Okay, so I have your attention, right? Good.
There’s this thing about the Jamaican. I may have inadvertently given the impression that he is a boozy wastrel who flirts with anything ambulatory and doesn’t do much of anything at all.
Well, the flirting part is certainly true, yet the Jamaican is, in point of fact, gainfully employed. He is not just employed. He employs others. He stands at the helm of a giant money manufacturing machine that in the breakaway republic of Brooklyn we call a bar.
The bar is on my street. And the Jamaican is my friend. So the nights when two or three am has dialed around and I have firmly established that sleep is not coming I get up, toss on some clothes, and go hang out with him.
The other morning at around three I’m sitting at the bar drinking free beer—it’s hard to get a leg up with the Jamaican in the beer buying stakes—and he says to me, apropos of absolutely nothing while he’s bustling about cleaning glasses and whatnot; “God I woke up the other day and I was so fucking horny. Know what I mean?” and then, without waiting for me to reply, he said. “Of course you don’t know what I mean, you’re a woman.” And he went on to describe in more detail than I felt was absolutely necessary, his palliative measures, which I think, although I’m not sure, involved a long bike ride.
Anyway, if he had stuck around for my answer, I would have told him that was entirely acquainted with the feeling he was describing. I think about sex a lot more than I ever did when I was married. Not to put it too plainly, but yes, I have sex on the brain.
Yes, I do. On the brain. I wish it were not the case, because it takes up a lot of space and I am only gifted with moderate intelligence so don’t have a lot to spare. Yet, there it is.
The thing about being married is this. You feel guilty about sex. You should be having sex more often than you are. You slink by in the sex stakes. You persuade yourself that’s okay.
Married sex is like you’re an animal who lives at the zoo. You’re an animal that lives at the zoo and your food comes to you once or twice a day. Ergo, you do not have to think about it. Food comes, that’s it.
Animals who live in the wild however have a complete different attitude to food. They have to forage or hunt. They have to focus.
So, I haven’t told the Jamaican this, because he never waited for my reply but I basically wake up every single freaking day feeling the way that he does.
This is how it plays out.
If you travel on the N train, I have checked you out. I have assessed your ass and the cut of your jeans. I have judged your footwear, your haircut, the place you buy your clothes, the amount of time you spend at the gym. I have ascertained whether I want to sleep with you based your relative desirability to all of the other people in the car. I have rated you on a scale of one to ten.
I am ruthless. That’s how it goes. That’s my morning routine. I do the same in midtown, where I work. (And let me tell you there are a lot of men who could be kicking their game a little harder than is presently the case. I blame the suburbs.)
It was not always this way. There was a time when I was laboring under the illusion that I was happily married that I didn’t pay much attention to men at all. Even when they paid attention to me.
There have been occasions when my job requires me to travel. And on those occasions I have met people who wanted to have sex with me. They made their intentions quite plain. I always said no. I was happy to say no. Even though it would have been extremely easy to do it and never have been found out, all that way from home.
Which is kind of ironic now that I think about it, because one of the things my husband didn’t feel was beneath him to say when he was heading out the door was that he hadn’t loved me for years, and that he had only stayed with me because he didn’t want to hurt me. I think five years was the number he came up with for putting in his fairly solid impersonation of a happily married man. So by my count, those men I said no to, I could just have easily said yes to. I’d be just as divorced as I am now.
Which is, like, a major bummer. The Kenyan airline pilot in Nairobi? Shit. The half-Ethiopian half-Italian civil engineer in northern Ethiopia? Have you any idea how beautiful that combination of genes is? The theoretical physicist in the Caribbean with the crazy ideas about how the universe is going to end? I don’t even want to think about it.
Lust is a puzzling feeling because in evolutionary terms, my opportunities to contribute to the gene pool have clearly passed. There is no biological use whatsoever for it in the post menopausal life, and I will write about that one day when shoehorning the words night sweats and dating into the same sentence doesn’t make me break down and cry.
Yet it persists. Maybe it’s just a hangover, a trick our body plays. I certainly don’t feel 52, whatever that’s supposed to feel like. Inside my head I’m 38. It’s only when I look in the mirror that I see my mother.
So I’m in a really boring meeting the other day, it’s dragging on for decades and the Jamaican texts me about something or other, asks how I’m doing. I say I’m so bored I can hardly speak.
“Think dirty,” he texts back. “That’s what I do. Time goes right by.”
Way ahead of you, buddy. Done and dusted.