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First, Last & Security

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 PERSONAL ESSAYS






I haven’t cheated since my divorce eight years ago. Not once. I don’t cheat anymore,
on principle. Still, for over a decade, my main response to strife was to find
someone doe-eyed and comforting to fornicate with, Clinton-like, standing up
in a hallway somewhere.

   For some, cheating is not cheating unless a penis or tongue
enters an orifice. For others, naming your shower massage Baryshnikov is cause
for alarm. For me, cheating remains a nebulous term, its gradations
as infinite as those in a color spectrum. The primary constant is my
uncanny knack for fooling around with the marginally famous. To know me is to
wind up
on your local cable channel. If you have sex with me, expect to see yourself
on a billboard in Japan selling mouthwash.


Warm-up Cheating

He was an actor. We were in the West Village rehearsing for scene-study class,
working the beats in a six-floor walkup for a scene from Our Town, moment
by moment, word by word. The blowjob came as a surprise to both of us. There
was a shy little kiss in the scene, and he was so serious about it I suddenly
had to really kiss him. Then, God knows why, I needed to make him come. In the
other room, my new boyfriend was working on his music. I could hear the synthesizer
as I quietly studied my scene partner’s
flat stomach and proceeded to blow him for a good forty-five seconds until he
came, and I
heard him whisper something about Jesus.

promotion

   It was the first
time I officially cheated. I didn’t really like my new boyfriend: I thought he
was
a shallow egomaniac, and I wasn’t really that attracted to him. My instinct to
blow
someone
else, while he was standing fifteen feet away, should have been a clue: you
should
not pursue
this relationship any further
. But I had yet to learn how to avoid relationships
with
people I didn’t like. I was nineteen, a bit clueless, my family had fallen apart,
and I couldn’t resist the new boyfriend’s enthusiasm.We ended up living together
for two years.

   Today, it’s all just an embarrassing memory — the boyfriend,
not the blowjob — and the whole sordid business would have been forgotten,
if not for the fact that my scene-study partner turned out to be the only actor
from our class who “made it”. Sitcoms, plays, you name it. He began with a beer
commercial that was so successful he became the spokesman. It ran for years
and years.

   The first time I saw the ad — now bear with me, because
it sounds too stupid to be true — I was, for the first time, dancing topless.
My career had been limited to bikini bars until that point. I was prowling around
on stage in Nyack, New York, trying to muster the nerve to expose my breasts,
and
whose
face pops up right there on the giant-screen T.V.? I stopped dead in my pumps,
and as if I had some sort of stripper Tourette’s syndrome, pointed my finger
and blurted, “I blew that guy six years ago!”


Real Cheating

Does a blowjob qualify as cheating anyway? I think it does, even though I didn’t
feel guilty or emotional in the slightest. That comes with real cheating, which
involves intercourse, eye contact, and affection. The first time I really cheated,
a good seven years after The Blowjob, I was married. It was about two years into
our relationship and we were still spinning in a world of drugs, alcohol and
an exorbitant amount of expectation from life. My husband was a bit older, I
was still a bit wide-eyed, and he was freaking out about not marrying a rich
girl. In response to an argument, he said, “Go get another boyfriend”. This was
his canned response when faced with doubts about me. I didn’t particularly want
anyone else. But, like a dope, I said, “Okay, I will."

As in any badly written soap opera, I met a race-car driver in West Orange, New Jersey.

   

I was learning to drive a stick shift. So, as in any badly written soap opera,
I met a race-car driver in West Orange, New Jersey. “You want to learn to drive
a Lotus?” he asked me. This guy was really cute; who was I to say no?
The Lotus was yellow and flat and went so fast it froze my brain. The first
time I kissed him, I cried because he didn’t smell like my husband. But after
that, just like with cigarettes, after the initial queasiness, it got easier.

   We zoomed around New Jersey for months, while my relationship with my husband seemed to be on hold. I wasn’t mature enough yet to form the sentence, “Hey, we got problems, let’s work it out.” Instead
I had sex with a racecar driver all over his shop where he serviced foreign sports
cars. We did it in Porsches, in Ferraris, in cheap motels near the Lincoln Tunnel.
Then my husband apologized for pushing me away, I apologized for hurting his
feelings, and it was life as usual for at least a year.

   The race car driver, as it turns out, was an Elite model during
his youth. One of his jobs was to stand in for an actor on a poster for a sci-fi
outer space flick. (Just think of the biggest sci-fi movie ever made. Now picture
the blond guy holding the girl in his arms. That’s him.) Since the poster is
now a collector’s item, I occasionally see it around.


Cheating Lite

The last time I cheated was also a first for me, because I had never kissed
a girl before. Is kissing a girl cheating? I think it is, but for me it was
milder, unemotional, Cheating Lite. This happened right before the marriage
ended. I was in my last year of school, living in California, go-go dancing
three or four times a month, just enough to pay tuition. I heard through the
stripper grapevine that dancers where making one or two grand a night in Japan.
My husband, a slave to money, suggested that I go. I, a travel whore, thought
it was a good idea. I went for six weeks and made many, many, many thousands
of dollars. And I behaved.

   It was easy. I was surrounded by beautiful men, and I remained
unfazed. I was there to work, to build a nest egg. Then, out of left field,
one of the dancers got a crush on me. She was Australian. One night, when I
was onstage she came up to me and said,” You look like the first girl I ever
kissed.” She
was sleek and stunning and persistent. Turns out she was also a Penthouse centerfold.
Miss June, I think.

   One evening toward the end of my trip, I
broke my no-drinking-at-work rule and got hammered on Bloody Marys.
I stumbled
to the bathroom — the
marble bathroom with the heated toilets and individually
wrapped towelettes (you gotta love Tokyo) — and just as I stepped
in, the centerfold pushed me through the door.

   And so began my no-one-will-believe-me, right-out-of-Penthouse
Forum,
real-life half hour with a bombshell in a red vinyl corset.
Yes, she did really throw me against the sink. Yes, we really did make out
like crazy.
We were exactly the same height; we fit together like Legos. Her eyes were
emerald green, her hair a light auburn, her body naturally perfect. She
was porno perfect.
She bit my neck, she pulled my hair, she licked my chest. I felt a little
lost.

And so went my last infidelity. I haven’t seen her since. I’m sure she’ll turn up in a video somewhere.

   And then, in my stupor, the thought came: “I’m not a lesbian,
but if I’m going
to do it, it’s going to be with a Penthouse Pet, damn it all to hell!!” So
I threw her against the wall, undid her complicated laced-up, hooked-up slut
gear and started doing stuff to her. Everything felt overly pliable — small
and boneless, lacking in density, sort of like Gumby. Her mouth, head and hands
were tiny. I had liked skinny guys all my life, but this was different; she felt
like a toy.

   I was too busy watching myself do her to really feel much. I felt creative, like I was directing a great scene in my life. She also seemed aware of how good it looked. There were mirrors; we watched ourselves watch each other. Somehow, I felt detached from the experience. It didn’t feel like a threat to my marriage, I wasn’t
comparing one man to another, which now I know was just my excuse. I no longer
needed a quick fix from a guy, but I still needed to express the right to explore
unknown territory, whether I was married or not. My husband, however, did not
appreciate my score.

   And so went my last infidelity. I haven’t seen her since. I’m
sure she’ll turn up in a video somewhere. Actually, she did call me once from
Australia to invite me to visit. She said we could travel around, work together
in some clubs, go to the beach. We were on the phone for hours on her dime, it
sort of surprised me. Maybe I’m not as bad a lesbian as I thought.


No Cheating

Now I’m in a committed relationship. It’s been a year and a half, and we’re working at it pretty hard. I’ve granted myself just one man, and though it’s deeply fulfilling and real in a way that is new and exciting, it is exhausting. I get to wondering if I have some sort of sexual A.D.D., all this focusing on one man makes me anxious and disoriented, like I swallowed a hummingbird. I have to keep my hands busy, I need to chew wads of gum while he talks so I can listen to him, I have to keep some part of my body active so the rest of me can concentrate.

Since cheating isn’t an issue anymore, I have to work on the actual problems we have.

    Since cheating isn’t an issue anymore, I have to work on the actual problems
we have. Which in many ways is harder than picking up someone in a karaoke bar
after a bad weekend with your boyfriend. Now, if it doesn’t work out with my
boyfriend, it will be because it didn’t work out, not because I went out on
him.

   By the way, the first time I went to a karaoke bar was the
first time I ever picked up a guy in a bar. You know the No. 1 show on the WB?
You know the star of that show with the amazing teeth and supernatural qualities?
That’s him. I still have his number, though I’ve never called it. I even transferred
it to my new daytimer. I have no intention of calling him ever, but I can’t
seem to throw it out.

   When will I be able to throw it out? I need more security
in my relationship, which will be hard to achieve as long as I keep some part
of myself unavailable. But I like that part of myself. It no longer needs to
cheat, but it still likes to watch the people she cheated with on TV.
 

 

©2004 Ondine Galsworth and Nerve.com


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ondine Galsworth is working on a novel about her experiences as a go-go dancer and a book about her new addiction, the rodeo. A New York native, she now lives in New Jersey.