From Page 20:
Mostly you had to go to clubs or find out through the grapevine* about house parties and try to wrangle an invite. It always cost a premium to go and you almost always had to go into the situation blind, knowing virtually nothing about your potential sexual partners. Now, people profile their lives, preferences, fantasies, endorsements from other encounters, and have huge libraries of pictures. All free and instant. I think of the saying, “Be careful what you ask for.” It’s one thing to say, “I wish …”, but it’s altogether different making a wish when you absolutely know you’re going to get exactly what you ask for. I realize that formulating what I want is going to take some very specific thinking on my part.
“Maybe I should review our ad and make some changes.” I suggest.
Richard just shrugs his okay. He is being scrupulously* accommodating to me and almost melodramatic in his deference to anything I ask. Like me, he doesn’t want our little experiment to go south but, more than that, he wants it to evolve into more than an experiment.
“Do you want coffee?” he asks as he heads for the kitchen.
“Sure,” I answer absently. Richard has rolled out the red carpet so I can go anywhere my fantasies take me and I have no idea where I want to go. It’s a moment of epiphany.
When I first married, Laz insisted open marriage was only authentic union. At twenty-one, I was excited and titillated. He wanted me to explore my sexuality with other people! I’d have the security of marriage and complete freedom. I had virtually no sex or relationship experiences of my own so I was anxious to discover myself and live out my fantasies on the cutting edge.
It wasn’t long before I found out ‘Open’ meant he’d have freedom, not me. I would sleep with other people, but he’d choose them, choreograph the experience, and then critique my performance. When I did share a fantasy, he told it to any and everyone in public settings. I learned to subjugate what I wanted and parrot back to him what he wanted.
From the beginning, trying to build a relationship with Richard was difficult. Everything about us was different and there were so many outside pressures bearing down on us. It caused us to withdraw from everyone but each other. We met through swinging but started with a new experiment- ‘monogamy’. Shell-shock of previous failures hindered us from even talking or asking each other questions about what we wanted. Now that the conversation has surfaced, I need to answer with the same open heart as he asked. I have a chance to share my innermost desires and fantasies and I’m stunned to realize I don’t know. I spent the prime of my life forgetting I had my own desires and became conditioned to define my life by what I don’t want.
grapevine - informal communication
scrupulous – Conscientious, exact, painstaking, meticulous… if taken to extremes becomes scrupulosity; obsessive concern with one's own sins & compulsive devotion. Groundless fear of sinning & compulsive doubts. (I kinda made that up btw- Richard hasn’t been diagnosed as being mentally ill)
Homage to teachers: If I were still depending on a paycheck from a school I would tell everyone under eighteen to put this book down right now. But since I have nothing to lose I retain the optimistic hope my book will be adopted as High School reading by either a visionary in education or by a bored, beleaguered, or unqualified teacher who has to come up with something that will cover all the bases administration wants you to teach so they can cover their own asses when the standardized test scores come out. Some of the ways I’ve adapted this for academic use is bigger print and shorter chapters. I’ve also thrown in some big words with a vocabulary guide and will throw out ideas for other themed ideas that will fit nicely into D.E.A.R. time. (For non-teachers and people who never went to school, that stands for “Drop Everything And Read”. It’s a segment of time administration requires all teachers to promote - even math teachers who really resent it because they fucking hate reading which is why they became math teachers in the first place. I know this because my husband, Richard, was a math teacher.) When someone points out that this is a book about sex that’s when you explain to them that even the most hardcore non-reader will crack open a book called, “Sex Warrior” and you should get a raise for being so creative. You don’t need to point out that you won’t be the only one getting a raise…I’ve been asked by many people what “Twisted Passage” is actually about and how a book like “Sex Warrior” could possibly be a sequel.
From Page 69:
Miles unfold before us with the radio keeping us company. I’m fighting being annoyed because I didn’t want to do this now. I think of advice a friend gave me. She’d said “If you love your husband, you owe it to him to listen to and try to understand his desires.” I was fine with that but she went on. “Listening doesn't mean you have to do something you don't feel comfortable with. It's normal for people not to want the same things, or like the same ideas.” That doesn’t exactly describe this situation. I’m not swinging against my will. I’m just not in the mood. I’m anxious, though, about something else she said. “By doing something you’re not comfortable with, you’re abusing yourself and showing a lack of self-respect. He can't respect you if you don't respect yourself. You can't love someone you don't respect, so you’ll do more harm to your relationship by saying yes, than no.” There’s that word again. I sigh deeply thinking about it.
My eyes fill up with farms, rolling grassy hills dotted with cows, and periodic spans of wooded areas but in my head I’m a first year teacher again. Richard’s daughter, who was attending the High School, dropped by to visit my out of control classroom. Later, she’d told Richard, “Daddy you need to tell her to yell at those kids or they’ll run over her!” I never did become a hard-line teacher. I tried but it didn’t work for me. Kids have finely tuned ‘bullshit detectors’*. Try to be unauthentic with them and you’ll quickly find out what shark chum* feels like. I finally did get control of my class but I had to do it as myself and base my philosophy on what I was. I had to go against some really good advice to do it but it worked for me. If I can’t say ‘no’ I need to make ‘yes’ work for me. Each of us, in the end, has to be who we really are.
I remind myself of something I read advising against the word, ‘No’. It got my attention because I can stick to that. The writer claimed most folks weren’t willing to give it to a mate. “It” was to give in to each other's desires. He advised when a partner desires emotional presence or sex, be available even if you’re tired, shut down, busy, or angry. His idea was that when you become a couple you also commit to be each other's source for sexual and emotional fulfillment rang true for me. When you become a couple, it’s not just about you anymore.
I’ve let myself become paranoid because of my former manipulative relationship. That demon has been inserting itself into my thoughts and feelings, gaining strength by making me afraid of my weakness. Will past failure always be a specter* looming in my foreground? I shake off that poisonous thought. It’s a tremendous fight to come out in newness after living within such a dysfunctional relationship. What I’m trying to do right now is the equivalent of rising from the dead, renewing every sense that indeed life can go on, and things can begin 'new'.
Bullshit detector –The feeling one gets upon sensing an obvious lie or absurdity.
shark chum – Bait (ineffective teacher) that’s ground up & scattered on the water in an effort to create a feeding frenzy among sharks (students) in which, as they fight to annihilate the prey aka bait they lose their minds, uncontrollably attacking anything in their way - thrashing around, their snouts elevating, backs arching, etc. – A scene uncannily similar to my first several classrooms.
Specter – something intangible, usually a spirit, that haunts you