faux-terrifying. I only have to be older and attentive and literate. There are girls who want the experience of an Older Lover, who want what an Older Lover can offer: booklists and conversations and an introduction to things they've wanted--- being part of a world that's mannered and bookish and intellectual. They want an Older Lover who can show them things, teach them things. A lovely girl at McGill in Montreal wrote me once to say that the exchange seemed perfect to her: youth and beauty and sex exchanged for knowledge and instruction. That's easier to do. I have no especial problem with the idea of whips and candle wax, of masks and silk scarves around slender wrists. I have no problem slapping a girl at the moment of orgasm. But this latter way is just...simpler. I can be the kind of Greying Lover that my Montreal friend always wrote about. I don't know that I can teach a lovely co-ed anything about Life, but I did work in a bookstore all through grad school, and I stood up in front of classes and lectured for years. I can always talk about books and ideas. That's easy to do. A different quality of Thrill Ride. I could do it for the girls I have most loved over the years. It's not something I could do with the expat girl in London, though. It's not even something she'd want.

There's a strange lull in life these days, a strange kind of exhaustion in my life. There's maybe one girl in my life right now who'd appreciate both poses--- who'd ride the thrill ride, terrified as part of being wet-and-breathless, but who'd want the long conversations later, who'd never worry about rock-hard abs and how many miles one could run. Alas, though--- she's eight thousand miles away, living on the beach at Wainui. At the moment, the best I can do is put ink to paper and offer her tales of books and ideas alternating with thrill ride scenarios. I'd like to think that she'd say what the expat girl told the English guy:

I'm terrified but I'm enjoying this.

I'm terrified that I'm enjoying this.

I want her to say other things, too--- Have you read this? What do you see out there in the dark, in the waves? Let me tell you all the things I see in my city.  That's part of being older, I suppose: fear that you can't evoke either thing in lovely girls any more.

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