Two weeks to the day after our car accident, I got my beloved teacher’s daughter into my twin bed. She looked golden and supple in the streetlamp’s glow, which was refracted by my cheap, gauzy curtains. The pasteboard walls couldn’t contain my moanings as I flopped atop her like a salmon recently pulled on deck. She was but my third partner; I’d barely received my learner’s permit. Though she had much more experience than me, she still responded patiently, with pursed lips.
“I love you!” I said. “I love love love love you!”
“I love you, too!” she said.
This halted my naïve machinations.
“Did you say you love me?” I said.
She looked as surprised as I did when she said, “Yes!”
I shot up and started bouncing over her on the bed.
“We’re in love!” I said. “Whoooo! Love love love love!”
In retrospect, which is all I have at this point, she looked like she knew that she’d either chosen badly or spoken wrongly, or both. And she was right. In those days, any young woman in “love” with me could expect several phone calls a day and weekly “surprise” visits at her work or her school. It wasn’t stalking, because the visits stopped as soon as I got dumped. It was just annoying. A pesty boyfriend rarely gets laid.
In this case, we managed to consummate our love a few more times before the edifice collapsed.
Certain factors were working against us. For one, she lived in a two-story townhouse with the ghost of her father, a Chicago police officer who’d been killed on duty. His portrait hung over the mantle and
"I feel my father’s presence all the time," she said.
sneered its disapproval whenever I walked into the room. Also in the house, though no less powerful, were her schoolmarm mother and her older brother, also a Chicago police officer, who regarded me as he would a rancid Danish on the break table. The only words he ever spoke to me occurred one day as he headed out the door to his shift.
“Don’t you touch her, toughie,” he said.
For someone who prided himself on writing stories about the “authentic” Chicago, I sure crumbled fast when Chicago authentically presented itself to me.
“You bet,” I said.
That afternoon, she and I lay in her girlhood bedroom, our traditional five minutes of lovemaking behind us.
“I feel my father’s presence all the time,” she said.
Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t understand this woman at all. Also, I didn’t believe in the supernatural. But she was so hot.
The other mitigating circumstance, and this one is a little more complicated to explain, was my involvement in Chicago’s improv scene. If that scene had been a hierarchy, I would have been a serf, and if it had been an ecosystem, a worm. But regardless of what vaguely appropriate metaphor I use, I had low status, and I hoped to rise.
At the time, one of the top performers, a man later to gain renown as the “Coked-Up Werewolf” on Late Night With Conan O’Brien, had also once been the great love of my paranormal girlfriend’s teenage years. They were still dear friends and confidantes. Meanwhile, I developed a soul-sickening crush on a woman in the improv troupe, who also occasionally dallied with The Coked-Up Werewolf. One day, I had my girlfriend drive me to my crush’s house. The fact that I was about to cheat hadn’t even occurred to me.
That night, as I pawed in frustration at my crush, she told me a semi-debilitating secret about the Coked-Up Werewolf, which I then relayed to my girlfriend the next day, who immediately told the Coked-Up Werewolf, and then it got back to my crush, who then berated me on the phone. I called my girlfriend to complete the pentagon. She said she’d have to call me back because she had to go to her line-dancing class.
“You’re taking line-dancing?” I said. “That’s so stupid!”
“Yeah?” she said. “Well I think improv is stupid!”
“Improv is not stupid!” I said.
But, of course, improv is kind of stupid, particularly the way I practiced it. And thus arrived the first relationship north of the Mason-Dixon Line ever to end in an argument over line-dancing. The next few times I called, her mother answered, always saying that she couldn’t come to the phone. Finally, I got her.
“I can’t talk,” she said.
“But…” I said.
“I can’t!” she said. “I can’t!”
The next day, I took the bus to her house. I could see the light on in her room upstairs. Her mother answered the door.
This had the potential of being the hottest sex of my life.
“She’s not home right now,” said her mother.
“Are you sure?” I said.
“I’ll tell her you were by.”
Two years later, I ran into her on the El. A punishing heat wave of lust filled the car, evaporating everyone else immediately. Not only was she single, but she also had her own apartment. In my neighborhood.
“You have to come over soon,” I said.
“I will,” she said. “Soon.”
That meant the next evening. By then, I also had my own apartment. We sat on my black leather couch that I’d pulled out of the alley.
“What we had was so beautiful,” I said.
“We loved each other!” she said. “Do you know how rare that is?”
I did. We swooped onto each other, two years older, more experienced, and more desperately single than ever. Our bodies throbbed with years of untapped passion. This had the potential of being the hottest sex of my life.
“I’ve always wanted to do something with fruit,” I said.
“Um,” she said. “Okay.”
From experience, I can tell you that nothing kills a moment of wild sexual abandon like one of the parties involved getting up, going into the kitchen, peeling an orange, cutting it into quarters, and placing it in a bowl on the coffee table for the enjoyment of all. We tried passing the orange quarters between our mouths. Then we tried rubbing them on various parts of each other’s bodies. That didn’t work either. After about fifteen minutes, she stood up and said she had to go.
“I understand,” I said.
More years passed, and then it was 2002 and we were both participating in a Chicago book fair. She’d become an author of popular books about the supernatural, and I’d become whatever I’d become. I saw that she would be signing at her publisher’s booth, and went to say hello. She was holding her little daughter on her lap, and she still looked good. It was so nice to see her. I’ve rarely wished anyone more success and happiness. She seemed glad to see me as well. Neither of us mentioned the oranges. n°
Bad Sex With Neal Pollack appears monthly.