091: Sexuality

“But with you, it’s great sex.”
the woman on the bus said long ago

It was on the bus where he got into trouble. He told a stranger what he was best at was sex. He felt he could tell her this as she had been studying him. She’d watched him enter (he sensed this). She’d watched him scan for a place to sit. She’d watched him settle by a window. He’d watched her watching him. She smelled of water and she’d reminded him of the reflections of the sun on a stream he remembered. She reminded him of the sounds of water moving, and these things–the smell of water, the sun, and liquid-like movement–brought to his tongue intonations of the personal.

“But not of lust,” he said. “No, not lust, which is a hunger for it, and potentially dangerous. No,” he told the woman, whose matted gray hair tumbled from under a hat onto her small lap, “no, I’m not trying to brag or make a scene. But it’s a fact any way. I’m best at sex. I never really took to things like math and science. No, from an early age I was drawn to bodies, sometimes several, and they loved me for it. Though I don’t mean to brag.”

The woman watched him. It’s important to know the color of her eyes. They were black and so the whites of them seemed whiter, which he took as interest, and so he continued: “It’s not easy to talk about. I agree with that. You can’t get a degree in it and I hear about the rules and the possible health hazards and how it competes with standard relationships. But I’m not a standard guy. I don’t care much about religion, which is definitely against it. But it would be a little strange for you to be sitting on a bus with someone who said their best skill was stealing or killing or lying. I’m being honest and I tell you I hate people who steal and lie.”

More passengers entered the bus but their forms were unmentionable and there were seats at the front. The woman watched the man at the window seat. She slipped her hand into a small purse that had seen younger, less frayed days.

He said, “Yeah, sex and ecstasy, that feeling when the body just reaches out into the sky and goes and goes and the surface of the body scatters out in all directions. Like when things suddenly make sense and the answers crash at you at a hundred miles an hour and you just want to stay there. I don’t think it’s happiness. I don’t even think it has much to do with a cause or understanding. Where does understanding get you? And people, it seems to me, always get lost in their causes and forget what got them going in the first place. They go: what was I doing? and then they go off looking for another purpose. But I may be wrong. I may be putting words in your mouth,” he told the woman, who from the shape of her shoulders and the mode of the wrinkle patterns on her face seemed on the edge of agreement.

“Yeah, sex, ecstasy, and keeping the feeling or the sensations going for as long as possible. That’s what I’m good at,” the man said. “But maybe not good enough. Maybe none of us are all that good at what we do, so good that we invent the next marvel, the next thing that will keep peoples’ attention or make them love us. Problem is I don’t know how to get better at it, to improve, to actually capture the moment of pleasure and make it last longer. It’s not like a stick of gum or a really good novel, though I’m not much of a reader, it’s not like the universe which I hear just keeps expanding and no one really knows where it’s going.”

He could feel the bus ride coming to an end. He felt a closeness now to the woman beside him, this stranger with the gray hair, who couldn’t take her eyes off of him and whose silence he took as evidence of sympathy, interest, or some mysterious willingness to agree by remaining silent.

“Yes,” he said. “Making it last, lastingness, if that’s even a word. Endlessness. That’s what I really want to be good at. Making things last. But I’m not very good at it. Maybe not even sex, but everything good. Maybe,” he said. “You know, good things. But I think this is my stop. I have to go now. But I don’t want to.”

The woman remained motionless. She might not have been alive, except that her black eyes followed him as he passed before her and up the aisle and out into the heat of the day.

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *