She liked the sex, she wrote. But that wasn’t her sole motivation for writing.
Zora’s first note to me was succinct. She was just dropping a line to say that she was glad to find my blog. She enjoyed reading about the sex, especially as she wasn’t having any. But more, she was drawn into the descriptions of my divorce, as she was also going through one.
The divorce was unexpected, and it left her feeling cast off into the wilderness.
She had parted ways with her husband of nine years and moved into a new apartment. She was switching jobs. At the moment, she was wrangling with lawyers to reclaim her maiden name.
As disruptive as all that could be, she wrote, applying for your own name was the worst. It could really wrek havoc with one’s identity.
But anyway, she concluded, she enjoyed the blog. And um, yeah, the sex was great.
I sipped my bourbon and reread the note.
Zora and I seemed to have some things in common. We were each in the raw early stages of our respective divorces. We each found our lives upturned by the rash acts of our former spouses.
She had raised the subject of sex and here too, I heard a familiar tone. True, her separation had left her parched for sex, whereas mine had plunged me headlong into the churning deep end. But we were each faced with the challenge of finding our sexuality after marriage.
We also shared affection for complete sentences.
And so we began a correspondence. We checked in on one another, sharing updates and making jokes about the mundane realities of righting the upheavals of our new lives.
Along the way, she discussed her hesitations about dating.
Zora had not dated in the year or so since her marriage ended. It had been so long, she wrote, that she lacked confidence that she could do it at all.
Well, I proposed, why not ask me on a date?
She pointed out that I live in New York, and she lived on the west coast. Was I proposing to fly out?
Sadly, that was not an option, I replied. But we both have web cams. So why not meet online? We had never seen one other prior to this, not even trading photos, so a cam date would be a novel advance on our instant messaging.
She had never done that before, but she liked the idea.
Just to add a sexual edge, I proposed that we meet nude.
She had never done that before, but she liked the idea.
The truth is, I did not have much experience with cyberdating, either. I was committed to my weekly online dates with Madeline. But beyond acting as an instrument to that relationship, my camera generally sat unused atop my computer.
Much as I liked my correspondence with Zora, I had some reservations about revving up the cams.
Frankly, I felt one online girlfriend was enough. I loved Madeline, and relaxed in our time together online, but it was often plenty frustrating to be so involved with someone so geographically distant.
On the night of my first face-to-face date with Zora, I put the kids to bed and combed my hair. At the appointed hour, I poured a bourbon, cranked up the camera and loosened my clothes.
My instant message pinged.
Zora: Are you there?
Jefferson: Yes. Happy first date.
Zora: And to you. Okay, let me see if I can get this camera up.
Jefferson: Okay, I’ll work my magic as well.
I switched on my camera. My face appeared washed out against my black t-shirt, so I pulled the shirt off and tossed it aside.
Zora’s camera popped up. I saw the sun setting over a body of water.
Jefferson: Am I looking at a postcard?
Zora: No, you are looking at the view from my window. Beyond that church spire is a park. Beyond that, the Pacific.
Jefferson: Beyond that, Asia, if my New Yorker’s map of the world is accurate.
For a while, we chatted as I watched the sunset from her window. She finished a glass of wine and went for another.
She was nervous about our date.
That was fine. I could talk to her sunset for as long as she liked.
In time, she turned the cam in her direction. Zora sat behind a laptop, her bare shoulders appearing above the monitor. She was pale, with dark hair and eyes behind dark-framed glasses.
Just as I thought. She was very cute. Funny what you can tell about a person from some well-crafted sentences.
Jefferson: You have nice posture—which I suppose I might have surmised from your writing.
Zora: Hah, it only looks that way because of the angle. It’s nice to meet you. Or something. You're blonder than I thought.
Jefferson: I'm pretty damn blonde.
Zora: That always seems unnatural, somehow. Not meaning any offense, of course.
Jefferson: Unnatural? Only my hairdresser knows for sure.
Zora: That reminds me of my involuntary response to a college boyfriend: "You really ARE a redhead!!" For some reason, I was surprised. Just for a second.
Jefferson: By the red headedness of the redhead?
Zora: Well, yeah. Usually pubic hair is at least somewhat darker or less bright. Or so I thought! Oh ho, the innocence of youth!
Zora: Funny the things you find yourself thinking after a sexual drought of over a year.
Jefferson: Oh yes, sexual deprivation does wonders for the research of one’s memory.
Zora: Hey, you takes what you can gets.
Zora finished her wine and found a beer in the refrigerator. She opened a window and turned up the ambient music of Sigur Ros on her stereo.
I freshened my drink.
When we settled in again, she was topless. Her breasts were full, with a pale hint of nipples barely visible on camera.
Jefferson: Hi, naked lady.
Zora: Do you prefer the scenic view of the outdoors?
Jefferson: I enjoy the scenic view of you, thanks.
Zora: I'm trying so hard not to make the obvious joke about purple mountains majesty.
Zora: Though I guess I just did.
Jefferson: Go ahead, give in. I’ll respond with something risqué about Old Faithful, something about spelunking
Zora: Fair enough.
Jefferson: Show me your nude body, naked woman.
Zora: l love the thoughtful look on your face. Are you going to reciprocate?
Jefferson: I missed the last question?
Zora: Coy. I said, are you going to reciprocate?
Jefferson: Oh, you want me to stand and shimmy?
Zora: Yes, please. I'll show you mine, etc., etc.
Jefferson: All right, for you.
I lowered my boxers and stood for a moment, bringing my body partially into the frame.
Zora: Now, wait a second.
Jefferson: Did you garner a peek?
Zora: Not a peek at all! Such a tease.
Jefferson: You want more?
Zora: I didn't get anything. Two frames—I may ask for my money back!
I gave her a longer view. I threw in a slow dance.
Zora: Very nice. Much better! The dance especially.
Jefferson: This white boy has rhythm.
Zora: I'll have to take your word for it. Couldn't quite pick up on the rhythm. Here’s one last view of the sunset before the blinds go down . . .
Jefferson: Thanks. Such a lovely sunset . . . Did you lower your blinds because you were about to lower your drawers for me?
Zora: Mostly because I tend not to be naked this near open windows after dark. I try to keep at least five feet away. After that, I figure anyone trying that hard deserves it. Half shameless, half prudish, that's me.
Zora stood away from the camera. Slowly, she lowered her dark panties. She turned to give me views of her pussy and her ass, dancing slightly.
She sat at the laptop.
My cock banged on the bottom of my desk.
Jefferson: Wow, you are easy on the eyes all the way down. I even saw rhythm when you danced.
Zora: You may have a better connection than I have.
Jefferson: Or you may have better rhythm than I have.
Zora: The truth is, now that I'm single again, I'm thinking about how much more confident I used to be about my looks, back when I didn't even need the confidence.
Jefferson: I know what you mean. After my break up, I had to discover that I am actually damn hot.
Zora: I didn't give two thoughts to it, back when I was hotter, because I lack the gene to interpret come-ons.
Zora: I did, however, just realize that I'm making a bit of a puddle on the seat. You can take credit for that.
Jefferson: I’ll take full credit, thank you—and more where that came from.
Zora: It's certainly welcome.
Jefferson: Now: don't you just feel the continent between us?
Zora: I do. I've never had a nude chat date before. I've gotta take my firsts where I can get them!
Jefferson: I’m glad to be your first.
Zora: I'm enjoying sharing the first with you.
Jefferson: Well, if we were on the same side of the continent, we'd knock out the firsts, but quick.
Zora: I've got a few firsts still unplumbed, surely. Not as many as some, but more than others. I have a feeling I'd like your style in general. I've never approached anyone before prompted by purely sexual urges first and foremost, that's something.
Zora: My only multiple encounter was not quite as. . . thorough as yours are.
Zora: Though I was the one that the other four were seducing, which was pretty nice on the ego.
Jefferson: Four? Mercy!
Zora: I'm still not sure if it was a woman’s head or a man's head between my legs. They both had the same haircut.
Zora: Four, but just rolling around, primarily. I was the only one they managed to get naked.
Zora: But yes, you're the first person I've approached prompted primarily by sexual urges.
Jefferson: I am honored—and safely distant. But my God, you may be bi and not know.
Zora: Yes, a bit of distance helps ease things a bit.
Zora: I am bi, just not very lucky with the ladies. I don't tend to make the first move, which usually by default means I end up with men.
Zora: I've actually been wondering if the bisexuality I was once so sure of is still lurking in here. After being monogamous with a man for nine years, it’s easy to forget about all of that.
Zora: Then there's the phobic view of bisexuality as a college fling, etc., etc.
Zora: I just sort of thought of myself as "him-sexual" after I got married.
Zora: And since, as I said, I never had much luck with the ladies . . .
Jefferson: And you a cute gal with glasses in the Northwest, land o'lezzies.
Zora: I know! I shouldn't have much trouble!
Zora: But you know, I'm as skeptical of "bi-curious" as the next girl. And I feel like I haven't qualified to pick up on the butch dykes.
Zora: A nice thought, though.
Jefferson: Well, you are mighty femme. They can pick you up.
Zora: I'm femmer than I used to be, true.
Zora: My favorite prior characterization of me from a roommate was “pixie-butch auto mechanic.” Not quite as much of any of those any more.
Jefferson: No, not so many—though that type fared well during World War II.
Jefferson: Oh, you altered the lighting. That is much more dramatic!
Zora: Hmmm. A tad bit more atmospheric.
Jefferson: Yep, nice touch. It brings out your clavicles.
Zora: And more highlights for the tits!
Jefferson: Yes! Such lovely pink nipples. Are they hard from arousal, or is that the natural state of things?
Zora: Why, thank you. A little of both. They're pale, but they're all I've got. They're usually rather pokey. They don't fit a standard clamp when they're fully erect.
Jefferson: Clamp? Did you say “clamp?”
Zora: Yes, though clothespins work better I find.
Zora: Also something I haven't done in quite a while.
Jefferson: Clothespins are reliable, yes.
Zora: And there's always more of them! You can't lose all of your clothespins. I gather you're a fan? I know you're fond of ropes.
Jefferson: Yes ma'am. These days, I can't look at a clothesline without getting aroused.
Zora: I prefer being practical about these things, after all.
Zora: You know, it's terrible, but I recently saw a poster for Amnesty International , a big close-up of someone's hands tied behind his back. It's a symbol of human rights violations and all that. So I can't help but feel a bit guilty when it arouses me.
Zora: I feel shallow when I think "Gosh, that jute rope would be just awful! Why didn't they tie him with something nice and soft?"
Jefferson: It's true, abusers of human rights care so little about erotic bondage.
Zora: I guess that's for the best. I mean, there has to be a way to draw the line.
Zora: So here's a question for you—are you as democratic as you seem, regarding your sluttiness? Do you turn anyone down? I mean that in the most respectful way, of course. Mostly just curious.
Jefferson: Well, I do try to be as big a slut as I can. I suppose I am selective without being snobbish.
Jefferson: Because I like sex and touch, and I like making people feel good.
Zora: Nice. Admirable, yet sensible.
Jefferson: I guess I should hit the hay soon.
Jefferson: So go ahead and ask.
Zora: It is late over there. Three times zones are a lot.
Zora: Ask what?
Jefferson: You were going to ask if I would mind watching you masturbate.
Zora: Oh, is that what I was going to ask? I forgot!
Jefferson: I know, it seemed to slip your mind.
Zora: What're you offering as incentive?
Zora: And how do you know I haven't been all along?
Zora: Maybe I type really well with one hand.
Jefferson: Oh my word, you haven't, have you?
Jefferson: I thought not.
Zora: I don't type really well with one hand.
Jefferson: All things with practice. But you are mighty aroused.
Zora: You seem a bit more fidgety than you were before, yourself.
Jefferson: Perhaps I am . . . Now, I see you are fondling your breasts. And if I know human sexual response, that is arousing.
Zora: It's not all I'm doing.
Jefferson: Egad, are you masturbating?
Zora: Slowly. I can still carry on a conversation. Just like they say about aerobic exercise.
Jefferson: It's all in the breathing?
Zora: I was thinking more along the lines of the goal of being able to carry on conversation at the same time.
Jefferson: Your nipples can take abuse better than mine, it seems.
Zora: Aw, that's a shame. perhaps we should work on toughening them up.
Zora: I love how the angle of the lens makes my tits look huge with a little pencil neck on top.
Jefferson: Nice how you fondle your ass as you touch yourself.
Jefferson: Do you often stand to jerk off?
Zora: No, rarely. And actually, I was holding on to the chair. Not that I have anything against some ass fondling. The standing is really for your benefit.
Zora: Would you like to see my new vibrator?
Jefferson: Yes, I think I would.
Zora: I'm rather proud of it.
Jefferson: It looks chic and practical.
Zora: I threw away my magic wand because it was, err, giving out. Plus I had some emotional attachments.
Zora: Your writing has helped me break this new one in.
Zora: The writing overall gets me in a very sexy way.
Zora: I think the way you convey your passion. I can really feel the hunger between you and your partners.
Jefferson: Yeah, we do get worked up . . . It's real, you know. I try to write it as I think we each feel it.
Zora: That's probably the biggest turn on for me. I can go for any sort of style, as long as I can feel the passion in the other person. So, it's a huge turn-on to know I'm making someone else hot.
Jefferson: I know the feeling. And you are making me hot.
Zora: Which may be why I like your descriptions of fucking someone's face. I've been thinking about that one rather frequently.
Jefferson: You've had me turned on for some time tonight.
Zora: I'm glad to hear it's mutual.
Zora: Damn, I think I need new batteries! Forty-five bucks and it takes triple A's.
Jefferson: Where are your eyes? What are you looking at?
Zora: I'm looking at you.
Jefferson: And I am watching you.
Zora: Are you just sitting there?
Jefferson: I am more than just sitting here.
Jefferson: Are you thinking of me fucking your face?
Zora: Actually, I'm having a bit of trouble transcending the actuality.
Zora: If you were to fuck my face, how would you like to do it? Me kneeling in front of you? Or lying back on the bed with you standing over me?
Jefferson: You are so right about the actuality. That thing of us, here and now, looking at one another, doing this. But let’s think about what we can’t do now.
Jefferson: Let's try it with you kneeling.
Jefferson: I get better leverage.
Jefferson: I’d let you suck me, getting used to it.
Jefferson: Let yourself taste me, see how deep feels comfortable.
Jefferson: I’d soon hold you close, mouth full of cock, for a time, to see if you can take it.
Jefferson: And when you were gasping, and drooling, I would know you were there, and ready.
Jefferson: I’d take your cheeks in my palms.
Jefferson: My fingers firm on your jaw line.
Jefferson: And I’d take your mouth.
Jefferson: My thought would be to pump your skull until I was ready to cum on your lovely tits.
Jefferson: But the way you are fingering your clit, now, as I watch,
Jefferson: I might pull out and toss you over my bed,
Jefferson: To use your pussy,
Jefferson: My fingers jammed into your mouth, like a place marker,
Jefferson: My free fist holding your hair,
Jefferson: Rocking you, imaging your spine moving as I direct your body.
Zora: That . . . would do nicely.
Jefferson: You would give yourself to me?
Zora: I would. I would demand that. The idea of your hands on my face is a huge turn-on for some reason.
Jefferson: I would keep your face smothered at times,
Jefferson: Play with your breath,
Jefferson: Cover your eyes,
Jefferson: Kiss your lips,
Jefferson: Let your face know me.
Zora: Lots of kissing, please.
Jefferson: I love kissing.
Jefferson: Walk with me, I’ll kiss you everywhere.
Zora: I know. Me, too.
Zora: I have an unfair advantage. I already have an idea of what you like.
Jefferson: This is true—but not such a bad thing.
Zora: Though I suppose you're getting an idea of what I like as well.
Jefferson: I am, and learning so much on our first visual date.
Zora: A long one, though. Three hours! I hadn't realized how late it had gotten.
Jefferson: I just did. Mercy.
Zora: You're very cute with your thoughtful face on.
Jefferson: Thanks. Y'all gonna make me blush.
Zora: Gee whiz. So I can masturbate in front of you, but telling you that you're cute makes you blush.
Jefferson: Look at you. You have me figured out so quick.
Jefferson: Now, I think I am going to take my hard cock and my visual memory to bed, where I will punish my pillows and fuck you all by myself.
Zora: So perhaps that means it is time to say good night.
Jefferson: Yes, I think so. Think of this as you enjoy the rest of your evening.
Zora: I will. In fact, I'm going to bed myself.
Zora: So we'll both be thinking of it at the same time.
Jefferson: Our first mutual masturbation.
Zora: Nice. Only the thousands of miles to separate us.
Zora: Which is not so much if the minds are in the same place.
Jefferson: True, though I am a big fan of flesh in proximity.
Zora: It's tomorrow where you are. Go to bed.
Jefferson: Okay. Good night, naked lady.
Zora: You too. Sleep tight.
That night, I went to bed and jerked off, nice and slow, never minding the time. My eyes were filled with the images of this woman I liked before I had seen her, now nude and masturbating in my memory.
I put it out of my mind the distance between us, and the thought that we would likely never meet in person.
Zora and I continued to trade notes and instant messages, teasing one another about our new intimacy as cybersex partners. We joshed our way through a hackneyed secretary fantasy, enhanced by her references to Gregg’s shorthand.
It was fun and games with someone I really liked. I tried to keep that in perspective—it was just fun and games.
Still, my heart jumped with I opened an email that Zora had titled “dictation?” and found her self-portrait inside.