Bad Sex With Neal Pollack

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When we last left our hero, in the spring of 1997, he’d been recovering from the end of a relationship that had gone on far too long. He’d suffered the emotional confusion endemic to privileged urbanites in their late twenties, and his sex life had withered. To revive himself, our hero decided that he’d travel to Guatemala. There, he concluded, he’d have so much sex that he’d soon have to replace the box of thirty-six condoms that he’d packed in his Dopp kit. It remains a mystery as to why our hero decided that he could repair his broken sex life in Guatemala, a country coming out of decades of bloody civil war, where ninety percent of the population is indigenous Mayan. In retrospect, escaping to a place with more of a reputation for available sex, like, say, France, Brazil, or Thailand, would have served him much better than traveling to a country whose main industries are political repression and unbearable sadness. He probably would have done okay in Australia or New Zealand, too. But our hero, as always, was a massive tool.
   As we begin today’s story, our hero, in Guatemala for ten days, has been virtually held hostage by an insane old lady who fed him thin gruel, made him sleep on a board and forced him to attend church with her every day. He’s also gotten feverishly drunk by consuming an entire bottle of homemade fruit alcohol, after which he shattered the empty bottle on the side of a bus, screamed madly at everyone on the bus (including the other students in his language institute) and broke down in the office of the institute’s director, sobbing and saying that he had no friends and his girlfriend broke up with him. Our hero needs some R&R.

Thank you, third-person narrative introduction. I’ll take it from here. As you can tell, I’d undertaken an exploitative self-guided “adventure vacation,” for which I’ll never forgive myself. Armed with a too-large backpack, I sought the best possible time for the cheapest possible price. To this end, after my nervous breakdown, I signed up for a four-day boat cruise down the Rio Dulce, a lovely tropical waterway eliding the north and south of the country, favored by downscale yachtspeople and Christian missionaries. This would be my big treat for the vacation, and also, I was certain, a sexual bonanza.
   Sleeping aboard the boat under the stars! Dinners of fresh fish caught from the river and its associated lakes! Solitude and hot sun! Priapic memories are made of this!
   When I arrived at the boat dock after a long and uncomfortable bus ride that seemed glamorous at the time, I met the rest of my sailing party. The captain possessed skin of leather, a grappling-hook scar that extended from his belly button to above his nipples, a seemingly laid-back attitude and an astonishing resemblance to a character in a Jimmy Buffett song. His wife, an unbelievably stacked twenty-two-year-old law student from Guatemala City, came along to torture me. The captain hired two crew members: a chubby cook named Miguel and a ropy-looking first mate whose name I can’t recall. Then there was my fellow passenger.
   The following description may seem a bit derisive, but regular readers of this column know by now that I’m attracted to women, period. I don’t really care about things such as complexion, weight, breast size, skin color, quality of breath, or the other usual factors that distinguish one person’s taste from another. So

She and I, on the boat, were heading for our own Blue Lagoon.

just because I say that my fellow passenger had crooked teeth, a lousy haircut, a mousy complexion, unshaven legs and hairy armpits doesn’t mean I didn’t want to have sex with her. I did, from the first moment. She and I, on the boat, were heading for our own Blue Lagoon.
   That first night down the Rio Dulce we talked and talked and decided we hated each other. The previous summer, she’d worked on an organic farm in Northern California, while I’d worked as a reporter/researcher at The New Republic. The gap seemed unbreachable. She insisted that we listen to her Edie Brickell and New Bohemians album, which, sadly, was better than anything I’d brought along. We lay on the deck and looked at the stars.
   “They’re so beautiful,” I said.
   My hand gently brushed her arm.
   “No,” she said.
   “No?” I said. “Whaddya mean, no? Look where we are!”
   “No,” she said.
   The next morning, Miguel made us a delicious meal of eggs, fresh fish, tomatoes and avocado, which was actually what he made for us every meal, but it was still good.
   “I can’t believe it’s only you two,” the captain said. “Last week I had these four Danish girls who just wouldn’t stop partying. They stayed up all night dancing, and I had to keep docking to buy them more wine. During the day, they just lay around with their tops off. Those girls would do anything.”
   To my left, my travel companion thumbed through her copy of Alice Walker’s Possessing the Secret of Joy.
   I thought, God must hate me very much.

The next day, we docked at one of the many estancias — built, I’m sure, by slave labor — that dot the shores of the Rio Dulce. Some of the more exclusive spots have their own hot springs. The captain dropped me and my travel companion off at one such place and told us he’d be back in three hours. She and I hiked fifteen minutes into the forest and came upon a scene from myth. Great winged tropical birds soared above layers of dripping pre-Cambrian vine. Cragged cliffs

I was faced with the opportunity for a private steaming mudbath fuck.

surrounded us from three directions. The air sang with insects and humidity. From two of the cliffs tumbled delicious, cool, frothy waterfalls that emptied into two separate pools, connected by a strip of sulfurous mud.
   I developed a plan. After a few minutes, I would make my move, and she and I would overcome our differences in a bout of private, soaking passion. She charged into the water and up the bank and began smearing mud on her chest and face. I knew this would happen.
   Two hours later, as we each got drenched under separate falls, we still hadn’t touched. I waded over to her.
   “This is like a dream,” I said.
   “Yes,” she said. “Perfect.”
   “Perfect,” I said.
   “Perfect,” she said.
   I moved to kiss her.
   “No,” she said.
   Goddamn it, woman! I thought, but didn’t say. What the hell?
   Two possible answers came to mind then, and they come to mind now. First, she was quite possibly gay. But in that situation, she could have conceded a point. If I’d been in the same situation with another young man, I probably would have flipped for an afternoon.
   Second, she wasn’t attracted to me. Again, a strong possibility, but such concerns must be put aside when faced with the opportunity for a private steaming mudbath fuck. I walked many paces ahead of her on the way back to the boat.
   That night, we sat up with Miguel and the first mate, chatting.
   “Let’s play ‘I Never!'” she said.
   Fuck you, I thought.
   When it came my turn, I said, “I never had lunch with Newt Gingrich,” which, unfortunately, wasn’t true.
   The statement repulsed her and cast a cloud over the rest of the game. We spent two more days on the boat. I hated both days and the people on board, myself most of all. By the time the trip ended I’d added one more “I Never” to my repertoire.
   I never had sex in Guatemala.  

Bad Sex With Neal Pollack appears monthly.

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©2004 Neal Pollack and
Neal Pollack is the author of The Neal Pollack Anthology Of American Literature, Beneath The Axis Of Evil, and Never Mind the Pollacks: A Rock and Roll Novel. For a daily dose of his satirical brilliance, visit his website, He lives in Austin, Texas.