Nerve Classics

True Stories: Animal Instinct

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I’m on my way to my first orgasm as a divorcée.

I’m drunk. So this might be a little nonsequitorial.

I’m in bed in the middle of the day with a Screwdriver in one hand and this hologram of a golden retriever between my legs. I have to visualize a dog, because all my fantasies for the last six years have involved my husband. Being molested. By a woman with dark hair; by a man; by my husband’s best friend; by a bull; by a thug named Dr. Meat, or Dr. Meat’s friend, as I watch through a one-way mirror.

I’m still excited by my ex.

Who isn’t exactly my ex, as he hasn’t left yet. I can’t get him out of my house. Our house.

I can’t get him out of my fantasies.

So I said, send in the dogs.

His expression is blank; he’s just a dog. I’ve had fantasy dogs before, but only as part of complicated, highly populated, sordid tableaus. I’ve never been alone with one. I feel like I should say something – like we’re on a first date. He sticks out his penis: a skinny, pink-and-brown roll. I’ve never actually seen a dog dick, but I saw a pig dick once in a bestiality video that turned my stomach. (I like only the idea of animal husbandry.) In the video, the pig dick was a corkscrew, like the tail. These two flappers, wearing their cute flapper clothes, were trying to get it inside them. They also tried to rape a pony.

I miss married sex. The between-humans kind. I especially love post-baby married sex. The no frills, quickie, I-know-you-you-know-me-let’s-get-it-on-’n-get-off kind — plain, in the bed or on the bathmat, gazing into eyes you’ve seen the color of a million times before.

I’m still drunk. I know because everything seems like a good idea.

I miss the imaginary large, punishing male member we’d yak away about every time we had sex, and in between sex. I can’t remember if that was ever my thing at all, or if my taste simply melded into his. Dicks were my husband’s arena. In everything else — finances, child-rearing, where we went — I was the boss. He’ll get all our made-up dicks in the divorce settlement.

I’m still drunk. I know because everything seems like a good idea. Like jumping out of bed to write this stuff down. Like actually sending it off to my editor as I go along – what must he be thinking? Back to the fantasy. I decide I’m babysitting for the neighbors; it’s their dog. We’re on the couch. For veracity’s sake, we should be doing it doggie style, but my favorite way is missionary, and it’s my fantasy, so that’s how we’re doing it, Goldie and me. There’s the will-my-clitoris-properly-connect-with-his-furry-torso problem, and I certainly don’t want him to kiss me. He’s poised between my naked, straight-up legs, waiting for me to decide what he will do. He half-knows that he’s a chimera, and the only life he has is the three-minute one I’m about to give him. He’s grateful for any role.

Some fantasy figures, like my Dr. Meat, are so tough and sexy they must have any number of people calling on them; in fact, they’re probably overbooked and have to turn some fantasizers down. That must be why a person’s mind goes blank on occasion, mid-act. But this dog has no name, no personality, intelligence, vengeance. He doesn’t even do “slavish” well. He just sits there, waiting for me to tell him what to be. I am disgusted. I expect my made-up creatures to take on characteristics I never gave them, to make our time together about something other than what I like. Goldie takes a tentative lap between my legs, then looks up to see my reaction. I feel like hitting him, and then I do.

I hear a noise outside — could be a car pulling in the driveway — and I don’t care. I have to have it. I’m on the other side of going-to-come, the slide downhill you can’t stop. At the last possible moment, I realize I don’t have to make the dog dick small just so it won’t remind me of my husband. I can make it any kind of dick I want. It could be fat. It could be murderous, so big it would make me bleed to death. I switch the dog to a bull. But do bulls actually have big dicks?

I know they have big shoulders, but still . . .

The question interrupts my orgasm, which comes quick and hard, like a game won in just one move. In one last, weak wave, my vodka-and-orange-juice rolls over me and evaporates: I am sober. This is not my most shining moment. I feel like I just took advantage of a retarded person. I lie still and listen. No car door has creaked open; no boots crunch snow. That sound must have been someone using my driveway to turn around and head in the opposite direction.

When I came with my husband, the reasons I shouldn’t be his wife would temporarily evaporate. Our insanities — his paranoia, my meanness, our conjoined inability to let anything drop — canceled each other out, and when we lay there panting, it was like this lovely sanity was raining down. We would look at each other then, suddenly prim and good and even wonderful, in a satisfied-librarian kind of way. It was like we’d just alphabetized the whole world, or at least our whole world.

Maybe everyone turns into their opposite when they come. My first time, I was babysitting. I took a copy of Princess Daisy — which belonged to my charge’s mother — to the mother’s
bed. She was going to be out all night. I was sick; I had a fever. My thoughts started melting at 102 degrees, and that’s how I was able to see myself — an underdeveloped goodie-goodie with a lisp — as a hand-down-the-pants type. I was sweating and reading about the two ladies on a yacht; one of them had long fingernails and told the other one to wear a garter belt. When I came, it was confusing and alluring and dangerous.

In my marriage, I thought I was in charge. Now my brain strains, trying to figure out if my husband somehow wrested the control away from me. I’ll admit it: My ears pricked at the sound of that car in the driveway. I wanted him to find me. Just like when I first learned to masturbate, the dog fantasy was transgressive. Now it feels regressive.

I miss my husband.

That kind of denial either makes you divorce someone or have sex with

In my mind, my transformation from married woman to divorcee occurred in the Planet Fitness parking lot, with Britney Spears and Sade and Justin Timberlake spilling from a loudspeaker. Some background: over the years, I’d worn my husband down. I called him a coward to his face. He thought I might be having fun without him. In the end, he didn’t feel secure with me leaving the house, even to go to the gym. He insisted on dropping me off and picking me up.
I said I’d be half an hour.

It’s cold in New Hampshire in February. I stood out outside the gym, waiting for him, with the post-workout sweat on my face turning to ice. (I would have felt uncomfortable going back inside, watching people lift weights and fake-ski when I wasn’t moving at all. I would have felt like the fully dressed guys standing around at the nude beach my stepmother took me to when I was twelve.).

I waited forty minutes. He said it couldn’t have been more than two. He called me crazy.

That kind of utter denial either makes you divorce someone or have sex with him. I used to do one; now I choose the other. I choose the stupid golden retriever, who would never leave me waiting at two degrees Farenheit, plus wind chill, and then tell me I didn’t wait.

I would never think like this after having sex with my husband. I wouldn’t analyze a single thing. Instead, I’d hop up, sleepy and invigorated, ready to work or clean the house
or prove my love by breaking into song and dance while he pretended to be asleep.

But I’m all alone; no one’s pretending. The skinny-dicked dog-bull slinks away into nothing, and so do I.

This article originally appeared in Nerve’s 2004 Personal Essays.