When Steve Case, of America Online, swallows Gerald Levin’s big, old relic, Time Warner, in one passionate gulp, it gets me so excited that I start thinking about how stick-in-the-mud Steve might actually be fun in bed provided you could get him to utter a few of those words that AOL bans. I have just reclined on my couch to imagine how I’d get him to that point when I hear Max’s key in the lock.
It’s one of those awkward marital moments: Should I pull up my pants and risk getting caught with them half-down? Continue as if he weren’t there? Or, roll over invitingly and, like Gerald Levin, dangle the promise of an entertainment empire before my pursuer’s content-hungry eyes? I throw Max a look that says, “My body is a marketplace of ideas and a library of star vehicles,” but Max doesn’t bite.
His cheeks are flushed only because it’s cold out. He unburdens himself of some rather dashing Polar outerwear and starts leafing through junk mail as if that’s what every lens-peeping documentary-maker does when he comes home to find his wife in flagrante on the couch.
If you have never greeted a professional voyeur while stirring your finger around in your vagina and whimpering, you might not grasp exactly how annoying it is to be ignored when you do. I want to ask, What can possibly be of greater interest than this? Some Nan Goldin art opening? A new print of Nanook of the North?
Having studied Max carefully for a few years, however, I am pretty sure that a debate about what a jerk he’s being is not the swiftest route to erotic justice. “If you’re looking for the letter from Paris, it’s on the counter near the halogen lamp,” I say. “To keep it from getting lost,” I add innocently, lest anyone think I would hold it to the light.
Max opens the envelope, stuffs its contents into his pocket without looking at them, then, sitting beside me, picks up my hand, licks my damp finger and lies about the letter: “It’s a check.”
And I’m Cameron Diaz, in her blonde phase, I tell myself. He kneels in front of me, grips my thighs and peers into my darkness as if I was the viewfinder through which an earthshaking event was unfolding like his wife screwing an imaginary telecommunications mogul. But he doesn’t press my “on” button to film it.
“Want to be Steve Case?” I offer. “I’ll be Gerald Levin. We can merge.”
He pulses his jaw muscle and sort of smiles in that mealy-mouthed hipster fashion pioneered by Sean Penn. Beside me again, he takes the back of my neck in his cold, strong hand and presses his icy cheek against mine. He doesn’t say anything crude like, “I’m tired of competing with every idiot whose power reminds you of Daddy’s.” He just breathes intimate, but alienated. It’s an Antonioni moment, and as close to disapproval as he allows himself to get.
“You liked playing Donald Trump,” I persist. “Admit it.”
“You have almost porcelain nostrils,” he observes, evading my question. I gather that if we’re going to act out a fantasy today, it’s going to be the one he calls “reality”: i.e. him and me. As he pulls my dangling slacks off, then unbuttons my shirt, I assure him that I’m perfectly capable of having sex straight up, provided it’s with someone who doesn’t make me feel like he’d rather be off somewhere with Frederick Wiseman, winning a lifetime achievement award for filming lunatics.
He kisses me attentively, accepting my offer: his scenario, on my terms.
His hair smells warm, like Wheatena. A fascinating face. A body the size I like. He presses the small of my back with urgency, not tyranny. He neither leads nor follows. His kiss is tender on my breast. He’s smooth; the skin slides over his sex magically. I feel us like two massive media conglomerates moving towards union in a two-step at once deliberate and exhilarating, and I stop caring what he may have done with some fawning Belgian heiress in Paris to scare up a few bucks for his precious movie when, if he’d been shooting digital like I told him, he’d be done by now and under budget. I swear I don’t know who’s on top in this coupling, only that, like Steve and Gerald, we are making each other richer, more amazing creatures in ways the Senate can’t easily approve. Perhaps for good reason? But I can’t think about that now, it feels too fine.
“You are so perfect,” I purr. We look lovingly into each others’ eyes. For what we’d each call real.
When he’s gone, I’ll pick up with Steve where I left off.