By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
"What, like, just on weekends or something?" I asked, thinking that might be a good idea.
"Well, actually," he said, "I was thinking more like a year."
It had never made any sense, the two of us together. And now it was completely hopeless, and I was leaving the country for a time. That's why she invited me to meet her on Kauai—where it couldn't possibly count. For two years, we had conducted an on-again-off-again office romance. It wasn't the working relationship that made it impossible—it was the fact that we were widely separated by age, and that we shared the same gender. But what matters when you think you're in love? Sex has a way of bolstering the illusion of love, which in turn exaggerates the illusion that you are having the best sex possible—better than anyone has ever had before. Thus, for two years, we stole languid, lustful moments in her red sports car, parked on a dark street around the corner from the office. I was eventually laid off, or I might have died like that. The first night on Kauai, she asked to tie me to the bed. I willingly submitted, curious as to where this temporary freedom might take us. The next evening, she didn't bother to ask. By the third afternoon, her whispered demands became shouts; she untied my hands only briefly, when she required them. By dominating me, she managed to beat her own feelings into submission. A month later, from a hotel room somewhere in Central America, I watched a cable-news report of a hurricane blowing through Kauai, erasing everything that had happened there.
There's a subcategory in the field of breakup-sex studies: the study of sex that is not incidental to breakups but actually produces them. My own case is textbook. A few years ago, as a freshman at a Southern California university where football is far more important than learning, I ran into the woman of my dreams. She was as smart as Richard Feyman, more beautiful than Mena Suvari, and (like me) a product of Orange County. We grasped each other immediately. Our relationship shed gravity like a monkey in a Mercury rocket. We played tennis and ran every day, we ate dinners at cheap joints in South-Central and drove to Westwood for coffee. We talked about books and movies and dedicating our lives to the poor. And we did it all—in the course of three weeks—in near-perfect chastity; there was much handholding and hugging and kissing, but not much else. Being young—by which I mean naive—I still labored under the Catholic-school-inspired myth of sexless women and the men who prey—not pray—upon them. I was a damn fool. And one night, in my dorm room, with my roommate gone for the weekend, my foolishness provoked a crisis. We confessed our undying love. We were soul mates, we said. We knew we had found perfect love and companionship. We were funny and smart and beautiful, we acknowledged, and we had hearts. We began to look so powerfully into each other's eyes that the only natural thing was to screw. We pressed our naked selves together in ways that seemed to violate every law of kinesiology. And then I stopped. I told her, "I don't want to ruin this relationship by making you do something you don't want to do." I can still recall looking into her face, illuminated by the moon hanging low outside my dorm window, her features blank, the eyes glassy. She nodded. We dressed. And she left. The next morning, she told me we were finished. There were no hysterics, just apologies. I learned later that on that very same day, she got drunk, took off her clothes and danced on the table at a fraternity house. With the eyes of a slightly older man, I figure she needed someone to re-establish her beauty and had found a roomful of anonymous someones; you could say, as I do, that I was to blame: I had rejected her at a moment of rare vulnerability. I ran into her a year later at the center of campus. Leaves fell around us like yellow stars. She was kind and warm and suggested that we might awaken the dormant relationship. I responded like a man made of pine. I stared blankly. My eyes glazed over. I nodded. And then I walked away in silence. I thought then that I was enjoying a kind of revenge. I now know that my real victim was me.
I am the luckiest man in the world! I drag on my cigarette, exhale, and then let the tongue of the half-naked brunette on my left explore my mouth. Then, while I can still taste her berry-flavored lip-gloss, I turn to my right and give my current girlfriend a kiss. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
"What a lucky fucker!" The exclamation floats from somewhere out on the smoking patio of the strip club. It doesn't fully register in my sex-mad mind, though, as I watch the girls lean in to take a turn with each other. Both women have one hand on the other's breast and one on my thigh.