Tuesday, April 7, 2009
M: Can we write about this? Can you write about this?
S: Not sure if I’m ready to tackle this subject yet … What if your mother reads it?
M: I’m more worried about our students. Former and future. But there seems to be an expectation. People want to know, I think.
S: OK. Let’s stop being coy about the topic. It’s sex. What’s it like sleeping with a younger man? an older woman? When does the younger man stop being “younger man” and just become “my husband”? When does the older woman stop being a cougar (if she ever was)?
M: OK. Let’s stop asking questions. Let’s make declarative statements. Your friends told you I could be a fling. No reason to take me seriously. Just have fun. Enjoy the boy toy.
S: Funny thing is, that never was my style.
M: I remember you had cigarettes on your breath. That seemed older to me. I’d never kissed a woman who smoked. Fewer women of my generation did, so kissing you and tasting the cigarettes on your breath seemed, I don’t know, anachronistic and mysterious. It was like time travel, and I'd stepped into a world both familiar and strange. I also remember you kept saying my skin was soft. I didn’t like you saying that. Another thing I remember: There was no Mrs. Robinson-type seduction. You weren’t a cougar; I wasn’t a trembling fawn.
S: Your skin WAS soft! It was such young skin. And you’re right about the Mrs. Robinson thing. But she knew it was just a power trip when she undid those stockings of hers. I didn’t intend to seduce you. At least I didn’t think so.
M: Here’s an idea that might help. Writing about sex, I think, is like writing horror. Concentrate on a few concrete details and what’s going on inside the character. Then let the reader’s imagination go to work.
S: The only way I could go with you to a movie or cook with you in my apartment or brush my fingertips against the back of your neck was to believe none of it would last. That was less about imagining you as a boy toy than making sure you, a younger man, wouldn’t hurt me the way a young man can hurt an older woman. If I tell myself it’s just a fling, then I won’t be so devastated when he confirms it.
But that changed one afternoon when we met for coffee in the cafeteria at the office. No one knew we were seeing each other. You were so much younger, who could have suspected? But on the way back to our desks, alone in the elevator, you kissed me a long lovers’ kiss. And I did feel powerful. There’s power in the secret pleasure of the unexpected. Also, in the unexpected pleasure of the secret.