Age 38

 

[start of age 38]

 

There were several messages on my answering machine from Lisa, asking computer-related questions. I wonder, though? Perhaps she has broken with her boyfriend, and decided after all to accept the sexual proposition I made a few months ago. Not that I currently have much desire to carry through with that proposition.

 

Amidst other mail, there was a letter from Karen, responding to a postcard I had sent two months ago for her birthday. She apologized for her behavior when we last met (about a year and a half ago) and describes how she had a nervous breakdown last spring, which required her to take medication and quit her job. She doesn't give the reasons for the breakdown, though it might have been related to her job as an auditor, because she states that she is determined to never work in such a capacity again. Her current job as a traveling consultant, however, is almost equally stressful. She hopes to quit in two more years, and then move back to the West Metropolis area, since she hates her current location. Her letter concludes: "I'm back to normal now (no more medications), feeling more balanced, and now I want to live someplace permanently. I guess I'm tired of running away from myself. I'll be visiting West Metropolis this winter and look forward to seeing you. Love, Karen."

 

I spent the afternoon cleaning my apartment, which was filled with dead cockroaches. The exterminators sprayed downstairs just before I left for my recent trip, and apparently the roaches migrated upstairs to die while I was away. Also, there is a nasty stink coming from somewhere in the stove, as from a dead rat. Because of the gas piping, I can't move the stove, and so am unable to clean it properly. I did notice a huge mass of cotton in the bottom of the oven, as though a rodent had been building a nest there. After cleaning as well as was possible, I let the oven bake for several hours, to hopefully drive out any remaining vermin. This seemed to leave the oven itself fresh smelling, but the nasty stench remains, coming from someplace else in the stove.

 

I masturbated upon awakening, despite knowing that Elizabeth and I might be getting together this evening. Towards noon, I received a phone call from her, complaining that I had promised to call this morning but hadn't done so.

"I was just planning to call," I said.

"That's bullshit!" she exclaimed. "You had no intention of calling me."

On and on, with me apologizing and making up excuses and her maintaining an angry tone. Finally, she said "Goodbye" and hung up. Perhaps she is angry that I had an orgasm yesterday, but that she didn't and now I seem unwilling to reciprocate. Perhaps she senses that I am tired of her. Perhaps she feels that the conflicts that were brought to light during the quarrel on the eve of our trip are still unresolved, despite our pleasant vacation together, and she wants to be the one who initiates the break up of our relationship. Regardless, I don't care. All I want is to be alone for a while.

 

Towards midnight, I felt restless, and so took a stroll around the neighborhood, in search of a snack, finally settling on a cookie and candy bar. On the way back, I glanced into one of the nearby bars, and was tempted to enter. Has age perhaps at last caught me in its clutches, so that I begin to feel the loneliness that afflicts the rest of humanity and am driven to bars to escape the pain of solitude? Or is it just this neighborhood that makes me feel anxious and restless and thirsty for a drink? Or am I perhaps feeling delayed effects of my recent trip, especially the visit to my father, or of the quarrel with Elizabeth? Or am I simply stir-crazy from being cooped up in this apartment for two days? Regardless, never before have I had a desire to enter a bar in search of companionship. I'm reluctant to condemn this desire—I'm reluctant to condemn any aspect of my life anymore—but it is somewhat frightening.

Regarding the smell emanating from the stove and elsewhere in the kitchen, I now think it is due to dead roaches.

 

Elizabeth called and left a brief message on my answering machine: "I want you to call me." I had planned on waiting a few more days before calling her, since I was still feeling under stress and wanting to be left alone. However, since she called me first, I had to respond, and so I called back and left a message on her machine. A few minutes later, she called again, from the front door intercom, demanding to be let in.

"Why didn't you call me back?" she asked angrily, as she marched into my apartment.

"I left a message on your machine just now," I replied.

"And where have you been?"

"I was in the cafe."

"That's a lie! I drove past and you weren't there."

"I left about a half-hour ago and then walked to the deli to get a brownie." I couldn't help laughing at her suspiciousness.

"What's so funny?"

"Nothing."

Then she asked why I had waited so long (two days) since our spat without contacting her, and I replied that she had waited a similar length of time last year, when she took a trip to the mountains after we had an argument. She then complained again of not receiving a Christmas present, which occasioned a long discussion of my beliefs regarding gift-giving and how, by application of the golden rule ("do unto others as you would have them do unto you") gift-giving is morally wrong for people like me. On and on, until I forced her to admit that what was really bugging her was that I didn't seem to love her deeply, and that I seemed to love Helen more, even though I don't have sex with Helen. She mentioned that my aunt had discussed Helen with her in some detail, while I was in a restaurant restroom: "She came from a good family and was very intelligent and beautiful, but she wouldn't have sex with him and was crazy," my aunt had said. Elizabeth was appalled by this discussion, especially as it took place just after the incident where I accidentally addressed her as "Helen".

I explained that I couldn't control my feelings, and reiterated what I had said before. Namely, that regardless of the limited depth of the relationship between Elizabeth and myself, it was certainly a pleasurable relationship for both of us, and that it wasn't apparent how either of us would be better off breaking up, but that I wouldn't stand in her way if she wanted to look around for another man, someone who would love her in the way that I don't.

From here, we branched onto the general topic of restlessness, about which I warned her to be cautious, especially as concerned her job. (I had been thinking of how Elizabeth sometimes resembles Karen, for whom a job change led to a nervous breakdown.) Elizabeth then mentioned that my aunt's statement about her having "insight into herself" was utterly wrong: "I have insight into other people, but none into myself." I have to agree with her assessment of herself here, though with the qualification that at least she knows what she is missing (namely, insight into herself). Also, the quote she has taped to her bedroom wall ("If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you, otherwise, it will destroy you"—spoken by Jesus, from The Gnostic Gospel of Thomas) reveals great insight into the aspect of her spiritual life that most needs attention. I then opined that her mind had been poisoned by reading women's magazines, and that I thought she acts according to desires she is "supposed" to have rather than her true desires, which leads to inner conflict, which is the true cause of her constant unfocused anger. I maintained that these false desires made her seem superficial, which made it difficult for me to get close to her, or to even want to get close to her.

She had calmed down by this time, and expressed agreement with some of what I had said. Then she discussed what her acupuncturist ("a much wiser and more intelligent man than you") had told her, most of which I've since forgotten, other than that her soul is of the wood variety whereas mine is of the water variety. I walked her to her car and promised to call tomorrow. Upon parting, she presented her cheek for me to kiss, as opposed to her lips. Such coquetry only made it more apparent that she was mollified by our long talk.

After Elizabeth left, I picked up another brownie from the deli, and consumed the same while walking across town to the peep show, where I stopped in for just a minute, in order to stare fixedly at the rear end and shimmering wet cunt lips of a svelte blonde, with a tattooed ring about her upper arm and a slutty looking face.

 

I replenished my supply of books at the library, then spent several hours reading in the park, followed by a late lunch at a cafe. I had planned to go dancing, but fell asleep after eating a heavy meal of lentils, and ended up sleeping over twelve hours. I should note that I've been masturbating from two to four times daily ever since returning from the trip, as if to make up for not masturbating at all during the trip. I seem much more addicted to masturbation than to sex with women.

 

Lunch with Helen, who spent Christmas with her parents, accompanied by Paul. "We bought the tickets long ago and I thought he would just exchange his for a ticket someplace else, but then Christmas rolled around and he hadn't done anything. Also, I was ashamed to show up alone and I thought he might serve as a buffer between me and my parents. And so he came along," she explained.

Paul was on his best behavior during their stay, says Helen, and impressed her parents tremendously, whereas she felt ill much of the time. While she lay in bed reading, Paul went out alone, tooling about in their rental car and sightseeing. At each museum or other attraction, he would pick up a guidebook, to show Helen where he had been that day. When she wasn't ill, Helen was put to work sorting and tabulating the appraised values of her parents' furniture and other movables. In all, she spent four days on this labor, which still isn't complete, as the data remains to be entered into the computer. The general idea seems to be that, after each child lists the furniture they want, in order of preference, the mother will assign items, so that the value received by each child is approximately equal. "She's obsessed with this scheme," complains Helen. "Besides, my brother will probably connive to get all the really valuable furniture and I'll end up with junk, even if the appraised values are equal."

On New Year's Eve, after a party, Paul spoke tenderly to her of marriage and children and how the only way to create a child is to have sex. Helen describes feeling as if under a spell, from the gaiety of the party, from the alcohol she had consumed, from the sense of her parents' subtly expressed hope that she marry and give them grandchildren and otherwise finally make a "success" of herself, from Paul's seductive words, and from the full moon that night. And so she gave in. It was just about the time of her ovulation, and so there is a high probability of her being pregnant. The sex also caused her a painful "bladder infection", which has yet to disappear.

Since returning from this trip, Helen has been sleeping at Paul's apartment, though she insists she is now determined to break with him, for once and for all. Two nights ago, Paul wanted to fuck again, whereas Helen only wanted only to hug. ("Why should I have sex when I don't enjoy it?" she complained to me. "My sister doesn't have to put out like this. She and her husband only do it when she wants to, which is very seldom. That's what I need. A wimpy husband like my sister has.") One thing led to another, and before long, they were engaged in a terrific row.

"Surely you don't expect me to marry you under these circumstances? I'm not just a teddy bear to be hugged, you know," said Paul.

"You knew I had this problem when you tried to get me pregnant last week!" said Helen.

"I thought things had changed."

On and on it went. At one point, Helen asked Paul if he would be willing to wear a condom, and he replied no, which infuriated her. She said today that she plans to get an abortion if she is pregnant and never speak to Paul again. And then in the next breath, she spoke of possibly having the child as a single mother, and perhaps moving back to live with her parents. In other words, she has the same wavering uncertainty about having a child as last year. She will know in two weeks whether or not she is pregnant. Though she insists that she hopes not, I have my doubts.

Helen has told no one but me of her possible pregnancy and doesn't plan to tell anyone, not even if she decides to once again have an abortion. "I'll treat it like an attack of appendicitis, and not get emotional about it, but rather just have it removed, like some sort of growth. Of course, that doesn't take my hormones into account...Regardless, I shall rise from this mess like a phoenix! This will be my year of change!"

I really don't know what to think. I sympathize with Paul's reluctance to stay with a woman who is sexually broken, since this is the main reason I left Helen. I am disappointed that Helen chose him to be the father of her child rather than me. Though, of course, I really have no cause for complaint, given how many chances she gave me. I don't look forward to supporting her as a single mother of another man's child, nor to losing her should she return to her parents for help, as she frequently threatens to do. I feel incomplete without her. If that is what it means to be in love, then I love her deeply, certainly much more than I love Elizabeth or any other woman I've known since reaching adulthood.

I suggested we get together tonight, since there was hardly time at lunch to discuss all we had to say—including all that happened to me during my trip—but Helen declined, explaining that she had already arranged to spent the night with Paul.

 

Lunch with Helen again. Our conversation was similar to that of yesterday. I promised to spend the evening with her, provided I could somehow arrange not to spend it with Elizabeth.

 

While still trying to invent a story to tell Elizabeth about why I couldn't spend the evening with her, she called me. Our most recent disputes have all been on the score of my being negligent about calling her, so that she has to call me instead, and so I expected the worst, until she explained that she had called early because she was feeling stressed. Yesterday, she had some medical tests performed, to see whether bone cancer is causing her persistent back and leg pain. My opinion, seconded by her acupuncturist and with which she is now inclined to agree, is that her pain is caused by poor posture. The test took all morning: first she drank some sort of radioactive fluid, then she waited two hours, then she was scanned by a machine. The results won't be ready for another week. In the afternoon, she went for a job interview. Thankfully, she now realizes the truth of my advice that she is "past the age of ambition", and upon being invited to a second interview, declined, because the new job would involve working much longer hours than her current position. "At least I gained a better appreciation for the job I have now."

I then mentioned our plans to get together this weekend and said I would come by tomorrow morning early and then we could drive to the country. She wanted to know why I didn't come by tonight, and I mumbled some half-assed tale about having spent all day indoors, working on a new computer program, and of wanting to spend the evening at the cafe, to recuperate and prevent feelings of stir-craziness. She didn't argue, but there is no question but that I left her deeply suspicious. My skills as a liar are no match for her superb intuition.

After hanging up, I masturbated for an hour without coming, to images of licking and fucking the mouth and cunt various lusty women, all of them with silky hair, thick thighs and floppy breasts. I ran through a whole catalog, in fact, of women with whom, over the years, I've had sex with or dated or danced with or merely admired from a distance. My horniness is due to not having masturbated since yesterday morning. Quite a reduction from my pace at the start of this week of two to four times daily!

 

Dinner at a restaurant with Helen, then back to her apartment for conversation and hugging in bed. I made some half-hearted attempts to initiate sex, which she rebuffed, saying she wasn't interested.

 

Elizabeth paid for lunch as my birthday present (she also gave me two music disks), then we returned to her apartment for an episode of tantric sex. Afterwards, we had a long conversation about her job, about which she is feeling anxious, and also an interesting discussion about breast cancer, with both of us, surprisingly, in agreement that this disease often has a component of wish-fulfillment. My view, more strongly stated than hers, is that breast cancer is particularly common among women with sexual inhibitions, or women who have recently experienced sex-related suffering, such as divorce or the traumatic end of a love affair. These women secretly desire the destruction of their sexuality. In particular, the destruction of their breasts, which are typically considered to be the most visible manifestations of a woman's sexuality. By destroying her sexuality, the woman imagines, at the unconscious level, that she will thereby eliminate the possibility of future conflict between her behavior and her inhibitions. "If thine eye offendeth thee, pluck it out."

 

Elizabeth and I ate both breakfast and dinner at restaurants, with tantric sex between and a quickie before going to sleep. During the tantric episode, I finally got to eat my fill of Elizabeth's cunt, and yet I remain unsatisfied, with even more furious desires to lick and smell her. The quickie was at her prompting ("No action tonight?" she asked jokingly as I prepared to doze off, while tickling my cock with her fingers), though she had little desire herself for another orgasm. So I banged her hard and came alone, which seemed to be what she wanted. I should note that I came inside her both times today, instead of withdrawing. Some voice in my head says that I am being wrong in trying so hard to avoid impregnating her. She probably can't get pregnant at this point, due to her chemotherapy and age, but if she can, I ought to help her do so. And damn the expense and hassle a child might cause me.

 

I accomplished nothing today, besides writing a small computer program to process a text file I downloaded from the internet. I am becoming increasingly inefficient these days. Even such a simple matter as paying bills leaves me feeling harried and without enough free time. Which is absurd, given that I don't have a thing to do all day but sit about and read and masturbate.

 

Dinner with Helen at the cafe. Afterwards, I accompanied her to the drugstore to return a pregnancy testing kit, which the store employee had incorrectly indicated could be used within the first month of pregnancy. She continues to insist that she hopes she is not pregnant, but also says she doesn't think she can go through with another abortion. All in all, I'm now of the opinion that single motherhood probably won't be a complete disaster, assuming she can collect child support from Paul.

 

I called Karen at work, and spoke to her for the first time in over a year. A pleasant conversation, though she seemed somewhat nervous and depressed, as if on the verge of another breakdown. Or perhaps it really was a cold, as she alleged, that made her voice so quavery. I casually mentioned that I was currently "seeing" someone, whereupon she inquired, in puzzlement:

"Then why did you decide to get back in touch with me, since you don't need me for sex?"

"I'm still fond of you, Karen", I replied. "I thought you might like to get a birthday card." In fact, I don't know why I contacted her. Her voice, in any case, regardless of the quavering, continues to arouse me sexually as much as ever. All I could think of after we hung up was how she used to scream and arch her back as I fucked her to one easy orgasm after another. She complains of finding it difficult to meet men this past year, especially since she is constantly traveling.

She lives in a hotel while working, and commutes back home each weekend. I promised to either call her at the hotel one night this week (she will have to call me first, to give me the hotel phone number, which she didn't know off the top of her head), or at her apartment this weekend.

 

Lunch with Helen at the restaurant near her place of work. I had brought along extracts from this journal from last year, which we read together and laughed over while eating. We agreed that it is uncanny how her life seems to be repeating itself.

 

Karen called in the afternoon, to give me the phone number of her hotel. I promised to call her tomorrow night.

 

Dinner with Elizabeth at a restaurant, where I overate, so that I spent much of the rest of the evening feeling painfully bloated. A long walk through her neighborhood afterwards, then she busied herself with chores back at her apartment, so that it was almost midnight by the time we finally climbed into bed. There I jokingly let slip that I had visited a peep show last week, the night when she had come by my apartment in a fit of anger. Elizabeth immediately sat up and asked what it was that I found so alluring about peep shows. "Nothing," I replied. "Then why do you go?" she demanded. Then she inquired how often I visited the peep show, but was suspicious of my answer (to wit, that I visit the peep show at most once every two months). Finally, she suggested that my desire for kinkiness was not limited to voyeurism, as I maintained, but that I was a participant as well. She accused me of sleeping with prostitutes on the nights I wasn't with her, and speculated that might be why she was currently suffering from a vaginal yeast infection. I had caught something from one of these prostitutes and transmitted it to her. I was too tired to fully engage myself in this interrogation and so eventually resorted to answering "I don't know" to her questions, until she finally relented and let me go to sleep.

I don't know why I mentioned the peep show in the first place, since I must have known it would lead to a quarrel. Perhaps I detected that Elizabeth was not particularly interested in sex, and so deliberately tried to annoy her in revenge. And yet I wasn't feeling sexually frustrated. Indeed, I had been masturbating furiously the past few days, and was thus without desire myself, so that her lack of desire came as something of a relief. Why had I been masturbating so furiously? Did I perhaps anticipate that she would not want sex tonight?

A fitful night of sleep for both of us.

In the morning, Elizabeth asked if I was still angry about last night's dispute, to which I replied no, and then she apologized for her accusations. Neither of us made any attempts at sex or other physical affection. At noon, Elizabeth had a massage session scheduled, and so left me alone in the apartment. I spent the time reading. Later, we went out for lunch at a restaurant, and had the following conversation:

"Suppose that previous girlfriend of yours—Karen I think is her name—hadn't broken up with you. Would you have remained with her?" she asked. What a coincidence that she should ask about Karen! My first thought was that I had said Karen's name aloud last night, during one of my dreams.

"Probably," I replied.

"In other words, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. That's your philosophy?"

"Yes."

"I'm asking because I feel that this relationship of ours is not progressing, and I think you realize the same thing, and I want to know why you aren't doing anything about the situation."

"I am definitely of the school that says if it isn't broken, don't fix it. I am enjoying our relationship, and I don't see how I would benefit from ending it."

And so we were off on another of these long conversations about love and relationships. After lunch, we took a drive around the city, stopped off at various stores, then returned to her apartment, for a light dinner and a continuation of the conversation.

Her position, which I am paraphrasing and clarifying, is as follows: "I am very unsatisfied with my life at present. I am unsatisfied with my job, I am unsatisfied with my apartment, and I am unsatisfied with this relationship. I am forty-one years old now. The idea that I might be in the same situation when I am fifty, strikes me with horror. I want a husband who loves me, as opposed to someone who just sees me as a good lay. And I want to live in a house with a garden. And I want romance. I want flowers and Christmas presents. And I want conversation about topics that I like, instead of having to listen to you talk about how you wished you had some degenerate perverts as friends because that's the sort of people you feel at home with. I won't get the things I want from you. But I might be able to get them from someone else, in which case why should I continue seeing you? Being with you makes it impossible for me to put my energies into meeting someone else, and just delays the time when I finally get what I really want from life. It is possible that I might never meet a man who gives me everything I want, but right now I feel prepared to take that risk. Right now, I don't want to compromise. I'd rather be utterly alone and utterly without sex, than to have wake up each day and face that I've settled for second best."

My counter-arguments were as follows: "You are physically attractive, intelligent, have a good job, and have a pleasant if somewhat brittle and intolerant personality. And yet you are forty-one and still unmarried. This isn't a matter of bad luck or an insufficient supply of quality men. Being single is clearly what you want from life. You don't suffer inordinately from solitude. You are highly sensitive and would be miserable with a husband or live-in lover who was not himself sensitive. You suffer greatly when a deeply felt relationship ends. So what you do is this. As soon as you begin to fall in love with a man, you break up, and thereby prevent any deep emotional involvement. Being single may well be the right approach for you, but breaking off all your relationships shortly after they start is not. It is much more difficult to start than to maintain relationships. Eventually, you won't have the energy to start yet another short-term relationship, and so there you'll be, old and alone, just as you always dreaded would happen. A better approach is this. Instead of ending relationships when you begin to be emotionally involved, simply limit your emotional involvement. Don't let yourself fall deeply in love, in other words. Also, have multiple relationships, so that the loss of any one is not excessively painful. And finally, you should take men as lovers who are not also friends. The loss of a lover with whom you have little emotional involvement is like the loss of a car. It's a hassle to get a new one, but you don't feel heartbroken. By contrast, if you have deep emotional involvement with your lover, then your uncertainty about his feelings towards you—and there is always uncertainty where sexual attraction is concerned—will cause you to be miserable with feelings of jealousy and fears of abandonment."

We retired to bed at midnight, sleeping together, but with no sex or kissing.

Shortly after waking up, Elizabeth resumed our conversation from the night before: "I've decided that I want to break up. We are different, and the differences between us are becoming increasingly grating on me. I want things from life, and you're not giving them to me. You think it's a big joke to have skid-row derelicts and flamboyant homosexuals as friends. Meanwhile, what do my friends think when I tell them about you? Oh, well, he lives by himself down in a skid-row studio. He doesn't have a job. What does he do? Oh, he hangs out in cafes all day with skid-row derelicts and flamboyant homosexuals and homeless transsexuals and other people that I don't want to meet or have any connection with whatsoever. And then on the weekends he comes over here and we have sex. I'm embarrassed. I know a couple like that. The man runs around with a crowd of middle-aged homosexuals, froufrouing about and giggling and whooping it up and who knows what else, while the woman sits at home, by herself. I'd feel like a fool if I were her. And I don't like these homosexuals, either. They have the same feelings about women as you. They think we're either simple-minded nincompoops or else sexual monsters who want to eat men up. I'm sick of it!" (This hysterical talk about derelicts and flamboyant homosexuals and transsexuals is based on the exaggerated description I gave Elizabeth recently of how I spend my days.)

"Very well. Just remember, you're ending this relationship, and not me," I replied. Then I packed up my shaving gear, which I normally keep in her bathroom, and she dropped me off on her drive to work.

I wrote up these past few days' journal entries immediately upon returning to my apartment, then excerpted and slightly edited the entries for today and yesterday, and printed and mailed these edited excerpts to Elizabeth, with the following comment handwritten next to her question yesterday about Karen: "She had a nervous breakdown six months after throwing me out. Don't say I didn't warn you!" As to what I expect her to do when she receives this letter, I can't say. She was among my best sex partners ever, and thus will not be easy to replace. When all is said and done, I hate to see our relationship end. But there doesn't seem to be much I can do to patch things up. I don't love her, I don't want to marry or live with her, and I suspect that she has grown bored with me of late, sexually and otherwise. Altogether, my negotiating stance is a weak one. My plan, therefore, is to sit tight and hope that she doesn't meet someone else before frustration and loneliness prevail over whatever it was that induced her to break up.

 

Lunch with Helen, who had called in the morning. We traded news of our respective lives. I told of my break-up with Elizabeth, while she related that her period had arrived, which means she is not pregnant.

"I am ecstatic," she declared, in regards to not being pregnant. Though from what I could see, she seemed more agitated than ecstatic. Perhaps her mood was temporarily affected by a dispute between us over some boxes of her belongings, which I had carried with me, despite her protests that she doesn't want this junk in her apartment any more than I want it in mine, and by her feeling harried due to a meeting she had scheduled for this afternoon with an old college friend. She now resented this engagement, as an intrusion on her weekend freedom. This friend has been married for several years now, but has felt compelled to have extra-marital affairs ever since the start of her marriage, despite supposedly loving her husband. She's had at least five such affairs that Helen is aware of, and possibly more. My theory was that the woman, and possibly Helen also, had internalized the madonna/whore complex, so that with men she cared about or was intimately familiar with, she behaved like a sexless madonna, and only with strangers could she abandon herself to the enjoyment of sexual pleasure.

 

I bought myself a new pair of shoes after seeing Helen off. Snazzy-looking red suede slip-ons ($19). These are much dressier than the sneakers I have been wearing as casual shoes, though just as comfortable, while much flashier than my standard black dress shoes, and altogether appropriate for skid-row. Too bad I didn't buy these shoes before the break-up with Elizabeth, as I would have enjoyed seeing her reaction to them. I spent much of the afternoon admiring myself in the mirror while wearing these new shoes.

 

Karen called in the evening, responding to two messages I had left earlier in the day. She related how is currently dating a man in West Metropolis, which is one of the reasons she wants to return to this city, even though she suspects that this man isn't keen on a permanent relationship. Another man, in his sixties, regularly treats her to dinner, but that relationship is strictly non-sexual. "Unless he wants to pay for it. I've had sex with older men before and I don't want any more of that. But he treats me nice." And she has frequent brief affairs with men in their twenties (she is in her mid-forties), which last anywhere from one night to several weeks. "That isn't very fulfilling, however." She has tried various anti-depressants, is currently taking no medications, but might be starting a new medication regimen in the near future. She inquired again about my sending her a birthday card.

"Surely it isn't because you've grown soft in your old age, to where you feel compassion for other people? Do you pity me because I'm depressed? Did you really think no one else would send me a birthday card?" she asked.

"No, I don't pity you," I replied. I then explained how, following my move this past fall, I had been working my way through my address book, notifying acquaintances of my new phone number, when I happened across the entry for her. I debated with myself for a while whether or not to contact her, and finally decided yes, and so sent the birthday card. Perhaps she expected a different answer, but the vague reply I gave was more or less the truth. I really don't know why I contacted her.

She seemed to grow tense as the conversation progressed, though we apparently parted on good terms, with her promising to look me up if she should ever visit or move back to West Metropolis. Assuming that I'm correct about her being annoyed towards the end of our conversation, I'm not sure why. Perhaps she resents me for wanting her, like other women, mostly for sex, though I made no propositions. Perhaps it is precisely this lack of propositions that she resents.

 

Tango dancing in the evening. I didn't dance even once, but rather just stood and watched for three hours. The effort of standing for this amount of time, motionless and in proper posture, while listening to music and watching the parade of dancers circling by, seemed to induce a sort of meditative trance state, so that my mind felt utterly cleansed afterwards. It was as if I had touched on the great mystery that underlies eastern philosophy. How to replace the frantic desire to move, speak, read, eat and otherwise act, by the enjoyment of passivity. How to be happy sitting (or standing or lying) still.

 

My uncle called, wanting to know how my father (his brother) is doing. I discussed my visit at Christmas, which provoked the expressions of disapprobation towards my sister that I've come to expect from telling this story. My uncle might be visiting my father himself in the near future, or so he says. He seems more frightened of my sister than me, and insists on notifying her beforehand of his intended visit. She will, of course, respond that my father doesn't want his visit, and then what will he do? I should note here that I have decided to abandon hope for an inheritance from my father, and to take no further steps to improve my chances for success in a will contest suit, in the event that my sister has coerced or deceived my father into writing a new will which leaves everything to her and nothing to me. Let her take the whole estate. After all, I can't spend the money I have now, so why torment myself trying to obtain more? I shut down my profitable software business because I valued freedom and a carefree existence more than money. Why not likewise abandon this inheritance "business"?

 

Lunch with Helen, who called in the morning. She remarked that the suburbs, to which she had recently been contemplating moving, were depressing, especially in the rain, and hardly wondered that her old college friend, who she visited there this past weekend, was bored out of her wits and engaging in repeated extra-marital affairs.

 

I bought three more pairs of suede slip-ons. These shoes will probably not survive more than a few months of daily use, and so it makes sense to stock up, especially at the price of $19 a pair (marked down from $80 a pair originally). Last year, I berated myself for buying mass quantities of identical items of clothing (such as pants and black dress shoes), and yet now I realize this the most sensible way to shop, at least for me. Shopping is like any other type of foraging. When you find something you know is good, and which you know you'll need in the future, then grab as much as you can. Otherwise, if you wait until you truly need something, you have to buy what is then available, which is often not what you want or else is expensive. I should be more accepting that my natural tendencies—to hoard, to worry, to seek solitude, to be wary of women and sex, to think instead of act—are strengths as well as weaknesses.

 

I bought yet another pair of suede slip-ons, the last pair available in my size at any of the three store branches in this city. Then I stood motionless for forty minutes in a niche under an awning in the commercial district. My goal is to be able to stand motionless for several hours daily, without discomfort. I see this ability to stand motionless as one of the true keys to happiness. It can be done anywhere, under almost any conditions other than severe cold, is not particularly conspicuous (unlike sitting cross-legged in the lotus position, which additionally requires a clean and dry surface on which to sit), and as with any yoga posture, the muscular effort involved calms the mind while relaxing and energizing the body. Altogether, it is a healthy way to pass time.

 

Lunch with Helen, who called in the morning. She has placed a number of personal ads recently, including one with the heading "Lovely Luscious Maid Seeks Bohemian"—a phrase that caused me to burst out laughing.

 

I spent an hour standing more or less motionless in the commercial district, but was feeling bored after the first half-hour. The evening I spent in my apartment, getting drunk on wine and scaring myself reading dire warnings on the internet about the dangers of mercury amalgam dental fillings, of which I have ten. (As a child, I ate tremendous amounts of sweets and refused to brush my teeth or floss.)

 

I practiced standing on the sidewalk again, and managed an hour total, divided among two separate locations, as I become bored after a half-hour standing in any one place. The homeless are able to stand motionless all day because they have no choice. I suppose these yogis are also driven by necessity. Being unable to enjoy or tolerate the other means by which humans fritter away time, they resort to passing the hours performing wondrous feats of bodily control. "Making a virtue of necessity", as the saying goes.

 

Elizabeth called and we discussed my letter of last week. She derided my insinuation that our break up might cause her to have a nervous breakdown.

"I was trying to inject some humor into the situation," I explained.

"It wasn't funny, it was hurtful," she replied.

We then more or less reiterated what we had said before. She complained that I won't give her what she wants, including the possibility of our living together. To which I replied that I was happy with how things were going and that I refuse to contemplate marriage or living together with her. And so we ended the conversation with the situation stalemated.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. A packed club, so that I worried about the possibility of being trapped inside in the event of fire. The crowd was hispanics in their twenties, for the most part. I danced very well to the salsa music, but not so well to merengue. My body simply refuses to move properly to the merengue beat. Then I had difficulty obtaining dance partners. Women who want one night stands detect that I'm not interested, while those who want marriage or a relationship detect that we have nothing in common. In both cases, they don't want to waste a dance on me, unless they can't find anyone better.

 

Helen called in the morning, and arranged to stop by my apartment to sort through the remaining four boxes of her belongings plus a suitcase full of clothes. Together we carried two boxes of unwanted items to the thrift store, then had breakfast at the cafe. I remained at the cafe afterwards, to read, while Helen spent the afternoon shopping and running errands.

In the evening, she called again, and so I walked to her apartment, carrying with me the suitcase full of clothes. We talked for a while, then lay on the bed hugging, then I proposed sex, which proposal she initially rejected then later accepted. "Let's do it with me kneeling on the floor and sucking your cock," she suggested, and so we did that and assorted variations. I wanted to kiss her mouth and put my tongue inside, but as usual, she was reluctant to let me do so. "Imagine my tongue is a cock," I suggested, but this only helped briefly, before she would freeze up again and clench her mouth shut. I don't know what the problem is. Why would she take my cock in her mouth, but not my tongue? I would have preferred to make the sex last, but she was anxious to hurry it to a conclusion, and so I masturbated and came on her breasts. During all of this, she kept her pants on and adamantly rejected my attempts to touch her crotch, on grounds that this would aggravate her "bladder infection". This despite her obvious state of arousal: erect nipples, heaving thighs, and so forth.

Dinner afterwards at a restaurant, followed by ice cream cones for dessert, then I walked her back to her apartment and we parted ways, with both of feeling tired of the other's company.

The whole evening left me feeling drained and unsatisfied and disappointed and emasculated and frustrated by Helen's obstinate refusal to deal with her sexual inhibitions. She alleges that the only time in her life that she experienced a full orgasm was once as a teenager, when she lay face down on some pillows (these pillows had been embroidered by one of her brother's girlfriends and given to him as a present—I have absolutely no idea what this detail signifies) and then bounced up and down for an hour or so. The story sounds absurd to me, especially as she refuses to consider masturbating with a vibrator or her fingers or using any other technique than bouncing on pillows.

 

I overslept, then masturbated to images of being a woman being fucked missionary position. Normal sex, that is, and a complete contrast with the pathetic encounter with Helen yesterday. Afterwards, I spent several hours reading on the internet, then sat in the cafe for a while, then returned to my apartment for more reading. I am continuing to practice yoga. My first priority at this point is to loosen my hips, with the ultimate goal being able to sit comfortably in the lotus position.

 

I overslept again—ten hours last night. But is this, in fact, oversleeping? What else do I have to do but sleep?

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. Initially, I had to force myself to decide to go dancing, despite my recent resolution to no longer force myself to do anything. Forcing myself is "committing violence against myself" which is contrary to the yama of "ahimsa" or "non-violence", according to a yoga book I've been reading. But then I developed enthusiasm upon accepting that dancing tonight would make me feel more relaxed tomorrow. I danced for an hour, then left at the end of the first set, so as to get to sleep not too much later than midnight. Several of my partners were memorable—a stunning young golden-haired beauty; a short and overweight woman whose loose breasts flapped heavily against my stomach as we danced up a sweat; a woman who resembled Lisa, except younger, more slender and much more attractive. I felt strong sexual chemistry with all of these, but nevertheless no desire to strike up a conversation. The floor was too crowded to do much besides shuffle about in closed hold. Which was just as well, since I enjoyed holding the women close.

 

Lunch with Helen, who complains she flubbed a job interview today. According to her, this was because she was tired, though I suspect her poor performance was intentional.

 

I'm continuing my practice of yoga—trying to eat mostly sattvic foods (foods that are pure, light and clarity inducing), performing stretches and postures in the morning and evening, following my natural inclinations henceforth instead of "violently" forcing my activities and thoughts.

Another highly successful evening of salsa dancing. Strange though that I either don't approach the women I find most attractive. And if by chance I do ask such a woman to dance before realizing her attractiveness, then as soon as the dance is over, I break away and avoid her the rest of the evening. Regardless, many memorable partners. My technique with beginning followers seems adequate, with advanced followers I could stand improvement. I stayed only for an hour and a half, before feeling an inclination to leave early. I immediately obeyed this inclination, with the result that I feel much better than if I had forced myself to stay longer. This rule of "never force myself to do anything" is definitely the way to go!

 

One of my father's cousins called. He wanted the phone number for my uncle. I described my visit to my father this past Christmas, while he related that his ninety-eight year old mother had a stroke yesterday, and is currently unconscious, and will probably die within the week. I take note of this trivial conversation only because it made me renew my determination to abandon hope of an inheritance. I don't need more money, and therefore it is foolish to disturb my tranquility by worrying about inheriting nothing or plotting countermeasures against my sister's machinations. To hell with it all!

 

Lunch with Helen, who was peeved that I had refused to have lunch yesterday. I argued that seeing one another too frequently leads to boredom. "You always want to ration," she complained. "I'm tired of rationing. I want some fun in life. You're not much company, but you're the best I have. At least for now."

At an awards ceremony at her workplace recently, Helen was singled out and praised for "incredible hard work and patience", then given a balloon imprinted with the slogan "Way to go!", which she has kept in her cubicle ever since. While the balloon won't be accompanied immediately by a corresponding financial award, in the near future she might receive a larger than usual annual salary increase (her current salary is $38,729). Her supervisor even hinted that she will be receiving "quite a bit more than 4%", though the maximum increase allowed by company policy is 5%. Since 5% hardly seems "quite a bit more than 4%", Helen speculates that perhaps her supervisor, who is good at math, is thinking that 5% is 25% more than 4%, and this 25% figure is what justifies the phrase "quite a bit more." (In all fairness to the company, there is little inflation currently, and so even 4% is more than a mere cost-of-living adjustment.)

Meanwhile, Helen continues to repent of her poor performance at the job interview earlier this week. "Though maybe I should stay where I am," she reflected. "At least I can slack off in this job I have now. Whereas in that new job, I'd be at the bottom of the pile and things could get mighty stressful."

Paul, who she talked to on the phone yesterday, also recently blew a job opportunity. "I shot myself in the foot again" as he put it. The company for which he is doing temporary consulting work offered to take him on permanently. But while discussing salary, he demanded at least $100,000, which is more than the person he would be working for makes, and also imposed all sorts of conditions on the type of work he was willing to do, and so now it appears now that he won't be offered a job at any salary. Had he asked for $75,000, which is fair in the current job market and also substantially more than he made at his most recent permanent job, and otherwise been more reasonable in his demands, he would have almost certainly been hired. Helen suggested that he swallow his pride and acknowledge to the company that his initial demands were excessive and ask to be reconsidered, but this idea he rejected, saying: "It's important to be flexible and move on with life." While telling the story today, Helen scoffed: "Of all the people to be talking about flexibility. He's the most inflexible person I've ever known." Supposedly, one reason for his demanding $100,000 was that a recruiter had previously arranged for him to interview for another job, paying $110,000. However, this other job requires relocating, which Paul is reluctant to do, and so Helen suspects he will deliberately sabotage that interview.

Helen is currently feeling under the weather, so when Paul suggested she pay him a visit this weekend, she countered by suggesting that he visit her instead. "Spend the whole weekend over there?" he exclaimed. "But my new video machine is over here." His disinclination to visit her apartment left her disgusted: "I'm not good enough for him. It's a step down for him to visit me. I'm living in the servants' quarters and he doesn't want to be seen there. That's what my apartment is like. T he place where they make the maid live."

I spent the afternoon reading in the cafe, then had dinner with Helen in the evening at a expensive restaurant ($81), where I had eaten once before, with Elizabeth. After dinner, we lingered in the sumptuous hotel lobby, seated on a sofa tucked away in a corner and facing a fireplace. I commented that Helen doesn't show her age (thirty-seven), other than for a few gray hairs, to which she replied: "I have maybe five more years, and then my looks will collapse all at once. It's a small window and closing fast. That's why I have to find a husband soon. Someone good, who will take me under his wing and marry me and with whom I can have children. That's all I want. And it's all my parents want. Before they die, to see me married off to some good man. Don't you want to make my parents happy?"

 

Helen called, warning that Paul might be visiting her apartment today, and thus to request that I not stop by unannounced. (Last night I had discussed possibly bringing over this morning one of the boxes of her belongings still remaining in my closet.)

 

Yoga practice in the morning, then several hours reading in a park, more reading in the cafe, still more reading in my apartment in the evening. The days glide by quickly, peacefully, unmemorably.

 

Lunch with Helen. Regarding Paul's visit to her apartment this weekend, during which they watched television and talked, she commented that she much preferred to have him visit her, instead of having to pack up a suitcase and cart it over to his place, then cart it back when they have a dispute. For example, the dispute they had just this weekend resulting from Paul's trying to fix her television volume control. Helen cautioned him not to raise the volume too high, since she had previously complained about television noise from her upstairs neighbors, and didn't want to give them ammunition with which to file a counter-complaint. "Surely you don't expect me to spend much time in the future over here?" replied Paul.

"A totally irrelevant remark," commented Helen today, "since it was me and not him who would get in trouble from cranking the volume. But, of course, as usual, he only thinks of himself. Anyway, in the past, that sort of crack would have gotten me completely upset. But now, the tables are turned. Is something the matter? No one's keeping you here. The door is right over there. Don't like it? Leave. What a difference it makes to have him on my turf for a change! My gentlemen callers. They come by, they visit for a while, they leave. How peaceful when they've gone!"

 

I masturbated this morning for the first time in three days. Something about yoga and eating less seems to have caused my sexual desire to diminish, though once I get myself aroused, my sexual energy seems as great as ever. After lunch, I browsed in a bookstore, then read in the cafe over tea and dessert, then back to my apartment for another yoga session. Salsa dancing in the evening to live music. There was a limited selection of unattractive women who couldn't follow the beat properly. I left in disgust after the first set.

 

I spent much of the day preparing last year's corporate income tax return. Hours and hours trying to track down errors in my accounting. Apparently, some expenses made by credit card were never recorded properly. What a relief it will be when this business is finally put to rest!

 

Salsa dancing in the evening, at the suburban club, with the usual surplus of women that prevails there. I danced about ten times, then left when the band took their first break. I had an especially enjoyable experience with a woman who appeared to be in her fifties, but still in good shape, showing off cleavage and with long blonde hair. Unlike some of the younger women, who seem to despise my light touch, she responded immediately with a light touch of her own, and then we drew close, so that our bodies were almost touching during the entire song. Altogether, she struck me as being far more sexually attractive than the women half her age. But I feel like a fool pursuing someone so much older than myself, especially when there are many beautiful younger women available. "What's the matter with him? He must have an inferiority complex, or think I'm an easy lay," I imagined her thinking. Also, there is the issue of what sort of relationship we are to have. The idea of marrying or spending the rest of my life with her is absurd, of course. More realistic is a love affair, lasting three months to a year. Assuming we are sexually, conversationally and otherwise compatible, of course. But how to arrange such a relationship? I masturbated when I got home to images of fucking this older woman.

 

While making a purchase at the used bookstore, the cashier tried to amuse me with a joke. "Buddhist monk says to a hotdog vendor, 'Make me one with everything.' Hotdog vendor gives him the hotdog, then the monk says, 'Where's my change?' The monk had paid with a $20 bill, you see. Hotdog vendor replies, 'Change comes from within.' Ha! Ha! Ha!" I responded as I typically do to jokes—with a blank stare—causing the cashier to throw up his hands and flop down into the chair where he had been sitting earlier and mutter in disgust, "So much for that joke!" I don't go out of my way to humiliate people, but I also won't any longer tolerate the abuse of being forced to laugh. I deserve some respect now that I'm middle-aged.

 

Lunch with Helen, who complained of some things I had written about her in this journal. "It was disgusting what you said. Don't make faces. I am this close to dumping this whole table in your lap." Later, as we left the cafe, she had a complete emotional meltdown—sobbing, cursing, waving her arms about, and blaming me for all her problems, especially her painful "bladder infections".

"I'm sorry I ever met you!" she bawled. "I never would have gotten these bladder infections if it hadn't been for you. You've destroyed me. And now you're trying to get revenge by writing all these mean things about me. I wish I had never, ever met you! I'm going home to my parents. Maybe the doctors there can cure me. This city is full of quacks!"

I warned her not to do anything destructive at work, then walked off, feeling disgusted and angry. Bladder infections, indeed! Imagine a man her age (thirty-six), unable or unwilling to have an orgasm through either masturbation or sex, who complained that thinking about sex caused a painful swelling of his penis and a throbbing in his testicles, which lasted sometimes for days. "Hello? That swelling of your penis is called an erection, stupid. The way to get rid of it is to have an orgasm." Why doesn't she just neuter herself? Chop off her hair, chop off her breasts (preventive mastectomy), chop off her clitoris, chop out her ovaries and uterus (hysterectomy)—and there you have it, folks, another fine specimen of frigidity, primed and ready for political activism and helping the poor and doing other good works: "I am woman, hear me roar!" The only problem is how to get rid of the other sexually responsive parts of the vagina besides the clitoris. In particular, the g spot on the upper front wall, the arousal of which is probably most directly responsible for her bladder infection symptoms, such as the constant need to urinate. If the spot can't be surgically removed, then surely there must be some sort of drug she could take? Something that makes women sexually numb? With a man, things are so much simpler. Just chop off the testicles or give him female sex hormones. Another approach is to commit suicide. After all, she's killed herself sexually, why not finish the job?

 

Ballroom dance lessons in the evening. Little has changed there since I last attended lessons a year ago. The same instructors even, including the nordic blonde who seemed to be coming on to me when I once took lessons with her. According to Elizabeth, she is now married, which might be why she pretended tonight not to recognize me. She doesn't want to encourage attentions that can't be reciprocated. Or she might bear me a grudge for ignoring her signals for several months and then responding almost immediately to those of Elizabeth. Another possibility is that she was disgusted at my fly being unzipped, which I didn't notice until after the lesson was over. Even many of the students were the same as last year. Are they dance enthusiasts? Or still stuck waiting for a lover? Or is dancing their substitute for sex? If this last, do they dislike real sex, or have they simply given up hope of ever finding a lover? One of the students, a brunette in her thirties, greeted me with a broad smile as we waited for the lesson to begin and said she remembered me from last year. Much to her surprise, I happened to remember her name. She is pretty and pleasant, as well as being an excellent follower, but for whatever reason she doesn't excite me. Perhaps the problem is her constant smiling. The same trait that offended me in the dance instructor. We had little time to talk before the lesson, while afterwards I beat a hasty retreat, as I had a salsa class elsewhere in the building.

At this salsa class, I met a woman in her late thirties whose body had the most uncanny resemblance to that of Elizabeth, even down to her walk and posture while dancing. I maneuvered so as to be her first partner of the evening, then clutched her tight. The sexual tension was instantaneous, powerful and mutual. Afterwards, I sat on a bench beside her, and struck up a conversation about salsa dancing:

"What are you doing tonight? I'd love to go salsa dancing at a club with you," I said.

"Oh, tonight, I have to get home!" she replied. "Though maybe some other time. I have a boyfriend, you see. He doesn't like to go dancing, but he's open to me dancing with other men."

Then we talked some more, and she offered me a ride home, as my apartment was on her way. Among other topics we discussed was that of the dance instructor—a prissy homosexual—about whom she complained:

"He is so mean to me! He told me I was the worst dancer he had ever seen, and I think he's a terrible dancer! I used to dance with latin men all the time and they told me I was a good salsa dancer. And then you look at him. If he went to a club, he'd be the worst dancer in the place. He'd be a laughingstock."

"He doesn't like women, especially women like you," I said.

"He hates women! How can someone like that be a salsa teacher?! Salsa is all about sex. It's the sexiest dance there is!"

The problem is that, like Elizabeth, she exudes female sexuality. Women like this tend to inspire strong reactions in certain prissy homosexuals. Either worship à la Marilyn Monroe, or envious hatred for being superior rivals for men's desire, or resentment for being reminders of their own inability to satisfy women sexually.

I repeated the offer to go with her or a group of her friends to a salsa nightclub, to which proposal she seemed receptive. Given that she currently has a boyfriend, my plan at this point is merely to ensure she gets my name and phone number in writing before the final class, so as to be able to contact me should she ever find herself single.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. I practiced and then danced with a very short but also very energetic young woman, and beautiful in the voluptuous way, with perfectly curved breasts and hips, and warm, silky skin on her bare back where I touched her with my hand. She stroked my fingers with hers during the lesson, then pushed herself close as we danced, and otherwise made it clear that the attraction between us was mutual. Which was a surprise to me, given our age and height differences, as well as our obvious lack of common interests and intellectual compatibility. What could we possibly do together besides have sex? She seemed to pick up on my reluctance to pursue and so, after three consecutive songs together, we exchanged thank you's and parted. I suspect many of the other young women were appalled at the spectacle of our pressing together erotically as we danced, and assumed that I was the instigator. The stereotypical middle-aged lecher chasing after and groping women half his age. At least that's the vibe I sensed when I later asked some of these other women to dance and they refused. Another reason for being refused might be that I deliberately approached the women for whom I felt no strong attraction, while passing over those who excited me.

In any case, after being refused several times in succession, I decided to wallow in self-pity, and so joined the usual crowd of single men who stand about at dances drinking and staring dully at the band without ever asking women to dance. There was a surplus of women for once, with many pretty ones waiting patiently on the side of the floor, song after song, without being invited to dance, and thus mixed with my self-pity was a sort of gloating triumph: "They don't want me—fine. Now no one wants them." Of course, given that I hadn't even tried approaching most of these waiting women, such gloating was absurd. Nevertheless, I managed to convince myself that these women were deserving of punishment. If they hadn't refused my or some other man's invitation to dance, then they must be guilty of some other infraction, such as being unable to perform the basic, refusing to dance in close hold, dancing with excessive stiffness, shrieking or otherwise acting immature, huddling together with other women in a pack, dancing with other women. One woman, however, I couldn't discover a single fault with, and so went ahead and asked her to dance. We danced three times, because I saw her waiting three times, and not because I was anxious for repeat dances. And yet the chemistry between us was very strong. Also, unlike with the petite young woman from earlier, we made a suitable match. Each dance brought up closer together, so that by the third song our upper bodies were touching and now and then our pelvises brushed. Such intimacy seemed to require that, at a minimum, I ask her name, and possibly offer to buy her a drink as well. Conveniently, though, someone else grabbed her for the next song as we were walking off the floor after our last dance together, and I was able to escape, with my solitude intact. Shortly thereafter, I left for the evening.

 

I spent three hours in the morning masturbating to fantasies of smelling the cunt of the petite young woman with whom I danced last night, but managed to limit myself to a single orgasm. This an exceptionally intense orgasm, however, which left me prostrate for another two hours, so that I didn't finally manage to get out of bed until past noon. I dawdled about the apartment some—reading, listening to music, and surfing the internet—then ate lunch and read for two hours in the cafe, then returned to my apartment in the evening for more reading and listening to music.

Time flies and bedtime approaches, yet it seems not more than an hour ago that I woke. I used to feel guilt at such sloth, but apathy and guilt are incompatible.

 

I woke at nine, then masturbated for an hour in order to summon enough energy to get out of bed, then overexerted myself during yoga, so that my whole body, but particularly my shoulders, ached with soreness all day. I thus violated the yoga rule to do no violence to myself (the yama of ahimsa). While reading in the cafe, I was struck by a sudden determination to travel to Guatemala, and so rushed to the bookstore and bought a travel guide to that country, which I read voraciously in the evening. All of my previous resolutions to travel (to Mexico or South America, for example) have come to naught, but something about this current resolution seems different. The important thing is to move fast, to plunk down money for a plane ticket soon, before I sink back into indolence.

I masturbated a second time in the evening, as my mind was so inflamed by thoughts of smelling and fingering and fucking the cunt of that young woman who I had danced with the other day that I was having difficulty concentrating on the travel guide. Then towards midnight, I gorged on half a bottle of wine, a can of tuna, and a package of oatmeal raisin cookies. Bad foods all of these, according to my yoga book (tamasic and/or ragasic). These non-sattvic cravings for food and sex are probably the result of overexerting myself this morning. I acted in a non-sattvic way, hence no wonder that I now have non-sattvic appetites.

 

I climbed out of bed about noon, then dawdled around the apartment all day and evening, reading and listening to music, with a two hour break to visit the cafe. I masturbated once in the morning and a second time in the evening, with some misgivings. One yoga book warns that excessive masturbation leads to impotence and feebleness in old age, while another says nothing about masturbation, but does warn against self-violence, including such forms of self-violence as repression of desire. I've still made no firm decision about the Guatemala trip. Up to my usual procrastination tricks, it seems.

 

Once again, I didn't get out of bed until near noon. I just can't seem to get myself moving in the morning anymore without first masturbating. I spent the day browsing in the bookstore for more books on Guatemala, though I've yet to make any progress towards purchasing a plane ticket.

 

Helen called, and explained that her emotional meltdown last week was caused by pre-menstrual syndrome (her period started yesterday). We had a brief and pleasant conversation. I discussed my trip to Guatemala, while she complained of receiving only one response to the personals ad she placed in the newspaper a few weeks back (the one that began with the phrase "lovely luscious maid seeks bohemian").

 

I received a surprise call from Elizabeth, who related how she went to the dance studio last week, and saw me and the woman I had met there walking out together after our salsa class, and that she felt very hurt. I gathered that her pain was only partly grief at the prospect of losing me for good, and the remainder was due to wounded vanity at seeing how it was easier for me to find another woman than for her to find another man. Then we rehashed the issues we have addressed many times before. She wants to be married and living together with a man in a house. Am I willing to provide this? No. She was terribly hurt by seeing me with another woman. What did I have to say? Not much. After all, she had thrown me out. She was shocked that I had so little feelings for her that after only a month apart, I was already screwing another woman. What did I have to say about that? Not much. After all, she threw me out and made it clear that our relationship was finished and so why shouldn't I pursue other women? Also, I wasn't screwing this other woman. She already had a boyfriend and had simply given me a ride home. However, I was planning to get another woman to screw soon. She missed me. I missed her. She was feeling tense, to the point where she was beginning to snap at people at work, and was tired of sleeping alone.

"I can certainly help with that," I pointed out.

"I know the sex between us is great. And I'll certainly never get a better lover. But that isn't enough. What about the other things I want?"

"How about dinner and we can discuss this further? Either tonight, or tomorrow after my dance classes."

"Tonight," she replied, without hesitation.

And so we arranged to meet this evening. As soon as she hung up, I called a travel agency and bought a round-trip ticket to Guatemala. It is amazing how our getting back together managed to break the logjam of my procrastination. No sooner is my sex life back on track, than I'm anxious to get out of the country.

Elizabeth picked me up on her way home from work, then we had dinner at a restaurant. There she tried to explain her inhibitions regarding sex:

"When I was fifteen, my mother caught me having sex. She said I was ruined, and that no man would ever want to marry me. I was damaged goods. Those are the exact words she used. And then my father threatened to kill the guy. He was eighteen and so my father said he could kill him for committing statutory rape, since I was underage, and no jury would ever convict him of murder. I stopped my father from killing him, but he still beat the guy senseless. So you see why I'm somewhat screwed up about sex."

We returned to her apartment after dinner and had sex, which she seemed to greatly enjoy—"I love your cock inside me!" she cried out at one point—though she was too tense to come. Without much thinking, I ejaculated inside her without a condom. Later, she revealed that she had ovulated yesterday, and so there is a high probability of pregnancy, though she insists that this is unlikely due to how her hormones were messed up from chemotherapy. I really don't know what to think. I abhor the idea of living with Elizabeth, and I don't particularly relish the thought of raising noisy young children. On the other hand, I'm not bothered by the prospect of paying child support.

Elizabeth didn't sleep well, for a variety of reasons. Accumulated stress from fretting all last week about how I was getting another woman before she had found another man, a persistent cold or other mild illness, the lack of an orgasm last night. About eight, I rose and did some calisthenics, then returned to bed. We kissed, then had sex again. This time she came with little difficulty. Once again, I ejaculated inside without a condom. She seemed calmed by the sex, and slept until noon. Lunch at a restaurant in the afternoon, then she dropped me off at my apartment.

 

Ballroom dance lessons in the evening. I spoke briefly and politely with the attractive brunette, then did a tolerable job during the lesson. The dance instructor continues to pretend not to recognize me. The woman who gave me the ride home last week wasn't present at the salsa class, perhaps because of the heavy traffic (she lives in a distant suburb) or perhaps because she had no stomach for another dose of the instructor's abusive criticism. These dance classes bore me now that I'm back together with Elizabeth.

 

Helen called. When I told her that I had gotten back together with Elizabeth, she was sarcastic: "She's obviously a masochist. Did you ask her if she's a masochist? I really think she is." Then she complained of being unwilling to sleep alone anymore, and of planning to call Paul this weekend. Valentine's day is approaching, and she does not want to be loveless then.

 

Helen called and suggested we have breakfast together. She recently received a response to her personals ad, but isn't sure yet whether to follow up. She dreads the effort of dating and getting to know another man, who will likely be no better than Paul. No news, incidentally, about Paul's most recent job interview. If he does obtain a well-paid full-time job, Helen might reconsider his proposal that he and she buy a house together. "I'm sick of living in that apartment of mine. You know how I tried to decorate it with pictures on the wall? Pathetic. Nothing can be done with that place. It's hopeless. I'm either moving into a house, or moving back to live with my parents." I didn't bother arguing or giving advice, since I didn't want to spoil an otherwise pleasant meal.

 

As soon as I arrived at Elizabeth's apartment in the late afternoon, we began kissing, then she pulled down my pants and sucked me while I stood in the doorway to her living room. An awkward position that I didn't find at all exciting. So I pulled her up and hurried her along to the bed, where we completed undressing and then fucked, with orgasms for both of us. Once again, I came inside her without a condom. It had occurred to me that perhaps I should hold off from ejaculation, in order to be prepared for another bout of sex later this evening, but then I reasoned that, by coming now, I would be better able to last later. As it turns out, however, Elizabeth wanted the second bout right away. "I've been like a bitch in heat this past week. I just want it and want it." She also revealed that sucking me in the doorway was a signal that she wanted to be licked. I would have been eager to lick her cunt earlier, but after having come, I had little desire for further sex of any sort. Partly for this reason, and also partly to annoy her for not being more explicit earlier about wanting to be licked, I pretended to be more exhausted than I really was, though eventually I managed to get aroused. I commenced with the cunnilingus Elizabeth said she wanted. As usual, however, this was insufficient to bring her to orgasm, and instead only left her highly excited: "I need your cock in me." So I let her stroke and suck me for a while, but this had little effect, and finally I had to take matters into my own hand (so to speak) and jerk myself to a solid erection, which grew still harder after being inserted in her cunt. I brought her to another easy orgasm, and this time held off from coming myself, as I anticipated that a second orgasm tonight might lead to lack of desire tomorrow morning.

We had dinner at an expensive restaurant with mediocre food. On the drive there, Elizabeth complained that I was being uncommunicative, then became tense and finally blurted out:

"It really gets to me the way you don't bring me any presents. You don't seem to show any affection for me. Sure the sex is great. But I want more. I want to feel loved. I don't get that from you. This is Valentine's day weekend. And I get nothing from you. Not even the words 'I love you'."

"I brought myself," I replied. "I'm spending time with you. And I'm taking you to dinner and then going out dancing with you, and then we might go to a spa this weekend. And I'm having sex with you. And yet all you want is trinkets—junk you can buy in a store. It just seems cheap, this business of buying trinkets. Something the advertisers want people to do. The things I'm giving you—my time, good sex, conversation—these things can't be bought."

There is much truth on both sides of this argument. I don't love her—certainly not the way I love Helen—and she senses this and resents it. But giving store-bought gifts and saying "I love you", by themselves prove nothing. To give the symbols of love as a substitute for the reality thereof seems an insult to her intelligence, and is likely to increase her sense of being wronged. Doesn't she understand that our relationship is mostly about sex? Perhaps she is more of a fool than I realize, and really and truly wants to be fed lies. In any case, after I finished speaking, we drove on in silence for another minute or so, then she resumed,

"Those are true things you said. And I am happy we're spending this weekend together. And the sex is very good."

Later, she revealed that she had considered joining a dating service during the month we were apart, and was both deterred and attracted by the steep cost ($1600). Deterred because she didn't want to pay the fee herself, and attracted because, according to her thinking, the men who were members of the service must be both rich and highly motivated to seek stable relationships. Otherwise, they wouldn't plunk down a large amount of money. This reasoning disgusted me, though I didn't tell her so.

Dinner was followed by salsa dancing. My suggestion as a way to spend the evening, and about which Elizabeth had initially seemed excited: "I want to have some fun. Dancing sounds like fun." Unfortunately, she is an absolutely incompetent salsa dancer, among the very worst I've ever partnered with. First, she doesn't feel the beat nor can she pick up the beat from following my lead. Second, her posture is terrible. Her upper and lower bodies move out of sync, she doesn't keep her backbone straight but rather oscillates from side to side like a swing dancer, she grotesquely mimics the undulating salsa hip motion instead of letting it occur naturally as a result of relaxed leg movements. "What am I doing wrong?" she asked after our first song together. "It feels like we're wrestling. My shoulders are sore and my feet and knees are all bruised. I feel like a white girl who can't dance." My suggestions helped slightly, though not nearly enough to make our dancing other than a chore. Still, we managed to avoid a quarrel, and the evening as a whole seemed enjoyable.

The next morning, I rose early and performed yoga exercises in the living room, while Elizabeth continued sleeping. Then after showering, I returned to bed, where we had sex, with orgasms for both of us and with me ejaculating inside her without a condom, after which I fell asleep and remained sleeping until noon, at which time Elizabeth woke me to announce that breakfast was ready. In the afternoon, we drove to a nearby wilderness park and walked several miles alongside a lake. During the drive back, we had another minor dispute.

While analyzing what Elizabeth was doing wrong during salsa dancing, I mentioned that I had danced with many of the women who had been at the club last night. With regards to one of these, I remarked, "She's an excellent dancer, but there's no sex when we dance together. I feel like I'm dancing with some sort of machine."

"That's just what I mean!" Elizabeth exclaimed. "You want to have sex with other women."

"What man doesn't?"

"Then why don't you?"

"Because if you found out, you might break up. I'm not likely to get a better sex partner than you. So why should I leave you for someone else?"

"Oh, great! That makes me feel like an ogre. Big, bad, mean Elizabeth won't let you have any fun. And what if you knew I wasn't going to find out? I hope you plan on using condoms in Guatemala, because I don't want to catch anything."

"I'm as concerned about venereal disease as you. Also, just because I want sex with other women doesn't mean I intend to carry through with this desire. Desires and acting on desires are two different things. Any man who tells you he doesn't think about sex with other women is lying."

And on and on it goes. What provokes these disputes? Sex that is so satisfying that she no longer needs me? Sex that is unsatisfying and frustrating? Boredom? Intuition that I am beginning to find her boring? Is she just trying to generate excitement by quarreling?

We had dinner at a restaurant in the evening, then sex before going to sleep, with orgasms for both of us.

Sex in the morning. Foreplay, then a minute or so of fucking, then I withdrew and suggested mutual oral sex (position sixty-nine), during which I kept my finger pressed against her g spot while tickling her clitoris with my tongue, while Elizabeth alternated between sucking my cock and licking my balls. This was followed by a long session of dog-style fucking—Elizabeth's request—which concluded when she was too tired to hold herself up on arms and knees any longer. It should have been easy to bring her to orgasm after all this foreplay, but it seems her arousal energy—though intense—was unfocused. Again and again, I was able to bring her just to the brink of orgasm, but never quite over that brink. Finally, as she seemed desperate, I resorted to brute force—rapidly sliding the length of my cock up and down against her clitoris, without respite, until she finally came with a gasp. Normally, I avoid this technique, as the rapid friction is precisely the sort that brings about my own orgasm, but today my control was perfect. As soon as I was certain of her orgasm, I engaged in a minute or so of deep plowing, so that her body shook with each stroke, then came with a roar.

After sex, we had a light breakfast, then stopped by my apartment, where I changed clothes. The dress clothes and shoes I had been wearing, I put into a garment bag, which I then carried down to Elizabeth's car, with the intention of leaving these at her apartment in the future, so as to always have a dressy set of clothes available there. I also brought down an inlaid wooden jewelry box (which I had bought long ago with the intention of giving to Helen someday), and gave this to her as a Valentine's day present, since she had complained so bitterly that I never give her gifts.

We then drove to a small town whose name includes the phrase "hot springs", under the vague notion that there must be spas in this town, with saunas and hot tubs fed by the hot springs. But the town seemed no more than a cluster of run-down trailer parks and thrift stores. If the hot springs here still existed, they almost certainly had not been developed into a tourist attraction. We didn't bother asking any of the locals about spas, nor were we upset at not finding any, as the idea of traveling to a spa or hot spring was really just an excuse to take a long drive. On the way back, we stopped at a restaurant and ate a leisurely lunch. I felt suddenly tired upon returning to Elizabeth's apartment, and so went to bed about nine in the evening, while she stayed up, watching television.

Elizabeth woke me about four in the morning, by calling from the bathroom, where she was soaking in the tub, in an attempt to relieve some sort of severe pain in her vaginal region that had prevented her from ever falling asleep. I asked if she had tried masturbating and she replied yes but that it hadn't helped. Apparently, the pain was soreness from the vigorous sex of yesterday morning. Then she whined about my not caring, and demanded that I talk to her and fetch her some cookies from the kitchen so she would have something in her stomach to prevent the aspirin she planned to swallow from causing nausea.

"Now take two cookies out of the box," she ordered.

"Sure," I replied, and did as she asked, though I didn't care for being ordered about like this.

"What's that face you're making?"

"Nothing. I'm a little tired," I lied, and she let the matter rest. She is so brittle that I hesitate to confront her lest a petty dispute erupt into a full-fledged quarrel, with the result that we break up again. Eventually, she agreed with me that the best remedy would be to try to get some sleep, and so we both returned to bed.

She slept until noon, and this seemed to alleviate her pain. While she slept, I stayed in the living room, performing yoga exercises and reading. Her boss called during this time and left a message. When she called back to explain that she was sick, he complained that she had taken Friday off without notifying him. After hanging up, she exclaimed, "Why should I notify him? He doesn't notify me when he takes a day off. I'm getting tired of being treated like this." She complains of being overworked and underpaid, but my impression is that, all things considered, her salary and working conditions are more or less industry standard. In any case, the manner in which she demands more money and less work is hardly likely to please her boss, especially when her only justification for these demands is that "everyone else makes lots of money, so why shouldn't I?"

She made various attempts to be affectionate after rising—such as sitting beside me on the floor, and kissing me, and rubbing her foot against mine as we sat at the table eating breakfast—but I was unresponsive, due to feeling bored with her, as well as still annoyed by her ordering me about last night, and also disgusted by her whining and resentfulness towards her boss, which I considered an ominous indication of how she is likely to behave with me, should she become pregnant due to our sex these past few days.

"Why are you making that face?" she demanded at one point.

"What face?" I replied.

"That snarling face you made just now."

Somehow I managed to throw up a smokescreen and hide my true feelings. The tension dissipates into a fog of evasiveness, and instead of a quarrel, we become bored.

On her way to work, she dropped me off. As we kissed goodbye, I said: "I'll call you on Friday." But this statement seemed to offend her, and so I hastened to amend it: "No, wait. It's only Tuesday. I'll call you Thursday." The fact is, I was sick of her company by this point and wanted as long a delay as possible before seeing her again.

As soon as I arrived back at my apartment, I masturbated to images of fucking some young woman other than Elizabeth.

 

Dinner with Helen at a restaurant, followed by drinks at a cafe neither of us had been to before. Much more tranquil than my usual cafe, with plush sofas and red velvet curtains, and soothing music in the background. She spent the weekend with Paul, and let him fuck her in the ass three times and lick her cunt twice. None of this sex was particularly pleasurable for her—mostly she just wanted to be hugged—while the cunnilingus seems to have left her suffering from a painful "bladder infection".

Paul has been to several interviews recently, but isn't confident about his prospects. Despite (or perhaps because of) his precarious financial situation, he has been on something of a spending rampage recently. This weekend's mania was for chopstick boxes. He had bought a fancy chopstick box last year for $90, but then later decided to use it for storing scrolls instead of chopsticks, and so this weekend, after an all day shopping expedition accompanied by Helen, he bought another such box, a certified antique one this time, for $500. The sales clerk warned that the box he chose was too short for his style of chopsticks, but he ignored her warning, which proved correct. Instead of returning the box, however, he plans to use it for storing crab forks, and to buy yet another chopstick box in the future.

They had another of their typical quarrels recently, precipitated by Helen saying something to the effect that Puerto Rico is an American colony and that many of the Puerto Ricans in American jails are essentially political prisoners. These opinions seemed to rankle Paul, but instead of immediately objecting, he let his resentment fester and the pressure build until he finally exploded in fury over the way Helen was putting plates back on the shelf: "Let me do that! You're doing it all wrong!"

She now insists that she is determined to break with Paul for good, but doesn't want to do so until she has a replacement lover, since she can't bear to live alone. Conveniently for this purpose, just this past weekend she received a flurry of responses to her personals ad, at least some of which she intends to follow up on. I noted that I might have gotten Elizabeth pregnant, which seemed to darken Helen's mood.

"Why couldn't we have had a child together?" she asked.

"I can't live with you until your sex problems are fixed," I replied.

"Elizabeth is just after your money."

"I know. But then look at you! You went and got pregnant from Paul last year!"

Then we discussed possibly trying sex again. She has an appointment with a new urologist—the first woman urologist she has ever visited—and if the doctor can't cure her, she plans to arrange an appointment with a sex therapist. I recommended that she try yoga. In particular, breathing exercises to relax her lower abdomen.

 

Several calls from Helen, who at first wanted us to have lunch together, and then suggested dinner instead. She received a pay raise of 13% today, thus bringing her annual salary to $43,888, and wanted to celebrate, and even offered to treat for a change. Afterwards, we walked to her apartment and talked there for several hours. I complained of feeling bored and stifled by Elizabeth's company, and Helen noted that she often feels similarly towards Paul. We agreed that Elizabeth and Paul seem to resemble one another more than either Helen or myself, and they would therefore probably make a good match. We also agreed that sex was the primary reason for my relationship with Elizabeth, and Helen's with Paul. Though for Helen, unlike for myself, Paul, and Elizabeth, the only enjoyable aspect of sex was hugging.

I gave Helen two books on yoga, including one on tantric yoga, and suggested that she pay particular attention to the sections on breathing exercises, as these might be the key to resolving her sexual problems.

 

Another lazy day. Up late, then I paced around the apartment listening to music, then off to the cafe. I had promised to call Elizabeth, but felt no desire to either talk to her or see her tonight, and so kept putting the call off. In the evening, while I was at the cafe, she called me, and left a message: "I was expecting to hear from you today, but it's six in the evening and you still haven't called, so I'm calling you to see what's going on." Usually, the sound of her voice makes me think of sex, but today it was the word "nagging" that sprang first to mind.

For some reason, I was feeling extraordinarily restless and agitated, possibly due to worry about Elizabeth being pregnant, possibly on account of a grim description of the squalor and danger of Guatemala city which I read today in my travel guide. Regardless, I was in no mood to talk to her, even after calming myself with several glasses of wine. So when she called again about nine, as I lay sprawled on the sofa, listening to music and with an eye pillow blocking out the light, instead of answering the phone, I turned off its ringer, then lay back down and howled with laughter: "Ha-ha! Bitch wants to order me to take two cookies out of the box? Let the bitch stew!" Then I fretted that she might lose her temper due to my surliness and throw the clothes I had left at her apartment into the garbage. Of course, the value of these clothes (perhaps $300) is less than what she currently costs me every two weeks for restaurants and other expenses. This consideration which somewhat alleviated my worry about the clothes.

 

Another annoyed sounding message from Elizabeth on my machine, timestamped from late yesterday evening, "I guess I'm not going to hear from you tonight", and then she called again this morning and left another message, "Honesty is always the best policy, and I think you owe me the decency to tell me what is wrong, whatever it is, instead of avoiding me." In fact, honesty and openness are what is most conspicuously lacking in our relationship. It was because I felt unable to vent my feelings, lest she throw me out again, that the cookie incident last week riled me so. Had Helen ordered me about in a way I found offensive, I would have immediately said something.

Dishonesty pervades our relationship, starting with her refusal to accept that all we really are is sex partners, and that her desire for sex is stronger than mine. We pretend to be in love, which we both know is a lie, and so we both feel insecure, since we realize that a relationship based on lies can't last. Neither of us is comfortable with insecurity, and so to relieve our anxiety, we rush to break up at the first sign of conflict. We'd rather have certain failure than unsure success. The only way our relationship will ever be stable is if Elizabeth admits that all I can give her is sex, and that she must look elsewhere for spiritual love. Unfortunately, she refuses to contemplate such an unconventional arrangement.

I don't know exactly what has provoked my resentment towards Elizabeth. It was more than the cookie incident. Of that I'm sure. Whatever it was, I seem to be overreacting. What should have been a minor dispute has spiraled out of control. It has occurred to me that I might be deliberately trying to cause a break up, so that if Elizabeth discovers herself to be pregnant next month, I won't have any emotional difficulty with refusing to marry her. "Are you kidding? How can we possibly think of marriage when we've just broken up?" I'll say.

I noticed many incoming phone calls in the late evening, probably from Elizabeth, though she didn't leave any messages, nor did I answer any of these calls.

 

I called Helen and suggested we have lunch together. She complained of suffering from her worst "bladder infection" episode in years: "It's like some black cancer is growing down there. I hate it! I'm going to have to ask for an operation and have the thing removed. Two weeks I've been waiting for an appointment from that new doctor! This weekend I'm going to knock myself out with painkillers, and then take Monday off to recover. And if Paul calls, I'll tell him I'm sick and we can't have sex and so what's the point of spending time together? After all, all he wants me for is sex."

We then discussed some problems she was having with the computer network at her job, about which I made various recommendations. As we stood speaking on the sidewalk outside her place of work, she noticed one of her coworkers listening in on our conversation, and so told me she didn't want to talk any further, without explaining why. I reacted angrily, since she had just asked me a question about computers and now seemingly didn't want to listen to my answer, and so I shouted: "Would you just listen to me? You're acting like this is some trade secret we're discussing!" Now she is worried that this coworker will report our conversation to her manager, and that she will be suspected of not knowing how to do her job properly (a sensitive issue at this point, since she was just recently given a raise for having developed computer skills), or of revealing confidential company information to outsiders. Given the flimsy reasons for which her predecessor was fired, there might be some substance to these worries. She called later (I screened the call, to ensure it wasn't Elizabeth) and accused me of putting her job at risk, to which I replied by shouting and cursing, so that she hung up. A few minutes later, I called her to apologize, and explained that the collapse of my relationship with Elizabeth was affecting my nerves.

 

Dance lessons in the evening. I did poorly, due to feeling tense. The attractive brunette in the first class greeted me with a warm smile, to which I responded in kind, but then I made a point of avoiding her the rest of the class. The last thing I want now is another woman in my life.

 

I called and talked to Mark, for the first time in several months. He asked about a package he recently sent, but which I hadn't yet received. Interesting, this almost simultaneous desire of each of us to communicate with the other. We caught up on our respective lives, then he described how he wants to buy the one-bedroom apartment adjacent to the studio he currently owns, for $45,000. "I'm tired of living in a studio and having a giant bed in the middle of my living room." Presumably (we didn't discuss it), he has ruled out my solution to this problem. Namely, throw down a sheet at night and sleep on the floor and thereby eliminate the need for a bed. His plan is to knock down a wall between the two apartments, and thereby convert his studio into a one-bedroom, and the one-bedroom into a studio, which he will rent out. The advantage of combining units is that they will then be considered a single owner-occupied unit for property tax purposes, which will save him about $1000 a year in taxes, since owner-occupied property has a much lower tax rate than rental property. The only problem with this scheme is that he is currently short of cash to buy the apartment outright, and is also having trouble obtaining a loan, since there is no way to get an independent appraisal of the value of the combined units until the work of combining them is complete. In a few months, he may have enough money for a cash purchase, but in the meantime, the apartment might be sold.

"I know you don't believe in lending money even to friends, but this is a great business deal for me, don't you think? I mean, these prices are great. The city is turning around, I can just sense it," he said.

In fact, he is probably correct about the property he wants to buy being a bargain. However, I don't like the idea of being involved in business deals with Mark. I trust his honesty, but have little patience with his negligence and lack of organizational skills. I hate to think that our friendship might be ruined by my getting frantic because he keeps forgetting loan payments. I'd rather give money than lend it, but since he is not impoverished currently, giving seems wrong. I avoided giving a direct answer by explaining how, due to my trip to Guatemala next month, nothing could be arranged in the immediate future.

 

I called Elizabeth, and told her I had been sulking for the past few days, and that was why I hadn't called. Naturally, this explanation didn't satisfy her. She wanted to know why I had been sulking.

"I don't know," I mumbled.

"You have no idea?" she persisted.

"No."

"Was it something I did?"

"I don't know."

And so on. Then I suggested we have lunch together, which seemed to surprise her: "You don't want to see me at night anymore?" And so finally we agreed to have dinner this evening, provided I pick the restaurant and what to do afterwards, since she was tired of it always being her who made these sorts of plans.

Elizabeth ordered a moderately priced entree for dinner, perhaps out of concern that my "sulking" was due to spending too much money last weekend, while I ordered an elaborate eight-course special, for who knows what reason, so that the total cost of the dinner was $130. Elizabeth acted shocked by this figure, perhaps because out of fear that I would somehow contrive to blame the expense on her. In fact, I am becoming quite carefree of late about spending money wastefully. Not much tension during our conversation. Mostly we discussed work. Her current job and my job when I was working for a large corporation.

After dinner we went salsa dancing. A splendid club, but in a rough section of town, so that the bouncer insisted on frisking me for weapons, which caused Elizabeth concern about the type of crowd that would be present. She also balked at the $15 cover charge (I paid for both of us, as usual), though I argued that this was standard for a high-quality Saturday night dance club with live music. Eventually, after some discussion, we decided to enter.

Her dancing during the initial songs was much improved over last week, so that for once it was enjoyable for me to be her partner. She followed the beat and kept her upper body stable, and all that remains is for her to learn to turn gracefully. Towards the end, perhaps due to feeling tired, she relapsed into her old habits, and once again it felt as though we were wrestling. I therefore reminded her to keep her upper body stable, whereupon she rocked even more, as if out of perversity. When we returned to our table, an argument ensued. Finally, in exasperation, I exploded: "If you think you know what you're doing and want to lead, then ask another woman to dance. I don't want to hear any more back talk. I know what I'm doing and you don't."

Then we sat in gloomy silence, watching the other dancers, while she now and then asked why I was so upset, to which I replied that I didn't want to discuss anything. Sometime after midnight, we left and walked to her car, where we sat inside and talked for over two hours. "What is wrong?" she would ask. "Nothing," I would reply. Eventually, I lost my temper, and went on something of rant:

"Let me tell you a little story. About a week back, some asshole in a bookstore tells me a fucking joke. Okay? This asshole tells an asshole motherfucking joke that I'm supposed to laugh at. Well, you know what? When I was young, maybe, just maybe, I might have thought this little motherfucker might not sell me the book I wanted unless I laughed. Hey, when I was young, I wanted results, and fuck dignity. Well, guess what, Elizabeth? I'm not young any more! And some motherfucker tells me to jump, I tell the motherfucker to jump up his own goddamn ass! Okay? So that's why I didn't call you this week."

"I don't understand," she said in a calm voice, while I laughed hysterically. "Did you feel like I was bossing you around last week?"

"Maybe," I replied, reverting to a gloomy sulk.

"Was there any particular incident?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know?"

Eventually, the more serious underlying issues were brought into discussion. She wants to feel loved, but senses that I don't really love her. I replied that this was correct, and that furthermore I would probably never love her, since our interests in life were too different. I again proposed that she date other men for love, while continuing to see me for sex (since other men don't satisfy her sexually), but she objected that she found it difficult to contemplate doing this.

"Other women hold out for perfection and get it," she said.

"What these women hold out for is a clone of themselves. Eats the same cereal, gets up at the same time of day, thinks the same about politics," I replied. "It's like having a roommate. No sexual passion, no spiritual passion. I'd rather be alone. Life is too short and uncertain not to compromise. If life were a million years long, then it would be perfectly rational to suffer celibacy for a hundred years while looking for the perfect lover. But you don't even know if you're going to be alive for one more year, much less a million. I'm offering you good sex, which is all I can offer you. Why not take it?"

It was three in the morning before we finally crawled into bed at her apartment.

We rose at about ten in the morning. I did yoga while Elizabeth stretched, then we washed up, and afterwards sat in her living room, playing with her cat and drinking tea. We hadn't even kissed since our conversation last night, but the sexual tension was palpable. When she leaned against the back of the sofa, I massaged her back, and then her neck, and then the outside of her thighs, and then the inside, and finally inserted my finger in her cunt, which was sopping wet, and then she turned her head and we tongue-kissed for about ten minutes, while I stroked her clitoris and g spot. "Let's go the bedroom," I suggested at last.

There we fucked missionary style, with orgasms for both of us, followed by a lengthy session in which I fucked her from behind in various postures. She was especially aroused by my pulling her cunt lips apart with my fingers as I penetrated deeply with my cock. The final posture was with her on top, while I fucked from below. With each stroke I could feel the tip of my cock striking the swelling of her g spot. Her orgasm this time seemed extraordinarily intense. Though my cock was hard, I had no desire for a second orgasm myself, especially since she was becoming sore by this point.

Afterwards, as we lay amidst the moist sheets in a sort of stupor, she asked, "Why are we so sexually compatible?" I replied that I didn't know why. It is indeed remarkable that I can so easily bring Elizabeth to orgasm (according to her, no one has been able to do this before with consistency), but that with Helen I am so utterly unsuccessful. (I can bring Helen to orgasm by cunnilingus and even sometimes by intercourse, on those rare occasions when she feels sexual desire. What I can't do is arouse this desire.)

In the late afternoon, we drove to a park overlooking the city, then had dinner at a restaurant, then watched a rental movie (Bliss), which Elizabeth had picked, about tantric sex and the sexual awakening of frigid women. To bed about midnight, with no more sex, since both of us were feeling tired from our earlier activities.

 

I spent the day shopping for more items for my trip, including several hours to obtain and fill a prescription for malaria pills. I packed everything into my knapsack to verify that it would be reasonably light enough for carrying around at all times. Then I made several copies of an emergency numbers sheet, which includes a photocopy of my current passport, traveler's check and airline ticket numbers, medical information, phone numbers of friends, relatives, landlord, and credit card companies. I devised various schemes for hiding my valuables, including a neck purse for change and keys, two hidden wallets plus a condom attached to the inside of my underwear by a safety pin and containing a copy of the emergency numbers sheet plus $50 in local currency (enough to get me back to the American embassy). The idea is that the robbers will certainly find the neck purse and the more obvious hidden wallet, which will contain an expired passport and a small amount of currency and traveler's checks. My current passport and the bulk of my currency and credit cards will be in the other hidden wallet. In the event the robbers make me strip and steal my clothes (my guide book alleges this happens sometimes), then they will find both hidden wallets. They probably won't demand my underwear, however, hence the condom hidden inside there. The reason for using a condom, of all things, is that condoms are waterproof and won't irritate my skin.

 

I received the package sent by Mark, including: a letter describing his recent travels and plans to "make a fortune in condominium real-estate"; a book I lent him last year and which he had many times since promised to return (this sort of negligence is why I am reluctant to lend him money); and a biography of an American yogi. Another strange coincidence—we are both simultaneously becoming interested in yoga!

 

The sole notable incident of the day was a call from Karen, who is planning to visit the city next month (we won't be able to meet, however, due to my trip to Guatemala), and to possibly move back here sometime in the future, since she hates the area where she currently lives. She talked about possibly returning to prostitution, which occasioned a discussion about the profitability of such work. My feeling is that, while hourly earnings are high, there is a tendency for prostitutes to squander their earnings on luxuries or else take long vacations to get away from the stress, so that few make really big money over the course of a year, and fewer still retire rich. Karen countered that she worked in the business for six years, and found it to be more enjoyable and less stressful than the consulting work she does now, as well as more lucrative. Though I didn't argue the point, the fact remains that she accumulated no savings from her years as a prostitute. My suspicion is that what she really wants is more sex, of which she is having little currently, due to her constant traveling and long hours at work. She mentioned a friend of hers who is currently looking for a lover, but I had to decline the offer: "I already have a girlfriend and I just can't deal with the stress of two women at once," I explained. Indeed, even thinking about having to regularly satisfy another woman besides Elizabeth makes me tired, though occasional variety—such as a night with Karen—I mightn't mind.

 

Lunch with Helen. I helped her understand some computer programming code for her job. She took a yoga class for the first time this past weekend. Everyone is getting in on the yoga kick, it seems.

 

My cousin in the monastery called, and left a confused sounding message on my answering machine. Something about wanting to talk to me. He didn't leave a return number, so I decided not to call back, though I do have the number of the monastery office in my address book. My current plan is to pay him a visit during my trip to see Mark later this year.

 

I spent the afternoon shopping for a few last items for my trip, then experimenting with different methods of packing. Rule one is to bring as little as possible. Besides being a nuisance to lug around, a large and cumbersome bag makes it obvious that I'm a tourist and thus a target for robbery. Instead of a knapsack, I plan to carry everything in a small duffel bag (about forty liters capacity, and only partially filled), which seems less conspicuous than a knapsack, and also easier to swing to the front of the body in a crowd, to protect from pickpockets. Rule two is to concentrate on protecting my notebook and valuables, since everything else is replaceable. While showering, I plan to keep the notebook and valuables with me in a waterproof bag, in case my duffel bag is meanwhile stolen from my room.

 

I called Elizabeth in the morning, as I had promised, and arranged for us to get together this evening. Apparently, however, I didn't show much enthusiasm, which provoked her to ask, in a querulous tone: "Why do you always act like you don't care whether we get together or not?" I wasn't in the mood for an argument and so brushed the question aside and changed the topic.

She was highly aroused when I arrived, and made it clear she wanted sex before dinner. "I've been irritable all week at work," she remarked, in a sexually suggestive tone of voice. The natural follow-up would have been: "What made you irritable? Were you thinking of sex?" Whereupon, as if we were living a soap-opera, she would say "Maybe" and then we would have sex. But since I wasn't particularly eager for sex, I decided to play dumb, and so put on a puzzled expression and said: "Irritable? Is work getting stressful?" Elizabeth, however, wasn't to be put off so easily. Seeing that words weren't doing the trick, she sat on my legs and stroked my crotch with her hand, so that I couldn't very well continue to ignore her desires.

We had our standard missionary position sex, with some difficulties. I hadn't masturbated in several days and hence was as highly aroused as she (once the sex got going) and thus was unable to control myself very well. Several times I brought her just to the edge of orgasm and then had to stop moving in order to prevent coming myself. Finally, as she was growing sore, I let myself ejaculate but continued fucking for another minute until she also had an orgasm. An unpleasant ending for me, though better than bringing her off with my hand, or even worse, spending all evening with her still in a state of sexual frustration. There were some blood spots on a towel she had placed beneath her buttocks, but she wasn't sure if this was menstrual blood, though her period is several days overdue.

"We did have unprotected sex earlier this month, you know," I said, alluding to the possibility of her being pregnant.

"I've thought about that. I've thought about that several times, in fact," she replied.

That was all we said on the subject. I don't mind the idea of having children, and Elizabeth certainly seems like good breeding stock. But I can't bear the idea of having to spend my life with this woman. The sex is good, but otherwise her company tires me.

Dinner at a restaurant, where I discussed my upcoming trip. Afterwards, we watched a documentary. At one point, the subject of the documentary said something like: "The reason I said I loved her was so she would have sex with me. I don't really know what the word love means." When Elizabeth heard this, she jumped up and exclaimed, "That's it! I've had enough of listening to that creep. I don't want to watch any more. He sounds like you." And thus ended the evening. We washed up, climbed into bed, and went to sleep.

Fitful sleep for both me and Elizabeth, though we parted on friendly enough terms. I masturbated twice as soon as I arrived back at my apartment, trying to recover my nervous equilibrium, which had been disrupted somehow. I'm feeling anxious for my trip to Guatemala to begin. How wonderful to be out of the country and not have to see Elizabeth for over a month! She asked what sort of gifts I planned to bring her. "You better bring me something nice," she warned. I replied that yes, I planned to bring her something nice. In fact, I had completely forgotten about gifts.

 

I returned to Elizabeth's apartment the next afternoon. She still hasn't had her period, but has been feeling cramps and bleeding lightly all this past week. Also, she took a pregnancy test and the results were negative.

"We have only ourselves to blame if you're pregnant. We've been acting like teenagers," I said.

"To blame? Maybe a child might be good. It might give me something to focus my energies on. Of course, if you die in Guatemala, I'll have to file a lawsuit against your estate for child support. You wouldn't happen to have any blood samples lying around, would you?" she said.

"No."

That was all we said on the subject. My own feelings are as follows. I like the idea of having children. But I don't want the effort or expense of raising children. I can easily afford to pay child support. I dread the idea of marriage to or even living together with Elizabeth. But I wouldn't mind continuing to have sex with her in the future. Supposing she has a child by me, and we don't marry, and she keeps the child and raises it alone, with me paying child support, then I may be able to achieve all of the above aims, other than avoiding the expense of children.

Dinner at a restaurant, followed by salsa dancing at the suburban club, per Elizabeth's suggestion. She continues dance poorly, so that the experience is unpleasant for both of us. In the middle of one song, she pushed me away and walked angrily off the dance floor.

"What's the matter?" I asked.

"I feel like we're wrestling. Look at everyone else. They're having fun. And with me it's pure misery," she complained.

It seemed pointless to discuss what was wrong, since she refuses to accept instruction from me. While looking around, I noticed the older woman who I had danced so well with at the beginning of this month, and longed to be with her instead of Elizabeth. I'm tired of feeling unappreciated. If Elizabeth doesn't want sex, I won't give her sex. I'll give it to someone else instead.

We sat in grim silence at a table for most of the rest of the evening, dancing badly a few more times, then left shortly after midnight, as Elizabeth had an early luncheon engagement tomorrow. More silence on the drive back to her apartment and while preparing for bed.

"I hate dancing with you!" she exclaimed finally, breaking the tension.

"It isn't too pleasant for me, either," I replied, laughing.

"You just want to show your contempt for me. You don't show any affection. Just contempt."

"The dancing is unpleasant because you don't want to cooperate. You're on the beat, and I'm not leading any turns, so there shouldn't have been any difficulty. It's like you don't want to be touched by me."

"If I didn't want to be touched by you, then why did I suggest we go dancing tonight?"

"Maybe so you could complain afterwards about what a terrible dancer I am. But the problem isn't with me, it's with you. I know because I've danced with many other women, including some just like you."

"That's it, you want to dance with other women!

"Maybe if you danced with other men you might be in a position to know what is going wrong."

"Fuck you!"

Then we turned our backs to one another and tried to sleep, but couldn't do so. At last, she jumped up and went to sleep on the living room sofa.

"You give me about as much affection as a stuffed animal!" she said.

"It's your apartment. Why don't you sleep in the bed. I'll sleep on the floor. I'm used to sleeping on the floor. You're going to get a crick in your neck on that sofa."

"Fuck off!"

Sometime in the night, Elizabeth returned from the living room and joined me in bed.

Elizabeth and I resumed last night's argument this morning. Underlying the dispute over dancing is the old, unresolved complaint that she wants me to love and live with her, but that all I'm offering is occasional sex.

"You expect perfection," I said. "I, by contrast, have low expectations. When I was young, I thought other people would bring me nothing but misery, and so I planned to live alone all my life. But as I got older, I realized I could get pleasure from other people, provided I learned some tolerance for their bad points."

"I don't think wanting to be loved is asking too much," she said.

"Demanding that I love you is absurd. Surely you aren't so stupid as to think I can force myself to love someone. What's more, I don't think you love me. And then you insult me by saying that all I want is to come over here and fuck and leave. I think you want me for sex more than I want you for sex."

The situation was still unresolved when she dropped me off at my apartment building on her way to her luncheon. I brought with me the clothes I had been storing at her house, though I left behind my shaving gear and toothbrush. As we sat parked in the car, she unbuckled her seat belt, as if preparing for an embrace, but when I leaned over, she turned away so that I was only able to kiss her cheek. "I'll call you when I get back from Guatemala. Thanks for the ride," I said as I stepped out of the car, to which she replied nothing.

 

Lunch with Helen. I mentioned that Elizabeth might be pregnant and also told her about Elizabeth's question regarding whether I had blood samples lying around, to enable her to sue my estate for child support, should I fail to return from Guatemala. "You better watch her. She's after your money," Helen warned. I nodded and said that I had no plans of ever marrying or living with Elizabeth, even if she did have a child by me, and that if she weren't pregnant, I probably wouldn't see her anymore, as she was beginning to tire me. Helen is having similar mixed feelings about Paul, with whom she spent this past weekend. They originally planned to go shopping together, but then she backed out when she sensed that he was planning another buying spree. "I don't want to be an enabler of his spending addiction," she explained. So he went alone and bought a credit card holder for $80, paying for it, appropriately enough, with a credit card with a large unpaid balance. Aside from these credit card debts, he has a huge income tax bill coming due soon.

"I like seeing him on weekends, but during the week, it's nice to have my own place. That's the way to live. By myself all week, then with a boyfriend on the weekends. Or maybe several boyfriends." Paul mentioned the possibility, if he ever gets a permanent job, of their moving into a house together in the suburbs, but Helen showed little enthusiasm for this proposal. Her indifference apparently took him aback, so that he finally made the concession she has long been requesting. Namely, to use a condom, if they ever return to having vaginal sex. I warned that he might try to use a condom with a hole in it, or else try to take the condom off while she wasn't looking. Helen scoffed at these warnings.

 

Why, I wonder, am I so blasé about a child by Elizabeth, who I've never really liked, other than as a sex partner, but am so skittish about a child by Helen? Perhaps because I know I will be able to resist Elizabeth's demands and threats, whereas with Helen I would have a much more difficult time being hard-hearted. On the other hand, while I have no strong feelings for Elizabeth, I might well have strong feelings for a child that is half mine. She could blackmail me that way. It is stupid to involve myself with someone I don't trust or like, as I should have realized long ago. It seems there was something so overpoweringly alluring about the sex between us which caused me to temporarily lose my usual common sense.

 

I called Helen, to invite her to lunch, only to discover that she was in the midst of a computer crisis that she didn't know how to handle. I asked her to email me the relevant files, made some changes to these, emailed the changes back, then stepped her through the process of installation. There were frayed tempers on both our parts by the time we were done. This was just prior to noon, and so we were able to have a pleasant lunch together. The crisis was caused by maintenance performed by the network administrators. I suggested she make a big deal of her role as the hero who solved the crisis.

 

Elizabeth called and again we discussed our relationship, with the conclusion being that whereas I am content with the way things stand, she is not. In particular, she wants to live with a man, and preferably be married, and she wants to feel loved.

"If I were old, then I might be satisfied with seeing you once a week for dinner and sex afterwards. But at my age, the idea that this is all life has to offer me, that this is all I can look forward to, it makes me profoundly depressed. I'm not getting what I want from this relationship," she said.

"If you not getting what you want, then why continue seeing me?" I said.

"Exactly. Why continue seeing you?"

But if the situation is so clear, then why does she bother calling me? It is as though she expects my feelings to suddenly change at the prospect of losing her. I asked about her menstrual period, and she replied that it is now two weeks overdue, which suggests she might be pregnant. I asked about her plans, and she replied that she wanted to wait until she was sure of being pregnant before deciding what to do. She then asked my plans, and so I told her the following: that I would not marry her or live with her; that if she has the child and raises it herself, I would pay child support and wouldn't be demanding about visitation rights, though I would like to see the child occasionally; that if she chooses to give the child up for adoption, I wouldn't stand in her way; that I was in no position to raise the child myself; and, finally, that my preference was for giving the child up for adoption over abortion. She replied that this was what she expected me to say. I promised to call her when I returned from Guatemala.

"You don't have to call," she said.

"Possibly being the father of your child is a pretty serious matter," I said.

"Yes, it's serious."

"I'd think you'd want me to call."

"If you want to call, you can call."

Then I gave her a temporary email address at which I might be contacted while in Guatemala, and we said goodbye.

 

I managed to get almost three hours sleep during the flight, and woke up feeling refreshed, if still somewhat sleepy. None of the immigration and customs officials spoke English, and so, for the first time in my life, I was forced to speak Spanish. I managed passably, I think. I shaved in the airport restroom, then left the terminal at about half past five in the morning, and promptly got lost. Luckily, I had a pocket compass and so soon regained my bearings. I walked the ten kilometers to downtown, obtained some local currency from a bank, then viewed various tourist attractions: a church, the opulent government building, a large outdoor relief map of the country, the national theatre.

My first impressions of Guatemala City are as follows. I will never be able to pass for one of the locals, regardless of how I dress. My height and northern European facial features make it immediately obvious that I'm a foreigner. The air is even more heavily polluted than I expected, mainly due to the foul-smelling exhaust from cars, trucks and, especially, buses. There are security guards stationed in front of every bank as well as accompanying most larger delivery trucks. These guards are all armed with fearsome-looking pistol-butt shotguns. The street-facing windows of all buildings, whether commercial or residential, are covered by metal bars, and every fence is topped by razor barbed wire, and the cashiers at small stores sit behind protective grates. While sitting in a park, a woman urged me to beware of robbers. My intuition corroborated her warning. These were clearly rough and lawless streets, where armed robbery is a common occurrence, the citizens are afraid to intervene, and the police are either non-existent, or useless, or perhaps even collaborating with the criminals. I wasn't afraid, however, though I probably should have been.

While looking for a bus, I was greeted by the manager of one of the Spanish schools, who insisted on accompanying me. Initially, I was unfriendly, as I thought he might be trying to pull some scam, but then as we talked, I realized he was intelligent and sincere. I was surprised at how well I was able to communicate with him. My Spanish, both speaking and listening, is much better than I realized. Since the price he quoted was not significantly different from that of the schools described in my guide book (his was not among these), I decided to give his school a try. Anyway, at $125 a week, including classes plus room and board, I wasn't risking much.

I was suffering from a splitting headache by the time we finally arrived at the host family, who were to provide my room and board. I suspect this illness was due to multiple causes—lack of sleep, too much sunshine, adjustment to the higher altitude, air pollution. As I lay in bed, my temples throbbing and my whole body feeling nauseous, all I could think of was the overpowering stench of diesel exhaust in my face when I had been standing around looking for the bus, a smell which by then had permeated my clothes and skin and hair. I would have bathed, but the water was not running for some reason. (I later discovered that the water was always unavailable in the afternoon, and so bathing was only possible in the morning.) The only thing that seemed to help was doing some inverted yoga postures, which allowed more blood to get to my head.

In the late afternoon, I wandered about the town, and was beset by mobs of Mayan women trying to sell their handicrafts. I felt sorry for one of these women and bought a necklace from her for the equivalent of $5, which the other student staying with my host family later informed me was ten times what I should have paid. But why should I bargain with people so poor, when even the asking price is small by United States standards? "Yes, I know," replied the other student. "You and I can pay whatever they ask and it's always like a joke to us. But the local people here, they don't like us foreigners to spend so much money because then it raises prices for them. So I always try to bargain as low as possible." What a clever way to justify being cheap! Exactly who are these local people who complain about foreigners spending too much money? And why is their opinion more important than that of the local merchants, who I'm sure would love for tourists to spend more money?

Another mob of women tried to sell me various handmade textiles—shirts of a style that I would never wear in the United States, tablecloths, napkins—none of which I wanted. If they expect to sell to gringos, then why don't they make western style shirts? I finally gave two of the women $1 each, since I felt bad about not wanting to buy anything and they so clearly needed money. Though, of course, such charity just encourages them to harass other tourists. Still, given the comparatively huge sums I routinely spend in West Metropolis, it seems absurd to be worrying about amounts on the order of $1.

In the evening, I accompanied the other student to a gringo bar, where we sat and talked with students from ours and various other Spanish schools (most of this talking was in English). An evening which reminded me of high-school, when I used to go out with friends whose company I didn't particularly enjoy, merely because I was afraid to be alone. Why am I in this bar? was all I could think.

 

I woke at three in the morning, to the sound of a rooster crowing, then returned to sleep, then woke again for good at five. I spent several hours wandering around town, looking at the many old churches, many of them in ruins after centuries of earthquakes, and others still functioning. At some of these churches, I put money into the offering box, since they didn't charge admission and I wanted to contribute to their upkeep, but otherwise I found it difficult to spend much, since there is almost nothing I want or need to buy at this time. Which makes me feel somewhat guilty, since the people here obviously could use some tourist money.

After lunch with the host family, I visited the local market to buy supplies for a planned volcano ascent tomorrow. I decided that, for locally produced items, I would pay up to half the United States price without question, even though this is twice or more what the locals pay. Only if the price quoted is higher than half the United States price do I bargain. An instance of this occurred when I was trying to buy some used pants, for which the seller wanted $5, even though they would have cost only $4 in the United States, and probably would have been bought by a local purchaser for $2. I finally agreed to pay $3, then later decided I didn't like them and so abandoned them under the bed at the host family. For imported items, bargaining is not possible, and prices are similar to those of the United States.

While wandering around, I decided I needed some more fiber in my diet, and so asked at a food stand for a bowl of plain black beans. The woman in charge seemed surprised that beans was all I wanted, instead of the various rice and meat dishes. I tried explaining that I had already eaten lunch, but she seemed to doubt my story. Meanwhile, her daughter—an absolutely beautiful Mayan girl of seventeen, with perfect teeth and skin and breasts—sat across from me and asked various questions. It was difficult to conceal my admiration for her beauty—I simply couldn't keep my eyes off her—at which she started laughing, no doubt pleased by the compliment, which left me feeling anxious to leave. The beans cost $.50.

Another evening at the gringo bar. I was very pleased by my ability to communicate in Spanish with the other students, as well as with one of the instructors from the school. In particular, my vocabulary is much larger than that of most of the other students. One student grilled me about my now-defunct software business, and so I told him the story of its rise and fall, after which we exchanged platitudes about how most people are slaves to their jobs and die slowly in them and only a few brave souls—like him and me—dare to think outside the mainstream "paradigm" of career, marriage, children, a house in the suburbs. What was the point of this conversation? Was he really trying to learn something from me? If so, then why doesn't he just read a book, where he could learn far more about business, and have the material more clearly presented as well? Why does anyone bother talking to anyone else? Or am I just some sort of freak not to enjoy conversation?

 

I woke at one in the morning, with a need to piss, but didn't feel so bothered as the two previous nights by the cold nighttime temperatures here. I seem to be adjusting to the climate as well as the altitude. I'm also apparently losing weight, due to much walking and moderate eating, while in my yoga exercises I'm feeling stronger than ever. Perhaps I'm trying to make myself like the natives, all of whom look lean and tough. I feeling constipated due to lack of fiber, however.

In the morning, I wandered around town again, trying some of the restaurants recommended in my guide book, then stopped in to view a ruined church, where a lame old man insisted on being my guide, though I neither needed nor wanted any assistance. Finally, out of pity at his poverty, I relented and let him accompany me, even though his chattering presence spoiled the atmosphere of the ruin. I planned to tip him $.25—a small tip because I hadn't wanted his services—but he demanded $3 at the conclusion of our ten minute tour. After some argument, I consented to give $.50, then later felt angry at how he had managed to simultaneously spoil my experience of the ruin and make me feel like a cheapskate.

I sympathize with the grinding poverty of these people, and their inability to offer any products or services that I want to buy, but after only two days in this country I can understand why people become stony-hearted. I am tired of being unable to enjoy the park without being pestered by mobs of shoeshine boys offering to whiten my sneakers, and women selling clothes I wouldn't feel comfortable wearing either here or back in the United States, and cheap looking necklaces, and scraps of cloth, and other junk I have no use for. I managed to get rid of them today by putting on a ferocious looking expression and repeating "no" as firmly as possible, so that they cringed as they walked off. One remarked, "you have so much money and me so little", which made me feel somewhat ashamed.

The ascent of the volcano in the afternoon provoked more thoughts about money. After listening to the other tourists—all of whom are rich by local standards—gossiping about the various schemes they had discovered to reduce costs, I decided to defy this general tendency towards stinginess, by tipping our tour guide (whose salary is about $4 a day). But upon looking into my wallet, I discovered that all I had available were two small bills, worth the equivalent of $.15 each—much too small for a proper tip—and several large bills worth the equivalent of $15 each—which I thought an excessive tip. So instead of tipping the tour guide about $3, as I had planned, I gave him my flashlight, saying, "Here, you can have this, since I don't need it anymore." (The descent of the volcano was at night, which is why I had brought a flashlight along.) I had bought this flashlight the day before for $2 at the local market. As I handed the flashlight over, it occurred to me that this was a demeaning sort of tip, like something an adult would give a child. I noticed that another man did tip the tour guide about $3—in currency.

I somewhat redeemed myself later by properly paying for use of the toilet, located out back of the restaurant at the small and impoverished looking village at the base of the volcano. This toilet consisted of a piss splattered seat atop a fetid hole in the ground, surrounded by hanging sheets to provide some privacy. As I waited in line to use these primitive facilities, young boys pleaded, in Spanish, for $.15 as a service charge. The other tourists didn't understand what the boys were saying, and commented in English: "Don't give them anything. It just encourages them to ask for more. I only give when they do something useful." A valid point, but then providing a toilet was indeed a service, for which it was reasonable to ask for money, especially as we weren't patronizing the restaurant. I didn't bother saying anything, however, though I did give the boys some coins, and then another $.15 to the cashier at the restaurant, who seemed pleasantly surprised when I explained I was paying for use of the toilet.

I cleaned myself up upon returning to the host family, as I was utterly filthy from the volcano ascent, using a sponge bath. (Showers are only possible in the morning, since there is no running water the rest of the day.) Afterwards, I stopped by the gringo bar in order to break some of those $15 bills that had caused such embarrassment earlier about tipping. Now that I was there alone, instead of in the company of the other student, it struck me even more forcefully what a dismal place this bar was. It resembled a noisy single's bar in the United States. Everyone loud, aggressive, pretentious, drunk, beautiful to look at and acting sexual, and yet none of them seemed in the least bit sexually attractive to me.

 

I had planned to visit a neighboring town for a religious procession, the existence of which was the single useful piece of information gleaned from yesterday's cicerone, but then as the day heated up and I contemplated the prospect of a long walk in the beating sun, I lost interest, especially as my legs were still sore from yesterday's volcano ascent. Instead, I spent the morning lying in bed and masturbating.

In the afternoon, I wandered around town and ordered a shirt to be custom-made for $28—the first time in my life that I've ever ordered an article of clothing to be made to my measurements. Immediately after paying for this shirt, however, I had second thoughts. What if the final result isn't what I'm expecting? Then I bought another shirt (ready-made) from a street vendor for $5, which is about what I would pay in the United States. I could easily have knocked the woman seller down to $1.50, and perhaps even lower. But why, given that $5 is a pittance to me? The idea of haggling strikes me more and more as obscene, at least for anyone as wealthy as I and the rest of the gringo tourists are compared to the locals. And yet my guide book talks admiringly of bargaining for hours on end in order to get the best deal, and traveling to remote markets in order to get even lower prices.

I read in the local newspaper that the country's population is expected to double in twenty years, which I find hardly surprising given the profusion of children running about. Such growth will likely worsen the poverty here, since already there is a shortage of arable land, water, housing, schools, roads, and other resources and infrastructure. I was about to add jobs to the preceding list, but then realized that there is never a shortage of jobs. After all, anyone can become a shoeshine boy or street vendor of handmade trinkets. Whether one can make a decent amount of money this way is another story, of course.

 

The first day of classes. My routine will consist of five hours of one-on-one conversation each morning, with the rest of the day free to do whatever I want. My instructor and I discussed mostly trivial topics—the weather, where I lived, what I ate for breakfast—in order for him to assess my current level of Spanish knowledge and see where I most needed help. My brain felt utterly exhausted afterwards, so that I was unable to think clearly for the rest of the day.

Salsa dancing in the evening, where I was able to get a private lesson for only $3/hour, versus $50 in the United States. But then it turned out the instructors knew less than me. The woman instructor, especially, seemed a rank beginner. There was no tone in her arms and she was unable to maintain the beat properly. Still, the exercise gave my mind a chance to relax.

 

Physically, I'm feeling wonderful, but mentally I'm once again exhausted from Spanish class, though I seem to be making great progress there. At their request, I gave a salsa dancing lesson to several of the other students and also two of the Guatemalan Spanish instructors. Then I bought some Spanish language novels at a local bookstore, as I hadn't brought any reading material along, other than my travel guide and other reference books. I was disappointed at the poor selection—no more books than in the typical home library of a bookish North American—at what is supposedly the best bookstore in town. It is clear that this is not a bookish culture. Part of the problem may be the prices, which are equivalent to those in the United States, and hence much too expensive for the locals. This is probably because almost all of the books are imported, mostly from Spain or Argentina. I glanced at the sales ledger while the cashier was tallying my purchase, from which it appears that the store sells an average of about five books a day (perhaps $50 in sales total).

I picked up my custom-made shirt, then bought another shirt from a street vendor for $13. He seemed shocked that I accepted his initial offer. As the market was almost devoid of buyers, the vendors were desperate to sell and so I might easily have knocked the asking price in half. But I have no regrets. This was the only one of the three shirts I've bought so far that I really like. The workmanship of the custom-made shirt is superb—the most tightly sewn shirt I've ever worn. Unfortunately, I've come to the conclusion that I don't particularly like the pattern of the cloth. This shows why buying custom-made clothing is a bad idea for me. I can never judge whether I truly like something until I've worn it for a few days. Therefore, I should either buy items which I can later return, or else items which are inexpensive, so that I won't mind giving or throwing them away if I decide I don't like them later.

 

My instructor is starting to get on my nerves. Indeed, I believe the mental tiredness I've been experiencing after our lessons is due not so much to the effort of practicing verb conjugations and whatnot, but rather to the feeling of being assaulted by a hostile personality. Yesterday's homework was an essay in answer to the question "what role will computers play in the technology of tomorrow?" As I struggled to think of something to write, the expression "glib flatulent pap" sprang to my mind, accompanied by the image of a buffoonish looking pundit on a television talk show. I also couldn't help but recall high-school English, and racking my brains in an effort to determine what was meant by the "theme" of a literary work—a concept I still don't fully understand. Why can't we simply discuss what I ate for breakfast? Or how he spends his evenings? Simple sensory facts instead of barren abstractions.

A pretty Japanese student in her early twenties seems to be coming on to me ever since I danced with her yesterday. She fluttered about me this morning, taking every possible opportunity to touch my arm or shoulder, and then invited me to accompany her and some other students on an overnight trip this weekend. I accepted this invitation, though against my better instincts, since I anticipate I'll be bored stiff. The Japanese woman is small compared to me, which gives some zest to the fantasy of fucking her brains out, but then reality sets in. Aside from the fact that I've never felt comfortable approaching younger women, there is the problem that, if we do have sex, she'll be pestering me to spend every spare minute in her company, and I just can't abide the thought that my whole vacation is to be ruined by some mooning fool. Or perhaps she isn't a fool, though one would never know from the way she and the other Japanese women behave—giggling and smiling constantly, and then weeping because one of the other students is going home this weekend and they'll never see him again. They'll have known this person for a grand total of two weeks. So what difference that they won't see him again?

Yet another culture clash with one of the men who attended my salsa lesson yesterday, and who today stopped by to obsequiously thank me. A tiresome exchange of politeness ensued:

"Thank you for teaching me to dance salsa," he says.

"It was nothing," I respond.

"But I'm very grateful."

"You're welcome."

"I want to buy you a drink at the bar tonight in token of appreciation."

"That's not necessary."

"It would be a pleasure."

"I don't want to trouble you."

"It wouldn't be any trouble."

I finally managed to get rid of him by pretending to be slightly ill. What an all-purpose excuse that is! Everywhere I go in this country, I feel my solitude invaded—by this fellow, by shoeshine boys, by street vendors, by the host family, by other students, by my instructor. Only during my siesta, while lying quietly in my room and masturbating, do I feel free from these intrusions. To think that I've only been here a week and I'm already anxious to get away!

[Upon rereading the above paragraphs, I realize that I must come across as a dyspeptic old man. The problem is that I'm being forced into contact here in Guatemala with personalities and situations that I scrupulously avoid back in the United States, and I simply cannot cope.]

I used one of the local internet cafes to email Helen, who I think of frequently. Few things in life give me as much pleasure as my memories of her, regardless of all our conflicts on the subject of sex.

 

I woke up early with a need to visit the bathroom. I'm no longer constipated, I'm happy to say. I was unable to flush the toilet, however, due to the lack of running water at this time of day. (Let's just hope no one gets diarrhea around this place!)

The Japanese woman approached me again to confirm that I would be coming on the trip this weekend. Despite my apprehensions that this trip will be a disaster, I didn't have the gumption to back out. Then she gave me a hug, to which I responded lukewarmly. This situation is really getting out of control.

I suffered a complete mental collapse after two hours of listening to the instructor pontificating about Guatemala and his various theories of life and politics and inflicting upon me the most inane questions. "Sparta versus Athens—which was better, in your opinion? Who was the most influential general in history—Alexander the Great, Napoleon or Hitler? Which is the most important city in the United States? Which is the most important industry of the United States? Is the United States on the decline? Will the next century be dominated by Japan and China more than by the United States? What is the most important thing in life? Is it better to be rich or to be happy?" What is meant by "better" or "most important"? Why this obsession with ranking? What is meant by "decline"? It is next to impossible for me to answer these sorts of inflated questions in English, while in Spanish I am reduced to a sort of confused gibbering, stumbling over verb conjugations and searching desperately for the proper words. Even when I did manage to say what I meant, the instructor misinterpreted.

"Most influential general?" I say. "It depends how we define influential. If we define it as causing the most people to die, then Hitler is most influential. If we define it as causing the spread of culture and language into other countries, then perhaps Alexander the Great."

"And yet I always thought Napoleon was the most influential," the instructor replies slyly, cocking his head and narrowing up his eyes, as if he had just revealed a flaw in my reasoning.

"Again, it depends how you define influential."

My objection, however, is ignored, as the instructor seems incapable of grasping that the meanings of these swollen phrases—"the best", "the most influential", "the most important"—are not obvious, but rather must be clearly defined and agreed upon before we can have an intelligent conversation. Finally, my tolerance was at an end, and I insisted that in the future we confine ourselves to simple topics, on the grounds that I lack the vocabulary to discuss politics. So now we'll probably discuss breakfast, and his questions will be on the lines of, "What is the most important breakfast food?" To which I'll reply, "Most important in what sense?" And to think that I'm paying to be tortured thus!

Even more irritating than his words is his manner of expressing them. One minute roaring and exaggerating the trilling of his "r's", raising his hand in a fist and then slamming it down on the table for emphasis—"God is the most important thing in life! God and God alone!"—and the next minute leaning forwards and breathing into my face and speaking in a low, conspiratorial tone, almost a whisper, as if not wanting the Japanese girl at the next table to overhear, "I think the United States is still the most important country of the world." I feel as if I were in a madhouse. Though perhaps I shouldn't be too critical. After all, most of the world thinks and speaks like him and not like me. "The United States is more important than Japan"—wars have been started over meaningless statements like this.

No sooner do I get away from my instructor, than I'm assaulted by an even noisier individual—namely, the husband of my host family, with whom everything is expressed with a roar—no conspiratorial whispers here. "How are you doing?! How are you doing in school?!"—questions yelled from so close that I can smell his breath and feel bits of spittle striking my face. If the question is difficult, so that I am slow to respond due to my weakness with Spanish, he interrupts and hurls another question, yelled even louder than the first, and then stares at me intently, as if looking for signs that I am deliberately refusing to answer. In fact, I am deliberately refusing to answer at this point, though I wasn't being uncooperative when I first arrived. Why should I bother to communicate with this barbarian? Perhaps he feels that I despise him because I'm a rich North American who is disgusted at having to live in a house with water than only runs four hours a day. I despise him all right, but it isn't his poverty or living conditions that is the cause.

The other student, with whom I converse in English, in the subdued voices of civilized people, is a merciful relief from these booming-voiced barbarians. Nevertheless, I have no desire to be dragged by him to the bar again. "I have class work to do tonight," I lied, in justifying staying home, at which he nodded approvingly. (An automotive engineer, sent here by his company to learn Spanish so he can go work in some assembly plant in Mexico.) With the barbarians, of course, I would never dare speak of work, lest I provoke the inevitable shouted exclamation: "Work?! Too much work isn't good!" Followed by a tremendous, knee-slapping roar of laughter at this clever joke.

I took this vacation precisely to relax, and yet it now seems to be aggravating my feelings of nervous tension. I'm even starting to tire of the one oasis I found here, a sidewalk cafe where I've spent the past four afternoons, always ordering the same thing—a huge bowl of fruit covered with yogurt, granola and honey (for $2). The problem is the overpowering fumes from passing cars and trucks, which today caused my eyes to smart so badly that I was forced to leave sooner than I would have preferred.

Dinner in the evening at an oriental restaurant. A wonderful atmosphere—an older building, high ceilings with exposed wood beams, romantic latin music played at low volume in the background, candle lighting, hand-carved wood tables and chairs, tile floor, soft earth tone color scheme—all that is best in Spanish culture, in other words (though the food wasn't Spanish, of course). What a contrast with the typical oriental restaurant of the United States, with their shiny red and black lacquer and plastic decor!

While sitting alone in this restaurant, sipping beers and reading and writing in this journal, it occurred to me that I feel as if I were in a sexual desert. It isn't so much that I'm not having sex, since that is my usual situation in life, as that there aren't even many women here I can use in my fantasies. Between myself and the Mayan women, relations are clearly impossible, even assuming we were to find one another attractive, which is seldom the case (the young beauty in the restaurant several days ago was an exception). As for the gringo women, they fall into several categories of unacceptability. Most are in their young twenties and, while beautiful (especially the Scandinavians) are also seemingly asexual—at least in my eyes. They don't notice me, and I can't imagine having sex with them. Cuddling them like children, yes, but fucking, no. Two younger women at the school have shown an interest in me. First the Japanese woman, whose giggling makes the idea of sex impossible. And then there was a buxom, fleshy blonde from French Canada, overweight and tall—almost as tall as me. The sexual energy between us was instant, powerful and mutual. And then I discovered that she is a high-school student, aged fifteen, as she proved by showing me her passport, though I could have sworn she was at least twenty. Upon learning her age, my desire immediately cooled. While her body remains attractive, I have absolutely no desire for conversation with a fifteen-year old, and the reality is that sex always eventually involves conversation, unless the woman is a prostitute.

The gringo women who aren't too young are mostly too old. Retired grandmothers in short pants and tennis shoes and sun hats. Which leaves a very few women who are neither young nor old. These are all unattractive to me, either in looks or personality. For example, consider two women to whom I spoke briefly on the volcano tour. Their goal in life is to work as teachers of the rural poor of either Guatemala or some other third-world country. Presumably, this is to appease their feelings of guilt at the manifold great evils committed by white people, especially white people of the United States. When I told them I was a computer programmer and used to work for the defense industry, they glared at me accusingly, as if to say, "You white male first-world capitalist bastard! Don't even think of approaching us sexually!"

All in all, the situation here is in complete contrast with that of West Metropolis, where everywhere are attractive women in their thirties and forties oozing sexuality. I'm not sure that I really want an affair here, given my present state of nervous exhaustion. Still, it would be nice to have some pretty women to at least look at.

I would have liked for this lovely restaurant to become my new oasis, replacing the sidewalk cafe, but alas, the waiter ruined this possibility by engaging with me in over-friendly conversation. "Where are you from? Are you studying Spanish here? Do you like Guatemala? What do you think of this town?" Naturally, I gave polite answers to these last questions instead of telling the truth. The problem is that once we've had one of these lengthy conversations, I can never again enter the restaurant without having to smile at the waiter and then suffer through another tedious exchange of pleasantries. So now I'll have to find someplace else for tomorrow's evening meal. (I should note here that I am no longer eating with the host family in the evenings, as I am thoroughly sick of the gloomy, noisy, unintellectual, lower-middle-class atmosphere that prevails there. The woman of the host family looked perturbed when I told her this, as if it were a reflection on her cooking, so I hurriedly made up an excuse about spending all my evenings salsa dancing. She seemed to detect that I was lying, however.)

 

Another exhausting day at school. The instructor must have detected that my patience is wearing thin, because today he suggested that I take it easy, lest I come to regard Spanish with hatred. For all his booming voice and stupid questions, he isn't completely devoid of subtlety, and does indeed seem to want to do his job properly. The problem is simply a clash of incompatible personalities.

Today's topic was the possibility of artificial intelligence, and for once I knew what I was talking about and so was able to express myself clearly. Though my speech was riddled with incorrectly conjugated verbs and other grammatical errors, at least I had no problem finding the proper words and idioms. Some of the notions I put forth are as follows: free will is an illusion; human intelligence is not that impressive; the complexity of human society is the result of the combined efforts of stupid individual humans, just as the complexity of an anthill is the result of the combined efforts of stupid individual ants; we are incapable of understanding either how the universe came into being or the concepts of infinity and eternity, which is further proof of how stupid we really are; humans are similar in behavior to monkeys, and only marginally more intelligent than monkeys; computers will easily exceed human intelligence some time in the next century (unless technological progress is halted due to nuclear war or other catastrophe); the reason computers are not already as intelligent as humans is that the humans building and programming computers are too stupid to make rapid progress. At the end of our talk, the instructor exclaimed, "Today I am the one whose brain is tired!" Which is hardly to be marveled at. When a mind has long been nourished with nothing more substantial than pap questions like "What is the most important city in the United States?", of course it will have trouble digesting solider stuff.

During a break, the Japanese woman asked if I still planned to go on the trip this weekend, and I responded by throwing up my hands dramatically and saying something to the effect that I was feeling ill, and so probably wouldn't be able to go, and then I hurried off to the bathroom before she could try persuading me to change my mind. Then in the evening, while sitting at a lovely courtyard cafe—my latest oasis—the man who annoyed me with his gratitude two days ago interrupted my solitude yet again, and invited me to stop by the gringo bar, where there would be a going away party for one of the other students who is leaving this weekend. I noticed today, during the break, that this student acted annoyed when told of this party in his honor, which is exactly the reaction I would have had. I believe the Japanese women are behind the idea, since this is the student whose impending departure they were weeping about earlier this week. I replied that I might stop by the bar, depending on how I was feeling. "I don't feel so good," I said in Spanish, letting my head droop and my body and arms collapse into the chair as if overcome by sudden weakness. I feel ashamed at pretending to be sick when I'm not—this is the very behavior I condemn in Helen—but then what else am I to do? To tell the truth—namely, that I want to be left alone—either entangles me deeper in a relationship I'm trying to avoid, by awakening curiosity and provoking questions, or else creates an enemy.

 

I took a three hour hike in the morning, starting in the town and wending my way through dusty, impoverished villages with children and skinny dogs running everywhere, to some hot springs mentioned in my travel guide. I had hoped to be able to see some of the countryside on this walk, but unfortunately, the road was lined almost the entire way by ramshackle cinderblock houses and stores and coffee-processing factories and high privacy walls for the villas of the rich, while the road itself was clogged by noisy, pollution-generating traffic, so that I was filthy as well as sick with breathing bad air by the time I finally reached a dirt trail leading to the springs. At last, from this trail, I was able to get a glimpse of rural Guatemala. It was hardly an inspiring sight. Every available plot of arable land fenced in and cultivated, the mountains denuded of their forests for timber, gullies used as garbage dumps, the nearby stream black and stinking horribly of sewage, shanty-like houses, everywhere an atmosphere of third world poverty. I talked briefly to an intelligent seeming young man who accompanied me part of the way, and answered the typical questions: where was I from, what do I do for a living, why was I visiting Guatemala. What did he do so bad in his past life to be reborn here? was the thought that popped to my mind.

I didn't have a bathing suit, and so couldn't use the public pool at the hot springs, but instead rented a private room, where I undressed and sat in a tub of water flowing from the springs outside and splashed around like a child, washing away the dust and refreshing myself. Afterwards, I bought a soft drink and then took the bus back to town, since I had no desire to retrace my path on foot. I arrived back at the host family just in time for lunch.

An unpleasant affair this was. Normally, the other student and I eat alone, but today, for some reason, the rest of the family joined us at the table. The other student ate quickly and thus was able to slip away before they arrived, but I was slower, so that by the time I was finished, they were already seated and it seemed rude to leave while they were still eating. We sat together in grim silence, broken now and then by accusatory questions, yelled into my face by the husband of the host family: "Are you happy? Are you happy with this family?" I mumbled some excuse about not understanding Spanish (he doesn't speak English), but he knows this is a lie, since I spoke with him fluently during the first day I was here. The husband seems upset that I never eat at the host family in the evenings. But what difference does it make? I can't be accused of hating the food, since I eat their breakfast and lunch. And I gave advance notice that I wouldn't be eating in the evenings, since simply not to show up would clearly be inconsiderate. If anything, they should be grateful for being spared the cost of whatever food I might eat in the evenings.

The real problem is that the husband detects that I don't really like him or his family, and wants to know why. What am I to say? The absence of books, the conversations reduced to exchanges of banalities or else screaming matches. It all reminds me too much of growing up, of grim Sunday lunches with my father's relatives, with not a word exchanged while we bent over our plates and slopped up the food like animals, and afterwards belching and stern-faced discussions about tenants not paying their rent on time, or so-and-so's gall bladder operation, or the best home remedy for a case of loose bowels, the leaden atmosphere unbroken by any species of wit or laughter or other liveliness.

I tried to show the forms of politeness—for example, refilling the glass of an older man sitting at the table without being asked to do so ("Thank you, very kind of you," he said in acknowledgement)—but this failed to appease the husband. At last the ordeal was over. We all rose from the table, the wife bowing and smiling awkwardly as if in apology, the angry husband hopping on his motorcycle and zooming away with a roar.

The real question is why I signed up on yesterday for another week of this torture? I feel as if I were spiritually suffocating from the constant presence of these hostile souls. I want be alone, with myself and the books I bought last week for company, somewhere with clean air and beautiful views of unspoiled nature, away from this grimness. But inertia, my old nemesis, wins again. I was able to overcome it just long enough to get going on this trip, and now I sink back under its weight. I'm too lazy to investigate alternatives. Instead I just stay where I am, and suffer and complain.

 

For whatever reason, I had no desire today to confront the sun-baked streets, and so stayed in bed, reading and masturbating. I didn't even visit the bathroom, after my initial visit in the morning, lest I run into the host family or the other student next door, who would surely ask some predictable question—"Have you been indoors all day, then?"—which I had no desire to answer.

In the mid-morning and then again in the afternoon, I was delightfully surprised to hear beautiful music emanating from either a room in my host family's house, or one of the adjacent houses in this crowded warren of dwellings. Spanish guitar music, marimba music, tangos, boleros—all played at the moderate volume preferred by civilized people the world over. I had the same thoughts I have upon hearing classical music or good jazz played in the ghettos of the United States. Namely, that poverty and squalor need not be a complete blight on the human spirit. Indeed, most of the best popular music originated among the poor. Beautiful souls trapped in a world of ugliness.

Music, flowers, trees—it is so easy to create beauty without money, and so easy to destroy it with blaring rock and roll and rap music, honking horns, bellowing and shrieking voices, air pollution, shabby looking construction, trash thrown on the ground instead of deposited in a garbage can. I was spellbound while the music lasted. Could it possibly be my host family whose radio was playing this music? When the music stopped, I heard the husband shouting in his usual grating manner, and then the whole family trooped off to church.

About six in the evening, the house seemed empty, and so I slipped out without fear of being observed, and walked to a restaurant recommended in my guide book, where I was assaulted by bad rock and roll music and then fed a lousy pizza—a soupy mess of melted cheese and tomato sauce atop an ordinary crust.

I'm not sure whether this trip was a mistake or not. On a positive note, I've finally had a chance to speak Spanish and confirm that I know enough to get around in that language. Also, I can now confidently affirm that I detest travelling, without being confronted by the inevitable retort: "But you haven't ever tried it!" On the other hand, I'm not really enjoying myself, and can barely wait to return home.

 

I woke at five, but then lay awake in bed until seven before rising to go to the bathroom, thus skipping my exercises. I am feeling profoundly apathetic and depressed and disgusted with this country. The ugliness of life here wears on my soul. I want nothing to do with the people around me, neither the gringos nor the natives. I don't want to look at them, I don't want to talk to them, I don't want to hear them. All I want to do is lie in bed and masturbate.

Another tedious session with my instructor. I did poorly on purpose during verb practice in order to frustrate him. Our discussion today concerned whether there was ever intelligent life on the planet Mars, and whether the legend of the lost city of Atlantis was true or not, and whether extraterrestrial beings had assisted the ancient Egyptians in constructing their pyramids, and similar topics that might have interested me when I was ten years old but which bore me now.

An awkward encounter with the Japanese woman during the break. She asked what I did this weekend. "Nothing," I replied. "I just lay in bed and read. I'm tired of spending all my vacation working." She smiled and walked off, evidently getting the message that I want nothing to do with her. Similar awkwardness with the other students. The problem is that I was talkative and outgoing my first days in class, and now I stick to myself, as if offended by something they've done or said. The instructor shook his head in disappointment when I told him I haven't been speaking much Spanish outside of class. Add a "parent-teacher" conference followed by a visit to the psychiatrist and I'd swear I was back in high-school.

After lunch, I masturbated, then napped for three hours, then taught salsa again, without much enthusiasm this time, to two men, who did horribly. They reminded of my own pathetic initial attempts at dancing. I tried to be patient, but their inability to do even the basic properly left me feeling like a complete failure as a teacher, so that in the end I'm sure I was sharp with them. "I want to learn, I really do," insisted one of these men, as if he had detected that I was annoyed by his bungling.

A pretty, plump blonde sat conspicuously across from me in the park in the evening. Our eyes met, and so I waved timidly, to which she replied with a meek "hi", but then neither of us made another move, and after an hour she wandered off. Though it's nice to feel the stirrings of sex, to want and to be wanted, I can't bear the thought of another of these tedious conversations about where I'm from and how long I plan to be in the country and what I do for a living and how wonderful Guatemala is and so forth. I also feel self-conscious about my slovenly clothes. A tee-shirt and tennis shoes, which is the sort of outfit I condemn when worn by other men back in the United States. I should have worried less about physical comfort, in choosing clothes to bring on this trip, than the psychological comfort that comes from being attractively dressed.

A lousy hamburger for dinner, but amidst beautiful surroundings—a lovely plant-filled courtyard, open to the star-filled sky, with no music, just the soft sounds of conversation and the clinking of plates and glasses. It was a bit chilly, due to a strong wind from the north, which also seems to have blown away all the pollution from this town, so that at last I can fill my lungs with pure air.

I can't wait until this week is over.

 

From five to seven in the morning, I lay in bed, imagining how I might easily escape this torture of school and my interactions with the host family, by simply boarding a bus one morning without telling any one. I visualized the instructor and the host family and the manager of the school and the other students, all of them shaking their heads and wondering what became of me. The thought of behaving in such an irresponsible manner made me feel wonderfully liberated, so that I laughed inside. In reality, of course, I'll almost assuredly not carry through with the idea, as I haven't the heart to be deliberately rude without more justification than that of being bored by people. Even more sobering is the thought that, in the grand scheme of things, my suffering is laughable in its triviality.

The instructor seems to suspect something of my emotional state: "How are you feeling? Are you happy? The most important thing, for a student learning Spanish, is for the student to enjoy learning. When the student is not enjoying himself, when he spends all his time alone, when he never interacts with the host family or the other students, when he sees his studies as a chore—then he stops learning. But you don't feel this way? I see. You're enjoying yourself, then? No complaints? No questions? Nothing you want to say? Very well, what shall we talk of today? That business of men from Mars yesterday—that was just so we would have something to discuss, you understand. I couldn't care less about men from Mars, nor do I believe in men from Mars. I believe in God, not men from Mars. Why don't you suggest a topic today? No suggestions? Nothing to say? It is very difficult to talk without something to talk about, and without talking, you don't learn. You understand what I'm saying, don't you?"

I sympathize with the instructor's plight, especially after my own frustrating experience trying to teach salsa dancing yesterday. But there is a personality clash between us that no amount of good intentions will overcome. I find his spirit oppressive, so that I neither want to talk to nor listen to him. We managed to complete the lesson by discussing the educational system in the United States. I toyed with cynicism as a way of spicing things up ("many high-school graduates in the United States can barely read and write—a high-school diploma is more a proof of regular attendance at classes and good behavior than of knowledge"), but soon became bored listening to myself. It has been many years since cynicism interested me.

After lunch, I indulged in my usual masturbation session followed by a nap, then bought three more Spanish books at the bookstore, so as to ensure I won't face the disaster of a shortage of reading material. Though I can't find kindred souls here in the flesh, at least I can find them in books. I sat in the park in the late afternoon, wondering if this trip is really as complete a waste of time as it currently seems.

One of the men to whom I taught salsa yesterday sat with me on the bench for a while, and apologized for being a poor student and pleaded with me to help him learn to dance. I tried to put a stop to this groveling, but he was insistent: "I'm such a bad dancer. I am the worst dance student there is. No, I am terrible! And yet I want to learn. Oh, I'm so glad you can teach me. I really want to learn to dance salsa." At last, I consented to have another class tomorrow. Then I gave some advice about dancing which probably left him more confused than ever. At the conclusion of our conversation, he asked for my address. It seems he might be visiting West Metropolis later this year. Though I haven't the slightest desire to see him again, I nevertheless gave him my correct address and phone number. Why didn't I give a false address?

Dinner at an Indian restaurant, where I stupidly chose to sit on pillows on the floor instead of at a regular table. My knees began to ache almost immediately, but I was too stubborn to admit my mistake by asking to move. While sitting thus in pain, I reflected on my situation in life, and how I've built a veritable spiritual prison for myself. I want the rewards of a bourgeois existence—money and all that it can buy, respect, privacy, good food, good music, good books—and so I behave like a bourgeois. I repress my wilder inclinations to tell people off and to do what I want without regard to other people's opinions. A part of me says hop on a bus and flee this stifling existence, but the bourgeois in me says I can't afford to offend people. I have to think about appearances. I am unhappy when I behave according to the rules of bourgeois morality, but I'm simultaneously too afraid of the consequences of deviance—prison, the lunatic asylum, homelessness—to do otherwise.

 

I acted stupid again during my lesson in order to annoy my instructor. Perhaps in order to annoy me in turn, perhaps because he can't help himself, he let loose with a booming-voiced fusillade of platitudes and other stupidity.

"People here are not used to this cold." He was referring to the unseasonably low temperatures here this past week. "When it snows here, people die. Our bodies are not like yours. We are unable to tolerate this sort of cold. I was once offered a teaching position in Canada. Much more money than I could earn here. But I didn't go, in part, because of the cold. When a person from Guatemala goes to a country like Canada, often he will only stay for a few days, and then return. Our bodies are not designed for cold." But how is it then that blacks whose ancestors lived in equatorial Africa are able to thrive in the northern cities of the United States? If anything, the Mayans should be better able to tolerate cold than these blacks, since temperatures in the highlands here frequently drop below freezing at night, and firewood is much too scarce to waste on heating.

"I have heard it said that North Americans don't know how to speak English correctly—only the English really understand English." This remark was apropos of a discussion of the difference between the English "shall" and "will"—a distinction which perhaps one English-speaking person in a thousand fully understands, but which my instructor seemed to think very important. I mumbled something in reply about, "Who decides what's correct English?" But my response lacked energy, which I suppose he interpreted as proof that I was absolutely devastated at hearing the United States unfavorably compared to England.

"Sometimes you will see a man walk down the street. His clothes are fine, his shoes are polished, his hair is groomed, his fingernails are clean. And you think, what a rich man he must be. But those clothes are all he has. He is penniless. No better than a pimp. A good-for-nothing. And another man, he walks around in sandals. His clothes are dirty and ragged. His hands are covered with filth. But in his pocket, he has a wad of money this thick. And maybe he owns some valuable farmland. He doesn't need to look good—he has money. You have to look beyond appearances." My own view is that we should praise those who bring beauty into the world, and condemn those who exacerbate life's ugliness. A poorly dressed rich man is doubly at fault, in my opinion, since he can afford to dress nicely and thereby give pleasure with his appearance, but chooses instead to affront us with his raggedness.

"I had a student once. A former lieutenant in the Korean army. He was an expert in every martial art. He knew eighteen ways to kill a man with his bare hands. And when he danced, he was completely stiff. But that was his style. He didn't care how he looked. And that's the way it should be. It doesn't matter how you look—it's how you feel." My objection here is the same as towards the rich man who dresses poorly. If appearances don't matter, then it is acceptable to fart and pick one's ass in public, and wear filthy clothes to a party, and otherwise make life uglier and less pleasant for other people. I spit in the world's face myself frequently, but at least I don't expect to be thanked or praised for such rudeness.

I cut the lesson short, as I was growing exceedingly tired of our conflict of personalities. Before leaving, I noticed how very attractive one of other students is—a blonde lawyer in her late twenties. A mutual attraction, it appears, but as she returns home in two days, nothing will come of it. Still, it is pleasant to have someone beautiful to look at, and to feel admired in turn. I was beginning to think there was something about this country that made everything and everyone here seem unattractive.

I sat in the cafe most of the afternoon, reading a novel. In the evening, while sitting in the park, I was approached by a man in his thirties, who asked the usual questions. "Where are you from? Are you a student? Do you enjoy Spanish? Are you married?" My intuition seemed to be working well, so that I was able to instantly recognize that he was a homosexual trying to pick me up. I had no real desire for sex with him, of course, since I'm not homosexual. But even if I were, he would hardly be the man of my dreams. He was saddled with the same second-rate mind and second-rate education and gloomy spirit and lack of wit as the rest of the men I've met so far in this country. So probably I should have told him that, yes, I was married, and thereby put an end to his efforts to seduce me. But I was feeling lonely and tired of wandering about in what seemed to be a sexual desert, where nobody wants me and I don't want anybody else. While I had no desire for him, at least he had desire for me. Also, he hadn't yet proposed sex. Perhaps he just wanted to talk. It's conceivable, after all. He mentioned that he was "waiting for a woman", which surprised me, as I was certain that he was trying to pick me up. Presumably, this reference to a woman was some sort of test or diversionary ruse, since there was no further mention of her later, when he suggested we have coffee at a nearby cafe.

"Here in Guatemala, we have a very conservative society. The rules are very strict. I live alone," he said carefully, apparently still testing my willingness to accept his advances.

"I don't really fit the norm in the United States myself. I've always tried to live in central cities, where rules regarding behavior are liberal, especially as regards sex. But I'm not homosexual...", I said, in an attempt to clarify the situation.

"Not so fast!" he exclaimed, with something of a lisp. Then he laughed and lightly swatted my arm, and afterwards leaned back in his chair and briefly but noticeably touched his crotch. "How many beers have you had?"

"Just this one," I replied. We resumed the discussion of our jobs. I told him I was contract computer programmer, and worked several months followed by several months of unemployment. This is to be my cover story everywhere from now on, as it seems to raise the fewest questions. A humble enough sounding life—slaving away on computers, always insecure about the future because my job isn't a permanent one. Whereas mentioning that I once ran a business always leads to awkwardness. I'm either pitied because the business failed (why else am I no longer running it?), or else resented for being rich, or else the whole story comes across sounding false and I'm despised as a lying braggart.

I told him I had problems with younger women—that they wanted things I couldn't or wouldn't give them. I meant, of course, things like a normal suburban family and love, but before I could conclude my sentence (I was stumbling along in Spanish), he nodded as if he understood perfectly. I was saying I couldn't give them sex, wasn't I? After all, I'm a homosexual, right? I then told him I preferred older women, because they didn't expect marriage and children, but again, I expressed myself clumsily, so that he probably assumed I was talking of wrinkled grandmothers, and that these were the only women whose company I could enjoy precisely because sex was not an issue. I told him I lived alone because I prefer solitude, and that I masturbate because I enjoy it, at which confessions he arched his brows, as if I were saying, "I live alone because I'm gay and I mention masturbation because I'm afraid to talk about what really interests me, which is sex with men." To be sure, I don't know what he was thinking, but my intuition is acute, and his mind simple enough that it wasn't hard to unravel the train of his thoughts. If only I had such insight into myself!

I couldn't resist informing him that I'd once previously had sex with a man. This was when I was age eighteen. A man in his late twenties approached me, much as this fellow was approaching me now, and I thought to myself: "What the hell? Why not try it? Maybe the reason I'm not getting anywhere with women is that I'm homosexual. Why not find out for sure?" And so I went to the man's house and sucked his cock some and then let him fuck me in the ass. I had trouble getting an erection of my own, but did finally manage to come by masturbating. A tedious experience that I've never particularly wanted to repeat.

"All my fantasies are about women," I concluded, "and all my successful experiences have been with women. Sex with a man doesn't really interest me. Still, it is nice to be the object of someone's sexual desire—even if he is a man. For the most part I've felt sexually dead here. It's as if I were invisible."

"That's because the people here are used to seeing gringos," he said.

"That's not what I mean. I'm invisible to the gringos as well as the natives. I don't know why. And they seem invisible to me. Perhaps because everyone is so young here, that I feel old."

"You are not old."

"I know that I'm not old. What I'm trying to say is that, for whatever reason, until tonight, I have felt as though no one in this country finds me in the least bit sexually desirable, which is an unpleasant situation and one that I'm not used to."

"What do you want to do?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" I replied.

"What do you want out of your trip?"

Here I launched into a long discussion of my feeling that this trip is more of a journey of self-discovery than a chance to see "sights"—which I've never much enjoyed. I described the volcano ascent, and how childish it seemed to me, how I'd just as soon have watched a television documentary about volcanoes.

"What do you really want from this trip?" he asked.

"Given that I'm not interested in sight-seeing, perhaps I'd like to meet a lover," I replied.

"And do you think you will find that lover?"

"As I said before, all of my fantasies are about women, and all of my experiences have been with women—other than that one fiasco as a teenager. I just don't know what I'd do with a man. I enjoy your company and I enjoy this conversation. It is the sort of conversation I wish I could have with women, instead of always engaging in childish prattling about our jobs and how much we enjoy traveling and how exciting it was to climb the damned volcano and how I can't wait to see all the other tourist attractions, and then some sort of hysterical reaction the minute I mention sex. I want a lover, but someone mature."

"Someone my age, perhaps."

"Yes, someone in their thirties or forties. There are few gringo women that age here. And most of those are thoroughly unattractive to me."

"You don't find women attractive then."

"Not when they let themselves go to hell, no. And not when they're angry political fanatics or romantic hippies who've never bothered to grow up. Some women are still very pretty at age fifty, more so perhaps than they were at age twenty. They've preserved what's important—smooth skin, silky hair, a slender figure, physical energy—while eliminating all the silliness of youth."

"Tell me, what do you really want?" he asked.

"What do you mean?" I replied.

"You see, I believe a person should live for today. The past is past. Finished. What matters is now. Not tomorrow, but now. When you want something, you should reach out and grab it. Without doubts. And then you will be happy. Otherwise, not."

"I'm never sure of what I want. I always have conflicts. Nothing is black-and-white to me. Everything is shades of gray. Complexity. Contradictions. Confusion."

"You must not doubt. What you want, take it. Now! That is how I live. Money is not important to me. I know many rich people who are unhappy because they aren't doing what they want. What do you really want?"

"I'm not being evasive. I don't know what I want. There is some truth in my statement that I want a lover. After all, how better to pass the time?" I said.

"Exactly," he said.

"However, as I explained earlier, I don't know what to do in this situation. I don't like being a tease, you see. You understand that word, don't you? Tease—it means giving an impression that you plan to do something when in reality you don't. I don't like to give the wrong impression. I've enjoyed our conversation. I enjoy being sexually desired. And I try to be open-minded. But I'm not homosexual." He leaned back in his chair and laughed, then spread his legs and briefly touched his crotch again.

"Take it easy! Take a deep breath, then finish your beer. How many have you had?"

"This is my second."

A short while later we paid for our drinks, then walked together in the direction of my host family, which was also, coincidentally, the direction of his house. On the way, we ran into one of the Japanese woman from my school (the friend of the one who had seemed to be coming on to me). I pretended not to notice her, but she noticed me, and ran up and hugged me and then asked questions and talked for a while in her usual giggling voice. After she left, I remarked,

"See that? Very pretty. She's twenty-four years old and still acts like a baby."

"Women are very possessive. Not like men," he said.

Outside his house, we paused.

"Would you like to see the garden?" he asked.

At last, the moment of decision had arrived. I really had no desire for sex, but given that I'd gone this far, why not go the rest of the way? Perhaps I might enjoy it after all. Also, it would be a chance to test, for the first time since that miserable experience at age eighteen, whether men had any appeal for me sexually. And so I agreed to go inside. I exclaimed in obligatory delight at the beauty of the garden, then he stood next to me. We might as well get this over with, I thought, and so leaned over and hugged him.

"So what did we come here for?" I asked, with a forced smile, and meanwhile feeling like an utter fool. The situation was reminiscent of the time I made a play for Lisa. I realized what I should have recognized all along—namely, that I had absolutely no sexual desire for this person. Not even a glimmer of heat or sexual tension in my body. Nothing but a desire to get the damned experience over with and be gone.

"We came here to see the garden!" he replied, laughing gaily. I dared not play coy myself, lest the evening last forever. Nor was I willing to call the whole thing off. I'd come this far, I'd go the rest of the way. The same stupid logic that propelled me to climb the volcano, which I knew I wouldn't particularly enjoy. So I shoved him against the wall, and pressed my crotch against his, thinking that perhaps by being aggressive I might somehow awaken my sexual desire—passivity was clearly not working.

He turned his head in order to kiss, and ate at my mouth like a hungry animal, sucking on my tongue and lips and pressing his face into mine. Then he bared his chest so I could I feel his breast, which I tried to imagine was that of a woman, and then he turned and let me dry hump his buttocks, and then he undid my zipper and pulled out my cock and tugged on it and finally bent over and sucked at it greedily. But it was all to no avail—I was as limp and devoid of sexual arousal as could be. His manipulations eventually succeeded in making the organ somewhat longer—the same effect as a penis-pump might have produced—but the nerves remained completely numb. Finally I could stand no more of this ordeal, which must surely rank among the very worst sex experiences of my life, and pushed him away.

"I don't know," I said, with a shrug. "It's very difficult for me. I've only done it once with a man, and that was when I was a teenager and it was as much a fiasco then as now. All my experience is with women. What can I say?"

"Don't worry about it," he replied, in a disgusted tone of voice. Then he pointed to my bag, which lay on the table, as if to say, "Gather your things and get out of here, I'm not interested in any further discussion." I was surprised therefore when he suggested we meet again tomorrow evening, to talk about what went wrong. A proposal to which I consented, probably out of a sense of guilt. Though later I had misgivings. After all, he wasn't even a particularly interesting conversation partner. Why should I have to endure another evening of his company?

Back at the host family, I brushed my teeth so as to rid them of his cigarette breath, then masturbated. No problems getting an erection (to fantasies of a woman, naturally), which proves my impotence was not due to physical causes. What this erection doesn't prove is that I'm not homosexual. Had I picked someone more attractive, things might have been different. Of course, the most attractive man would have a woman's body, including a cunt between his/her legs. In other words, the most attractive "man" would be a woman. Which is to say, I prefer women. In fact, "prefer" is the wrong word. I'm only interested in fucking women's bodies. Why this demented need to prove that I'm homosexual, when it should be obvious that I'm not? Why can't I behave sanely?

 

My instructor was sick and so I spent the morning in a cafe, writing up yesterday's journal entry in my notebook. In order to make up for the lost class time, the director of the school suggested that I spend two hours in conversation this afternoon with another instructor. I consented to this arrangement, though in fact what I really wanted was to escape this school altogether. The power is mine—no one is stopping me from leaving the school and no one is forcing me to attend class in the afternoon—but I just let myself me dragged along, never bothering to decide what it is that I want out of life. Imagine, agreeing to sex with someone for whom I had absolutely no desire, and a man at that! This is exactly what happened during my homosexual experience at a teenager, and what has happened several times with women—with the result always being impotence.

Unfortunately, I don't know what I want, unless it be to watch and listen—to be a bystander, to sharpen my sensitivity and empathy to the point where simply by spending an hour in a person's company, chatting about the weather, I can sense and vicariously experience the totality of their life. The downside of such heightened sensitivity is that when I'm in the presence of a hostile personality, such as that of my instructor or the husband of my host family, I feel miserably oppressed.

The conversation in the afternoon was with a woman, who seemed to revel in describing how bad things are in Guatemala these days—corrupt police, water shortages, deforestation, overpopulation, rural schools where she taught for a year with sixty children per teacher and no books or paper or pencils and all the children filthy and lice-ridden. Not to be outdone, I countered with tales of widespread homelessness in the United States. "My country is worse than yours!"—a free-spirited topic if ever there was one. Aside from having compatible personalities, she was a woman, which always tends to spice things up. I realize now that I should have demanded another instructor after the second day in this school.

I missed the date with the homosexual from yesterday. It is just too absurd to pretend that I'm interested in men. As usual, the fact of doing something slightly irresponsible (standing someone up on a date) made me feel absolutely ecstatic, so that I walked around with a huge grin on my face.

A delightful evening at a Mexican restaurant, to which I was attracted by the sound of good salsa and marimba music, which made me want to leap up and dance between the tables. Alas, this good music was replaced after about an hour by some sort of bad disco. What a difference music makes to me!

 

A cursory goodbye to the host family, more as if I were departing from a hotel than leaving someone's home where I had lived as a guest for two weeks. They may not understand why I didn't enjoy living with them, but they definitely know I wasn't happy here. Forced smiles by everyone.

My instructor was back, and looking more or less healthy. Yesterday's brief illness he blames on stepping outside into the coolness of the night while still sweaty from working out at a gym. His body went into shock at the sudden chilling, he says. I mentioned that I performed yoga in the mornings as my daily workout, whereupon he asked if yoga enabled me to see "auras" around other people, a capability a former student of his had alleged to possess. I replied no, I wasn't able to see auras.

I cut the class short, on grounds that I had an early bus to catch, then sat in the cafe for two hours, where I began to feel much better about this whole vacation. Partly from relief at being at last free of my instructor and the gloomy host family, and partly from a feeling that Guatemala is not the sexual wasteland I had originally thought it to be. If nothing else, the experience with the homosexual made me feel attractive at a time when I was beginning to doubt that anyone wanted me.

A three hour bus ride to the lake in a private shuttle, which I took in lieu of the cheaper public bus in an effort to escape the sights and smells of poverty for a while. Alas, though the shuttle bus was luxurious inside, outside were the usual scenes of Latin-American squalor—ramshackle adobe or cinder-block houses, half-starved dogs, hoards of children, deforestation, every square inch of arable land under cultivation, men welding without eye protection and otherwise taking reckless risks with their health. Also, there was no escaping the pervasive air pollution, to which the natives are apparently oblivious. Several times, our bus was trapped behind another vehicle (the winding highway has only one lane in each direction, so passing is difficult) but instead of keeping some distance back, our driver insisting on tailgating. We were thus enveloped in the cloud of noxious exhaust pouring from the rear of the vehicle ahead, so that my eyes became bleary, and my throat parched, and I couldn't help wondering, why isn't the driver similarly affected?

The town resembles every other tourist resort I've ever been to. Shops selling tee-shirts and other souvenirs, street vendors hawking even trashier merchandise, crowds of tourists walking aimlessly up and down the one main street, sidewalk cafes, tasteless architecture, tasteless music. I stopped at the first cheap looking hotel that I came to, and accepted the first room offered, costing the equivalent of $5 a night. After stashing my bag, I walked to a pretty park abutting the lake, where I sat on a stone wall, looking out through trees at the water, which was whipped into waves by a breeze. A crowd of peddlers gathered round, offering for sale shirts and fruit and jewelry and other items. Grinding poverty no doubt excuses their aggressiveness, while unnecessary rudeness simply adds to their misery. But I was tired and tense and in no mood to be polite in my refusals. Instead, I shooed them away with a fierce scowl and brusque words: "No. I said no. I don't want any. No." Why don't these people stop breeding so fast, and maybe then they wouldn't be so poor? was all I could think.

The restaurants were desolately empty for the most part, especially the cheaper ones near the lake, where nary a customer was to be seen. How do they stay in business? Do things pick up on weekends? Is this the slow season? Was there overdevelopment here in the recent past?

Later I wandered down dirt side streets, where there were few vehicles and the air was delightfully pure, and I was able to feast my eyes on the houses of the rich. Most of these houses are designed in the North American style, with the beautiful gardens in front and thus visible from the street, instead of hidden inside a courtyard. Then I had dinner at a sidewalk cafe where I feasted my eyes on another type of beauty—that of a crowd of young Scandinavians. Unfortunately, some bad rock music spoiled what would otherwise have been a lovely evening.

 

I slept well, and so felt refreshed and rested when I was awoken at three by a horrible racket of roosters crowing and dogs yapping that didn't let up until past dawn. I had no desire for further sleep, and so just lay in bed until it was light outside, masturbating to various lurid fantasies. My intention was to hold off from orgasm, so as to better appreciate the young Scandinavians, but then it occurred to me that, without coming, I'd be so aroused all day as to be unable to appreciate anything properly. And so I indulged in an orgasm after all.

I was stronger than ever in my exercises, which I performed on the concrete deck, under the open and gradually lightening sky, enjoying the solitude of the early morning. Afterwards, I walked about town, in search of a restaurant with tolerable music, before finally settling upon one with no music, other than some barely audible strains of classical emanating from another restaurant next door. I stayed there for three hours, observing the street scene and the other diners. Two brown-haired women speaking Spanish at the adjacent table attracted my particular attention. I played eye games with one of them. Now I'll have something new to masturbate to tonight, instead of having to dredge my memory for fantasy objects.

Towards noon, I returned to my hotel, where I found my towel had been stolen. I had left it hanging outside to dry, as if daring someone to steal it. Why didn't I hang it inside my room, or else dangle it from the window in the back, where no one would have been able to reach it? I decided not to replace this towel, but instead to let my body air dry after showering in the future, and thereby reduce my luggage. I also hid beneath the mattress one of the shirts I had bought last week, which I now realize I don't much like. In a country as poor as this, it seems criminal to throw a perfectly good shirt in the garbage. On the other hand, since I was certain I would never wear the shirt, why bother lugging it around?

Meanwhile, I wore this morning, for the first time, the one shirt I've bought here that I truly like. I hadn't worn it while attending school, since the bourgeoisie there seem to scrupulously avoid wearing anything Mayan in appearance and I didn't want to provoke annoying questions like: "That's a Mayan shirt you're wearing, did you know that?" But the atmosphere here is much more liberated, so I that felt comfortable sporting native garb, despite being one of the few gringos to do so. Several Mayan peddlers asked what I paid for this shirt. I told then $10, which was less than what I really paid ($13). They shook their heads and said: "Very expensive. Much too expensive. I sell for only $8. Why not buy another?" But I didn't want more shirts.

After checking out of the hotel, I moved down the street, where I obtained a similar but somewhat larger room for the same price ($5), though without hot water in the communal bath. This last deficiency is not a problem for me, as I've only been taking cold showers ever since I arrived in Guatemala. My purpose in moving was to learn something about the hotel situation—what can be obtained for a given amount of money, what to be careful about, what Spanish vocabulary is needed for communicating with hotel employees, and so forth—by trying a different hotel each night.

Then I wandered down to the park by the lake again, where two boys offered necklaces for sale, similar to the one I had bought the day of my arrival for $5. I told them no, but they were persistent, and eventually it occurred to me that I probably should buy at least a few extra souvenirs to give as gifts. So I haggled with one of the boys, and finally we agreed on a price of $1.50. Something about the boy's attitude annoyed me, which is why I wouldn't offer more. While I fumbled in my wallet for currency, the boy switched necklaces, and handed over one different from what I had selected, which I didn't notice until he was walking away. The necklaces were almost identical in cost of materials and labor, so I don't know why he made this substitution, unless because other customers, like myself, had repeatedly shown a lack of interest in the second necklace's design. I objected loudly and threatened to call the police, to which the boy responded by laughing and demanding more money.

"This is bad business. Give me back my $1.50 or give me the other necklace. You said $1.50. I will notify the police," I said angrily.

"$.50 more for the other necklace," he countered. Then he joked with his companion about my peculiar Spanish (I was making blunders right and left due to my excitement).

"He's a bad boy," commented this other boy, without directing his words to either of us, and shaking his head as if in disapproval of the proceedings.

Finally, seeing that I was on the verge of tackling him and forcibly retrieving my $1.50, the first boy relented and handed over the necklace I had originally agreed to buy. Then I sat back down, while the boys took seats about ten meters away, with the first boy still laughing and occasionally calling out remarks to me like:

"Want to buy another? Real cheap. Only $1. This time for real."

Strangely, I was more amused than angry at this incident. We waved goodbye when I rose to leave about twenty minutes later.

Lunch at a sidewalk restaurant, from which I had a pretty view of a steep cliff covered with wild vegetation, though what really attracted me to this restaurant was the music I heard while walking past—soft Spanish love songs, backed by a subdued string orchestra. Alas, not long after I sat down and placed my order, the music changed to wretched disco, nothing like the house and disco music played at nightclubs I've recently patronized in the United States, but rather dreck of the sort I haven't been tormented by in decades. Also, the road next to the restaurant had vehicles passing every few minutes. In the United States, of course, this would hardly matter, but here each passing vehicle brings with it a cloud of noxious exhaust fumes, which only slowly dissipates. So once again, I found myself assailed by the twin unpleasantnesses for which I will always remember Guatemala—foul music and foul air.

After a siesta, I walked aimlessly up and down the street, like the rest of the tourists. A pretty woman sitting at the restaurant where I ate yesterday stared and smiled at me invitingly. I responded in my typical manner by hurrying away. What I need to do is resign myself to always being alone and enjoying women from a distance. At best I can dance with them. I shouldn't complain about my situation. My peculiar personality has made my life easy and happy in most respects, and it is only fair to expect a few offsetting negatives, such as never being able to enjoy real sex.

I skipped dinner and passed the evening standing against a wall, watching the street scene. Several times the electric power went out. I made a mental note to buy a flashlight tomorrow, in case I have to go to the toilet late at night.

 

I slept poorly, due to loud rock music from a bar next door, which didn't stop until two in the morning, and also because of a mosquito buzzing in my ear. I believe I finally fell asleep at one, then woke at six, at which time I masturbated for two hours and came with an explosive spray of semen that reached all the way to my face. I don't know why I was so sexually charged. Perhaps from all my staring at the young Scandinavians yesterday. Or perhaps it is the healthy food and clean air.

Breakfast at the cafe was ruined by the presence of a boisterous crowd of gringo girls at the next table. From something one of them said, I gathered that they were in their early twenties. Though based merely on behavior, I would have guessed them to be age fifteen. Conversation was about ex-boyfriends and how terrible the boys were in bed and what a "blast" of a time they had skiing, with everyone interrupting everyone else in order to tell their even more outrageous story. The majority of these girls were endowed with extraordinary physical beauty, and yet I nevertheless felt nothing but disgust towards the whole immature lot of them, with not even a glimmer of sexual desire. There was only one man at their table. He was sitting with his legs crossed, knitting a scarf and occasionally commenting on the conversation in an effeminate sounding voice. The only pleasant aspect to the meal was the view I had through a window, of a well-manicured and secluded garden behind the cafe, with a small, neat-looking house behind this garden.

After breakfast, I wandered about town, searching for somewhere to eat lunch, and discovered a restaurant situated amidst a large garden filled with flowering shrubs, with seating under trees. There was traffic on the road in front, but either due to the extent of the garden providing a buffer or because of prevailing winds, there was no problem with air pollution. The music, amazingly, was excellent baroque classical. Unfortunately, there was only one tape, which lasted about forty minutes and then repeated. I can already see that I can never return to this restaurant in the future, for fear of hearing this same music yet again. Luckily, after the second repetition today the music stopped, and I listened instead to the pleasant sound of the wind rustling the foliage, birds chirping, and the women talking softly in Mayan in the kitchen.

This delightful sanctuary was violated after I had been sitting there about an hour, by two gringo women—both in their forties, neither of them attractive—who sat at an adjacent table. One looked pathetically at me as she passed, so that I felt an instant sense of repugnance towards her, which I didn't understand, until I heard her begin to read aloud from a long letter of farewell from her lover. Now and then she would interrupt herself in order to weep and then wipe away her tears with a paper napkin.

"I had thought this would be a time of healing, and instead we are growing farther apart. I will pack your things with care," she read slowly and dramatically, in a quavering voice. Then she looked up at her companion and bawled, "I don't need this!"

"You're a beautiful person and don't you ever forget it!" said the other woman, gripping the first by the arm.

I had dinner at the sidewalk cafe again, listening to excellent live music. Rock, but with a cha-cha beat and reminiscent of Santana. I tipped the musicians $1.50, which is generous by local standards. The few other patrons who bothered to tip at all only gave a tenth this amount. I tipped well because I want to encourage good music, seeing how little of it there is in this country. I didn't want to tip too excessively, however, since that might attract attention. This good band was followed after about an hour by another, playing some sort of horrendous wailing folk music. As soon as they began, I burst out in laughter, then I beckoned to the waitress for my check and paid the same and then hurried away.

 

I checked out of the hotel early and took a boat to one of the villages across the lake. My guide book warns that the boatmen sometimes try to gouge tourists, and so that I had some dark worries about being asked for $100 and then being thrown overboard in the middle of the lake if I didn't pay. But in fact, the tariff was only $1.50, which I thought reasonable, even if it is considerably more than what the locals pay. I talked to a fellow North American on the boat, who gave me some advice as to a good cheap hotel. Certainly he was right about it being cheap. $1.50 per night, for a small room without bath. After checking in, I had breakfast at a restaurant. Another of those delicious bowls of fruit covered with yogurt, granola and honey, accompanied by fresh orange juice. I sat under a gazebo in a garden outside the restaurant. As there were no other patrons, I had this garden all to myself.

A drunk Mayan youth joined me while I was sitting there and started a conversation. He seemed to be asking about drugs, but using Spanish slang which I didn't understand. Then he asked me for money and so I stupidly handed over $1. I don't know why, since this seems the very essence of misuse of money—giving to a drunk so he can buy more liquor. He said he was the mayor's son. When I told him my profession was computer programmer, he informed me that he owned four computers, which he invited me to go see. I replied that I wanted to remain in the restaurant and read for several hours today, while as for tomorrow, I didn't want to make any firm commitments. He then staggered off, as if offended that I had rejected his invitation.

I took a siesta in the afternoon, followed by dinner at a restaurant, to which I was attracted by the sound of salsa music. The power went out twice during the meal. After the first outage, the music changed to bad house. After the second outage, it changed to acceptable reggae. Back at the hotel, I played with a sickly looking cat briefly, then retired early to bed.

 

I slept well—in part due to the hard bed, which consisted of a thin piece of foam atop boards. Clearly, there is something insane about this business of three part mattress sets and inner box springs and other high-tech bedding gadgetry in the United States when the result is a worse night's sleep than what a Mayan peasant gets.

The women of this village seem much prettier than those of the large towns and cities I was in previously. Perhaps it is only the degenerates who have fled to the cities. Also, the people here are remarkably peaceful. None of the stressful bellowing of my instructor and the husband of my host family. I understand now why my guide book speaks so glowingly of Mayan culture. The downside of such peacefulness is that this village is likely to become very dull for me very soon.

I spent $12 today, counting the $1.50/night hotel room, after having spent the entire day in restaurants, eating and drinking without regard to economy. At most, I could spend $20 per day, but only by drinking a great deal more beer.

 

I woke at four in the morning, but didn't get out of bed until half-past five, at which time I did my exercises and then took a swim in the lake. Afterwards, I sat for five hours in a garden cafe with a stunning view overlooking the village, the lake and the various volcanoes in the distance. Towards the end of this five hours, I struck up a conversation (in Spanish) with a pretty, friendly and mature-acting woman in her young twenties, who plans a career as a journalist. She is leaving today, however, so I won't see her again.

I wandered around the village in the afternoon, and promptly lost myself in the maze of narrow, winding dirt streets, which run between the walls of adobe buildings towards the center of the village, and through stands of coffee trees and fields of maize, papayas and other crops on the village outskirts. There are dogs everywhere, many of them puppies, and every bitch has swollen nipples, as from having recently given birth. There is something extraordinarily peaceful about the atmosphere in this village.

I spent the evening in another restaurant, also with a beautiful view of the lake and volcanoes, and watched the shuttle boats coming and going. A blonde woman in her thirties sat at the adjacent table, and began sending "approach-me" signals—toying with her hair, strumming her fingers, sighing, staring at me. I suppose she is as bored as me, and wishes she had a lover to help pass the time. The excuse I gave myself for doing nothing was that women have a right to be left alone in restaurants, instead of constantly being harassed by men who regard them as sex objects. Self-righteousness can be very effective at quelling self-doubts. I'm not sure as to the real reason I didn't approach. She wasn't bad looking. Perhaps there was something in her behavior or dress that struck me as odd. The tension between us finally burst when the fellow North American I had met two days ago on the boat joined me at my table, and began chatting about his experiences at the local Spanish school. A boring fellow, but I nevertheless threw myself into conversation with him as a way of escaping the woman. I noticed her later writing in a notebook—her journal, most likely. It would be interesting to read what she wrote.

 

I masturbated in the morning, as usual, but with some misgivings, as I suspect part of my reluctance to approach the woman yesterday was due to sexual exhaustion due to all the masturbation I've been doing. (What else is new?) But I find it so difficult to resist these delicious orgasms, especially when there is so little else to do here for pleasure.

Then I took an early boat to town, in order to obtain more money from the bank and to make various purchases. While there, I sent another email to Helen and read her email to me. She complains of being bored and ill. (What else is new?)

The hectic tourist-trap atmosphere of the town disgusts me even more now that I've experienced the tranquility of village life, and so immediately upon finishing my errands, I hopped a boat to an even smaller village than the one I was in yesterday. This smaller village is on a flat plain near the lake, with huge trees towering over the wood and thatched roof huts, thus giving a feeling of being buried under vegetation. This is a complete contrast to the magnificent lake and volcano views and adobe huts and brilliant sunshine of the other village.

I took lodging at a sort of hostel, sharing a cabin with two pretty young German girls, with them sleeping in a loft and myself in a bed below. I talked to these girls at some length in the afternoon, and gave one of them a book I'd just finished. They seem to be short of money, and so had arranged with the husband and wife managers of the hostel to do work to cut their lodging expenses. I overheard these managers later complaining that the girls weren't working hard enough to justify the reduction in their lodging costs. The Mayans work for $3 a day, for eight hours of hard work, while the girls were being giving half-price lodging (a savings of $1.50 for each of them) and yet performed only a small amount of gardening. At dinner, the girls asked to share a single dinner (the normal cost per person was $3). The portions were small to begin with, and a half-portion was much too small to satisfy the girls, so that they made sad faces and licked their spoons and forks clean of every morsel of food, until the wife manager had pity and gave them each second helpings.

In the evening, I climbed into the loft to share a couple of beers with one of the girls, named Hanna. For several hours we talked, while she sewed up a rip in her pants and her companion slept. I didn't ask her age, though I would imagine she is no more than twenty. I asked her to guess my age, and she replied twenty-nine. She seemed surprised when I told her the truth—namely, that I am thirty-eight. She plans to be an artist, while her friend wants to be either a fashion designer or dancer. Ah, the dreams of youth!

 

The girls slept late, while I woke early and had breakfast with some of the other guests of the hostel, all of whom seemed lifeless freaks compared with Hanna and her friend. Why are these people visiting Guatemala, I wondered? Why am I visiting Guatemala?

The first of my breakfast companions was a young man wearing a sarong as clothing and with long scraggly black hair which fell forward and covered much of his face. He was attempting to carve a wooden needle, which he planned to use to make a pair of moccasins. An ordinary sewing needle would be much too small for the cord with which he planned to tie together the pieces of leather. He has been traveling for some time, alone, and didn't seem particularly communicative. He said he had no plans in life, other than possibly to attend photography school some day.

Next was a young woman, who bowed her head and talked of how, while visiting Nicaragua, she felt ashamed of being a citizen of the United States: "I kept telling the people—I didn't support the war against you. I apologize for what my government did to you. I don't support my government." Later she mentioned how all of her friends and family had warned her in the strongest possible terms against visiting Guatemala, due to the danger of robbery, rape or murder, and how she was terrified herself when she first arrived, but that she hadn't experienced any crime problems so far.

Completing our little breakfast entourage was another young woman, who petted and kissed a dirty looking dog and then spoke to it at length, in the way someone might talk to a baby: "Hello, beautiful! Are you still sad about losing your master? His owner left him here temporarily while he went away. You are a beautiful girl. Yes, you are! Look at that beautiful fur on your neck! You are certainly a beauty! Yes, you are! You know you're beautiful, don't you?" Conversation stopped for several minutes while this woman carried on with the dog. She later described how she had been traveling alone all over the world for some years, and planned to continue doing so. I believe she works half the year and travels the other half.

In the background, I overheard a middle-aged woman whining to the manager: "It just burns me up that I love him to death but he doesn't seem to feel that way about me. I just don't hear that sparkle in his voice when he talks to me. Is this something that I should worry about? Or should I just accept things the way they are? I mean, he's a great guy, and I know he loves me, but I just don't feel that he loves me as much as I love him. I'm really in love with him and that's why I came here for a few months so we could go our own way for a while and I could regain my independence. We've been together now for two years and he's the greatest guy in the world. But he just doesn't seem to love me like I love him. Is this a problem?"

"It's a problem if you're not getting what you need," answered the manager, a hippie like fellow in his mid-thirties. A short while later, this manager complained to his wife about the hired help and how patrons of the hostel were not paying for everything they consume: "We're giving and giving and then some people are taking and taking and not giving back. Hey, I like to party as much as the next person. But last week, we had this place packed to the rafters. Every room filled and we ran through ten cases of beer. And what do we have to show for it? $50. That's not going to work." He doesn't charge as items are consumed, but rather requests that patrons write down their consumption in a battered loose-leaf notebook, so they can be charged properly at the end of their stay. The kitchen, where the beer is stored, is closed at night but open during the day. Apparently, some patrons are not writing everything down or else are leaving without paying.

After breakfast and showering, I returned to the cabin, where the girls were finally awake. I told them about the sunny village on the other side of the lake and how things were much more lively there than here. So they agreed to go with me there and check it out. I hesitate to take much sexual initiative with Hanna or her friend, unless they more clearly indicate that they are interested, since I don't like this feeling of being a lecherous old man pursuing girls half my age. On the other hand, beside pursuing these girls, I can't think of much else to do to pass time.

We spent the day wandering around the sunny village, where they met various old friends from their stay in Mexico. These girls are definitely different from the sort of women I usually associate with. They are both adventurous, easy-going and friendly to strangers. Hanna, in particular, seemed to be utterly fearless of the usual tourist bugbears. She ate fruit unwashed and oohed and ahhed over everything, and said she had been traveling all over Mexico and Central America alone, and had never been robbed, and had never gotten sick because she didn't want to get sick. She accepts life here and so her body accepts the food, is her theory. There may be some truth in this. Her friend was in a somewhat frantic mood, and said she wanted to get angry and yell at someone and smash things. Sexual frustration, I would imagine.

The girls are obsessed with saving money. At the market, they argued with a vendor over mangos priced at $.15 each, which they considered too expensive. At a store, they asked for the cheapest local brand of cigarettes, since the cashier had initially handed them a more expensive foreign brand. At the cafe, while paying for my drink inside, the cashier asked if I was paying for the girls as well. I replied yes. The girls seemed shocked and then shyly thanked me when they discovered I had paid for them, though their tab was a mere $2. I wanted to treat them to a full meal, since I didn't want to eat alone, but they declined my offer, as being too generous. Since I didn't want them to think I was foolish or trying to buy their love with money, I didn't insist. Instead, we all went hungry. All the hotels here are $1.50 per person per night, which is half what the hostel costs in the other village. When they learned this, the girls leaped about and clapped their hands and Hanna cried out: "Oh, yes, we're going to move here as soon as possible!" Perhaps they really are strapped for funds.

The sexual energy between Hanna and myself seems strong, but given the differences in our personalities, it is hard to be certain of what she is thinking. Initially, she didn't wear shoes, but rather insisted on walking barefoot. As the path we were on had broken glass in places, I offered her a pair of sandals in my shoulder bag, which I had brought precisely because of her insistence on not wearing shoes. Several times she refused, but then finally accepted the sandals. While walking across an open field, I heard some salsa music in the distance and so asked her if she knew how to dance. She replied yes, so then I invited her to dance with me there on the sand, but she shied away and said she always danced alone. "You never dance with men?" I asked. "Well, only with some men," she replied, smiling. Later, we went swimming in the lake. While donning our bathing suits, we hid behind rocks for privacy. But afterwards, Hanna stood with her back to me, about a meter away from where I was sitting, and pulled down her bathing suit bottom and then pulled on her underwear and pants. While she was thus changing clothes I was able to see her naked buttocks and the brown pubic hair between her legs. Is she just nonchalant about nudity, or was she trying to titillate me? I wondered. While discussing astrology at the cafe (I am Capricorn and she is Aquarius), she exclaimed: "I fall so hard for Capricorns. Twice I fell in love with Capricorn men so hard that I followed them when they left. And they weren't even nice to me. It's because Aquarius is an air sign and we want to be connected to the earth."

We returned to the other village in the evening. I told Hanna and her friend that I wished they would spend another night at the hostel: "I've enjoyed your company very much." "Ah, well, that's life," replied Hanna, who was determined to return to the sunny village, to take advantage of the cheaper accommodations there and to talk more with the friends she had met in Mexico.

I passed the evening alone, drinking a liter of beer. The company of the other guests bored me, especially when I compared their tedious conversation with that of Hanna and her friend. I retired to bed about ten at night and masturbated.

 

I took a two hour walk around the lake, to meet up with Hanna at the sunny village. Along the way, I passed through various other small villages, feeling more and more depressed by the poverty and stuporousness of life here. I talked briefly with a man who offered to work for me as a volcano guide or Spanish instructor or to perform any other services I might need. I thanked him politely, but replied that I didn't need anything presently. Then he spelled out his name, in case I changed my mind in the future and wanted to ask for him. I couldn't help but empathize with his situation. Stuck in Nowhere-ville with little hope of ever escaping unless by the assistance of some comparatively wealthy gringo like myself. The encounter made me feel uncomfortably conspicuous. The fellow could, of course, migrate to Guatemala City to work, though it is doubtful whether that would bring any real improvement in his existence. To think that I might have been born into his shoes!

At the end of my walk, I stopped off at the hotel where Hanna is staying. It turns out that she and her friend were charged double for the boat ride last night, since it was too late for the public boat shuttle and they had to take a private boat instead, and so it would have been cheaper for them to have stayed in the hostel another night. I sat on the ground with her and the other hippies there and talked in the usual hippie way:

"I'm going to get some rolling papers," said someone, dully.

"Wow," said someone else, just as dully.

Then they all started scratching, and I overheard something about all the rooms being full of fleas and other vermin. I was hardly surprised, given the grubbiness of some of the guests at this hotel and the fact that the cabins are built directly on the ground, instead of being raised on concrete platforms. The possibility of vermin together with a general feeling of being out of my element (everyone else was barefoot and in shorts, while I was wearing bright white tennis shoes, long pants, a long-sleeve shirt and a floppy sun hat—like an old woman who's afraid of the sun) made me decide to return to the hotel where I had stayed previously, on the other side of the village.

After checking in there, I took a swim, followed by a breakfast of fruit and yogurt. Immediately after finishing this breakfast, I felt sick and so returned to the hotel and took to bed. Thus began a nightmarish day and half of pain. All afternoon I lay wrapped in a blanket, shaking and sweating and delirious, with a terrible headache and a high fever. My stomach, in particular, was dry and extremely hot to the touch. The worst pain, however, was in the muscles of my lower back. For hours on end, I moaned in pain and rolled about in search of some posture that would afford relief. My first visit to the toilet was late in the evening, at least eight hours after I first felt sick, at which time I completely and explosively emptied my bowels. My subsequent visits to the toilet produced just a dribbling of liquid accompanied by painful cramps. Towards three in the morning, the pain in my lower back had become so excruciating that I could barely walk. I then had the idea to stick my finger down my throat to provoke vomiting—and up came the entire fruit salad, completely undigested, while the pain in my lower back immediately diminished to a tolerable level. From then on, I visited the toilet every hour or so. Between these visits, I managed some light sleep, and then I had a seemingly endless dream about having to stay in bed and sleep on the sheet in order to prepare it for sale at the market tomorrow. I defy the Freudians to interpret that!

 

I suffered from liquid diarrhea all morning, with a visit to the toilet about once an hour. By noon, the nausea and headache had subsided, so that I was able to lie in the hammock, which somewhat alleviated my back pain. A woman staying on the same floor offered me some Lomotril pills. I accepted these, but decided not to take them, since Lomotril paralyzes the gut and I think allowing the diarrhea to continue is probably for the best.

I felt hungry in the evening, and so had a large dinner of fish cooked in wine. This is probably not the easiest to digest meal for someone just coming off a severe bout of diarrhea, but I really didn't care. My body seemed to crave protein and fat and salt.

This illness confirms my feeling that travelling is a waste of time. I have no desire to meet other people or see "sights". I'd rather read about the world than experience it first-hand. As for sex, I'm not getting any here and never will, that's clear. The idea of sex with Hanna was absurd. I see that now. Perhaps this illness is my way of breaking with her.

Meanwhile, another ten days before I return to my beloved apartment and computer. One benefit of this illness is a newfound appreciation for health. Likewise, the poverty and misery of this country, the ceaseless barking of dogs and crowing of roosters in the night—it all makes me appreciate home so much more. To think that Karen and Elizabeth both complained about how noisy my old apartment was (and that was a paradise of silence compared to my current apartment on skid row)—let them spend a few nights in rural Guatemala!

I went to bed at eight in the evening, then woke at one and rushed to the toilet, where liquid shit poured from my ass like water from an opened faucet. What a disgusting mess! I was unable to return to sleep, but instead lay awake until dawn, masturbating and reading.

 

After shaving, I sat on the toilet to let my ass vent, and—lo and behold!—nothing came out. I still hear splashing noises when I massage my lower stomach, however, so evidently I'm not totally recovered. Also, today was my best performance ever in my current calisthenics routine. Perhaps my illness sharpened my senses and enabled me to notice some inefficiency in the way I was performing one of my exercises, and that is why I am doing so much better. I took a shower after these exercises, and afterwards felt like a man risen from the grave. About seven, I sauntered off to buy water, of which I had run out during the course of my illness.

While at the cafe later in the morning, having just feasted on a hearty and delicious tomato, cheese and ham omelet (part of my high-protein recovery diet), and while stroking the cat, a wretched looking beggar passed by and stopped and rubbed his stomach and said: "I'm hungry. Would you please give me a few pennies?" I was utterly ashamed to say no, and had to lower my eyes and shake my head and pretend the fellow didn't exist. In the United States, poverty is hardly to be feared. There is plenty of food for the taking from the tables of sidewalk cafes, and there are books at the public library, and all manner of perfectly functional clothing and other objects in the garbage cans, and free and relatively high-quality medical care at public hospitals. The truly suffering poor in the United States are those for whom lack of money is merely a symptom of another problem—the mentally ill, drug addicts, alcoholics, prison inmates. But here, poverty has meaning. On the other hand, I don't want to encourage beggars to molest the patrons of restaurants. As it was, the manager of this restaurant came out and shooed the beggar away.

I sat erect at this cafe for almost six hours, which seems to have completely cured my backache. Hanna stopped by while I was there. It turns out she and her friend are also sick. Their illness began yesterday and they have symptoms similar to but milder than mine—diarrhea and headache, but not the fever or delirium. Hanna was out of money and was lamenting that she had to take a boat trip to town while feeling ill. Had she asked, I couldn't possibly have refused a "loan" of $10, which would have been enough to pay her and her friend's bill for several days. But these money transactions are very tricky where love is concerned. If I offer what she considers too much money ($10 is a pittance for me, but she might think otherwise), she might resent me for trying to buy her or despise me as a weak fool. In either case I'd be unworthy of love. If I offer too little, she might despise me for being stingy. In any case, why does she need to go to town for money? Why can't she just convert her traveler's checks locally? Surely the cost of the boat ride will more than counterbalance the better exchange rate she can get in town than here in the village. Perhaps she is using credit card advances and they don't have a credit card machine here in town. I didn't ask for details. I did offer to buy her lunch, since few people are insulted by the offer of a free meal in exchange for company. But because she was sick, all she wanted was herbal tea.

We discussed our illness and her plans to climb the volcano. I advised against going alone, as all the guide books warn of frequent robberies and rapes, especially this time of year, when most of the coffee workers are unemployed. I felt embarrassed at sounding like a cowardly old man in giving these warnings, but I would have felt even worse if I didn't warn her and she was later harmed. Hanna replied that she wasn't afraid: "I know how to fight. I don't worry. I feel like nothing bad can ever happen to me." Ah, to be young! At least the rapists here are unlikely to be carrying AIDS, and so the worst that can happen to her will be an unwanted pregnancy.

The sexual energy between us reminds me of that between myself and Sonya. Certainly I am highly attracted to her, which she can't help but sense. I make no advances, however, because I am disgusted at the idea of myself as a desperate older man chasing women half his age. Hopefully that isn't how she sees me. I masturbated in the afternoon to images of licking and fucking her.

For my evening meal, I stuffed myself yet again with grilled chicken, greasy fried potatoes, rice and tortillas—everything coated with salt and washed down by two sodas. Probably this is not the best diet for someone with digestive system upsets. For some reason, though, this salty and fat-laden meal was what my body called for upon seeing the menu. The meal didn't seem to cause any upset afterwards, in any case. The music at the restaurant was bad techno. Unpleasant, but still a far cry better than the usual junk rock played in so many of the gringo oriented establishments I've patronized here so far.

 

There was blood in my stool at two in the morning. At first I thought this might be an indication of amoebic dysentery, which can only be cured by taking medication. Later, it occurred to me that the blood, which was bright red, might be due to a blown hemorrhoid due to straining to relieve gas pains. There was no further blood during my next shit at seven in the morning. There wasn't much solid material then either, so apparently my body is absorbing most of the considerable amount of food I've been eating lately. Regardless of all this internal malfunctioning, I am feeling very strong, and did as well as ever during calisthenics.

My breakfast was wretched—watered down orange juice, an overcooked omelet, bone-dry bread and soggy potatoes. I had been attracted to the restaurant by the view and the sound of romantic latin music, which was such a relief after last night's bad techno. Alas, the music was from a radio, so that for every two minutes of music, we had to endure four minutes of the deejay's idiotic bellowing—all too reminiscent of my instructor and the husband of my host family of two weeks ago. There was also a stink from the kitchen and another from the broken toilet in the bathroom. And the benches were shoddily constructed, with the slats too far apart and not quite even, so that my butt began aching after only a few minutes of sitting.

Lunch was at my favorite cafe, and superb as usual. I should have eaten both breakfast and lunch here. I talked briefly to one of the permanent traveler types who are so common in this village. She spent a year in Australia and is now on her seventh month here in Latin America. (How is all this financed, I wondered? Rich parents? Very generous welfare system? She's from the Netherlands, after all. Maybe some scam with the disability system there?) She was thin and completely flat-chested, but sexually attractive nonetheless, I thought. She plans to leave this village in another week or so, with no clear idea as to her next destination.

I ran into Hanna's friend on the way back to my hotel after dinner. She and Hanna climbed the volcano after all, on their own and without incident. "The view from the top was fabulous! We could see so far!" she said excitedly and then ran off to meet some friends. I can't remember when I last had such enthusiasm about views of nature—perhaps I never felt that way. Perhaps I've always been a grouchy old man at heart. She sees beautiful views, I see poverty and the dullness of village life. How I long to be back on skid row in West Metropolis!

Despite eating all my meals at restaurants, and ordering the most expensive items on the menu, I am only spending about $13 per day.

 

There was no blood in my stool this morning, though I continue to have diarrhea. I went into town to visit a doctor, but couldn't find the one listed in my guidebook. So then I did some investigation on the internet. It appears that I might have had either bacillary or amoebic dysentery, or possibly giardia. Bacillary dysentery disappears on its own, but amoebic dysentery and giardia require medication—typically, metronidazole. Since metronidazole has few side-effects, I decided to treat myself with it, even though I'm not sure of what my illness is. The treatment consists of a pill every eight hours for ten days. Since I can't be sure of maintaining a rigorous schedule here in Guatemala, I decided to buy the medicine here, but wait until I return to United States before starting the treatment. The cost was only $7 for a full set of thirty pills, so I bought two sets of pills from different pharmacies, in case one of these sets of pills was past the expiration date or otherwise worthless.

While walking down the street, I crossed paths with the blonde woman who I had ignored in the cafe last week. She was with a male companion, about my age, with his arm around her in the manner of a lover. I felt zero envy. Though the woman isn't bad-looking, she seems gloomy, and altogether not the sort of person I want to be involved with at this moment. It occurred to me that there is tremendous effort involved in love-making, especially to middle-aged and older women, and that at present I need to conserve my energy in order to get my health back, instead of squandering energy on love-making.

I tried sending email to Helen, but the computers were all down at the internet cafe. Afterwards, I wandered around town, but immediately began to feel harried by the noise and congestion, and so retreated to the village. Not that I was particularly comfortable there either. This whole country is starting to make me feel as if I were being punished in a sort of minimum security prison.

It is important that I write my feelings down in this journal so I never again make the mistake of traveling.

 

Despite all the eating I'm doing, I don't seem to be gaining weight, perhaps because the dysentery is interfering with my absorption of nutrients. My bowel movements continue to be liquid or else very loose.

I had a long conversation at the cafe with Hanna, who calls herself a "big fool" because she never knows what she wants to do with her life. It occurred to me that there might be a hidden meaning here. She was regretting having sent the message that she wasn't interested in me sexually. There are many similarities between her and myself as a boy, I thought. There was a time when I too played at being a hippie, we both spent much of our childhood reading books, we were both among the best students in school. I gave her my tourist guide to read, from which she copied down various information, since she doesn't have such a guide herself. (Another young woman I talked to in the afternoon wanted to look up some words in my English-Spanish dictionary, as she doesn't have one herself. What is it with this lack of books among these young tourists?) There was strong sexual energy between us when we touched cheeks upon parting.

I had a snack in the afternoon at a restaurant I hadn't eaten at before, to satisfy a craving for fried bananas. While there, I had to listen to the most ghastly rap music, played at high volume through broken speakers.

 

Hanna was unfriendly today. She sat at my table but declined my invitation to visit a neighboring village in the afternoon, and then talked in German (which she knows I don't understand) with a crowd of travelers from that country who joined us, even though they all spoke both English and Spanish fluently. Perhaps she is upset that I haven't taken any sexual initiative with her. But the signals she sends are so mixed, and then there is the issue of our both being slightly ill and the squalidness of the hotels in which we are staying. Altogether, the environment here is hardly conducive to thoughts of romance, at least for me.

I spent the evening at a local bar, where I finally understood why it is that people go to such dens to watch television. Namely, they want to escape their miserable lives of poverty and pain, and vicariously experience the lives of the blessed souls of the enchanted world of television, where all the houses are large and clean and beautifully furnished and surrounded by immaculate gardens, and there are stereos where one can listen to the music of one's choice instead of enduring dreadful rap played through broken speakers, and the air smells of fresh cut flowers instead of sewage, and one can be alone if one chooses instead of always feeling as if in the middle of an anthill, and the people are all young and beautiful and well-dressed and rich.

I asked the sullen, middle-aged Mayan barmaid for an orange-flavored soft drink, but she shook her head, so then I asked for an orange juice, but that wasn't available either. Finally, I asked for a coke, but she didn't seem to understand that I didn't want it mixed with any alcohol. Apparently, the concept of a non-alcoholic drink is alien to this establishment.

"What the hell are you trying to order?" yelled the owner of the bar in English. His voice had a North American accent, and a raspy edge that spoke of years of heavy drinking and smoking.

"Orange juice, if you have any," I replied. He barked this order in Spanish to the barmaid, who replied that they were out of orange juice.

"Do you want me to get some at the market?" she then asked the owner.

"Of course not! We're not getting a whole jug of juice just for one customer. What kind of place do you think we're running here?"

"Yeah, yeah. I understand," replied the barmaid, with a look of disgust.

"A coke is fine," I said, in Spanish.

"You want a soft drink?" asked the barmaid.

"Yes, a soft drink," I replied.

"Well, then, give him a soft drink!" yelled the owner.

"I heard him the first time," said the barmaid.

"Yeah, but then he changed his mind and wanted orange juice."

The cost was $.30, and I tipped $.15, both of which seem small by North American standards. But then again, a fifty percent tip is probably acceptable anywhere. I ordered a refill soon after polishing off the first drink, and tipped the same as before, so as not to appear cheap. The owner was meanwhile rolling a joint and talking aloud.

"Mexican hash this is. I don't know whether it's any good, though. Look at that fucking idiot on television! How stupid can some people be? Oh, yeah, I'm looking to get loaded tonight. Just the right combination—two beers and then some hash. I told you last night—happy hour ends at eight. Give him a rum and coke, okay? And charge him regular price!"

What drove this owner to Guatemala, I wonder? The desire to run his own bar and get drunk and stoned every night, which he couldn't afford to do in the United States? He and a woman he was with, both of then in their mid-forties I would guess, smoked most of the joint, then he gave me the roach ("Good stuff there—hash—go ahead, you finish it off!"), but I was unable to keep the thing lit and so didn't get high—not that I really wanted to get high. A good comedy movie was playing on the television, but the owner turned the set off midway through, in order to listen to music—excellent flamenco music, incidentally—and then turned it back on about a half-hour later, so that we missed much of the action of the movie, and only caught the conclusion. No one complained, however. It was an altogether enjoyable evening, I thought. The energetic, chaotic, angry and simultaneously joyful atmosphere reminded me of skid row in West Metropolis.

 

My diarrhea continues, but without much blood, so I seem to be healing at last. I wrenched my back during morning exercises, but otherwise I'm feeling very healthy. My appetite is certainly good.

I'm starting to realize that, for most people on this planet, life is pure hell, while death is to be regarded with anxious anticipation. But suicide is not an option, due to the curse of the will to live, which strengthens as we sink into increasing misery. The animal in us takes over. Or perhaps it is the idea that things can't get worse, so why not just stick around and see what happens next? An idea that makes my head spin. It bring to my mind the image of hitting the accelerator and screaming "Geronimo!" as the car speeds out of control down a mountain road. If you can't rise in life, then why not just let yourself sink? The mentality of an alcoholic, beating his head against the pavement until it bleeds, so as to experience a level a degradation that we ordinary mortals can only imagine. Similar reasoning might explain why these peasants have so many children. If all you have to look forward to is misery in life, then why not create some companions to share this misery?

I rolled about gleefully in bed, laughing hysterically and beating my feet against the mattress, as the above thoughts revolved through my mind, along with blood-curdling fantasies of being reborn as a Mayan peasant, and living with six kids in a mud hut, with no running water and everywhere the stink of sewage, and lugging about fifty kilo loads for $3 a day. Suicide is absurd under such conditions. Suicide is a luxury that only the rich can contemplate seriously.

It was off to a gringo bar in the evening, which had been temporarily transformed into a sort of disco, with a deejay playing house music and barefoot white kids in torn jeans jumping about spastically. I shudder to think that there was a time when I thought I enjoyed these sorts of places. A complete rejection of all art and beauty which requires discipline, in favor of the supposedly natural. Natural, you say? How about a bad case of diarrhea where the victim uncontrollably spews foul-smelling blood and liquid shit all over their pants—isn't that natural? Let it be! Let it be! Let it all hang out!

 

I spent most of the day in bed, daydreaming and masturbating three times. My usual cafe was closed and I didn't know what else to do with the time. Certainly my libido is healthy, perhaps due to the chocolate cake I ate last night. The first chocolate I've touched in almost a month, so that perhaps my system is more sensitive than usual to its effects. I gorged on bread and more of this cake in the afternoon, while sitting in the gringo bar, which is decidedly less pleasant than the outdoor cafe. I couldn't help but wonder at what motivates these young people from northern Europe to want to work in this miserable village. That they might come here to live is understandable—to take advantage of the low cost of living in order to retire young. But to work here as waiters? What can they be earning, anyway—$5 a day? To speak nothing of the excruciating boredom of life here. Or perhaps they work precisely because of boredom. In that case, why not just stay in Europe and work as a waiter there? And what sort of lunatic would come here from Europe or North America and open a business? Surely the view and climate aren't that important? Why do these expatriates seem so happy, when the word that springs most readily to my mind to describe this village is "hellhole"? Are they all on drugs?

 

I said goodbye to Hanna, who was much friendlier than the last few times we've met. She let me kiss her on the cheek and lingered awhile holding my hand firmly in hers. She and most of the other travelers are also planning to leave tomorrow. Everyone is clearing out—and who can blame them?

 

I took a jam-packed second class bus to the capital, standing all the way by preference, since that posture feels better for my back than sitting. Immediately upon getting off the bus, in a run-down, fume-filled industrial district, I felt swept by a sense of euphoria. Back at last in the land of civilization! The roar of traffic! Concrete beneath my feet! Tall buildings! I wanted to shout for joy and kneel down and kiss the pavement. Back at last in a world I understand!

I wandered around for about an hour, past vehicle repair shops and industrial distributors and warehouses and grim looking apartment houses and across clogged streets and past filthy parks where all was packed dirt, with nary a blade of grass in sight. I sensed that the neighborhood was dangerous and my presence there conspicuous, but at least it was the familiar uneasiness of walking mean streets, and not the forlornness that I had felt amidst the fields and mud huts of the Mayan peasants.

My hotel cost $22 a night, for a room with shared bath and full breakfast included. Reasonable by North American standards (though North American hotels almost never have shared baths), but still something of a shock, given that for two weeks I'd been paying less than a tenth that amount. But the room was well worth the expense. A large clean bedroom, with crisp white sheets covering the entire mattress instead of just a portion, and space to walk about, and a real bathroom, clean-smelling, with a lock on the door so I could have it all to myself, and shiny tile floors and a large unbroken mirror and—luxury of luxuries!—a bathtub with working hot water. I couldn't resist a brief soak, followed by a cold shower. Back again in the world of rich people!

I spent most of the remainder of my local currency buying Spanish books and then feasting on pizza and pastries. I had skipped breakfast in order not to need to use the toilet during the bus trip, and thus was feeling hungry.

I can understand now why the rich and middle-class of this country might be waging war against Mayan culture—an accusation raised in my guide book. I might want to exterminate Mayan culture too, if I lived here. It isn't a racial war, since most everyone in this country is racially pure-blooded Mayan, other than the small number of oligarchs of European racial stock who own everything. Rather, I suspect that the antagonism is similar to my own feelings towards the hillbillies of the southeastern United States, who, like myself, are racially North European. The hatred is born of a fear of somehow being "infected" by the "disease" of rural poverty, of being dragged back into a nightmare world of pigs and chickens and bean fields, and roosters crowing night and day, and skinny dogs, and adobe huts, and narrow dirt alleys for streets, and back breaking labor, and overcrowding, and women trying to raise four children on an income of $3 a day, and the perpetual bleak vista of lake and mountains and fields of maize. Easy enough for someone for whom the door to Europe or North America is always open to talk of the "celebration of the harvest and life as it was a thousand years ago" and the "splendor and magnificence of nature". But to live this peasant existence?

One more day, and then hopefully I'll be safely back to the United States, where this trip will seem like nothing more than a bad dream that is now passed.

 

I slept poorly, due to waking at midnight and then being kept awake by mosquitoes buzzing in my ears. One would think that, having drunk their fill of my blood, they would quiet down, but apparently not, and so for several hours I stalked about the room, smashing them one by one against the wall or the sheets or my body. Twenty splats of black insect mixed with red blood for the maid to clean later. About half way through this massacre, I realized that more insects were coming in through the screenless window, which I had opened in the late afternoon, as the room was stifling with it closed. This lack of window screens was my only real objection to the hotel. Though given the abundance of mosquitoes and warm climate, it is by no means a trivial shortcoming. By three am, the mosquitoes were all dead or in hiding, and thus I finally managed to doze off again.

I accepted the airline's offer of $500 in travel vouchers in exchange for being bumped to an alternate route, as the original flight was overbooked. A most generous offer, I thought, considering that the net result of this change was a mere two hour delay in my final arrival back in West Metropolis. There, while walking through the airport, I felt a sudden revulsion towards American society, and pangs of nostalgia for the squawking chickens and mud huts and overcrowded buses of Guatemala. How soon we forget! Though back in my apartment, sanity prevailed. I was overcome by joy at being home again, and surrounded once more by beloved possessions.

 

There was a message from Lisa on my answering machine, dated from last month, inviting me to a vegetarian dinner. I called her back and left a message for her explaining that I'd been away. The message on my answering machine had indicated that I was on vacation, but didn't specify for how long.

 

A firm stool this morning—my first in almost two weeks. But then an explosion of diarrhea later, perhaps due to swallowing the first of the metronidazole pills. My back problems are now completely gone. I'm feeling extremely strong and energetic today. Possibly psychological causes, or possibly physiological, due to my lungs being stronger from a month at high altitude.

 

Lunch with Helen, who has moved back in with Paul: "I refuse to continue living in that miserable hovel of a so-called apartment of mine. Whatever I have to do to get out, I'll do it. Things are up and down between us, though. Since you've been away, I've moved in and out of his apartment several times." I described my trip and how I realize now that I detest nature, and can only feel comfortable in big cities. And the closer to the center and the more traffic and concrete, the better.

"You're a classic case of hypertrophied technological masculinity. All the symptoms are there. Because of whatever strained relationship you had with your mother, you've come to reject everything female. This is why you can't live with anyone else or get married or have children, and it's why you don't like nature," said Helen.

"What about mosquitoes and dysentery and fleas and ticks?" I asked.

"Those are the male parts of nature."

 

I called Elizabeth at home in the evening. Someone picked up the phone there, but then there was silence, so that after waiting about twenty seconds, I hung up and called back, and this time got the answering machine. I left a brief and impersonal message indicating that I was back in town and could be reached during the day. I felt somewhat disturbed that she is avoiding me this way. Then I read back through my journal entries describing our times together, and realized that my feelings for her are deeper than I ever imagined, and that I regret that we probably won't be seeing one another again in the future. But all good things must come to an end, as the saying goes. At least I have my memories.

 

I spent the evening in the cafe. What a delight to be back in that oasis, listening to good music for a change, and staring through the window at the gaudy neon signs and the suspicious looking hustlers and johns and bums and other creatures of the night! What pure joy I feel there!

 

Lunch again with Helen, who discussed her situation with Paul at some length: "Things aren't going very well. I only moved back there two weeks ago. We aren't doing anything, because I keep telling him I'm sick. You're sick all the time, he complains. Then he says maybe he'll have to get someone else on the side. Go ahead, I'm thinking, though I don't say so. I don't like coming home and being alone in the evening. It makes me feel very lonely. I'm not like you. Though it's certainly nice to have you back. I do like your company. I've been answering ads, but haven't dated anyone from them yet. And Paul doesn't know, of course. Meanwhile, he got the $100,000 job after all. The one where they initially rejected him because he asked for so much money. But now he's leaving work at two in the afternoon, after arriving at nine in the morning, and then he says the most preposterous things. For example, he says he overheard one of the managers discussing overtime and thinks that based on the tone of her voice, this is a company that disapproves of hard work, that they think the human element is more important, and so it would look bad if he worked too hard. And I think he really believes this nonsense! So it's only a matter of time before he gets fired. Just like with all his previous jobs. Also, he's already figured out how to spend all his salary. A so-called friend of his wants him to buy a used sports car. One of this friend's many cars, since he's so rich that he has a whole fleet of cars. So now Paul is talking about how he owes this friend a favor and therefore has to buy the car for $30,000, which, of course, he doesn't have yet. What kind of favor is that, when this friend is a multi-millionaire and doesn't need any more money? Why does Paul have to buy the car? Why not someone else? I can just imagine. Me sitting at home with a baby, unable to afford diapers, while he goes tooling around in this sports car. And you're no better! You're one extreme and he's the opposite. Why can't I find someone in the middle? $1.50 a night for a hotel room—no wonder you hated Guatemala! Meanwhile Paul complains about the apartment I picked for our vacation to Hawaii. I've been talking about going there for years. And just two weeks ago Paul agreed to go with me. So I put down a deposit on a apartment—a very nice place—and then he rejected it because he says the view isn't good enough. What difference does that make? So I had to cancel and now the people who run the place are all pissed off and I'm not sure I'll get the deposit back. Then we had a fight about who would pay if I don't get the deposit back and he starting yelling that I was the worst thing that ever happened to him and would I please get out of his life for once and for all. On and on it went, though eventually he managed to calm down and we reconciled."

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. For whatever reason, I felt stiff and uncoordinated and unable to dance properly. I managed a few passable dances, then stood around and watched for an hour. Despite my mediocre performance, it felt wonderful to be dancing again. This is my first real dancing in over two months. The disastrous episodes with Elizabeth don't count as real dancing as far as I'm concerned.

 

I called and talked to my monk cousin, who had left several messages on my answering machine over the past two months. Today was our first conversation of any length in over twenty years. He seems a skittish fellow. But then what else is to be expected from someone who has been holed up in monasteries for almost two decades? He asked what I was "doing"—in other words, how I was making a living—and so I described the rise and fall of my software business, whereupon he wanted to know what I was "doing" now, and so I was forced to confess that I was living off savings. But I downplayed the extent of these savings: "I'm living off what I made from the business, and when that runs out, I'll return to computer programming, as a temp worker." I'm always worried that if people know I'm rich they'll hate me and want to steal from me. I discussed my trip to Guatemala, and told him how I found the country depressing: "But that's probably mostly my personality. I'm an intellectual. My life is a life of the mind—a life of books. But in Guatemala there are few people like that, and few bookstores and libraries, so that I felt miserably out of my element." My cousin asked about religion in Guatemala, and so I related the theory from my guide book, with which I tend to agree and which interested him intensely, that when the Mayans pray in a catholic church, it is to the Mayan gods that they are really praying. That is, they mentally substitute a Mayan god or goddess for Jesus or Mary or one of the saints before whose statue they are kneeling. I told him I'd probably be visiting him in a few months.

 

Lunch with Helen, who I noticed was wearing her engagement ring again. I asked about this and she replied, "Why not? It's paid for, after all." Then a few minutes later, she confessed that she and Paul are considering marriage again, even though they continue to have frequent disputes, which typically end with Paul suggesting that they break up for good. One recent dispute occurred when Helen complained about Paul making fresh-squeezed orange juice at five in the morning, using some sort of noisy appliance. "I'm tired of being deprived of sleep. You'll have to decide what is more important: me or your orange juice," she told him. Paul didn't respond to this ultimatum directly, but instead launched into a lengthy disquisition on the state of their relationship and why they should probably break up if Helen was going to continue complaining about such minor matters as the squeezing of orange juice in the morning. "In other words, he thinks the orange juice is more important than me." Another source of conflict is his continuing determination to buy his rich friend's used sports car.

"All these expensive habits he picked up from living with that guy. A bottle of expensive wine every night, a cappuccino machine, freshly squeezed orange juice, expensive sports cars. It's all very nice when you can afford it, but he can't. The car is the limit, though. I'm going to tell him, choose me or the sports car, and this time I mean it," she said.

"Don't waste your time. If he doesn't buy that sports car, he'll buy some other car, and probably pay even more," I warned.

"At least a regular car would have room for a baby," Helen replied. I raised my eyes at this. She explained: "I'm tired of living alone. I want a warm body in bed at night. I can't have normal sex, and so can't get any other man, whereas with Paul, we've worked something out. That other way. And I'm not getting any younger. If I'm going to have children, I'll have to start soon."

Helen is concerned, however, about Paul's financial instability. His luxurious tastes will likely consume all of what would otherwise be an ample enough salary ($100,000 a year) to support a family. Furthermore, Helen suspects that he will soon lose this job, due to his arrogant attitude. "At my level," he told her one night, "we aren't so much concerned with doing work, as with seeing that work gets done. I don't want to be like these engineers who seem to have an orgasm every time they do something involving numbers. Numbers! That is not what people at my level worry about. The big picture is my business—strategic thinking. You have to understand what I'm offering the company. I'm one of the few engineers there who is certified, and that's very important when they go looking for new business. To be able to tell customers that some of their engineers are certified."

"What kind of engineer is that, who doesn't want to work with numbers? I thought that was what it was all about," she fumed to me.

After some thought, I advised Helen to have a child out of wedlock with Paul. By not marrying, and thereby not becoming too closely linked to Paul financially, his money problems might well redound to her benefit. As long as he is broke, he will be less likely to leave her for another woman. My primary concern of last year regarding such an arrangement—namely, that he would sponge off her or otherwise obtain her money by means of emotional blackmail—is no longer valid, as Helen seems to be much stronger emotionally now than then, and easily able to resist Paul's threats and demands. Indeed, he now seems as emotionally dependent on her as she on him. Helen responded to my recommendations dismissively.

"I've had enough of listening to your bad advice. I'm striking out on my own, and I don't want to hear any more of your jabbering." Nevertheless, she seemed happy, as though I had ratified what she was already thinking herself, about getting pregnant by Paul again.

 

I've noticed that, since I returned from Guatemala, my appetite for foods with sugar has essentially disappeared. At the cafe, for example, instead of the desserts that I used to eat with such relish, I now eat a bran muffin or scone. Also, I have no desire for ice cream or candy. My whole body feels extraordinarily strong and healthy, and my performance during my yoga exercises is significantly better than prior to the trip (though this might simply be the result of a month of practice). I'm also sleeping less and finding it easier to get out of bed in the morning. And I feel continually joyful and energetic throughout the day. It's as though the bout of dysentery caused some poison to be expelled from my body.

 

Another relaxed day—writing up this journal for last month, listening to music in my apartment, reading in the cafe. What an oasis that cafe is! Pleasure for ears, eyes, mouth and mind—excellent house and disco music emanating from the speakers, the energy of the street life outside the windows, the delicious food and beverages, the books I bring along. And to the extent that I tap my hands and feet and mentally dance to the music, pleasure for the body as well. Sometimes, when a particularly good song comes on, I feel myself so swept by feelings of happiness as to have to struggle not to leap up and dance between the tables!

 

A telephone solicitor called from the "policeman's association", asking for donations. "Listen fuckhead, don't ever call me again!" I roared into the handset and then hung up, feeling very pleased with myself. I can just imagine how the reference to "police" intimidates many people, especially recent immigrants. Someone needs to have the guts to put these telephone solicitors in their place, and that someone is me.

 

After breakfast, I felt a sharp pain in the right side of my abdomen and also observed a yellowish tint in the lower part of the whites of my eyes. Both of these symptoms I have noticed previously—the stomach pains starting months ago, and the yellowish tint during my trip to Guatemala. I looked these symptoms up in my medical books, but they are characteristic of a large number of diseases—gallstones, hepatitis, cancer of the pancreas. I suppose if God wants me to die young then I'll die young, was all I could think. I do plan to visit the doctor soon, however, and also to swear off alcohol until I'm given a clean bill of health, since my medical book notes that drinking is a definite no-no for persons with liver problems.

 

An excellent evening of salsa dancing. I danced again with the older blonde who I've been mentioning in the journal for several months now. As usual, we used a very close embrace—our chests and cheeks touching so that we could feel each other's warmth, while my thigh occasionally bumped against her crotch. I noticed that she danced equally close with another man, so perhaps it wasn't the come-on I had originally thought. Regardless, I approached her afterwards, introduced myself, and made small talk, during the course of which she mentioned that she had a regular dance partner, who couldn't come tonight. While she didn't elaborate, I concluded, based on a lack of enthusiasm for our conversation, that this regular dance partner is her lover, and that she isn't interested in a relationship with me beyond that we have on the dance floor. When she excused herself to go to the bathroom, I slipped away from her table and danced with another women. I'm not giving up hope, however. I'll almost certainly dance and talk with her again in the future, and at that time she can send a signal if she wants more from me than just a dance.

Another older woman was also friendly, but for whatever reason didn't arouse me the way the first did. And, of course, there was the usual plethora of younger women who showed signs of interest, including one stunning beauty, who resembled what Elizabeth must have looked like ten years ago, who stood next to me in a most provocative way. But I've been down this road before. Beautiful though these young women may be to behold, I just can't seem to relate to them properly as lovers. Nor are we much better as dance partners. Some simultaneously pushed me away and pulled me close so that our dancing felt like a wrestling match—the same lack of cooperation I noticed with Elizabeth. Others complained that I was concentrating too hard and didn't seem to be having fun. Given that such a comment is guaranteed to make me even less enthusiastic, what exactly is the point of uttering it?

I gave $1 each to two beggars on the way home. And to think how much poorer the beggars and even the working poor of Guatemala were, and how little I gave to them!

 

Lunch with Helen, who is feeling stressed at work, due to the incompetence of her assistants, especially a woman who was recently hired and with whom she has a very poor working relationship. I asked to look at her eyes, and observed that she has as much yellow in them as me. So either we both have liver problems, or else a small amount of yellow under the lower eyelid is normal. Also, I now believe the cause of my stomach pains was overeating and eating too fast, and not some malfunctioning of my innards.

 

Another do-nothing day. I don't seem to have any difficulty passing the hours, however, in contrast to how I felt in Guatemala. I ascribe my feelings of comfort here to the following causes, which together define what it is that I value in life. Nearness to the "street energy" of a large city. Space in my apartment in which to walk about (most of my rooms in Guatemala were barely large enough for the bed). My own computer with internet access. A large public library and numerous bookstores nearby. Recorded music of the sort I prefer. Salsa dancing nightclubs.

 

Lunch again with Helen. I let her read some of the journal entries for my trip to Guatemala. When she came to the entries involving herself and Paul, she remarked, "I see the tape recorder is back in operation. A broken tape recorder that is. One that always adds things or gets things confused." But the corrections she offered were all trivial in nature.

 

There was a message from Lisa on my answering machine when I returned home in the late afternoon, informing me that one of her housemates is moving out, and inviting me to move in. I plan to decline, but postponed calling back immediately because I don't feel like talking to her.

 

Salsa rueda lessons and dancing in the evening at a dance studio. There was a strange atmosphere. In touching the women during class, I picked up some very negative energy, as if they were all man-haters. Most of these women were unattractive, so perhaps the reason they don't like men is that we men don't like them. Or maybe they are simply terrified of sex. Few of these women stayed for the dance afterwards, perhaps because of too many prior experiences of waiting all evening and never being asked once by a man to dance. Or perhaps they simply don't like being touched while dancing. Why are they taking salsa lessons?

Whatever the problem during the class, the dancing afterwards was enjoyable, mainly because of a woman who I had danced with several months ago at a nightclub. That was a bad night for me then, but the chemistry between us had nevertheless been strong, while tonight it was extremely powerful. We danced together passionately five times and then had a brief conversation. She works as an accountant, and also part-time as a sales clerk in a chi-chi department store. The former job pays her bills, the latter is what she truly loves, however. Shades of Elizabeth and Karen, I reflected. She likes to be surrounded by expensive objects and clothes and perfumes. I told her I was a computer programmer, but that I wished I was rich and didn't have to work. I don't want her thinking of me as a sugar daddy. She has an energetic, cheerful, unintellectual personality, that I fear is incompatible with my own, regardless of the sexual chemistry between us. She was accompanied by a man, but I didn't quite understand the relationship between these two. She said something about him being her dance partner and also a "guy she hangs out with". What does that mean? Probably I should have bluntly asked if he was her boyfriend. In any case, she said she was a regular at these dance lessons, and so next week we can resume our conversation.

 

At the cafe, a woman who'd around in the past sat at a neighboring table and seemed to be trying to make eye contact. I didn't recognize her, until she rose and started yelling at two girls at another table. Something about "I'm obsessing" and "you just don't want to talk to me because you think you're not in my league". One of the girls brushed her away, saying, "You're crazy, I don't even know you." I suddenly realized that she was the woman of my dreams. Beautiful, intelligent, and crazy enough to find my craziness tolerable. Why didn't I run after her? I generally make a point of not tormenting myself with regrets, but for once I couldn't help but wish to turn the clock back and do things differently.

 

The energy and feelings of health I had after my return from Guatemala have disappeared. Once again, I find it difficult to get out of bed in the morning unless I masturbate first to get my blood flowing, and then I skip my morning exercises out of laziness, and then I can't seem to get anything done, but rather spend the day pacing around the apartment, or masturbating, or simply lying in bed and listening to music. As for the idea of ever working at a job again, which has crossed my mind recently, it seems absolutely impossible at this point.

 

Lunch with Helen. She spent the weekend with her sister and her sister's daughter at the zoo. They had little to say to one another. Her sister is pregnant again. Helen is growing increasingly disenchanted with Paul's attitude towards money. His latest notion is that, by putting himself into debt buying the $30,000 used sports car, he will be forced to "pull rabbits out of the hat" (his expression) with respect to his career, whereas if he weren't in debt, he might slack off. I described my own feeling about having become so lazy as to be unfit for work, whereupon Helen remarked, "Oh, yes, you'll be able to work. You'll have to when you and I get married and have children together." I hemmed and hawed and shook my head at this. Though I think of Helen constantly, and want to have her in my life, my intuition tells me that living with her would bring me misery. Even the arrangement I proposed before—whereby we live separately, but have children together, and I provide financial support—would likely make my life miserable. Besides, if she really wanted to get pregnant by me, then why didn't she ever try to trick me into getting her pregnant, by saying it was her period when it wasn't, for example? Elizabeth is just one of several women who've tried such a stunt with me. Why didn't Helen try it? Also, the way she complains about her "hovel" of an apartment and her "exhausting" job, makes me doubt she is prepared for the effort of caring for a baby. My opinion is that she doesn't really want to have children, but is afraid to admit this to herself. Neither of us really knows what we want out of life, it would seem.

 

Lisa called in the evening. I told her I was happy with my current apartment and hence wasn't interested in sharing her house, but that I wouldn't mind having lunch with her, and so we scheduled a date for later this week. As usual, the prospect of seeing her bores me silly, but yet I hesitate to reject her repeated advances. After all, I have plenty of time on my hands and few other friends. "Cling to those who cling to you," advises Samuel Johnson.

 

I felt drowsy all day. The problem is that I like rising early, but I also want to stay up past midnight, especially on the nights when I go out dancing, and I also want at least eight hours of sleep—and these three desires are irreconcilable. I masturbated to get myself moving, and then regretted doing so, since I had wanted to be sexually charged when I went dancing this evening.

 

A street person in the park was singing over and over: "Every damn thing I say is a lie, and that's the truth!" At one point, he broke off, in order to curse at his drunken sidekick for shitting himself: "Go change your pants, you stink!"

Later, I listened in on the conversation between two men at the cafe. They appeared to be old friends, with one of them having just gotten out of prison:

"It's a small world, it really is. Like last week, I'm sitting in a bar in Del Ray talking to one old friend, and who should come up but a guy I haven't seen in almost twenty years. Talk about old times! We used to hit the crap tables at Vegas every spring—sort of like a tradition. You go to Vegas often? It's been a while since I've been there. Johnny and me. We're were like a team. Used to win a lot. But, hey, who do you think pays for those casinos? The house always wins in the end."

"So what exactly happened with you?"

"I knew some people who the feds wanted to convict, and they thought I might be able to help them. But, hey, I grew up on the street and I learned you don't squeal on your friends. Those are my beliefs. I suffered for those beliefs. The feds ruined my life. Do I have regrets? Sure, I have regrets. But, you know, life is a series of cycles. I had my sports cars, I had big bucks, I had it all. And now I don't have it, but eventually it all comes back. That's life. The important thing is your beliefs, who you are. When you lose that, hey, you're nothing. That's my credo. And I respect anyone who stands up for his beliefs. Sure, the feds tried to pressure me. Did they break me? No. Can anyone break me? No. I don't break. You know why? Because I was brought up on the street and I learned that you just don't give in. Hey, eventually they win. It's a matter of them having huge amounts of money to go after you, and you can't pay your lawyer any more. Now my lawyer is a guy I have immense respect for. He and his partner are two of the only lawyers left, I think, who won't represent a squealer. You squeal, they're off the case. I don't squeal. But they don't work for free either, and so they laid it to me on the line—fair and square. I take a deal, or use the public defender, because I couldn't pay them anymore. So I took a deal. Did I compromise my beliefs? No, and that's why I got the book thrown at me. Six months. Civil contempt was the actual charge. I was the only inmate in the facility who wasn't charged with something criminal. Everyone else was in for murder, armed robbery, drugs, whatever. Was I intimidated? No, because, hey, I grew up on the streets. I run with the brothers. I talk shit. I keep my eyes open. You fuck with me—I fuck back. Wherever I go, I fit in. I can size up the situation in a minute. Sure, the feds figured I'd break in there. A lot of these guys were gorillas, but the thing is—if you demand respect, you get respect."

"Did you get raped?"

"Hey, I've seen shit go down. Bad shit. But like I said about respect. If they respect you, then they leave you alone. I'm not frightened of anybody. I grew up fighting on the streets, and I know what it takes to survive under these conditions. You don't take crap off anybody. You don't squeal on your friends. Now I did see some guys, who didn't fight back, get abused horribly. That sort of thing happens. But not to me."

On and on. For whatever reason, this conversation annoyed me, with its intimations of blustering boys in the high-school locker room, and memories of being pressured as a teenager to abandon my favorite activities—masturbating and reading—in favor of the activities approved by my peers—dating and sports—and the ridicule and social ostracism and persecution that ensued when I dared resist this pressure, while when I succumbed, the misery that comes from denying my deepest desires. "I grew up fighting on the streets"—I remember uttering such phrases myself once. Who was I trying to convince and impress more—the other boys, or myself?

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. I danced once with the older blonde, who wasn't interested in being held closely tonight, either by me or any of the other men she danced with. I tried to talk to her, but she wasn't interested in that either. Too bad, since I still find her extraordinarily attractive. I danced five times with another older woman. We had excellent dance chemistry, but not much sexual attraction, at least on my part—and then one or two times each with various other older women. I ignored the younger women altogether, though several showed interest in me.

I try and try to understand my ambivalence towards younger women, but without much success. Something to do with a fear of meeting a suitable marriage partner, and sliding down a slippery slope towards a house in the suburbs and two children and two cars and the other accoutrements of a modern American middle-class couple, with neither of us really wanting this but neither of us being able to stop ourselves. Just consider how, within weeks of meeting Nancy (and this was without having gotten beyond a goodnight kiss!), I was thinking of how to reconcile my desire to live alone with the need for a house in which we could raise a family together. And then there is the example of Elizabeth trying to get pregnant by me (and possibly succeeding—I still don't know her status), and several other ex-lovers (prior to the start of this journal) trying the same trick. Because of my fear of marriage and children, whenever a woman who is suitable for marriage (similar in age and social class, attractive, intelligent) shows interest in me, I panic and drive her off, then feel embarrassment at acting like a freak, and also anger at having missed out on an opportunity for sex. Other men manage to have sex with younger women without marrying them, and not all younger women want marriage and children. Why do only I seem to have problems with this issue?

 

A painfully boring lunch with Lisa. It occurred to me that she might resent me—for being like the boys who made fun of her in school, for not viewing her as sexually attractive, for being rich—and that I've always subconsciously noted this resentment and feared it, which is why I am hesitant to open up to her emotionally, and this is why we have so little to talk about. Or perhaps it's just incompatible personalities and her rasping voice that makes these conversations boring. Regardless, why do I persist in seeing her?

 

The biggest issue in my life at present is how to fill in the hours. Heavy drinking is the usual time-filler here on skid-row, but I don't want to go that route. There is a limit to how much I can sleep, which I am already approaching, seeing that I sleep eight hours at night and then take a four hour nap in the afternoon. I prefer to guzzle my food instead of eating slowly, and so spend only a small amount of time on my meals. I can read at most four hours a day before getting tired. That leaves sex as the only remaining activity with which to pass my waking hours. I need to learn to repress my desire for orgasms and to keep myself suspended indefinitely in a state of high arousal—erect or else ready to pop an erection at a moment's notice.

While sitting in the cafe in the evening, the thought occurred to me of visiting a disco. I haven't been to one of those in almost two years. But what's the point? If I go and a woman throws herself at me, I'll just walk away, the way I've always done in the past. I've always preferred to be alone—isn't this obvious? Why do I torment myself with guilt feelings about solitude? Why do I feel guilty about not working? "Avoid pain" should be my motto. Don't oversleep, because that causes pain. Don't work, because that causes pain. Don't force myself to read or watch movies or otherwise seek escape from reality, because that causes pain. Don't drink, don't skip exercise, don't overeat, and otherwise don't abuse my body, because these things cause pain. So far, so good. But what about women? What is the proper course of action here? Should I pursue them or not? Clearly, I shouldn't force myself, one way or the other. But what is my natural course of action? Why can't I think clearly about this subject?

 

After sitting for an hour in the cafe, I suddenly felt bored and anxious and so rushed off downtown for a takeout burrito, which I ate in the park. A bum there threw a chicken bone at me (it fell short), then shook his fist and muttered as he walked away. I think he was upset that I was staring at him. I didn't bother reacting. After all, what's the point of anger towards a creature who doesn't even strike me as being human? I decided that there is nothing wrong with spending much of the day lying on my back and fondling myself. This is what bums do with their life, isn't it? I returned to my apartment and drank a glass of wine accompanied by a huge chunk of cheese and some bread, and then fell asleep for two hours. When I woke, I felt terribly lethargic and bloated from all the food I'd eaten earlier.

I spent the evening pacing about the apartment, fretting about women and sex and wondering whether I should go to a nightclub tonight or not, and why I keep running away from women who invite my advances, and why I don't want to go to a prostitute, and so on and so forth. "Nature abhors a vacuum". I think of nothing but women and sex because I have no other issues in my life, not even a job. Nor is the situation likely to change anytime soon. Not until I have something more important to worry about, like genuine health problems, which may not develop for another thirty years.

 

Tango dancing in the evening. My first time at the tango nightclub in months. I did horribly, and so left after about forty minutes. As usual, there was a surplus of beautiful, intelligent single women in their thirties and forties—I should be having a wonderful time. But instead, I sit on the sidelines and watch the other guys dazzle the pretty girls with their moves.

The problem, of course, is laziness. My whole life is nothing but a history of laziness and its consequences. Even my successful career as a computer programmer is merely the result of applied laziness. The best programmers are the lazy ones, goes the adage, because they always look for easy solutions, which are also generally the best solutions, by happy coincidence. It is time I accept that given a choice between working to get what I want, versus sitting on my ass and being satisfied with what I have, I'll always opt for the latter. The reason I don't have a woman to fuck—one of my perennial complaints—is that I'm too lazy to get one and too lazy to keep the ones who now and then magically fall into my lap. Understanding this makes it easier to accept my state of celibacy. I am willing to forego any pleasure which requires hard work.

 

While doing my laundry, a young woman asked if I wanted "company"—a prostitute offering her services, in other words. "No, thanks," I replied. And then it occurred to me, that for perhaps the first time in my life, I had genuine interest in trying prostitution. If nothing else, it is a way of further alienating myself from the world of straight people, and helping me to accept that my destiny is to be a solitary freak.

 

Lunch with Helen, who I called "my sole remaining contact with the world of people"—which indeed she has long been. The situation between her and Paul is more or less the same as ever. For example, this past weekend they had a quarrel at a restaurant. Paul had specifically asked for window seating when he made reservations, but the seat they were assigned was so far to the edge of the window that it was impossible to see anything through it but a nearby brick wall. And thus the meal started off with Paul in a bad mood. Later, when Helen mentioned retirement plans, Paul said:

"I still haven't forgotten how, when I was unemployed, you continued to pour fifteen percent of your salary into your retirement plan, instead of helping me out. I haven't forgotten that, and I don't intend to forget it." The implication being that he will punish Helen if the tables should ever be turned—with him employed and her not. After mulling his words over for a minute or so, Helen burst into tears, so that the neighboring diners couldn't help but notice, and then she left her purse behind later. "I was having premenstrual syndrome," is her explanation of why she reacted so emotionally. Now she is worried about what Paul will think when he discovers that she has almost $100,000 in savings, plus another $20,000 in her retirement account. She recently redirected her mail to his apartment, in order to avoid having to return to her apartment each week to pick it up. When he notices the various correspondence from the mutual funds where she has her money invested, he will almost surely ask questions.

"I'm not going to warn against getting married and having children," I told Helen, "since you seem intent on this and nothing I can say will change your mind. But I will warn you to be careful about your money."

"Actually, the closer marriage and children get—the less the appeal," Helen replied.

"Then just make sure you take care of that nest egg of yours and don't let that rascal snatch it away."

"I won't. I did learn a few things from you."

 

I gorged myself to the point of bursting at the all-you-can-eat Indian lunch buffet, then spent two hours in the afternoon walking in circles in a patch of grass near the public library, muttering aloud "Motherfucker's got an attitude problem." Afterwards, I had a smoothie at the cafe. This was a big mistake, because immediately upon finishing this smoothie, I felt as if my stomach were about to burst. The problem, of course, was that I had already filled up at lunch and so had absolutely no more room inside.

Meanwhile, an attractive fleshy young blonde at another table, who I had gazed at with sexual interest when she entered, was eyeing me out of the corner of her eye, and playing with her hair, and finally began snapping her finger to the music in an obvious "approach-me" gesture, which I ignored. Why are so many women interested in me recently? Does having traveled to Guatemala somehow make me more attractive? How can women possibly know I've traveled? I don't know how to proceed with women like this, nor do I feel any urgency about proceeding, nor do I particularly regret not proceeding. I typically don't like being approached (witness my hostility to almost everyone who tried approaching me in Guatemala), so how can I comprehend that others might feel differently—that women might, indeed, want to be approached by men? In any case, even had I wanted to say something to her, my stomach problems would have precluded doing so. As it was, I nearly vomited in the cafe restroom, and then again on the walk home, and finally I emptied my stomach in the toilet the minute I stepped into my apartment's bathroom. This illness serves me right for eating so much at the buffet (five heaping plates of food and who knows how many pieces of bread).

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. There was a shortage of women and so I only danced five times. Furthermore, all my partners were lousy followers. Nevertheless, there is something about touching a woman's body while dancing to music which makes me feel extraordinarily relaxed afterwards, even if the woman is completely incompetent. If she can follow the beat, and knows the basic steps, and is willing to approach me closely with her upper body, then the experience is truly wonderful.

 

Lunch with Helen, who complains of feeling sick, and of having a delayed period.

"Don't tell me you've gotten pregnant again?" I exclaimed.

"I doubt it," she replied. "Not the way we've been doing it. Unless one of those aggressive sperms—a demon sperm—swam all the round around, out and then back in. I hope that's not possible, is it? Just imagine the sort of disgusting creature that would result from a sperm like that!" We both laughed at this remark. Then we discussed money psychology, and agreed that Paul is a compulsive spender, Helen has deprivation mentality, while I have fear of spending combined with deprivation mentality.

"That explains why Paul and I have so many fights. He wants to spend money on the finer things of life, but I resist, because I like to feel deprived. No wonder I'm living in that hovel... With you I was an enabler. I encouraged your illness. And what about that $300,000 you once promised me, so I could escape from these salt mines?"

She was referring to promise I made last year to give her some of my money, if we married, so that she wouldn't have to work at a soul-killing job and could be free like me. One of my objections from then remains, however. I'm worried she might give the money to Paul to squander on frivolities. I don't mind her living with him, but I can't bear to think of my hard-earned money being spent on $1000 suits and $30,000 sports cars and similar foolishness. Certainly, I don't owe Helen anything. But what else am I going to do with all my money? If I don't give it to her while we are both young, then it will end up as part of my estate. The government will take part as taxes, and the remainder will be distributed to relatives or other people who I hardly know. On the other hand, perhaps a few more years of work might do Helen good. As it is, she has much more self-confidence now than before she started this job four years ago. While she might complain about doing idiot work, at least she's earning a respectable salary. Previously, she did idiot work and was also paid minimum wage like an idiot.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. I did well with a variety of beginner women, several of whom responded warmly. And yet my dancing has improved but slightly in the past six months. The beautiful woman who resembles Elizabeth was there again, and again sent out all sorts of "approach-me" signals, which I again pretended not to notice.

 

The homosexual from Guatemala called. We had a brief conversation in Spanish. At first, I pretended not to recognize him.

"I met many people in Guatemala. Some details of how we met, please," I said.

"That night in the garden..." he replied, in a purring sort of voice.

"Ah, yes. Where are you calling from? Guatemala? That must be very expensive."

"Don't worry. It's my telephone call. How are you doing?"

"I'm doing fine. But let me explain. The situation is this. With me, with men—I simply cannot do it with men. It was an error. What else can I say?"

"I want to write you a letter. Will you write me back?"

"Yes, I'll write back."

"Thank you. Goodbye until next time."

I said goodbye myself and we hung up. What is the point of this call? Does he plan to visit me? And why did I give him my phone number and address?

 

Elizabeth called in the evening, and we had a long conversation, in the course of which we rehashed what has been said before many times. She wants a man who loves her and is willing to live with her—and I can satisfy neither of these wants. The arrangement I proposed, whereby I please her in bed and she obtains love and companionship from another man or a woman, is an unacceptable compromise. Unless the man deeply loves her, she isn't interested in sex. Even if she were desperate for sex, she wouldn't want to have it with a man who didn't love her, because then she would end up falling in love with the man and be miserable because he didn't love her back. She is feeling more content with her job, but depressed about life in general—and has been to see a psychologist. As for her possibly being pregnant—that was a false alarm, she says.

"And what are your plans?" she asked.

"I don't have any plans," I replied. "I'm happy as things are. I try to maintain my physical health. I eat right, I exercise, I get the proper amount of sleep. I pace around my apartment to work off excess energy. I listen to music. I would like to be able to touch a woman's body—such as your body, for example—more intimately than I'm able to do on the dance floor. That is the only thing I want that I don't have right now. How about having dinner with me sometime?"

"I don't think so. I don't want to return to the situation we had before. I become emotional and unhappy that way."

"I'm offering to make you feel like a sexually attractive woman."

"But that's just it! You didn't make me feel attractive. You never bought me flowers, you never called me unless you wanted to have sex, you never surprised me, you never seemed to care about me."

"I pleased you and made you feel attractive in bed, and that's where it counts. Get a homosexual for all that other stuff. Or a woman friend."

"Why not get it all from a man?"

"A very good question. Why are you almost forty two years old without ever having been married? You're physically attractive, intelligent, and have a normal personality. So why aren't you married? I'll tell you why, it's because you don't want to be married. All that talk of men being afraid of commitment is nothing but projection of your own attitude. You're the one who wants to avoid marriage and living together. You abandoned me and not vice-versa. You like living alone."

"I've discussed some of these ideas with my therapist."

"Why are you calling me?"

"I don't know. Maybe I was bored. No, that's not true... I also called you last week and you weren't home. My therapist and I have been discussing my behavior. Why haven't you called me?"

"I called and left a message."

"Yes. I got that message. It sounded like a business call. You even identified yourself by your last name. As if I don't know who you are."

"I thought you might have a replacement lover and I didn't want to cause trouble by leaving intimate-sounding messages on your machine. You see, darling, I care about your well-being."

"That's bullshit! Anyway, no one can be a replacement for someone else. If all you want is a sexual replacement, then it shouldn't be too hard to find one."

"I don't want just any woman. I want a woman who is compatible with me in and out of bed. A woman who I find sexually attractive and one whose company I enjoy. A woman like you, for example."

"Except you don't want to live with me and you don't love me."

"True, I don't want to live with you—or anyone else for that matter. Nor do I really love anyone. I'm emotionally cold by nature."

"That's what my girlfriend said about you—he sounds cold."

"Physically though, I'm warm. I'm very warm in bed."

"You make everything sexual!"

"You can get love from a woman or a cat or a homosexual. What I'm offering you is what they can't offer—what I have between my legs."

Eventually, we agreed that we might meet next week for lunch and perhaps take a walk in the park—but no sex, she stipulated. Of course, sex is exactly what I'm planning. Indeed, our conversation left me feeling so highly aroused that I couldn't get to sleep without masturbating. A lurid fantasy of ejaculating into her mouth after an extended session of mutual oral sex. Immediately upon coming, I regretted my lapse. Why am I letting this woman back into my life, anyway? Already, she is disturbing my equilibrium and serenity!

 

Another attractive woman sending "approach-me" signals in the cafe—glancing my way from the corner of her eye, fiddling with her hair, marching off petulantly because I pretended not to notice. She was a smallish, well-groomed blonde in her late forties, very pretty for her age, reminiscent of Karen and oozing sexuality. This business of women being unusually interested in me ever since I returned from Guatemala is no delusion of mine. I remember how things were before the trip, and they were different from what they are now. The only aspect of my appearance that I can think of that has changed is my complexion. Currently I have a glowing tan on my face, where before there was a corpse-like pallor. For whatever reason, like so many other Caucasian computer programmers, I used to avoid the sun and pride myself on having pale, sickly looking skin.

 

Some thoughts about Elizabeth and her proposal for us to be non-sexual friends. It is as if we're back where we were a year ago—with her pretending she doesn't want sex, so that I am put in the humiliating position of having nothing to offer in exchange for what I want. The difference is that a year ago I hadn't yet shown her my skills as a lover, and so would look like a fool if I walked away. "Who cares?" she would be able to say, "He probably wasn't even good in bed anyway." My solution to this dilemma was impotence—humiliation for her in revenge for her trying to humiliate me. This time my approach will be to simply make no sexual advances—let's see how long she finds that satisfactory. It is certainly true that I would prefer sex to not having sex, but I would also prefer no sex to begging for sex which the woman pretends not to want or enjoy. Let her beg for sex, I say, otherwise we won't have sex.

 

Elizabeth called and invited me to a concert this coming weekend, which invitation I accepted. Sex is no longer out of the question, she says, though she still has doubts about renewing our relationship. During the course of our conversation, I became increasingly annoyed at her attitude. If she doesn't want sex, then why did she call me last week? If she does want sex, then why the reluctance to say so? I don't mind pride in a woman, but I won't tolerate being made a fool of. Sex with a woman who doesn't feel desire for me is boring. I can get that from a prostitute. Curiously enough, she mentioned a lurid article in one of her "women's magazines", about women in the third-world who agree to sex with men simply in order to get a decent dinner. Is that how she sees our relationship? She lets me fuck her so that I'll take her out to fancy restaurants? The question is, why does she bother playing prostitute like this, given that she has plenty of money of her own?

She left me so worked up that I had to masturbate to orgasm afterwards. Afterwards, I felt inclined to call her up and cancel our date. She is bringing nothing but stress into my life.

 

Lunch with Helen. The latest news is that Paul has plunged ahead and bought the $30,000 red two-seater sports car, along with a plane ticket, since he will need to fly to his friend's hometown in order to pick the car up.

"That's going to be his only car, and yet there's no room for a baby," Helen fumed. I mentioned that Elizabeth and I are back to talking and will possibly be meeting this weekend. Helen exclaimed, "I knew she would call! She is desperate to start having children."

"She has repeatedly stated that she doesn't want children," I replied. "It is possible that she is lying, but I doubt it. I really think she has no desire for children. Both you and she are ambivalent about children, but your desire for them is much stronger than hers. At least that's my impression."

Later, the topic of homosexuality came up, and I mentioned my experience in Guatemala, and what a fiasco it was. Helen was amused by this, and told me that Paul had a similar experience as a teenager, when he let an older man seduce him. "He wanted to have sex with me and so I let him," was Paul's explanation of why he allowed this seduction to occur. It would thus seem there are more than just a few resemblances between Paul's personality and mine, despite our being polar opposites in most matters concerning money.

 

Two more attractive and apparently available and interested women crossing my path. One of these a rosy-skinned young redhead lying on the grass in the park, alternating between reading and smoking and sunbathing with her eyes closed and her body sprawled out voluptuously, occasionally glancing my way (I was sitting on a bench). While resting on her side and turned away, thereby showing off her broad hips to best advantage, a gust of wind lifted her dress and revealed her underpants. How I wanted then to shove my face between her fleshy legs and lick and smell her cunt! Then she rolled to the other side, so that I could see her breasts sagging against the thin material of her dress. How I wanted to take those breasts in my hands and squeeze and kiss them! The second encounter was with a woman in the cafe, who some men might have considered pretty, but who struck me as threatening, so that I immediately turned away when she met my stare. Her hair was cut very short and colored jet black, her skin was ivory, her lips were painted bright, glossy red, her stout body was hidden under her full-cut dark brown jacket and pants.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. The same beautiful younger woman who resembles Elizabeth was sending "approach me" signals again, which I again ignored. I danced in close hold with a variety of older women. Good energy with all of them, though clearly we are incompatible for anything beyond dancing. There was also a slender young woman from Germany, with whom I danced five times. There was instant and extraordinary powerful sexual energy between us. She pushed herself close, I held her tight, and then I felt an erection in my pants. I talked briefly with her afterwards. She is taking a five month vacation here in the United States, including three months in this area, where she is studying English. I thought about asking her out, and even retrieved one of my address cards from my wallet to hand to her—and then I realized that I don't want an affair with her. Or rather, I do and I don't. In any case, there is the matter of Elizabeth.

For some reason, I felt extraordinarily tense and angry tonight, and several times wanted to kick a chair or the wall. It is as though dancing simultaneously relaxes me and stresses me. Or perhaps it is Elizabeth who has gotten me so worked up. I feel like doing something to sabotage our relationship for once and for all, so I can be free of women for good.

I masturbated upon returning to my apartment, to fantasy of raping the German woman in a forest. I threaten to kill her if she doesn't have sex with me, then she turns out to enjoy it.

 

I masturbated to orgasm twice this morning, which left me feeling depleted of energy afterwards. My fantasy was with the German woman, naturally. I have now kidnapped her and am keeping her prisoner in a room in my castle, where she waits anxiously for me to visit for sex sessions that last for hours on end.

 

In the evening, I called Elizabeth and left a pathetic-sounding message on her machine: "If you're still up for that concert this weekend, then I hope you'll give me a call, because I need to know the details of when to meet you." Ever since she called me last week, I've been tormented by thoughts of her. I want my serenity back! Why doesn't she just disappear from my life? My current thinking is that I should somehow humiliate myself in front of her, so that she loses all interest in me. I can then tell myself, "It isn't my fault. I'd love to see her again, but she doesn't want to see me because I'm a loser." A trick I've used to stop obsessing over many a former girlfriend. The more obvious approach is to simply forget her. Unfortunately, I don't have perfect control over my emotions and so that is not possible.

Immediately after writing the above, and settling down to spend the evening by myself, Elizabeth returned my call. All my vows to tell her off were forgotten. I started laughing and told her how I was happy to hear from her and that I had been thinking about her all week. She replied that she had been thinking about me as well—and thinking lubricious thoughts at that. Whereupon I suggested I pay her a visit, to which she readily agreed.

Mutual oral sex to start. "My face is back in her cunt, where it belongs," was the thought that crossed my mind as I licked her, then we fucked. But I was drained from the masturbation orgy this morning, and both of us were somewhat tense, so that she was unable to come and I didn't want to come. So we took a break for a late snack on her new dining room table, then climbed back into bed about midnight, and resumed where we had left off. This time the magic was back—both of us came with powerful orgasms.

 

Lunch with Helen, who is feeling tired from lack of sleep. Last night, Paul wanted to lick her cunt, but she refused on the grounds that it might cause a bladder infection. So instead, he fucked her twice in the ass. "Now my butt is sore," she complains. Paul has come to enjoy anal sex, and concentrates his attention on Helen's buttocks nowadays. However, I suspect he is also somewhat anxious about his inability to return pleasure, which was one of the chief causes of my breaking up with Helen. She brings him pleasure, whereas he causes her a sore butt, which puts him a weak negotiating position with respect to conflicts. What does she lose if they break up?

Paul is very excited about the $30,000 red two-seater sports car, which he will be picking up in two weeks. He even thinks the car will help with his career. "When my co-workers see me driving around in a sports car, they'll know I'm more than just a back office numbers person. I wasn't hired just to work, you understand. Things are different at my level than at yours," he explained to Helen one night. Earlier this week, he took off three days due to hay fever, and continues to show up late for work and to leave early. Helen suspects he will be fired eventually for poor work attitude.

In the evening, Helen called from Paul's apartment, all upset over his plans to set the alarm for four am tomorrow, which she thinks much too early (their flight to Hawaii is at seven am). "I haven't gotten a decent night's sleep all week, and now he wants to wake me up early, just so he can make the bed for some friends of his who will be staying here while we're away. And what if these friends of his snoop around and discover all our bondage gear? I don't remember being deprived of sleep when I was living with you." She had complained earlier to Paul, who responded by first threatening to break up and not go with her to Hawaii, followed by his storming out of the apartment in a rage. I told her to calm down and avoid fighting and not worry so much about one more day of insufficient sleep, since she will have plenty of time to sleep during their vacation.

 

While sitting in the cafe, I made unintentional eye-contact with a man about my age, who later stopped by my table and handed me a napkin, on which was written his name and telephone number along with the following note: "Hello, I've noticed you on the street two or three times, and while I try not to make assumptions about people, if you'd like to meet and talk sometime, I'd be happy to join you. I hope you don't mind the attention." My initial feeling was one of being flattered and elated. Certainly, if I had a woman's body, I'd jump at his offer, since the man was both handsome and intelligent looking, and the prospect of sex with him excites me intellectually speaking far more than sex with women. Unfortunately, I now realize that sex with a man is out of the question for me. My failure with the homosexual in Guatemala was not due to personality conflicts, as I first thought, since I am equally repelled by Elizabeth's personality. The problem was simply that he lacked a cunt, and the idea of sex without a cunt in the picture bores me. The question now is how to respond to this note. I hate to be rude and ignore it, especially since I may cross paths with the man in the future. I have no qualms about ignoring the advances of a woman, especially one who I find sexually attractive, but towards men I feel I should behave politely. On the other hand, he didn't specifically propose sex—as in "I want to suck your cock" or "I want to fuck you in the ass"—which would have made responding easy: "While I'm flattered by your proposition, I'm afraid I'm not interested in sex with men." Instead, he proposed conversation, and to conversation with men, especially intelligent gay men, I have no objection. What do I do?

 

I spent the evening with Elizabeth. Dinner at a restaurant then sex on the floor of her living room. I licked her cunt as foreplay, then fucked her with a rock-solid erection and perfect control, so that she came in a matter of minutes with a powerful orgasm. Shortly thereafter, I came explosively myself, bellowing and thrashing about and then collapsing on her chest. We are both trying to limit the amount of time spent fucking, in order to reduce the possibility of making her sore.

Elizabeth was in an argumentative mood in the morning. She doesn't like that I live on skid row, and doesn't like that I like being around angry, restless people, and doesn't think our relationship is going anywhere, and can't just live day to day but worries about the future. Also she wants to live in a house with a garden:

"I'm sick of these people, people, people everywhere. I go to the store and there are people. Crowding me. I feel crowded in this apartment. I want a house. I want to look out the window at a garden instead of at other houses. The whole reason for having money is to get away from people. The sort of people I don't want to be around."

After about an hour of this sort of arguing and complaining, I started kissing her, then she became wet and so we retired to the bedroom for sex, despite her resolution to limit sex to once a day to reduce the possibility of soreness. Ten minutes of mutual oral sex as foreplay, during which she managed to swallow most of my cock, followed by ten minutes of fucking. I was trying to go slow, but she kept pulling on my buttocks to speed me up, and eventually I relented and did as she wanted. This fast fucking caused me to come prematurely. Fortunately however, I was able to suppress my orgasm enough to continue fucking even after I came, and thereby bring her off about a half minute later.

We lay quietly in bed in each other's arms for several hours afterwards, with all of her argumentativeness having disappeared. Late lunch at a cafe, then she dropped me off at my apartment so we could spent some time apart, then we met again in the evening, for dinner at a restaurant.

The argumentativeness resumed in the morning. "This relationship is going nowhere!" Elizabeth cried out at one point. After being rebuffed several times, I managed to get her aroused and into bed. Orgasms for both of us. Mine was somewhat restrained because we started coming at the same time, and so I had to maintain my concentration and continue fucking in order to ensure she finished before I went soft. A short walk in the wilderness park afterwards, then we drove downtown for a late afternoon concert of religious music in a church. Elizabeth asked me to drive, and then wanted to stop off on the way to get an ice cream cone, as we hadn't eaten breakfast or lunch. While parking, I cracked the plastic lens of one of the rear lights, because the truck behind us didn't have a proper bumper. Elizabeth became furious:

"I told you this space was too small! Now look! I'll have to get the whole thing replaced. Not only will that cost money, which I expect you to pay incidentally, but it means a big hassle. I'll have to take the car in to the shop and have someone else drive me home."

"It isn't broken. It's just cracked. We can fix it with super glue," I suggested.

"The hell with that! I'm not driving around in some rattletrap. There's enough dents and scratches in this car as it is. Fix it with super glue! You sound like my step-father."

I managed to get her calmed down eventually. The concert was tedious and pretentious, I thought. $20 each for tickets, which she had bought. Perhaps three hundred people in attendance. Why so many for this pretentiousness and so comparatively few for various live salsa nights I've been to over the years? Dinner afterwards at a restaurant within walking distance of her apartment. I had insisted on doing as little additional driving and parking this evening as possible. More arguing on the way there and while eating. She asked me if I had enjoyed the concert.

"I agreed to go to the concert because you asked me a week ago, before we got back together. To be honest, I had no desire to go, but I couldn't say that because otherwise I didn't see how I would get to see you. You had refused to have dinner with me, you will recall. Once again, you can't admit you want sex and so we have to come up with these ruses, like this concert, and then we have these misunderstandings," I replied.

"What was wrong with the concert?" she asked.

"Nothing. I just found it boring, like all these productions of the culture industry. Artsy-fartsy pap. Furthermore, these churches are cesspools of hypocrisy. That's right, cesspools of hypocrisy, and I've always hated hypocrisy."

"You see what I mean? This is why we can't get along. We can't do anything together."

"We do many things together."

"We fuck. That's all we do together."

"We eat out at restaurants."

"Okay. Eating and sex and talking about you and your interests."

"I talk about myself because I have nothing to say. That's why I don't have any friends. I have nothing to say to them. I can't be silent with you because you'd complain."

"I probably would."

"And that's why I talk about myself. You know, Elizabeth, if you would just treat me like a man who comes by every week to give you a massage, we'd have a much smoother relationship. A special type of massage, an intimate, internal massage, which you couldn't get from an ordinary masseur. You admit yourself that you slept well last night. I think it was because of that internal massaging I gave you yesterday."

"That's absurd. I want someone who enjoys the things I enjoy. Someone who enjoys going with me to concerts, for example."

"I'm not that type of man. And I feel degraded at the idea of being your companion. I expect to be appreciated for my skills in bed. There are plenty of women who would be happy to have a good lover."

"Sex just doesn't matter than much to me. I've told you that before."

"Yes, you have. In fact, you've been insisting on it ever since I met you. Sex isn't important to you. Of course, you broke up with that man you replaced me with last summer, precisely because he couldn't give you an orgasm. Also, you've gotten back together with me three times, knowing full well that the only thing I'm offering you is sex, and that we don't have common interests."

"We can't just spent the whole day in bed!"

"Why not? I can think of nothing I'd rather do. That's a sad statement about sex, when you'd rather be doing something else."

I masturbated twice upon returning to my apartment the next morning, after being dropped off by Elizabeth on her way to work. I don't know why I have such an urge to masturbate after being around her.

 

A typical day. I fooled around the apartment until noon, gorged at the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet, sunbathed on the grass outside the public library, read for several hours in the cafe, fooled around my apartment some more. Live latin jazz at the salsa dancing club in the evening. I had expected there to be dancing, but there wasn't. Partly because the music was not really suitable for dancing, and partly due to a shortage of women.

 

I called the homosexual from the cafe the other day (his name is Robert), and explained my position: "I'm straight, you see. I have a girlfriend currently, and I'm not interested in sex with men. I've tried sex with men in the past and it just doesn't work for me. I know you didn't mention sex in your note, of course, but I do want to clarify things."

"Okay," he replied. "But I'd still like to talk to you." I agreed to meet him tomorrow afternoon at the cafe. So now it appears that I didn't learn my lesson in Guatemala. Once again I'm involved in a pointless relationship with a homosexual. Why don't I just say no to these men?

 

I met with Robert in the cafe. We had a long philosophical conversation, then I reiterated that I was only interested in women sexually.

"Why did you call me back?" he asked. "It's almost as though you're trying to be kind."

"That might be partly true," I replied. "You stated that you'd seen me around, which means you'd be seeing me again in the future. So I didn't want some awkward encounter where you didn't know the status of the situation between us. Not responding would have been rude, and I feel uncomfortable when I've been rude for no good reason. I called you back as much for my sake as for yours. I wanted to get this issue resolved."

"If you ever change your mind and want to fool around, then give me a call. I think you're beautiful."

I gave him a card with my name and phone number, though I don't know why. Perhaps courtesy, since I had his name and phone number. Briefly, I considered the possibility of friendship. But the truth is that I have little desire for friends at present.

 

I called Elizabeth and left a message indicating that I'd called and would be calling back later. Then I fooled around the apartment and later masturbated, even though I knew Elizabeth and I might be getting together tonight. Of course, after I came, my desire to see Elizabeth was greatly diminished. I spent the rest of the day in the cafe. While I was out, Elizabeth left the following message:

 

"I don't know if we're getting together or not. You sort of mentioned it. I'm going to a fashion show with a friend this afternoon, but I'd be open to going to dinner. Please call me back in the next half-hour or so, or else leave a message. Bye."

 

For whatever reason, I didn't feel like responding to this message. Elizabeth then called again five or so times in the early evening. I was in the apartment, but I knew it was her calling and so I didn't pick up the phone. The calls were spaced about fifteen minutes apart. For three of the calls, she left messages:

 

"I haven't heard from you. I assume we're not getting together."

 

"You know, you keep complaining about me breaking up with you. It's because of your behavior. I don't like being kept on a string, etc, etc, etc. I think you really enjoy pissing me off. I'm getting really tired of it. So if you want to play your little games, you go right ahead. I've had it with you. You just like to piss me off, I know."

 

"I hope you're getting a lot of pleasure out of this. I know that you are, because you like to see me pissed off. That way you can be cool and controlled and not show any emotion. Basically, you're controlling, and I don't like the way I'm being treated. I don't like the fact that you have no interest in maintaining a decent relationship between a man and woman. I know you're laughing about this, and you'll have plenty of little stories to tell Helen."

 

I wrote her the following letter in response:

 

There is little to say that hasn't been said many times before. I told you in plain terms over a year ago, that I wasn't interested in children, I wasn't interested in marriage, and I wasn't interested in us ever living together. And it was obvious that we didn't have sufficient common interests or other intellectual compatibility to be friends. In other words, it was clear from day one that our relationship was based strictly on mutual sexual attraction. You've known that all along, and yet you've gotten back together with me three times. Why? Because you want sex. And why the three breakups? Because you felt guilty about a purely sexual relationship. You initiated the breakups, you initiated the reconciliations—the problem is with you, not me.

I'm offering you yet again what I've been offering you all along. Namely, regular good sex. Once or twice a week, we'll get together, for dinner, conversation and sex. We'll behave considerately. No condemning the other's interests; no demanding that the other be a different person from what they are. As long as you continue to attract me sexually and behave considerately, I'll do my best to please you in bed. You can date other men, and stop seeing me at any time if you meet someone else you prefer. I won't hold a grudge for such breakups, and we can get back together later, provided I haven't met someone else in the meantime.

You complain of being manipulated, but I've felt manipulated by you from the start. First you dangle the offer of sex, then you yank it away, then when we finally have sex, you act as though you'd given me something valuable and received nothing in return. Sorry, but my opinion is that the sex I give is full "payment" for the sex I receive. You're not a prostitute. Eventually, your manipulations anger me to the point where I retaliate. You remember how I was impotent at first? This was deliberate, because of how you repeatedly devalued the importance of the sex I was offering. "Sex isn't that important, she says? Very well, let's see how she likes a relationship without sex." And perhaps you'll recall several evenings when I seemed sexually bored? This was because you had said something sneering the day before, like: "Don't you ever think of anything besides sex?" So I masturbated in the afternoon, right before we got together: "She doesn't want me thinking of sex? Very well, I'll make sure I don't think about sex."

But that's the past. I'm tired of pettiness and I'm tired of dishonesty about the nature of our relationship. If you're not interested in my offer of regular sex, then I don't want to hear from you anymore. I'll give you a week to think things over. If I don't hear from you, I'll assume we've broken up and that I'm free to pursue other women. If I do hear from you, I don't want it to be in order to discuss things. Rather, I expect you to be calling to set an appointment for sex.

 

Elizabeth called from work, and we engaged in a heated discussion. I told her more or less what I wrote in the letter above, while she replied that she wanted more than just sex from a man. She admitted that she was in love with me, which was why she kept calling me, but that she also hated me and couldn't wait until she no longer loved me, because she wanted to move on with her life and meet another man who would love her back, which I was obviously unable or unwilling to do.

"You obviously resent me because you're attracted to me sexually to the point where you can't say no when I call you up, and you dislike this feeling of a woman having power over you," she said.

"There may be some truth in that," I replied.

"Also, you can't love me or any other woman because you're still in love with Helen and you're waiting for her to come back to you and be the fantastic sex partner you've always wanted her to be."

"There may be some truth in that as well."

"Anyway, I'm going on vacation to Europe in two more weeks, and I don't want to feel tied down by a dead-end relationship here. I might meet someone there."

"Happy hunting. I mean that, too. I'm fond of you, Elizabeth, you know, even if I don't love you, and I wish you well."

"Good-bye."

After we hung up, I mailed the letter I had written her yesterday. In the afternoon, I sat in the cafe, reading and amusing myself by designing a business card to mail to her tomorrow:

 

Fulfilling the needs of today's woman—satisfaction guaranteed

 

Doctor A__

 

Pleasuring service, diet and exercise advice,

spiritual counseling, computer assistance

 

Never a charge

Exclusively for women

 

[email]

[telephone]

 

I talked to a woman who answered my personals ad a few weeks back, and arranged to meet with her tomorrow. She is age thirty-five, calls herself beautiful and petite, is a single mother with two children who spend much of their time with their fathers (the children have different fathers), has written several novels and books of poetry (I don't know if she makes any money off these), has never answered a personals ad before, liked the sound of my voice.

 

Elizabeth called in the morning, in a furious mood: "You bastard! Why don't you get the hell out of my life!" She hadn't received either of my letters, but rather was still worked up over my not calling her. I managed to calm her down, and we then had a five hour conversation, rehashing what has been said many times before, and also revealing various new information to one another.

Elizabeth wants a man who is able and willing to support her financially in the future, in case she gets sick again and can't work, who shares some of her interests, who she finds sexually attractive, and who is able to satisfy her in bed. Of these four criteria, I meet only the last two. I will never share her interests, and I am unwilling to commit to supporting her financially, and this is why she keeps trying to leave me. She is having difficulty leaving me, however, because she is addicted to the good sex we have. She is thinking of moving away from the city in order to force a rupture between us. The man she dated last summer, after we first broke up, was impotent. He blamed the problem on Elizabeth's "high expectations." The man she dated before she met me didn't earn enough money, so that, far from being able to support her, she was worried about having to support him. "The last thing I need is a burden."

She admits that there have probably been many men over the years who met all of her criteria and who wanted to marry her, but that she drove them away because she has a self-destructive streak and low self-esteem and a voice inside her that keeps saying, "You don't deserve a good man." She also admits that she sometimes teases men by offering and then denying them sex, but insists that she doesn't do so intentionally, or even consciously, and that the reason she was so furious these past few days was that I was teasing her in the same way she teases men. "I had built up these expectations of dinner and sex, and then you didn't call, and so I spent the whole night angry and bawling to myself. And then the next day, I was irritable with everyone at work."

We joked about the twenty-five year old former lover she will be visiting in Europe. "Quantity but no quality" was her assessment of his love-making skills. In other words, he wants sex frequently, but always comes before she has her orgasm, so that she is left unsatisfied. "Sounds likes he needs some instruction from Doctor A__'s Pleasuring Service. Give him my number and I'll tell the boy what to do," I suggested.

As far as the future of our relationship, she was non-committal. She isn't satisfied with what I'm offering. In particular, my failure to marry her or otherwise guarantee future financial support, my failure to provide her with a house with a garden, our lack of common interests, and the shame she feels at comparing her situation to that of her friends, many of whom are married and living in houses with gardens. She admits that marriage to me would probably not make her happier, since we would likely be at each other's throats constantly if we were living together, and she admits that many of her friends who are married aren't very happy. One of these friends, for example, has a husband who goes into frequent sulks, during which he doesn't speak to his wife for days at a time, and who hasn't wanted sex with her since she gave birth to their first child a year ago. "However," Elizabeth pointed out, "at least she's living in a nice house with a garden and a view."

The conversation was of the uninhibited sort I've long wanted to have with Elizabeth. I sympathize with her complaints about what I'm offering, but I also think she is being unrealistic about finding a rich husband at her age, unless she is willing to accept a much older man, of the sort she doesn't find sexually attractive. My hope is that she will come around to the view that the sexual pleasure she gets from me is worth compromising on her other goals in a man, and that we will be able to continue seeing one another in the future. On the other hand, the prospect of breaking up doesn't particularly concern me.

 

The woman from the personals ad never showed up. I wasn't angry, however. Strange how I'm so blasé about women these days. I've also noticed that I'm less afflicted of late by uncontrollable cravings for food. I think the yoga I've been practicing recently—in particular, the mayurasana or "peacock" posture—is responsible for this newfound serenity and control over my animal appetites.

 

I played eye games with some young woman in the cafe. She was attractive, but younger and "sporty" looking (wearing a baseball hat and jeans) so that I can't imagine enjoying her company. She was sitting at an adjacent table with another woman. When this companion left to use the restroom, she seemed to expect me to approach and strike up a conversation or at least smile and let her initiate the conversation, but instead I buried my head in my book until her companion returned. She seemed disappointed in my behavior, whereas I felt no regrets later. I don't know why I no longer seem to care about women. I had masturbated in the morning, but this was my first orgasm in three days and by the afternoon I was once again sexually charged, so lack of sexual desire wasn't the cause of my failure to approach. I wanted sex with this young woman, but not conversation, and yet I can't help thinking that women don't enjoy sex, which means it would have been pointless to have approached her and suggested sex without conversation. (Of course, part of the reason I think women don't enjoy sex is one too many encounters with women like Elizabeth.)

 

Lunch with Helen, who has just returned from her vacation in Hawaii, which was a disaster, she says. I noticed she wasn't wearing her engagement ring. She explained that she and Paul had definitely broken up, that they aren't having sex anymore, and that she was only staying at his apartment for as long as it took for her to find a new apartment for herself. She refuses to return to the studio apartment for which she currently pays rent, because she considers it to be a "hovel". Then she described her trip.

Neither she nor Paul spoke on the drive to the airport nor during the flight, other than as necessary. When they arrived in Hawaii, Helen, who was trying to be nice and effect a rapprochement, offered to drive, despite feeling extremely tired. "Why didn't Paul offer to drive?" I asked. "Because he's an asshole," Helen replied. Due to the time zone difference, it was still early morning, and so they had to wait several hours for check-in time at the condominium. Helen was hungry and wanted to stop at a restaurant and eat, but Paul insisted they get to the condominium as soon as possible. Upon arriving there, he stepped out of the car and strutted about the property with his hands on his hips, shaking his head as if in disapproval.

"I thought you said the room didn't look out over the pool," he complained, which led to some sort of argument and to his refusing to have lunch. So Helen drove off and ate at a restaurant by herself. When she returned, they checked in. As it turns out, their unit had an excellent view of the ocean. Helen had made a point of requesting such a view when she reserved the unit. Paul continued looking for faults, however, until finally, Helen, who was still feeling the effects of insufficient sleep, lost her temper:

"If you don't like this place, then why don't you rent your own condominium?" she snapped.

"I might do that," Paul replied.

They had sex that afternoon (anal, of course, since Helen can't do anything else due to the possibility of her getting aroused and thereby triggering a "bladder infection"), followed by a quiet evening in the condominium. The next day, while driving, Helen found herself wedged in a narrow alley and asked Paul to check clearance on the passenger's side. He replied that it seemed okay. She then asked him to be sure, since it didn't look okay from her angle, whereupon Paul turned in his seat and exploded in fury:

"Yes, I already told you, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" Upon hearing this outburst, Helen felt suddenly terribly fatigued, and so shouted back at Paul:

"This is a vacation, and I didn't come here to be yelled at! If you don't like the way I'm driving, then why don't you go rent a car of your own?"

"I've been thinking of that," Paul replied.

Further hostilities in a restaurant, where Helen again lost her temper, due to continuing feelings of fatigue.

"You don't belong here with decent people. Why don't you go back to that jerk mother and father of yours who never wanted you? That's why you're so messed up. It's because of them," she said.

"You understand, of course, that, after that remark, things can never be normal between us."

"When were they ever normal?"

More squabbling and then finally Paul asked Helen to drive him to the rental car agency, where he rented a car for himself. Afterwards, they drove their two cars back to the condominium, where Paul loaded his luggage into his car, asked Helen for his plane ticket, and then drove away, leaving her in the condominium alone. At first, Helen was relieved to be rid of Paul, but then as it sunk in that he had abandoned her, she became increasingly anxious. She slept poorly that night.

"I don't know why I keep driving my boyfriends away," Helen lamented to me. "Every one of them has abandoned me during a vacation. Including you. Especially you. Maybe it's because of my astrology chart. All my planets are below the horizon except the moon, which is in Aries, and so Aries is how I appear to the world. I'm this sword-wielding warrior woman out looking for battles. And yet inside I'm really a Libra, and Libra's like peace and quiet, and can't live alone."

The next morning, she called twenty or so hotels on the island until she found the one where Paul was staying. He was gruff, until she apologized abjectly for her temper and begged for forgiveness and promised to behave thenceforth. Paul grudgingly accepted her apology, but warned her to be more careful with her words in the future. Then he suggested that she drive over to see the "villa" he had rented, implying that it was much nicer than "her" condominium. And in some respects it was nicer. In particular, it was much larger. One negative aspect was that, unlike Helen's condominium, Paul's villa was so far from the beach that they had to take a shuttle bus to get there and back. The villa cost $375 per night, compared with $96 per night for the condominium. "The same situation as back home. We pay double rent for two places, except his is nicer than mine, and I end staying in his place instead of in mine. And he can always threaten to banish me back to my place if I don't behave."

After showing her around and fixing lunch, Paul pointed to the bedroom, on the upper level, and asked her if she was willing to be all his and to let him do whatever he wanted to her body. Helen replied yes. And so they had anal sex. They had forgotten the lubricant at home, and so used some olive oil instead, which Paul had bought for cooking. For some reason, perhaps the feel of the olive oil, Paul had difficulty coming. In fact, he struggled for almost an hour before finally reaching orgasm. Helen was in a sort of bored daze by the time this ordeal was over and also was suffering from exhausted leg muscles. Meanwhile, some of the olive oil had leaked out and made a mess on the sheets, which caused Paul to joke: "I guess they'll wonder what I was cooking up here."

The next day they enjoyed the various island vacation activities, including sunbathing, swimming and snorkeling. In the course of enjoying themselves, they had several discussions concerning their living arrangements. Upon being presented with the bill for drinks ordered at poolside—$6 each—it occurred to Paul that the cost of the villa itself—$375 per night—was exorbitant. (Why he didn't realize this before is a mystery. Paul's mind works in peculiar ways where money is concerned, it would seem.) The first economy measure he proposed was returning his rental car. But, of course, this would mean separate and distantly spaced living units but a single car, which made little sense. Since Helen had already paid in advance for a week at her condominium, while Paul's villa was being rented a day-to-day basis, they eventually reasoned their way to what should have been the obvious conclusion from the start. Namely, that Paul should return to Helen's condominium and give up his villa. Somehow, Paul managed to make it appear that Helen was to blame for the extra money he had to spend (three nights at the villa at $375 per night, plus three days use of a rental car, plus duplicate groceries to stock the villa's refrigerator) and that he was doing her a favor by returning to her condominium. In order to appease him, Helen agreed to treat him to a fancy dinner for two nights. The decision for him to move back was made late in the day, so that they ended up spending an additional night at the villa. Either that night or the previous day, they engaged in cunnilingus, which caused Helen's "bladder infection" to flare up.

The next two days were passed pleasantly enough, excepting the following incident. One of Helen's ancestors had been in the whaling trade, and her father is currently an aficionado of all things whaling. Helen therefore suggested a trip to what is supposedly the world's largest whaling museum, so as to have something to discuss with her parents. While she wandered through the exhibits, Paul busied himself in the gift shop looking for things to buy. According to Helen, the saleswoman managed to make him feel guilty for having occupied so much of her time without making a single purchase, and thus he was persuaded to buy (among other items) some chopsticks and a set of whale-bone dominoes for $300. Paul expressed great enthusiasm about the possibility of playing dominoes back at the condominium, while listening to some recordings of Hawaiian music that he had bought the same day at another store. Helen felt guilty upon hearing this, since she didn't really like dominoes, and certainly didn't like the game enough to justify spending $300, and felt that it was partly her fault that Paul had spent so much money, since she had been the one to want to visit the whaling museum in the first place and because, in the end, she had advised buying dominoes instead of something else even more expensive. In order to keep Paul's enthusiasm from inflating excessively and then bursting later at the prick of reality, which she knew would cause another quarrel, Helen cautioned: "Don't get your hopes up too high. Dominoes is a pretty boring game." Alas, this remark caused the very tension she was hoping to avoid. Matters came to a head when they finally arrived back at the condominium and commenced playing. Paul informed Helen that a move of hers was illegal. She retracted this move, then inquired about the legality of an alternate move. Paul took offense at her question, as if detecting in it some note of sarcasm. "That's it, I don't want to play anymore," he snapped. Then he packed up the pieces, and they never played or discussed dominoes again. "Imagine having children with someone like that. He acts like a child himself," Helen remarked to me.

Helen retired to bed immediately after this dominoes incident, which cast only a momentary pall over the vacation. The next day was passed pleasantly enough, with more snorkeling, during which Helen spotted a large sea turtle and swam after it for some distance into the ocean, then a short boat ride, then some exploring of the island by car, and finally dinner at a sumptuous all-you-can-eat buffet. After gorging themselves, they sat on a bench in a moonlit garden, looking out over the water and enjoying a balmy breeze—as romantic a setting as can be imagined. Paul asked Helen to remove her underwear, which she did, and then he tried fingering her. Helen, however, had been suffering from a vaginal itch for several days, ever since Paul performed cunnilingus on her, and also wasn't at all wet, so that Paul's finger poking at and prodding and rubbing against her dry cunt was more irritating than erotic, despite the romantic setting.

The next day was the last of their vacation. To save money, Paul wanted to bring back the excess grocery supplies he had bought after renting the $375/night villa, including a jar of mayonnaise (which he doesn't even like, but had bought for Helen's use), the olive oil, and similar items. All these supplies he stuffed into his carry-on bag, which, as a consequence, was heavy and difficult to lug about. Helen suspects that Paul blamed the extra weight on her, because she had forced him to rent the villa and thus buy the extra groceries. Another source of tension was a difference of seating preferences. Paul prefers the window, while Helen prefers the aisle (for easier access to the restroom). Seating was three across on the aircraft, and so both preferences couldn't be honored simultaneously unless they sat apart. As it turns out, Paul was one who had to compromise, since Helen had made the flight arrangements. Finally, there was considerable lingering tension due to the various conflicts during the earlier part of the vacation. All these simmering resentments boiled over during a dispute (much too complex to relate here) concerning the difference between seating on the initial short flight to the international airport, versus the long flight back to the mainland.

"That's it, when we get back, you're moving back to your own apartment!" Paul shouted.

"Good, I'll be glad to get out of there!" Helen shouted back.

The dispute occurred in the airport, and caused a scene. When they arrived back at Paul's apartment, they had both calmed down, and so were able to discuss the situation. Both of them wanted to break up. However, Helen was reluctant to return to her own apartment (which she considers a "hovel") and so Paul agreed to let her continue living with him while she looks for another apartment for herself. "But I don't want this dragging out indefinitely," he stipulated, in setting a two month limit for her apartment search. Helen initially assumed they would be sleeping separately, with her on the sofa in the living room, but then Paul invited her back into his bed, which invitation she accepted. She was determined not to have sex with him anymore, however, and thus far has held to that resolve.

After Helen finished describing her situation with Paul, I gave a brief synopsis of what has happened between myself and Elizabeth.

"Elizabeth wants to get away from me," I explained. "She is even thinking of moving to another city. As long as we're living nearby, she can't stop from calling me. That's because she's in love with me. She told me that."

"I'm sure you found that very flattering," Helen remarked.

"According to her, the reason she stays with me is because she has a self-esteem problem. Though I explained that I am much less abusive to her than I was to you."

"That's because I have even lower self-esteem. Why else would I stay with men like you and Paul?"

"She's planning to cut her hair short after her vacation to Europe and then give up on men entirely."

"I don't know about cutting her hair off. Looking good is very important in the business world. But I can certainly understand about wanting to give up on men."

Then Helen asked if Elizabeth and I were using a condom. I replied no, that we both enjoyed sex more without a condom, that Elizabeth probably wouldn't get pregnant due to her premature menopause as a result of chemotherapy, but that it was possible we both wanted her to get pregnant.

"She wants to get pregnant all right," commented Helen. "And what about me? I may be needing your services soon. Do you want to have two kids? By different mothers?" I said nothing at the time, but wondered later: do I really want children? And do I want them with Helen? I want her as part of my life, but do I really want her closer to me than she is now? There is something about her that frightens me. She gives off a sort of frenzied destructive energy, caused (I believe) by her inability to have a proper orgasm.

In the evening, Helen stopped by the cafe, where I was reading and sipping tea, and we ordered snacks and talked some more. She is thinking of getting a master's degree in business administration in order to qualify for a better job at the corporation where she currently works. Finally, I'm happy to see, her career plans are becoming realistic, though I doubt she is willing to put the time and energy into studying for a degree while simultaneously working, especially since she has a poor mathematics background (she barely passed algebra, and was never exposed to trigonometry, calculus or probability and statistics) and so will have to take various remedial courses and will still have considerable difficulty with the math-oriented economics and finance courses. But I didn't discourage her. She'll discover these difficulties for herself. She is currently investigating available degree programs in the area.

 

I got caught up playing one of the stupid computer games that came with my operating system. Three hours in a sort of trance, at the end of which time my eyes were bleary and my hands sore and I felt utterly disgusted with myself and angry and guilty at having wasted time. While I sometimes have similar but much milder regrets about time spent oversleeping, I seldom regret hours passed masturbating, or lying in bed daydreaming, or standing on a street corner, or sitting in the cafe and looking aimlessly out the window. Why don't I consider these ways of passing time to be as much a waste as playing computer games?

 

Lunch with Helen. Another dispute between her and Paul, due to Helen's bringing along a sweater when they went out, in case of cold, and then carrying the sweater with the arms wrapped around her waist. Paul considered this inelegant. The proper way to have carried the sweater would have been with the arms wrapped around her neck, in his opinion. Helen talked again about our possibly having children together. I replied that the answer was no, unless and until she learned to enjoy normal sex. "A woman with a repressed sex drive is destructive," I said.

 

Mark called and asked me when I planned to visit. I replied with a flood of empty words, as if to block all real communication. Something about having been stressed out by my trip to Guatemala and going into hibernation which is why I hadn't called, but that I planned to call, and how is he doing, that's great, and so on. He apparently got the message that I wasn't interested in talking and cut the conversation off after about twenty minutes. I don't know why I have no desire to talk to or see him anymore.

 

Helen called and left a message, asking if I wanted to go with her on a trip she will be taking next month. The purpose of this trip is to use some airline credits for a ticket she bought but never used last year. (The original ticket was to accompany Paul to visit his rich friend. Due a fight between her and Paul, she didn't go on that trip.) I didn't call her back, but my intention is to decline this invitation. I don't want to spend long periods of time in Helen's company unless she is willing to have normal sex.

 

I masturbated to orgasm, exercised, lounged about the apartment, then sat in the cafe for three hours, reading and staring a young brunette at the adjacent table, with a body reminiscent of Helen's. Then an hour standing on a street corner, then back to my apartment where I napped and masturbated again, then an hour standing on another street corner, then several hours browsing on the internet. A typical day, in other words.

 

I received an email from the man from Guatemala who had talked with me about possibly visiting the United States this summer. This is the guy I taught salsa dancing to, not the homosexual. The visit is now confirmed and he wants to know if I'll be in town when he is here. Does he want to stay with me? I don't like being rude, but I also have no desire to see or hear from this person again.

 

I checked into my business email account today for the first time in months. Amazingly enough, people are still sending in orders, even though I haven't been accepting orders since over nine months ago and I've indicated that the product is "free" since about six months ago. There were about five hundred emails backed up. I cancelled the email download after receiving twenty. Just thinking about that business and the money I might have made from it makes me dizzy. And what about the money I might have had from properly investing in the stock market instead of keeping so much of my wealth in cash? And what would I do with that money? For whatever reason, I'm unwilling to hire prostitutes. But other than sex, what do I want from life?

Yesterday, while walking down the street, I thought to myself: "I don't care if I die." Am I suicidal? I don't feel suicidal. Am I depressed? Not in my opinion. But I have no goals in life, and so it hardly seems worth worrying whether I die tomorrow or live another hundred years. I float along from day to day, struggling more or less successfully to avoid the various missteps that might lead to pain: overeating; eating the wrong foods (onions, garlic, monosodium glutamate); lack of exercise; hurting myself during exercises due to lack of proper warm-up; oversleeping; sleeping poorly; excessive masturbation; allowing myself to feel anxiety, boredom, guilt, anger, or other unpleasant or destructive emotions; running out of reading material and other ways to occupy time.

 

I worked on a fix for a programming problem Helen sent me. Computer programming is probably the only activity that ever came naturally to me. I took to it from day one like a duck to water, and my skills as a programmer continue to be excellent. Unfortunately, this success means nothing to me now. I want to be a good salsa dancer, a good lover, an expert at yoga, fluent in Spanish—anything and everything but a good programmer.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. For some reason, however, I was feeling tense and unable to enjoy myself. Too bad, since there was a surplus of attractive women. I danced only once, the first song, with a beautiful young silky-haired redhead, who smiled at me, and asked for my name, and gave various other indications of interest, but who, for some strange reason, utterly failed to excite me, even when we pressed close together in the cuddle position. It wasn't her fault, since I felt equally bored by the other women. I sat out the remaining songs of the set, and then left during the first break.

On the bus home there was a prostitute in her thirties, with a hard and jaded expression on her face. A woman who has sucked and ridden more cocks than she cares to count, and for whom sex is now just a boring routine. Is this the sort of woman I'll be having sex with in the future, I wonder?

 

Lunch with Helen. She is currently feeling exhausted due to lack of sleep, because of something Paul did last night. She refused to give specifics, however, other than muttering darkly about "a knife in the back" and "he'll be nice tonight, since he'll be feeling guilty after what he did, assuming he's capable of feeling guilt". When I pressed for details, she became heated: "You make me feel like Scheherazade. Each day a new tale if I want to have lunch with you. I don't know what game you're playing where I have to tell you all these things so you can write them in your journal. It just doesn't feel right." Later, she asked me to give her enough money that she wouldn't have to work for a living: "All that money you have is a burden to you. You're too feeble to be toting around that huge load, and you know it. Give some of that burden to me, and you'd feel much better. We'd both feel better. A win-win proposition." Then she bemoaned ever having left graduate school in literature: "I was happy there. Like a little fish swimming about in the ocean. Sure I caught my fin on a piece of coral, but that was just a temporary setback. I would have broken free eventually. There was no reason to yank me out and throw me on the sand and leave me gasping for air. That's what computer programming is like for me. Taken from my natural element and thrown onto the sand and left gasping for air. Gasping!"

 

A disheveled man with a shaved head and a jaw clenched as with grim determination, walked hurriedly past me as I stood watching the street scene, then suddenly paused and threw down his coat and knelt, with his forehead against the pavement, as if praying like a Moslem. He remained in this position for no more than a minute, then rose, shook his head, looked about with an insane gleam in his eye, clenched his jaw even more tightly than before, picked up his coat, and rushed off in the same direction he had initially been moving. About fifteen minutes later, he came hurrying back. About fifty paces from where he had stopped originally, he stopped again, and performed the same prayer-like ritual as before, but this time facing in the opposite direction. Later, a scowling old man in a motorized wheelchair came speeding down the sidewalk without regard to the pedestrians in his way. Every twenty seconds or so he would let loose with a load roaring of the word "Faggots!", in a rasping, angry-sounding voice. The first of these outbursts shocked me, the second caused me to start laughing. "What do you find so amusing?" asked a ragged looking old woman hobbling past about this time. I didn't reply, as the question seemed rhetorical, as if she were annoyed by my laughter.

 

I've decided to replace my existing desk by a much higher desk or table, which will allow me to work on the computer while standing up. Sitting erect for hours, as I do now, works wonders for my back and stomach, but does nothing for my legs. Standing erect will exercise all of these muscles.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening, at a nearby nightclub. An extraordinarily successful evening, which completely makes up for the fiasco yesterday. This morning, I had engaged in something of a masturbation orgy, and while this probably didn't cause tonight's success, it clearly didn't hurt my performance either. And thus so much for my worries about masturbating on days when I plan to go dancing. I danced five times, to songs that lasted over ten minutes each, with four different woman. All seemed flushed with sexual excitement when the dancing finished and asked for my name and gave me theirs. The first of these women even asked for a repeat dance, which of course I agreed to. She was attractive—in her twenties, pretty face, brown hair, fleshy and large framed, but not fat or out of shape. We talked briefly, then I shrugged and smiled as if to politely indicate that our conversation was over. She returned to the bar where she had been sitting before with a companion, and was immediately approached by various men my age and older, who began talking to her. I don't think anyone else asked her to dance, however. The other three women seemed as interested in making my acquaintance as this first woman, but I carefully avoided them all after our one dance together was over.

 

I don't know why I have so little interest in women these days. Is it because I feel committed to Helen? Surely at least some of these women I encounter have expectations similar to mine—an affair of several months duration at the most. Never have I felt so many women desirous of making my acquaintance as these past few weeks, and never have I been so apathetic. It's as if, after all these years of obsessing over women and the pain they cause me and the advantages of masturbation compared to real sex, I've finally gotten what I always wanted—to be free of desire, and thus also free of the pain caused by unfulfilled desire. In blunter terms, I've always wanted to be "burned-out" about women and sex, and now, finally, it seems I am burned-out.

Upon returning to my apartment, I masturbated furiously to images of the first woman I danced with, swapping between fantasies of fucking her while being myself, and being her while being fucked by myself.

 

Lunch with Helen, who revealed the details of Paul's "heinous deed". It seems that some time ago, Paul bought a pair of expensive tickets ($150 each) to a concert by one of Helen's favorite rock musicians. This concert is to take place next month. After returning from the trip to Hawaii, with their subsequent agreement to break up, Paul told Helen that she was no longer invited to accompany him to this concert, and that instead he planned to take a "friend" from work. As if to mollify her, since she was visibly peeved at this news, he said: "I'm not doing this to hurt you, but rather to benefit myself." An explanation which hardly made her feel any better, she complained to me: "It was as if he were saying, you're so completely out of the picture that I don't even think about you any more." But what really made her upset was her later discovery of the identity of this "friend".

Several weeks ago, Paul had told Helen how a woman from work, who found him attractive but was married herself, had offered to introduce him to her sister. Paul had refused this offer on the grounds that he was "engaged". (The purpose of telling Helen this story was no doubt to simultaneously prove his desirability to other women as well as his fidelity to her.) Upon returning from the trip to Hawaii, Paul went immediately to the woman at work and told her that he was no longer engaged, and was thus available to meet her sister. This was the "friend" he was taking to the concert instead of Helen. Several times Helen had joked about not caring if Paul had a mistress on the side, as long as he allowed Helen to remain in his apartment, but she never really expected him to get another woman. Now she realizes that he is serious about breaking up, and that their days together are numbered, and soon enough she will be alone again, and back to living in her own apartment—the infamous "hovel".

 

I bought some plastic boxes with which to raise my desk so that I can work at it standing up. I soon discovered that standing while working on the computer quickly becomes tiring and uncomfortable. But this discomfort will pass, of that I'm sure, as my leg and back muscles become stronger. The same period of adjustment as when I first began to sit straight (without ever using the chair back, that is). The boxes cost $23. If the experiment works, I may replace these boxes, and the old desk which stands on them, with something more attractive.

 

While walking home from the cafe, I stopped off at one of the topless dance joints, and stared in distaste at a photo of a woman with breasts inflated by implants to the size of basketballs. As I turned away, still shaking my head, my eyes met those of a woman in her late forties, petite and with normal sized breasts. As we drew near, she said something, which I assumed was an offer of sex for money—"Want a date?" or something similar. I shook my head in reply, and then later I wondered to myself why I hadn't at least spoken to the woman. Even if she did want money, I might easily have been able to bargain her down, with some excuse about not being able to afford more than $100 or so. For all I know, she might have been offering free sex. She was not at all bad-looking, and there was evident sexual energy between us. Probably she wanted me as much as I wanted her. What a difficult catch I am! What sort of woman will finally break through my knee-jerk "no"?

 

For some reason, I woke up early this morning (six am) after having gone to sleep at the usual hour of midnight. For want of anything better to do, I started masturbating, and two hours later came, which was a mistake, since immediately upon coming my desire for sex completely disappeared. By ten am, I was finished with my exercises, breakfast and showering—and without a thing to do all day. Now I know why I'm normally so slow to get up in the morning. I'm subconsciously trying to prevent this unpleasant condition of having excess time on my hands. After all, it is much more enjoyable to be half-asleep and dreaming and than wide awake with nothing to read, nothing to do, and nowhere to go except the cafe. But if I go to the cafe in the morning, then what will I do in the afternoon and evening? Furthermore, I'm still adjusting to the effort of standing while working instead of sitting, which makes spending all day browsing on the internet an unattractive proposition. It isn't so much that my legs are weak, as that my natural tendency when doing mind work is to sit. Standing seems unnatural and uncomfortable currently. I am determined to persist with my new standing-only scheme, however, until this unnatural feeling is overcome.

 

I worked with Helen over the phone for about an hour, helping her to fix a bug in one of the programs she is modifying. The problem stems from how the programming language distinguishes between upper and lower case spelling. A very bad design feature, which seems as if calculated to cause difficulties for novice programmers. Then we had lunch together. Last night she slept poorly, but didn't give details as to why. On the walk back to her place of work, we discussed possibly getting back together, since she is now positive that she and Paul will be breaking up for good.

"He's something of a gigolo," she explained, "and this other woman he's taking to the concert is an engineer, and thus probably earns a good salary, and so he will probably be thinking that if he hooks up with her and then later becomes unemployed, she can support him much better than I'd be able to do. I think he realizes now that just because my parents live in a big house doesn't mean I'm rich or ever will be rich. It all hinges on this other woman. If she accepts him, it's over for me."

I reiterated that her inability to enjoy sex was the major cause of our breaking up initially, and would continue to be an obstacle between us. As usual, this topic caused Helen to become agitated. "I can't be fixed until I can get away from all this stress!"

 

I sent an email response to the man from Guatemala who wrote me earlier this month, notifying him that I would be in town next month, when he is proposing to visit, and offering to put him up for a few days if he needed lodging. Why I did this, I don't know. I'll almost certainly regret my hospitality later—of that I'm sure. But I feel bad about being other than hospitable, for some reason.

 

Several hours in the cafe, then live salsa dancing in the evening, where I danced about fifteen times to songs of five minutes or so each. Several followers danced well and closely, others danced poorly or pushed me so far away that the dancing was boring. Altogether an excellent evening, however. Tremendous sexual energy with a petite woman in her thirties, a beginning dancer, who I clasped close during the three songs we danced together. "I liked the way you held me tight. It made me feel so secure," she said afterwards, smiling and seemingly unable to keep from staring at me. Alas, when I bought her a drink and we sat a table to talk, it turned out we had nothing to say to one another, though there was still a strong sexual attraction between us. "I really enjoyed dancing with you," she said for the third or fourth time, finally breaking a long and awkward pause in our conversation. I didn't bother to ask for her number, but instead gave her my number and suggested she call me some time, though I doubt she will do so, given how little we had to say to one another tonight.

 

Lunch with Helen, where I helped her with some programming problems from work. We got together again in the evening. She stopped by my apartment briefly, we had dinner at a restaurant, I stopped by her apartment after dinner. During lunch, we had overheard a woman discussing how she wanted to "hurry up" and have children before it was too late, while at dinner, there was a couple at another table accompanied by a baby, so Helen naturally brought the subject of children up again. I pointed out that several other women I had dated had talked of using a sperm bank and raising a child alone if they couldn't find a man to marry. Why doesn't Helen have such strong views about wanting children? Then I said that I can't see how we will ever be able to make it as a couple until she learns to enjoy sex. She mentioned that Paul was similarly dissatisfied with their sex life. She speculated that I wouldn't like her if she wanted sex, because she would then be a "whore" like Elizabeth and Karen, instead of a "madonna", a notion I scoffed at. I urged her again to try yoga and practice masturbating. She nodded in assent, then hurried to change the subject.

 

Helen called, inviting me to breakfast. I replied that I had already eaten, which was not really true, as I was then in the middle of eating breakfast. But it is simply too frustrating to be around her if she refuses to engage in sex. If she wants to be a nun, then let her live alone, was my feeling. She called again in the late afternoon, and we agreed to have an early dinner together.

Most of the day she had spent looking at apartments. Yesterday, she gave notice to her landlord that she plans to vacate her current apartment in thirty days. As we lay talking on her bed after dinner (we hugged but didn't kiss or have sex), she began to have second thoughts about this apartment move, and then she mentioned the possibility of going back on the pill for the first time in almost a decade: "I'm sick of this butt-fucking, and Paul won't wear a condom. Also, the gynecologist said the pill might help with my bladder and yeast infections." I thus got the impression that she is still thinking of patching things up with Paul, in which case it makes little sense for her to commit to a lease on a new and more expensive apartment for herself, given that she won't be spending much time in this new apartment. As for Paul, he has invited her to stay at his apartment temporarily if she can't find a new apartment of her own within the next thirty days, which makes me think he is likewise mulling the possibility of their reconciling. He certainly doesn't sound anxious to have her gone.

As for Helen and myself, it became clear, as the hours passed, that we are incapable of spending large amounts of time together, perhaps because of the strong underlying but frustrated sexual attraction between us. We both felt exhausted by the end of five hours together, and anxious to separate. Helen complained of some sort of vaginal itch, which I suggested was nothing more than sexual arousal, though whether for me or for Paul, I couldn't be sure. Eventually, after squabbling about this and other topics, I left, with Helen planning to call Paul and ask to spend the night at his apartment, since she didn't want to spend it in her own.

 

I arranged a date tomorrow with a woman who answered my latest personal ad. Age thirty-four, teaches ballroom dance for a living, occasionally goes ballroom and salsa dancing with men friends who are not also lovers. She doesn't like going anywhere alone, because she "attracts too much attention due to her striking looks". She mentioned that she had been to the same salsa club I had visited two weeks ago—a night when I was in a bad mood. I hope I didn't do something rude to offend her then.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. Wonderful chemistry with a beautiful dark-haired woman in her late forties with whom I danced twice. She didn't even know the basic, but nevertheless we managed to move together with complete grace. During our second dance, she pushed herself close, so that her crotch rubbed against my thigh. I thought about talking to her afterwards, but then decided I'd rather not risk spoiling the wonderful memory of our dance by an awkward conversation. Though perhaps I should have at least tried talking to her, given the intensity of the sexual energy between us. Most of my other dance experiences tonight were mediocre.

 

The dance instructor was fifteen minutes late for our date, which normally wouldn't bother me, since I always grant at least thirty minutes leeway, except that on my previous date made through a personals ad (three weeks ago) the woman stood me up completely. I've had several bad streaks in the past, where one woman after another stood me up, and so I began to worry that this was going to happen again, but it didn't.

We wandered around a street fair, and then ate lunch at a restaurant. I paid, though she politely offered to chip in, probably without expecting me to take her up on the offer. Our conversation was on various topics, with me asking open-ended questions and her doing most of the talking.

She has five siblings, of whom two are married, with a total of six children between these two. "That's enough," she said, evidently meaning that her parents had enough grandchildren that she didn't feel obligated to produce more. She likes reading short stories, has many plants in her apartment, occasionally goes to movies or the theater, and tries to travel out of the country once a year. Her latest such trip was to Mexico, where she was constantly approached by the native men, whose bluntly sexual overtures she found repulsive. A previous trip was to Scotland, where her fair skin and red hair for once didn't stand out as remarkable, but she complains the men there were equally forward. As for the men here in the United States, she complains they don't "know borders". When I asked for details, she said something about men wanting her as a sort of "trophy", due to her looks and glamorous profession. She reminds me strongly of Karen, and not merely in appearance. There is the same sensitivity, the same strong sexual energy between us as existed between myself and Karen, the same complaints about other men being wolves. Even her choice of expressions and tone of voice resembles that of Karen. But she isn't bitter and depressed the way Karen was.

We talked for a while about salsa, during which discussion I apparently offended her by throwing out some of my own pet theories about dance. I was invading her turf, in other words, whereupon she launched into something of a rant about how I was one of the "fringe freaks" who were tolerated in the dance world as providing an audience for the real dancers, despite being mediocre dancers themselves. I was surprised, but not offended, by this outburst. After all, Karen provided me with plenty of practice dealing with women with fiery tempers.

She attended college on a scholarship, where she studied music-flute and singing. For twelve years afterwards, she attempted to make a career as a professional musician, but eventually gave up this ambition. She didn't explain why. Prior to becoming a dance instructor, she held various jobs to support herself. For a while she managed a retail musical instruments store, then later she was a housekeeper/concierge for rich people. In addition to giving instruction in ballroom dancing, she also competes professionally. I asked about her motivations for competing.

"Partly, I've always been a driven person and dance is where I'm currently focusing these competitive energies. Previously it was music and singing. Partly, I get a thrill from being praised for artistic accomplishment. The same thrill I used to get when people applauded after a musical performance. And partly it's a business move, for my career as a ballroom dance instructor. The more successful I am competing, the more I can charge students. Also, it might help extend my career past the time when my looks fade," she said.

"I don't understand," I said.

"Ballroom dance is about illusion. The illusion of romance and beauty. Long dresses for the women and men in tuxedos. A dream world of beautiful men and women. When people pay for dance instruction, they are paying for that illusion. They want to dance with beautiful young instructors. Sometimes it's hard to admit that people are hiring me for my looks instead of my ability to give dance instruction, but that's the reality of this business."

She eagerly accepted my suggestion of another date. "I was about to suggest the same thing myself," she said. Her schedule is busy next week, but this weekend appears free. I promised to call in the middle of the week to finalize our plans. As we said goodbye, she clasped my hand tightly.

 

Lunch with Helen. We agreed that our having children together or getting back together as lovers is out of question, based on how we couldn't even spend five hours together on Saturday. Then I discussed my meeting yesterday with the dance instructor, while Helen discussed her continued search for a new apartment. She and Paul have reached a state of "mature détente", based on the understanding that they will be breaking up soon and that she will be moving to a new apartment. She is currently suffering from a bladder infection, which she blames on masturbating last night for the first time in who knows how long. "You're probably not masturbating correctly," I retorted.

 

After lunch, I sat for several hours in the cafe, studying Spanish for want of anything to read, then returned to my apartment, where I spent the evening browsing the internet while listening to music. For the past five days or so, I have been practicing shifting my masturbation activity to the nighttime—to just before going to sleep—in order to prepare myself for relations with a new girlfriend, such as the dance instructor, for example. The secret is to force myself to masturbate, despite my normal absence of desire late at night, since if I don't masturbate at night, I'll be highly aroused the next day and thus unable to control myself. Unfortunately, sometimes I am aroused in the morning despite having masturbated the night before. This was the case today, when I couldn't resist indulging in a dry orgasm just before getting out of bed.

 

I called the dance instructor and left a message on her answering machine. This was at about half past eight in the morning. Where does she go so early, I wonder? I called her again later, and reached her this time. We decided that our date for this Friday would be dinner at a restaurant.

 

Karen called and left a message while I was out at the cafe, saying she is currently in town and wants to meet me. My balls started aching with desire immediately upon hearing her voice, and I'm sure she feels the same lust for me. But then what about my new relationship with the dance instructor? I don't want to spoil that. Perhaps Karen and I can get together in the middle of this week. I called the number she gave, but got the answering machine of some woman I don't know (possibly the friend she is staying with), and so left a message of my own.

 

Helen called, saying she is back in her own apartment, and might decide to stay there instead of moving, and then suggested we have dinner together. I declined, because of plans to go dancing, and then told her about Karen being in town, at which news she whistled: "All these women in your life now."

 

Salsa lessons in the evening. My first such lessons in months. I learned nothing new, though I did manage to practice a move I haven't used in nightclubs before, probably because it isn't safe on a crowded dance floor, though I might want to add it to my repertoire for when the floor is empty. Aside from the class being boring, I didn't particularly care for the atmosphere of the dance studio where it was being taught. I felt like I was back in school, being told what to do and then constantly corrected for not doing things exactly as the teacher wants. In nightclubs, by contrast, it is understood that the goal of dancing is to get close to the opposite sex, and the only rule that counts is to do what works. There is no one correct method, in other words, though there are conventions that most dancers follow. Earlier in the day, I ordered a instructional video for learning the cha-cha. Some of the live bands play an occasional cha-cha, and so I need to improve my repertoire with that dance style.

 

A telephone solicitor called from the local newspaper. "Fuck you asshole! Don't ever call me again, fuckhead!" I roared into the phone. It's amazing how cheerful I feel after such an outburst.

 

I left another message for Karen, and then called her work number and left a message there, in case she gave me the wrong number here in town. As it turns out, that is exactly what happened. She gave me a wrong number, as we discovered when she called me back later. She has moved back to the city permanently from the east coast. She was never happy there, and thought she might get together with a boyfriend here. But those hopes were dashed when she arrived. It appears he has been seeing another woman, and is not interested in a permanent relationship with Karen. "He was worse than you. Not only didn't he want to live with me, he wouldn't even tell me anything about himself, and now things are finished between us. So first there was the stress of the move, and now I have a broken heart to go along with it," she complains. She is staying with an old woman friend, and will be looking for an apartment once her furniture arrives.

She hates her current job as a traveling consultant, which involves long hours, much traveling and great deal of stress. For the past two months, she has been on disability leave for pain in her wrists (carpal tunnel syndrome). She expects to be fired in the near future, because "they hate me and I hate them", and then do temp work while looking for another permanent job.

We agreed to possibly have lunch or dinner this weekend, after she finishes storing her furniture. My original impression was that she was merely visiting the area, in which case it would be nice to get in a quick fuck with her before starting a relationship with the dance instructor. But given that she is moving here permanently, I'll have to reconsider this idea. I have no intention of trying to maintain a harem (that is, both Karen and the dance instructor). My current preference is for the dance instructor, though I might be making a mistake here. Karen is a known quantity. She likes sex with me, I like sex with her, and we get along fairly well. On the other hand, Karen may be having money problems in the near future, and has always been unstable emotionally. If things with the dance instructor don't work out, then I will definitely try to resume relations with Karen.

Karen called again in early evening, to say she would be free tomorrow. Previously, she had thought the movers were coming tomorrow to deliver her furniture. So we arranged a dinner date. Now I'm worried that she might be expecting sex. What should I do? I'd like to postpone, until after I get a better idea of what sort of person this dance instructor is, in which case I'll have to devise some sort of story to tell Karen. For example, I might say that my date on Friday (I've already told Karen I have a date then) is with my previous girlfriend (Elizabeth), with whom I am in the process of breaking up (I had previously told Karen that we "were" broken up—past tense) and I want to be sure the break up is complete before starting a new sexual relationship. I can't tell her the date is with a new woman, since that suggests that I find this new woman preferable in some way to Karen, which Karen might find insulting. The fact is that I do prefer the dance instructor. But why? I know Karen is sexually compatible, whereas I am only guessing about the dance instructor. I know Karen wants a relationship with me, whereas I can't be sure of what the dance instructor wants. Nevertheless, I want to at least see where this thing with the dance instructor goes. The energy between was very strong on our last date.

 

Helen stopped by the cafe after work, while I was still there. She was on her way to look at apartments for rent. Last night, she slept at her own apartment. It appears that the "détente" with Paul is not going so well. "Détente is not the same as peace. You may not be aware of that distinction. I've noticed you're somewhat ignorant when it comes to diplomacy," she said to me. Once the apartment issue is resolved, she plans to place a new personals ad, specifying that she wants "an average Joe with a low libido".

"Both you and Paul keep wanting sex constantly. That's why I have to get a decent apartment for myself. Somewhere I don't have to worry about being pawed all the time. Especially when I know where things are leading. Believe me, that doesn't interest me in the least," she said. Last night, for the first time in months, she had a dream about normal vaginal sex, which she takes as a sign of recovery from the long nightmare of alternating between living with Paul and living in her own "hovel" of an apartment.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. I only stayed an hour, as I was feeling tired and bloated from overeating at the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet. Of my six dances, two were memorable. First, a beautiful, slender, obviously intelligent blonde in her twenties. The sort of woman I would be sizing up as a potential wife and mother for my children, assuming I were interested in such things. She was a beginner, and drew herself close so that my legs bumped against the insides of her thighs as we danced, and then she squeezed my hand afterwards. Second, a heavy older woman with whom I always have good dance energy. A sizeable surplus of very attractive women of all ages, so that if I had stayed and had more energy, I might have had a wonderful time. This nightclub is getting better and better.

 

Lunch with Helen. The past two nights she has spent in her own apartment, where she has managed to get more or less acceptable sleep, despite being woken sometimes at three in the morning when her upstairs neighbor returns from work. She cancelled her notice to her landlord about moving out, but continues to look at apartments. Her current plan is to spend some time living by herself, so as to determine whether her objection to her current apartment is because it truly is a "hovel", or simply because she can't bear to live alone. If the latter is the case, it makes little sense to rent another apartment.

I told Helen about my current problem of having to decide which of Karen and the dance instructor to pursue. Helen recommended I have a fling with Karen, and then ditch her if I decide I like the dance instructor more.

 

I had arranged to meet Karen outside my apartment building. She parked her car, then we hugged passionately while standing on the sidewalk, our bodies pressed together, our crotches rubbing. She is looking very good these days, despite all her dire talk during our telephone conversation about having "lost her looks". She even seems to have new breast implants. I invited her up for a brief look at my apartment, which surprised her by being much nicer than she had expected: "When you told me you were living on skid row, I had this image of a complete dump."

We ate dinner at a restaurant, and talked about our lives since we had last seen one another. She mentioned that she plans to live with her woman friend all summer, and possibly even until the end of the year, sleeping on the sofa the whole while—a dubious arrangement if there every was one, in my opinion, though I didn't say anything. As it is, after only a week together, there are already frictions between her and this friend. The friend is annoyed at how many calls Karen is receiving, so that Karen had to buy a mobile phone to keep the peace, while Karen disapproves of how the friend drinks alone in her room at night. (Karen is a recovering alcoholic herself.)

As usual, Karen had no emergency fund in the bank when she decided to make her cross-country move, and so to pay for this move (her employer wouldn't pay since it wasn't work related), she temporarily returned to working as a prostitute. I didn't press for details, but she volunteered that this recent bout of prostitution was as a dominatrix, and that she had bought a supply of whips and chains and similar sex toys. Supposedly, she has no desire to work as a prostitute in the future.

After dinner, we walked back to my apartment.

"Would you like to come up for tea?" I asked, since it seemed rude not to invite her in.

"Sure," she replied. As we climbed the three flights of stairs (I dislike waiting for the elevator), she patted my behind lightly, and said, "This stair climbing must be how you keep in shape."

"Do that again and maybe I'll swat you," I said.

"I might like that," she said.

When we arrived at my apartment, I embraced her, and she embraced me back, and soon enough we were partially undressed, with me sucking on her breasts and massaging her cunt through her tights. "Don't tease me!" she cried out. So I began to undress her, and then she disappeared into the bathroom for a while, during which time my erection withered. It was her menstrual period, so I spread a plastic table cloth under the sheet in order to avoid a mess on the rug. I had some trouble getting my erection back, but finally managed to do so, and put on a condom, and entered her, and fucked her missionary style to her usual ten orgasms. I had some difficult coming myself, partly because I've grown unaccustomed to condoms during the months I was with Elizabeth, and partly because I simply wasn't very aroused. So I pulled out and we rested and talked for a while.

"What do you think about men who shoot blanks?" she asked.

"What are you talking about?" I said.

"The man has an orgasm but nothing comes out."

"Maybe the man had too many orgasms in a row and ran out of semen. What of it?"

"The woman won't know that the man has come."

"What does she care?"

"She won't be satisfied if he doesn't come."

In other words, she seemed to be hinting that she was disappointed that I hadn't come. A while later she informed me that she couldn't spend the night because the movers were coming tomorrow and she had to be there to greet them at eight am. My plan was to fuck again tomorrow morning, at which time I would be sure to come, but now I realized that I had to come tonight or else she would obsess over my lack of orgasm and might not want to see me any more. So I forced myself to get hard again, even though I had no desire to fuck more, then banged her hard and came powerfully. She might have come several more times herself, but I was bellowing and thrashing about so violently that I didn't notice. We were both sore afterwards.

"This was certainly a warm welcome back to West Metropolis," she said as she was leaving. I walked her down to her car and promised to take her salsa dancing some time soon.

I don't know why I was so worried about compromising myself by getting involved with Karen while simultaneously pursuing the dance instructor. The important thing was that I more or less made it clear to Karen that I'm not currently available, by telling her a story about still being somewhat involved with Elizabeth, so she knows that tonight was just a fling, albeit a fling that might be repeated in the future.

 

Dinner in the evening with the dance instructor. She seems considerably more than thirty-four years old, which is what she told me her age is, though perhaps not. Some women do indeed wrinkle rapidly. She also seemed much less pretty today than at our last date. I found myself with little to say, so that the burden of keeping the conversation going fell almost entirely on her. We talked about the food we were eating, and about dancing, and similar trivial topics. While discussing our respective travels in Latin America, she again mentioned how the native men had never tired of making sexual propositions, all of which she rejected. "It was like a sort of game," she said, laughing. Then she asked about my family, and so I told her some of the sordid details of my lawsuit with my sister and father. She hinted that her own father had been overbearing and sexist (because she was a girl, he hadn't wanted to spend money on her education, and had advised her to learn typing so as to prepare for a career as a secretary, and so forth), and that she didn't really like the rest of her family either, and avoids them as much as possible, other than for attending occasional family gatherings, such as weddings and Christmas. In order to clarify the sort of relationship I was looking for, I discussed my feelings about children. Namely, that I sometimes toyed with the idea of having them, and I didn't hate them, but then neither did I particularly want them, and this is why I had never married or had children. She replied that she didn't have a strong desire for children herself, which seems to jibe with what my intuition indicates, which is that she has far less desire for children than either Helen or Elizabeth, and possibly as little as Karen. I told her I had broken up with my previous girlfriend because she wanted to get married and have children (a partial lie—Elizabeth never complained about wanting children, but rather about wanting marriage and a house), and then asked if she had ever been married herself. She replied that she had been engaged several times, but that the men always seemed to change after the engagement. Her voice seemed to change as she talked. It didn't sound like she really loved any of these men she had been engaged to. Several of them had been control freaks, and others had been unemployed. One man, for example, wanted her to give up dancing because he didn't like her being around other men. She broke off her engagement to him after he accused her of sleeping with one of her students. I got the impression that she deliberately chose men who would mistreat her, so that she would have an excuse to break up with them later and thereby avoid involvement.

After dinner, she drove me back to my apartment and double parked out front.

"Would you like to come up for tea? Herbal tea if you're sensitive to caffeine?" I offered. It was about ten pm and neither of us had engagements for tomorrow morning, so it seemed reasonable that we wouldn't separate yet, unless because one or both of us had no desire to continue dating.

"I'll take a rain check on that," she replied. I leaned over and kissed her while squeezing her thigh with one hand and touching the back of her neck with the other. She responded by opening her mouth wide and taking my tongue inside, and otherwise acting like a woman who wanted to be kissed. But then after about a minute, she pulled away. When she spoke, her voice sounded anxious: "I can see you've enjoyed yourself. But now I've got to go. I'm blocking traffic."

"There's a parking garage right there. I'll pay the parking fee," I said.

"Oh, no, you don't have to do that."

"The offer to come up and have tea still stands."

"I'm not sure I'd get out alive. But maybe some other time."

Then I asked for her schedule next week, and she ran through it, and came to the conclusion that she was busy every night, but that we might be able to get together for a few hours in the afternoon on a weekday. I promised to call her early next week to make arrangements for another date. Then I leaned over and kissed her again, and again she opened her mouth wide and took my tongue inside, and then pulled away a minute later and said: "I've really got to go now."

The offer to call her next week was just a formality. It's clear that she either isn't interested in sex or else has hang-ups about sex, and other than for sex, I'm not particularly interested in her.

 

I awoke at the reasonable hour of eight, but in an extraordinarily lazy mood, and ended up remaining in bed all morning, masturbating without coming (in case I haven't noted this recently, "bed" consists of a rug on the floor, over which I lay a flannel sheet, with a down comforter above for warmth), and didn't manage to finish my exercises until near two in the afternoon, and even then only performed an abbreviated workout. After eating and showering, I dragged myself to the cafe, and studied Spanish vocabulary there for three hours. It is fortunate that I have this interest in Spanish at the moment, since I'm currently lacking in any books I want to read and don't how I would otherwise spend my hours at the cafe.

 

Karen called and left a message while I was out. I called back and left a message on her answering machine. Though I had second thoughts as I was doing this. There is no question that having sex with a real woman has certain advantages as compared with masturbation. Unfortunately, the advantage isn't clear cut, and thus I am bothered by doubts and inner conflicts. One minute I wish I were fucking Karen or some other woman, the next minute I thank my lucky stars that I'm alone. I am reminded of a saying that Elizabeth was fond of repeating. "When you're old, you'll never regret the things you did, only the things you didn't do." I completely disagree. First, true happiness is achieved by living mostly in the present and not thinking too much about the past or future. Second, even if one is weak and thus can't help but think about the past, the saying still isn't true, unless a person is plagued by inner voices saying they don't deserve to be happy living alone and masturbating. Luckily, I am plagued only to a minor extent by such voices. I was very happy and guilt-free when I was masturbating and getting my fill of real women from my lunches with Helen and from going salsa dancing twice a week. Sex with Karen disturbed this serene existence. I can't simply wipe her from my mind, however, because part of me wants more sex with her. But neither can I pursue her ardently, because part of me doesn't want to ever see her again.

 

Karen called and left a message calling to see how I was doing and suggesting we might get together. I was here when she called, but didn't bother to pick up the phone because I didn't want to talk to her.

 

Lunch with Helen. She returned to Paul's apartment this weekend, where there was a dispute about her practicing yoga instead of setting the table for breakfast. Paul mockingly called Helen "your yogaship" and scoffs at the idea of performing yoga himself. Paul had previously agreed to accompany Helen to her niece's birthday party, but then changed his mind after the argument about yoga. Helen lost her temper and shouted about the many times she had accompanied him to engagements she didn't really want to attend herself, and then made some crack about his "fat friends". In the end, Paul did agree to accompany her to the birthday party. The other adults at the party were parents of the various children, and all the conversation was about these children, so that Helen and Paul felt completely out of place. Adding to their sense of discomfort was the fact that Helen's sister was unaware of their recent squabbles, and so asked embarrassing questions: "Did you two enjoy your trip to Hawaii? How did you like the apartment you rented there? Did you eat out at many nice restaurants?"

I told Helen how I dreaded ever seeing Karen again, because I resented being pressured to perform, and being yelled at if I wasn't highly aroused, and that, in any case, sex with Karen was a letdown compared to sex with Elizabeth (rapid and violent versus blissfully unhurried). I also mentioned that Karen had returned to prostitution to pay for her cross-country move. "Don't mess with her. She's trouble," was Helen's opinion, with which I tend to agree.

 

I sat in the cafe for five hours after lunch with Helen, and then wandered around, browsing in bookstores and standing on street corners, so that it was past nine at night before I returned to my apartment. I wanted to be able to tell Karen that the reason I didn't respond to her call earlier was that I was out all day and evening, without being forced to lie about these facts. Of course, I'd be lying anyway, so what difference if I lied about being out of the apartment? My thinking with respect to Karen is clearly not rational.

 

Karen called, and left a calm sounding message asking to use my computer to print out her resume. I didn't bother to pick up the phone. Then someone called later, while I was out, from the front door intercom, but didn't leave any message. I wonder if it was her? The whole situation with Karen is leaving me stressed out, and the stress won't end until I call her, which I keep putting off because I don't know what to say. I really regret ever hearing from her. All because of that one brief episode of mediocre sex, I am left in a state of complete emotional turmoil. I fled the apartment in the morning and stayed out until nine in the evening, in order to avoid facing the blinking light on my answering machine (this light indicates a backlog of messages). I'm feeling the same sense of panic and dread of the phone that I used to feel while running my business about this time last year, and the same desire to take a long trip somewhere to escape.

 

I bumped into Helen just as I was leaving the cafe. We watched a violent foreign art movie together, and then had dinner and ice cream afterwards. I didn't accompany her back to her apartment, however, as we both felt that doing so might lead to stress and arguments and ruin what had otherwise been a pleasant evening.

 

As I lay in bed this morning masturbating, I thought some more about Karen. I complain about the hurriedness of our sex last week and her pressuring me to come, and yet I have plenty of power in our relationship, since Karen wants me as much as or more than I want her. If I don't like the type of sex we're having, I can ask for something different, and she'll probably agree. What I think is happening is that, at long last, I'm coming to accept what should have been obvious years ago. Namely, that I don't really want sex, not with Karen nor with any other woman. Masturbation is not a substitute for sex, but rather my preference. For me, sex is either bad, in which case I certainly don't want it, or else good, in which case it brings me too close to another human being, and I don't want to get close to people.

I feel bad about avoiding Karen. But what can I do? When I talked to Helen about the situation yesterday evening, she put into words what my intuition has been telling me all along: "Stay away from her. She's trouble." Why did I let myself have sex with her last week?

As for her request to use my computer and printer, I feel even worse about not getting back to her on that score. There may be no rules in love and war, but friendship is a different story. On the other hand, my current printer isn't very good, so that, even if there weren't all these emotional issues between us, I'd still advise her to pay $5 to use the computers and high-resolution printers at a copy shop, at least for something important like a resume.

 

Helen invited me to lunch, but I suggested tomorrow instead. In the afternoon, while sitting in the cafe, it occurred to me that if I'm resolved to masturbate henceforth instead of bothering with sex, then what is stopping me from getting back together with Helen? Were sexual problems the symptom or the cause of our other conflicts? Perhaps the reason she stopped wanting to have sex with me (using the "bladder infections" as an excuse) is because she knows, at a subconscious level, that we will be more likely to stay together for life the less we have sex. Why? Because I'm screwed up to the point where I hate any woman with whom I have sex?

Regardless, one thing seems certain. As long as I'm involved in any way with Helen, I am incapable of deep love for other women. Even when Helen was pregnant by and thinking of marrying Paul, I was unable to pursue other women with any degree of seriousness. Instead, I made a point of choosing women like Karen and Elizabeth, with whom I knew a long-term relationship was impossible.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. The older blonde who I used to rave about is avoiding me for some reason. A very crowded dance floor and mostly mediocre dance experiences. Only one woman pulled herself close. The same heavy older woman as last week, with whom I danced five times. She complimented my dancing and said she was interested in other nightclubs I regularly patronize, so I gave her my address card, and on the back wrote the name of the club I'll be at tomorrow night. As I've noted before, there is excellent dance energy between us. In fact, if she were to take the initiative, I'd even go so far as to reconsider my resolve to never have sex again.

 

I called Helen both at work and at her apartment, but got the answering machine in both places. When she never responded to the messages I left, I became somewhat paranoid that Karen had killed her, as a way of revenging herself on me for snubbing her. Assuming this isn't the case, then where is Helen? With Paul? Why would I consider getting back together with Helen if she is still in love with Paul? Instead of avoiding all women other than Helen, why not avoid all women including Helen?

 

I managed to get up earlier than usual, so that it was only nine-thirty when I started my exercises. My plan is to get back to rising each day at eight. This business of lying in bed until noon leaves me feeling disgusted with myself. After browsing on the internet for several hours, I spent the afternoon in the cafe, looking out the window, leafing through the newspapers (I hesitate to say "reading the newspapers", since "reading" implies paying careful attention to what is on the pages), studying Spanish vocabulary, and staring at a tall and comely auburn haired beauty with perfect skin.

 

My recent experiences with Karen and other women have allowed me to understand, at last, why most middle-aged women have no sex drive. They've had so many bad experiences with men that they want nothing to do with us anymore, other than to admire from a distance the better looking younger specimens. I suspected this long ago, of course, but I couldn't believe it until I had experienced a similar feeling myself. I'm starting to realize that reason and logic are useless when the subject is sex or women or human relationships or the meaning of life. I have to learn the hard way, through experience, before I can accept truths about these subjects as valid.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. Despite a severe shortage of women, I managed to get in six dances, including twice with a lovely petite blonde in her thirties. She was with a gangly companion, with whom I also danced, whose masculine features made me think her a transvestite at first. Unfortunately, the music changed after about an hour from mixed salsa/merengue to mostly house, and so I lost interest in further dancing. The usual nightclub crowd. Men and women in their twenties, everyone dressed in black, everyone except me drinking and smoking. Altogether, a big disappointment, considering how much I enjoyed this nightclub on my two previous visits. The older woman from last night didn't show, of which I'm glad for two reasons. First, because the music was not pure salsa, and I didn't want her to think poorly of me for giving bad recommendations about nightclubs for dancing. Second, because I didn't want to see her or any other familiar face tonight. I like the feeling of being a stranger, of not knowing anyone, of being anonymous.

 

Another calm-voiced message from Karen on my answering machine this morning, saying she is worried that I haven't called back and wondering what is up. I feel like a complete heel the way I'm ignoring her, and a nervous wreck as well. I'm even at the point of vaguely fantasizing about blowing my brains out (thank God I don't have a gun in this apartment) or jumping out the window or otherwise killing myself to escape. Ever since I was a child, I've dealt with situations I don't like by ignoring them and hoping they'll go away. Sometimes, this strategy works, but sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes, the problem gets bigger and bigger the longer I ignore it.

 

Lunch with Helen, who has spent the past two nights with Paul, but plans to stay tonight at her own apartment. The ostensible reason for staying with him is that she is woken each night at her own apartment at three in the morning, when her upstairs neighbor returns from work and turns on the lights and television and walks around and takes a shower. Tonight is the night Paul plans to take another woman to the rock concert, and Helen doesn't want to get involved in a love triangle. Two nights ago she tried to "appease" Paul, by letting him fuck her briefly in the cunt. She considers it significant that she did not have to prompt Paul to pull out of her cunt (they weren't using birth control), but that he did so on his own, then turned her over and finished up by fucking her in the ass. "You see, he prefers it that way. He can't say I'm denying him sex, because I'm giving him what he prefers," she said to me. The brief episode of cunt fucking caused the reappearance of her "bladder infections", though just last week, she was saying she thought herself free at last of this ailment.

Helen mentioned me to Paul during one of their discussions recently. Since he is planning to date another woman, she wanted to show him that she is similarly in contact with other men. "I thought he had moved to Central America?" Paul replied, a remark which implies that Helen had previously told him about my Guatemala trip. In other words, she's evidently been trying to stir up trouble by talking about me to Paul for some time now.

Another recent dispute occurred when Helen took a break from scrubbing the bathroom of Paul's apartment, because she felt asphyxiated by the fumes of the cleaning fluids. Paul, who was meanwhile cleaning the kitchen, commented: "Another of your famous breaks, eh?" Helen resented the tone of his comment, and insisted I make note of it in this journal, in order to give a "true picture" of their living situation. "Imagine, I was scrubbing the pee-stains in his bathroom after I knew he was dating another woman, and he has the gall to complain about me taking a break."

I suggested Helen and I sleep together at her apartment, without sex, in order to comfort one another. I need comforting for the stress caused me by Karen, she needs comforting for the stress caused her by Paul. But then she insisted that I masturbate before I come over, so that I wouldn't be pawing at her—a request I found objectionable. She's willing to have sex with Paul, so why should I have to be bereft of desire? It seems as though she wants to castrate me. In any case, I never called her in the evening to arrange the details of this proposed visit.

It's pretty clear that the only real solution to my problems with women is to keep them at a distance. Dance with them, stare at them in the cafe (an intense session with a blonde in her late thirties today—she began playing with her hair and sighing deeply after I made eye contact a few times), masturbate to fantasies of them, but never talk to them and most certainly never have sex with them.

 

I called Helen and we spent the day together. Breakfast at a restaurant, the two hours of "hug therapy" at her apartment, then I browsed in a bookstore while she went to look at apartments, then lunch at another restaurant, then back to her apartment, where I read part of her journal from several years ago. There were two observations in this journal about her childhood, which I found noteworthy. First, she had occasionally suffered from an inability to heal from minor injuries as a child, which resembles her current inability to heal from bladder infections. The doctors told her mother that this inability to heal was "psychosomatic". Second, she was sickly as a child, and so was constantly being penetrated by rectal thermometers, which might explain why that region of her body is now eroticized. After reading her journal, I became aroused and mauled her some. She struggled to get free and then ran into the kitchen while I lay on the bed, feeling emotionally exhausted. A while later we reconciled, and I changed the light bulbs in two ceiling fixtures which she can't reach, and then we walked to a cafe near my apartment, where she had dinner and I had a snack.

By the time we finally separated, I felt utterly frazzled and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I am convinced now that I can never live with Helen. But isn't that what I said last week? Why did I try to maul her today?

 

Salsa dancing in the evening. I was feeling drained of energy from dealing with Helen, but did manage to get in about eight dances. Only one of these was exciting. A black woman in her thirties, who was wearing long braids which slapped me in the face when I spun her. She had approached me as I stood at the bar, buying myself a pineapple juice, and said, "I want to be sure to dance with you." I don't know why, since the dancing I had done thus far this evening was hardly worthy of note, nor did I remember ever having danced with this woman before. Regardless, she was my best partner, even though she is only a moderately good dancer and I didn't find her sexually exciting. Usually, dance energy and sexual energy are related, but sometimes not. (In the case of Elizabeth and Helen, there is excellent sexual energy but terrible dance energy.)

 

While waiting for the bus, I plucked from a trashcan an article from a magazine of several years ago, in which there was a description of a man who has been reading the dictionary for pleasure for several years, because it is "pure and without distracting opinions." What a fascinating idea! To spend the rest of my life reading dictionaries (English or Spanish or some other language) and other reference books!

 

Helen called and invited me to join her for breakfast at a restaurant. I wasn't angry at her, but the idea of spending the day with her left me feeling completely exhausted, and so I declined. She asked again, saying,

"I don't want to eat alone. A single woman eating alone is conspicuous," she said.

"The cafe is full of beautiful young single women eating alone. They go there because it's safe. All the men there are either homosexuals or else terrified of sex, like me, so the women know nothing will happen," I said.

"All I'm suggesting is that we have breakfast together."

"You sap me of energy. You're poison to me, Helen. I'm not blaming you. You just aren't healthy for me. I'm already feeling tired. A minute ago I was standing erect, and after two minutes on the phone with you I'm slumping over the desk and leaning on my elbows and wanting to lie down."

"You're really acting weird."

"There's something wrong between us. Or between me and women in general. I'm losing energy as we speak."

"Forget it, then," she said, and hung up with a huff. Then a few minutes later, she called back, and said: "I don't like being called poison."

"We're both poison. At least to one another," I replied.

"You're driving me back into the arms of Paul."

"I can't help it. After yesterday, I need some time to gain back my energy. Tomorrow I'll be back to normal and we can have lunch."

"Maybe," she said, and then she hung up.

What I told her was the truth. She does make me feel completely exhausted.

 

It occurred to me—while sitting in the cafe and staring at a petite, silken-haired brunette and fantasizing about burying my face in her cunt—that perhaps the reason I was so bored by the sex with Karen two weeks ago is that we didn't engage in cunnilingus. Sex without smell is like calisthenics, except with the disadvantage of having another person involved. Cunnilingus is the only way I can capture anything of Karen's natural body odor, since she scrubs herself so thoroughly that there is almost no smell to her armpits or the hair on her head.

 

Another thought I had at the cafe was that this idea of a standing desk may not be such a good one. I am almost two weeks behind in writing up entries in this journal, a delay I suspect may be partly due to my dislike of having to stand while working on the computer. But then when I returned to my apartment, I didn't feel like restoring the desk to it's original configuration, and then I decided that working while standing isn't so bad after all. The standing desk is having the desired effect on my legs, which are feeling very well exercised these days.

 

Lunch with Helen. She called Paul this weekend, and he told her his date with the other woman went very well. When Helen heard this, she decided to go ahead with her plans to take a trip to Canada. Last week, she had considered canceling this trip, since Paul disapproved of it, and she wanted to appease him. Paul is opposed to the trip on several grounds. First, because he doesn't particularly like Helen to travel alone, since this suggests they aren't a couple. Second, she had paid for the airline ticket using credit from a ticket she had bought last year, but never used. That ticket was intended to be used to accompany Paul to his friend's retirement party in the midwest. Paul was offended that Helen would use the credit from a ticket for a trip he wanted her to take, to buy a ticket for a trip which he doesn't want her to take. My opinion, which I told her, is that a trip by herself would be a good thing. I have always maintained that if she would only do more things on her own, and learn to live alone, that we might be able to make it as a couple. I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed if she were able to direct her energy elsewhere instead of always focusing it on me. Helen replied: "That's why you like me working in the salt mines. That way I won't have so much energy to bother you with. I'm like a dog that only gets let out of its kennel once a week." The "salt mines" refers to her job.

 

My plan to get up earlier is going nowhere. While I woke early enough this morning (namely, at seven), I was utterly unable to summon the energy to get out of bed then, and so spent several hours fondling myself to lurid fantasies of oral sex (eating a woman's cunt or else imagining myself as a woman being eaten). All this masturbating culminated in an orgasm at about eleven, after which I finally rose and did my exercises and ate a light breakfast, and then rearranged my desk to restore it to a normal sitting configuration, as I was convinced that part of my aversion to working on the computer of late, which has caused this journal to fall two weeks behind, is because I'm tired of standing while working. But then once the desk was reconfigured, I discovered that I am also averse to working while sitting, though admittedly somewhat less so than to working while standing.

The afternoon I passed as follows: a late lunch at a cafe, where I overate, then several hours browsing in a bookstore, then two hours sitting in another cafe, different from the one where I had eaten lunch, then back to my apartment in the evening, to listen to music. I have nothing to read currently but my books of Spanish vocabulary, which I can only tolerate studying for a few minutes before losing interest, and nothing, other than reading, that I want to do besides eat and sleep and exercise and masturbate, and the amount of time I can spend on these activities is severely restricted by the limitations of my body. For all this lack of anything to do, the hours seem to pass quickly, perhaps precisely because I'm doing nothing with them. I bitterly resent the idea of any infringement on my complete freedom and solitude, such as a date with Karen or some other woman, for example.

I am vaguely considering a return to Guatemala, or maybe a trip to Mexico, or perhaps a bus trip across the United States. I know I'll be miserable travelling, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to go somewhere. I'm feeling restless, in other words.

 

Once again, I couldn't get moving this morning until after I masturbated. So now I'm doing it both in the morning and at night, which means my state of sexual arousal during the day is very low, which makes it unpleasant to be around attractive women. For whatever reason, I feel guilty about not wanting them. Really, I must try some other method, besides an orgasm, for getting my blood flowing in the morning. Leaping out of bed, splashing my face with cold water, anything but masturbation.

 

Lunch with Helen, who is suffering from a painful bladder infection, which she blames on sex with Paul last week. The pain is such, she says, that she might even have to cancel her weekend trip to Canada (she is scheduled to leave tomorrow). Paul was very cooperative, even enthusiastic, about helping her to collect from his apartment the clothes and other items she needs for this trip. "He wants me out of town, so he can get together with that other woman," she said.

 

While studying a book of Spanish vocabulary at the cafe, I noticed that one of the other regulars—a curmudgeonly looking man in his late forties who sometimes spontaneously breaks into song—appeared to be studying a Spanish dictionary. There are thus at least six references in this journal to people who read dictionaries for pleasure (or would read, if they had more free time): myself; this man at the cafe today; Karen (she told me once that if she were rich she would spend her free time learning new languages); Helen (who every so often goes through a phrase of copying French vocabulary from notebook to notebook); Paul (he spent much of last year, while he was unemployed, studying Spanish); the man I read about several days ago, who likes reading dictionaries because they are "pure and without distracting opinions."

Salsa dancing in the evening. On account of today's and yesterday's masturbation orgies, as well as my thoughts about giving up on women entirely, I was devoid of sexual energy, and thus as bored by the women as they were bored by me, so that my dancing was terrible. I left after less than an hour, having danced only three times. I realize now that, with respect to both dancing and sex, whatever pleasure I get from being around real women is outweighed by resentment. I resent having to plan ahead to show up at a particular time and place. I resent having to dress up. I resent the extra laundry (due to my clothes becoming soaked by perspiration while dancing). I resent having to ask women to dance. I resent feeling obligated to say yes when the woman asks me to dance. I resent having to be polite in so many other ways. I resent having to refrain from masturbating in order to be sexually aroused enough to make the dancing exciting. There has always been this conflict in me between my desire for women versus my desire to avoid the work necessary to get women. What has changed over the years is the balance of power between these conflicting desires, with a huge change ever since I shut down my business. Now that I'm free of work, I also want to be free of women.

By "free of work", I mean no longer obligated to do the myriad things necessary to earn money. Getting up early in the morning, behaving politely with co-workers or customers, sitting in an office instead of the cafe, reading computer books. I don't know why I hated doing these things. The effort I expend on morning exercises and learning Spanish and browsing on the internet and writing in this journal is at least as great as what I used to expend while working, so why did I resent "work" so much? Likewise, why do I chafe so at being dependent on women for sex? Suppose I ask the woman for sex and she says no. I therefore masturbate. How does this differ from not asking the woman for sex, and therefore masturbating? The answer is that it differs only in that I have to politely ask, and how much trouble is that? Very little trouble, of course, and yet nevertheless, for whatever reason, I bitterly resent even this trivial degree of dependency upon someone else's whims, to the extent of being prepared to give up sex entirely in order to feel "free of women".

 

The man from Guatemala who plans to visit here next month finally sent me email with specifics about this trip. He wants me to investigate airfares in the United States and run other errands and also seems to be planning to stay four nights in my apartment, which is about twice as long as I had expected. I can already sense that his visit will be an unpleasant experience for me. Almost all contacts with other people are unpleasant to me. But without such contacts, I might go crazy with boredom. Such is the reality of my life.

 

I am pleased that my latest encounter with Karen was fully recorded in this journal. At long last I have proof that I prefer masturbation to sex, and can therefore defend myself against self-doubts about "sour grapes". That is, voices in my head accusing me of pretending to prefer masturbation simply because I lack a lover.

 

While lying in the bed in the evening, I read through some of my transcribed voice diaries from back when I was working for the large corporation. What memories these evoke! They make me realize the value of this current journal. Someday I'll be very happy to have fully documented this period in my life. In comparing my life as a wage slave to my current life as a man of leisure, what do we find? Why, that very little has changed. Instead of sitting at a desk in an office building all day, I sit in the cafe all day. I was restless and discontented while working, and I'm still restless and discontented.

 

A lazier than usual day. I lay in bed until noon, masturbating most of the morning and coming once. I didn't begin my exercises until one in the afternoon, and then I cut the routine short. Lunch at a restaurant, followed by a few hours in the cafe. In the evening, I wandered restlessly around the nightclub district. I don't know why I was so lazy this morning. I had gone to sleep about midnight, and remember waking up about two in the morning to the sound of the street cleaners, and looking out the window and noticing that many cars hadn't been moved (they'll all get ticketed), and then taking a trip to the bathroom to piss. I was alert as I recall, much more so than when I woke again at eight. Perhaps my need for sleep is less than I think, and oversleeping is why I'm so lazy. But then if I slept less, I don't know what I'd do with all the extra hours, so perhaps it is just as well that I'm oversleeping. Anyway, what does it matter that I'm lazy, given that I have nothing to do?

 

At long last, I rise at a reasonable hour! After awaking at six (in itself not remarkable), I pulled my usual stunt of pulling the pillows over my eyes and lying back for another few hours of dreaming. However, at seven the phone rang, and I leapt out of bed like a fireman responding to an alarm, the way I used to do when working for the corporation and it was in the middle of night and I was being called in for an emergency. The call was for the wrong number, as it turns out, and I was tempted to return to bed, but for once I showed some self-discipline and didn't. By nine I was finished my exercises and breakfast and showering. My first day up and about at a reasonable hour in who knows how long.

 

Helen called in the evening. She had just arrived back from her trip to Canada, and wanted to have dinner, to which suggestion I agreed. The trip was pure misery, she said. Part of the time she was physically sick, due to bladder infections and lack of sleep, and the rest of the time she was heartsick about her break-up with Paul. She met no one on the trip, other than a stuffy, unpleasant woman professor of anthropology, who, after listening to Helen describe her woes, opined: "You seem a woman of great—how shall I put it?—indecision." The night before Helen left for this trip, she had gone to Paul's apartment, to pick up a suitcase. Paul asked her to give back the keys to his apartment. She asked why. Paul replied, "I don't think you want to know." But Helen insisted on an explanation.

"Of course, that's just wanted he wanted to have happen. He knew I'd insist and then I couldn't blame him when he told me. You'd think he'd feel guilty about what he's doing, but there's not a guilty bone in that man's body," Helen fumed to me.

What Paul told her was that the "other woman" would be coming by for dinner while Helen was away in Canada. Paul planned to be out when the other woman arrived, and so he wanted to give her his apartment keys in advance (through the intermediary of her sister at his place of work), so she could let herself in. (Another possible reason for Paul wanting the keys back is that he simply wants Helen out of his apartment.) Thus implying that Paul and the other woman either were already or were on the verge of becoming lovers. Helen became panicky, and begged Paul to take her back. Paul held firm, however.

"No, Helen, it's over. I just can't imagine spending the rest of my life the way I've spent these last two years with you. It's just too awful to think about," he told her.

Paul wanted to sleep on the sofa that night, but Helen was restless, and pled with him to return to bed so they could cuddle, and he finally agreed.

"It was my fault in many ways. I was bad with him. I shouldn't have argued so much with him. And he was right to get upset about me going off to Canada by myself, especially when I was paying for the flight with credit for that ticket that I was originally supposed to use to accompany him to his friend's retirement party. It was just one more way I was disobedient. With my next boyfriend, things are going to be different. I'm going to agree to everything he says. I'm going to be a complete doormat," she said to me.

"In that case, maybe you and I can get along better in the future," I said.

"Not with you, fool! I'm certainly not going to be a doormat with you! Only with the man who lives with me and has children with me. Everywhere I went in Canada, there were couples. Happy couples. Happy families. That's what I want."

"What about using a sperm bank to have a child?" I asked, in order to gauge how badly she really wants a child.

"I don't want that. I want a child with someone I know. You or Paul, or maybe someone else. Someone decent for a change," she replied.

 

Another day of rising early. Today it was only half past eight by the time I finished exercising, breakfast and bathing. What a difference this makes! I feel like a normal member of the human race once again. Also, I have more energy now that I'm getting up at a reasonable hour.

 

Helen stopped by my apartment in the morning, wanting to borrow some cash, as her bank card isn't working, and she was in a rush to get to a company picnic. (The garage where she now parks her car is located near my apartment building.) She stopped by again in the evening, having just returned from this picnic in a state of utter exhaustion, and suggested dinner at a cafe, to which proposal I agreed.

At our last meeting, Helen had asked me to print out the extracts from this journal relating to her life with Paul these past two years. The idea was that she wanted to refresh her memory of how troubled their relationship had been from the start, and thus better resign herself to its demise. But today, her mood was changed. She is now determined to win Paul back, by promising to do everything he wants in the future, and be completely submissive and well-behaved and to never disagree with or disobey him again. "I'm going to change. Change is possible, I don't care what you say," she insisted. She had with her a bottle of champagne, which she had picked up on the way back from the picnic. And during her trip to Canada, she had bought some smoked salmon, a music disk and a birthday card. All of these items she plans to use to throw a birthday party for Paul when he returns from his trip to pick up his new $30,000 red sports car: "I know it's abject, but I'm determined to try to get him back. He's my last hope for having a normal life with a husband and children. I don't care what you say. Look at that journal of yours! You're like Iago, whispering evil lies in my ear and making me suspicious."

Helen isn't sure of the exact status of Paul's relationship with the other woman. This other woman is a single mother of two in her forties. She works as an engineer, owns a house near Paul's place of employment, and will almost certainly be able and willing to engage in normal sex. Children might be an issue where Helen has the advantage, since Paul has always insisted that he wants children of his own, and the other woman might not want more children. Also, Helen is younger than the other woman. In other respects, however, the other woman probably has the advantage. Helen is worried that the deciding factor might be that Paul has so many bitter memories of the two years he and Helen were together. On several occasions, he has remarked to Helen: "I never fought like this with any of my previous girlfriends." I asked Helen why she was so sure that the other woman would want Paul. She exclaimed in reply: "Of course she'll want him! She's a single mother in her forties! And Paul is very handsome. He's handsome, charming and has a job making $100,000 a year. Why wouldn't she want him? Think about it. He was offering to make her dinner on the second date! What a way to sweep a woman off her feet!"

It occurred to me after we separated, that if Helen is really determined to win Paul back, then she should give him the champagne and other gifts and otherwise attempt a reconciliation with him before his date with the other woman this weekend, since that date will almost certainly result in sex. If the sex is good, then it is almost certain that Paul will ditch Helen in favor of the other woman. Helen said something about wanting to make Paul "sweat", which was why she was waiting until next week to call him. I suspect she is plagued by inner conflicts. She both wants Paul, and doesn't want him. Delaying, and not taking responsibility for what happens, and otherwise acting like a scatterbrain, is her way of satisfying the stronger of these conflicting desires (to leave Paul), without suffering too much pain from the unsatisfied weaker desire (to stay with Paul).

 

While sitting in the cafe, Robert, the homosexual who I last spoke to over a month ago asked if he could join me at my table. Out of politeness, I assented, though I really had no desire to talk to him. He mentioned that he and a heterosexual male friend of his are building a vacation home together on a lake, which he invited me to visit: "And if you ever have a wife or kids, bring them along, too." Then he asked what was up with the women in my life, and so I him of my decision to give up women entirely and masturbate only henceforth. Of course, this was probably an unwise disclosure, since he might interpret it as meaning that I've finally realized that I don't find women's bodies attractive, and that I'm in the process of admitting my homosexuality. In any case, when he brought up the topic of movies, I mentioned an art movie that I had considered seeing. He remarked that he was also interested in seeing this movie, and suggested we go together this very afternoon. And since I nothing better to do, and was bored sitting in the cafe, I agreed.

The movie I found pretentious, and the conversation between me and Robert became increasingly forced and strained as we walked back from the theater. "You sure smell nice," he said on the way home, perhaps as a way of suggesting we get intimate. But I hadn't the slightest desire for sex with him and so mumbled something about the weather in reply. When we reached the cross street for his apartment building, he stopped.

"I can tell you'd rather be alone," he said, smiling.

"Well, you know, like I said earlier, I've gone into seclusion of late," I replied.

"That's okay. This is my cross street anyway and I have some work to do. Can I at least hug you?"

And so we hugged. A warm hug by him, to which I responded lukewarmly. Not that I was repressing my desire. He simply doesn't attract me. He looks too much like a man.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening (so much for my resolution to give this up). For a change, I danced mostly with younger women. Unfortunately, most of them made the sorts of mistakes I can't compensate for. Either they leaned backwards instead of forwards, or else they moved their upper bodies out of sync with their lower bodies. The result was the same miserable feeling of wrestling that I had when dancing with Elizabeth, which utterly destroyed whatever sexual energy there might have existed between me and these women before we started dancing. At times, I felt like shoving these women away and only refrained from doing so because I didn't want other women to think me boorish. I danced for almost two hours steady, and was exhausted at the end. Thankfully, my last dance was a good one. A beauty in her thirties, dark hair, intelligent eyes, a delicate face, lips that reminded me of Elizabeth's, a slender body.

 

Lunch with Helen, who was pleased with the journal extracts I gave her two days ago: "They make me realize how bad Paul and you both are. When did I meet you? Seven years ago? I was only thirty years old then. Imagine if I had met someone normal back then. Where would I be now?" I helped her with some computer programming for her job, then suggested we get together this evening for "hug therapy". "If you're thinking, that because Paul is now out of the picture, you'll be getting into my pants next, well forget it. I only want to date normal men from now on. And forget this business of me being more submissive, too. Your journal shows me how wrong that strategy is. The next man I go out with. He's going to be the submissive one. That's the only way to deal with men. They have to be beaten into submission. That's what a woman at work told me today."

 

Karen called and left a message while I was out. I pondered for a while what to do—whether to call her back or continue ignoring her—and finally decided that this situation had to be brought to closure or I would be in danger of losing my mind, and so I called her back. As might be expected, she was annoyed.

"What the hell was I supposed to think? I even looked through the obituaries! If what you're worried about is that you think I'm expecting something from you, well don't worry. I don't want anything from you, except for you to act like a friend," she said.

"I'm sorry about all that. But things were getting out of control. One thing was leading to another and I don't know what happened. And once I had postponed calling you back for a few days, I was embarrassed to call you back, and pretty soon three weeks had passed. I was losing my equilibrium," I mumbled in reply.

"What are you talking about? What equilibrium? Are you on drugs?"

"No."

"You sure sound like you are. You know, you didn't have to have sex with me that night."

"I didn't plan to. Things just happened."

"What? You think I forced you to have sex? Sex was your idea!"

"You seemed mighty cooperative."

"I like to have a good time. Anyway, at least you could have called me regarding the printer. If you didn't want me to use it, then just say so. Tell me to fuck off, if you want. But don't just leave me hanging."

"The thing is, we can't just talk about the printer without talking about other things."

"Like what?"

"Like sex."

"I told you, I'm not expecting anything from you."

"I had reached a kind of equilibrium after my trip to Guatemala. I had decided to give up women and confine myself to masturbation from now on. And then you popped in and disrupted things."

"I've been thinking of becoming gay myself. First this other man I'm seeing acts up, and now you turn into a flake. I really don't know which of you is the bigger asshole. And I certainly don't know why I bother with the two of you."

We had to cut the conversation short because she was late for an alcoholic anonymous meeting. I suggested we talk again later, and she agreed to call me.

When she called back later, we resumed our conversation. She complained of not feeling important to the other man she has been dating. I apologized once again for not calling her back, and said something about how she had gotten me excessively excited (which is partly true).

"That makes me feel incredibly powerful," she said.

"I can't take too much excitement in my life," I said. Again, this is true, though I was saying it mainly because I was still trying to excuse my never calling her back.

"I like excitement. You should try it sometime. You might like it yourself."

I agreed to call her this weekend, and set a specific time for my call, so as to have no excuse for not making it.

 

Dinner with Helen, during which she rambled on about how she wants a child but worries about being too tired to raise one properly. Afterwards, I accompanied her to her apartment, where she showed me some pictures of Paul—the first I've ever seen of him. "He is very handsome, just like you said. Much more so than I had expected," I remarked. She nodded glumly in assent, and then shook her head: "And to think how bad I was with him, and how I killed his child. It would have been a year old now."

 

I called Karen, who is planning to meet tomorrow with an ex-boyfriend of several years ago. "We'll probably resume going out together," she explained, then she said, "I was very depressed last night, but I'm feeling better now. That other guy I was seeing is history. He strung me along once too often. As for you, all that talk you gave me of not being able to handle excitement is bullshit. What about going out dancing all the time? You know you're just trying to meet women that way. Isn't that exciting? And what about that date you had the week we got together? Or did you forget you'd told me about that?" I concocted some sort of half-assed excuse about that date, then told her I'd call her in a few days to see how things were between her and her ex-boyfriend. I don't know why I'm pursuing this relationship, since I'm not particularly anxious to have sex with Karen again. I enjoy my memories of Karen, but that's different from wanting to spend more time with her in the future.

 

A tremendous night of salsa dancing. At first, I had some trouble getting partners, and those women who did agree to dance with me were unattractive—old, leathery-skinned, stupid-looking, and showing too much cleavage—and bad dancers to boot. But the situation improved later. An excellent dance with the plump older woman, who came over to my table and touched cheeks with me upon entering the club. We pressed close while dancing, and then chatted some afterwards. The evening concluded with three more excellent dances with cream-skinned anglo blondes in their early twenties—all them beginners and all very pretty. The last of these three dances was particularly exciting. She was clumsy at first, but eventually got the hang of the rhythm, and by the end of the song her body had melted against mine. I left immediately after this dance, in order not to blur my memories of it by something less wonderful (such as a tedious conversation). Good sex may be life's greatest pleasure, but good dancing is definitely a close runner-up.

 

Breakfast with Helen at the cafe. She went on a picnic yesterday with her sister and other relatives, and there met a friend of her cousin, named Eddie, who she found very interesting. He's a bachelor in his early forties, a non-practicing lawyer who currently works for a non-profit organization. He lives and works in another city, about a two hour drive away. Helen thinks she might have created a bad impression with him due to a combination of shyness at first, followed by garrulousness later. Neither her cousin nor her sister was aware yesterday that Helen had just broken up with Paul, so she called them today to let them know, and to find out more about Eddie. "It's about time I met someone else. Why am I putting all my eggs in one basket with Paul? There are plenty of men out there."

She seemed in something of a manic mood, and soon got on my nerves. Eventually, after several arguments, she left, and I was able to sip my tea and read in peace. Then she called me later, after I had returned to my apartment, wanting us to get together again. I told her no, and suggested she sit in a cafe by herself, as a way of working off some of her nervous energy.

 

Lunch with Helen. Afterwards, we carried some of her excess furniture to the charity store, then stopped by my apartment after she dropped off her car, where I let her read some more of this journal, which caused her to remark: "We're like pale imitations of one another. You used to be such a good programmer, and now I'm this pale imitation of you. While you, with that journal of yours, are this pale imitation of the writer I used to be." We then walked back to her apartment, where I fondled her some. She wasn't responsive, however. "Look, I can't get interested in sex with you because I know it won't lead anywhere. We can't live together. You've said that time and time again, and you're probably right. Meanwhile, I know that I want a child." She tried masturbating recently, but it was another "stolen orgasm", meaning that the orgasm wasn't complete, with the result that her "bladder infection" is now worse than ever. After some consideration, she decided not to pursue Eddie, the bachelor she met this weekend, because she doesn't want her cousin to learn all the sordid details in the event the relationship goes sour. Then she blamed me for her abortion last year. I replied that I resent the way she refuses to take responsibility for her own actions. By the end of the afternoon, we were thoroughly sick of one another. "After spending time with you, Paul is starting to look really good. I mean in comparison with you he looks really, really good," she said as we parted ways.

 

Karen called. The ex-boyfriend with whom she was supposed to be getting back together has resumed his addiction to drugs, and so she wants nothing to do with him. "I've decided to do like you. I'm giving up men entirely," she said, no doubt joking, of course. Then we talked about the rental situation in the region, since she is anxious to move out of her friend's house as soon as possible. She complained that the friend is drinking constantly and keeps asking, "are you going out tonight?" I have a suspicion that this friend is getting tired of having Karen in the house every evening. I didn't mention to Karen that there is a vacancy coming up in my building in the near future, since I don't want her living in such close proximity to me. My plan is to call her up in a few days and suggest we have dinner and fuck again. Even if she is a mediocre fuck, she's better than masturbating. Or is she?

 

Several interesting experiences salsa dancing. One of the older women (in her forties) who I've been dancing with for several months now said to me, "You are very gentle" and then pulled herself close and started humping my leg. I put up no objection to this humping, but wasn't particularly excited by it either, even though the woman is pretty and so petite that her head is at the level of my chest. Such smallness in a woman always gives an added zest to the idea of fucking. I've used her a few times in my masturbation fantasies, but I doubt we'd make a compatible couple. She smiles and laughs too much for my taste, which I've always found to be the sign of an incompatible personality. Sometimes, she even scolds me for not smiling myself, which annoys me to no end. I smiled (a natural smile) and thanked her afterwards for our dance, as if nothing unusual had happened, and then drifted off to the other side of the club, then returned about twenty minutes later and found her sitting alone at a table, smiling in a depressed sort of way. I invited her to dance again, but she shook her head in refusal. I made no further attempt at conversation. Really, I don't know any more what it means when a woman humps my leg. Does she want me to approach her? Or does she simply crave physical contact with men's bodies, without the complications of a relationship extending beyond that of dance partners for one song? Am I perhaps projecting my own ambivalence towards sex?

Later, I danced with a slender blonde in her late thirties, who I've seen at various clubs around the area over the past year or so, but have never had an opportunity to dance with before. Aside from being immensely attractive to me, she seems to have a personality that is compatible with mine. She never smiles, she wears glasses (which I assume means that she is well-read—of course, I don't wear glasses and I'm well-read), she associates with a motley crew of characters, she has an expression of intelligence on her face. We danced together very well, despite her being something of a beginner, but for whatever reason I didn't bother to talk to her afterwards. I probably should have, since it might be months before I see her again.

 

The man from Guatemala sent another email. He no longer needs me to run his errands (none of which I've yet performed, I should note), but only to provide lodging, and that only for two nights instead of the four nights he had indicated in his previous email. I was greatly pleased to hear this. A guest for two nights I believe I can tolerate.

 

Lunch with Helen, who says she broke her vow not to call me any more, and just can't seem to get away from me, even though she knows we can't live together. She wants a child, and is feeling suicidal about last year's abortion, and wishes she had gone through with having the baby, and blames me for encouraging her to have the abortion, and complains that she can't sleep properly. I felt completely frazzled by the time we finally separated.

 

Helen stopped by my apartment in the evening, in a manic mood that I found annoying. She complained of having "hit the wall" with respect to programming and wants to quit her job and go into some line of work that doesn't involve computers. We had dinner at the cafe, where she appeared to calm down. She called Paul yesterday, and they had a pleasant conversation. He didn't seem too keen on their getting back together, however, nor on having her over to his apartment, though he did agree to have dinner with her this weekend. After Helen left, I reflected that I am more and more convinced that it would ruin my happiness to ever have children with her.

 

Helen called and said she wanted me to give her one of my kitchen chairs which I currently have stored in my closet and which matches the chair she gave to the charity store earlier this week. She now regrets having given this chair away. I was annoyed by her for some reason and so reacted with hostility.

"No, you're not getting the chair. And if you want to commit suicide, then go ahead and do so. I'll be glad to get rid of you for once and for all!" I shouted into the phone like a complete madman.

"I have no plans to commit suicide. In fact, I was feeling happy this morning. Before I called you, that is. All I want is for you to give me that extra chair of yours which you don't even want and then I'll never speak to you again for the rest of my life," she said.

"I'm not giving you the chair. You had a chair and you threw it away."

"That's because I followed your stupid advice that the apartment looks cluttered with so many chairs. Now it looks barren."

"I didn't tell you to give that chair away and I'm tired of being blamed for your mistakes. Take some responsibility for your actions, why don't you? Go scream at Paul. That's who you're really upset with."

"All I want is for you to give me that chair and then you won't ever have to speak to me again."

"No. You hear me? You're not getting my chair! You're not getting my chair! Na-na-na-na-na! You're not getting my chair!"

"Fuck you!"

Needless to say, I felt frazzled after she hung up. All this arguing over trivialities is a symptom of deeper conflicts and tensions. One underlying issue for Helen is that her parents will be visiting in a few weeks, and she feels like a failure in their eyes now that she is single again, and so she wants to at least have a nice looking apartment for them to see. Hence her current mania for rearranging furniture, which is what led up to this business of giving the extra chair away one day and then the next day wanting it back.

 

The plump older woman who've I danced with on numerous times recently and to whom I gave my business card last month, called me and left a message indicating where she was planning to dance tonight. What does this signify? Is she interested in me sexually? Am I interested in her? She reminds me of another overweight older woman who I once had a brief affair with. She fell madly for me, but I soon tired of her. When I told her I didn't want to see her anymore, she acted crushed. I don't want a repeat of this sort of incident.

 

Upon awakening from a nap in the afternoon, I suddenly felt depressed, and sorry at having been so unpleasant with Helen yesterday. But then it occurred to me that life is pointless and it doesn't matter whether I have friends or lovers because I'm going to die in the end, and it doesn't matter if my life is a fiasco. All lives are fiascoes in the long run. This thought cheered me up. Perhaps I'm depressed because I haven't done anything with the three women who seem to want me: Karen, and the two older women at the salsa dance club.

 

A thoroughly lazy day. I was unable to get out of bed in the morning without masturbating to get my blood flowing, then I wasted time browsing on the internet and puttering around the apartment for several hours, before finally rushing to complete my calisthenics in order to make it to the all-you-can-eat Indian buffet before two in the afternoon, when the choicest dishes will have been depleted. I spent the afternoon in the cafe and the evening watching a thriller at the local movie theater.

 

Two young men tried to share a plate at the buffet, which is against the rules, as the manager explained to them. "This is my friend. I am sharing with my friend," said one of the men, putting emphasis on the word "friend". The manager repeated that sharing was not permitted and each person must pay for a plate. "This is my friend, you hear? I am with my friend. He is my friend," said the man, again emphasizing the word friend, as if friendship justified everything and anything. He spoke in the loud, low-pitched voice of a hoodlum, while jabbing at the air with his finger. After a further heated exchange, the manager gave the man his money back, and then both he and his "friend" left. They were in their young twenties, hispanics, with black hair and light brown skin, and both of them, but especially the one who had been speaking, dashingly handsome in the hoodlum sort of way.

 

A wonderful experience salsa dancing. She was in her early twenties, pretty, with long, soft brown hair, a slender body, and unshaved underarms. I found this last feature very attractive, on many levels. At the physical level, a woman's underarm can be as exciting to smell as her cunt (in both cases, this is assuming that I like anything about her smell, and that she cleans with soap and water and hasn't applied deodorants or anti-perspirants or other chemicals). Part of the appeal of pushing my face into a woman's cunt is that her pubic hair will be saturated with her smell—underarm hair promises a similar treat. There is also some suggestion of an uninhibited, intelligent, free-thinking personality. Either that, or she's European. As it turns out, she was North American. A student, studying massage and other body-work, visiting the city and staying with friends. She was a beginning dancer, but we worked together very well on patterns, and then about halfway through the first song we abandoned patterns and instead just clutched one another closely. I tried my usual technique of a sideways basic, which allows partners to touch upper bodies while still maintaining the salsa rhythm with their legs, but she didn't understand the posture and we kept bumping knees. So then she simply leaned her head forwards and I did likewise and we were able to touch foreheads and cheeks and wipe the sweat from our faces in the others hair. After the second dance, I offered to buy her a drink, but she declined. Then she invited me to dance a third song together, after which she said she had to leave. Our faces were almost touching as we spoke to one another. I saw her about ten minutes later talking to another couple, also in their early twenties, and carrying a motorcycle helmet.

 

Why do I feel so guilty about getting up at noon? If I had a lover, things might be different. I'd have to accommodate her sleep schedule. But I don't have a lover and I don't plan on having one in the near future. Indeed, accommodating someone else's sleep schedule is a very good reason not to have a lover. There's nothing I want to do in the morning and there's plenty I want to do late at night. If my body wants to sleep late, then why not let it? I've proven I can get up early. What is the point of forcing myself to do so?

 

Helen called and we had lunch together. She met with Paul this weekend, and gave him the various gifts she had bought for his birthday, and then they drove to a restaurant in his new sports car. All told, they seemed to be getting along together swimmingly. In the evening, they returned to his apartment, where Helen asked: "So, where do we stand?" Paul replied that he was willing to take her back, provided she would agree to obey him completely in the future. "You will wear the clothes I want you to wear. You will enjoy the activities I enjoy. You will not disagree with me and you will not throw temper tantrums. As for sex, you will be ready to please me at all hours of the day, even when you are feeling sick. If I want sex in the middle of the night, then you will roll over and indulge me. From now on, more than likely, I will be wanting sex every morning when I first wake up, because I find that morning sex makes me feel invigorated." Then he added, jokingly, that he might have to send Helen to obedience school (like a dog) to ensure that she is properly trained. At first, Helen was thrilled at this talk of being Paul's slave, since it accords with her long-held submissive fantasies, and she agreed to all his demands in order to "appease" him. But fantasies are one thing, reality is another, she later realized. Furthermore, underlying her submissive fantasies is the assumption that her master's orders will only be to engage in behavior which she secretly wants to do anyway. And being awakened at dawn to satisfy Paul's sex urges is not one of her secret desires. Paul also suggested that Helen take money out of her retirement plan and give it to him as a token of her trust. He complains that he has been spending more ever since he met her.

"What spending is he talking about? The sports car and all those other expensive purchases were his idea," she fumed to me.

"Perhaps he's referring to extra oranges for his famous fresh squeezed orange juice," I suggested.

"He doesn't make orange juice for me anymore. Maybe he means the condo he rented during our trip to Hawaii... But even that was his fault!"

Helen slept poorly that night, and then skipped work on Monday and returned to her apartment in the afternoon. Paul called her in the evening, and they had an argument over the phone, when he made some sort of demand which Helen considered unreasonable. "This just shows that you're not really willing to obey me. I was testing you, to see if you were sincere about wanting to change. Evidently you aren't. Which means that our relationship is impossible," concluded Paul. During the course of their discussion about obedience, Helen insisted that she wanted theirs to be a monogamous relationship. Without hesitation, Paul replied that monogamy wouldn't be a problem. So evidently, he and the other woman haven't hit it off too well. Helen has no idea as to the details. Whether Paul rejected the other woman, or the other woman rejected Paul, and in either case, why. Regardless, Helen is determined to forget about Paul: "It's obvious things between us aren't going to work. I'll never be the obedient businessman's wife that he wants, so why bother trying?"

Her current plan is to meet some new men through the personal ads or through swing dancing. I asked her about trying masturbation again. "It's on my to-do list, for when I get some time," she replied. Regarding the relationship between her and myself, we both agreed that it might be best if we limited our future get-togethers to twice-weekly lunches, as these seem the only meetings between us that end amicably.

 

A tremendous night of tango dancing. Really, this is the first time I've ever done very well at tango. I danced probably thirty songs and did well on all of them. Strangely enough, even though most of the women voluntarily used the close hold, where we touch cheeks and chests, and many of these women were young and most were pretty and all were nicely dressed and of my social class, I didn't feel much sexual excitement. Certainly not the way I do when salsa dancing. Incidentally, I did very well during the two salsa songs, and my partners during these two songs both complimented me. My salsa skills really are excellent at this point. I think I managed to sexually excite several of the woman with whom I danced tango, but this is probably due less to my dance skills than to physical factors. I think my success at salsa dancing has given me confidence to follow my instincts with tango. In particular, I don't worry so much about fancy patterns but instead concentrate on sexually connecting with my partner. Simplicity is my nature. I shouldn't try to resist it.

 

Helen was in a bad mood when I called, and at first declined my lunch invitation. Then a few minutes later, she called back, having changed her mind. Her mood was still foul, however. At one point, she said: "One thing I must say about eating lunch with you. Even though you're incredibly churlish and I sometimes can't stand you and you repeat the same things ad nauseum so that it's tiresome to listen to you, at least I don't have to be polite with you the way I have to be with my co-workers."

One cause of her bad mood was lack of sleep. She stayed up late last night babysitting her sister's daughter while her sister gave birth to a baby boy. Also, she is once again regretting her abortion last year. I asked about Paul. She replied that she hadn't talked to him since about ten days ago, but plans to call him soon: "I'll get back together with him if and only if he wants a baby within the next year. I want a baby, but I don't want to be a single mother. A child is supposed to be something to share. Raising one alone seems very lonely." Then she waxed enthusiastic over her niece.

 

A few days ago, I had gotten my hair cut very short (shorter than I had wanted, in fact) and afterwards I bought a silver necklace, which I've long wanted. Yesterday, I asked Helen's opinion of these changes to my appearance, and she replied: "You look like a convict. That thing around your neck is like something a gang member would wear." It suddenly dawned on me that the convict look is precisely the look I want, and that all I need to complete this look is a pair of heavy silver earrings. So yesterday afternoon I hurried to the bookstore, to browse through the magazines and see how earrings look on a man. Sure enough, earrings are ideal for men sporting the convict look, such as professional wrestlers. So today I got my ears pierced. I'm also vaguely considering getting my scrotum pierced. But there's no rush on this. And I'm definitely not interested in piercings other than ear or scrotum.

I spent the evening staring at myself in the mirror and admiring my new earrings.

 

I spent the day reinstalling the operating system in order to secure my computer against intrusions by guests, such as the Guatemalan guy who will be visiting next week. In particular, I don't want any visitors reading my personal files, such as this journal, nor do I want them messing things up by accidentally deleting files or introducing viruses or whatever.

 

Another tremendous night of tango dancing. I noticed that many of the women embraced me in close hold, so that our chests and stomachs touch, but that they did not go into close hold with men who lead them into complicated steps. Since I greatly prefer being close to the woman, this is just one more reason to eschew the complicated steps in favor of simplicity.

 

And yet another tremendous night of tango dancing. I was able to communicate sexual energy with almost every woman I danced with. All told, I danced about fifty songs with twenty different women and all but one of these woman pulled me into close hold. Once again, I noticed that many of these same women did not use close hold with other men. During the two salsa songs, I was clearly among the best dancers on the floor. What a change this is from two years ago, when I first started salsa and tango dancing!

 

Lunch with Helen, who remarked that my new earrings, far from giving me the convict-look, make me seem "elf-like". She had spent the weekend with her sister, helping with the new baby. Today, she was feeling despondent and full of self-pity.

"There's no joy in my life anymore. The last time I remember feeling joy was eight years ago, when I was in graduate school. I remember the moment very clearly. I was writing a paper about the metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century. The typewriter was set up on the dining room table at my parents' house, so I could look out the window at the trees and listen to the birds singing as I worked. And that was it. The last moment of joy in my life. Ever since then, there's been nothing but drudgery. When was the last time you felt joy?" she asked.

"When I got my ears pierced last week, I felt joy. And I was joyful last night at the tango dancing," I replied.

"No one wants to be my friend because I'm not a joyful person."

"Plenty of people want to be your friend. You just don't want to be their friend. You've said it yourself, you don't feel relaxed around anyone except me."

"That's because you're a loser. We're both losers. We sought each other out because losers always hang around with other losers. I'm a loser. I'm not very intelligent and never was and only now am I realizing it. By the standards of this society, I'm a failure. A loser."

"You're lazy is what you are."

"I'm lazy because there's no point in putting forth any effort when you're a loser. No matter what I do, I'll always be a failure."

 

My ear piercings are healing nicely. Today, I decided to make some more enhancements to my inner appearance. First, I bought some silk underwear, to use in lieu of cotton briefs. Then I bought some more jewelry. A silver and turquoise bracelet for the wrist where I used to wear my watch (in lieu of this wristwatch, I cut most of the strap off my old plastic watch and now carry what remains in my pocket), to complement the silver bracelet I already have for the other wrist, and silver chains for my ankles. Altogether, I am very pleased with my new look. I'm also very excited about the idea of a scrotum piercing. A heavy gauge stainless steel ring through the scrotum just below the base of my cock. I became very aroused while thinking about the subject, and ended up masturbating myself to orgasm while reading some articles on the Internet about the various technical aspects of scrotum piercing and imagining a woman kissing such a piercing.

 

Lunch with Helen. She was reluctant at first to discuss the situation with Paul, but eventually relented. This past weekend, they met at a bar, accompanied by one of Paul's male co-workers. Though Helen didn't know it at the time, she later learned that Paul and this co-worker had previously discussed how they were both looking for lovers and that Paul had mentioned Helen as a possibility for the co-worker. Helen had no interest whatsoever in this co-worker ("He was ugly as a toad") and also found the idea of meeting with both Paul and this co-worker very awkward. She ordered a beer to numb the discomfort she was feeling, and then became sick as a result, since she has little tolerance for alcohol.

She isn't particularly excited about getting back together with Paul, for a number of reasons. First, she is disgusted at the thought of further anal sex: "It's like having a daily rectal exam. Imagine being woken up at five each morning for a rectal exam! It's like living in hell." Also, she is concerned about Paul's job and money situation. While at the bar, Paul complained that his supervisor wanted him to do "grunt work", which he resented: "I can see now what this place is all about. They're into delegating work. That's not for me. I think I'll have to be looking around for another job again." Helen was initially impressed when Paul obtained this job two months ago, since it pays $100,000 a year and he had been unemployed for over a year, but now she realizes that he will probably soon be fired for bad attitude and will never make much of himself. "He'll never have any savings, never have a retirement plan, never have a steady job. I'll end up supporting him—a man ten years older than me—and then being fucked in the ass each morning as my reward." Meanwhile, Paul is spending as fast as he earns. The latest extravagance is an expensive set of golf clubs, so he can hobnob with the executives on the golf course, which he considers more important for his career than doing "grunt work".

I mentioned that I was contemplating a scrotum piercing, whereupon Helen made a face: "That's disgusting. And you better make sure you don't do something to damage the sperm." Why is she concerned about my sperm? Is she planning to get pregnant by me? Then she started with the self-pity again:

"My life is essentially over. I've ruined it. No one wants a woman my age. Thirty-seven. Tell a man that and he runs in terror. She's just wants a baby and someone to support her, he thinks. And he's right. Why couldn't I have been smart and gotten married in my twenties? Why didn't my mother teach me any feminine wiles so I could snag a rich husband and stay at home instead of working for a living? She taught me nothing. She taught me nothing because she knows nothing. She and my father both, they're blind as bats when it comes to manipulating people. She didn't even encourage me to get married! Instead, she encouraged me to have a career. What a joke that is! And so here I am. Thirty-seven, childless, husbandless, and hopeless. And the men in my life are flakes. Paul's a financial flake. And as for you—you're a complete flake. I can't even stand being around you for very long. I certainly can't live with you. Why didn't you tell me you were crazy when we first met? Why didn't you talk about scrotum piercings then? What sort of a name is that anyway—scrotum? I just wanted a normal husband and family. Why did I have to meet someone like you? I must have a blind spot for crazy men. I don't want to live alone anymore. There's a stigma to living alone. Maybe I could find an older woman with a big house, someone kindly like my mother, who would let me live with her and we could have literary conversations in the living room in the evening in front of a roaring fire, and then I wouldn't be alone."

 

When I returned from the cafe, there were two messages on my answering machine notifying me of my father's death. One from my uncle, and the other from the lawyer who represented me in the conservatorship suit. The story is that my father fell down the stairs and hit his head on the concrete deck and then was found by my sister several hours later when she came to bring him his dinner. I felt sad about my father's death, but also relieved that it was quick and relatively painless. He was eighty-one years old, had either accomplished or resigned himself to never accomplishing all his goals in life, and has been more or less waiting to die for several years now. His death is thus less a tragedy than the conclusion of a life well-lived. As my mother died several years ago, I have now lost both parents as well as all grandparents. The realization of this caused me various reflections upon the transitoriness of human life. Regarding any inheritance, I feel energized about pursuing a will contest suit in the event my father's most recent will cuts me out in favor of my sister.

 

The Guatemalan guy arrived in the evening. We spent several hours talking in my apartment, then he showered up and we walked to the cafe for drinks and conversation. He arrived at the airport with less than $100 in cash and only about $300 on his credit card, almost all of which he will need to buy a one-way airline ticket to New York. (He will be returning from there to Guatemala). This lack of money, along with his vague story about planning to attend a conference and then to visit with friends, made the immigration officials very suspicious. Instead of the three month visa he initially requested, they only granted one month. He plans to ask for an extension, however, once he gets to New York. From various statements he made, I gathered that he is either homosexual or bisexual and that the friend in New York with whom he plans to stay the bulk of his trip is also homosexual. Luckily, he didn't try propositioning me in any way. Regarding my father's death, he offered the usual condolences. He tried to discuss politics, but his words fell on deaf ears. I am absolutely uninterested in that subject these days.

 

I talked to my lawyer about my father's death. He mentioned that one of my sister's first actions, subsequent to my father's death, was to call the conservator and see if she would still receive her $3000 stipend next month for caring for my father. The initial response was no, since the conservatorship ends at the time of death. My father's lawyer then called my lawyer to determine my feelings about the $3000, since the conservator might be willing to send the check if I approved. I told my lawyer that I would approve nothing until I had seen my father's will. The will he wrote after my sister moved with him to the country, that is. My father's lawyer alleges that he "doesn't remember" the contents of this will, which my lawyer interprets as meaning it contains provisions that I won't like. I told my lawyer to sit tight until after the funeral, at which time we can file various motions to get a copy of the will and then contest it. The conservator estimates that my father's estate is currently worth about $2,100,000.

I then called my sister, whose voice was tremulous, as with grief. She went into a long discussion regarding funeral arrangements, which she plans to handle: "Daddy always wanted to be cremated. I don't know if you were aware of that, but I do think we should respect his wishes. His body is just a shell. His spirit has gone on to a better place. But sometimes even with cremations there is an open-casket viewing. I spoke to one of the funeral directors about this. For some people, open-casket viewing gives a sense of closure. And there'll be a ceremony as well. You know that Daddy converted to a new church here. But I thought it best that we have the ceremony at the old church. The one you and I grew up in. It meant so much to Daddy once." And so on. Neither of us mentioned money or the will.

It occurred to me that my sister might have concocted this story of my father wanting cremation rather than burial, in order to get rid of evidence of foul play involved in my father's death. However, I think this unlikely. My sister certainly had a strong incentive to kill my father. Namely, in order to get her hands on her inheritance sooner, since unlike me, she isn't rich and hence has an immediate need for her inheritance. And she has never been one to let moral scruples keep her from doing what she wants. Nevertheless, I doubt that she would resort to murder. Also, if I demand an autopsy and then nothing is discovered, this might somehow prejudice a future will contest lawsuit. The judge or jury might think me some sort of monster for demanding an autopsy, and conclude that my father had good reason for leaving everything to my sister and nothing to me. (I don't know for sure yet, but I suspect this is how the new will was written.) And if I'm not going to demand an autopsy, then what difference whether my father is cremated or buried?

 

The Guatemalan guy is already getting on my nerves. My plan was to spend the morning in the apartment, since we both had numerous phone calls to make, and then for us to leave the apartment together about noon and part ways, then rendezvous in the evening. But by the time noon rolled around, he was still undressed and unbathed and apparently intent on spending the whole day inside. I became irate.

"What's going on here? I thought I told you I had a luncheon engagement?" I said. This luncheon engagement story was a fib, incidentally.

"Don't worry, my friend, it's okay. I will do what you want," he said, smiling.

"When do you plan on going out?"

"I will go out when you go out."

"I'm going out now."

"That's okay, my friend. You go, and I will go later."

"Don't you understand?! I don't have a spare key and you can't leave without a key to lock the door behind you. You either go now or you don't go at all."

"That's okay. I'll spend the day inside, relaxing and reading."

I left in disgust and fantasized about calling the police and having him thrown out and forced to sleep on the sidewalk like a bum. Part of my annoyance stems from the idea of him snooping around my apartment. My computer is password protected, but I neglected to hide my boxes of financial records. I hate the idea of him discovering how much money I have. As it is, when I told him I might inherit as much as $100,000 from my father (about a fifth of what I actually hope to inherit), he whistled and said, "That's a huge amount of money!" But even more annoying is a feeling of being cheated. The host-guest bargain works as follows. In exchange for free lodging and food, the guest provides the host with vicarious adventure and excitement. Last night, this bargain was fulfilled. The story of his troubles with the immigration authorities was most interesting, for example. Also, it was a novel and interesting feeling for me to have an overnight guest from another country for the first time in my life. But when this guest spends the whole day lying on the sofa, there is no longer a fair exchange. I'm giving him free lodging, but what is he giving me, besides a feeling of having my turf encroached upon?

When I returned later, after having spent part of the afternoon in the park and the remainder in the public library, he was still unbathed and undressed.

"Ready to go out?" I asked, in a booming voice with an undertone of hostility.

"Oh, no, my friend!" he laughed. "I still haven't bathed. I've been reading this book about yoga. It is very good."

"So you plan to spend the whole day just lying there? You're not going out at all?"

"Maybe I'll go out. How is it out? Is it nice? It looks nice."

"It's beautiful. I'm leaving again in the evening, so you've got at most two and a half hours since you wasted so much time lying around."

It took him another hour to complete bathing and then responding to some email his sister had sent from Guatemala. I was thoroughly fed up with him by the time he finally left. After he left, I lay on the sofa, enjoying the feeling of once again being the sole occupant of my apartment. I had anticipated a stressful moment of decision if he didn't return on time—whether or not to leave without waiting and thus force him to spend several hours wandering around. But no, he surprised me by being punctual. We chatted amiably and then I hurried out, leaving him to do what he might in the apartment. I suppose he thinks me unfriendly, but I don't really care.

 

Another tremendous night of tango dancing. Of the twenty or so women I danced with, all started in a loose hold, with a wide gap between our bodies, then pulled themselves close as soon as they realized I was competent enough not to step on their feet. Upon finishing the dance, most of them seemed in something of a daze of sexual excitement. What is most interesting is that these same women remained in a loose hold with the other men, even though it is obvious that these other men are much better dancers than me, at least from a technical point of view (for example, these other men are capable of correctly leading and executing advanced moves which I can't even begin to do properly). Part of my success is probably due to physical factors, but I'm also convinced that part is due to my approach of rigorously avoiding complicated moves, and instead concentrating on executing the simple moves (walking and simple turns) perfectly and in sync with the music, and meanwhile trying to inject as much sexuality as possible into my dancing.

Two of the women pulled themselves too close, however. First, a middle-aged short-haired beginner hung from my neck and started humping my leg in a most obscene manner, so that I had to dismiss her after a single dance, lest the other women think I was the instigator of this vulgarity. Later, a short, hunchbacked old crone pressed herself against me so tightly that we could hardly move without stumbling. After completing our second dance, she clung greedily to my hand and said, "Ask me to dance again later, will you?" I nodded but didn't oblige her.

Many of the women I danced with were young and beautiful, and though I seemed to excite them sexually, I can't say they did the same for me. I don't know why. I hadn't masturbated for several days, so that wasn't the problem. Perhaps I'm just getting old. My desire for sex is no longer sufficient to overcome my distaste for conversation and my love of solitude. It is so easy to ask a woman to dance. Often, I don't even have to ask, I just hold out my hand and she takes it, and the only words we exchange are "thank you" when we are done. Whereas sex raises the frightening prospect of a whole evening beforehand of trying to think of something to say, and then the even more dismal prospect of afterwards wanting to disentangle myself from the woman but somehow being unable to do so.

 

Lunch with Helen, who was in a foul humor due to problems at work, where she discovered a major problem dating from several months ago, and also due to lack of sleep. "Lack of sleep? You've returned to Paul, then?" I inquired. But she refused to discuss her personal life, other than to talk vaguely about planning to go back on the birth control pill because she's disgusted by sex from which she gets no pleasure. "And if I get bladder infections from doing it the regular way, then I'll just commit suicide. It's time I resolve whatever my problems are with respect to sex. Either resolve them or else die. No more sex unless I get an orgasm. That's my motto from now on."

 

The Guatemalan guy doesn't speak fluent English, so I assisted him before he left for his conference in buying an airline ticket to New York. Later, I reflected that this whole United States trip of his seems very foolish. He paid almost $700 for the round-trip ticket from Guatemala, and $311 for the ticket to New York, and thus his total airfare will be about $1000. This is an enormous amount of money for him, given that he probably doesn't earn more than $40 a week, since he only works part-time. And perhaps he earns even less, since I suspect he is unemployed much of the year. If he planned to overstay his visa and work illegally in the United States, then this expense might be understandable. But no, he insists he plans to return to Guatemala in at most three months. Or, if this were his first trip to the United States, then I could see him disregarding money issues in order to take a dream journey of a lifetime. But this isn't his first trip to the United States. He has been here twice before. In any case, I only have to provide one more night of lodging, since the conference is to provide lodging for tonight and tomorrow.

 

The Guatemalan guy called to say he wanted his flight changed. Supposedly, he has met someone with whom he plans stay next week, and wants to have a chance to do some sightseeing of the area. I couldn't resist snarling about this change and screaming into the phone that the change might not be possible or might entail some sort of cost penalty from the airline. My concern was that his plan to stay with this other person might not be as solid as he thinks, so that he'll end up instead needing to stay with me a few extra days. After hanging up, I felt much more kindly disposed towards him—this is typical with me after I've vented my wrath on someone—and went ahead and arranged the flight change he wanted, which, as it turns out, involved no cost penalty.

 

While walking home from the cafe, I saw the dance instructor I briefly dated last month, and it suddenly occurred to me that having two bracelets and two ankle chains and two earrings and a necklace and possibly a scrotum piercing in the future is really going too far, and that women will likely be put off by the idea of a man wearing so much jewelry. So when I got back to my apartment, I took off the new bracelet and the ankle chains and put back on my wristwatch. I'm still happy with the new necklace and earrings, however. "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom."

I spent the evening lying on the sofa—listening to music and reading and gorging on sunflower seeds and making loud whooping noises now and then, like an old queen itching for a fucking. Perhaps I'll end up an old queen myself someday. Perhaps I already am one. This would explain my fascination with jewelry and dancing, as well as my failure to get excited by the women who are excited by dancing with me.

 

Hallelujah! It seems all my snarling and nastiness had the desired effect. The Guatemalan guy found another room for tonight. He came by to pick up his airline ticket at noon today, accompanied for some reason by the people he will be staying with. We all smiled and shook hands and then the Guatemalan guy surprised me with a hug. I wished him best of luck. I suppose he'll be able to make a good story out of my churlishness. Besides, in the end I did provide him with the lodging and other assistance he wanted.

 

A mediocre night of tango dancing. I don't know why, but many of the women refused to embrace me in close hold, including several who had embraced me in close hold last week. One woman in particular, who had melted against me last week, held me at a distance for two dances and afterwards seemed to be pouting. My understanding of dance etiquette is that the woman decides on the distance between her and the man and the man then maintains this distance. In this case, however, I decided to break the rules, since I could tell that this woman was dissatisfied that we were dancing so far apart, and so I asked her for a third dance and this time I forced her into close hold. As I had expected would happen, this third dance left her smiling. Some women did pull me close, so the night wasn't a complete fiasco. In particular, there was one older woman who I managed to put into a complete daze. She has danced with me before and knows the routine that pleases me. We nod at one another, we pull each other close, she closes her eyes, I put her into a state of sexual excitation, during the break between songs we say nothing, at the conclusion of the second song we smile and say "thank you" and part ways.

Towards the end of the evening, a man remarked to me that he wished he were my height because then he would be able to dance with a beautiful young woman who was standing alone with no one asking her to dance (I had danced twice with her already), probably because she was so much taller than most of the men. "You're just tall enough for her," he said. In fact, she is slightly taller than me barefoot and quite a bit taller with heels on, so I'm not really tall enough for her. But regardless, his comment got me to thinking. Despite the awkwardness of her being taller than me, there is excellent energy between us—at least while dancing. While walking home, I asked myself the critical question. Namely, did I think I could make conversation with her? And the answer seemed to be yes. So maybe I'll ask her name the next time I dance with her.

 

I spent the day in the usual way. Up at nine, exercised, ate breakfast, showered, poked around on the internet for several hours, ran some errands, ate a late lunch, read in the cafe, returned to my apartment in the evening and lay there on the sofa and read and listened to music. I haven't masturbated in two days. I seem to have lost interest.

 

Lunch with Helen, who is once again staying in Paul's apartment, though supposedly not enjoying herself there. Both she and Paul caught cold recently. First Paul got sick, then Helen caught the bug. While they were still both sick, Paul treated her considerately. Later, after he recovered but Helen remained sick, he became irritated at her lack of energy. Yesterday, she stayed home from work due to illness. Before leaving, Paul had asked her to walk downtown and pick up his $1000 watch for which he was having the lizard-skin strap replaced (at a cost of about $200), but only if she were feeling up to this errand. Paul couldn't very well complain when she failed to retrieve the watch, due to his provision to "only go if you are feeling up to it", but Helen could sense that he was disappointed. He decided to walk to the store himself, and invited Helen to accompany him. She declined, saying she was still feeling ill and wanted to remain in the apartment. But then after he left, she felt an urge to take a walk to the park and get some fresh air and sunshine. By the time she got back, Paul had returned from picking up the watch and had a pizza cooking in the oven.

"I thought you said you were too tired to go out," said Paul.

"I was, but then I decided to get some fresh air," said Helen.

"So you had the energy to go out on your own but not to go with me?"

"I just went to the park... That pizza smells nice."

"And you know, while I was walking home from the watch shop, I was thinking to myself, How nice if Helen were to have dinner ready when I got back! But no, she wasn't even in the apartment. And then on my way home from work, I had been thinking, How nice if Helen were to have picked up my watch for me! But no, she was too tired to do that."

Part of the reason for Paul's irritability may have been that the new strap was black lizard-skin, whereas he had wanted dark-brown. Helen speculates that the watch shop was out of dark-brown lizard-skin and so convinced Paul to accept black instead, and that Paul was intimidated by the atmosphere of the expensive jewelry store and its staff of snooty sales clerks and so wasn't able to stand up for himself, and later he resented not getting what he really wanted and so took out his frustration on her. After telling me the above story, she reached across the table and clutched my hand tightly.

"Isn't it terrible the way he acted?" she asked.

"It sounds to me like a typical lover's quarrel," I replied.

"It wasn't a lover's quarrel. He's evil. Why can't you be normal? You've got to help me get away from that man. I just can't seem to break loose on my own!"

 

A mediocre night of tango dancing. I stayed three hours, but only danced about a third of the songs. The rest of the time I sat alone and watched. I think the younger women, in particular, are getting annoyed at using close hold and then not having me talk to them afterwards. Only the women who I haven't danced with before pulled me close tonight. Among these was a stunning blonde, who I managed to get her excited, I believe—but alas! she couldn't do the same for me. No one excites me any more. I'm not even particularly interested in masturbation these days.

 

My first night of salsa dancing since three weeks ago. What an unpleasant contrast with the tango clubs! A crowded dance floor, a shortage of women, a general atmosphere of unfriendliness, strutting lower-class barbarians. And yet this used to be the most elegant salsa club in town. I had a few good experiences, but only stayed for two hours. I still prefer the music of salsa to that of tango, while as regards the respective dances, I'm undecided as to which I prefer. But there is no doubt that I greatly prefer the people and atmosphere associated with tango. I don't know what has happened to all the older women who used to patronize this club (women in their thirties and above, that is) since it was they who most contributed to the atmosphere of sophistication and politeness.

 

Lunch with Helen. Tomorrow, she and Paul plan to have dinner with her parents, who are in town to see her sister's new baby. Paul wants Helen to wear no underwear at this dinner. After telling me this, Helen commented: "The only reason I do these kinky things is so the sex will be over sooner, on account of him being more aroused. I'd move out tomorrow if I had a nice apartment of my own. Think of it this way. On the one hand, we have a dungeon with straw in the corner and rats and a tortured body hanging from chains on the wall and dripping water and gloom—that's my apartment. While on the other hand, we have a palace fit for a princess, except that the king of this palace is a churl half the time. Under these circumstances, it's hardly a wonder I stay with Paul."

 

While walking down the street, I saw one of Elizabeth's friends, who greeted me with a big smile and asked what I was doing these days. "Nothing," I replied cheerfully. Then, seeing an expression of consternation on her face, I hurriedly fed her the story about having "sold off" my software business and how I was currently "working on new ideas". I don't think she believed me. My hope is that she will tell Elizabeth of having seen me. But why? Do I want Elizabeth to call?

 

Tango dancing in the evening. Some good experiences, some not so good. A pretty young black-haired woman clutched me so close that she might as well have been humping my leg. Afterwards, she asked my name and what I do for a living (I told her I was a computer programmer), but I simply couldn't get excited enough to continue the conversation. I don't want to communicate with anyone anymore, it appears. Except occasionally with Helen.

 

Karen called. She planned to walk around my neighborhood looking for apartments for rent, and suggested I accompany her and possibly have lunch with her as well, to both of which suggestions I readily agreed. I couldn't resist touching her back and neck as we talked, and while she didn't shrink away or otherwise seem to object, she also didn't respond with similar affectionate gestures. I concluded that she was not interested in resuming our relationship on sexual terms. Indeed, she mentioned later that she is going steady with another man, who is bisexual and kinky. "He likes them young—boys, girls, it doesn't matter. He wants us to have orgies—threesomes, foursomes, the more the better." I suppose it's for the best that Karen and I don't have sex, since I might well freak out again if we did.

As usual, Karen's financial situation is precarious. She has been fired from two recent temporary jobs recently because the employers "hated her". Furthermore, she doesn't think she can ever make enough money from temp work to maintain her desired standard of living. She rejected a job paying $40,000 per year because she thinks that salary insufficient for her to live on. I pointed out that $40,000 per year would yield about $29,000 after tax, which was more than the approximately $26,000 that I spent each year. Karen replied that her expenses were considerably higher than mine: "I'm high maintenance." She is thinking of declaring bankruptcy, though didn't specify what her debts are. I suspect mostly credit cards. Supposedly, she has enough cash for an apartment deposit. As an interim job, she plans to work part-time at a "sensual massage parlor" in the suburbs, though the manager there was reluctant at first to hire her. "Our clients prefer the natural look," he told her. This was a reference to Karen's breast implants and heavy use of cosmetics. He was vague about what the job entails, other than that there is "no sex".

After walking around the neighborhood, we visited the rental agency. I noticed how Karen acted very ashamed at asking for a revision to her apartment search criteria which made it evident that she was lowering her standards (the target maximum rent was lowered from $1400 to $1200, studios as well as one-bedrooms would be considered, apartments in the skid-row district would be considered) and that the workers seemed to detect her shame at not being rich and that they treated her contemptuously in response. No wonder she is so hostile at times! She seems to invite abuse.

 

In the evening, I talked to my aunt to arrange for a place to stay while in town for my father's funeral. She asked about Elizabeth, and I explained that we had broken up. Then I told her how I was still in love with Helen, but that Helen was living with another man. I don't know why I was in such a self-revealing mood. I don't really enjoy talking to my aunt anymore, but I also don't want to be obviously uncommunicative when I'm asking to stay at her house for four nights.

 

Karen called early in the morning. She had a quarrel last night with the friend with whom she is currently living, and wanted to know if she could stay in my apartment while I was away. I agreed to let her do so. Immediately upon hanging up the phone, I hurried to hide my financial records and various other items that I don't want Karen seeing. In order to detect any snooping, I inserted some small pieces of paper under the boxes which I used as a hiding place. These slips of paper will fall out if the boxes are moved. Of course, what I really need is a locking file cabinet.

When Karen arrived, I was still in the midst of packing and dressing, and so she sat on the sofa and discussed the situation with her friend. Tensions between them have been escalating for some time. Karen is convinced the friend is an alcoholic, and a few weeks ago attempted "intervention"—an Alcoholics Anonymous term for directly confronting the alcoholic with the reality of their disease and then offering help. The friend rejected this intervention, however. "She's in complete denial." Meanwhile, Karen has been having difficulty sleeping due to the low temperature in the friend's house, and so this past week, she bought an electric space heater, to put by the sofa in the living room which she uses as a bed. Last night, just as she was preparing to go to sleep, the friend marched out of her bedroom, and without saying anything, yanked the space heater's cord from the wall socket, then marched back into her bedroom. Karen followed, and asked what was the problem. The friend waved a scrap of paper at Karen and screamed: "Have you seen last month's electric bill?!" Karen explained that she couldn't sleep properly due to the low temperature. "And how cold do you think it is outside?" screamed the friend, implying that Karen had better quit complaining about her house since she had no alternative other than sleeping in the street. Karen hardly slept all night, then called me in the morning. She is now determined to move out of her friend's house as soon as possible.

"Ex-friend, that is. She's the one who always complains about these abusive, drunken boyfriends who beat her up. I think she's the abusive and drunken one. And if they hit her, it's for a reason. She's a really small woman, but very cold and hard. And yet I was paying her $500 a month to sleep on her sofa."

We didn't kiss or hug, which is probably just as well. She might think I was trying to extract sex as a condition for staying in my apartment and come to hate me for this, or else I might suddenly become panicky at the thought of a lover trying to move in on me. Nor am I really sure I want sex with her.

After I explained how to use the guest account on the computer, and other facts about the apartment, I gave her my keys and then she drove me to the airport.

 

Breakfast with my aunt and various cousins. Afterwards, my aunt tried to engage me in conversation, but I soon felt bored and suffocated by her company. Her intelligence and wide reading are more than offset by a sort of narrow mindedness that I find intolerable. I walked to the park to get some privacy and sat there on a bench reading for several hours. Probably I should have gone instead to an air-conditioned cafe, because it was miserably hot and humid outside, so that despite being in the shade, I was soon dripping with perspiration. When I returned to my aunt's house, my fifteen year old niece was there and intending to spend the night. Perhaps she is curious about me. Other than her school teachers, she probably sees little of men my age. I find her beautiful to look at, but afflicted by the same conservative mindset as so many of my relatives, so that I have no desire to speak to her.

My aunt was busy taping classic Hollywood movies and insisted on getting my opinion of these and then asked various other questions about culture. When I was younger, I might have neatly sidestepped by mumbling "I don't know". Now that I'm a grown man, however, such timidity seems inappropriate, and so I blurted out my thoughts. To wit: that while the medium of television is interesting, so far it is has produced little of real value; television is mostly "trash", in the same sense that the paperback romance and crime novels sold at the grocery store are mostly trash; that when an intelligent and educated person like herself finds television attractive, it is because they have shut themselves off from living literature and music—though it may be trash, television is very much alive; that a diet of nothing but classical music is boring, so that it is no wonder that someone like herself who refuses to listen to modern popular music is attracted to television, which is full of modern music; that art is a form of interior decoration and art museums are boring and the most interesting part of any art museum is the gift shop; that poetry is boring and artificial, other than as lyrics for popular music; and so on. Each of these iconoclastic statements provoked a storm of reaction from both my aunt and my niece. "All you do is criticize. What is it that you like?" said my niece. "He told me he likes horror movies!" shouted my aunt. I felt as though I were a teenager again, spiritually suffocating and violently striking out against the weight of tradition pressing me from every side and desperately wanting to flee this city and the people in it.

 

My father's funeral was held this morning. At the reception, I spoke to various relatives and friends of my father who I'll probably never see again. The walking dead of Middle America, all gathered here together to bore me and one another. Though I suppose I should be grateful for those who are willing to live in a wretched climate and intellectual backwater and fulfill the civic responsibilities that I shirk. The world would soon collapse if populated solely by creatures like myself. One of my aunts said to me, "Aren't you relieved that your father is dead and now you don't have to worry about him?" I replied truthfully that I really had no feelings on what was the appropriate time for my father to die, and that "relief" did not seem at all the correct word for how I felt.

My sister was friendly during the service and even hugged me. Perhaps she hopes that, by currying my favor, she will avoid a will contest suit or other delay in obtaining her inheritance. As part of the service, the priest read a mawkish tribute to my father that my sister had written. Prior to the ceremony, the priest had asked if I wanted to contribute anything, but I had no idea what to say and so declined, mumbling, "I'm not much with words". If I had said something, it would have been very simple, along the lines of: "I had great respect for my father. If there's an afterlife, I wish him the best. If there's no afterlife, well, then there's nothing to worry about." There was a twenty one gun salute at the cemetery due to my father's military record.

I avoided another tedious evening with my aunt by rushing off to a nearby cafe, where I alternated between sweating like a pig in the heat and humidity of the outdoor terrace and being chilled to the point of shivering by the overly strong air-conditioning inside.

 

I left the house early to avoid spending any more time with my aunt, and spent the day wandering around the historic district and shopping in book and music stores and sitting in cafes reading. Alas, the whole city seems poisonous to my spirit, and not just my aunt's house. At a gift store, I bought two sets of polished rocks, with the intention of giving one set to Helen and the other to my aunt, but then on the way home I decided to give my aunt nothing. Trying to be polite to her simply because she is my host strikes me as caving in to the same phoniness that disgusts me about this city and the people in it. I want to give to Helen and I don't want to give to my aunt, and that's how I feel and it really doesn't matter why.

 

My spirits finally lifted as I stepped off the bus into the hustle and bustle of downtown West Metropolis. I don't know why I hate my hometown so much, but I do. I never want to go there again for the rest of my life. I had a terrible headache from a sinus cold and so went to bed at five in the afternoon and slept fitfully for almost fifteen hours.

 

Karen left the apartment almost without traces of her presence here. I checked the boxes where I had hidden items and they all seemed undisturbed, so apparently she didn't go poking around. She called in the afternoon, and thanked me for letting her stay at my apartment while I was away, and said she is now living with one of her other ex-lovers (I didn't ask for details), and then asked a few computer related questions, and finally suggested we keep in touch in the future.

 

Lunch with Helen, who is back to living with Paul and still sick from the cold she contracted two weeks ago. Paul accuses her of malingering. She asked him recently about the situation with the other woman he dated a few months back, and was surprised to learn that have been several of these "other women". Nothing came of the original of these, because she never called Paul back after their first date, and Paul expects the woman to call him instead of him calling the woman. Since then, however, he has dated two additional women who he met through work, and several other women have asked him for a ride in his new "babe-mobile". That is, the $30,000 sports car he bought last month. "A forty-seven year old man. He doesn't deserve to have all these women after him," Helen complained. While discussing my father's funeral, we got onto the subject of dreams in life. Helen said that as a child she had dreamed of growing up to be "a hermit living on a mountain."

 

My lawyer faxed me a copy of a will that was submitted for probate the week before my father's funeral, which leaves my father's entire estate (about $2,500,000 pre-tax or $1,500,000 after-tax, according to preliminary estimates by the conservator) to my sister and her two children, plus various minor bequests amounting to no more than $10,000 in all. I am specifically excluded from the will, and there is no provision for my retarded half-sister. The previous will (that is, the will written immediately prior to my father's move to the country) would have left $150,000 in trust to this retarded half-sister, with the residual estate split between me and my sister. I spent the day plotting a strategy for contesting this new will based on the legal principle of undue influence. Cutting out my retarded half-sister was a particularly bad move for my sister, as juries don't like seeing defenseless people robbed. One good aspect of the situation is that I don't have to agonize over what to do. By cutting me out entirely, my sister has once again backed me into a corner. I have to sue, since otherwise I'll look and feel stupid.

 

Mark called and we had a pleasant chat. I apologized for being abrupt with him when we last spoke a few month ago. I blamed my behavior on stress caused by women troubles. Upon hearing of my father's death and how his last will leaves everything to my sister, Mark exclaimed: "Oh isn't that stupid! Taking everything for herself. Now when that old woman put me in her will to inherit her apartment, I made sure she didn't leave me her money as well. I made sure she left her money to her relatives. Yes, sir. That way, everything would look legitimate and they couldn't dispute about it. I made sure she didn't leave everything to me." I asked about Tony, and Mark replied that he was still in prison, and suffering terribly from the heat and from a violent and psychotic cellmate, but that he hopes to get out by the end of the year. After talking for about twenty minutes, Mark seemed anxious to get off the phone. I think he was worried about the cost of the long-distance call.

 

I continued work on an overview of the will contest case, which I plan to send to my lawyer. I am anxious that the case be taken on a contingency fee basis, for several reasons. First, his accepting a contingency fee arrangement implies that my lawyer has high confidence of winning. Second, with an hourly fee arrangement, I might end up worrying myself sick about exorbitant legal fees, or the possibility that my lawyer is neglecting my case in favor of cases with the potential for higher fees, or even that he has taken a bribe from the opposing lawyer in return for sabotaging my case. I know how my mind works.

 

While walking in the nightclub district, I crossed paths with Sonya, accompanied by a man in his thirties. We all shook hands, then Sonya suggested I call her sometime. I'm not sure what I plan to do.

 

A dismal evening of salsa dancing. I only danced for thirty minutes, then became disgusted at the shortage of single women and the surplus of young barbarians crowding the dance floor. This club has really gone downhill since the more refined older women stopped patronizing it.

 

A dismal evening of tango dancing. Part of the problem is I am simply feeling under the weather. Perhaps I exhausted myself this weekend while writing up my will contest strategy. My first dance was with the young black-haired woman with whom I've danced beautifully for several weeks running. Earlier this week, for example, after our second dance together she sighed wistfully and said, "That was absolutely lovely," in the tone of voice of a woman who has just had a delicious orgasm. But for whatever reason, tonight we couldn't do anything right together. I tried to escape after the second song, but she protested, "Are you tired of dancing with me?" I reluctantly agreed to dance with her some more, and things went from bad to worse. At last, after our fifth bad dance together, she let me escape. I get the impression that she is highly sexed and horny. Maybe I'm afraid of her for that reason? It does seem that my interest in real sex (as opposed to masturbation) has completely disappeared. The only reason I bother with pursuing women anymore is that I don't know what else to do with myself. I don't want to travel anywhere. I'm rich and hence don't need to work for money, nor do I enjoy working for its own sake. I don't want to be famous. If I didn't pursue women, what would I do with my time?

 

Lunch with Helen. She is planning to take college courses for a certificate in computer and information science. I made some suggestions about what courses to take, including strongly recommending that she only take one course per semester, instead of two, especially as these are laboratory courses and thus might be very time-consuming.

 

I then called Elizabeth, and asked whether she would be willing to testify in the will contest suit, regarding the events of our visit to my father this past December. She agreed to do so.

"Is that the only reason you called me?" she asked.

"That was the main reason, yes. But now that I've got you on the phone, How's your love life?" I said.

"I don't have one," she replied.

I inquired about her recent trip to Europe and her visit to her ex-boyfriend there. She replied that she hadn't had sex with this ex-boyfriend, nor did she have a strong desire for sex with any man at this point. Then she mentioned that her girlfriend, who I met on the street earlier this month, had told Elizabeth about our meeting and about my new earrings, and had commented: "I'm so glad you're not going out with him any more. He had a crazy look in his eyes." Elizabeth and I both burst out laughing at this friend and her opinion of me. I had called Elizabeth at her place of work and we had to cut our conversation short due to an interruption. "I've got to go," she said. "Okay, bye", I replied, without making any promise to call her again. As soon as we hung, I masturbated furiously.

 

I called Elizabeth in the morning, since it was clear to me yesterday that we still have something of a relationship, and I wanted to get the situation resolved. Either we get back together or else we break up for good. Elizabeth reiterated what she had said yesterday about no longer having any desire for sex: "It would just be a letdown after the sex with you. It certainly wouldn't be any better." Then she said that her goals had changed somewhat since our last conversation. While she still wants to live with a man, she is no longer so concerned about marriage. "Marriage is about children and I can't have children, I now realize. I've started menopause," she explained. She had read the letter I sent her last month of to various people—her mother, her homosexual friend, several women friends—all of whom advised her to never speak to me again. Then I told her I was sorry we had broken up, since she "gave me everything I wanted in a woman." She responded by inviting me to spend the weekend with her.

"I'm house-sitting tonight for a friend who is on vacation," she explained.

"Oh? What's that supposed to mean?" I asked.

"I thought you might want to house-sit with me."

"Of course."

And so we made arrangements for her to pick me up in an hour. When she arrived, she insisted on coming up to my apartment, where we talked and then had sex, which was as wonderful as ever. We came simultaneously and then she started sobbing from the release of tension. "I've had terrible headaches ever since we broke up," she said.

I gave her one of the two sets of polished rocks which I had bought while visiting for my father's funeral (the other set I gave to Helen). I then noted that her complaint that I never gave her gifts wasn't really true, and cited as an example the inlaid wooden jewelry box which I gave her earlier this year.

"I broke that," replied Elizabeth.

"You broke it?" I echoed.

"Yes, I smashed it to smithereens after one of our disputes. It reminded me of you."

Her friend's house is located in one of the distant suburbs. Elizabeth and I agreed that it resembled a hotel suite in its tidiness. On the drive there, I discussed my conservatorship suit and the question of whether to go with an hourly or a contingency fee. Elizabeth's opinion, with which I tend to agree, is that an hourly fee seems a much better deal than a standard contingency fee, other than for the consideration of my tendency to worry and become paranoid when being billed on an hourly basis. We also discussed her recent trip to Europe, and joked some more about what her friends and mother would say when they learned we had gotten back together.

Dinner was at a restaurant where Elizabeth vaguely knew the owner. Afterwards, we engaged in another wonderful bout of sex. Elizabeth came first, then I fucked her deeply and had such a powerful orgasm that I nearly started weeping.

 

I reflected that I really have to commit myself to Elizabeth, regardless of how boring I find her company at times. It doesn't matter that I find Helen's company so much more charming than Elizabeth's. It is foolish—even childish—to pretend that a relationship without good sex, such as the relationship I have with Helen, can ever be fully satisfactory to me. My body is speaking loud and clear. Elizabeth is the right woman for me, and not Helen and not Karen and not any of the women I meet while salsa and tango dancing.

 

I had a long discussion with my lawyer about fee arrangements. My current estimate is as follows. If the current will is thrown out in favor of the prior will, then I will receive either $600,000 or $450,000 and my sister will receive either $300,000 or $450,000, depending on whether the $300,000 loan by my father to my sister is treated as a loan or as a gift. $450,000 is what I will likely receive under a settlement. A standard contingency agreement would give my lawyers 30% in the case of settlement and 40% in the case of a successful trial. I estimate that hourly fees would run no more than $50,000, assuming the case is taken to trial. Since 40% of $600,000 is $240,000, which is far more than $50,000, and since I believe my case is very strong, it makes sense to go with the hourly fee arrangement. On the other hand, I would like my lawyers to have more of a financial incentive to win, and I would also like to avoid the possibility of unlimited legal fees, which might cause me to become miserable with worry. So what I proposed was a modified contingency arrangement—I would pay a $20,000 retainer up front, which my lawyers keep regardless of whether we win or lose, plus they get 15% of whatever we settle for or 20% of whatever we win at trial. If we settle for $450,000, my fees would thus be $87,500 and my net recovery would be $362,500. If we win $600,000 at trial, my fees would be $140,000 and my net recovery would be $460,000.

 

Lunch with Helen, who was disappointed to hear about my getting back together with Elizabeth. She complained of being fed up with being fucked in the ass by Paul. "It's the most unintimate thing imaginable—he just flips me over and puts it in and I'm just lying there waiting for it all to be over." She is reluctant to have vaginal sex with Paul because he refuses to wear a condom and she doesn't want to go on the pill. She had thought she might experiment first with me, but rejected that idea upon hearing that I was back with Elizabeth.

Helen has been trying to be a perfect wife for Paul. Each night she cooks him a fancy meal, and she cleans the apartment regularly, and doesn't argue or raise her voice or complain. In fact, she accommodates Paul in every way except sexually. "Unfortunately, he seems obsessed by that one little thing I won't do."

 

Dinner with Elizabeth, followed by another bout of wonderful sex, with her on top this time. We both are of the view that the excellence of our sex results from something more than merely our love-making skills. There is some fundamental compatibility between our energy levels, such that a powerful force enters into play during our better episodes of sex. Our skills simply awaken this force. After it is awakened, we have little control over it.

Elizabeth mentioned to her mother during their most recent phone conversation that she had gotten back together with me. Her mother was surprised: "You mean to say you called him after that insulting letter he wrote?" Elizabeth explained how I had called her, regarding testifying at the will contest suit. Elizabeth's mother then became excited and asked for more details, since she is involved in a similar situation. The woman by whom she was adopted is currently senile, and is being cared for and supposedly robbed by another adopted daughter, and has also presumably written a will leaving everything to this other adopted daughter.

 

My lawyer countered my proposal of yesterday, by raising the contingency percentages to 18% for settlement and 23% for trial, on the grounds that he anticipates large expenses. I then asked for a modification to ensure that the agreement covers contesting all wills made subsequent to the will which splits the estate between me and my sister, as I am worried that there might be several such wills. Once this modification was added, I signed the agreement and sent it to him, together with a check for the $20,000 retainer. My lawsuit is thus now officially under way. My current estimate is that I will receive $450,000 gross if we settle and $600,000 gross if we go to trial (these estimates may be low, however). Subtract from these gross figures the $20,000 retainer and the contingency percentages, and my probable net then becomes $349,000 in the case of settlement and $442,000 in the case of trial.

 

A man in his thirties approached me in the post office, where I was flipping through a computer programming magazine, and asked for some advice about how to learn to be a computer programmer, which led to a lengthy conversation. He works as a designer. Several times in the past few months, he has noticed me walking around the neighborhood. He offered his business card and I felt it only polite to offer mine in return. My intuition tells me he is homosexual, but since he didn't mention sex, I didn't want to broach the subject myself. So here I go with another of these doomed relationships with homosexuals. I would have thought I was getting too old and too bald for men to be approaching me like this. Then again, the women who hump my leg while dancing clearly find me attractive, so why not men?

 

Lunch with Helen, who was taking a day off from work.

"How are things between the two lovebirds?" I asked.

"I wouldn't call us lovebirds at this point. There was slight skirmish yesterday. I had to spend the night at my own apartment," Helen replied.

"I hope the police didn't take you home again?"

"No, though Paul did suggest bringing them in for assistance."

After coming home tired from work, Paul set to work preparing dinner. When Helen walked into the kitchen, Paul handed her a plate, as if handing off chores to a servant. "What am I supposed to do with this?" asked Helen, who resented being treated in this peremptory manner. Paul replied, in an annoyed tone of voice, that she was to put the plate on the dining room table. Helen did as Paul instructed, then returned to the kitchen to retrieve the cutlery, then paused and watched as Paul cut a melon. She was holding a knife and fork at this point, which she waved about, idly and unconsciously. "I was just feeling animated," she explained to me today, in describing what happened. Paul looked up at Helen, then took her by the shoulders and pushed her out of the kitchen.

"Why did you push me?" Helen asked.

"I don't like having knives waved at me. And if you don't understand that, then maybe it's time we broke up!" Paul shouted in reply.

"What are you getting so upset about? I was just toying with the knife and fork."

"You were pointing the knife in my direction, and I don't like people pointing knives at me. No one likes having knives pointed at them. If you knew anything about etiquette, you'd know that."

"Oh? And I suppose the way you slurp your soup and sop your bread in the common soup bowl is proper etiquette?"

Needless to say, the dinner was a tense one. Afterwards, Helen called her sister and talked to her in a loud voice, so that Paul could overhear: "Oh, yes, we're breaking up for good this time. He went nuts because he saw me toying with a knife that I was about to put on the table for dinner. He says I was pointing it at him. Can you believe it? He went crazy and started shouting at me just because of that."

Helen slept in the bed and Paul on the sofa. This was at Helen's request. About two in the morning, Helen woke up and called out to Paul, asking him to join her in the bed, since she was feeling lonely and unable to sleep. Paul refused. Helen then climbed out of bed and walked into the living room and asked Paul again to join her.

"You should have thought about what it's like to sleep alone before you asked me to sleep on the sofa," retorted Paul. Helen switched on a light and sat down in the leather armchair and commenced reading a magazine. "What are you doing?" Paul asked.

"I'm keeping you company. I can't get to sleep," Helen replied, and then she looked at Paul with a demented looking smile on her face. Perhaps it was this smile, which awakened Paul's deep-seated fear of craziness in women, or perhaps it was accumulated frustration from his day at work and the arguments before dinner, or perhaps it was anger at being woken in the middle of the night—in any case, something in Paul snapped. He picked up the telephone and shouted:

"That's it, you're interfering with my work life! Either you get out now, or I call the police and then get a restraining order to keep you away!" Helen agreed to leave provided Paul drive her home. The current plan is for him to help carry her clothes back to her apartment this weekend.

After describing the above events, Helen mentioned that Paul was planning to assist her this afternoon in looking for another apartment.

"It hardly sounds like you two are breaking up, if he's still providing you with assistance," I said.

"Oh, I'm leaving that monster for good, there's no question about that. He's only helping me today because he wants to get rid of me," replied Helen.

I told Helen that I had decided to treat Elizabeth as a life partner: "The sex between us is so good that it makes up for our lack of compatibility in other ways. I feel like I'm in another world when we have sex. Somewhere timeless and eternal. I don't want to give that up." Helen was anxious that I might decide to marry Elizabeth, but I assured her that was not my plan, at least not presently. She then asked if I would visit her this evening, to provide hugs and other comforting, since she was feeling lonely. I agreed to do so. But when I stopped by later, she was out. Evidently, just as I had anticipated would happen, she and Paul reconciled during the apartment search.

 

Helen called to apologize for not being at her apartment yesterday evening. She confirmed that she and Paul had reconciled.

 

Elizabeth met me at the cafe, where we had tea together. We then walked for a while in the wilderness park, watching the sun go down. She told the friend who had met me on the street earlier this month about our getting back together. This friend commented, "Well, I guess you know what you're doing. But I just don't see him as a life partner." When asked what I was up to these days, Elizabeth told this friend that I was "retired". We both laughed about this explanation of my situation. "She's probably thinking, There goes Elizabeth with another unemployed boyfriend," I said. "She's definitely thinking that," said Elizabeth.

We browsed for an hour in a bookstore, followed by dinner at a restaurant, followed by sex at her apartment. I experimented with a new technique, wherein I thrust in sync with her breathing. I enter as she exhales, and when her breathing speeds up, so does my thrusting. We came together, but because the orgasms were simultaneous and because hers was mild, I didn't notice, and so frantically continued pumping in order to bring Elizabeth off before my erection faded. Meanwhile, she didn't realize I had come, since I had suppressed my orgasm in order not to lose my erection, and so assumed I was pumping in order to bring myself off. We both laughed when we realized what had happened. Other than this misunderstanding, I thought the sex very good. Elizabeth, however, complained that my new technique brought her to orgasm faster than she would have preferred. Her most intense orgasms occur when she has to struggle some.

 

Lunch with Helen. She signed up for an apartment in Paul's complex, immediately adjacent to his apartment, but lied about her salary on the application because she didn't meet the minimum income requirements (the rent is $1270 a month, which is slightly more than a third of her salary). The manager asked Helen for a pay stub as proof of her salary, and she now realizes that she will have to withdraw her application. I told her that it seemed very foolish to sign up for a year's lease on such an expensive apartment, especially one right next door to Paul. If they remain together, the apartment is unnecessary. If they break up, it seems absurd to be living next door, where she will surely be upset by seeing Paul in the company of other women.

 

Elizabeth stopped by in the evening to use my computer.

"Have you been bringing any other women up here?" she asked, upon emerging from the bathroom.

"No," I replied.

"I found a blonde hair in the bathroom, and it isn't mine."

"Oh. That would be Karen. An ex-girlfriend. I let her stay here a few nights. But we didn't have sex," I stammered.

"She spent the night here? When was that?"

"Several months ago."

"You and I were still going out several months ago."

"Maybe just one month ago. I get confused about time."

"I see. And you haven't cleaned the bathroom since she stayed here a month ago?"

"Sure I've cleaned it. But maybe I didn't clean it completely."

"You say that she stayed here for a few nights but you didn't have sex with her? That must have been awkward."

I explained how Karen had been kicked out of her friend's house and needed a place to stay, but that I hadn't had sex with her because she seemed like trouble and I didn't want to get involved and that I had given Karen some cockamamie story about being too spiritual for sex, in order not to offend her by simply saying I didn't want to have sex. This story is almost true, other than that I did have sex with Karen once. I didn't mention how Karen had stayed at my apartment while I was at my father's funeral. I don't know why, since this circumstance might have made it more plausible that Karen had stayed at my apartment without our having sex.

"Anyway, we were broken up when she came by," I concluded, and then I took the offensive: "And what about you seeing that other man last year before you'd even broken up with me?"

"You'll never let me forget that, will you?" said Elizabeth.

I then explained how I felt bad about Karen's situation and wanted to help her out, since she was an ex-girlfriend. This last explanation, in particular, seemed to mollify Elizabeth, since it indicates that I treat my ex-girlfriends generously, and Elizabeth might be such an ex-girlfriend of mine herself someday. I mentioned that Karen had run through several boyfriends since moving back from the east coast.

"In that case, I'm even more glad you didn't have sex with her. You might have caught some disease," said Elizabeth. I should note that Elizabeth isn't aware that Karen works occasionally as a prostitute. Otherwise, who knows what her reaction would have been to the idea of Karen staying in my apartment and possibly having sex with me.

We ate dinner at a cafe, then drove to Elizabeth's apartment, where we went to bed early, as we were both feeling sleepy.

 

As Elizabeth and I hadn't had sex last night, I was horny this morning and began pawing her soon after we woke. Instead of the rhythmic fucking that had caused her to come too soon during our last get-together, I fucked her today with long pauses between each stroke. This intensifies her orgasm by causing a build-up of tension. We came simultaneously after about twenty minutes of this slow fucking. I left soon thereafter, as Elizabeth was planning to spend the day with a woman friend and didn't want me around when this friend arrived. Like many of Elizabeth's other friends, this woman she was to meet today doesn't think me a suitable long-term partner, perhaps because of the distorted picture Elizabeth has given them of me. One of this friend's comments about me was "I don't think he views sex as sacred."

 

I received an email from my monk cousin (a first cousin on my mother's side), which led me to suspect that he is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He is currently in his mid-forties and has been involved in monasteries of one sort or another for over twenty years, or most of his adult life. Until recently, he lived as a complete recluse. Since about two years ago, however, he has been telephoning and emailing and soliciting visits and otherwise reaching out to relatives. He has no friends outside the monastery, so relatives are the only people he can reach out to. My last phone conversation with him was several months ago, when I noticed that his voice seemed strangely quavery.

I've always had my doubts about his joining a monastery. He was very intelligent as a boy, and graduated with honors from a prestigious university, where he majored in biology and astronomy. In high school, he never talked to girls, other than a single instance when, at his mother's prodding, he invited a neighbor's daughter to the senior prom. His first words to this girl were on the lines of, "Before we can go out, though, I need to know whether you are a Christian, and if so, your opinions regarding the doctrines of transubstantiation and the Holy Trinity." The girl, needless to say, was shocked, and nothing came of their relationship. After graduating from the university, he worked for several years as a night-shift lab technician in a hospital. His mother alleges that he chose this job because it involved minimal contact with other humans. Several years later, he converted to orthodox Christianity (we were both raised Protestant) and joined a monastery.

I resolved to pay him a visit in the near future. Since the monastery is on the east coast, this trip will also fulfill my New Year's resolution to visit Mark. I had been considering a trip east for much of this year, but couldn't muster the energy to get moving, and so kept postponing. But now that I am back together with Elizabeth, strangely enough, I have plenty of enthusiasm for a trip by myself.

The following is my monk cousin's email:

 

Although in a sense it's nothing remarkable at all, I decided to share this with everyone in the family since it might be edifying to some or all of you. It was a small thing, but for those of you who wonder if I am using my life right by living in a monastery, God did something today—as he has done many times before—to let me know in a tangible way that he is there, and is looking after me, and also that I am doing what he wants by being here.

Last evening I was very tired and fell asleep about eight pm, after evening services. I woke about one am. I was thinking about whether I should get up and busy myself, whether with some work or some morning prayers. I was perfectly wide awake and was not dozing or anything. The ceiling light was on in my cell since I hadn't doused it before I went to sleep. I heard some quiet footsteps outside the door of my cell. The pace of the steps was fairly quick.

Then there were two quiet but distinct and unmistakable knocks on the door of my cell. After the knocks stopped, there was no sound of anyone walking away. The steps and the knock were not like those of anyone living in the monastery. I opened the door of my cell within a second of hearing the last knock. There was absolutely no one outside the door. I looked up and down the hall, and there was not a soul in sight. (In our monastery there is one very long corridor with doors along the length of it.)

No human being had knocked on my door; and without a trace or shadow of a doubt, this must have been my guardian angel. God, in his providence, chose today to send my guardian angel to let me know that it was time to get up, but more generally to tell me the things I mentioned at the start of this message.

Similar incidents have happened several times since I've been at this monastery, which is a period of thirteen years. One time I had just gotten up—it was a Sunday morning and it was getting close to time for church and I was running a little bit late. It might have been nine am. The sun was shining outside. Then there was one single and fairly loud knock on my door. I at once opened the door, and there was no one in sight. There were no other sounds in the monastery at the time, and no people in sight. I interpreted the relative loudness of the knock then as letting me know, gently but firmly, that I ought to get moving. But more generally, the purpose of the knock was to remind me of God's care, love, and providence, and that he is doing his part to bring about my salvation.

Jesus really does provide for his children. (To say I am one of these is not prideful—he will give this status to anyone who asks it.) I am reassured that he really is the Lord of my life. Not that I am a good servant of his, for I'm not. I asked him to be my Lord and Savior and he said, "He who comes to me I will in no wise cast out." He rejects no one who comes to him.

 

I told Elizabeth about my plans to take a month long trip to the east coast by train, including a week in North Metropolis and another week visiting Mark and my cousin in the monastery. She didn't seem pleased that I was spending so much time away, so I proposed that she join me for the last part of the trip. We had lunch at a restaurant, then watched a movie at a theatre. Afterwards, we stopped by my apartment, where Elizabeth initiated sex. She wanted me to fuck her cunt from behind, but then when we assumed the position, the smell wafting from between her buttocks left me utterly disgusted. (How can she be so tidy about housecleaning, and yet so negligent, at least sometimes, about cleaning her ass?) I didn't feel like telling her what was bothering me, but neither did I feel like having sex. Instead, I just lost my erection.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

"I don't know," I replied.

"Are you angry at me?"

"I don't know."

"What do you mean you don't know? How can you not know that you're angry?"

"I don't know."

We went on like this for some time, then rested, then I finally because aroused, after uttering some violent sounding denunciation of the movie theater, which reminded me of a suburban mall. Elizabeth insisted on being on top, but this position caused her vagina to become sore. "I feel like you're banging me," she complained. "What do you expect? I can't control the speed or anything when you're on top," I replied. Then she gave signs of wanting to stop. I knew, however, that if we stopped, Elizabeth would be frantic all night due to sexual frustration. So instead of stopping, I flipped her on her back and fucked her ten minutes missionary style, culminating with our usual simultaneous orgasms.

 

Dinner with Elizabeth. While discussing my trip, I said something about using the bus instead of renting a car. Elizabeth made a face and replied: "Riding the bus makes me feel dirty. It makes me feel like I've fallen into a pit, and that I'm surrounded by the dregs of society, the lowest of the low. It's like I've been pushed down into the gutter with the other untouchables. I will not ride the bus!"

Another bout of superb sex back at her apartment—mutual oral sex as foreplay, fifteen minutes of slow fucking, simultaneous orgasms. It is strange how Elizabeth and I are different in so many respects and yet so perfectly compatible in bed.

 

Lunch with Helen. I reflected on how, while I spend large blocks of time with Elizabeth, and we have such great sex together, and I can calmly contemplate having children with her, and I plan to continue my relationship with her indefinitely—nevertheless Helen is the woman whose company I look forward to sharing. I mentioned this to Helen and she replied that she is in a similar situation. She is closer to me in many ways than to Paul, and yet knows that she and I cannot and will not ever live together.

 

The homosexual who introduced himself to me at the post office last week called today. "It wasn't just the computer magazine that attracted me to you. I'd previously seen you staring at me when I passed that cafe," he said. I explained that I'm slightly near-sighted but don't wear either glasses or contact lenses, so that I sometimes stare intently at people merely in order to see them clearly (this story about near-sightedness is true, by the way), and that I'm straight. "That closes off that avenue," he said, and then he suggested that he might be able to fix me up with some women. I replied that I was already involved in a relationship with a woman. We concluded the conversation with him asking me some more computer questions. Maybe he was trying to avoid the appearance of being solely interested in getting inside my pants. Why did I give him my address card, I wonder?

 

Dinner with Elizabeth at a restaurant.

"How do you feel about our getting back together?" she asked.

"Having weighed the alternatives—yourself, Helen, nobody, some other woman—and having considered the pluses and minuses, and the positives and negatives, and the costs and benefits, I have come to the conclusion that you are as good as I'll ever get. While you may have faults, you're better than any other woman I can think of, and also better than being alone. Thus my answer to your question is yes, I'm glad we got back together," I replied.

"And what about Helen? You're no longer hoping she turns into a good sex partner?"

"Hoping was never the right word to describe anything of what I felt about Helen. I was very attached to her. I couldn't bear the thought of being separated from her." (Elizabeth winced at this.) "She has a way of touching very primitive parts of my personality. You, on the other hand, I always approached as a rational adult, which I why I can talk so calmly and cold-bloodedly about my feelings for you. How do you feel about our getting back together?"

"About the same as you feel. I used to think I'd meet someone perfect and be swept away by love. That was the illusion I grew up with. Now I realize that no one is perfect. I might easily meet someone different from you, and probably someone just as good, but it is unlikely that I'll do better. I've realized that I'm happier with you than without you."

I was bloated from lunch and hence in no mood for sex. Neither of us commented about this. We spent the evening lying on her dual sofas and watching a movie on television.

 

Elizabeth came by my apartment in the evening. We watched a movie at a nearby theater then returned to my apartment and had sex. A wonderful, hour-long session, with both of us highly aroused and full of energy. First I licked her, then I fucked her slowly from behind, then I fucked her slowly in missionary position, and then we came with simultaneous orgasms.

Helen had insisted on kissing me on the lips after we had lunch today, and I got to thinking later that perhaps I'd made the wrong decision in choosing Elizabeth instead of Helen to be my lover, given how much more stimulating I find Helen's company. But the sex this evening convinced me once again that, in fact, I've chosen right. It would be a sin to abandon something as beautiful as the sex between Elizabeth and myself.

 

Upon noticing some necklaces hanging from the wall, Elizabeth asked: "What about that necklace you said you were going to get me in Guatemala?"

"That's it there. It's cheap looking, though, which is why I haven't given it to you. I didn't see anything on my trip that was your style. Also, we had broken up right before I left," I replied.

"That doesn't matter. You were supposed to get me something. Also, you told me before that you bought two necklaces in Guatemala. Where's the other?"

"I gave it away."

"To who?"

"To someone I know."

"Who?"

"It doesn't matter, anyway, since the other necklace was identical to this one."

"Who'd you give it to?"

"Helen."

"You gave a necklace to Helen but nothing to me?"

"It was just a souvenir. I don't expect either of you to like it. But you're welcome to take this one."

"I don't want it. It's cheap looking."

Then she admired a second necklace hanging on the wall, and also the bracelet I had bought for myself last month but later decided was too gaudy for a heterosexual man to be wearing. "Take them both, they're yours," I said to her regarding this jewelry. When she asked about the source of the second necklace, I hemmed and hawed before finally admitting that Helen had left it behind when she moved out. Elizabeth shook her head as if in disbelief and disapproval. "I strike you as jealous, don't I?" she asked later, as we were walking down the street. I replied that she did strike me as jealous, and then we both laughed. So apparently there were no lingering hard feelings about the necklaces.

After a late breakfast at the cafe, we returned to my apartment for another bout of sex. Perfect like that of last night, except this time more vigorous and energetic.

During dinner at a restaurant, where we watched a flamenco dancing floor show, Elizabeth asked various questions about Helen's current lover (Paul, that is) such as what he does for a living, and how old he is, and how he and Helen met. After answering these questions, I told some story about how Helen and I had been "stagnant" living together. The real story, which I didn't reveal naturally, is that I'm still in love with Helen, and she with me, and that what Elizabeth and Paul really have in common is that I'll never love Elizabeth and Helen will never love Paul. They are both of them merely temporary substitute lovers, until Helen and I someday get back together again.

 

Elizabeth and I took a drive in the country, accompanied by a woman friend of hers. This friend was in her late forties, overweight, frumpily dressed, short-haired, unattractive, and bursting with insincere laughter and smiles. I took an immediate dislike to her, which she seemed to detect. In order to avoid her, I sat in the back seat of Elizabeth's car, hoping that the two women in the front would do all the talking, while I looked out the window and daydreamed. Unfortunately, my silent presence made the women uneasy and their conversation soon withered. Elizabeth's friend tried to break the tension with insipid jokes and commentary: "Here's comes Smalltown. Don't blink or you'll miss it! Ha-ha-ha! Herbal fruit smoothies for sale—wonder what that means? Ha-ha-ha! Oh, look, a farmer's market. I guess there'll be lots of farmers there! Ha-ha-ha!" I suppose it was insecurity that made her behave so stupidly, since Elizabeth insists that, in reality, she is fairly intelligent.

We drove for two hours, then stopped for lunch at a restaurant, where the food was terrible, then drove two more hours back to the city. An awkward moment when we dropped Elizabeth's friend off, as it was obvious to everyone that the day had been a fiasco.

"Why didn't you say anything?" Elizabeth demanded, as soon as she and I were again alone in the car.

"I had nothing to say," I replied.

"I thought you said you could make small talk?"

"I can and I did. I talked briefly about the weather with your friend while you were in the bathroom. Also, I answered your and her questions politely. The only respect in which I was rude was in my refusal to be outgoing and friendly."

"That's just what I mean!"

"I refuse to be phony, if that's what you're expecting. I didn't like that woman. She's like some sort of eunuch."

"Maybe she's a eunuch because she hasn't gotten any sex for so long. Every man she meets, she finds something wrong with him."

I slept at Elizabeth's apartment, but we were too tired to have sex.

 

Sex in the morning, but Elizabeth had trouble coming and so asked me to finish up without her, which I did. Afterwards, she remarked, "We have a problem. I'm feeling this burning sensation, and have been ever since we started having sex again." She placed my finger against the places in her vagina where the burning was most intense. Namely, the g spot and the flesh between g spot and clitoris. The soreness in this latter spot might be from my riding high and pressing the flesh against the pubic bone. Unfortunately, this is the only effective way of making her come during fucking that I have yet discovered. As for the "soreness" of the g spot, it never ceases to amaze me how little knowledge some women have about their own sexual response. "That so-called burning sensation means you're horny," I explained, and then I proceeded to bring her off with my hand. Afterwards, I asked if she felt better and she replied that she did. I then made the usual recommendation of masturbation to gain better understanding of her sexual response, Kegel exercises to strengthen the muscles, and inner thigh stretches to get more blood flowing in the pelvis.

"I tried those Kegel exercises when we were apart, and they almost caused me an orgasm, so then I stopped. I didn't want to be reminded of how good sex was with you," she said. I recalled that Elizabeth had been squeezing her pelvic muscles during our previous encounter, and so I asked whether she had read up on this penis-milking technique in her book about harem women. She laughed and admitted that this was the case.

We had a late lunch at a restaurant, then walked in the park, then went shopping for groceries at a discount store in a suburban mall. This last experience caused me to thank my lucky stars that I don't own a car, and that I live in the skid row district, and that I am otherwise so far removed from suburban middle-America. Dinner at another restaurant, then we returned to Elizabeth's apartment, where she baked a blueberry-apple pie. I ate half of this.

 

Lunch with Helen. She and Paul had been getting along well until this past weekend, when they took a drive in the country, with Helen driving Paul's new sports car for the first time. When they stopped at a restaurant, Helen noticed many other cars parked in an area labeled "no parking", and so decided to park there herself. Paul, however, shook his head and made clucking noises and muttered "no parking, no parking" over and over and otherwise indicated that he didn't want her parking in this area. Helen found his manner of expressing himself annoying: "Why couldn't he have just said what he meant instead of tsk-tsking like that?" After she eventually found a valid space in which to park, Paul held out his hand and said, "Keys", in the tone of someone giving an order to a lackey. He then proceeded to lock the doors of the car, which Helen thought pointless, since the top of the car was down and he didn't bother to raise it. Probably she made her annoyance visible, because Paul seemed in a bad mood when they sat down inside the restaurant.

"It's nice here," Helen remarked, in an attempt to be pleasant.

"Maybe you should come here more often. By yourself," replied Paul.

"Maybe I will. I'd like to drive your car here by myself."

"I don't think so." Helen was hurt by the sneering tone in which Paul said this, and was also still smarting from his behavior in the parking lot, and so began crying. She put on her sunglasses to hide the tears. The food was bad and they both left the restaurant in bad humor.

"I had been feeling so good as we were driving out there. For perhaps the first time since I was in my young twenties, I felt carefree. You don't know how good it feels to drive around in a sports car with the top down on a country road like that. But it was too good to last. He had to burst my bubble and bring me crashing down to earth," said Helen in describing the above events.

Matters went from bad to worse when they arrived at the park. Paul insisted on taking a shortcut to the beach. This "shortcut" ended up leading them completely astray, so that they wandered for several hours through muddy cow pastures. At last Helen lost her patience and insisted that they follow the nearest road back to the car. Paul, who had been planning to take Helen to a sex club in the near future, dressed up in bondage gear as his slave, rebuked her by saying: "If you were a good slave, you would trust me and follow me anywhere."

"How can he be a master when he can't even control himself? He's not cut out for being a good master. He can forget that sex club business. Imagine! There we were, with the mists rolling in and lost in middle of nowhere and he wants to try yet another shortcut. We'd have been goners for sure if I had let him lead me on like that. Nothing but a bunch of bones when they found us, and my little purple hat to mark the spot."

Helen spent last night at her own apartment and now plans to break up with Paul completely. "It's over between us. I don't want anything more to do with that man. I can see now that we don't have a future. What you and I have between us is so much more intimate that what I have with Paul. I'm there to satisfy his sexual needs and nothing more. He's told me as much several times. You do know why you're here, don't you? he says to me. But he certainly doesn't satisfy my needs. He's the most uptight person I've ever met. No wonder he's interested in bondage. He has to be in total control or he can't be happy."

We met again at dinner. Helen suggested that she might want to stay at my apartment while I'm away on my trip to the east coast, provided I buy a futon. The futon idea I agreed with, since Elizabeth has also complained that the floor is too hard for comfortable sleeping. As for staying at my apartment, my only concern is that Helen might leave some traces of her stay, which Elizabeth might later notice. Helen retorted: "What are you worried about? That relationship you have with her isn't going to last any longer than mine with Paul."

While walking home, Helen worked herself into a fury recalling a scolding she had received from her mother as a teenager, when she returned home late from visiting her boyfriend at that time, a Moroccan immigrant who worked as a busboy in a restaurant. "There she was, dressed in her puritan nightgown and reared up at the end of the table and telling me that nice girls don't date men like that and that all I'd ever done in life was bring shame on our family."

When we arrived at her apartment building, Helen said goodbye and then turned away without offering to kiss, which I found emasculating, as if she didn't find me in the least sexually attractive. How different from how Elizabeth makes me feel!

 

I had spent the day running errands and working on the computer and was thus in a frantic mood when I arrived at Elizabeth's apartment in the evening. As it turns out, she was likewise not in the best of moods. "I'm feeling very bitchy," she said as we kissed, and then she explained how she had a bad day at work and might have lost a large amount of data from her computer. On a happier note, she told me that she was having periods again and no longer suffering from hot flashes and other signs of menopause. I suggested her body was producing hormones in response to all the sex and orgasms she's been having lately.

During conversation at dinner, I made some hostile remarks about a book I recently read and which she likes, and then went into a long and tedious discussion of some of my literary theories, which she probably found condescending. At last she changed the subject, to that of her friend who accompanied us on our day trip this past weekend.

"I'm asking about your feelings for her again because I know two other women whose husbands also don't like being around her. Men seem to take an instant dislike to her. Why do you think that is?" Elizabeth asked.

The theory I offered was that her friend is a man-hater, and that underneath all her smiles and jokes and apparent friendliness is a deep-seated resentment and hostility towards men. "I was hostile to her because she was hostile to me first," I explained. Later, I noted how certain dance studios seemed to me to be hotbeds of man-hating, and whenever I touched a woman at one of these places (other than the lesbians, from whom I felt nothing—neither hostility nor friendliness), I sensed immediately that the woman disliked and was frightened of being touched by men, perhaps because such touching awakened sexual feelings in her which she preferred to keep suppressed. "I have a very good sense of when a woman is hostile, especially when I'm dancing with her," I concluded.

"You accused me of being hostile when we danced together," Elizabeth replied.

"You were hostile. Very hostile. Just like the man-haters."

"What does that mean? That I'm a man-hater?"

"Maybe. To some extent, maybe you are."

"Maybe I am."

While discussing how women are often attracted to men who resemble their father, and men to women who resemble their mother, Elizabeth asked if I had ever met a women who resembled my mother. I mumbled a vague reply about how I didn't know. The truth is that Helen fits this description to some extent, but I didn't want to say this. Elizabeth seemed to sense that we were heading towards trouble, and interrupted.

"I really don't see how this conversation is doing either of us any good. It's all just words, words, words!" she complained.

I didn't want sex, for whatever reason, and so took no initiative upon climbing into bed. Since Elizabeth also took no initiative, we didn't have sex. As I turned over on my side to face the wall, which is how I most easily sleep, Elizabeth accused me of having emotionally, as well as physically, "turned away and withdrawn" from her all evening.

"All that talk of man-haters and how you disliked dancing with some women, like me, but enjoyed dancing with other women. It makes me feel like you want to get away from me. What is wrong?" she asked.

"I don't know," I replied.

"You don't know, or you don't want to tell me?"

"I don't know."

"How can you not know what you're feeling?"

"I don't know."

"Don't tell me you don't know! You do know and you just don't want to tell me! You've been hostile to me all night and I want to know why."

In order to get her to leave me alone, I made up a story about being sick and said I would talk to her in the morning about what was bothering me. The truth is that I had been thinking about Helen much of this evening, and how much more I love her than Elizabeth, and how much more stimulating and enjoyable her company is than that of Elizabeth. The only thing that interests me about Elizabeth is sex, if the truth be told. Another possible cause of my moodiness tonight might have been worry over the news that Elizabeth is again menstruating. What if she is also fertile again and gets pregnant the next time we have sex without a condom?

 

Elizabeth woke me at five in the morning and insisted on asking the same questions as last night, to which I gave the same vague replies. Finally, in exasperation, I said: "I was in a bad mood yesterday and it has nothing to do with you. I'm sorry for talking about man-haters and accusing you of being a man-hater. And I'll never do so again because now I know that you'll get revenge by waking me the next morning at five to ask questions. I feel like I'm being punished." Elizabeth replied that she wasn't punishing me. She did, however, stop the interrogation and so we were able to return to sleep. When we woke again several hours later, she was still curious about why I had acted distant last night, and then spoke about feeling "frustrated", and concluded. "If you want to keep me around, then you'll have to show me more consideration."

We separated with the agreement to meet again later this week and visit a jazz club and then enjoy some "closeness" afterwards, a term of mine at which Elizabeth smiled. Perhaps she wanted sex last night, and the frustration she referred to is sexual frustration.

I suppose Helen was right when she predicted two days ago that my relationship with Elizabeth wouldn't last very long. But I've been down this road so many times before. Helen can't satisfy me sexually, and I want a sex life. If I leave Elizabeth, I'll just hitch up with another women similar to Elizabeth. And probably someone much less satisfying than her, all things considered. But then why am I acting in such a way as to get on Elizabeth's nerves, and thus cause our relationship to end prematurely?

 

Lunch with Helen. As I might have predicted, she returned to Paul after spending two days at her own apartment. "I just can't sleep well in my apartment. Of course, Paul didn't take too kindly to me not wanting sex. Why are you here then? he asked, when I told him I wasn't in the mood. I told him I missed him. The truth is, I missed his apartment more than anything. It's nice there. Like a four-star hotel." She talked vaguely of planning to place another personals ad, so as to have more men in her life and thus not be so dependent on Paul.

 

Dinner with Elizabeth at a restaurant with live jazz, then back to her apartment. She didn't want sex due to menstruating heavily.

 

After exercising and washing up, Elizabeth and I had sex. The usual long-lasting, slow-going missionary position routine, concluding with simultaneous orgasms. It is now the middle of Elizabeth's period, so there was a bloody mess afterwards on my cock and both our thighs and also on the towel she had folded beneath her buttocks before we started.

We separated for the day to run errands, then met up again in the early evening. Dinner at a restaurant, then we watched a long and tedious Hollywood movie at a theater, and didn't get back to my apartment until near one in the morning. I was much too tired to initiate sex.

About four in the morning, Elizabeth leapt up, saying that something had just bitten her. After turning on the light and fumbling around a bit, she realized that what had happened was that her earplug had fallen out and rolled under her body and she mistook this earplug for an insect bite. She then complained that the floor was too hard and asked me to get another sheet from the closet so she could sleep on the sofa. I was groggy all the while, and barely remembered these happenings the next morning.

 

We both rose late and were slow to get dressed, but Elizabeth dawdled a particularly long time, so that it was almost three in the afternoon before we finished lunch at a nearby restaurant.

"You hardly looked at or spoke to me while we were eating. None of the other men who were part of a couple acted like that. And it just struck me that you'll never give me what I want. You don't love me," Elizabeth complained on the walk back to my apartment.

"You're just upset because we wasted so much time this morning and because we didn't have sex last night," I replied.

"No, that's not what's really bothering me, though I admit that it does bug me. Why shouldn't I be upset about wasting so much time? Unlike you, I work during the week and don't have much free time to waste. As for no sex last night, what was the problem there?"

"We didn't have sex last night because it was too late when we got home and I'm a lousy lay when I'm tired."

"Then why didn't we have sex this morning?"

"Because you don't enjoy sex until you've been up and about for a few hours. We've tried sex in the early morning several times, and it's always a fiasco. I wanted to wait until after we had lunch or breakfast or whatever you want to call that meal we just had."

"I might have been in the mood this morning or last night, but not any longer. Now I'm just pissed off."

"I'll get you in the mood, sweetheart, don't worry."

"I don't want you to get me in the mood."

"You're upset because you're horny."

"What do you care?"

"I'm your lover and my job is to fix your horniness."

More arguing, until I eventually managed to get her over to the sofa, where we began kissing. One thing led to another and soon enough we were on the floor and engaged in another bout of perfect sex. Fucking that seems to go on forever, my cock barely moving in her cunt, our lips pressed together, our tongues playing with one another. Towards the end, of course, things speed up, but never is there a sense of hurry. Always, when Elizabeth and I make love, it is as though the normal progression of time had been abolished and we've entered another universe, a changeless, timeless place of endless and perfect bliss. Rather than our coming simultaneously, I purposely delayed my orgasm by about a minute this time. This permits me to abandon control completely when I come, since I no longer have to worry about the woman's orgasm. Coming separately also permits each of us to savor the other's orgasm more fully. Of course, there is also much to be said for coming simultaneously. Afterwards, we lay silently for about an hour in each other's arms, in languorous post-orgasmic calm.

"Feel better now?" I asked as we were dressing. Elizabeth nodded in reply. I had earlier mentioned something about planning to spend the evening at her apartment. My thinking was that, if she indeed didn't want sex now, then I would try again later. But now that we'd had sex, it seemed pointless to spend more time together, as I was bored by her company and she seemed equally bored by mine. "How about I come by your apartment tomorrow night instead?" I suggested. "I have to work on the computer tonight."

"I knew you'd worm your way out of spending tonight with me," Elizabeth replied.

 

I masturbated in the evening, even though two orgasms today might make me feel sexually drained tomorrow evening, when I'm supposed to get together again with Elizabeth. I simply couldn't resist touching myself. Neither real sex nor masturbation is a fully satisfactory substitute for the other. I crave both.

 

It's been a while since I related how I spend time when I'm alone rather than in the company of Elizabeth or Helen, and for good reason. Namely, I've been doing very little by myself of late. I get up about nine in the morning, I exercise, I shower and shave, I eat a light breakfast, I poke around on the computer, I eat lunch at a restaurant, I run errands or go shopping for groceries, I sit for a few hours in the cafe, I return to my apartment and spend the evening listening to music. At some point during the day, I masturbate. For the past week or so, my mornings have been occupied copying music disks to take on my trip to the east coast, since I don't want to bring and risk losing the originals. All told, I'm taking forty-eight disks, containing about fifty-six hours of music of various types. What a difference it would have made if I had taken this music along on my trip to Guatemala!

 

Lunch with Helen. Same story, different circumstances regarding the situation between her and Paul. She spent Friday night at her own apartment, and enjoyed the feeling of being alone. On Saturday, however, she returned to Paul's apartment, since she had previously agreed to accompany him to a dinner with his boss and the boss's wife. The dinner went well and Helen and Paul seemed to be getting along fine all Sunday. At one point, apropos of she doesn't remember what, Paul even told her: "All I want is for you to be happy. Whatever makes you happy, makes me happy." But the mood changed when they decided to take a brief walk around the city in the late afternoon. Upon seeing a street artist making paintings with spray paint, Helen mentioned that she had once bought such a painting as a gift for me. It was obvious that Paul was angered by this remark, which indicated all too clearly that Helen still thinks of me, but he didn't reveal his anger until later, when Helen became hot from walking and removed a sweater she was wearing and then almost immediately put the sweater back on, as she felt excessively cool without it.

"First you take the sweater off, then you put it back on. Can't you make up your mind?" snapped Paul.

"What's it to you? Are you the clothing police? It's my sweater and I'll take it off if I want to take it off," replied Helen.

"Okay, if you feel that way, then maybe we shouldn't see one another any more!"

They calmed down sufficiently that Helen was able to spend the night at Paul's apartment, with her sleeping in the bed and him sleeping on the sofa, but she slept poorly and today she insisted she was determined to break up with him for good.

"One minute he tells me he cares only about my happiness and the next minute he doesn't care if I'm dressed uncomfortably, just so long as he doesn't have to see me changing my mind. I can't live with someone like that. It's putting too much stress on my system. I plan to spend the day copying French vocabulary from one notebook to another. I'm too tired to do any real work," she said.

Then she talked of wanting to have a baby soon, but not with Paul. "With who then?" I asked. "Maybe with you," she replied. I offered to revive my proposal of two years ago, whereby she gets pregnant by me, I give her $20,000 a year for six years so she won't have to work full-time until the child is ready for school, and thereafter I give her $10,000 a year until the child is ready for college. Her actual expenses will almost certainly be greater than $20,000 during the first six years of the child's life, and so my proposal will require Helen to spend some of her savings. I chose this $20,000 figure intentionally, so as to test how badly Helen really wants a child. I warned Helen that I might continue seeing Elizabeth for years to come. Helen replied that my continuing to see Elizabeth didn't bother her, but that she wanted us to get married if she gets pregnant. We agreed to carefully think things over while I'm on my trip to the east coast.

 

Elizabeth was testy when I called her to arrange plans for this evening, though eventually we agreed that she would pick me up on her way home from work. It struck me while we were talking, what a contrast there is between the energy in my conversations with Helen and the deadness I feel with Elizabeth. What should be a mutually gratifying love affair is once again on the verge of being spoiled by Elizabeth's insistence that we are more than merely lovers. My opinion continues to be that this insistence is the result of her guilt about sex.

The evening progressed more or less as I anticipated would happen. During the drive to her house, Elizabeth was as testy as she had been on the phone earlier. We didn't kiss even once. She complained that I didn't praise the dinner she prepared. Then she complained about the movie I picked out at the rental store. Then she complained during the movie about my thumping my foot against the wall.

"If you want a fight, Elizabeth, you don't need a pretext, you know. Just come on out and say what's on your mind," I said.

"You know what's on my mind," she replied.

"I have my suspicions. But let's see what you have to say."

"I'm not getting what I want from this relationship. I'm feeling discontented."

"Discontented is the symptom, but you haven't explained why you're discontented."

"I told the reason. I'm not getting what I want from this relationship."

"You've thrown me out three times before and it's always the same story. The real problem is that you feel guilty about sex for the sake of sex."

"I want what my friends have! They have husbands and boyfriends who like to be around them. You don't love me and you never have and you never will!"

"You knew I was a compromise when we got back together. In fact, you've known it all along. I give you a sex life and that's it. If you want someone who shares your interests and has a compatible personality, then you'll have to look elsewhere."

"Maybe I will."

"It's always the same story with you. Once you get your fill of orgasms, you forget why we got back together and the guilty Puritan in you rises up and starts telling you that what we do is sinful. An abomination in the eyes of Almighty God. Down, down, down into the bowels of hell with this whore of Babylon! Dear God, cast down this harlot into the burning fires of everlasting perdition! Jezebel, get thee down to hell whence thou came! Burn in the smoking pit of endless hellfire! Burn with Pharaoh of the Nile! Burn with Judas Iscariot! Burn with Pontius Pilate! Burn with the godless masses in the everlasting fire of the demon cities of hell! Oh, Lord, deliver us from the evils of the flesh! Hie thee, foul and fleshly woman, back to Satan with thy fornicating ways! Burn there for eternity amidst the brimstone and the smoking fires of hell!"

"Stop shouting, will you?!"

"Fuck you, I'll shout all I want! To hell with you and your god damned uptight friends! I despise the whole lot of you. My, my, what are my friends saying? Elizabeth likes sex for the sake of sex. Can you believe it? She sees that guy for one reason only—for sex. Elizabeth is the worst kind of woman there is. A woman who enjoys sex. A slut, that's what she is. A disgusting, filthy, dirty slut. You told me yourself that your mother used to say that sex outside of marriage is dirty. Anyway, I don't need this bible-thumping Baptist hatred of sex in my life. It makes me feel dirty."

"I feel dirty that all you want me for is sex. That's why I didn't want to be a model. I don't want to be nothing but a sex object. If all you want me for is sex and we stop having sex, then you'd leave me, wouldn't you?"

"Probably."

"How do you think that makes me feel?"

"You might leave me long before I leave you. But you don't think about that, do you? Anyway, we've already broken up three times—at your instigation each time, I might add—so it's not like losing me would be anything new for you."

On and on it went. We finally fell asleep at about two in the morning.

 

More arguing in the morning, similar to that of the night before.

"If all there is between us is sex, then why not just meet once a week?" said Elizabeth bitterly.

"I'd prefer twice a week, but if once a week is all you can manage, then that's what I'll accept," I replied.

"Oh, great. So what am I supposed to do? Make an appointment for sex with you, like you suggested in that letter you wrote?"

"I was thinking along the lines of regularly scheduled days when we get together. Any days you want, by the way. My schedule is very flexible."

"Isn't that nice? A flexible schedule. No! There is no way I'll ever accept this idea of yours. I'm already resenting it."

Later, Elizabeth noticed that I had packed up the shaving gear and toothbrush that I normally leave in her bathroom.

"You're taking your things then?" she asked.

"Why waste money? You'll just throw them in the trash the way you've done three times before. Or do you want me to leave them here?"

"Leave them here. I've decided to accept your proposal."

"Very well. You can hide my things when you have some other man over."

"That's exactly what I plan to do."

"Have you decided what nights you want us to spend together?"

"Saturday and Tuesday."

"Good. That'll give you Friday to go looking for someone else. Friday is when they have those ballroom dances, isn't it?"

"Yes, and that's why I wanted Friday free. I plan to tell my friends that we're not seeing each other any more and that I'm looking for someone else. I don't want them thinking I'm so desperate as to continue seeing a man just for sex."

"You could do worse than me and what I'm offering."

"I could also do better. Someday, I will do better."

Elizabeth dropped me off on her way to work.

"I'll see you next month," I said as I climbed out of her car.

"Have a nice trip," she replied. Then we kissed goodbye.

I should note that one of my concerns during these arguments with Elizabeth was that, if we were to break up with hard feelings between us, she might later renege on her agreement to testify on my behalf for the will contest lawsuit (her testimony will be regarding our visit to see my father last year).

I masturbated twice as soon as I got back to my own apartment, to images of jacking off while having my balls sucked by the older fat woman who I was lovers with briefly.

 

I spent the morning catching up on this journal, which was a week behind, and the afternoon sitting in three different cafes. Partly due to a lack of anything interesting to read and partly for other reasons, I have a tendency of late to grow fidgety after about an hour sitting in any one place, which is why I had to visit three cafes instead of my usual one. I'm worried about this lack of anything to read, as it could be a serious problem during the initial leg of my trip. I'll have four days and four nights in the train with nothing to do besides read, look out the window, and sleep.

 

Lunch with Helen. She is having second thoughts about the idea of raising a child by me but living separately. In particular, she is worried about loneliness. As for Paul, while she is tired of his temper tantrums, she enjoys the way he frequently tells her he loves her, even though she knows he is lying and only wants her for sex. Whether with me or with Paul or with some other man, she insists that she really does want a child. I'm also having second thoughts about my proposal of two days ago. Unless Helen is able to live alone, having a child with her seems more likely to bring misery into my life than happiness.

 

While walking down the street, I found a $5 bill lying on the sidewalk. What a lucky omen this must be! But an omen of what, I wonder?

 

Elizabeth called in the evening to "apologize". "Apologize for what?" I inquired. She explained that she thought we had left on bad terms yesterday and wanted to smooth things out before I left on my trip. Last night, she told her mother that she felt like "murdering" me. Her mother told her that she would never find a man to live with because she "demanded perfection and there are no perfect men in this world". I was polite with her, but anxious to get off the phone. As much as Elizabeth satisfies me as a sex partner, her conversation never fails to be boring. The exact opposite of the situation with Helen.

 

The first day of my train trip. Towards evening, I felt nauseous and bloated and suffered from a splitting headache. Finally, I staggered to the toilet and there vomited and also unloaded a tremendous amount of foul-smelling crap. Almost immediately after finishing this purging from both ends, I felt well again. I don't know what was the cause of my temporary sickness. Surely not food, since I hadn't eaten all day, other than a glass of soy milk at my apartment for breakfast. I slept surprisingly well, and continued to sleep well throughout my train trip, by curling up and lying on my side on a pair of seats. I don't know how I would have fared had I been forced to sleep sitting up.

 

Upon arriving in North Metropolis, I checked into the hostel, then wandered around the city, which is beautiful this time of year. After passing a nightclub, I decided I wanted to go dancing. However, like a fool, I had brought along more or less the same gear as during my trip to Guatemala. Thus instead of dress clothes, I brought along sandals and a bottle for purified water and other items that are unnecessary in a large first world metropolis. So I was forced to buy a complete new set of dress clothes—pants, shirt, belt and shoes.

Back at the hostel, I struck up a conversation with one of my roommates—a boring bank functionary—who joined me for dinner at a wonderful vegetarian restaurant. Afterwards, we stopped in at a salsa disco, whose heavily mirrored decor I thought absolutely beautiful. The music, on the other hand, I didn't much care for, since only about one in four songs was salsa, with the rest being merengue or house. There was a light crowd in attendance, with many of the woman looking like tarts. Young, thin, skimpily dressed and accompanied by African or middle-eastern boyfriends. I managed to get in five dances (my boring companion left soon, as he doesn't know how to salsa dance), but felt no sexual energy with any of the women. Perhaps my shirt smelled bad from having been worn for two days straight. Without question, my clothes looked cheap. I wasn't able to wear the clothes I bought on my shopping spree today, as the pants are still being altered.

 

More lovely weather and more sightseeing the next day. I went salsa dancing again in the evening with my newly purchased nightclub outfit. The same disco as yesterday, which tonight was packed with people. Amazingly, the floor cleared whenever a salsa song started. My first dance was with a pretty young brunette, who didn't know the basic and couldn't follow the beat, but who was otherwise cooperative. The songs were mixed together without breaks, so we ended up dancing an entire set of five songs together. Probably fifteen minutes in all. My second dance was with a fleshy and pretty young blonde, who also didn't know how to dance, but who pulled herself close and proceeded to rub her crotch against my thigh. She was shorter than me, so that I could bury my nose in the hair and breathe in her scent as we danced. Because she was so completely off beat, we kept stepping on one another and bumping knees, which made the dance less erotic than it might otherwise have been (having my leg humped by an pretty woman half my age should be very exciting). When a large space opened up, I pulled her into a tight cuddle hold and then we danced some freestyle in a very erotic way. At the end of our fourth song together, she grew tired and wanted to stop. Before running off to join her friends, she grabbed my hand and kissed it.

I had put on a sufficiently impressive performance during the freestyle dancing that many of the other women seemed eager to dance with me. Unfortunately, the music had by this time reverted to house and alternated between that and merengue for the next hour or so. As I refused to dance to either of these types of music, eventually I became bored and left. I suppose it might be said that I am foolish not to learn to enjoy merengue and house. My response is that it is very difficult to enjoy dancing to these types of music after having experienced good salsa or tango dancing.

 

More sightseeing during the day. In the early evening, I napped for two hours so as to prepare for staying up late, since I had risen at about seven. Dinner at a restaurant where I stuffed myself on various fattening foods—goat cheese salad, veal sweetbreads, crème brulée, a half-carafe of wine. I can afford to eat like this because, ever since this trip began, I've been undereating and gradually losing weight. After dinner, I stopped in at a jewelry store and bought myself rings for my ring and little fingers. This is the first time I've ever worn rings and I was very pleased by this addition to my outfit.

A tremendous night of tango dancing. About forty dances in all, with about fifteen different women, with strong sexual energy with all but a couple of these. The best dance of all was with a fleshy short blonde in her forties (I think), with whom the sexual energy was overpowering. For some reason we only danced two songs together and then didn't speak to one another afterwards. Another women with whom I had strong sexual energy I did speak to. Unfortunately, she was one of those excessively energetic and voluble types. The sexual energy dissipates in a torrent of words.

 

More sightseeing in the morning and afternoon, though my thoughts were less about the sights than about the blonde woman I had danced with yesterday. I decided to return to the tango club tonight to see if she would be there again. As it turns out, she was there. I had just concluded my dance with another woman and was sweeping my eyes around the room, when I spotted her sitting at a table. She smiled at me—an extraordinarily attractive smile, I thought—and so I walked over and asked her to dance. The sexual energy was as intense as the night before. After we had danced four songs together, she asked my name, and told me hers was Marianne.

The conversation was awkward, with me having little to say and Marianne having to constantly ask questions to keep things moving. Her dress was elegant, other than for a geekish-looking watch which she held up for my admiration: "It has a built-in pager and scheduler." She loves to travel for pleasure. She asked what I did for a living. I replied that I work as a contract computer programmer. (God, how I hate to tell these sorts of lies! I really have to get a job soon so as to have a truthful cover story.)

At times, the conversation would die, and we would sit together silently for a while, and then I would ask her to dance again, and then after two to four songs we would return to her table. In dancing, I tried to follow the music as perfectly as possible, since I could sense that this made her soften and press closely against me.

"You should dance with some of the other women," she said to me at one point.

"I like dancing with you," I replied.

"I like dancing with you, too. But we can't just dance with one another. You should dance with some of the other women as well."

"If that's what you want, I'll do that. But I'd rather dance with you."

"Dance with them and then you can dance with me."

"You promise you'll dance with me again later?"

"Yes, I promise."

And so I danced various other women, and did very well with all. I returned to Marianne's table after about an hour of being away, during which time no other men had asked her to dance (there was a shortage of men), and we resumed dancing and talking and sitting together, with no further insistence on her part that I dance with other women. When the club closed at two in the morning, I accompanied her to the door. She offered me a ride home, which I accepted.

"I'm very glad we met," she said.

"I was going to tell you while we were dancing, but it was too loud then and I was afraid you might not hear me correctly, that while I was sightseeing today, all I thought about was you, and I was hoping you'd be at the club again tonight, because I wanted to see you again so much," I replied.

"You are a very good seducer, you know. You're also very intelligent and handsome and also sensual. A rare combination in a man."

"You're intelligent and pretty yourself."

"There are two things that really turn me on in a man. Intelligence and shoulders."

"Shoulders?"

"Yes, you have very strong shoulders. Very different from the other men there tonight. That attracts me physically very much. Especially when you hold me in them when we dance."

"That must be from my yoga headstands."

We drove to the park at the center of the city and stopped off briefly at an overlook point, but then Marianne began to feel cold and also drowsy. Hardly surprising since it was near three in the morning and, unlike me, she hadn't taken an evening nap. When we got to the hostel, I leaned over to kiss her. Marianne unbuckled her seatbelt and responded to my kiss passionately.

"You like women. I can tell that," she said.

"I do like them. That's why I went dancing while on vacation here. I like to touch women's bodies," I replied.

"It's even better if you sleep with them."

"Would you like to sleep with me?"

"Yes."

"I'll get my shaving gear and then we can go."

"No, tomorrow might be better."

Then she gave a complicated story about how she was roommates with some man, who, though he wasn't her lover, might feel hurt if she brought me back to their house and had sex with me there. Also, she was beginning to feel very sleepy. We agreed that I would call her tomorrow morning, and that we would take a drive together then to the countryside.

 

I called Marianne in the morning and she came by to pick me about nine. "So, let's drive to the country, have breakfast, and then find a place to stay. Okay?" I offered to pay for breakfast, based on the logic that since Marianne was providing transportation, I should somehow compensate. But she insisted on paying half: "So I'm driving, so what? That doesn't mean you have to pay for my meals. If you want, you can buy me a cocktail later." Then at the inn, neither of had sufficient cash for the bill. Marianne she insisted on putting the charge on her credit card instead of mine: "I'll pay for the room, you can pay for dinner."

Immediately upon entering the room, we began hugging and kissing. "I don't know why, but you are the first man who has excited me sexually in a long time," she murmured. We took off our shirts and hugged and kissed some more and then Marianne knelt down and unbuckled my pants and took my cock in her mouth. "Let me kiss yours, too. We'll both do it," I said, and then I lifted her onto the bed—she was very lightweight—and helped her to remove the rest of her clothes. She had a beautiful looking cunt, perfectly formed and covered with a small amount of blonde pubic hair, which I kissed for a minute or so, until she pushed my head away with her hands. I would have liked to continue kissing her, since I found her exceptionally pleasant tasting and smelling, but she was reluctant for me to do so, I could sense. Perhaps she was afraid that I might find her distasteful, though nothing could be further from the truth.

In any case, I was rock hard by this time. I guided my cock to her cunt and then we pushed together. Entry, however, was difficult due to her being extremely tight and completely dry. I had intended to buy lubricant this morning, but then didn't have time to do so before she arrived and didn't want to discuss the subject after she picked me up, since it seemed too intimate until we had gotten to know one another better. Had I known she would be so dry, however, I would have insisted on stopping at a pharmacy. (I could have made up some excuse about needing shaving lotion, for example.) Eventually, I did manage to get inside. She gasped and thrashed about beneath me for about ten minutes, her cunt as dry as ever, so that I knew she was hurting herself, regardless of the pleasure she might be feeling. I withdrew and kissed her cunt some more, in an attempt to get her to generate her own moisture, but again she pushed my head away after just a minute of this. When I entered her again, I noticed she was wetter than before, which indicated that she is aroused by cunnilingus, regardless of her protestations. So then I pulled out and went down on her again, and this time restrained her by the wrists, to prevent her from pushing my head away until I was satisfied that she was sufficiently wet. She tried to throw me off with her legs but I was much too strong and heavy for her to move me. When I finally pulled myself up, her cunt was much wetter and looser, but still among the tightest I've ever fucked. Now that she was wet, I was able to slide deeply inside her, with each thrust causing her to toss her head back and open her mouth wide with pleasure. "You are so big and so hard!" she cried out, and then she begin babbling: "Oh, that makes me feel so good. Oh, it's good! You'll make me come! We'll come together! Oh, my God!" This went on for another ten minutes, with her twisting beneath me the whole while, before she finally came with a shudder and went limp. I banged her hard for another minute, so that her whole body shook, before coming myself. A powerful orgasm, and no wonder, since I hadn't been masturbating recently.

"That was so beautiful. It was like the birds were singing in my head," she said afterwards. She was referring to the songbirds on the balcony outside our room. We had left the curtains open, so that we could look out from the bed at the rolling hills in the distance, covered with thick forest with all the trees wearing their fall colors. As wonderful a setting as could be imagined for sex.

I asked about protection for pregnancy, since we hadn't used a condom. Marianne pointed to a long scar running underneath her belly button: "You see? They took out my uterus. So don't worry about babies. They said the scar would be just this big. Instead..."

Though sex with Marianne was satisfying, I regretted that it was over so soon (in particular, there was none of the sense of entering a world of timelessness that I usually get when fucking Elizabeth) and also that I had made her sore due to lack of lubrication. As for her body, everything about it I found beautiful—her smile, her voice, her hair, her scent, her face, her breasts, her skin, and most especially, her cunt which she was so reluctant to let me kiss. Also, she has a sweet and playful personality of the sort I've always found attractive.

After resting a while in spoon position, I grew hard again. I could sense that Marianne wasn't going to come a second time, and didn't want to aggravate her soreness by prolonging things. Instead, after kissing her cunt briefly, I pulled myself up and fucked rapidly in pursuit of only my own orgasm. The semen left inside her from earlier provided plenty of slippery lubrication for this second bout of sex.

Marianne seemed as happy with me as I was with her: "Finally, I meet a real Casanova. Oh, you're a true artist in bed! Yes, I'm sore, but that's okay. It makes me think of you. I've forgotten how real men sometimes hurt. It's been so long since I was with a man like you. I can't believe women let you run around without snapping you up. Why are you single?"

"A woman has to take the initiative with me. It's not that I'm shy. It's just that the woman has to force me to approach her," I replied, evading her question to some extent.

"How did I force you?"

"You asked my name, and you invited me to your table, and you pulled me against you and brushed your lips against my chin while we were dancing, and then you told me you liked my smile."

After washing up, we took a walk in the forest, which is lovely this time of year. The air fresh and moist, the ground covered by leaves and moss, light filtering through the canopy of leaves overhead, the temperature just cool enough to require a sweater for comfort. Marianne pointed out which varieties of mushrooms she knew were edible, and we gathered up several handfuls of these to take back to her car. In passing a metal Quonset style barn, she exclaimed: "That's what I want to live in! A big house with no walls. I hate walls and I hate low ceilings. All these new buildings have low ceilings."

At a hotel on the border of a pretty lake, we sat in beach chairs on the terrace and sipped beers and discussed dancing. "Most men don't really want the women close," Marianne remarked. "I can sense that. But with you, I sensed immediately that you did want me close. I felt so attractive in your arms. And then it was so perfect the way you followed the music that I simply melted against you. I didn't have to think anymore. Do you realize what it means to have a woman melt against you? I almost never do that. In fact, I only remember doing that once before, and that was with a tango instructor from Buenos Aires. You are completely different from the other men at that club. You are much more sexual. And I watched the other women you danced with. They also melted against you. The men must all be wondering what you are doing." What I do differently from other men is actually very simple. Namely, I definitely do want the woman as close as possible (assuming I'm not in one of my surly moods) and I'm much more concerned with connecting sexually with the woman and closely following the music than with performing complicated moves. Of course, it is very difficult to teach or learn how to "connect sexually with the woman and closely follow the music", which is why so many men prefer instead to push the woman away and perform complicated moves.

Dinner at a restaurant, where we shared a bottle of wine and talked some more, of dancing and traveling and other topics. Marianne is planning to visit southeast Asia next year and invited me to accompany her: "I'm going with a friend, but you could stay with me. Or you could join me in Paris after I come back from Asia. I'll be your guide in Paris. I know Paris very well and of course I speak perfect French, so I'll be able to show you all the best places. I really think you need me as a guide, if you ever plan to visit Paris and certainly you plan to visit Paris someday. Don't you agree? And if you meet a pretty French girl there, that's okay, too. I'm open minded. I used to be insecure, but not any more. Paris is a wonderful city. I love it there. I would go with you to Paris anytime. But the best time would be next summer, when I come back from Asia." I replied that I'd seriously consider the Paris offer, but probably couldn't make it to Asia, due to my will contest lawsuit, the scurrilous details of which I'd revealed to her earlier. "Yes, I know, you already told me. You don't like hot weather. I'm different. I need the heat. It is so cold here in winter and I don't have a hot man to sleep with and warm me up. Heat is like a vitamin to me."

Marianne must have gotten tipsy on our bottle of wine, because she was somewhat wild in bed. "No, no, no. You sit back and watch the television," she ordered, handing me the remote control and then leaning over and taking my cock in her mouth. I tried to stroke her hair but she pushed my hand away. "Forget about me. Find something you like on the television. I'll take care of everything else." Then she rubbed my cock between her breasts and in her hair and otherwise played with it. Perhaps I might have enjoyed her game more if she hadn't insisted on my watching television, which I absolutely loathe. As it was, I soon became bored, which caused my erection to fade. I turned the television off and lifted her up. "Where are you taking me, my Casanova from another planet? You are supposed to be watching television," she objected. "You kiss mine and I'll kiss yours," I replied, and dropped her in the middle of the mattress in order to position us to perform mutual oral sex. But she was too restless for this, so finally I just pushed her onto her back and lubricated myself in preparation for fucking. (We had stopped by the pharmacy and bought lubricant on our way to the walk in the forest.) Then I put some lubricant on her clitoris and cunt lips, which caused her to squirm and moan, "Oh, it's so cold!" She seemed unacquainted with lubricant and wanted to inspect the bottle. Entry was much easier this time, but her cunt was nevertheless as tight as ever. "Come in me! I want you to come!" she cried out, but it was obvious she wasn't really enjoying herself, probably because she was still sore from this morning. So I fucked her hard and fast and came myself as soon as possible.

Afterwards, she made me roll over on my stomach and rubbed her face against my buttocks and my back and then lay atop me and squeezed my shoulders with her hands. "I feel like I'm living in a dream. It started last night. It must mean something that I met you. You're like someone from another planet who came in and swept me away," she said before we went to sleep, echoing my own feelings about having met her.

Marianne drove me to the station and had coffee with me there at a cafe, then saw me off on the train. "You're coming back soon, aren't you? Or come with me to Paris next summer. Or go with me to Paris anytime. I feel so lucky about this weekend. I never would have met you if I hadn't gone tango dancing both nights. We'll see one another soon again, okay?" I told her I'd call and write her soon and then we kissed goodbye.

 

I arrived in East Metropolis about midnight. Mark's brother let me into Mark's apartment, where I slept in the bed, as Mark was out in the suburbs doing his caretaker work.

The next day, I took the bus to visit Mark, accompanied there by his brother, who behaved in his usual peculiar way. "Remember that ice cream store?" he blurts out, apropos of nothing as we pass through an industrial district. "There was an ice cream store there for a long time." Here he pauses for a minute before resuming. "About fifty years. Then it went away." Another long pause and then he starts giggling uncontrollably. Later, he treated me to a droning ten minute lecture on the subject of different types of nails and screws. While walking from the bus stop, he refused to cross the street except in the crosswalk, and also insisted on waiting until the stoplights turned green, even though there wasn't a car in sight. Then he went off on a rant about his job (he works as an electrician for the government). "You see, what's so funny is that the guy who runs the department is named Smith, and Smith was one of the biggest slave owners back when they had plantations. So that's why I call it the plantation." After his brother left, Mark explained that the chiefs in the government department where his brother worked were all white, while the lower level workers (other than his brother) were black, and his brother was feeling persecuted by both the chiefs and the lower-level workers.

"He's on his way to that nineteenth nervous breakdown, I guess. What I told him is to just keep on talking about nails and screws, and that way those spades will leave him alone. That sort of technical crap just bores the hell out of them people," Mark said.

"It'd bore the hell out of anyone," I replied. "Also, he better stop that plantation and slavery talk, unless he wants trouble."

"Yeah, well, but he's got a point, you know."

Another old friend of Mark was also visiting, an effeminate homosexual hairdresser. "Rickette" Mark calls him, though his real name is Rick. When I arrived, he was wearing an apron and fluttering about between the living room and kitchen.

"Tell me, what can I get you to eat. I'm feeling very domestic today," purred Rick.

"Now, Rickette, my friend here is straight," said Mark.

"Oh, God, Mark! Put a shawl in it, will you. I'm just asking him what he wants to eat!"

I discussed my trip to North Metropolis, then mentioned that Elizabeth had briefly visited Morocco during her recent trip to Europe.

"Lord, I hope she didn't go visiting one of those souks!" exclaimed Mark. "Rickette, you remember that friend of my brother who went that souk when he was in the Navy?"

"Tell me about those souks!" replied Rick, who then proceeded to act as a sort of chorus to Mark's story-telling.

"He must have gone down the wrong road, because before long it was dark and he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," said Mark.

"A cubbyhole where he just didn't belong!" said Rick.

"When they found him the next day, they had to get a helicopter to fly him back to the ship and get his ass relined from being ripped open by all those Moroccans gang-banging him," said Mark.

"Right up the butt-hole!" said Rick.

"He must have been raped maybe fifty times in all. Once they got him into the hospital, it took him about two months to recover. Afterwards, he stayed in the Navy but had to transfer back to the states where no one would know what had happened," said Mark.

"He's married now and living in the Midwest. What a hoot that is! Mark's brother says, He don't like to talk about that time in his life," said Rick.

"You got to watch where you go in those third world countries or you could be in for a very interesting time," said Mark.

"Don't go down that old camel trail!" said Rick.

"Yes, indeed, that fellow definitely saw more of Morocco than he bargained for," said Mark.

And thus we passed the day, amusing ourselves with bawdy talk. At one point, Rick offered to share a joint, but Mark and I both declined, as we find that marijuana makes us sleepy. After Mark got off work in the late afternoon, we drove back to his apartment, then had dinner at a restaurant with his brother. I treated, in return for the free lodging they were providing.

I slept on the floor of the apartment which Mark had inherited from the other old woman who he used to care for. This apartment is now owned by Mark's brother. "You see, my brother has money from that job of his. By selling him the apartment, I get the money, but I also get to use the apartment whenever I want, such as for guests like you. He'll never rent it out. I'm sure of that." I pointed out that his brother might get into a religious mood and donate the apartment to charity. Mark agreed that this was a possibility, but wasn't particularly worried about it: "After all, he's already paid me for the place." He and his brother live in the same building as this spare apartment, which is convenient, since his brother doesn't have a telephone and Mark has to take the elevator up to his brother's apartment whenever he wants to speak to him. "You see, first he thought the CIA was spying on him. Then it was the FBI. Now he thinks it's people from work. I told him, who the fuck cares about what you say on the phone? But he has this notion in his head that the people at work—those blacks that he doesn't get along with—that they've somehow learned things about him that they could only have found out from listening to his phone conversations. He thinks they have friends in the police force or the phone company and that's how they got a wiretap installed. Oh, fuck! Sometimes he's really crazy. Of course, he's much better now than he used to be. As long as he takes his medicine, that is."

 

The next morning I called Helen and helped her with various computer problems she is having. I had previously emailed her from North Metropolis. As usual, the sound of her voice filled me with joy. Then I called Elizabeth, who I had also emailed from North Metropolis. Based on something I said, or perhaps merely from the sound of my voice, Elizabeth seemed to detect that I had an adventure. What intuition that woman has! Of course, given our agreement that we are merely twice a week sex partners, what right has she to be jealous? I had avoided use of words like "dear" and "love" in my email to her, and continued to be unaffectionate on the phone. I don't love her, so why should I pretend otherwise? In fact, I didn't even want to speak to her today. Indeed, I'm not even that enthusiastic about further sex with her. The only thing I really want from her anymore is testimony for my will contest suit.

Most of the day I spent wandering around the old neighborhood, while Mark was doing his caretaker work. Dinner with him in the evening at a restaurant, where I once again treated, since he will be providing transportation to the monastery, and he again regaled me with bawdy talk.

The apartment that he inherited had some water damage in the bathroom due to the owner of a unit upstairs trying to replace the toilet without properly turning the water off. Instead of insisting that this other owner pay for the damage, the condominium association has agreed to pay. "You see, the president of the association has this thing for black men—you know, those big dicks and all that—and he may have been having an affair with this guy. He's one of those bodybuilder types. Looks like a fucking gorilla. But then he has this real high-pitched voice. Until he gets angry. Then he starts to roar. Let me tell you, when you see some gorilla like that roaring—that is one scary sight. Anyway, whoever heard of replacing a toilet without making sure the water was turned off first? In fact, I've got a copy of the rules around here somewhere where it says you're supposed to ask for board permission before making any changes whatsoever to bathroom fixtures and also that he was supposed to be using a licensed plumber. Neither of which things this guy upstairs did, naturally. But like I said, the president of the association isn't exactly unbiased."

A friend of his who owns his own business has been having an affair with an employee. "She's an emotionally disturbed deaf mute. He probably hired her out of sympathy, because she can't do anything but sweep up around the place. For about two years now, she's been giving him blowjobs in his office every chance she gets. The way he tells it, she came after him and not vice-versa. He tried to stop her, he said, but she's aggressive. She grabs him by the balls and won't let go until he gives her what she wants. Then this other employee caught them at it one day and got all hysterical and said she would tell his wife if he didn't stop. So he told the deaf girl she had to stop, and they did stop for about a month, but then the deaf girl started attacking him again. Now he's all worried about what's going to happen next. This other employee is kind of young—one of those Jewish American princess types—real uptight about sex. She doesn't understand the way life is, you see. Who's all this hurting, anyway? All he's doing is bringing a little pleasure into that deaf girl's life. Where else is she going to get any?"

On the way back from dinner, we each chipped in $30 to buy a money order for Tony (the prison does not accept cash or checks—only money orders). I had wanted to give $50, even though Tony is more Mark's friend than mine, but Mark didn't want to give more than $30, and I didn't want to embarrass Mark by giving more than him. We both went to bed early, in order to make an early start tomorrow.

 

As it typical with Mark, the show was slow to get on the road in the morning. Among other things, his friend Raymond paid a visit and wanted to "borrow" some money for a pack of cigarettes. "I thought you said he was retarded," I said after Raymond left with the $3 Mark gave him. "Oh, no, he's just a little slow. The real problem is that he's an alcoholic. I told you that he inherited $10,000, right? Well, after he got that inheritance, I let him sleep on my sofa here for $300 a month until the money ran out. Meanwhile, I didn't realize it, but he was going on a complete bender. I don't how he managed to hide it from me, but he did. Then when I finally discovered, he was so far gone that I had to call an ambulance and have him taken to the hospital. He was very close to dying, he really was. They kept him for a month in the hospital, and then I had to play social worker to get him properly institutionalized until he recovered. I just can't be living with an alcoholic. But like I said, that $10,000 is all spent by now. So me and my brother pay him to do odd jobs now and then. I just hope he's spending the money on cigarettes and not more booze. I think he's straightened out, but you know these alcoholics. They're never completely cured."

The prison where Tony is incarcerated requires all visitors to be placed on a list thirty days in advance of their first visit. Since Tony hadn't known that I might be visiting until just two weeks ago, this requirement wasn't met in my case and hence I wasn't allowed in. So Mark went in alone. Tony has managed to stay out of trouble recently, but the prison nevertheless refuses to grant him time off for good behavior, so he probably won't be getting out until his full two years is up. And even then he might be faced with another sentence of a year or so, for pending drunk driving charges from another county. He spends as much time as possible in the legal library, working on an appeal for his lack of time off for good behavior. He doesn't receive many visits from his family, since his mother has slipped into a severe bout of alcoholism and his father has fled to another part of the country to get away from his mother and all his siblings have problems of their own. Visits at the prison are limited to thirty minutes, so soon enough Mark and I were back on the road.

My cousin, who goes by the name of Father Nicodemus these days, was attending church when Mark and I arrived at the monastery, but he had left a note on the office door indicating where our room was to be found. We settled in and then sat on a bench, enjoying the peace and quiet of the country setting. The church services ended at six in the evening, at which time a monk approached us, who I immediately recognized as my cousin, even though I hadn't seen him in over twenty years. He is only eight years older than me, but whereas I look younger than I really am, he looks older, so that I was initially shocked by his appearance. Other than being slightly overweight (albeit much less so than when he was young), he is the very image of an ascetic of the early Christian church (or to be precise, the typical depictions of such ascetics in religious paintings). His eyes dull and sunken, his complexion sallow, most of his face covered with a shaggy salt-and-pepper colored beard, his hair long and gray and stiff with grease, his body hidden behind a bulky black tunic. He evidently doesn't bathe or shampoo and smelled foul when we hugged. I noticed later that all the other monks also had greasy hair and smelled foul, so perhaps lack of hygiene is considered proper in this monastery. "Mortify the flesh so as to liberate the spirit." I asked my cousin whether he wanted me to call him Father Nicodemus, which I found awkward. He replied that relatives normally called monks by their birth names, and so that what's I did from then on. Mark, on the other hand, seemed to delight in using the appellation "Father Nicodemus" in conversation whenever possible.

My cousin asked if we had eaten. When we replied no, he suggested we all drive to the nearby grocery store to get some food. I had assumed that we would eat whatever the monks ate, but agreed to buy food if that was expected. My cousin then clarified that the monastery would pay for the groceries. Both Mark and I exclaimed in protest at this, and said we'd pay for the food ourselves since we didn't want to put the monastery to any extra expense on our behalf. But my cousin was insistent: "You're our guests and we expect to feed you. If we had bought extra food before you arrived, then we would have spent money that way. So what difference if we buy the food now? This way we get the food you want." When we got to the store, my cousin piled the grocery cart high with junk food—huge bags of pretzels and potato and tortilla chips, salsa and various types of dip, four two-liter bottles of various types of soft drinks, two cartons of ice cream, a huge jar of pickles—so that I could hardly believe my eyes. "Who is going to eat all this? We're only going to be here two days. Anyway, I don't even like soft drinks!" I said. "Don't worry, what you don't eat, the other monks will eat. Nothing will be wasted. We don't want you to run out," replied my cousin. I bought some fruit and a loaf of bread and some cheese for myself, while Mark loaded the cart up with chicken salad and hamburger patties and who knows what else. The total tab was almost $50. Again, Mark and I tried to pay, but my cousin was insistent that we pay nothing. While he attended to putting the charges on the monastery tab, Mark and I carried the groceries to the car.

"I guess he doesn't get to go shopping very often. This was probably a big treat for him," said Mark.

"He was a notorious junk food addict as a boy. So maybe he's feeling deprived," I replied.

"I can tell he likes ice cream, the way he was eyeing that food freezer."

I suppose this would be a good place to note that Mark is something of a glutton himself these days, and so grossly overweight that, with his shirt off, he looks like a sumo wrestler. Due to his lack of a waistline, he has constant problems keeping his pants on, but he doesn't want to wear overalls or suspenders since that would be conceding that his weight problem is permanent. Though he has few clothes that fit anymore, he also hates the idea of shopping at a "big boys" store, and so instead just does his laundry frequently. During our visit the monastery, he wore a single outfit the whole time—tattered blue jeans and a sagging black tee-shirt—which gave him the appearance of an overweight homeless person. He also smokes heavily—two to three packs of cigarettes a day—and has to take medicine for his blood pressure and cholesterol levels. "I'll probably die in about ten years at most. But fuck it, we all die sooner or later," he says to justify not taking better care of his health.

We gathered in the hall attached to the church, and ate our dinner together there. My cousin and I then commenced a theological discussion, which soon became heated. Mark's contributions to this discussion bordered on buffoonery:

"Well, you know, I don't like the incense they burn at the Buddhist temples. It hurts my sinuses. But I did like the food there. Some of it was right tasty, if I recall. So you could say I'm something of a Buddhist in that way. And then I like the coffee and donuts at the Christian churches. So you could say there's something to be said for both religions. You know, I could use a cup of coffee right now. Do you mind if take some coffee from the kitchen here, Father Nicodemus? Oh, it's locked? That's okay, I'll get some tomorrow."

In truth, I have great respect for Mark's intellectual eclecticism, and have always tried to emulate him in this respect. A mind that can simultaneously accept Christianity, modern science, astrology, Druidism, earth-worship, voodoo and who only knows what else is clearly an open and liberated mind. But tonight, I was in a contentious mood, and determined to prove that my beliefs are more "true" than those of my cousin, and thus annoyed by Mark's apparent lack of seriousness, so that I snapped at him: "Very well, Mark, we all know you're a clown. Now you mind if we get back to the point under discussion?"

"I'm not a clown," replied Mark, laughing. Later, he became distressed by the heatedness of some of my ranting: "It's obvious you two aren't going to come to an agreement. So why not call it quits?"

"Look Mark, if you don't like the discussion, then you can leave. You don't have to participate and you don't have to listen. I'm enjoying the conversation and I plan to continue with it. If we're boring you, then get lost," I said.

"I can see this conversation is becoming too intellectual for me. I'll leave you and Father Nicodemus to battle things out by yourselves," replied Mark, and then he left.

In response to my cousin's question, "Are you a Christian?", I replied that my beliefs were more aligned with those of eastern religions than Christianity, though I didn't consider myself an adherent of any particular religion. "I mistrust dualities, such as the duality of creator versus created universe, or good versus evil, or myself versus the rest of the universe. What I call myself or you call yourself is simply a conglomeration of molecules, which will eventually revert to dust and then later be used to create something else. There is thus no real distinction between me and you or between me and this table or between me and the universe as a whole. What happens to another person also happens to me, and vice-versa, because we are all part of one great unity." My cousin objected to my assertion that good and evil are in the eye of the beholder.

"How can you say such a thing? Surely you don't think Adolf Hitler was good?" And then he gave the Christian explanation of evil. God, who is good, created angels and humans and gave us free will, because he wanted us to love him freely, but some of the angels (who later became devils) and all of the humans abused this free will, and strayed from God, and that is how evil arose. Or something of the sort. I said I didn't believe in free will.

"How can you not believe in free will? You can feel that you have free will!" exclaimed my cousin.

"Free will versus determinism is another false duality. An illusion that results from the feebleness of the human mind," I replied.

And so it went, with the conversation eventually touching on all the great questions of theology and philosophy, and with my cousin and myself differing on almost every point. My beliefs have long since been settled in these areas, so that I engage in these sorts of discussions now more as an intellectual game than for the purpose of learning anything. Perhaps tonight I was also possessed by the desire to leave my cousin doubting his faith in Christianity and wondering why he was spending his life in a monastery. He, in turn, seemed intent on making a convert of me, to which end he spoke of miracles.

"Logic alone can't prove the truth of Christianity, I will grant you that. Which is why God has given us signs in the form of miracles. For example, just in this century, there have been saints who have been so blessed as to be granted a vision of the uncreated light. That is the light as it existed before the universe took shape. Do you recall the phrase in the Book of Genesis, Let there be light? That is the light these saints were shown. Just thirty years ago, for example, on Mount Athos in Greece, a saint arose after a night in solitary prayer and when he came out, he said to the other monks, why is the moon still in the sky? It wasn't the moon, though, it was the sun, but the sun appeared dim to him because he had been shown the uncreated light, and by comparison with that light, the sun is indeed dim. And for three days afterwards, this saint's face was radiant with the reflection of the light he had seen. I have spoken personally with people who saw this saint that day with his face radiant from seeing God's light—people whose truthfulness I trust absolutely—and so I know this really happened. And there was another case not too long ago. Two monks were in the forest in Russia and one of them suddenly said to the other, Look at me! And the second monk looked at the first and saw his face was shining because he had been shown God's light. And then there was the knock on my door late at night with no one around, that I told you about in my letter. A small miracle, but a miracle nonetheless," said my cousin.

"And the Hindu's talk of all sorts of miracles. Levitation. Holy men who've lived for thousands of years in the snowy Himalayas without eating a thing all that time. Supposedly they suck in all the energy they need directly from the air. Other holy men who can die and be buried and then unburied and brought back to life a couple of months later," I said.

"Some of those stories might be true. But if so, it's due to their worship of the devil. I've seen some of the images of those Indian religions, and they are horrifying. A snake coming out of woman's vagina, for example. That is horrifyingly ugly!"

"Why is that more horrifying than Jesus Christ nailed to a crucifix, with a hole in his side where the soldier poked him with a spear, and blood dripping from all the wounds, and a crown of thorns on his head, and an expression of agony on his face?"

"That expression of agony is only in the Roman Church. In the Orthodox church, there is an expression of tranquility."

"There's still blood dripping from all the wounds, though. And really, I don't see anything wrong with an image of a snake coming from a woman's vagina."

"It's demonic!"

"Anyway, I'm skeptical of all of these alleged miracles. Even if they are true, that just proves that science hasn't yet unlocked all the secrets of the universe. If there is such a thing as uncreated light which is so much brighter than regular light, then once enough people get to see it, the phenomenon can be added to the physics textbooks. Same with levitation and the ability to extract energy straight from the air. Assuming these phenomena exist, they can be observed with the senses, and therefore they can be dealt with by materialist science. Science is a method, you'll recall, as opposed to a body of knowledge. To investigate scientifically means to perform experiments which can be duplicated and verified by another scientist. The purpose of this verification, of course, is to prevent fraud. For example, to prevent someone from alleging they can levitate when they really can't, or that some saint's face was shining brightly when it really wasn't."

And so on, with neither of us convincing the other. I noticed my cousin fingered his rosary beads and moved his lips whenever I became particularly rambunctious in my arguments. Somehow I got the impression that he was saying prayers to chase away any doubts that I might be introducing into his head. Or perhaps he was trying to exorcise the demons that had obviously taken possession of my soul. He had mentioned to Mark and myself earlier that he occasionally left the monastery to perform exorcisms, as well as marriages and funerals and other holy rites.

Eventually, the conversation drifted away from the subject of religion to that relatives. First, we exchanged platitudes regarding various recent deaths in the family, including that of my father. "I'm sorry to hear about that. He was a good man," says my cousin. "Oh, well, he was getting old. Eventually we all have to go," I reply. My cousin asked about my father's living conditions at the time of death: "I hear he was living with your sister, and there was some dispute about that. Was he happy there, do you think?" And so off we went with the long story of how I sued to have a conservatorship established because my sister was stealing my father's money and how I am currently involved in a will contest suit with my sister. My cousin lowered his eyes and solemnly shook his head.

"This is so terrible, to have a family torn apart like this. Isn't there something that can be done? You told me you're rich, in which case you don't need any more money. What if you dropped this lawsuit and then called your sister and said you were going to forgive her for trying to cut you out of your inheritance? Wouldn't that patch things up between you two?"

"Why should I do that?"

"This business of a lawsuit against your own sister is so terrible."

"Why is it worse to sue my sister than someone else?"

"Don't you love your sister?"

"Not particularly."

"How can you say that? What if she were dying, wouldn't you do something to save her?"

"If it didn't cost me anything, sure. Now if we're talking a lot of money to save her, well then I'd have to think about it."

"Oh, this is horrible what you're saying!"

"Okay, I'd cough up a $1000 to save her. But $100,000? Probably not. I think I'd let her die before I coughed up $100,000."

"It pains me so to hear you talk this way about your own sister. You mustn't hate her, whatever she's done to you or your father. Christ says we must forgive seventy times seven times."

"I don't hate my sister. I just don't care about her. It isn't so much that she's tried to screw me out of money, though of course that doesn't endear me to her, as that we have so little in common. She doesn't read books, she's boring to listen to, she's full of racism and other sorts of bigotry. Altogether, she seems intent on lowering herself into the gutter. I really have no desire to ever see her again. The only reason I would do anything for her is so that other people don't think I'm a monster. How about you coughing up $100,000 to save my sister, assuming that were ever necessary? You don't have $100,000, of course. Very well, then you can go out and get a real job instead of sitting on your ass all day in church and acting sanctimonious. It's easy to be generous with other people's money."

"I'd so like to see this split between you two healed. I don't know much about your sister. I only saw her a few times as a child. What do you think caused her to try to steal from your father?"

Here I launched into a long discussion of how my sister had gotten involved with her current husband as a teenager and had been fixated with him ever since, and how he had committed bigamy and then stolen from her and then been thrown off the police force for some sort of malfeasance and then gotten thrown out of the military for not showing up for service during the first war with Iraq and then how they had gotten married again and moved to the country.

"I can see that this man she is married to is not a good man. But don't you think your sister has been devoted in staying with him all these years?"

"Devoted? As in, he was a devoted user of heroin, and never once was unfaithful to that drug—he never tried cocaine, he never tried marijuana. Emotionally attached is how I would describe my sister's relationship with her husband, though I suppose you could use the term devoted. I'm not sure as to why she is so devoted. Love is a mysterious thing."

We then discussed my situation with Helen and Elizabeth. I explained that I loved Helen but that she was unsatisfying as a sex partner because she was unable to have proper orgasms and therefore sex was always painful for her, whereas I had little love for Elizabeth, but the sex with her was wonderful. My cousin, a virgin who knows absolutely nothing of sex by personal experience but who nevertheless provides occasional couples counseling to lay members of the church, gave the following advice:

"I was reading a study several years ago, which said that married Christian women had more orgasms than atheists, perhaps because the married Christian woman is confident that her husband won't leave her and therefore she can relax more. I think both you and Helen should carefully consider the possibility of holy matrimony under the auspices of Christ's love. Maybe that is all you need to have a satisfying sexual relationship."

We rambled on until near one in the morning. As I noted previously, my first thought upon receiving my cousin's email several week ago, about the visitation from the Holy Spirit and whatnot, was that he was going through a mid-life crisis and was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But now I am convinced that he is completely stable and sane, at least by the standards of this monastery. Like me, my cousin has a tremendous need for solitude, and doesn't suffer from lack of friends or lovers, and is very lazy. His lack of a sex life (Mark and I agreed that he gave off absolutely no homosexual vibrations and I doubt he masturbates and I'm certain he doesn't have a mistress) I found the most depressing aspect of his situation. I could easily live without sex with women, but I can't imagine living without masturbation. In any case, my cousin seemed content, and that being the case, I can't really fault his decision to be a monk. From a selfish point of view, however, I was disappointed that a first cousin who is so similar to me in temperament, intelligence, and education, and with whom I might therefore have been able to enjoy a truly wonderful meeting of the minds, has reduced himself to believing medieval nonsense, so that it is impossible for us to communicate as equals.

When I returned to our room, Mark was already in bed and asleep. Somehow, I had the suspicion that he had read my notes for this journal while I was away. It had been my intention to keep these notes with me at all times, precisely to prevent Mark from snooping, but tonight I forgot to do so. I slept well for three hours, then was roused by the sound of Mark's breathing. Each inhalation dragged on for thirty gasping seconds, as if he were dying for want of air, and was followed by tremendously loud snoring during the exhale. "He's fucking going to die on me!" I thought to myself as I listened to this racket. Finally, at about five in the morning, I could endure no more and went out into the hall to do my morning exercises, then walked around the monastery grounds until it was light.

 

Mark spent the day driving around in a fruitless search for the monastery where his uncle lives (he called there later and realized he had the wrong directions). I, meanwhile, updated my notes for this journal, then gorged on the junk food leftovers from last night, then took a long nap to catch up on sleep.

In the afternoon, Mark and I attended the vespers service—my first time inside the church. The other monastery buildings were so grimly utilitarian in appearance that I hadn't expected much of this church, but in fact it was beautiful inside, as was the service, which was recited in a sort of plainsong chant, so rapidly spoken that I could only catch occasional phrases—"protect us from the evil one", "the undefiled virgin". My cousin says he spends about fours hours a day in these church services.

After dinner, while Mark read a book or otherwise occupied himself, my cousin and I had another long talk.

"Why don't you do this? At least try to believe in Christ, and see what happens in your life," suggested my cousin.

"How can I believe in such foolishness? Even assuming there is this Jesus Christ who lived on earth two thousand years ago and performed various miracles and then rose from the dead and continues to perform occasional miracles, such as showing people the so-called uncreated light and knocking on people's doors late at night—what does that prove? He seems no better than a prankster, playing parlor tricks on us stupid humans. What kind of a superior being would do things like that?"

"Just try believing in him."

"Very well. I open my mind to the possibility that there is this magician named Jesus Christ who knows some things that human scientists don't yet know, such as how to walk on water and rise from the dead and so forth. Okay, now what?"

"Christ is not a magician. Christ is the son of God."

"Then God is a magician. It all seems so petty and small the way you describe it. This man in the sky with a white beard who gives birth to a son and then the son comes down to earth to live with us humans for a spell. It's like a religion for little children."

"Children are often the most receptive to Christ's words."

"Because they're so gullible, that's why!"

Eventually, my cousin convinced me to ask Christ to show me a sign, and so I did. I asked Christ to show me a sign of his existence.

"Very well, if you were sincere in your request, then he will show himself to you by a sign. Perhaps even this very night, after you go back to your room. Now, that being done, I think it would be inappropriate to continue our discussion, at least about religious topics. Instead, let me tell you how I decided to become a monk in the orthodox church." And here he launched into an incredibly long-winded tale of being raised in the protestant faith, and having had many misconceptions about the Christian religion as a child, and then as a teenager being attracted to Catholicism as a purer faith than Protestantism, but of having reservations about certain Catholic doctrines. "I remember being perplexed and uncomfortable for many years at the notion of the Holy Spirit being born of the Father and the Son. Then in college, I remember being overcome by a wonderful sense of inner peace when I read that the Orthodox church teaches that the Holy Spirit is born merely of the Father, and not the Father and the Son, as the Roman Catholics teach. Because if the Holy Spirit is born of the Father and Son, then it is as if the Holy Spirit is inferior to these other two components of the Trinity. Whereas if the Holy Spirit derives strictly from the Father, then it is equal in precedence to the Son. This a fairly esoteric point of theology, of course, but it meant a great deal to me. Also, this was by no means the only reason I converted to orthodoxy."

I asked if he had ever thought of marrying and having children and here he told me more or less what I already know. To wit, that he had been very shy as a boy, and never dared approach girls, though a part of him very much wanted to.

"I would have given my right arm to get laid. I didn't care with who, I just wanted sex. But none of the girls would even look at me," he said.

"Why is that? You're healthy, very intelligent and not bad looking. What was the problem?" I asked.

"I was fat. Remember? I was much fatter as a boy than I am now."

"So? Lots of fat guys have girlfriends. Anyway, you could have lost weight."

"Actually, in my later teens, I went swimming a lot and did lose weight. But the girls still wouldn't look at me! It was like I didn't even exist."

"Maybe because you treated them like they didn't exist. Do you know what the real difference is between the guys who have sex all the time and those who don't?"

"What?"

"The guys who have sex all the time are the guys who want to have sex all the time. In many cases, they simply can't control their desire for sex, which is hardly a condition to envy. In my opinion, the reason you never had sex is that you didn't really want to have sex."

"That's just not true! I would have given my right arm to get laid!"

"You weren't poor in college. If you had really wanted to, you could have come up with the equivalent of $100 in today's dollars, either by getting a part-time job or by telling your parents you needed money for books. Is that true?"

"Yes, I could have easily gotten my hands on $100."

"Then there was no need to sacrifice your right arm for sex. All you had to do was find a prostitute and pay her $100."

"I didn't want to do that."

"You didn't want sex?"

"I didn't want sex with a prostitute."

"A minute ago you were saying that all you wanted was sex and you didn't care with who."

"Okay, I take that back. I wanted sex with a girl I liked."

"Were there any such girls?"

"Sure, but they didn't like me."

"Did you ever talk to these girls?"

"I thought about it, but I got choked up."

"Stage-fright is an acceptable excuse the first few times. But after that, bashfulness is just a way of driving the girls away. Girls instinctively sense that when a boy is repeatedly bashful it means he doesn't really want her. That's why girls get annoyed by such behavior in boys."

"I have normal male desires. I wanted sex with these girls. The problem was that they didn't want it with me."

"Did you ever ask these girls to have sex with you?"

"I wouldn't have dared to! They wouldn't have given me the time of day, much less have sex with me."

"Having been both the giver and receiver of flattery and strong expressions of sexual desire, I can assure you of their effectiveness. If you had told one of these girls point-blank that you found her very attractive and thought about her constantly and wanted to have sex with her, then regardless of whether she said yes or no, she would almost certainly have been secretly pleased. Furthermore, had you propositioned every girl you found attractive, then there is no question in my mind but that you would have eventually found one who said yes. And I'm not talking about asking a thousand girls, either. At most ten attempts before you found a girl to go out with you, assuming the girls weren't too young and that there was some mutual attraction. And once you're going out together, it's usually only a matter of time before the girl agrees to have sex with you. After all, you entered college in the early 1970's. That was the decade of sexual liberation, you'll recall, especially among the sort of girls at the college you went to. So tell me, did you ever bluntly proposition any of these girls you liked?"

"I wouldn't have dared to."

"The worst that could have happened would be for the girl to shriek and call you a pervert and then laugh and run off to tell her friends what you said. But given that you were already despised by all the girls—at least according to you—you really had nothing to lose, right?"

"There is nothing wrong with me. I have the same desires as other men."

"When we started this conversation you said something about having been willing as a boy to sacrifice your right arm for sex and then I invoked the idea of a prostitute and all of a sudden you changed your story to where you only wanted sex with certain girls. Now it seems that you didn't make even the slightest effort to approach these girls you supposedly liked so much that you would have given your right arm to have sex with them. Did you or did you not want sex with them?"

"I did and I didn't at the same time! I didn't know what I wanted. I was very confused then. I certainly wasn't ready to settle down and get married. Especially not with someone like my mother. Oh, no! Never in a million years with someone like her! But even if I had found someone quiet and nice—the opposite of my mother—it wouldn't have lasted. Even if I had stayed in the world, I would just have run through a string of divorces. I'm pretty sure of that. Thankfully, though, God preserved me from a life of libertinism and eventually I found my place in the church, which is where I belong. Contrary to what some relatives have said, I most definitely do not feel that I'm wasting my life here in this monastery."

"No more a waste than any other life would have been. We all die in the end, and our bodies return to the dust whence they came and then the dust is used to create other bodies. Everything about our lives is both wasted and not wasted at the same time."

Perhaps due to our agreement earlier not to further dispute theology tonight, my cousin declined to respond to this last remark of mine, and so our conversation ended here.

 

The next morning, Mark, my cousin and myself had breakfast together in the church meeting hall, along with some visiting seminary students, most of whom seemed to be natives of Eastern Europe, based on their heavy accents. One of the students became excited talking about a miracle that he had personally witnessed.

"I used to walk by a church every day on my way to school. Then one day there was a swelling in the ground out front, like something was trying to get out. Then they dug the ground up and found the relics of a saint, who had been buried there five hundred years before. And the smell that came out—it was indescribably wonderful! It was like the smell of incense. I smelled it myself. It was the most wonderful smell I have ever smelled in my life. Like something from out of this world," said the student.

"Excuse my ignorance, but does relics mean bones?" asked Mark.

"Yes, the bones. The remains of a holy Christian martyr," replied the student.

"In some cases, the corpse shows no signs of decay," noted my cousin. "We had such a case here just a few years ago, when a saint was dug up a hundred years after he went to sleep and was buried, because they needed to move the grave to a new site, and his body showed no signs of decomposition. That miracle was witnessed by the bishop here."

"And the smell was wonderful, wasn't that so, Father Nicodemus?" asked the student.

"Yes, that's true. There is often a wonderful smell given off by the relics of a saint," replied my cousin.

"That was a true miracle that I saw. Of course, sometimes there are false miracles. Like once they had a statue that was always crying water from the eyes and then they checked and found out there was just a leak in the roof," laughed the student.

"There are also true miraculous cases of statues that cry," said my cousin, with a stern expression on his face.

"Of course, I didn't mean to imply otherwise, Father Nicodemus," replied the student.

"There were also many icons which had been blackened by smoke and dirt over the course of centuries, and these began to clear up when the communists took over in Eastern Europe," said another student.

"It is currently believed that this was a divine sign. The pictures were coming to life in order to fight the godlessness of communism," my cousin explained.

I was anxious to get going, as I wanted to get back to the city in time in take a nap (I needed a nap because Mark's horrific snoring once again prevented me from sleeping well) before going out dancing. While Mark was taking his usual slow time getting packed, I had some minutes alone with my cousin. We talked of the weather and other innocuous topics, though it was evident that he was hoping I would make some sort of confession that Christ had revealed himself to me during the night, just as he had promised would happen. Before we left, my cousin expressed the hope that I would visit again soon, and I replied that I might, though in fact I have little desire to see him again in the near future.

Mark and I stopped at another monastery on our way back, where Mark's uncle is a monk: "I've always wondered about him, though. I think he's celibate, but you never know. I knew this other monk, and the way he described it, it's like a non-stop party at some of these monasteries. Once those lights go out at night, it's like a haunted house, if you know what I mean. Doors opening and shutting, footsteps running back and forth, beds squeaking, bumps in the night. And it's not the Holy Ghost doing all this, either. You see, back in the old days, they tried to weed homosexuals out of the church, but nowadays they have a shortage of people wanting to be monks and priests, so they can't be too choosy about who they accept anymore." His uncle was out for the day, and so Mark instead visited the gift shop, where he bought me a card, which will cause a mass to be said for my eternal soul: "Here, this is just what you need. I can sense that you're on the verge of a conversion. It's time you gave up that atheism and got back into religion."

Elizabeth had been suggesting we try Crisco cooking oil for lubrication during sex, since Astroglide and K-Y Jelly seemed to dry out too quickly, so I asked Mark about his experiences with lubricants. "Crisco's big among the fisting crowd. That's all I know. And, of course, fisting takes a long time, so I guess it mustn't dry out quickly. I've never used it myself, however. I've never tried fisting, either, but I have seen it done many times. It's an awesome thing, let me tell you. Once I saw this midget amputee stick his whole arm up this guy's ass. Or rather, what was left of his arm after the hand had been cut off. I'm telling you, that arm went in almost all the way up to the shoulder. Of course, he was a midget and his hand was amputated, so his arm was kind-of short. But it wasn't thin. Not by any means. I mean that midget's arm was as thick as mine. Fudge packing some people call that. Of course, an experienced bottom keeps his rectum clean, but some people don't know that. I've had a number of fisting offers over the years—both as a top and as a bottom—but, like I said, I've never really wanted to try. I remember this one guy, he said he was a drill sergeant in the marines. Man, he looked like a fucking sadist! It's all about trust, he says. You just got to trust me. Problem is, I didn't trust him. You can really get hurt if the top doesn't know what he's doing. Like this one case I heard about, he went off with some guy he met in a bar. The other guy took him to a warehouse, stuck his hand inside, grabbed hold and then yanked. Ripped his intestines right out. He ended up hemorrhaging to death. They found him hanging there the next day. Now you talk about there being no difference between good and evil—tell me there's no evil there. That's someone who needs an exorcism. We're talking Satan incarnate in that guy who did that." And so on all the drive back. Four hours of free-spirited bawdy talk that made me forget the intellectual gloom and sexual repression of my cousin's monastery.

After taking my evening nap, I went out tango dancing. There were only about ten women present, with most of these accompanied by a male escort, and the two unaccompanied young women with whom I felt the strongest sexual energy left early, so I spent much of my time sitting and watching. I made the mistake of trying to talk afterwards to several of my partners, only to immediately regret having done so. My experience with Marianne had made me forget how dull most women can be. On a more positive note, I did very well with the instructor. In her fifties, heavy-set and a native of Argentina. After our first dance together, which was to a milonga, she exclaimed that my sense of rhythm was extraordinary, and then she insisted we try the other types of tango music as well—regular tango and tango waltz, that is. Unfortunately, either because I started to get nervous about screwing up after she praised me or because I detected something incompatible about our personalities, I didn't really enjoy dancing with this instructor. I left after about two hours, then wandered around the nightclub district for a while, then concluded the evening with dessert at an all night restaurant.

 

The next day, I treated Mark to lunch at a restaurant, where he stole some of the silverware. "Each time I come here, I take one set and someday I'll have a full service for twelve people. After all, they charge enough, don't they? Why shouldn't I get some free silverware? Don't worry about me being caught, either. These waiters are much too busy to notice this sort of thing." Then we said goodbye, since he will be working at his caretaker job in the suburbs for the next few days and thus we won't see one another again.

Tango dancing in the evening, where I did wonderfully, especially after the sexless and incompetent Americans went home and most of those who remained were middle-aged Argentineans. My last and best dance was an extraordinarily sexually charged performance to modern tango music, with a short-haired and overweight woman in her forties, who appeared to be married and accompanied by her husband—hardly a partner I would expect to generate strong sexual energy. At first, she was slightly off beat, but then she melted against me and we danced the rest of the song in perfect sync with the music and one another's bodies. I left immediately afterwards, partly because there were only two women and two men besides myself left at this point, and partly because, having just danced so perfectly, I didn't want to pollute the experience by dancing again in a manner in any way inferior. I concluded the evening at a nearby late night cafe—an old favorite of mine—where I sat on the terrace and ate a banana split and then lingered for an hour or so over a bottle of dark beer, savoring the afterglow that comes from having danced well and erotically.

 

I haven't the least desire to speak to or hear from Elizabeth, and so haven't bothered trying to call her since my last call a week ago. Also, I've decided that, once I get to the city, I'll mail my paper notes for this journal to my post office box, to avoid having Elizabeth possibly sneak a peek at them.

Last week, my lawyer called and left a message on my answering machine, so today I called him back and he gave me an update on the status of my case. He has spoken several times to my father's lawyer, who expressed the hope that there might be a settlement. My lawyer interprets this as meaning that this other lawyer, who is named as executor of the current will, is worried about missing out on his fee if my will contest is successful. Otherwise, little has happened. After hanging up, I began to have regrets about having entered into a contingency fee agreement. Imagine if my lawyer were to reap a $100,000 fee after only putting in fifty or so hours of work! What was I so worried about? Then later it occurred to me that my sister almost certainly will not settle easily and the case will thus likely drag on for years, in which case $100,000 is not entirely unreasonable.

Since Mark was working at his caretaker job, I had the day to myself. I read some in the park, then feasted at an old favorite restaurant, where the desserts were as good as ever. Before I left for my trip back to the west coast, Mark's brother stopped by and mentioned that he would like to try tango dancing as a way of meeting women, so I politely gave him the phone numbers of the clubs where I went yesterday and the day before. Based on how stiffly he carries himself while simply walking down the street, Mark's brother will probably make an incredibly clumsy dancer. Also, I suspect women will be freaked out by his disheveled appearance and crazy talk about nails and screws and how he doesn't have a telephone because he's worried about wiretaps and so on.

 

Partly to stave off boredom—this second time traveling cross-country by train is much less exciting than the first—and partly because I can't help obsessing over her, I spent most of yesterday and much of today fantasizing about kissing Marianne's cunt and holding her in my arms and otherwise making love to her. By this afternoon I was in a such a state of sexual overexcitation that I had to masturbate twice in the train toilet to calm myself down.

At one of the train stops, I stupidly bought a large bag of tortilla chips and then ate the whole thing, which left me feeling bloated and disgusted with myself. For most of this trip, I've been undereating and thus constantly feeling somewhat hungry, which I find much preferable to the opposite state of satiety.

A Mexican national, hailing from the south of that country, sat down across the aisle and initiated a conversation. He is in his thirties, fluent in English and French as well as Spanish, attended the university in Mexico, seemed intelligent, and works as a caretaker for an old man, who was just then taking a nap in their sleeping compartment. We exchanged addresses and then I gave him a book I had finished reading, while he promised to send me copies of photos he was taking through the train windows. Then he asked if he could visit me sometime, and I consented. I don't know why, since I was bored with him by this time and had no real desire to see him again. I deliberately mentioned that I would be rendezvousing with a girlfriend, in case he's another of those homosexuals who mistakenly take me for one of their tribe. I make note of this conversation because it is one of the few of any consequence that I've had on this trip with strangers.

 

I felt much better this morning, now that my body had metabolized some of the tortilla chips I gorged on yesterday. After checking in to the hostel, I wandered around the city, getting a feel for what it would be like to live here.

At the library I checked email. A message from Elizabeth—a dry indication of when she would be arriving and the address of the hotel where she had made reservations. Given how cold my last email to her was, I could hardly fault her lack of warmth in replying, of course. I began to suspect that she would be angry at me for not having called her more frequently while on this trip, and that she would try to punish me by refusing to have sex. I resolved to beat her to the punch by being impotent or else pretending not to want sex. Later, I calmed down and decided to do my best to get along with her. After all, she is useful to me, as a potential witness in my will contest suit. Then I reflected that I hate being deceitful and that the feeling of joy I experienced with Marianne makes this relationship with Elizabeth seem terribly dreary in comparison. I want to break with her soon and associate henceforth only with women whose company fills me with joy. But how to do this without angering Elizabeth so much that she refuses to help me with my lawsuit?

 

The hotel Elizabeth had picked cost $125/night. I unpacked then lay on the bed waiting for Elizabeth to arrive, alternating between thinking lewd thoughts and wondering if she might perhaps decide not to show after all. When she eventually did arrive, she was in a bad mood, just as I had anticipated. She let me kiss and hug her, but when I tried to touch her breasts and feel her crotch, she pushed me away and complained in an annoyed tone of voice: "I just got here!" I lay back down on the bed and resumed reading my book, while she unpacked. Upon emerging from the bathroom, she asked: "Aren't we going out? It's already overcast and it'll be dark soon." I shrugged and replied, "Sure", though in truth I had little desire to sightsee and even less to spend time in Elizabeth's company, unless for the purpose of having sex.

We walked around the commercial district, had a lousy lunch of burritos, walked to the park, got caught in a rainstorm, took shelter in various stores, stopped off briefly at a bookstore, and finally ended up in a cafe, where I talked about my trip. Elizabeth listened with an expression of boredom admixed with annoyance, then finally interrupted me.

"You don't call me for three weeks and then you expect me to have sex with you!" she exclaimed.

"I had nothing to say," I replied.

"Oh, that explains why you didn't call!"

"What am I supposed to do? Call you up and say I went up the tower and saw the whole city of North Metropolis and then I climbed the mountain and got another view of the city and then I visited some big churches? It's like a kid at summer camp writing to his parents about what he did. What is there to say? We agreed that our relationship was a limited one before I left on this trip. We agreed to see each other twice a week for sex and that's it."

"I don't think I can live with that."

"I didn't expect you to be able to."

"Sex just isn't that important to me."

"It's important all right. You just don't want to admit it. Three or four times—I forget now, it's been so many—you've broken up with me because our relationship was purely sexual. And then when you realize how badly you want sex, we get back together."

"I'm not having sex with someone who doesn't care for me enough to call me for three weeks."

"If you don't want sex, then we won't have sex."

We returned to the hotel room about eight in the evening. Neither of us felt hungry, and Elizabeth was somewhat queasy from the burritos we had eaten for lunch, so we didn't bother going out for dinner. Instead, we simply lay on the bed for several hours. Myself reading, Elizabeth watching television, neither of us speaking. We didn't kiss or hug or even touch, and we slept with a wide separation between us on the queen size bed.

Elizabeth was slow to rise, so that it was almost noon when we emerged onto the street. We walked across the river and had breakfast at one cafe and tea at another, then took the bus to the park and walked there for several hours and finally stopped off for dinner at an overpriced restaurant, where we resumed a conversation we had begun earlier in the day.

"If all you want is sex, then why don't you get a prostitute?" asked Elizabeth.

"First, because women who become prostitutes tend to be the scum of society—emotionally screwed up, stupid, drug addicts—and the whole idea of having sex with someone like that I find repulsive. I think I'd end up picking up a lot of bad vibes. Second, most prostitutes fake their pleasure, and I'd know this because I'm sensitive, and that would spoil the whole experience for me. You understand that normally I don't get turned on by the idea of sex with someone who finds me unattractive. Finally, there's the hassle of talking to the woman to make sure she isn't obnoxious, the health risks, the risk of being robbed, the haggling over money, etc, etc. True, I've never been to a prostitute, so I don't know for sure it would be this bad, but I really doubt it would be better than masturbating," I replied.

"You're just cheap, that's why you won't go to prostitutes."

"I paid for your airline ticket here. I paid for the hotel you picked. I always pay your way wherever we go. I take you to any restaurant you want and always pick up the tab. I offered to buy you a computer. You're the one who's been postponing that purchase."

"Okay, so you're not cheap. Still, I don't feel like you're offering me enough."

"I'm offering sex in exchange for sex, that's what I'm offering."

"You don't understand male-female relationships. Women always expect something in exchange for sex, besides sex itself. That's always been true. Sex alone is never enough for a woman."

"I would agree that many women think that way, which is one reason why I've been alone most of my life. But not all women think that way."

"Then why not get a woman who just wants sex?"

"Maybe I will. And maybe you should get a man who'll give you money. There are such men, you know, and plenty of them. They might be old and unattractive and lousy lovers, but then if you don't care about sex, that isn't a problem, is it?"

"I do care about sex. But it's not everything."

"Anyway, you should have recognized long ago that you weren't going to get anything from me but sex, free dinners at restaurants and occasional expenses paid vacations. So why have you stuck with me as long as you have?"

"I don't know."

Later, Elizabeth brought up the topic of my sister.

"By the way, are you ready to testify about that?" I asked. Given that it was evident that Elizabeth and I were on the verge of breaking up again, I was anxious to test her feelings in regard to appearing at a deposition.

"Why so soon?" asked Elizabeth.

"My lawyer called while I was in North Metropolis and left a message on my machine. His idea is that by having the deposition now, we'll be in a better position to pressure my sister to settle. Also, if we wait two years you might forget some details." This is a lie. My lawyer had said nothing about Elizabeth's deposition.

"I really don't look forward to this. I gave a deposition once before and it wasn't an enjoyable experience."

"It's an hour of your time. A few simple questions. All you do is tell the truth of what you did and saw and heard. We'll provide the questions beforehand for you to review."

"But what's in it for me?"

"I'm asking you a simple favor. You do me favors, and I'll do you favors in the future."

"But I'm helping you to win all this money, and what am I getting?"

"I can't pay you, Elizabeth. I can't pay you now and I can't promise to pay you afterwards either. Nothing would be worse for me than to have you testifying that I was paying you to be a witness in my favor. That would be highly prejudicial to my case."

"So you get a big inheritance and I get nothing?"

"Basically, yes. You're doing me a favor that takes an hour of your time, with the result that I get a large amount of money. Someday I may spend an hour fixing your sink or something like that."

"That doesn't seem fair."

"I repeat. I can't and I won't pay you for testifying."

"It sounds like I get nothing and you get everything."

"So you won't do me this favor?"

"Why should I?"

"If you won't testify willingly, then I'd rather you not testify at all. The last thing I want is an unreliable witness who wants to hurt me, which is what you seem to be. I don't need you for this case, Elizabeth. My case is stronger with you testifying truthfully than without you, but even without you it's still very strong. So I tell you what. You don't want sex with me unless I pay you and I'm not interested in paying a woman for sex. Very well, let's not ever have sex again. As for exchanging favors, you evidently don't want that either. Which means we're finished. You've always wanted me to be the one to initiate the breakup, and now you've got your wish. This time I'm telling you goodbye and this time it's for good. You're a bitch through and true and you've certainly shown it tonight. Cheers!"

I finished my wine and paid the bill and then we left. "You can get back to the hotel by yourself. I'm going to the bookstore," I said, and then walked off. When I entered the hotel room several hours later, Elizabeth was in her nightgown, wearing no panties. Perhaps she was expecting me to be overcome by sexual desire by being in the same bed as a naked woman. I intentionally kept my own underwear on (normally I sleep in the nude) and also made a point of not touching or speaking to or even looking at her. I wasn't particularly angry, or even worried about the effect of her refusal to testify on my lawsuit. Mostly, I was anxious to get away from her for good.

"You aren't going to speak to me, then?" asked Elizabeth in the morning, as I was performing exercises.

"I said what I had to say yesterday," I replied.

"Why are you so angry?"

"I'm not angry. I'm disgusted. I ask a simple favor—one hour of testifying at a deposition—and you refuse."

"But what are you offering me?"

"Nothing. I'm offering you nothing. You and I are through."

"Now you see how I felt when you didn't call me for three weeks."

"At least a real prostitute would have named her price up front. You're untrustworthy."

"I haven't trusted you for a long time, either."

"Of course, I have only myself to blame. I knew what you were when I first met you. For whatever reason, I wanted a woman like you. Someone who sees men as nothing but a source of money. If you turn out to be trash, well, it's my own fault for fishing in the sewer."

"You live in a sewer."

Neither of us had raised our voices during the above conversation, nor did Elizabeth give any other indication of emotion, so I have no idea what she was thinking. My own feeling was mostly one of impatience to get away from her. I left my luggage in the room when I went out, since it was only eight in the morning and my train didn't depart until the afternoon.

I spent the morning sitting on a bench in the riverside park and then browsing in the bookstore, all the while fretting that, in my absence, Elizabeth might piss on my luggage, or perhaps bloody her nose against the bathtub in order to file a false accusation of assault and battery. Since we hadn't had sex and there was thus no semen in her vagina, it would be difficult to prove a false rape charge. A tale of attempted rape, on the other hand, might well find a sympathetic ear. As it turns out, my worries were for naught. Elizabeth was gone when I got back to the room, and on the night table was a note: "I'm sorry that things couldn't work out for us. Perhaps you can give the crystal to someone more worthy." (The "crystal" was a polished geode that I had bought for her in North Metropolis as a gift.) I'm not sure whether this note was meant sarcastically or not. At heart, for all her pretenses of being a queen who deserves only the best in life, Elizabeth often suffers from low self-esteem, and so perhaps the note was sincere.

It also occurred to me that Elizabeth might have realized that I'm bored with her. Either from my failure to call her more than once, or from my brusqueness on the phone the one time I did call her, or perhaps from something else. It doesn't take much for that intuition of hers to detect something is amiss. So she might have begun to worry that I planned to ditch her, but she couldn't bear the suspense of waiting for this to happen, and so decided to precipitate matters by deliberately acting more mercenary than she really is, since she knew that this would be the most effective way to drive me away permanently. Better the pain of losing me for certain than the pain of being in suspense.

 

I worked myself into something of a fit on the train back to West Metropolis, with lewd thoughts of kissing Marianne's cunt and then fucking either her or Elizabeth or some other woman from behind. In the end I had to masturbate twice to calm myself down. A tremendous amount of semen both times. I felt faint after the second orgasm, but hardly sated. Had I wanted, I could easily have come two more times.

 

I met with Helen for lunch and told her about my trip. She was surprised when I revealed that Marianne is older than me. Her first thought was that I had been bowled over by some floozy in her twenties. As regards Elizabeth, Helen at first pooh-poohed my insistence that we have broken up for good: "You two are always breaking up and getting back together." I then explained that Elizabeth had wanted me to pay her for testifying for my will contest suit, and this I considered an unforgivably mercenary attitude for a friend or lover.

When I asked about her situation with Paul, Helen replied that it is more or less the same as ever. She continues to sleep poorly and to feel a sort of free-floating anxiety: "I think it's this biological clock thing. Time to have a baby and all that." She is also feeling stressed from a combination of her job, where she has been forced to redo work that another employee screwed up, and her computer programming class, which has proven to be much more difficult than she had anticipated.

 

There was an email from Marianne dated from two weeks ago: "..I think of you and really appreciated the time we spent together, and I hope to hear from you soon..." I felt bad about taking so long to generate the following reply: "I just arrived back home, and am now in the midst of catching up on mail and email. I very much want to see you again. The whole of the rest of my trip I was thinking of you and how one day and one night—however wonderful that day and night might have been—was not nearly enough to satisfy my desire to be near you. I didn't call you on the phone because I dislike phone conversations. While I do want to hear your voice again, I also want to be next to you and to hold you in my arms when I hear it. But I will call you in a day or so. I'm not very busy now, and so can get away anytime. You are always welcome to visit me, or I can visit you, or we can travel someplace together. You said you like warm weather. Maybe we could visit one of the islands of the Caribbean this winter? Love, etc."

 

I tried making some more spare keys for my apartment, to replace the spare I gave Helen. However, my current key was itself a copy of the original which I had given to Karen back when she stayed briefly at my apartment, and the copies made from this copy didn't work very well. So yesterday I called Karen and left her a message asking her to mail me back my original key. Today she called me back, and we caught up on recent events in our lives. She is living in the suburbs and working at a bank again. Some sort of accounting job, which she says she enjoys. She mentioned that she might be coming into the city tonight to visit a nightclub, so I suggested we get together. She replied that she was coming with a man. I inquired further and she eventually revealed that she and this man were planning to visit the transsexual bar to pick up a hooker.

"Be sure to use protection," I advised.

"I know," replied Karen, and then she complained in a plaintive way, "I really don't want to go through with this!"

"Then why are you doing it?"

"Because I have to."

I have no idea what she meant by this last statement, since she didn't elaborate. Nor did I probe, since she seemed reluctant to discuss the situation. Perhaps she owes her current job to the man she will be accompanying tonight or perhaps she is somehow otherwise subject to his blackmail. She did mention that she and the man are both going to have sex with the transsexual. Then she suggested that we go out dancing together next weekend, which invitation I tentatively accepted. In fact, while the idea of sex with Karen is always exciting, I'm not sure that I want to get involved with her again.

 

Lunch with Helen. When I referred to Marianne as my "new sweetheart", she became upset, and said, "I thought you and we were getting married?" She is referring to the proposal I made last month for her to have a child by me but to live separately. We haven't discussed the proposal since, however. I inferred from this remark that things aren't going too well between her and Paul, and she confirmed this is the case. "Of course, now that I know you and I are getting married soon, it doesn't bother me when he threatens to break up over nothing." Later, she started sobbing about a gruesome photo I had showed her during our lunch earlier this week, of the old woman who Mark used to care for and who died of basal carcinoma of the face. The photo showed how her eye socket and cheek had been completely eaten away by the cancer. "Why did you show me that? There's something evil in you. I couldn't get to sleep that night from thinking about that horrible photo. You're hoping all women end up like that. I just know it." A week or so ago she jokingly called her supervisor at work a "jerk". Apparently he didn't take it as a joke, and now is being nasty with her so that she wants to quit. "Not only am I being treated abusively, but I've been taken off the computer work since the new employee is screwing up so completely that I'll have to redo everything she's done wrong. I'm learning nothing at this job and I'm way overqualified. I don't think they even require a college degree for this sort of work."

 

I gave $2 to Preacher, who I hadn't seen in a while. He was sprawled out on the sidewalk in front of a grocery store, holding a cigarette in one hand and making gestures in the air with the other.

 

Marianne had sent me a music disk by hardcopy mail as a gift two weeks ago, which I only just received today due to my post office box being full earlier this week. I listened to this disk five times today, partly because the music in itself I enjoyed and partly because it reminded me of her. She continues to dominate my sex fantasies, I should note. Then I called her to thank her for this gift and also to speak to her for the first time since we parted at the train station. A brief conversation, since she was anxious to get to bed early in order to rise early tomorrow morning. As far as my suggestion of a trip to the Caribbean, she likes the idea. We'll talk again this weekend.

 

Dinner with Helen in the evening, where we clarified some misunderstandings about our possibly getting married. I repeated my offer to pay her $20,000 a year for six years and $10,000 for another twelve years to raise a child by me, without us living together and with her doing most of the child-rearing. As for sex, we will probably each have to obtain outside lovers since we are so incompatible. I rejected the idea of giving Helen a $300,000 lump sum so she won't have to work.

"If you want a child and you can't find someone else to have a child with, then you can have one with me. I'm offering a better deal than a sperm bank or a man who can't be relied upon to pay child support. On the other hand, I don't want your decision being swayed too much by money considerations, which would be the case if I were to offer to give $300,000, or to give more than the $20,000/$10,000 deal. As for a normal marriage arrangement, I don't think that will work. We can't live together and sex seems impossible as well, though I do love you and expect to continue loving you for the rest of my life. It's just too awful the way you accuse me of causing you all these so-called bladder infections. Anyway, if you want a child badly, I'll help you out. If you want a live-in lover, then you'll have to look elsewhere," I said.

"Why can't I have both?" Helen asked.

"You can have both—just not from me. I repeat. All I'm offering is to help you out if you want a child."

"What about the $300,000 you promised me a year ago?"

"That was a bad idea then and it's a bad idea now. What is the reason for me giving you all that money? There's nothing in it for me."

"What's in it for you to have a child?"

"Someday I may regret not having children. Since I can easily afford a child, and since I care about you, why not help you have one, if that's what you really want?"

"If you really cared about me, you'd give me that $300,000 like you promised."

"My initial offer was simply to marry you. You're the one who came up the idea of me giving you $300,000 so you'd be free of my tyranny, as you call it."

"Tyranny is definitely the right word for you."

"The reason I agreed to that $300,000 idea is that I was under stress from planning to shut down my business and in a state of temporary insanity. You took advantage of my weakness."

"That business of yours! Why did you shut that down, anyway? All you had to do was an hour of work a day, you told me, and there would have been plenty of money to give me $300,000."

"It makes me feel bad when a woman wants me just for money. I know you don't really feel that way, but then the way you harp on this $300,000—it makes me wonder. You're going to end up like Elizabeth and Karen if you keep thinking of men as a source of money. Why not ask your brother and sister and cousin to each give you $100,000?"

"I can't do that! Anyway, they don't have extra money. They have children to support."

"They can take it from their children's college fund. Or ask your parents for $300,000."

"They're not that rich."

"So? They have enough to spare $300,000. Tell them to stop taking so many vacations and eating out at restaurants."

"All right, I get the point. Though it would be nice to be free..."

"There you go again."

"I just said I wanted to be free."

"Freedom in this context means $300,000."

"It's more than freedom. It's dignity as well."

"Another synonym for me giving you $300,000."

"If you would just give me that money, we wouldn't have to discuss this any more and there wouldn't be a problem!"

"No! I'm not giving you large amounts of money and that's that. I'll be your friend for life and I'll help you out when you're in need and I'll help you out now if you want children, but that's it as far as financial assistance goes."

Helen then mentioned that she has placed another personals ad in the newspaper and is thinking of responding to some of the men who left messages. As for Paul, he is once again having job problems. He complains of being asked to do menial work and is thinking of quitting. Or he might be fired before he has a chance to quit.

After I let her read the entries in this journal about Marianne, Helen moved to my side of the table and sat there on the bench next to me and leaned her head on my shoulder and promised that someday she would overcome her "bladder infections".

 

Mark called and we had a brief conversation. He said he enjoyed the monastery trip very much, and asked about sending some money there to compensate for all the food we ate. We agreed to each send $50.

 

I failed to call Marianne this weekend, as I had promised to do, because I have nothing new to say to her and I feel frustrated merely talking when what I really want is for us to have sex. So I sent her a long email instead.

 

A wonderful evening of tango dancing, even though I was in a somewhat surly mood. This is a truly remarkable achievement. In the past, my ability to enjoy an evening of dance was directly dependent on my mood, and my mood is so often a surly one. At long last, I'm where I always dreamed of being with respect to dancing skills. That is, I'm now able to dance at any time, to any song and with any woman, and to look good and feel good and also get the woman sexually excited if she is open to that. While the women here aren't nearly as generous as those of North Metropolis, I did nevertheless manage to get most of them to press against me closely. I won't go into details about these various partners, since there were so many wonderful experiences, other than to note that one of the woman dance instructors expressed surprise at the end of our dance at how good I've become. What an improvement over where I was last year about this time!

 

Helen stopped by the cafe in the evening after work. She is having difficulty with her computer programming class, due to lack of sleep and stress from her job, plus various confrontations with Paul. She didn't have time or inclination to give the full details of these. All I caught was some story about a black-tie banquet (related to a professional business conference) that neither of them really wanted to attend but for which Paul nevertheless accepted the invitation, and how Paul threatened to break up with Helen if she didn't go with him to this banquet, and then how the two of them stood awkwardly in a corner by themselves for several hours until Paul thought they had stayed long enough to be able to leave without being rude.

 

Lunch with Helen. In retaliation for her complaining about being forced to attend the banquet with Paul's "stuffed-shirt" business associates, Paul signed up for rowing lessons for himself this coming weekend, instead of planning to do something with Helen for her birthday. Meanwhile, she has been in contact with Eddie, the bachelor who her cousin introduced her to a few months ago. Eddie seems to have a crush on Helen, and has arranged to visit the city in the near future (he lives two hours away) so they can have lunch together. Over the phone he told her, "I feel like I'm crossing the ocean to get to you. I've been waiting so long for this meeting." The sexual attraction isn't mutual, however, and the only reason Helen is even considering Eddie as a possible mate is that he might become rich due to an invention he recently patented. Both her cousin and Eddie are aware that Helen is living with Paul. Also, when Helen originally met Eddie at her cousin's party, she was accompanied by Paul. So Helen isn't sure what her cousin and Eddie are thinking. Regardless, even if she did find Eddie sexually attractive, Helen is leery of the idea of meeting someone through the intermediary of a relative, as she worries that the relative will then be privy to the details of her personal life and will gossip about these details with the other members of her family. According to Helen, her relatives currently believe she has a wild sex life (in justifying having dated "losers" like myself and Paul, she explained that we are both handsome, implying that she was swept away by lust) and she is reluctant for them to learn the pathetic truth. Namely, that she never has orgasms and that her sex life alternates between vaginal sex which leads to painful "bladder infections" and anal sex which she doesn't enjoy.

 

After arriving back from my trip last week, I was for a while fired with enthusiasm and energy. I rose early each day, I completed some painting and housecleaning projects I've been meaning to do ever since I moved into this apartment almost a year ago, I was diligent about updating this journal based on my notes taken during the trip. But now I've fallen back into lethargy. I get up late, I skip my exercises, I overeat, I masturbate two or three times a day until I'm completely bereft of desire for women, I'm losing my enthusiasm for dancing, I'm letting this journal fall behind, I can't sit still long enough to read a book, and so on.

 

I received a check in the mail for $199 today from a customer anxious to purchase one of the products of my effectively defunct software business. In fact, I've been receiving about one such order a month ever since I made the software free over a year ago, though I haven't been mentioning these orders in this journal. I want to forget this business completely and writing about it in this journal makes me remember. Where the customers get my address and other ordering information, I have no idea. What is truly interesting is my emotional reaction to receiving these orders. Namely, a combination of annoyance, guilt, anger, depression, and, most of all, a panicky desire to run away and hide. I will definitely not be cashing this $199 check. Whether or not I will send the customer the software they ordered, I haven't yet decided. If I don't send it, I'll feel guilty and irresponsible. If I do send it, I'll feel angry at being forced back into a business I hate. As to why I hate it, I don't really know, nor do I expect I'll ever completely know the answer to that question.

 

My lawyer sent me the conservator's final report, which includes conservator fees of $27,000, or 270 hours at $100/hour (270 hours equates to about 7 weeks at 40 hours/week). Much of this time was billed in quarter or half-hour increments for responding to incessant phone calls from my sister and then dealing with various problems related to selling some of my father's real property. The conservator has made it clear that she has no desire to be further involved with my father's estate, once the final tax return has been filed. Given the number of phone calls from my sister, I can readily understand why. This conservator fee made me realize that a contingency fee arrangement for my will contest suit wasn't so foolish after all. Had I gone with an hourly fee arrangement, my lawyer would almost certainly have run up a bill of $50,000, whereas with the contingency fee he will get about $100,000 if I win or satisfactorily settle my case, and $20,000 if I lose.

 

Email from Marianne: "It took me a while to read your email. Again, you surprise me and I feel attracted to you and turned on. It is also amazing that a man who does not talk much has so much to say! You have a very good memory. I also feel that our story is not finished and I would have liked to be in the train with you back to West Metropolis. To be in your arms again and make love with you seems like a dream but I hope it will become true. Maybe I felt like a squirrel when we were together, attracted and at the same time a little afraid or worried, which made me dry, but spending more time together would certainly open me up like I did in the dancing. Work is taking a lot of my time though I will make myself available at the beginning of next year. Love, [signed] Marianne."

 

A disappointing night of tango dancing. Perhaps the ambiance of the club was partly to blame. A huge, brightly lit auditorium with beige walls, utterly lacking in elegance and intimations of sexuality and passion. Finally, towards the end of the evening, after breaking a sweat during the three salsa songs and thereby loosening myself up, I managed to make a strong sexual connection with three women in succession. One of these, who I didn't find particularly attractive, commented, "Wow, that was some dance for our first time together."

 

Karen left a message about our plans to get together tonight. I had thought these plans were tentative and since we hadn't spoken in over a week, I had assumed this idea of going out together was forgotten or else Karen had figured out that I wasn't too enthusiastic about the idea. Unfortunately, she didn't forget and left a message on my machine while I was out, asking me to call her back to set a time to meet. I didn't call her back, and then felt simultaneously guilty about rudely standing her up, and depressed about missing out on an opportunity for sex, and anxious to escape, because I really don't want to get involved with Karen again.

 

A really lousy night of tango dancing. At first I thought it was my tenseness over failing to deal properly with Karen, but it might also have been the ambiance of the dance studio that was the problem. I picked up intense man-hater vibes, as if this were a refuge for latent homosexuals and frigid women and eunuchs and other sex and man-hating creatures. For most of the two hours I was there, I sulked on a bench, which was rude, since there were many women waiting to be asked to dance. One of the dance instructors came by and slapped me on the shoulder and jokingly ordered me to "get out there and dance". "I'm going be dancing real soon," I replied, like an insolent teenager who's just been rebuked for dragging ass in gym class, and then I remained seated and instead of dancing just glumly watched the other dancers.

I felt very depressed on the walk home. I was so comfortable with my body during my recent vacation. I still remember being able to sexually excite every woman I touched at the tango club in North Metropolis, and now I'm in this funk where it seems I can't do anything right. Won't it be awful if I were to meet up again with Marianne and still feel like this!

 

Karen left a pissed-off message wanting to know "what happened yesterday". I was here when she called, but I had a suspicion it was her calling and so I didn't pick up the phone. Once again, I'm going through internal torments because of her. I really need to break with this woman for once and for all. Were Karen still unemployed and homeless, I might feel guilty about abandoning her, but now that's she's got a decent job and her own apartment, I owe her nothing.

 

Helen dropped in unexpectedly at my apartment in the evening to use the bathroom. She had called from the front door but I didn't answer because I'm trying to avoid Karen, and so she assumed I wasn't home, and decided to come up and let herself in using the key I gave her last month. I asked not to drop by like this in the future, since I might have someone with me. She and Paul had another quarrel this morning. Yesterday, after having a change of heart about his plan to go rowing by himself this weekend instead of doing something for Helen's birthday, Paul bought some expensive lingerie from a chi-chi department store ("self-serving," is Helen's assessment of this gift) and then today he agreed to have breakfast with her at a restaurant and take a drive with her afterwards to the country. But when Helen requested that they use her car for this drive, so as to charge the battery, Paul replied that he didn't want to accompany her to pick her car up, since he dislikes the skid-row area of the city where her car is garaged. (This is also the neighborhood of my and Helen's apartments.) A heated exchange ensued, which culminated with Paul snapping, "That's it, I'm not interested in going with you to the country. You can go by yourself, and I'm going by myself to the restaurant to get an omelet." "You can sit on that omelet for all I care!" Helen yelled in reply, and then they parted and she drove to the country by herself. She plans to spend the night in her own apartment. I walked her part way home on my way to the tango dancing club.

 

A tremendous night of tango dancing, at a very elegant club which I've never been to before. I danced for four hours straight, so that my thighs were sore when I got home at two-thirty in the morning, and all the while my body moved in perfect harmony with the music and my partners, almost all of whom melted against me. I noticed that some of the immature types from yesterday evening's dance (such as the dance instructor who slapped me on the shoulder), left early tonight. Probably they are as repelled by an atmosphere of adult sophistication and sexuality as I am by one of immaturity and sexual frigidity and man-hating. As I write this entry a day later, my body continues to throb to the memories of all the women I held close this evening.

 

Another email from Marianne, a short note: "It is cold and rainy in North Metropolis. I hope you are well and happy." I decided it was time to give her a call, and did so in the evening. A brief and friendly conversation. I think she worries about the cost of these international phone calls, which are at my expense, even though I told it really doesn't matter, since my long-distance provider has fairly reasonable rates these days. I should note that my feelings for her haven't diminished. Indeed, just this morning I spent an hour in bed after awaking, idly fantasizing about having her there naked with me.

 

Lunch with Helen, who was in an annoyingly hyperactive mood when I called her at work. Whooping and laughing and calling out to a coworker and then asking "What's in it for me?" when I suggested we have lunch together. When I remarked on her mood, she offered as explanation that she had spoken to her brother recently, and found him to be a "very calm person", and that she has decided to emulate him in this respect, and so on and so forth. None of which made much sense to me. I repeated my lunch invitation, though I don't know why, since by this time I had lost interest in seeing her, and Helen accepted: "Oh, I suppose I'll join you. After all, I have nothing better to do." In the restaurant, she declared, "I've decided that it's time for some changes in my life: new job, new apartment and new boyfriend." I asked if this meant there had been more conflicts between herself and Paul. Helen replied that, quite the contrary, she and Paul were behaving in a very "mature" fashion. That is, neither she nor he has mentioned their most recent quarrel, which had caused Helen to temporarily move out. Nevertheless, Helen plans to call various men who answered her personals ad, and wanted to know if she could use my phone to do this, so as to avoid having the call traced back to her. I agreed to this request.

Then I started off on a rant, provoked by something or other that Helen had said: "And so you're really planning to start dating through the personals again? Ah, yes, you'll get to enjoy those wonderful first date conversations again. So, what do you do? So, what do you like to do outside work? The woman a frigid bitch, the man like a little boy who lacks the self-discipline to simply walk away. Or maybe the reason he puts up with her is so that eventually he'll lose his taste for women altogether, and be freed for once and for all from the wheel of desire. Sort of like if you want to lose weight, just associate food with shit and you'll lose your appetite. Similarly, associate women with some frigid bitch gassing on about what she wants from a relationship and pretty soon being alone looks really, really good. The other possibility, of course, is to forget these frigid bitches and get a real woman. Someone like Marianne, for example."

"Well, I can see you're full of anger today. Maybe I've lost desire for these lunches with you. Maybe that's what you wanted. Nothing but a round of negativity from you today. Anyway, I've got to get back to work," said Helen.

And so we cut the lunch sort and parted with chilly smiles. Later, when I stopped by the cafe, she was sitting there eating dinner, so I went over to her table to say hello and we had the typical reconciliation conversation:

"Mind if I sit with you?" I asked.

"I don't know. Do you plan to be polite?"

"Sorry about lunch. Of course, once again you provoked me."

"I provoked you?"

After resolving our differences, we had a pleasant conversation about the music Marianne had sent me, which Helen previously remembered hearing someplace. We were only together for about an hour, after which Helen had to leave for her computer programming class. She has done little studying for this class and may even end up failing it. Helen never took any hard science or engineering courses as an undergraduate, and apparently didn't initially realize how demanding these can be.

 

Another tremendous night of tango dancing, to live music in an elegant nightclub with a surplus of attractive and well-dressed women. The band played mostly modern tango which sent the sexual energy level through the roof. It was like being back in North Metropolis. I danced for four hours straight, and felt physically tired at the end.

 

A very lazy day (up late, skipped my exercises, dawdled in the cafe all evening), probably because I was drained from the tango dancing last night. Just imagine if I had a job to go to in the morning!

 

There was a recommendation published in a trade magazine recently for one of the products of my effectively defunct software business. It seems the author of this recommendation wasn't aware that my business is effectively defunct and now he is receiving inquiries from readers wanting to know how to obtain this software which he recommended. He sent me an email today asking what's up, which made me feel absolutely mortified with embarrassment. What a mess I've made of this business!

 

Speaking of messes, I had a long talk with my lawyer this morning. My father's former lawyer has proposed a settlement whereby my retarded half-sister would receive $50,000 instead of $150,000, and the land my father bought (worth about $350,000) would be put in trust for my nieces, and the remainder of the estate would then be split between me and my sister. The net effect (after accounting for my 18% attorney's fees) would be that I would receive about $100,000 less than what I was expecting to get with a settlement ($300,000 instead of $400,000). My lawyer isn't sure whether my sister is involved in these settlement discussions. The last he heard, she wasn't willing to give me anything. Also, it isn't clear how she and her family are paying their bills, though rumor has it that her husband now has a minimum-wage job in a tire factory.

 

One of the monks at my cousin's monastery, with whom I had a brief conversation during my visit there last month, sent me a letter, in which he writes that, like me, he was at one time interested in Buddhism and Hinduism, but converted to Christianity because, unlike these eastern religions, whose conception of God is abstract, Christianity offers the possibility of a personal relationship with a God who knows us intimately as human beings. Then he apologizes for possibly being invasive and insists he is not trying to convert me, but just thought I might find it interesting to know that it is possible to go from believing in Buddhism/Hinduism to being an orthodox Christian monk. That I no more "believe" in Buddhism/Hinduism than in Christianity, but rather simply find some of the ideas of Buddhism/Hinduism interesting, is apparently too subtle a concept for either my cousin or this other monk to appreciate. In reading this letter, my feeling was one of disgust with all philosophical talk, which just seems pointless. Mark was right when, back during our visit to the monastery, he tried to shift the conversation from God and the nature of good and evil to the more mundane topic of where to get a cup of coffee. All we humans accomplish, in talking of things we can't possibly understand, is to make fools of ourselves.

 

Another wonderful evening of tango dancing. This seems a good place to note that there are several women with whom I've been dancing regularly of late, who either I'm interested in or who seem interested in me, as follows:

A petite blonde in her fifties, named Sarah, with whom I danced perhaps twenty songs, with us pressed closely together and following the rhythm perfectly all the while. Now and then as we danced I noticed my cock stiffening with an erection, then softening when I became preoccupied with avoiding collisions with the other couples, and then stiffening again when traffic cleared. I tried to strike up a conversation with her during breaks, but she didn't seem particularly interested in talking. But whenever I invited her to resume dancing, she accepted with obvious pleasure. I asked if she was married and she replied that she wasn't anymore. As to whether she is widowed or divorced and when she became single again, she didn't reveal. Before leaving, I told her to be sure to come back next week so we could dance some more. She smiled and nodded in reply.

An overweight Frenchwoman, also in her fifties and also blonde, who seems to sniff at my underarm when we dance, as if starved for the smell of men's bodies. We danced together very well, though I didn't get an erection like I did with Sarah. On the other hand, I used her in several times in my masturbation fantasies last week. Images of fucking her hard like the fat cow that she is deserves to be fucked.

A slender young Danish blonde, intelligent based on the brief snatches of conversation we've had so far, a superb dancer and also extraordinarily delicate and sensitive, so that she picks up on all the subtle clues that I send while dancing, including what sort of mood I'm in. She obviously likes me and I like her and yet I have absolutely no desire to pursue her. She detects this reluctance. I can't resist flirting with her—with my words when we talk, and with my eyes when we are across the room from one another, and with my body when we dance—and then later I shudder that I might have started something in motion that I won't be able to stop. I never fantasize about sex with her, though I enjoy watching her dance with other men, but only if she has her eyes closed and thus won't notice my staring.

A fleshy and flouncy blue-eyed blonde in her late forties, pretty and sweet-tempered. "Beautiful and popular in high-school, then the stay-home wife of some prominent lawyer, then mother of three perfect kids who are currently finishing college, and now divorced after twenty years of marriage because her husband finally became bored stiff by her stupid conversation"—such are my impressions. In any case, she likes being held by me and I like holding her and so our dancing is enjoyable.

An aggressively talkative short and fat woman, with whom tonight I danced four times tango and twice salsa. She was especially excited by my skills at salsa dancing (I should note that salsa no longer interests me, perhaps because I resent the effort involved with dancing "skillfully"), and asked me to escort her out to her car at the end of the evening. I could sense that she was about to offer me a ride home or otherwise try to take our relationship to a level beyond that of dance partners for a few songs a few times a week, and I definitely did not want this to happen. I dread the idea of sex with her. Nevertheless, on parting I leaned over so that we could touch cheeks, which she smiled at and obviously enjoyed. Why did I do this? Cheek-touching is not something I customarily do, after all.

 

Lunch with Helen, who was looking very attractive, partly due to a haircut, partly due to light tinting to wash out some stray gray hairs and also give luster to her hair, and partly due to wearing contact lenses instead of glasses. "I'm preparing to impress my new beaus," she explained. As for her current beau Paul, things are not going so well. Just the other night, for example, she arrived home late from her computer class, at half past ten in the evening, which is slightly later than she and Paul usually go to bed. Paul was supposedly already asleep at this time, and Helen's arrival caused him to wake up and then have difficulty getting back to sleep.

"I don't think I can tolerate the stress this computer class of yours is causing me," he said to her the next morning.

"And what about when I was pregnant and working a full-time job and you were unemployed and yet insisted on waking up at five each morning to go jogging? What about the stress that used to cause me?" she replied.

"If that's the way you feel about it, then maybe you should move back to your own apartment and we can stop seeing one another."

Paul then cancelled a reservation he had made for dinner that night at a fancy restaurant. This dinner was to be Helen's birthday present. "That's it, I'm through with him. I don't need someone vindictive like that," Helen said to me today.

 

I attended Lisa's birthday party tonight. I had expected I would be bored stiff at this party, but nevertheless I accepted the invitation on the grounds that Lisa is my only friend in this city other than Helen, and so it makes sense to endure a few hours of boredom each year in order to keep our relationship from completely dying. "Cling to those who cling to you," advises Samuel Johnson. As it turns out, however, the party wasn't nearly the unpleasant ordeal I had anticipated. There were enough other guests and it was dark and noisy enough that, for the most part, I was able to hide inconspicuously in the shadows and people-watch and gorge on beer and finger food. Several guests asked how I knew Lisa. "We used to date" was the explanation I provided, which seemed to satisfy them sufficiently that they asked no further questions along these lines. Towards midnight, a woman in her young twenties (who appeared somewhat tipsy from drinking) tried coming on to me. She stood as close as possible to me without actually rubbing against me, she put her tongue in her cheek and smiled slyly as we talked (as if we were speaking a language known only to ourselves, when in reality nothing we were saying was other than banal), she rocked on her heels and swayed and partly closed her eyes and otherwise acted as if wanting to be touched. Though I found her highly attractive, I had no desire to get involved with her, and so when the sexual tension became too intense, I rolled my eyes and went looking for Lisa and said my good-byes and departed.

 

An average night of tango dancing. Many of the women were wearing hideous Halloween costumes, so that I had no desire to dance with them, and there was also something of a shortage of women, and of those women who were available and normally dressed, many were unwilling to use a close hold, so that the experience of dancing with them left me feeling more tense than I was before we danced. I generally make a note to never dance with these women again so as not to spoil my future evenings. Unfortunately, while I seldom forget a woman's face after dancing with her, I often forget whether our dance was enjoyable or not, and thus the unpleasant experience is repeated again and again. I really need to improve my memory in this respect. In the end, however, I managed enough enjoyable dances to make the evening worthwhile. The short and fat woman was present and we danced four tango songs and one salsa together. I hadn't really wanted to dance with her at all and deliberately performed poorly during our tango dances so as to send the message that I'm not interested in her sexually. Later, when the deejay put on the salsa music, I tried to hide, since I knew she would be seeking me out as a partner. Alas, she spotted me before I could get away and walked over and asked if I would dance with her. It would have been rude to refuse this invitation. We did fairly well together and she thanked me afterwards for a "great dance", but then I avoided her for the rest of the evening, even when she was standing alone and obviously waiting to be asked to dance by someone. Evidently, it isn't just me but the other men as well who are put off by her personality. This is the problem with trying to dance erotically with all of my partners. I run the risk of getting the wrong woman excited and then having to get rid of her later.

 

Lunch with Helen, where she updated me on the never-ending drama that is her life. After she supposedly damaged the power cord receptacle of Paul's portable computer, Paul falsely accused her of breaking other items in his apartment (including the vacuum cleaner and a vase with a crack in the side) and then said she had no respect for his possessions. "Your problem is that you worry too much about material things," replied Helen. Paul then complained that, instead watching rental movies with him, Helen spends her time studying French and taking computer programming classes. Later, Helen told Paul about Eddie, the man her cousin introduced her too, and said he was a "millionaire" and wanted to marry her. Paul replied that she was free to get involved with this other man, but that she couldn't expect him to accept her back if things didn't work out. Today, Paul went off to work wearing heavy cologne. Helen surmises that he is planning to pursue some of his women co-workers. While telling me this, she had sudden moment of remorse: "You know, Paul is always so gentle. He really is. I'm the one who always calls him scumbag and other mean names, and he just sits there quietly and takes all this abuse."

As regards Eddie, Helen is none too keen about him. She finds him to be unattractive sexually and also puritanical and sanctimonious, so that eventually she will feel stifled by his company. "But then again, he's rich. Also, somewhere I read recently that one in three men in America is impotent, and he might be one of those. So things might work out with him after all. One in three men impotent means there's still hope. If I could just find one of those men who wanted to marry me!" Then later she talked about possibly trying vaginal penetration with me, as preparation for doing it with Eddie or the various men who've answered her most recent personal ad. I can't tell whether she is serious about this idea, however.

 

Bernelli sent me a letter, dated from a week ago: "I hope all is well with you. I am fine. I just want to wish you well and thank you for being a friend in this friendless and very cold city. [...here he rants about the mayor and the police and gives advice about who to vote for in the upcoming election...] I hope you remember me. I will always remember you. As ever, Patrick." After much consideration, I decided to write him back and provide my current phone number. I presume he just got out of either prison or the lunatic asylum after a two year sentence for assault and battery.

 

A good night of tango dancing. The crowd was much thinner than last week at this club, and everyone seemed to be sapped of energy, including me. I sat with the Frenchwoman, and we had a conversation, during the course of which it became obvious that our personalities are incompatible and that neither of us can regard the other as a possible lover or friend. Which is too bad, since she lives only a thirty minute walk away and I do find her sexually attractive. The short and fat woman was also in attendance. Due to the shortage of women, we danced together almost fifteen times, though I made a point of leaving her whenever another woman was available. As with the Frenchwoman, she continues to dance well with me despite it being clear that our relationship will never be other than that of dance partners. I danced once with the young Danish woman, and we smiled broadly when thanking one another afterwards, but then she declined my subsequent invitation to dance, but with a broad and friendly smile to which I responded in kind.

My best experiences were with two slender older women, both in their late fifties or sixties, both silver haired, both married and accompanied by their husbands, and both willing to abandon themselves to me completely as we danced. Much of the music was modern tango which neither of these women was nearly strong enough to dance the vigorously passionate way I'd prefer, but nevertheless I managed to achieve with them the same sense of timelessness that I used to get while fucking Elizabeth. After each of these dances, the woman and I would laugh and agree that this dance was even more exhausting than the one before, but also more exhilarating and satisfying. Altogether, dancing with these older women was my type of dancing. Unostentatious, energetic, passionate.

Then I had a nasty experience with the young woman of a few weeks ago, who had remarked: "Wow, that was some dance for our first time together." In response to my invitation to dance tonight, she asked, "Didn't we dance together before?" I replied with the name of the other club where we had danced, and she smiled. But then during the course of our dance tonight, she became increasingly anxious, perhaps detecting that I don't find her sexually attractive, but rather am only interested in her as a dance partner, and only for that reason due to the shortage of women.

"Have you taken even one dance lesson?" she asked. She was referring to the fact that I never bring the woman to the cross and seldom do ochos. "Don't you know how to do the basic?" She is referring to the eight-step basic taught in dance schools, with step five being the woman's cross. I performed this eight-step basic to show her I know it.

"The basic is simply a tool for dance schools. There is no basic during real argentine tango dancing, unless you want to call walking the basic," I said.

"Are you from Argentina?" she asked.

"No."

"Then you don't know. If you want to improvise, I guess I can try to follow."

"All good social dancing is improvised."

"You can dance the way you want but I'm not going to lean again you." She is referring to the fact that during our previous dance she pressed against me in a pseudo-close hold (since her posture is poor it wasn't a real close hold—instead of leaning forwards, she pressed so closely as to be practically humping my leg) whereas tonight she was pushing herself away from me. We finished the dance without further exchange of words, then I thanked her curtly, to which she replied nothing, and then we separated and she went to sit by herself in a corner.

 

One of my former competitors inquired recently about my old software business. I responded by sending them everything associated with the business so they can handle distributing my former products. All of this free of charge and with no obligation on their part. Then I notified the author of the recommendation in the trade magazine of this change of ownership. The explanation I gave for my decision to quit my business was deliberately vague and confused sounding. I'm hoping they will suspect I have AIDS or cancer and feel sorry for me and not think poorly of me for being such a complete fuck-up as a businessman. Or who knows what I'm hoping they'll think. I'm definitely hoping this will be the last time I have to deal with this business, other than handling the formalities of dissolving the corporation and filing a final tax return. I don't know why I hated and continue to hate my old business so much. The inquiry from my competitor and the recommendation in the trade magazine were both several weeks ago, but I procrastinated in doing something about them until just today.

 

I've been spending my time this month (since arriving back from my trip) as follows. I wake up about nine in the morning; I lie in bed for another hour masturbating; I do my exercises; I eat a large breakfast of lentils, rice and corn tortillas; I shower and shave and brush my teeth; I poke around on the internet and update this journal as needed; I possibly have lunch with Helen or else I run errands; I sit in the cafe in the afternoon, either reading a book or skimming the newspaper or else simply staring out the window; in the evening, I either go out dancing or else lie on the sofa back at my apartment while listening to music; I go to sleep sometime after midnight. Briefly, I tried to emulate the highly disciplined yogis and sleep less and restrain myself from masturbating, but then I decided that life is pointless and there's no reason to torture myself, other than as necessary to avoid boredom, and so I have since lapsed back into my habitual laziness.

 

Another enjoyable night of tango dancing. Unfortunately, Sarah didn't show. Now I'm afraid I might have scared her off last week by coming on so strong. I suppose I should be more careful about this in the future.

 

I read a book recently which recommended strongly that men refrain from ejaculation as much as possible, on the grounds that sperm and semen contain tremendous amounts of "vital energy" which will be lost from the man when he ejaculates. Sex or masturbation without full orgasm and ejaculation, on the other hand, doesn't incur this loss of vital energy and so that's what I've been trying to confine myself to these past few days. But then today I watched the movie Caligula (as with all movies, I found this one tedious to sit through, though now that it's over, I'm glad to have put forth the effort to view it to completion) and got myself so worked up that I couldn't resist two orgasms with ejaculation in the evening. Now that this orgy is over and my mind is calm again, however, I'm resolved to follow the book's advice in the future and hold back from the point of no return while masturbating and see if I have more energy that way. (Not that I have any real need for more energy, of course, since all I do these days for the most part is read in the cafe in the afternoon and go out dancing in the evenings.)

 

Another enjoyable night of tango dancing, at least with the older and/or homely women who no one else wants. With the young beauties, on the other hand, it's the usual sorry story. They either completely refuse to be held close or else push me away violently when they realize they have drifted unconsciously into a close hold in the course of our dance together. Perhaps they are afraid of being thought "sluttish" and thus unfit for marriage by a decent man if they let themselves be held closely by strangers, or perhaps they think playing hard-to-get will pique my interest in them as more than merely dance partners, or perhaps they simply don't like being touched, or perhaps, on the contrary, they very much do like being touched, but dislike the way I arouse them and then fail to follow up and release this arousal through sex.

 

Helen called in the morning, inviting me to have breakfast with her at a restaurant. She spent the night at her own apartment, after coming to the conclusion that she is fed up with Paul and wants to leave him for good. Things have been tense between them ever since he accused her last week of breaking his computer and various other possessions. She is sure she didn't break these other possessions, while, as regards the computer, the repair shop indicated that the problem was with an internal circuit board, and thus almost certainly not something Helen could have broken. Paul plans to buy a new computer and offered to sell the broken one to Helen for the $600 or so it would cost to repair it. The way this offer was phrased ("That way we'll have separate computers and I won't have to worry about you breaking mine") left Helen more incensed than ever. "Not only did he not apologize for falsely accusing me of breaking his computer, but then he comes along and makes this offer that implies that I do break things of his after all." As to whether to accept Paul's offer, Helen isn't sure, since the computer has had other problems in the past, and the $600 to repair the current breakdown might be but the beginning of a series of expensive repairs.

Helen became further irritated with Paul yesterday morning. While still half asleep, she felt him prodding away at her anus with an erection. Upon looking up, she saw he was holding the tube of lubricant in one hand, and then the next thing she knew he was inside her ass and pumping away. "It was most unpleasant. It was like being given an enema first thing in the morning," she complained to me. After a minute or so of letting Paul "pester me with unwanted attentions", but before he came, Helen pushed him away, saying: "That hurts. It's like having hemorrhoids." "You should see a doctor then," replied Paul dryly. Helen was still seething about this incident several hours later, when the two of them went to have lunch at a restaurant, but she managed to suppress her anger until later in the afternoon, when, while taking a walk alone, she decided to break up with Paul for good. She called him to say she was spending the night at her own apartment, to which he replied that he didn't care where she spent the night.

After telling me the above story over breakfast, Helen and I walked to the park, where we sat in the sun and I showed her some of the more interesting yoga poses (headstand, scorpion, peacock, crow, sideways crow). While watching the couples with babies and young children, Helen leaned her head against my shoulder and said she definitely wanted to have children, to which comment I responded nothing.

We then walked back to her apartment, and sat there on the sofa and began kissing, and then got into bed and took off our clothes. We both had the same idea, it would seem, so that words weren't necessary. For once, the sex was satisfying for both of us. First Helen sucked my cock, then I sucked her breasts, then I spent about twenty minutes licking her cunt. She was evidently just on the verge of coming, but having some difficulty pushing herself past this verge. In order to arouse her more, I pulled up and forcefully ground my cock and balls into her face, then went down and licked her again. She was very excited during this second bout of cunnilingus and came after a few minutes, with what seemed to be a normal orgasm. I then pulled up and poked at her cunt with my cock. At first she was resistant, but eventually I managed to push inside. Then she asked me to apply lubricant, and so I fetched some from the dresser, and entered her again, and then commenced to fuck slowly. Had we been able to make the sex last longer, it would have been as good as what I used to enjoy with Elizabeth, with the added pleasure of being with a woman who I love. Unfortunately, when Helen began moving her pelvis about as if on the verge of another orgasm, I lost control and came inside her before she came. I asked if she wanted me to finish her off with my hand. She replied no.

This was the first vaginal sex for Helen in months, so that she felt sore afterwards. She brought up the subject of possible pregnancy (her menstrual period ended several days ago) but we didn't really talk much about the subject. It's hard to say what my feelings are. Regardless of her living with Paul and me having sex with Elizabeth and various other women over the past few years, I have always suspected that Helen and I would someday resume being lovers and have children together. I just hope she can manage to overcome her inhibitions and relax her pelvis sufficiently to enjoy regular vaginal sex, since otherwise I don't see how our relationship can flourish. Then again, perhaps she doesn't want us to live together. Perhaps she just wants me to be a sperm bank and source of child support.

After washing up, we lay on the bed for an hour listening to music, then had dinner at a restaurant, then Helen took the bus to Paul's apartment to pick up some books for her computer class, which she needs for studying for a midterm exam tomorrow. She plans to sleep at her own apartment, however.

 

Yet another enjoyable night of tango dancing. Some wonderful dances, first tango and then salsa, with a beautiful, curvy, cheerful blonde in her thirties, with whom I'd danced previously several weeks ago at another nightclub. She is almost my height, and thus taller than most of the other men, and also not a particularly adept dancer, so she isn't asked to dance often, despite her striking looks. During the salsa song she was particularly affectionate. She started laughing with pleasure and then clutched me close. It occurred to me later that I hadn't shampooed after sex with Helen, and that there might still therefore have been traces of her smell in my hair (I had been particularly enthusiastic in rubbing my face into Helen's cunt while performing cunnilingus) and this other woman might have detected this smell and been aroused by it. I was tempted afterwards to strike up a conversation with her. Or better yet, dance another tango song with her and make her melt against me and then strike up a conversation, but I refrained from doing so due to the consideration that Helen and I are considering getting back together and it is therefore inappropriate for me to be pursuing other young women at this time (of course, if Helen reverts to refusing to have sex with me, that's another story). Instead, I hurried to collect my coat and rushed out of the nightclub immediately after the salsa song ended, in order to ensure that the blonde and myself didn't see or speak to or dance with one another again.

 

Helen stopped by the cafe in the evening while I was there. She slept last night at Paul's apartment and then spent today studying for her exam. We had a long conversation over dinner.

"That was some sneak attack you pulled on me yesterday. I invited you to visit me at my apartment, but I didn't expect you to be leaving a calling card like that. Now what am I going to do?" Helen asked.

"What do you mean?" I replied.

"There might be a little one growing inside me."

"We don't know that yet, so why worry about it? We'll find out in a month or so."

"Maybe you're not worried, but I am."

"What's there to worry about? If you're pregnant, you have the same three choices as last time. Keep the baby, give it up for adoption or abort it. I hope you don't choose to have another abortion."

"I don't plan to."

"That leaves two choices. Keep the baby or give it up for adoption."

"I'm definitely not giving it up for adoption."

"Then there's only one choice and hence nothing to worry about."

"I'm not worried about the child. I'm worried about whether the child is going to have a proper father. I'm very traditional in my ideas about marriage."

"No you aren't. You have no more respect for tradition than me. But regardless, the issue of the child is separate from that of your relationships with men. Marriage is just a technicality. What's important is what man you sleep with. That's your real husband. If you want to sleep with me, then fine. We'll be man and woman together. But sleeping together means regular sex."

"I don't want to be forced to have sex."

"I'm not forcing you and I've never forced you. If you don't want sex with me, then I don't want it with you. I'm perfectly willing to be your sperm bank and then pay child support, if that's all you want me for. But if you want me to be your husband, whether legally or in fact, then I expect you to be attracted to me sexually, and the proof of sexual attraction is that we have regular sex, with orgasms for both of us. If you don't find me sexually attractive, on the other hand, then by all means go find some other man."

"I do find you attractive."

"Then I expect us to be having regular sex. Normal sex, that is. With vaginal penetration and orgasms for both of us."

"Speaking of which, I took the antibiotic pills yesterday and so far so good. No bladder infection yet. Now I'm keeping my fingers crossed."

"You know my opinions regarding those so-called bladder infections, don't you?"

"Yes, and I don't want to hear them again."

"I'm not going to try to change you, Helen. If you want to continue to have bladder infections, then fine. All I'm interested in is whether you have regular sex with me. If not, then I'm kicking you out like I did before and you can find someone else to be your lover."

"This is just how you were before. You're pressuring me to have sex."

"On the contrary. I'm pressuring you to not have sex with men who don't interest you. Paul evidently doesn't arouse you, so leave him. If I don't arouse you, then leave me as well. Find the man of your dreams. The man who you want sex with on regular basis."

"At least with Paul, we came to an accommodation."

"The problem with that accommodation is that you don't get any pleasure from it. Instead of you two making love, Paul just jerks himself off using your asshole while you lie there strumming your fingers and counting the seconds until it's over."

"This conversation is obviously getting out hand. I think it's time for me to leave."

"You've robbed your relationship with Paul of its driving sexual energy, and that's why you two are squabbling all the time over trivia. You two should have broken up long ago. In fact, you would have broken up long ago, if you weren't both so pathetically afraid of being alone. Listen to the way you talk of wanting to find a man who's impotent to be your husband. If you don't want men for sex, then you should live alone."

"Maybe I'm a lesbian."

"You're not a lesbian. You're inhibited about sex and also too immature to live alone and that's why you hook up with men and then refuse to have normal sex with them. But like I said, I'm not going to waste your time or mine trying to change you. I'm currently single and I've always loved you. If you want us to resume being man and woman, and having regular sex, then fine. If you don't want regular sex with me, then I'm ready to pay child support if we have a child together and you can have sex with some other man, or you can live alone and have sex with no one."

"What if I live with Paul and have your child? I wonder if he'll notice? Maybe you could pay the child support secretly."

"I wouldn't recommend such deceit. But if that's what you want, I'll cooperate. Naturally, though, before I agree to pay any child support, there'll have to be a DNA test to ensure the child is really mine. If the test shows the child is Paul's, then he can pay child support."

"You'd expect me to take a blood test?"

"Of course! What kind of fool do you take me for?"

"I'm guess I'm really a babe in the woods dealing with people like you. Anyway, I'm not planning on deceiving either you or Paul. I'm just feeling very confused about my life at present."

After dinner, we walked back to my apartment, where Helen wanted to use my computer to make some printouts (since Paul's computer is broken), and then she left for her class and exam.

 

Another enjoyable evening of tango dancing, especially with the two slender older women from last week. I also danced numerous times with the short, fat and aggressive woman, who is likewise an enjoyable partner due to the way she presses herself close. Unfortunately, because she is short and fat and has poor posture, I have to crouch down and then hold her weight up with my right arm, so that she is exhausting to dance with for more than a few songs at a time. The younger women (other than the short, fat and aggressive woman) were typically unfriendly. The young Danish woman, in particular, looked away each time I approached, as if trying to avoid me. She seemed to be accompanied by a date, though I couldn't be sure, and perhaps didn't want to arouse this man's jealousy by dancing erotically with me. Or perhaps she's playing the coquette. In any case, I didn't want to spoil my evening by dancing with someone who doesn't really want to be my partner, and so after the second time she looked away, I gave up and quit bothering with her.

 

I called Helen in the evening and we had a short conversation. She spent last night at her own apartment, after finishing the exam for her programming class, on which she thinks she did poorly, then took today off from work as a "mental health" sick day. Her physical health, meanwhile, is fine. In particular, she hasn't yet come down with a "bladder infection" from the sex we had this past weekend. Regarding our relationship, she thinks the current situation is "untenable", which I interpret as meaning that she is finally coming around to my view that we can't be a couple without having regular and normal sex. After some argument on her part about not wanting to be "forced to have sex", she agreed to possibly try sex again this weekend, with the sex then to include both cunnilingus and fucking.

 

Ever since my conversation with Helen yesterday evening, I'd been thinking about her reluctance to agree to sex this coming weekend, and what this bodes for the future of our relationship, given my current feeling that if a woman isn't enthusiastic about sex with me then I'd just as soon we not be lovers, since otherwise the situation is stressful and unfulfilling. I didn't tell Helen any of this, but instead was withdrawn and distant at lunch with her today. She inquired as to what was bugging me and I replied "nothing". Then she asked if I was worried about her being pregnant and I replied no, which is the truth. Otherwise, we said very little to one another. After we separated, I decided to wait for Helen to make the next move. If she calls me later this week to arrange for sex, then our relationship moves forwards. Otherwise, we resume being merely friends. Regardless of what she does, I am determined never to marry or live with her. Even if we have children together and resume being sex partners, I want to be able to leave her on a moment's notice should she ever revert to refusing to have sex.

 

Salsa dancing in the evening, where I danced two songs with a beautiful blonde woman in her thirties. Despite there being tremendous sexual energy between us, among the strongest I've ever felt while dancing, and despite it being obvious that she wanted me to initiate a conversation, and despite a part of me wanting to do so, another part of me said "run away", and so I left shortly after our dance concluded, even though I'd only been at the club for about an hour. I really don't know why I'm so reluctant to pursue women these days. Perhaps I've become frigid from being around Helen. (Or was it perhaps Helen who learned to be frigid from me?)

 

Another wonderful evening of tango dancing. I danced ten songs with Sarah, then spoke briefly with her during a break. She works as a designer in the city and lives in the suburbs. As for my occupation, I fed her my current cover story about being a part-time computer programmer. There is the same strong sexual energy between us as two weeks ago. Strange that I want to pursue Sarah, but ran away from the woman with whom I danced so well last night, who was also sexually exciting.

 

A good evening of tango dancing, even though, for whatever reason, my mind refused to hear the rhythm properly. Sarah was there and she and I danced about twenty times together. After the first eight dances, she said somewhat nervously, "Don't you think we should take a break?" So we separated and I danced with several other women, then danced some more with Sarah, then we separated again, and so forth. We talked about what we do in our spare time. For both of us, dancing is our major social activity.

"The problem with this place is that very few men ask me to dance here," Sarah remarked, during a discussion of the various tango clubs in the area.

"That's because I monopolized your time tonight," I replied.

"No, that's not the reason. Anyway, I enjoyed dancing with you."

"If you want to dance with other men, that doesn't bother me. As for me, I'd be happy to spend the whole night dancing with you."

"Thank you."

Then we touched cheeks and said goodbye. We had earlier touched cheeks upon saying hello. I really don't what to make of this situation. Should I invite her to have lunch? Do I want us to have a sexual relationship? Do I want a sexual relationship with any woman? Sarah is certainly sexually attractive to me. Immensely so, in fact, to the point where I spent much of this morning fondling my cock to fantasies of fucking her.

 

Elizabeth called and left a chilly sounding message while I was out. She wants me to return the various cosmetics she left at my apartment (whose value I would estimate to be about $20), assuming I haven't thrown them out, in exchange for which she is willing to return the shaving gear (worth about $6) which I left at her apartment. It had been my intention to dispose of Elizabeth's cosmetics ever since we broke up last month, but for whatever reason I hadn't gotten around to doing so yet. As for Elizabeth, I'm surprised that she didn't discard my shaving gear immediately upon returning home from our trip together, since she threw my gear out twice before in the aftermath of breakups, and those previous breakups were considerably less bitter than this last one. I decided to wait until tomorrow to call her back. Somehow, I get the impression that this business about exchanging cosmetics for shaving gear is just a pretext for Elizabeth to contact me about resuming our relationship.

 

I skipped dancing tonight, as I had an intuition that my sense of rhythm is still shaky, and hence I probably wouldn't really enjoy myself. Instead, I spent the evening, as I had previously spent much of the morning and afternoon, masturbating to lewd fantasies of working my way through of harem of dance partners on a cruise ship. Fucking them one after another without ever ejaculating so that my energy never flags (this detail is related to my no longer ejaculating during masturbation) and then resting with my nose and mouth pressed between the spread legs of my current favorite (the favorite alternated between Marianne and Sarah).

 

I called Elizabeth at work and we had a brief conversation.

"Are you still pissed off?" she asked, in a tone of voice that made me suddenly realize that I don't want to ever have sex with her again.

"I don't want to discuss my lawsuit with my sister. As for our sexual relationship, I don't see how that can continue. You seem to have some sort of huge guilt complex about sex which just poisons things between us," I replied.

"Maybe. What I know is that I've thought again about what you said about whether I'm happier with you or without you, and I've come to the conclusion that I'm happier without you. I'm tired of you telling me I don't really know what I want. I do know what I want and it's someone with whom I can have a loving relationship. You and I have completely different worldviews. Basically, we're incompatible."

We then arranged for Elizabeth to stop by my apartment on her way home from work, some unspecified day in the future, in order to pick up her belongings and drop mine off.

 

Helen called and we had a pleasant lunch together. I helped with her computer programming class project, and then we talked about the situation of our relationship. Helen doesn't want to be a single mother and thus doesn't want to have children with me unless we can live together, but we agreed that we can't live together due to Helen's inability to enjoy normal sex. She came down with a "bladder infection" again after moving back in with Paul after I was distant with her during our last lunch together. "You forced me back into his arms". Like me, Paul insists that Helen have sex as a condition for living with her, but unlike me he is content with strictly anal sex, which supposedly doesn't cause Helen to have "bladder infections".

"We've reached an accommodation in this area. Except that he wants it so much! I want some more, he says. I thought you got some yesterday? I tell him. He's just like a little boy who wants more candy. All men are like children when it comes to sex," said Helen.

"And what do you want men for, if not sex?" I asked.

"I enjoy his company, at least after we have sex. He's very nice to me then. It's all love and kisses. I can't stand being alone."

"That's what's really childish."

 

At the tango dancing club, the young Danish woman played eye games with me and otherwise indicated that she'd like to talk, and so I joined her at a table. During the course of our conversation, it became clear that regardless of the sexual attraction between us, a relationship is impossible. We almost immediately ran out of things to say and became bored by one another's company. No wonder she acts exasperated when I ask her to dance. I danced wonderfully to some passionate Astor Piazzolla music with the older blonde. I was practically fucking her there on the dance floor as we raced back and forth, with both of us near exhaustion by the time the song was over, like two panting lovers in the aftermath of a bout of furious sex.

 

Tango dancing to live music. I put a beginner there into a sexual trance (I first had to tell her to forget everything the dance instructor had told her during the lesson preceding the dance), and also did well with the older blonde with whom I dance so wonderfully at the other club. Unfortunately, with most of the "experienced" women (including the woman dance instructor), I did poorly.

With one woman in particular, I was reminded of how bad the dancing used to be with Elizabeth. She essentially forced me to issue an invitation to dance by her various overtures—sitting beside me, initiating a conversation, touching me meaningfully on the shoulder. But then I had an intuition, just based on her appearance, that I didn't really like her personality. Probably she detected my aversion.

 

I bought a recording by the tango orchestra yesterday and sent this to Marianne today, with the following letter: "There is a new club here where they play modern tango music, which I enjoy very much, but which some people insist is difficult to dance to, though I find the contrary is true. My dance style seems better adapted to modern than classical tango music. I'm sending you a recording of the sort of music played at this club. The club doesn't have many patrons, which means it probably won't stay in business long. But while it lasts, I intend to enjoy it. We should always enjoy what we can while we can and not worry too much about the future, since no joy in this world is forever. Continuing this line of thought, before inevitable changes in our respective situations makes this impossible, I would like to see you again. I know we had talked of a vacation together this winter, either on a Caribbean island or elsewhere. I think of you often and dream of holding you once more in my arms and dancing with you and making love to you. I'll call you before the end of the month to make firm plans." It later occurred to me that my writing style in this letter was stiff to the point of pretentiousness. What does that signify?

 

My letter to Bernelli was returned unopened, due to an invalid address. I took another look at his letter to me and noticed that the return address on his envelope was scrawled and somewhat illegible, which led me to think that either he might have written it wrong or I might be reading it wrong. So I decided to walk down the street he indicated, looking for buildings whose address in any way resembled the address on the envelope. As it turns out, the address he wrote was a valid one. A row house, identical in exterior appearance to the other row houses in the neighborhood. I rang at the door and was buzzed in. An older woman standing at the top of the stairs shook her head and beckoned to me to ascend. Evidently, she was hard of hearing and couldn't make out what I was saying.

"I'm looking for Patrick Bernelli," I repeated after climbing the stairs.

"No, I'm sorry, we can't give out any information," the woman replied, smiling broadly and shaking her head.

"Do you know Patrick Bernelli?"

"Oh, yes, I know him."

"Is he here?"

"Here? I don't think so. Let me see." While she opened various doors, I looked around. A demented-looking woman crossed the corridor on her way from a bedroom to the bathroom, while on a bulletin board was a printed notice titled "Rights of the Mentally Ill". As I had expected, this was some sort of halfway house. "I'm sorry, he isn't here," said the woman upon returning. I then explained how I had received a letter from Bernelli and had written him back but that my letter was returned due to having an invalid address. The woman went to get her supervisor, to whom I repeated my explanation of why I was looking for Bernelli.

"I don't want him to think I'm ignoring him, which is why I feel bad that my letter didn't get through," I concluded.

"I understand. However, Patrick isn't living here anymore, and I don't know where he is currently. But I believe he will be finding a permanent home in the next few days. Perhaps even today. I can't tell you where he will be staying, but if you'll give me your letter, I'll see that it gets forwarded to him." I gave the supervisor the letter, then thanked her and left. My hope is that she and the other woman were impressed by my respectable appearance and deportment and will therefore be conscientious about forwarding my letter. But why was it returned previously, since the address on it was clearly not invalid?

 

Lunch with Helen, who was in an annoyed mood, supposedly due to worries about possibly failing her computer programming class and also about possibly being pregnant from our dalliance of two weekends ago. "Wouldn't that be something? A little fellow just like me! And don't worry about having to raise it. We'll give it to those Mormons in the suburbs to take care of," I said, to which Helen replied: "Once again, you've done what you could to ruin my life. All this gallivanting about dancing every night. You men are all irresponsible, every last one of you. Men should get bladder infections and have menstrual periods and have to carry babies inside for nine months and then you'd know what it's like for women." Regarding the situation with Paul, that seems to be going well for a change. Each evening, he cooks Helen delicious meals and otherwise tries to make her happy. "But if I'm pregnant, that all comes to an end. Thanks to you. I'll be ruined because of what you did to me."

 

A mediocre night of tango dancing. It seems I've been spoiled by the modern tango music played at the other club, and now can't enjoy classical tango anymore. Instead of the complex, syncopated beat that my body yearns for, I get one so deathly simple-minded that I soon grow bored. Sarah was present and she and I danced about twenty songs together. During separations, I noticed that she is hardly lacking for dance partners, and young handsome ones who know how to dance at that. I even grew slightly jealous about one man. Which is absurd, given that Sarah and I aren't even dating yet. At the end of the evening, I walked with Sarah outside and suggested we have lunch together someday. "Maybe," she replied. Then she explained that her lunch break was only a half-hour long, so I changed my invitation to be for coffee after work, and gave her my current address card. She didn't give me her phone number in return, nor did I ask for it because I didn't want her to feel pressured, and thus it will be up to her to call me if she wants to arrange something.

 

Mark called. It turns out Tony will be spending another year in prison, due to an old parole violation charge. What's worse, he'll have to serve this new sentence in a much rougher prison than the one he is in currently. Tony called Mark about his impending transfer to the other prison several weeks ago, but Mark has heard nothing more since. Because the new prison does not allow smoking and hence doesn't sell cigarettes at the commissary, Tony told Mark during their phone conversation that he planned to smuggle a couple of packs of cigarettes in his shoes during the transfer. He also wrote Mark a letter in which he joked about sticking some cigarettes wrapped in plastic up his ass and then made various derogatory comments about the prison guards and administrators. Since all prison mail and phone conversations are monitored, Mark suspects that Tony was caught in his cigarette smuggling scheme and is now holed up in solitary confinement as punishment. Mark mentioned that he had mailed $60 to the monastery, and asked how much I sent. I replied that I also sent $60, which is a lie, since I've sent nothing. "Isn't that a coincidence. I thought we agreed on $50. But maybe it was $60," said Mark. In looking back through this journal, I noticed that we had, in fact, agreed on $50. Once again, I trip myself up with lies and end up losing the respect of someone whose opinion I value. I need to hammer it into my head for once and for all: lying to enemies may be okay, but lying to friends is not.

 

I couldn't muster the energy to get out of bed this morning without masturbating first, and so spent over two hours playing at the edge of the point of no return, then suddenly lost control and had an orgasm. However, by keeping my pelvic muscles tensed, I managed to prevent ejaculation during this orgasm. I also felt something of what was described in the Taoist sex book I'm reading, concerning energy flowing from the testicles, past the perineum, into the coccyx and thence up the spinal cord ("the microcosmic orbit"). I have never felt this sensation before while suppressing ejaculation during orgasm because I normally don't tuck my sacrum and coccyx as strongly as I did today. This is an interesting discovery and I can't wait to continue these experiments with routing orgasmic energy up the spinal cord. Unfortunately, my sex drive completely disappeared after this orgasm (to a much greater extent than it normally does when I let myself orgasm with ejaculation), as it has in the past when I experimented with suppressing ejaculation, which is why I never persisted with that technique. According to the book, this loss of sex drive in the wake of an orgasm with suppressed ejaculation is only a temporary phenomenon, which will disappear after several weeks or months of not ejaculating. Eventually, suppressing ejaculation and following the book's other recommendations should lead to my sex drive being always strong and also always under control.

 

Lisa called while I was out and invited me to dinner with an "anarchist" friend of hers. I didn't bother calling back because even the thought of spending the evening with Lisa and her friend leaves me feeling exhausted and bored silly.

 

Sarah called and left a message saying she was in the city and thought we might have a hamburger together and was sorry to have missed me. I was here when she called, but didn't answer initially because I was afraid it was Lisa calling again. Then after I recognized the voice as being that of Sarah, I still didn't pick up the phone, because I was tired and not in a mood for a date. This call came as something of a surprise to me. It seems Sarah is more interested in me than I had realized.

 

Another day of not being able to get out of bed until after two hours of masturbating (concluding with a non-ejaculatory orgasm). Then another hour fiddling about on the computer, so that it was past noon before I started my exercise routine, which I ended up cutting short because at this point I felt absolutely disgusted by my laziness and inefficiency and wanted to get out of the apartment as soon as possible. Not that I had anywhere to go besides the cafe. The fact is, my body simply does not like this business of sleeping late.

I indulged in yet another bout of non-ejaculatory masturbation in the afternoon (to fantasies of Sarah lying naked on top of me and rubbing her pubic mound against my cock, followed by me licking her wildly, and then me fucking her, and so forth), then took a brief nap, then woke up feeling bored with the idea of dancing tonight, since Sarah likely won't be there. Instead, I paced about the apartment for several hours listening to music, then sat in the deli across from the strip club for another couple of hours, watching the foot traffic in and out of that establishment while munching on a brownie and reading. Then I bought a pint of chocolate ice cream and wolfed this down in a matter of minutes back at my apartment.

Oversleeping, overmasturbating, and overeating—it's quite a life I'm living these days!

 

Lunch with Helen, during which I helped her with the homework for her computer programming class, and then she filled me in on the latest news about her personal life. It seems the blissful state of loving calm which had prevailed between her and Paul since they got back together came to an abrupt end yesterday evening, when Paul insisted on keeping the television blaring in the bedroom even though Helen was anxious to get to sleep. Helen lost her temper and "bombarded Paul with invective" and then declared that she wanted to break up with him for good and then demanded that he pay her $1000 (as he had promised to do last year) for his share of the expenses for her abortion. "I'll be glad to pay $1000 to get rid of you!" Paul replied. Helen's current plan is to sleep at her own apartment the rest of this week, and retrieve her remaining belongings from Paul's apartment this coming weekend. Today at lunch, she was feeling remorseful: "I'm really a bad person, I realize that now. Paul is really very gentle at heart and I just vented on him with all sorts of hostility. Once again, I've shot myself in the foot, the way I've been doing all my life. I'm really surprised I haven't killed myself by now. I guess I can't even follow through with doing suicide right."

 

Sarah called while I was out and left another message, including her home phone number as part of the message, so that I was able to call her back. I invited her to meet me at my favorite cafe tomorrow evening, and she accepted my invitation. This love affair looks to be right on track!

 

Perhaps because of the sureness with which the situation with Sarah is developing, I had little interest in tango dancing this evening, though I did go. All the five women I danced with, I danced with well, but I had no desire to stay long and so left the club after being there only an hour. My last dance was particularly good. A beauty in her forties, between whom and myself there is intense and mutual sexual attraction, but who I haven't the slightest interest in dating, since regardless of how well we might relate while dancing or in bed, I can detect that our personalities are completely incompatible. The Danish woman was entering the club just as I left. We smiled at one another and said hello but nothing else. The short, fat and aggressive woman was with a man and so I didn't have a chance to invite her to dance. She was looking very attractive, I noticed. It isn't her looks so much as her personality that I find off-putting.

 

Dinner with Sarah, with whom it appears I have a number of points in common: we both practice yoga and are interested in other forms of bodywork; we are both near vegetarians; we both freely admit to being quiet and reserved by nature; we both travel light (literally, at most one bag of luggage); we both enjoy living in the city (Sarah moved to the suburbs in order to buy a house, as houses in the city are very expensive). I walked her to her car after dinner and we embraced there. A brief kiss on the lips and then she turned her head aside and we stood silently hugging and stroking one another's backs for several minutes. As I wasn't able to kiss her lips, I nibbled instead at her ear and cheek. I'm not sure why she turned her head, since she gave no other indication of not enjoying our embrace. Perhaps she was reluctant to make a spectacle of kissing on a busy public street. Finally, we pulled apart, and I proposed that we go dancing together later this week. Sarah isn't sure about this, however, since she had previously agreed to attend a dinner with friends that day and might be tired afterwards. I then suggested that we plan in any case to do something together this weekend, such as visit a park, and Sarah agreed that this sounded like a good idea. We hugged briefly one more time and then said goodbye and then Sarah got in her car and drove off.

 

Lunch with Helen, who had reconciled with Paul just this morning. She called and asked how he was doing and told him she missed the sound of his voice and so forth. They have agreed to spend the coming long weekend together, starting tonight. "Paul needs me so bad, I can just tell. Oh, he doesn't complain when I leave and he tries to keep a stiff upper lip, but I know that deep inside he's hurting. Because of me. I hurt him. Poor Paul, I know he tries to pretend he doesn't need me, but he does. He's not like you. You don't seem to need anybody. You're happy as can be living alone. But Paul and I are different. We can't live alone. Especially not me. I'm a Libra and Libra's can't stand being alone. I was so terrible to have yelled at Paul like I did the other day. But now he's forgiven me and I'm going back to try to patch things up and make him feel better. I'm a good person and I don't like to cause people pain."

Helen had previously committed to going with Eddie to the holiday dinner tomorrow with her sister and other relatives, and was fretting about how to tactfully cancel this engagement.

"You talk about remorse for mistreating Paul but then you don't seem to have any guilt whatsoever about breaking your date with this Eddie," I remarked.

"He wheedled his way into that date! Imagine! When I told him Paul and I had just had an argument and broken up again, he said, I don't mind taking advantage of an argument to get my foot in the door. After all, you two have been arguing for two years, he said."

"The only difference that I can see between Eddie and Paul is that Paul you find sexually attractive, but not Eddie."

Helen related that she planned to change the beneficiary of her pension plan from her sister to Paul, since he had previously made her the beneficiary of his pension plan, and that she had told Paul of this planned change during their reconciliation conversation this morning. I warned Helen to be very careful of trying to buy Paul's love, as I had seen the results of such a tactic only too clearly with my sister and her husband. "It's especially degrading when the man you're giving money to is so much older than you, and then all he does for you in bed is fuck you in the ass which you don't even enjoy," I observed.

Helen also talked morbidly to Paul during their reconciliation conversation about how, if she were to discover that she had cancer and were going to die in a few years, she would hurry up and have a child by Paul so that he would have a little Helen or Paul to remember her by.

Helen and I discussed what to do if Helen is pregnant as a result of our dalliance earlier this month, with myself again recommending adoption: "You don't have the temperament to enjoy raising a child, Helen. You get tired of your brother's and sister's children after being with them for just a few hours. By having a child and then giving it up for adoption, you'll be able to stop all this crazy worrying about your biological clock." Helen replied that I was "sick" to be talking seriously about adoption: "I'm not carrying a baby around for nine months only to give it away afterwards. This obsession with adoption is just another of your flights of insanity."

 

Sarah called to say she would be at the tango dancing club tonight, and so I made plans to be there also. The typical evening. Sarah and I danced several sets of four songs with one another, and then the remaining songs with various other partners. We left together at about midnight. Sarah offered to drive me home and then parked outside my building. I leaned over and we kissed on the lips. She didn't turn her head tonight as she had two days ago. At first she was reluctant to let me put my tongue inside her mouth, then gradually she opened her teeth, and eventually she put her tongue in my mouth. Now and then we would pull apart and talk, or else sit quietly with our cheeks pressed together, and then after a while we would resume kissing. At one point, I cupped her breasts in my hand and gently rubbed her nipples through her silk blouse, which caused her to moan and gasp.

"You're very sensitive," I commented.

"Yes," replied Sarah.

"I can be a sensitive lover."

"Do you have any idea how much older I am than you?"

"Yes, I know. But so what? What am I supposed to do anyway? The signals you send are so strong and so clear—I can't help but go after you."

"What signals?"

"I can't articulate exactly what I mean. I just know that the minute I touch a woman while dancing, I can tell a great deal about her, and after exchanging two or three sentences of small talk with her so that I can hear her voice, I can be pretty sure of whether I find her sexually attractive or not. I knew you were much older than me when we first danced together and that didn't stop me from finding you extraordinarily attractive. We danced only two times that first night."

"Yes, two times."

"And then twenty times the week after that."

"Was it really twenty times?"

"Yes. We danced eight songs to start, then three sets of four songs, which makes twenty in all."

"I didn't realize it was so many."

"If you hadn't wanted me, I would have felt it in your body. Lots of women want me and don't want me at the same time. Or else I want them and don't want them at the same time. But with you, all I felt was this magnetism drawing me to you and nothing pushing me away. Do you know, when I danced with you that second night, it was like when I was eighteen. I was constantly getting erections. That doesn't happen with me much anymore."

Sarah asked if I was married or had a girlfriend and I replied that I had broken up with my most recent girlfriend six months ago. (This is somewhat of a lie, of course, since I am still involved with Helen, even if she is living with another man, and I only broke up with Elizabeth about six weeks ago.) As to why we broke up, I gave a story about how this ex-girlfriend (Elizabeth) disapproved of my unconventional ideas and the books I read and the fact that I live on skid row and my lack of ambition and my preference for living alone, and that her disapproval caused me to emotionally withdraw, and one thing led to another and eventually she decided to break with me. There is some truth in this story, I should note. After I finished with my story, Sarah said:

"You see, I got burned recently and I don't want it to happen again."

"Burned?"

"Oh, maybe that's not the word. I went out with a man who had just broken up, and he seemed to fall in love with me and I fell madly for him, and then it all stopped. It was very painful for me. I don't want that to happen again."

"So you're worried that you'll fall in love with me and then I'll leave?"

"Yes."

"It's true that a relationship between us probably won't last forever."

"It's inevitable that it won't last, given our age difference."

"But given how attractive I found you, what else could I do but pursue you? Anyway, I don't worry about the future, at least not with respect to my love life. With money it's different. I plan for the future there. But not when it comes to relationships."

"Perhaps you're right. We must live for today."

"You certainly don't act old. In fact, you act very young."

"People sometimes say I'm like a kid who never grew up. Life is serious enough without acting serious all the time. That's my view."

"Why didn't you kiss me after we had dinner the other day?"

"I was trying to avoid something happening. Everything is happening too fast for me!"

"That's what I thought. And also you didn't give me your phone number when I gave you mine. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, especially if you didn't want to be involved with me. But then after you at first neglected to give me your phone number, you called me twice and left your phone number as part of your second message, which implied that you did want to get involved with me. And then two days ago you didn't want to kiss me on the lips and now you do. If you're trying to put me off, you're certainly not doing a very good job of it."

"Sometimes I have no willpower."

It was almost one in the morning by this time and Sarah had been up since three the previous morning and hence was getting tired. So we arranged that tomorrow I would take the bus to the suburbs where Sarah lives, and that we would have lunch together there and talk some more.

 

Sarah picked me up at the bus terminal in her car. We kissed on the lips, then I said, "So, we'll go somewhere for lunch?" "I had fixed something at my house, though we could go to a restaurant if you preferred," replied Sarah, to which I responded, "Lunch at your house sounds fine."

We embraced and kissed passionately and lingeringly as soon as Sarah shut the front door to her small house, then we sat on her sofa and kissed some more. Sarah moaned when I traced my fingertip lightly between her thighs and then against the seams of her pants from her ass to the top of her cunt, and gasped and shook when I rubbed my hand against her pubic bone and then fondled her breasts though her shirt. When I began to unbutton her pants, Sarah interrupted and said, "Let me draw the curtains first". There was a clear view into her living room with the curtains open from the street and the house next door.

Once she was undressed, I stroked Sarah's pubic hair, then knelt down on the floor—she was still lying the sofa—and kissed and licked her cunt, then stood and leaned over and lifted her up in my arms. "Where's your bed?" I asked. Sarah pointed to an open door. I walked through this and into her bedroom and then knelt and lowered Sarah onto the mattress. At only about two-thirds my weight, she was very easy to carry and move about. I licked her some more while she lay on her back, until she was thoroughly wet, then ran back to the living room to retrieve a bottle of lubricant from my satchel, then I returned to the bedroom and lay down beside Sarah and began kissing her on the lips. For whatever reason—nervousness, or exhaustion from the sexual kung fu exercises I've been performing of late—I didn't have a very solid erection at first, though eventually and partly with Sarah's assistance—she tugged at my cock to get it harder and then helped stuff it inside—I managed to penetrate her cunt, but then my control was poor and I was lacking my usual sensitivity to what the woman is feeling, and then when I began to fuck, my already semi-soft erection began to fade. I decided to make the best of what was looking like a bad situation and sped up my movements and fucked my way to a powerful orgasm and then collapsed in Sarah's arms. She, of course, didn't even approach orgasm. We lay together quietly for another half-hour, then Sarah mentioned lunch and so we rose and ate that together. She had fixed a tuna salad, which we ate with bread, with some green beans left over from yesterday's holiday feast as a side dish. I complimented Sarah's house (truthfully, since her house is indeed cozy, pretty and tidy), and then we engaged in small talk about I don't remember what, and then we lapsed into silence, which I broke by saying,

"I'm capable of doing much better in bed than I did just now. I don't know what my problem was."

"There's no problem," replied Sarah.

"I don't seem to be in sync with your rhythms yet. I'm not usually such an incompetent lover."

"I think you're an excellent lover."

After lunch, Sarah showed me the rest of her apartment and then I looked around a bit for myself while she cleaned up in the kitchen. Based on her bookshelves, she appears well-read. She also seems to come from an extraordinarily attractive family and is very photogenic herself, based on the photographs on her walls.

When Sarah returned to the living room, we began kissing again and then walked together to the bedroom and undressed again there (we had partially dressed for lunch). Sarah lay on her back while I kissed and licked and otherwise stimulated her clitoris with my mouth and tongue while pressing my middle finger upwards against her g spot and twiddling her nipples between the fingers of my free hand. She was certainly a delight to go down on. Uninhibited about receiving cunnilingus, prettily formed, sparkling clean, and with just a faint sexual odor in her pubic hair. After about twenty minutes she came with a powerful orgasm, gasping and crying out and tossing her head from side to side and trembling and flailing her arms and legs about and finally pushing my head away from her cunt when her orgasm was complete and she wanted to rest. I pulled myself up and then we lay together silently in each other's arms. We both seemed to prefer silently touching to talking.

I was relieved at being able to bring Sarah off with my mouth, since I had a hunch that I wasn't going to get my act together fucking-wise anytime soon. And indeed, this was the case. When we began moving against one another after having rested an hour or so, my erection was again mediocre, and while it stiffened somewhat when Sarah sucked it, upon being inserted into her cunt it lapsed back to semi-hardness, so that I had to struggle not to go completely soft. On a more positive note, her orgasm from cunnilingus had showed me enough of Sarah's sexual response that I understood now how to get her off while fucking. To wit, thrust against her g spot with my cock while lightly playing with her clitoris with one of my fingers, making sure to use adequate lubrication to prevent her from getting sore. (The posture to permit this technique can be exhausting for the man, I should note, since it requires supporting the upper body with just the left arm for as long as it takes for the woman to come.) Sarah's orgasm from fucking was similar to but more powerful than the one from cunnilingus. I had no desire to come myself this time, but instead pulled my cock out of her cunt as soon as she finished coming.

Almost immediately after withdrawing, the semi-hard erection that I had put such effort into maintaining withered away into nothingness. I am convinced now that my suppression of ejaculation during masturbation these past few weeks was the cause of my feeble erections today. The sexual kung fu book maintains that this loss of desire is a temporary phenomenon, and eventually desire will return with greater force than ever. However, I have no intention of continuing my experiments in this area. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Despite Sarah's small body size, her cunt had little difficulty accommodating me. She clearly isn't as big as Elizabeth, on the other hand, so perhaps I'm simply the perfect size to make her feel full but not so large as batter the cervix and cause pain. Sarah would resemble Karen in this respect. Sarah also resembles Karen in body shape. Both of them blondes with blonde pubic hair, and have large breasts with long, sensitive nipples, and small behinds, and slim arms and legs. Unlike Karen, Sarah is not multi-orgasmic and requires much attention by a skillful lover to even achieve a single orgasm.

We rested silently an hour or so in each other's arms, and then Sarah drove me to a drugstore, where I bought a toothbrush and razor and shaving cream to leave at her house, and then we had dessert at a cafe. Another bout of fucking when we returned, similar to the one earlier. Some oral sex as foreplay then I fucked her to orgasm again. As before, my erection was mediocre and I had little desire to come myself. We fell asleep in each other's arms shortly after finishing this fourth bout of sex for the day. It was just after midnight.

We slept well, and yet only about five hours. Why do I need so little sleep with Sarah but so much when alone? While I did my exercises, Sarah fixed soy milk and banana smoothies for breakfast. Like Helen, Sarah was impressed by my performance of the yoga balancing poses—headstand, peacock, crow, sideways crow—none of which she can do herself. On the other hand, she can easily sit cross-legged, whereas I have stiff knees and can't. She vowed to resume doing yoga herself soon.

After breakfast we began kissing and then retired to the bedroom, where finally I had a solid erection. I failed to put this to use, however, since I was less keen on fucking Sarah this morning than eating her, which I did for about thirty minutes, very slowly and skillfully but also with no attempt to bring her to orgasm. In fact, whenever Sarah showed signs of building up orgasmic tension, I paused so as to let her relax. I desisted only when Sarah put her fingers in my ears and pulled me up. Alas, by this time my solid erection had disappeared. I managed to jerk myself back to semi-hardness, but then my rhythm and sensitivity were gone, so that I couldn't fuck properly. After about ten minutes I asked Sarah if she was getting sore and she replied no, but that she probably wouldn't come, so I quit manipulating her clitoris and started fucking hard, and came with a powerful orgasm, even though I didn't really want to come. Given the pleasure that I got from bringing Sarah to orgasm, it seemed selfish to deny her the corresponding pleasure of seeing me come. Also, I was convinced by this time that the sexual kung fu was messing with my system and what I needed now was not less ejaculation but more.

After resting in each other's arms for an hour or so, we stopped off at the shopping mall to pick up a coffee table which Sarah had recently ordered, then drove to a nearly wilderness park. I had in mind a particular location which Helen had showed to me when we first moved here four years ago. A man who she had briefly dated while we were temporarily separated had previously showed it to her, and she has since showed it to Paul. Though I wasn't sure of the location, my guesses as to which road to take turned out to be correct, and we found the spot with little difficulty. What makes the spot special is the sense of having an endless view of the rolling rolls in the distance, but at the same time having complete privacy. We kissed and hugged and talked while sitting on a platform of rock. The weather was cool and windy, but we both had jackets and the sun was out, so that we weren't uncomfortable.

"Each time you touch me I feel so good. I wonder why that is? I talked to several friends about you, and they advised me to stay away. You'll just get hurt, they told me," said Sarah. I asked why she hadn't gone dancing the next night after we first danced twenty times together and she replied: "I don't know. I came home and put on my dance clothes and then suddenly I decided I didn't want to go and so I sat on the bed and watched television instead. I wanted to go and I didn't want to go at the same time. Maybe it was because I knew you'd be there and I was afraid of where things were heading."

We stayed on the hill for only about an hour, then Sarah began to feel chilled and so we returned to her car and drove to the nearby town for lunch at a restaurant (which I insisted on paying for, since Sarah was providing transportation). For dessert, we had ice cream cones, which Sarah insisted on paying for, since I had paid for lunch. On the way back to the city, we stopped off to watch the sunset.

Another bout of sex after we got back to her house and showered up. Mutual oral sex this time. I would have liked to linger for hours with my nose pressed into Sarah's pubic hairs and my tongue lazily playing with her clitoris and my finger pressing her g spot, while she kissed and sucked and fondled my cock and balls. But after about twenty minutes Sarah pulled me up, once again using her fingers in my ears to provide a hold. My cock was only semi-hard by this time and I had little desire for an orgasm. In fact, I had little desire for fucking, and so instead we just lay in one another's arms and kissed. We eventually fell asleep and napped for an hour or so. When we awoke it was nine in the evening. Sarah was eager to go Cajun dancing, and so we washed up and dressed and went out and spent an enjoyable couple of hours at a nearby nightclub with live band. Part of the time we danced with one another and the rest of the evening we sat and watched and shared a single beer, since neither of us drinks heavily. I didn't know how to lead Cajun dancing and so instead just used my standard tango/salsa style (the songs alternated between two-steps and waltzes), which seemed to work fine. We returned to Sarah's apartment about midnight, and had a light snack there of bread and cheese and then went to bed and fell asleep almost immediately.

We slept about seven hours and woke refreshed. While I did my exercises, Sarah cleaned up around the apartment and then fixed a breakfast of blueberry pancakes accompanied by tea. I had felt rock-solid erections rising and falling during my last hour of dream-sleep and was determined to put these to use. So after we finished breakfast and put away the food, I hugged Sarah from the back and kissed her neck and fondled her breasts and then led her to the bedroom, where we undressed and lay down. Sarah tugged several times at my cock as I kissed her mouth. Immediately I stiffened, with my first truly rock-solid erection of this weekend. I applied some lubricant and then Sarah guided me towards her with her hands and then gasped as I prodded at and then entered her cunt. I was feeling strong from the breakfast I had just eaten and thus was easily able to hold myself up long enough to fuck her to orgasm (missionary position, holding myself up with my left arm while thrusting against her g spot with my cock and manipulating her clitoris with my right hand). Sarah came after about fifteen minutes of what was obviously exquisite pleasure. As soon as I was sure that her orgasm was fully underway, I relaxed the restraint I had been imposing on myself and came with a powerful orgasm of my own, so that we effectively came simultaneously. We lay in each other's arms for another hour or so, then washed up and kissed goodbye and I walked to the bus terminal, as Sarah wanted to have the rest of the day to herself in order to run errands. Before I left, we agreed to get together again later in the week.

 

Helen stopped by the cafe in the evening, desperate for help with the homework for her computer programming class. I agreed to see what I could do to help. She had previously asked Paul for assistance, but he refused. Helen complained bitterly about this refusal but insisted that, otherwise, she and Paul were getting along well. This past weekend they drove to the country, and stayed overnight at a bed and breakfast, with the expenses of this trip split exactly in half ("down to the penny"), except that Paul paid the entire cost of the $40 bottle of wine he ordered at dinner, since Helen doesn't drink.

After I fixed the problem with Helen's program, we walked together to her apartment, where she worked on the computer while I lay on the bed and daydreamed about my weekend with Sarah, who I had discussed with Helen while we were at the cafe. By the time Helen was done with her programming, it was almost nine o'clock. She called Paul to say she would be staying at her own apartment tonight, but he wasn't home, and so she left a message. On the off chance that he might be spying on her, we exited her building separately and also walked separately to a nearby restaurant for dinner. I walked her back to her apartment after dinner, and then we parted ways.

As usual, Helen managed to leave me feeling stressed. I had come back with my body so relaxed from the weekend with Sarah, and within minutes of Helen's arrival at the cafe, my stomach tightened and began churning. Helen complained of suffering horribly from "bladder infections" and made faces at the cafe as of being in excruciating pain. But then when I fondled her later at her apartment, I discovered her nipples to be swollen and hard. Yet more proof that her illness is really just misinterpreted sexual arousal. At one point, Helen went off on something of a rant about planning to commit suicide if she is pregnant from our dalliance earlier this month, or else to enter a lunatic asylum and let me take care of the baby, or else to quit her job and say goodbye for ever to her idiot coworkers and move back east to live with her parents and return to graduate school and never look at another computer for the rest of her life.

 

My erections during my afternoon masturbation session were extraordinarily stiff, as is typically the case with me when I've recently buried my face in a woman's cunt. One would have sworn there was a bone inside my cock and not just blood engorged flesh. I fondled myself for two hours in the morning, two hours more in the afternoon, and two more at night, but only came once. I intend this to be my last orgasm before I see Sarah again, since I want to conserve my sexual energy for use with her.

 

I called Marianne, who was going to bed early due to feeling tired from work. She hasn't yet received the package I sent, though the post office sent her a note last week indicating that it is available for pick-up. It is currently snowing in North Metropolis and very pretty outside but also very cold, she said. We will talk more this weekend about our trip this winter. Our current plan is to go somewhere in Mexico.

 

Lunch with Helen, who at first declined my invitation due to being overwhelmed with work (in part due to a computer virus which destroyed many of her files) but then later she changed her mind and accepted. Sunday through Tuesday of this week, she slept at her own apartment, for various reasons: Sunday because she was working on her computer program after I helped her, Monday because she was tired after her class and thought she would sleep better in her own apartment than in Paul's, and Tuesday because she found that she did indeed sleep better in her own apartment. On Wednesday, she returned to Paul's apartment and received a "talking to" there about her absence, which Paul did not approve of, since it was of Helen's own volition and not due to his throwing her out. "I'm also unhappy that you didn't clean the apartment Sunday, as you had agreed to do. You know my brother and his family will be arriving this coming weekend and I wanted the apartment to be ready for them," he then complained, to which Helen responded: "And I'm unhappy that you didn't help me with my computer programming homework on Sunday."

Paul then lectured Helen about what he considers her mistaken priorities in life: "You'll have to decide what is more important. That class of yours, which is a trivial thing and only affects the future, or your long-term relationship with me and my family, which represents fifty years of the past." This talk of family is a reference to his sister's wedding next week. Paul's plan is to drive twelve hours each way to get to the wedding, in a van with his brother and other relatives, and then spend several days visiting. But this would cause Helen to miss—and possibly fail—her computer class. If the truth be told, Helen doesn't want to attend the wedding at all (she didn't tell Paul this, of course). As a compromise, she proposed that she fly to the wedding (a two hour flight, costing $150 round-trip) and stay over one or two nights and then fly back in time for her computer class. Paul, meanwhile, could enjoy the long drive in the company of his relatives and then spend as many days visiting as he wanted, without feeling pressured to shorten his stay on Helen's behalf. Paul grudgingly agreed to this proposal, though Helen suspects that he secretly resents her lack of eagerness to spend more time with his relatives, and someday, during a dispute, will use this lack of eagerness as proof that Helen isn't really devoted to him.

"To be honest," she then said to me, "I'm not particularly worried about his being upset. Let him sweat a little. That's what happens whenever I leave of my own volition and spend a few days at my own apartment. He starts to worry that I'm leaving for good and then he gets frantic and it's all lovey-dovey when I get back. Too lovey-dovey, in fact. He wanted sex last night. What a miserable experience that was! Anyway, I'm feeling very cheerful today, in case you haven't noticed."

I asked about her period. It hasn't yet come, Helen replied. Her previous period was slightly over a month ago, which means she is slightly late. Her bladder infections, meanwhile, have disappeared.

 

Sarah came by in the evening. We embraced as soon as she walked in the door to my apartment, then sat on the sofa and kissed and then I undressed her and soon enough we were on the floor. I had some erection difficulties until we assumed position sixty-nine, at which point I grasped her by the buttocks and pushed my mouth and nose into her cunt and then shook my head back and forth in order to smell and taste her better. The most furiously I ate at her, the harder my cock got. When I finally turned around and assumed the missionary position, I was rock solid and swollen as if about to burst, and yet I also had excellent control, so that I was easily able to fuck her to orgasm. We came at the exact same time, which was unfortunate, since it meant that I had to restrain my own orgasm somewhat in order to ensure that Sarah fully underway before I desisted from stimulating her clitoris with my hand. After resting in each other's arms for about an hour, I went down on her again. I continued to be possessed by a tremendous desire to taste and smell her and again became wild shaking my head to and fro and pushing my tongue deep inside her cunt and grasping her by the buttocks in order to keep my face as tightly pressed against her as possible. Only when my hunger for her was finally for the moment assuaged did I pull myself up. I had by this time another rock solid erection, which I promptly put to use fucking her, but slowly this time, since neither of us wanted to come again. After about a half-hour, I stopped and then we rested some more in each other's arms.

"Are we still going dancing?" asked Sarah.

"If you want. Though the fact is, I've lost my interest in dancing ever since I began having sex with you. It's hard for dancing to compare with lying here naked with you in my arms. But if you want to go, we can go. After all, we have the whole weekend to lie in bed together."

"I prefer lying here and hugging too. I especially like the way you wrap your arms and legs around me. It makes me feel like a pig in a blanket. You know what that is, don't you? It's like a sausage in dough."

"Since we aren't going dancing, I won't have to wash my face when we get dressed for dinner. Which is good, because I like having your smell on me. If we went dancing, on the other hand, it wouldn't be appropriate for me not to wash up."

"I think you're right about that. People would say about us, those two smell just alike."

Then Sarah commented that she thought my apartment very nicely decorated and also appropriate for me, as indeed it is. A colorful, comfortable, luxuriously furnished aerie, with windows looking down upon the skid row district. She was also interested in my collection of original artwork—female nudes, for the most part—and my books and music disks.

At long last, after several hours of lying about and hugging and talking, we roused ourselves for a late dinner at a restaurant, where we discussed something of our lives, especially our love lives. Sarah was married once, for fifteen years, and had two children from that marriage. After the second child was born, her sex life with her husband essentially came to an end ("He just stopped looking at me") but they stayed married for the sake of the children. After her divorce, she became very depressed and drank heavily at parties and sometimes woke up not knowing how she got home. Another former lover was very "Catholic" in his attitudes towards sex. That is, he thought sex was strictly for the purpose of producing children. She was lovers with this man for five years because she and he were "soulmates" about all subjects other than sex. I told Sarah that I still saw Helen occasionally, even though we had broken up four years ago and she has been living with another man for three years. I did not mention that Helen and I still have sex off and on nor that I might have gotten Helen pregnant earlier this month.

After dinner, we returned to Sarah's house, ostensibly because of parking problems in my neighborhood (we would have had to get up early tomorrow to move the car, or else pay an extra $7 parking fee). My real reason for preferring her house is simply that I think we both feel more comfortable there, especially for long stays.

Sarah fixed tea and we sat on her sofa to drink this, and then we started kissing and soon enough I had her pants down and was licking her. I was hungry again for the taste and smell of her cunt. I made no attempt to bring her to orgasm, though. Indeed, my preference would have been to simply push my face between her legs and then just remain there motionless, but she nevertheless became highly aroused, so that the sofa cushion was soaked with her secretions by the time we finally got up and moved to the bedroom. More licking, then fucking, then I lost interest, then we rested, then more licking, then more fucking. This time as hard as I could, so that Sarah had to hold onto me tightly in order not to be thrown against the wall by the force of my thrusts, and finally I came with a powerful orgasm that left my whole body shaking and exhausted. Though she didn't come, Sarah seemed to enjoy my orgasm as much as I did. We went to sleep shortly after this last bout of sex. It was almost two am.

Sarah and I slept until eight, exercised, had breakfast, showered up, and then retired to the bedroom for another bout of sex. Ten minutes of cunnilingus as foreplay, with me teasing her at first and then sticking my tongue deep into her cunt and rubbing my nose against her pubic hair in order to get myself fully aroused. Then thirty minutes of fucking, slow at first and then building up to orgasms for both of us. Unfortunately, I came just as Sarah was coming and thus her orgasm was only half-complete. She didn't seem particularly bothered by this, however: "It doesn't matter. Everything you do makes me feel so good."

We then took a hike in the park, and sat for a while on the terrace of a rustic lodge/restaurant overlooking a beautiful valley, where we alternated between kissing and talking and petting the lodge cat. We had hoped to be able to eat lunch at the restaurant, but it was closed, and so instead we snacked on two bananas Sarah had brought along. On the hike back, we took some pictures of one another. We would have liked to get a picture of the two of us together, but the park was utterly deserted today and so there was no one we could ask to help us with this. Back at her house, Sarah fixed lunch and then she went off to a hairdresser appointment, leaving me behind to read and listen to music.

Another fuck-fest in the evening. As soon as Sarah returned, we began kissing and groping one another, then we retired to the bedroom, where first I licked her slowly for about an hour, then we fucked for thirty minutes, then we rested an hour, then I licked her some more, then another rest, then more licking, then I asked Sarah if she wanted to come, and she said no, and so I fucked her fast and furiously and came myself with a powerful orgasm. Without question, Sarah is my best partner ever for cunnilingus. She tastes and smells good; she keeps herself clean; she's uninhibited; she never pushes me away except just after orgasm; the more I eat her, the more I want to eat her; the deeper I push my tongue into her cunt, the more aroused I become and the harder my cock gets for the fucking that inevitably follows.

I took the bus back to my apartment in the morning, in order to pick up some nightclub clothes (which I intend to leave at Sarah's house from now on), since Sarah and I planned to go out dancing this evening and I didn't have anything appropriate to wear.

 

While at my apartment, Helen happened to call, wanting to know if I could provide "comforting" tonight at her apartment ("the maid's quarters"), since she and Paul had a fight today over how she wasn't cleaning one of his chairs properly, and she didn't want to stay at his apartment any more, but she also didn't want to be alone in her apartment. I replied that I was planning to spend the night with Sarah. "I guess I can't count on you, then. Oh, well. I'll have to kiss ass and make amends and then be on my best behavior all weekend in order not to get thrown out. Where am I calling from? I'm calling from Paul's apartment. He's in the other room. I'm breaking lots of rules today." Then she pretended to be talking to her sister, since Paul had just walked in from the other room, and then we hung up.

 

Sex when I arrived at Sarah's house, with an orgasm for me, then we rested, then Sarah prepared dinner, then more sex with another orgasm for me, then we decided to skip going out dancing tonight in favor of staying in bed and reading aloud to one another and talking, then we had another bout of sex, with an orgasm for Sarah but not me, as I was tired by this time.

Another pleasant day in Sarah's company: exercises, breakfast, sex with an orgasm for me but not her, shopping at the hardware store, repairing various things around Sarah's house, sex with an orgasm for her, sex with an orgasm for me, listening to music. Finally, at about eight in the evening, Sarah drove me to the bus terminal. After dropping me off, she honked her horn and smiled and waved out the car window, and then did so again two more times before finally driving away, as if she were a young girl seeing her boyfriend off, and then when I got home, I found an email from her, entitled "This is your Welcome Home Message. I hope you had a safe trip. I'm picturing you in your nice apartment with the naked ladies on your walls while I'm listening to some of the music disks you left behind. I had a wonderful weekend. It was more like a vacation really. Hope to hear from you soon." So she is evidently falling in love with me. Not that I mind, since I get as much pleasure from her as she apparently gets from me, and I can envision being her lover for many years to come, regardless of our age difference.

 

I called Marianne and talked to her. She is supposedly still working on plans for our trip together this winter. I wonder if she is wanting to avoid this trip? I probably won't call or email her any more. I'll wait for her to make the next move. I told Sarah about this possible trip, incidentally. Of course, instead of mentioning Marianne, I explained that it was a reunion of old friends from East Metropolis. If necessary, I can get Mark to vouch for this story, though I doubt this will be necessary, as Sarah is not particularly suspicious (what a contrast with Elizabeth!).

 

My lawyer called about the progress of my will contest suit. My sister has been speaking to her own lawyer (that is, a lawyer other than the one who represented my father and who is currently the executor of the estate), who is advising her to fight the will contest. Supposedly, this other lawyer is telling her that time is on her side and the longer we delay, the better for her.

 

Lunch with Helen, at a new and more expensive restaurant than our usual cafe, as she wanted to celebrate some "good news". Namely, that she started her period this weekend and hence is not pregnant. I had mixed feelings upon hearing this, since a part of me likes the idea of having a child by Helen. Of course, another part of me realizes that I can never live with Helen and that children might end up making us both miserable.

Helen then described her dispute with Paul this past weekend. As noted previously in this journal, Paul had offered to let his brother and his brother's girlfriend stay with him while they were in town, and wanted his apartment to be spotlessly clean before these relatives arrived. As for Helen, the understanding was that she would be banished back to the "maid's quarters" (her apartment, that is) until Paul's brother departed. The initial plan was to clean Paul's apartment last weekend, but that never happened because Helen was away getting help from me for her computer programming class homework and Paul didn't want to do the cleaning by himself.

Helen's first assigned task was to pack up some of her belongings, in preparation for moving them back to her own apartment, thereby freeing up two of her allotted shelves for use by the relatives. Since some of the shoes Helen was planning to pack were dusty, she cleaned them off before putting them in her bag. Paul noticed her doing this, and said: "When you offered to dust, I didn't realize that you had in mind dusting your own shoes." He was referring to the fact that Helen's next assigned task was dusting the whole apartment. Helen replied: "You told me I had to move my stuff back to my apartment and so that's what I'm doing. I'm dusting what I'm going to move and then I'll dust the rest of the apartment."

Later, when Helen finally did get around to dusting the remainder of the apartment, Paul complained several times that she wasn't doing the job right. For example, instead of fully dusting the rungs of the dining room chairs, by wrapping the dust cloth completely around the rung and then wiping from end to end, Helen only dusted the tops of the rungs, since that was where most of the dust was. Paul corrected her about this. And then when she wiped off the table with a dry dust cloth, Paul screamed: "What are you doing? You can't dust with a dry cloth! You have to moisten it first! Can't you clean anything right?" And then he screamed again when Helen moistened the cloth excessively and left water streaks on the table. Then when she went to shelve some computer manuals, Paul ran over and snatched these from her hands and complained that she was putting them in the wrong place. It seems these manuals were for the computer which Paul had recently sold to Helen for $600, and thus were no longer his but rather hers, and therefore belonged in the space on the bookshelves allocated for her books rather than mixed in with his books.

Eventually, Helen was reduced to tears, and shortly after that was when she called me this past weekend. By the time the phone conversation with me was over, Paul had calmed down. He explained that his temper was short due to stress at work. Helen realized that he was also nervous about the arrival of his relatives, towards whom he has something of an inferiority complex, since they know about Paul's unstable job history, and his inability to stay married long enough to have children, and how he is still living in an apartment instead of owning a house, and how he is otherwise less of a "success" than the other men in his family. In fact, Helen was almost at the point of forgiving his horrible behavior, but then they resumed cleaning, and she noticed that Paul had taken the easy jobs—vacuuming, polishing and the remaining dusting—while she was stuck with kneeling on the bathroom floor and using poisonous smelling chemicals to scrub Paul's pee stains from the base of the toilet.

"It's humiliating that I should be doing this when I'm still furious from how you yelled at me earlier," she complained.

"So what do you want to do? Do you want to go back to your apartment? Or perhaps I should leave and you stay here and I'll stay in your apartment? Or perhaps even that's too much trouble for you. How about you stay here and I go stay with my friends?" replied Paul.

Helen knew that if she left for her own apartment, Paul would escalate the dispute into a full-fledged break-up, and this she didn't want because she didn't want to spend the rest of the weekend alone. Also, she had already paid for a non-refundable ticket for the flight to and from the wedding of Paul's sister ($150) and she didn't want to see this ticket go to waste. So she agreed to finish the cleaning and otherwise made amends and once again she and Paul reconciled. "You've left me utterly sapped of energy," was Paul's final assessment regarding the day and their disputes. "And what about me? I'm even more sapped," replied Helen.

Their reconciliation was sealed by dinner at a fancy restaurant, where Helen had to pay half and where she was bothered the whole time by a nagging worry in the back of her mind that the reconciliation would conclude with an unwanted bedtime "visitation". And indeed, Paul did demand sex when they got home. Anal sex, which is all Helen permits, so that she didn't enjoy it in the least.

On Sunday, the relatives arrived and immediately began smoking strong smelling cigarettes and cigars, which made Helen sick. Then Paul broke out the wine and liquor and everyone except Helen took to drinking. Paul's brother noticed that Helen was abstaining and loudly praised her for being "good". Everyone but Helen laughed uproariously at this quip. The entire conversation was about family matters and peppered with inside jokes which Helen didn't understand, so that she felt completely excluded. Finally, after cleaning up after dinner, she left for her own apartment, where she plans to spend the rest of the week, since Paul's brother and this brother's girlfriend will be occupying the bed in Paul's apartment, while Paul will be sleeping on his sofa.

 

Dinner with Helen at a Chinese restaurant. Her fortune cookie read: "The angry man opens his mouth and shuts his ears and eyes". Mine read: "You will have a long and healthy life".

 

Marianne sent me an email today, indicating that she might want to change our destination to the Caribbean instead of Mexico in order to get a better airfare. So apparently, our vacation plans are still on track and she isn't trying to brush me off after all.

 

Sarah called from work to say hello, to which I responded by inviting her to stop by my apartment this evening. Once again, our sex was wonderful. Some cunnilingus to get me aroused, then over an hour of fucking, aimlessly rolling about while glued tightly to one another and gently rocking our pelvises, then some struggling to get Sarah to the point of orgasm, then a brief pause until her shudders stopped, then some furious pounding to get me to come, then we collapsed in each others arms and hugged and talked quietly, then kissing which made me hard again and her wet, then we hungrily sucked and kissed one another's genitals, then some more fucking with me on top initially and then her on top, with neither of us trying to reach orgasm, and my cock rock-solid all the while so that we might have fucked all night had we wanted to do so, and then finally stopping when Sarah grew sore, and then more resting in each other's arms. "Sex is the greatest invention they ever came up with," Sarah remarked once we were finally done. After washing up, we had dinner at a restaurant and then Sarah drove home, as she had to get up early for work tomorrow.

I've previously indicated that I think Sarah my best partner ever for cunnilingus. Based on how well we did tonight and the progress we've made since we first started having sex together a mere two weeks ago, she will also soon be my best partner ever for fucking (Elizabeth currently holds this distinction). I don't love Sarah like I do Helen, and I doubt I ever will, but I am genuinely fond of her. With Sarah for sex and Helen for conversation and Marianne thrown in for variety, I feel like I've finally hit the jackpot as far as women is concerned.

 

Lunch with Helen at the cafe. She called in sick to her job today, in order to catch up with homework for her computer programming class, since she won't be able to do any studying or homework this weekend due to attending the wedding of Paul's sister. Helen demanded that I do all of her homework, instead of only helping her with the difficult parts. I refused, on the grounds that without doing some of the work herself, Helen will learn nothing and hence won't be able to pass the exams, and I didn't want to be a party to her failure. We argued this point for a few minutes and then Helen snatched the papers away that I was looking at.

"Obviously, the reason you won't write my program is that you don't know how," she said.

"I'm trying to help you learn and you're not cooperating," I replied.

"You don't know how to teach is the problem."

"I do know how to teach."

"Who have you ever taught?"

"I used to teach my co-workers when I worked at the corporation."

"And I'll bet they hated every minute of it. You must have loved lording it over them."

"The difference between them and you is that they wanted to learn. They listened to what I said because they knew that if they didn't learn, they'd lose their jobs. You're right, though, I react poorly to students who have no desire to learn. Occasionally at work, I'd have a student like you. And what I'd do is just walk away. Some piece of trash doesn't want to learn? Fine, I'll walk away. They won't learn and they'll pay the consequences."

"You were never much of a teacher, I can see that now."

"The problem with you is that I can't walk away. I'm too attached to you. And why? That's the million dollar question. I've gotten rid of Elizabeth and Karen, so why can't I just flush the toilet and get rid of all the garbage from my life?"

"And I feel the same way about you."

"You like being a failure, don't you, Helen? It's your way of breaking free from the expectations of your parents, especially your mother. Look at me, I'm a big failure! I understand, because I did much the same thing myself when I was younger. Of course, I wasn't so stupid as to be a failure when it came to earning a living. Failure there just puts you back in prison, working at dead end jobs that you hate."

"You're the one who got me into this computer programming racket even though you knew I had no aptitude for it. It's the one thing you can do well in life and so you wanted me to do it too so you could show me how much better you are."

"I advised you years ago to learn something about computers because I knew you'd have a very difficult time in the job market without computer skills. I did not advise you to become a programmer. It was your idea to take this computer programming course. In fact, you originally planned to take two courses and it was me who advised to take at most one course."

"If you weren't such a failure as a teacher, I could pass this course. That's all I want to do. I want to pass. I don't want to learn anything."

"You like to make men feel like failures, don't you? You make me feel like a failure as a teacher by refusing to learn and then blaming it on me. You made me feel like a failure as a lover by refusing to open up sexually and have an orgasm. You do the same thing with Paul. This business of having sex which you don't enjoy is your idea. It gives you the freedom to walk away from a relationship any time you want. After all, if you're not getting much pleasure, what do you have to lose? You like being mistreated."

"That's bullshit."

"Similarly, you like working in dead-end jobs. That way you don't have to worry about losing the job. After all, there's nothing much to lose. Of course, even though you're to blame for all your problems, that doesn't stop you from resenting people who've accomplished something in life, like me."

"This is why I hate computers. They attract people like you, creeps who have a single talent that happens, by chance, to be highly valued at the present time. Just because of this one talent, and all the money they have, they think they are superior to everyone else in the world."

"Go ahead and fail your class. And then go home and have some unpleasant sex and maybe even clean a toilet afterwards and imagine how you've really gotten revenge on your mother by making a failure of your life. In fact, why don't you just finish the job and commit suicide? That'll really show everyone. Tell me, why don't you commit suicide and make a complete failure of your life?"

"I don't think my life is a failure."

"Anyway, it's none of my business. I care about you, Helen..."

"Ha!"

"...though I don't know why. My aunt always says she wishes I had never met you, that you've ruined my life. And she's right in a way. I'm emotionally attached to you and that's why for so long I had such trouble going after other women and why I kept picking women who weren't appropriate for me. Though finally I'm starting to break away and meet some decent women like Sarah."

"My relatives say the same thing about you. Why do I continue to involve myself with this loser scum from the skid row district?"

"I suppose the next step is for you to say you'll never speak to me again?"

"That's for sure. You're useless as far as helping me with my homework and I certainly get no pleasure from your company."

We sat silently reading our books for a while and then Helen gathered her things up and left. There's no question but that I love Helen, but then love is greatly overrated. As for my remark in yesterday's entry about having "hit the jackpot" in having Helen as a conversation partner—what a joke that is! And then to think that just last week I was regretting that Helen wasn't pregnant with my child! I need to break with this woman for once and for all before she really does bring misery into my life.

 

I took the bus to Sarah's house in the evening. An hour of sex with orgasms for both of us, then a heavy dinner of meat, potatoes and cabbage which left us both feeling sluggish, then I ate her cunt for an hour but was so overwhelmed with digesting the dinner that I couldn't get another erection, then to sleep early.

Another long bout of sex in the morning, again with orgasms for both of us. Then a lazy day of driving about to various stores Sarah wanted to visit and then lounging in a cafe and then dinner at Sarah's house, with conversation meanwhile on various topics. Sarah always thought herself ugly when she was young, perhaps because of her father telling her this, though she certainly didn't look ugly in any of the photos I saw of her. On the contrary, she looked remarkably pretty and photogenic as a girl. I warned her that people would probably think our relationship disgraceful, because it was between a young man and an older woman, and such a relationship is strictly about sexual pleasure, and older women are not supposed to have sex drives.

"Deep down, most people are puritans. They believe sex is permitted only for the purpose of procreation. Women allow themselves to enjoy sex when young on the grounds that this sex will ultimately lead to children. But once they're past child-bearing age, that excuse no longer holds, and so they cut their hair off and turn themselves into neuters. You wonder why women sometimes show you hostility? Just look at that hair of yours," I said.

"What's wrong with my hair?" asked Sarah.

"In my opinion, nothing. However, long hair makes you look sexually attractive, and society teaches that's a no-no for women your age."

"I used to wear my hair short when I was a girl. But now that I'm older, I wear it long. I think short hair on older women looks terrible. It makes them look like men."

"That's what they're supposed to look like. Neuters who no one would ever want to have sex with. Of course, long hair is a minor offense compared to walking around with a younger man like me as your lover. That's really thumbing your nose at society."

"You're thumbing your nose at society, too."

Another bout of fucking after dinner, again with orgasms for both of us, and then we went to sleep at about ten, in order to get up at five tomorrow morning. Our sex by now is almost uniformly excellent and long-lasting, with the typical routine being as follows. I lick and smell Sarah's cunt for about five minutes, then we fuck for about a half hour, using various rhythms and positions and without either of us attempting to reach orgasm. I then shift positions and lubricate Sarah's clitoris heavily, and then we resume fucking, with me thrusting against her g-spot with my cock while manipulating her clitoris with my finger, which usually brings her to orgasm in ten or so minutes. After Sarah finishes coming, I fuck hard and deep for another minute or so and then come myself. And after I finish coming, we rest in each other's arms for another hour or so, possibly talking.

 

Given how satisfied I am by sex with Sarah, I probably won't be pursuing other women in the foreseeable future, which brings up the question of how I'm to pass the time when Sarah and I are apart. The same question ("how to occupy my spare time") which has plagued me most of my life and to which all the conventional answers seem as contrived and useless as ever. Currently, much of my surplus of time is being masturbated away. Today's fantasy was an endless blow-job by various fat women I've known over the years, who had as strong an appetite for sucking cocks and smelling men's balls as I have for licking and smelling cunts. Shoving the woman's mouth against my balls with my left hand while fingering her cunt with my right, the woman having an orgasm while her face is still buried in my crotch, etc.

 

Sarah came by in the evening and decided she wanted to have sex despite her yeast infection, and so we did just that. An hour or so of fucking culminating in orgasms for both of us. I had foolishly resumed my experiments with sexual kung fu (masturbating to orgasm but not ejaculating) earlier this week and at first was worried that I might not be able to get an erection, but as it turns out, that wasn't a problem at all. My erection was rock solid for the full hour and also under perfect control.

I then fixed a dinner of vegetable stew—boiled potatoes, carrots and green peppers, flavored with ginger, cilantro, red pepper and salt—which is my current favorite dish, and we ate that in my kitchen, which is embarrassingly roach-infested. Apparently, the previous occupant let the roaches get out of control, so that now there are thousands upon thousands of them hiding in the walls, eking out an existence on the few specks of food I leave each night in the sink. It might be years before they are completely eradicated. Sarah didn't seem too upset by the situation, given that otherwise the apartment is clean.

Tango dancing after dinner. This was the first time in weeks that either Sarah or I have been to this club, which is where we first met two months ago. I seemed to do as well as ever, at least with the women with whom I've had good energy in the past, but Sarah remarked later that the other women didn't seem too friendly to her tonight and even her men partners didn't seem to show much enthusiasm while dancing. Perhaps the other women were jealous, while the men were reluctant to crowd my "territory".

Sarah slept in my apartment tonight for the first time. As had occurred before when Elizabeth slept here, I became aware through a sort of empathy of just how hard and uncomfortable my "bed" (a sheet laid down on top of the rug) must feel to people who are accustomed to sleeping on a mattress, and also of just how much noise can be heard in my apartment at night (drunks hollering out front until two am and occasionally even after two am, street cleaning at three am, garbage collection at six am, morning traffic starting at seven am). I promised to buy a futon for the next time Sarah spends the night. As for the noise, there is nothing I can do about that.

 

Marianne emailed me yesterday morning with new plans for our trip together. Somewhere in Mexico is once again her preferred destination. As I hadn't heard from her in a week, I was beginning to think she had decided to cancel our trip, but apparently this wasn't the case. Today we both completed the process of purchasing airline tickets, and now it will be up to me to get hotel reservations, since Marianne will be out of town for the next two weeks. I wrote part of my reply to this email from Marianne while Sarah was in my bathroom showering yesterday, which felt very awkward.

 

I took the bus to Sarah's house in the evening, where she fixed dinner. Sex afterwards, with orgasms for both of us, and then I read aloud from Kafka, as she likes being read to. I explained that I liked The Trial because I've always felt like the protagonist of that novel. On trial for something I did wrong, with no one willing or able to tell me what this something I did wrong was, and the more I investigated, the more trouble I got myself into. Sarah replied that she felt the same way: "I'm always breaking rules and no one will even tell me what the rules are."

Sex in the morning, with what was initially a very strong erection. After fucking away for a while, I became aroused and felt myself on the verge of coming, which I didn't want to do just then, as Sarah hadn't come yet. So I tensed my muscles tightly. This stopped the orgasm, but also seemed to completely drain me of sexual energy. I continued to feel aroused, but my erection withered away and neither my own nor Sarah's manipulations would restore it, and so eventually we gave up, with neither of us having achieved orgasm.

After breakfast, we visited the hardware store and then returned to Sarah's house to work on her leaky toilet. She had called a plumber yesterday, but he estimated it would cost over $400 to do a job that took me only an hour of time and $10 of materials. In all, he had estimated just over $1000 as the total cost for fixing this toilet plus repairing some leaky faucets which need new washers. When Sarah declined his services, he acted shocked, and then insisted that she still had to pay $70 for the estimate, and she is refusing to pay that as well.

After fixing the toilet, I lay on the sofa reading while Sarah did some yard work, then we ate lunch and then we tried sex again. I had felt erections rising and falling in my pants all the while I was on the sofa, but when we got into bed, it was the same sorry story as earlier. I couldn't get an erection. We tried mutual oral sex (Sarah still is suffering from yeast, but didn't taste particularly bad) and then Sarah yanked on my cock for several minutes and then we rested and then finally I yanked my cock to a sufficiently hard state that Sarah could stuff it in her cunt, where it promptly began to wither, so that I had to withdraw and jerk it back to semi-hardness so we could repeat the procedure. After getting inside her this second time, I decided to fuck away for my own orgasm without waiting for Sarah. For whatever reason, this thought seemed to cause a surge of energy to pass through my body, so that my erection once again became rock solid, and contrary to my just stated intention of coming as soon as possible, I was able to hold on so that both Sarah and I came.

We rested in bed for an hour or so after sex, then had tea, then rushed off to an early evening party at the apartment of one of her friends, a divorcée in her fifties. Lots of small talk, which I didn't participate in, and enormous amounts of food. Both Sarah and I overate and felt sick afterwards.

A long and slow fuck session after waking up, at Sarah's prompting. She had a difficult time coming, but then finally seemed to be in the throes of orgasm, so I relaxed and let myself come, whereupon she revealed that she hadn't completely come after all. I asked if she wanted me to continue, using my hand, and she replied no. We skipped breakfast on account of the overeating yesterday evening, and then spent the day browsing in stores, where Sarah bought a present for her boss. Like me, Sarah dislikes the custom of Christmas gifts. She only makes exceptions for her children and her boss. Dinner in the evening at a restaurant, where Sarah treated in return for my having fixed her toilet. Afterwards, we watched a movie on television before going to bed and discussed possibly taking a trip together somewhere in the spring.

 

I completed making hotel reservations for my trip to see Marianne next month. Then I sent in the forms for dissolution of my software corporation. There are many good reasons for postponing this dissolution for several more years. My decision to dissolve the corporation this year was based primarily on emotional reasons. Namely, I want to forget about this software business completely as soon as possible.

I ate nothing either today or yesterday, and drank only one cup of green tea on each of these days. Aside from saving considerable time and money, fasting seems to have given me additional energy. In particular, I didn't feel tired in the late afternoon. Henceforth, I may make a regular habit of fasting one day each week. I felt very little hunger either today or yesterday.

In the afternoon, I went to pick up the results of an AIDS test I took two weeks ago. Despite being almost certain the results would be negative (as was indeed the case), I have been tormented by frightening thoughts about having to confess to Sarah that I am infected with AIDS and that she therefore might also be infected, since we have been having unprotected sex these past few weeks. Anyone who wants a cheap thrill (my test was free), scarier by far than any horror movie, should take one of these AIDS tests.

 

I broke my fast today. Tomatoes for breakfast, then granola and yogurt at the cafe for lunch, then vegetable stew for dinner. Everything tasted wonderful, as is typical after a fast. As for sleep habits, I've turned over a new leaf there—up no later than six am each morning for three days now. And I've given up chocolate and most sweets and have been drinking either herbal or green tea instead of black tea. Let's see how long this health kick lasts.

 

Sarah had been feeling very sick this week (nausea, constipation, tiredness and aching all over, caused either by yeast and bladder infections or by the medication she is taking to combat these infections), but she managed nevertheless to get in to work every day. "I'm glad I did, too, because I needed the money. And I'll be well soon. The medication stops next week, thank God." What a contrast with the constant complaining of Helen and Elizabeth! Sarah reminds me of Karen in this willingness to work hard.

Because of Sarah's illness, I had assumed we would go to sleep without sex, but then she took the initiative in bed—tongue kissing me and then fondling my cock—and so I responded by kissing her breasts and playing with her cunt lips until she was fully aroused. I asked if she wanted penetration and she replied that it might be best if we didn't do that. Instead, I licked her cunt for perhaps a half-hour, becoming enthusiastic towards the end, with my tongue buried deep inside her vagina so that I could feel the muscles contracting about it. She seemed about to come several times, but nothing I or she could do would bring her over the edge. She blamed the medication she was taking for having dulled her senses. We then briefly tried penetration, but Sarah soon grew sore and so we stopped and she tried sucking me instead. Though I enjoy being sucked as foreplay, I've never been able to come that way, and so after a few minutes, I pulled Sarah around so that she was lying on top of me, with her cunt against my mouth, and then jacked myself off while she watched. She tried to lick my balls in this position, which greatly excited me, but unfortunately the movements of my hands collided with her jaw and so she wasn't able to kiss them continuously, as I would have preferred. Perhaps another time we'll figure out the proper alignment to allow her to lick my balls while I simultaneous lick her cunt and jack myself off. I find masturbating to this fantasy enormously exciting, whether imagining myself as the man or the woman. After I came, Sarah wiped the semen off my stomach with a towel and then we lay together in each other's arms and then went to sleep.

I had previously agreed to attend a party of Lisa's this evening, and so left Sarah's house about noon, after we finished with morning sex. As with last night, I tried diligently to bring Sarah off, but to no avail, so that eventually she concluded that further efforts would only make her sore. I came by fucking her in spoon position (my stomach against her back) in order to penetrate less deeply. Because Sarah is so much smaller than me, I was easily able to lift her completely off the mattress while thrusting, which seemed to excite her greatly. Had she been less under the weather from medication, I am certain I could have made her come this way, fucking from below while simultaneously rubbing her clitoris with my finger.

 

The party at Lisa's was for a friend of hers, who had recently been featured in a magazine cover story. When Lisa introduced me to this friend, who I had never met before, she insisted on hugging me tight and then wouldn't let go for almost a minute. Not that there was any sexual energy between us, that I could feel. She seemed much less attractive in person than I would have expected based on her photos in the magazine. In addition to not knowing this guest of honor, I also didn't know any of the other guests at the party, other than Lisa and her current boyfriend. Most of these guests are supposedly involved in "non-mainstream sex" and/or are artists. I wasn't in a communicative mood and so spent most of my time eating. The highlight of the party was a reading of supposedly erotic poetry, which I couldn't make head nor tail of. This was followed by someone singing a woeful song about the downtrodden of the world, and then someone playing jazz on the saxophone while the rest of us beat on drums and various kitchen implements. Though I don't think anyone other than the saxophone player was an accomplished musician, but nevertheless the sound we produced was impressive. Lisa suggested she and I get together some time, perhaps in my neighborhood, so she could see my apartment. I agreed with this proposal, though in fact I have little desire to see her again. But given how I'm always accepting her invitations, I can't exactly refuse to reciprocate with an invitation of my own.

 

I returned to Sarah's in the afternoon, and we had sex. An orgasm for me, but not her. She continues to feel ill in the stomach, which she blames on the medication she is taking. In the evening, we attended a dinner party at her neighbor's house. Afterwards, Sarah gave me two Christmas presents. One was a wooden carving of two lovers wrapped around one another ("It reminds me of us," she said) and the other was a box of chocolates. I felt bad about not giving her anything. We had agreed that we hated the feeling of being obligated to give everyone Christmas presents and I interpreted this as meaning we wouldn't be giving one another presents. "I give only a few special people presents," Sarah explained. She didn't appear particularly upset about my not giving her a present.

Since it was Christmas, I wanted to get Sarah to come, and so licked her for over an hour, using every technique in my repertoire, but to no avail. Though it didn't bring her off, she seemed especially excited when my tongue dipped down and flicked against her anus and perineum while I vibrated my thumb against her clitoris. I had my own orgasm by fucking spoon position. Sarah seemed content with the sex, even though she didn't manage to have an orgasm. In the afternoon, we took a long walk in a park, then had sex again before going to bed. A dry orgasm for me, and none for Sarah. As I've been doing all this weekend, I buried my entire face in Sarah's cunt while licking her. She is free of the yeast infection and tastes wonderful and is also uninhibited about receiving cunnilingus for long periods of time, unlike so many women I've known over the years. "You're a great lover," she told me at one point. "You inspire me to do my best," I replied.

We spent several hours in the early afternoon at a cafe and then returned to Sarah's house for another bout of sex. Despite feeling much better today, Sarah was still unable to reach orgasm. After sex, she fixed a dinner of potato pancakes, accompanied by the chocolates she gave me as a Christmas present and a box of cookies she received as a gift from her co-workers. We then sat on the sofa, where I discussed the party at Lisa's and then mentioned various sex practices which Sarah wasn't familiar with: golden showers, penis pumps, cock rings, butt plugs, strap-on dildos, spanking, fisting. Sarah was disgusted by this explicitness and ask me to change the subject: "It turns me off from sex entirely to hear you talk about it like that. These people sound like scum!" So then I discussed some of my former girlfriends, and commented that many of them had personalities that I found disagreeable. (I was thinking especially of Elizabeth.)

"Why do you hook up with such women? I'm very selective about the men I date," Sarah said.

"I don't know. All I care about is whether the woman is sexually attractive. If she meets that criteria, I'll tolerate all sorts of personality problems. Though I'm starting to change my attitude. Now I'm only going after nice women, like you," I replied.

"Do you find me sexually attractive?"

"Isn't it obvious?"

"I want you to say it."

"I find you very sexually attractive, and would have been interested in you even if you had a vicious personality. But thankfully you don't."

This is true. Sarah may be fifteen or more years older than me, but she is still among the most sexually attractive women I've ever had sex with, and also a most congenial companion. She was reluctant at first to discuss her own former lovers ("I don't want to talk about them because I don't want them, or you, talking about me") but eventually I coaxed her to reveal something about one of these: "We had a great time together. He was also a Capricorn, like you. And then he met someone twenty years younger than me. I couldn't compete with that!" She laughed while saying this, so apparently she doesn't harbor any bitterness towards him.

 

I received a Christmas card from Marianne, postmarked two weeks ago, with an imprint of a kiss made with lipstick on the inside of the card, and saying she is looking forwards to our getting together next month, and signed "love".

 

My lawyer called and we discussed my will contest suit. The executor talked to my lawyer on behalf of my sister, asking whether I would be willing, "in the spirit of Christmas", to release the lien I currently have on my sister's house so that she can use her house as security to borrow $45,000 from a bank. My lawyer replied that I almost certainly wouldn't agree to this proposal and I confirmed that this was the correct reply. My lawyer has discovered that there are several other liens on my sister's house, by construction companies, and so even if I had agreed to release my lien, it would still have been some time before my sister could have arranged a loan. The fact that the executor of the estate, who is supposed to be neutral, is acting on my sister's behalf seems suspicious. Perhaps he is looking to the future, and hoping to be my sister's lawyer for many years to come, as she gradually squanders her inheritance?

On another front, my lawyer last week sent the following settlement proposal to my sister's lawyer (that is, a lawyer other than the one who is the executor of the estate). After paying estate taxes and administrative expenses, the estate would amount to about $1,520,000. I would forgive the $300,000 to $400,000 that my sister misappropriated before the conservatorship was established for my father. The $350,000 of land in the estate would be put in trust for my sister's daughters until they are of age. After paying various minor bequests, the remaining estate would be split between me and my sister, with my share being about $560,000 ($460,000 after my attorney's fees) and my sister's share would be about $910,000 ($560,000 in cash, $350,000 in land for which she is trustee). If the case goes to trial and I win and my sister has to pay back the $300,000 she previously misappropriated, my share would be about $810,000 ($620,000 after attorney's fees) and my sister's share would be about $510,000, of which $175,000 would be land. Also, she would have some attorney's fees to pay, which might be considerable in the event of a trial, and she would have to wait several more years to get her hands on any money. In all, I think my negotiating position is a strong one.

My sister's lawyer countered with a proposal similar to mine, except my sister gets an additional $200,000 for a "college fund" for her two daughters. The result would be to reduce my share to $460,000 (or $377,000 after attorney's fees). This was an unofficial offer, however. My current inclination is reject any concessions beyond those in my initial offer.

My lawyer plans to officially file suit tomorrow and then send another letter to my sister's lawyer, in which he will be more explicit about the financial consequences if my sister refuses to settle and loses the case, since the letter sent last week was vague about the numbers involved and thus might not have sufficiently impressed my sister.

 

While sitting in a park in the rich people's neighborhood, I noticed a ditzy-looking woman in her early thirties parading about with her infant son and prattling to it in a high-pitched baby voice. Then she wandered off and about twenty minutes later returned, carrying a stack of take-out platters from a nearby Chinese restaurant, and accompanied by various workmen, including the park groundskeeper, a delivery truck driver, and three maintenance men from a nearby hotel. After unpacking the food, the woman sat on the ground, while the men sat on benches facing her.

"This is really nice of you to buy us lunch. You sure are a nice lady," said the groundskeeper, in a stupid-sounding voice. I looked up to see what sort of face he had, and—lo and behold!—he was remarkably handsome, in the athletic sort of way.

"Oh, it's my pleasure. Just something to do with the day," replied the woman, still talking in her baby voice.

"Isn't she nice?" said the groundskeeper to the other men, who nodded and grunted in assent. "Yes, ma'am, not many people around here are that nice."

"Oh, I know! Some people...Oh shoot, would you look at that!" said the woman.

"What's the matter?" asked the groundkeeper.

"They didn't give us enough napkins! You know, they always mess up my orders. My husband gets so upset that he won't go to that restaurant anymore. I'm just sick of this. You men just keep eating and I'll go back and get those napkins," said the woman.

"Oh, don't bother with that. I've got napkins in my truck," said the delivery man.

"No, that's all right. They were supposed to include napkins. Shoot, I'm am just so tired of this sort of thing. I'll be right back," said the woman.

"Ain't she a nice lady? Buying us lunch and all that and then running off to get us napkins. That's why she's married. They don't stay single when they're like that. And pretty, too. I wish I had me a woman like that. Damn! That must be one lucky man that's got her," said the groundskeeper while the woman was away.

"I am just so upset at that restaurant," said the woman upon returning. "Can you believe that they would forget to include napkins? I just don't know how they stay in business like that. Try some of this, it's the best dish of all. Where's my little wittle-bittle going? After the poochie-woochie? He just loves dogs. I told my husband, someday we're going to have to get him a dog. My husband got me a new car for Christmas and we were driving the other day and I just could barely stop this little one from jumping out the window every time we passed a dog, can you imagine?"

"What kind of car you got?" asked one of the maintenance men, who until then had said nothing.

"A Rolls-Royce. It's green and I really like it," said the woman.

"Rolls-Royce. That's a nice car all right," said the maintenance man.

"Dog-gone it! I sure wish you were single, because you're the nicest lady I ever met!" exclaimed the groundskeeper.

"Oh, there's plenty of nice single women out there," said the woman.

"Yeah, but I go out dancing at least four times a week, and when I tell them women in their young thirties that I'm forty-three, they think I'm some sort of dinosaur!" said the groundskeeper.

"Forty-three, that's just the start of your prime!" said the woman.

"I sure do feel that way. I feel as young as ever," said the groundskeeper.

"I think the best relationships are when the man is ten to fifteen years older than the woman. Twelve is just perfect. That's how much older my husband is than me," said the woman.

"He's one lucky man to have you," said the groundskeeper.

"Oh, that's sweet of you to say that. But you know what? You'll find someone someday, just when you least expect it. That's what happened to me," said the woman.

Then the baby started crying and the woman had to run off to the nearby luxury apartment building where she lives. The men finished their meal and then belched and joked and then returned to work, while I amused myself with speculations about the scene I had just witnessed. Suppose the woman and her husband have a master-slave relationship. The husband gets his sexual thrills by ordering his wife to publicly humiliate herself. Buying lunch for tradesmen she meets on the street, sitting on the ground while they sit on benches, talking to them in a baby voice, and otherwise acting like an idiot. The wife gets her thrills from sexually teasing these tradesmen, who in turn get thrills from watching a rich man's wife make a spectacle of herself. Only the groundskeeper plays his role straight, instead of laughing inside at someone else. Or is it possible that everyone was playing straight? But that would imply the woman was a complete and total nincompoop. What sort of man would marry a woman like that? Surely her husband isn't as stupid as the groundskeeper?

 

Robert, the homosexual who I last spoke to several months ago, when we went to a movie together and he commented afterwards that I "sure smell nice", waved to me at the cafe and then later sent me the following email:

 

I hope you're doing well. I just saw you several minutes ago in the cafe and we waved. I would have stopped by, but I wasn't sure I wouldn't have been bothering you. I think of you from time to time, and wonder how you are, and if you're still experiencing "maximum happiness." Sometimes I don't see you for weeks, and figure you've probably started working again.

Every time we see each other, just in passing, I'm struck by how beautiful you are, how beautiful your eyes are. I think that's also part of the reason I didn't want to stop by the cafe and chat. I didn't want to grow full of desire that has no chance of being satisfied. Even so, every time I see you, I'm reminded of how much I can feel, and I start daydreaming, wishing I could lay with you in grass in the sun, and fall asleep in your arms.

Anyway, if you're ever lonely, I know there are people you can call, but you can always call me too, if you want some company.

I'm taking a trip to Spain and Portugal next spring, and I'm thinking about taking Spanish lessons before I go. Maybe I'll stop by sometime when I see you having your tea, and practice my Spanish on you.

So I'll see you around, I guess, take care.

 

I am undecided what to do about this situation. My friendship with Mark, which is one of the great joys of my life, started because he was sexually attracted to me and pursued me. The sexual attraction was not mutual, of course. However, I felt an immediate bond with Mark, which I don't feel with Robert. On the other hand, I could use some more friends. And it would be nice to have a practice partner for Spanish.

 

I sent the following email response to Robert:

 

I called you on the phone a few minutes ago, but you weren't in. I know that my behavior and some of the things I say might lead to confusion, but I can assure you that I am completely heterosexual. My focus during the sex act itself is on the one thing men are missing and can't simulate, and by extension my feelings upon seeing a man's body, regardless of how much I may admire its beauty, never arouses genitally oriented sexual feelings in me, anymore than my seeing and admiring a beautiful cat or other animal. What's more, I have experimented with men several times in the past, and the result was always a fiasco. I simply couldn't get sexually aroused. And finally, I am once again involved in a relationship with a woman. This time someone much older, who seems to accept me the way I am and doesn't threaten me with marriage or living together or the responsibility and expense and hassle of raising a child or any of my other bugaboos. I tell you all this because I don't like the feeling of being a tease and I want to clarify the situation.

On the other hand, many of my male friends in the past have been homosexual, precisely because I have such little interest in men that without the other man pursuing me, a friendship never develops.

So feel free to stop by the next time you see me at the cafe. I am planning a trip to Mexico next month and brushing up on my Spanish in preparation at this very moment.

 

Later in the day, he replied:

 

Thanks for the message, and the email. Sounds like you're doing well. Please don't think that you have ever teased me or led me on. You've been very honest about your lack of interest in men, which I acknowledge. Of course, I can't help feeling desire for someone I think is beautiful and gentle. I guess it's unfortunate that you consider your experiences with men to be fiascoes because you were not sexually aroused. I would suspect the guys didn't mind. I certainly would not have. I think it would be such a nice memory to have, to have been naked with you and see and smell and touch you. I'm envious of their memories.

I hope that nothing I'm writing is making you uncomfortable.

Thanks for taking the time to call me, and for writing me back. Please don't think for a moment that you have teased me. My first letter was only meant to be an expression of my appreciation of your beauty, and the feelings you (unintentionally) inspire in me. I'll stop by sometime when I see you and say "hi."

 

Sarah called me twice today, once in the afternoon and then again at night, just as I was about to call her. I suspect she was anxious about some of the sex practices I discussed the last time we were together. Sarah said she had "stomach pains" all night after I left, and then she wanted me to be sure and get tested if I ever have sex with "low-class women". I assured her that I had no intention of having sex with such women, and that I had taken an AIDS test "not too long ago" (I didn't specify that "not too long ago" meant two weeks ago). "I know you were tested, but if you have sex with them again, you need to get tested again," she insisted.

 

For several days now, I've been keeping to my resolution to henceforth get out of bed no later than six each morning, and be done with exercises, breakfast, cleanup, shower and shave by no later than eight. Today, I also left the apartment at eight, only to discover why I normally spend so much of the day oversleeping and masturbating and otherwise dawdling in my apartment. Namely, there isn't a damn thing to do with all this extra time! No wonder the ancient yogis emphasized meditation. In the absence of books and recorded music and all the other diversions of modern civilization, the ability to sit quietly all day is essential if one is to avoid suffering terribly from boredom.

 

Sarah was tired from work and so wanted to get in bed immediately after dinner and read. Then, almost immediately upon lying down, she fell asleep, and so I proceeded to turn off the lights. This caused her to awake, whereupon she pulled herself against me and began kissing me on the mouth. I inquired as to whether she was too tired for sex. "No, as long as you don't take too long," she replied. I assumed this meant she wanted the satisfaction of knowing she can please me sexually, without wanting to struggle to have an orgasm for herself. So I went through the usual procedure of kissing her mouth then burying my face in her crotch and kissing and licking and smelling her cunt until she was wet and I was hard, then I pulled up and entered her. Even though I knew she wasn't particularly interested in being aroused, it seemed barbaric to hurry my own orgasm, and so I fucked slowly until she indicated that she was beginning to get sore, then I sped up and came with a powerful orgasm, which seemed to please her as much as it pleased me. She insisted on falling to sleep with her arms around me and then crowded into my side of the bed the whole night, so that I slept fitfully.

I woke up with all my muscles and bones feeling sore, from the poor sleep last night, but then felt fine after an hour of exercises. Now that she was rested, Sarah was in an amorous mood and so after breakfast we returned to bed, and had sex with orgasms for both of us. Even though I've been consistent about bringing her to orgasm for several weeks now, today was the first time I felt able to force her to come. In most respects, my new technique is unchanged. Sarah lies on her back, I support myself on my knees and left elbow, I kiss her neck or mouth or ear or breasts or any other available part of her body while thrusting against her g spot with my cock and manipulating her clitoris with my right hand. The refinement added today is to greatly increase the speed and force of my thrusts, as if I were trying to saw her in half with my cock, or as if I were trying to violently punch against her g spot with my cock. This new technique requires a rock-solid erection, of course, and also demands intense concentration on my part, since fast and hard is precisely the sort of fucking I use to cause my own orgasm. Today I concentrated on the ache in my left shoulder muscle (it aches because of the effort of supporting my body weight without assistance from my right arm), which seemed to work very well at keeping my sexual energy under control.

We spent the rest of the morning lying around Sarah's house, reading and talking, and then she dropped me off at the bus station on her way to run errands. She had previously arranged to spend the night at a party with some women friends.

 

Sarah arrived in the late afternoon and we immediately began kissing and then undressed and had sex, with orgasms for both of us. Then we lay about lazily for a couple of hours listening to music, and then had dinner at a restaurant and then walked to a nearby church for a performance of religious music, as part of a ceremony to welcome in the new year. We didn't stay until midnight, but instead returned early to my apartment and drank a bottle of champagne there, which Sarah had been given by the owner of the company she works for, and then we had another bout of sex, again with orgasms for both of us.

In the morning, Sarah complained of sore bones from sleeping on the floor, so I promised to buy a futon in the future. Breakfast of lentils and rice, then sex with orgasms for both of us, followed by coffee for her and tea for me at the cafe (where she insisted on paying, since I had paid for dinner last night), then we took the bus to her house in the suburbs (she hadn't wanted to drive into the city yesterday due to the New Year's Eve crowds). Another round of sex after dinner, but neither of us was particularly aroused and neither of us came. The closeness, however, was enjoyable.

We may have to forget about the trip we've been thinking of taking together in the spring, since Sarah doesn't think she will be able to take off more than a week from work, though she plans to ask her supervisor again about this. She won't receive pay during this vacation, regardless of its length, since she is not a full-time worker and thus doesn't receive paid vacations. She said something about wishing she had a rich aunt who had left her a fortune so she wouldn't have to go to work in the morning and could spend all her time traveling. Perhaps this was an oblique reference to the inheritance I hope to receive from my father's estate. Then she suggested I start another computer business so I could "become rich and then pay off my mortgage and support me so I wouldn't have to work." Despite such remarks, I don't really worry about Sarah being after my money. In fact, she probably thinks I don't have any, other than what I might inherit from my father. Given that I don't own a car, and live in a small apartment in the skid row district, and don't hold a full-time job (I've been telling her I do computer programming part-time from my apartment), and eat most meals at home, and never boast of having money, it isn't hard to give the impression of having little money, though sometimes I feel guilty about pretending to be poor.

Sarah mentioned that her husband, unlike me, never talked about sex, and that sex with him was bad or non-existent, and that she remembers thinking, "There must be more to marriage than sleeping in the same bed and talking about our children." I told her later that "love is greatly overrated, fondness combined with good sex is much better." I was thinking of Helen when I said this, and comparing my feelings towards her with those I feel towards Sarah.


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