For months I’d been singing a song from my college singing repertoire. It was a very romantic French song. It was about a hummingbird that flies far and wide to find a flower. With one sip of the nectar it dies of ecstasy, just as, says the lover, I will die if you kiss me. I had this notion that I might woo someone with it. My wife never cared much for my singing; not because I was bad, but because I was so intense about it. I had studied music in college and had worked night and day to be as good as I could be. My wife, on the other hand, had worked very little at all and yet still had a better voice than me. I had prepared for this opportunity for who knows how long. I didn’t just want to turn her on. I wanted her to fall for me, and I felt that the song was my best chance.
Julie answered the door, and I noticed that she had changed her clothes. She was now wearing black leggings and a short, loose, t-shirt. She had let her long black hair down from a ponytail and it covered part of her face. I was nervous. I was fairly certain that this evening was leading to sex, and I’d never once had sex with another woman besides my wife, and I wasn’t all that great at it.
She offered me a drink, but my alcoholic tendencies hadn’t developed, yet. I declined, I was worried about sexual performance. Alcohol had not been my friend in the past. The show “House” was playing on the television.
“So, what movie do you want to watch,” she asked. I get free pay-per-view because of all my Hilton points.”
We clicked around for a few minutes until I found one of my favorite movies at the time: Borat. I’d talked the movie up to her on one of our previous nights out. She said that she was looking forward to it.
Our mood together was different than it had been. We were both subdued. Perhaps she was hoping I would make a move, just as I was hoping she would make a move. I still wasn’t 100% that she wanted this. I suspected that at some point I might have to do something. I wasn’t sure if I even had any moves.
The movie I chose might have been a very bad choice for a night like this if it were consequential at all. We laid together on the bed and chuckled at it for a few minutes. I don’t remember who made the move, but it wasn’t long before her leg was over mine, her hand on my chest, and her head nestled into my neck. Then I made my movie. I rocked her over on top of me and she turned on like a light. She sighed and pressed hard up against me. We kissed. It was wet and very warm. Every woman’s lips feels different. Her lips were soft against mind but she pressed them so tightly on my. Our tongues touched and the sense of electricity surged through us.
I began to be aware, though, that I was not aroused despite the heat of our foreplay. She reached down to feel me and rubbed me for a few seconds. She was older than me by perhaps 10 years, though she didn’t look it. Certainly she had been with older men who’s response times were slower. I’d never been impotent before and it didn’t seem possible that it could happen with this woman.
But it did. It didn’t stop us. We removed each other’s clothes. She had no breasts to be seen, but her nipples were swollen. We made out and touched and kiss each other’s bodies passionately. I gave her oracle sex until she screamed and squeezed my head between her thighs hard enough to hurt, but I didn’t mind. Never had a woman responded this way to me. Borat played on, but we didn’t notice.
Afterward, she shut off the television and the light. Her naked body was so hot against mine that I could hardly bear it. We whispered to each other in the dark.
“When I first saw you in Jason’s lecture, I though, Damn, that guy is hot. I never thought anything would happen, though, and I wasn’t looking for anything,” she said.
“That’s funny,” I said, “when I saw you from behind, I thought Mmm…that girl is FINE,” except I didn’t whisper that part. I said it with the bravado of rappers I’d heard, and she liked it. For the months that followed, she would request that I say it again, but I could never get it quite right.
And then I sang. My singing was almost a whisper. I sang right into her ear as she lay on up close to me.
Sur ta lèvre pure, ô ma bien-aimée,
Telle aussi mon âme eut voulu mourir,
Du premier baiser qui l’a parfumée.
Even so, my darling, on your pure lips
my soul and senses would have wished to die
on contact with that first full-fragrant kiss.
She wept on my bare chest and kissed the tears of me.
“I never thought this could happen, Daniel. I never thought I would meet someone like you,” she whispered. I can still hear her voice in my ear. Quiet, tremulous, and full of wonder.
And I felt the same way. My heart was full in a way that it had not been for a very long time. And she got it. She saw the passionate side of me and became wrapped up in it. This is really what I wanted. I wanted love and romance. But this could never have happened without the changes that my growing illness were causing.
I have never been comfortable sleeping naked, but she insisted. She said that if I should feel so inclined, to wake her up and we could finish what we started. And although there was a moment like that, I knew that I would not survive the application of a condom so I let it go.
Her body so hot up against mine as she spooned me from behind, she occasionally sighing my name. I could not sleep. I lay awake for hours until my stomach hurt. I have a very low tolerance for nausea so I tip-toed to the bathroom and tried to gag myself hoping for some relief, but I found none.
When she woke up at 7 am, I was moaning. She was concerned. She urged me to go to the doctor. She knew one within walking distant, so we got dressed and hiked up the hilly streets to a clinic. I knew I wasn’t really sick, just miserable. At some point we decided that whatever I had must have been the cause of my impotence, but I knew differently. There was some part of me that did not feel ok about this. Perhaps it was the same part that made me feel uncomfortable with sex before marriage with my wife, Ashley. A moral code deeply embedded in me that bipolar could not yet penetrate.
I did not have my insurance card with me, so I knew I had to call my wife. I was too nauseous to worry about the consequences. Julie grabbed my phone and asked for the number. She would do it for me.
“Hi, I’m a friend of Daniel’s. I’m with him at the doctor’s office. He is sick, nothing serious, and called me up to see if I knew a doctor. I have family here. He’s a really good doctor.”
She got the number and that was that. Ashley said very little to me about it when I got home. She did not consciously suspect anything.
The doctor gave me some pills and told me to take them and go to bed. The brisk walk to the office had made me feel a little better, but I was still in need of relief. She took me back to her hotel room. I took the pills, and told me to take a shower. She joined me.
She bathed me, and it was very sensual. I became aroused and she took me into her mouth. I didn’t know how bad the women in my past including Ashley were at this until that moment. I wonder how she knew how. Did she learn it from watching porn? I wondered.
She dried me off and guided me to the bed while she dried her hair with a towel in front of a full length mirror. I looked at the back of her and marveled. I had never seen such a beautiful woman naked with my bare eyes. I was asleep in a minute or two.
When I woke up, Jason and Julie were whispering.
“What happened?” he whispered. “Is he sick? How bad?”
“I think he’s going to be ok,” she murmured.
“Well how did he get here?”
She explained how I knew she might know of a doctor and had called me up for help, and that she had let me crash at her hotel because it was closer.
“Hey guys,” I croaked. “I think I’m well enough to get back to my own room.”
“You don’t’ have to,” she said.
But I wanted to. I thought it must look really weird for me to be here in her bed, and naked. My hotel was really just across the street. I walked there, undressed, and got into bed. I don’t know how long I slept, but I woke up to to a quiet knocking at my door.
I opened it to find Jason and Julie, my nausea was gone.
“Hey there, sleepyhead,” said Jason with his best mommy bedside voice. “We come bearing gifts.”
He unpacked to paper bags. I could smell something warm and yummy.
“Julie dragged me all the way across town to the most marvelous ice cream shop.”
“We found the most delicious ice cream!” she continued. “It doesn’t sound good, but it is. It is avocado ice cream made scratch at the store. The owner said he wanted to get rid of it because it wasn’t selling, and would we like the rest! ”
“Can you believe that?” Jason said with such enthusiasm.
“So we went out to Union Square and passed out ice cream to all of the homeless people. It was so awesome. We didn’t tell them what flavor it was. Some of those guys can be really picky.”
Then I remembered that after lunch one day, she had swiped an extra lunch box from the conference and taken it with her to give away. Julie had a very endearing thing that she did over the course of the week. She would gather up leftovers every where we ate and hand them out to a homeless person as soon as we hit the streets.
The first guy we found was sitting up against a skyscraper enjoying the shade from an unusually warm San Fran afternoon. She squatted down to his eye level and said, “Excuse me, sir. Would you like some food?”
His eyes had been closed up till this point. He opened them and said gruffly, “What is it?”
“I don’t do vegetarian!”
I would never have believed that a person living on the streets could turn down free food, and so I wasnt’ surprised when Julie said that they might be picky about the ice cream.
“Aaaaaand,” said Jason. “We got you the most delicious chicken noodle soup from a Jewish delicatessen.”
“Taste the ice cream. It will make you feel better.”
And it did. It was so creamy. The avocado flavor was very light and the cream was not too sweet.
As they were leaving me, “To get my rest,” Julie caught my eye for a private moment. She gave me a look of loving pity and tilted her head for just a second. I smiled, and that would be the last time I saw her face for a year.
On our plane trip back, I told Tareq what had happened, minus the impotence.
“That’s what I’m talkin’ about! Man! She hot. That girl hot. Wow. I’m proud of you. You needed that.”
Tareq had been trying to loosen me up since he knew me. This, in his mind, was the first real progress I’d made.
The next week, he and I were eating sandwiches on the patio of a Panera Bread. As we talked over the conference, I began to cry. I hadn’t felt this way since my college girlfriend broke up with me. It was a deep, dull, aching pain.
“What wrong with you?” he asked, alarmed. Alarmed in a way that showed that he might feel both uncomfortable and judgmental.
“It’s Julie. I’m feeling a little heartbroken. She and I can’t really be anymore than a one time thing.”
“So? That what it supposed to be. You fuck, and you move on.”
“I’m not made that way. I fuck and I fall in love.”
“No, no, no, Daniel. You are not in love with this ABC. It will go away. You’ll feel better soon. I promise.”
That night, when my wife was asleep and snoring, I thought about my life. I was not aware of the growing delusion that allowed me to behave the way I did. Here I was, next to a woman who loved me and who bore and cared for our children, and my mind was slowly turning her into the bad guy. Soon, I would hate her.