Monday, March 30, 2009

Trading Up

Lolita opened her laptop. “Look how small and shiny it is!” she beamed. “I love my new toy. It makes me say ‘Eeeee!’”

“Viviane says it’s really great,” I nodded. “Wow, such a tiny keyboard.”

“I like it. It’s perfect for my six-year-old hands.” She playfully typed in imitation of Chico Marx at a piano. I pulled up a chair as she walked me through the laptop’s features.

I needed a new computer for my children and Lolita offered to stop by to let me get a look at the one Viviane had recommended for her. Shelby was also looking for sales and thinking I should consider buying an Acer. After playing with Lolita’s new toy for a while, we found ourselves talking about red flags.

“You really need to pay attention to red flags.” Lolita adopted her educator’s tone. “They’re very important. If you pay attention to red flags, you avoid a lot of bad stuff.”

“I know, I know. I mean, it’s not like I’m not cognizant of red flags. It’s just my instinct to, you know, try to make people happy. So if the red flag is that a person is unhappy, or even irredeemably miserable, I feel like since I’m generally pretty happy, it’s my duty to try to . . .”

“Fix them.” Lolita finished my sentence. She shook her head. “Not a good instinct.”

“Don’t I know it.” I clucked my tongue. “I mean, I’d like to think I learned that lesson in my marriage. You can’t take on the miseries of others in an effort to make them better. You can’t be responsible for the happiness of others.”

“You can only be a nice person and be careful. That’s why paying attention to red flags is smart.”

“Lesson learned.” I grimaced. “Again. This reminds me of a conversation I had with Charmeine, back when you and I were both dating her. You know, she’s a heavy bottom and she kind of took me under her wing as I was growing my abilities as a dom. We didn’t really play that way—I mean, I’m not even sure I was in her league for that . . .”

“Oh, you could’ve handled her,” Lolita laughed.

“Hmmm, maybe. We found our level. At any rate, we would have these long, rich conversations, and once she told me something like, the reason a top should be really selective in choosing partners for heavy play is that you want to be sure you trust the person. She said that if a bottom got angry, she could, you know, go to the police claiming abuse or some such. Charmeine pointed out that a consensual bruising doesn’t necessarily look different than a nonconsensual one.”

“That’s right.” Lolita nodded. “But that’s not just true of heavy play. Trust is really important.”

“Right. I was mulling that over recently and thought it’s true of my sex life as well. I mean, anyone can get upset and make outrageous claims or do things later regretted. But if someone is so motivated by misery, or obsession, or gossip, or drama, then geez . . . I really shouldn’t be messing with such things.”

Lolita pursed her lips. “How many years have I been telling you that?”

“I suppose I’ve had my ears cleaned. So, in considering partners, I’m going to keep in mind Madeline’s refrain: be nice. If someone isn’t nice, I don’t want anything to do with that person.”

“Hey, I always say ‘play nice.’”

“That you do. You and Madeline are a philosophical matched set.” I thought for a moment. “You know, I was talking to Madeline the other day, and I was telling her about some blog drama. You know a great thing about Madeline? She doesn’t care about sex blogs. She thinks they are mostly pretty ridiculous, which, of course, they are. She reads the ones that are well written, but she is never up to speed on blog drama because, you know, she has a life.”

Lolita nodded, listening.

“I don’t usually bother her with such things, because we talk about things like, well, life. So anyway, I had to give the backstory for the blog drama for her to understand what I was trying to explain. So she listened quietly, and then she said, ‘May I ask you a question? Why do you bother with such people?’ I said, ‘Well, you know’ . . . and I realized I didn’t really have a good answer.”

“You want to fix people. That’s your answer.”

“Right. Well, and obviously, Madeline gets that. So she says, ‘Jefferson, you know some amazing people. You know Lolita.’”

“That was nice of her,” Lolita smiled. “Madeline is amazing.”

“You both are. I adore you, Lolita.” Lolita made a shy face and raised a finger to her lip. I grinned. “So anyway, Madeline goes on. ‘Who was that photographer we met in Williamsburg, with the new baby?’ And I said, ‘Harvey.’ She said, ‘Harvey. His work was great and he thinks you’re a genius. When was the last time you saw him?’ I said I hadn’t seen him since that day. She said, ‘You know that was two years ago.’”


“Right? So she goes on, listing a few of my friends she’s met, non-sex friends, and asking when I last saw them. And I realized that in some cases, it had been some time. Madeline was getting a little stern; I could hear it in her voice. Then she said this: you have wasted too much time on people who do not deserve your time.”

Lolita tapped a finger on the table. “Good for her. You needed to hear that.”

I nodded. “She was really giving it to me, too. She was breaking it down for me. People who call you names are not nice people, she said. People who blog mean things are not nice people. People who gossip and write stuff about you without asking you about it, or even telling you about it, are not nice people. Why would you waste time on them? You can totally trade up.’ And I was like, ‘Wow, that’s harsh, Madeline. People aren’t disposable.’”

“I don’t think that’s what she was saying,” Lolita interrupted. “It sounds like she was saying, you can be more selective.”

I tapped my forehead. “Yes. She explained, and yes, that was her point. She said, ‘If people are mean or disrespectful to you, you are perfectly within your rights to cut them off. You can do better.’ And I was, like, ‘Smart lady, where were you when I was getting married?’’

“You’re lucky you know Madeline,” Lolita smiled. “She’s smart and she’s nice.”

“Yes. Easy on the eyes, too.”

Lolita laughed. “She’s bee-yoo-tiful.”

I shrugged. “If you like that type.”

Monday, March 23, 2009


The Pixies

Gigantic. A big, big love.

I saw them live before I knew anything about them.


Adélaïde’s note was like many I’ve received. She was bored in her marriage and missed the exciting sex life she had once enjoyed. She related to the stories I had written about my long marriage lacking in intimacy. “My husband, too, is like this. Dull. It is more frustrating even because we have so many friends who like to party. I tell them I envy them.”

I offered her my condolences. As we corresponded, it became apparent that Adélaïde was fairly jaded. Everything seemed to bore her, she told me. “I hate to be so boring, always complaining,” she apologized. “Maybe it’s the summer, all the partying, so boring. I’ll be better when we get back to Los Angeles.”

“Los Angeles does have its excitements,” I wrote. “Are you currently on vacation?”

“No, not vacation, really. We always spend summer in the Riviera, ever since I was a girl. It’s too much partying, always partying. It makes me so tired and bored.”

Adélaïde’s colossal ennui aside, I understood her frustration. Even the fabulous can be unhappy, of course, and it sounded to me that she was perhaps wrongly cast in her jetset life. She wrote me with great frequency, suggesting that our notes offered a more interesting diversion than any she could find on the Riviera. After getting to know one another a bit, I suggested that we trade photographs. I sent her a pleasant shot of my face.

She responded with a portfolio bulging with nudes. “Thanks,” I wrote. “These look professionally done. But I’m confused: did you make these photographs or is this you in them?”

“Yes, those are me,” she replied. “Years ago when I was a model. I’m fat now, so lazy in summer.”

“You were a model?”

“Yes, runways when I was studying dance, just like every other young girl in Paris. I am a cliché, so boring. Now I’m a lawyer, like everyone else.”

I looked through the portfolio. Horizontal poses emphasized her long limbs. Black and white images contrasted tones across her rich, dark skin. Her thin body turned in simple yet challenging positions. Always, her face was still, utterly implacable.

Had we not been corresponding for some time, I might have suspected that I was being fooled. A runway model on the French Riviera discovered my blog and struck up a correspondence? A runway model bored in her marriage and stunning, in the way that French runway models may be?

She had certainly roused my curiosity, so I asked to know more about her life. She was born in Algeria, she said, and adopted as a baby by a Parisian couple. Her father was a surgeon and her mother a popular novelist. When she was in her teens, she met a much older man who introduced her to sex clubs and dungeons. She found she craved the kinks he introduced to her. “Sadly, he died,” she wrote. “Actually, I fear I killed him. So demanding, always wanting more making love. I think he died happy in my arms. So then I got married and went to law school and found your blog.”

“That’s an incredible story,” I replied. Truly, I wondered how credible all of this could be. Yet she seemed genuine and her story held up to follow up questions. And then, there was the portfolio.

“All I want is to find someone who does what you write about,” she wrote. “But everyone is so boring, and so I am boring.”

I asked the inevitable question. “Are you ever in New York?”

“Of course, we are there, it’s famous. We are required to go to a birthday party in the city soon, but it will be short and I will be with my husband. Can you come to Los Angeles?”

“I’m there now and then. But I don’t have the frequent flyer miles I imagine you have.”

“This is true, I could send you a ticket for free. I did that once. I met a man in London and flew him to Paris. We had a good affair. That was long ago.”

A former runway model on the Riviera was proposing to fly me to Los Angeles to have “a good affair.” I supposed that I could do that. We continued to correspond and, as summer ended, she prepared to return to Los Angeles via the birthday party in New York. She would be in Manhattan for about twenty-four hours. “I understand that we can’t meet on this trip,” I wrote. “If you can get away for coffee or drinks, drop me a line. It would be nice to meet my correspondent.” She gave me the name of her hotel, and I gave her the name of my neighborhood.

I thought of her on the morning after her party, knowing she’d be off to the airport that evening. I had no expectation of actually meeting her then, and assumed I would next hear from her once she was back in Los Angeles. I made coffee and sat to work.

Mid-morning, I checked my email. She had written at nine-thirty-three: “I can see you today.” At nine-forty-two, she wrote: “Are you there? Can you see me today?” Just after ten, she wrote; “I am coming to your neighborhood now. If I see you, good. If I don’t, there will be another time.” She mentioned a local landmark, a small plaza. She didn’t know that the plaza was currently under renovation and possibly inaccessible.

It was nearly eleven. “If you get this note, I am meeting you,” I typed quickly. “I’ll be in a navy jacket.” I hurried to put on shoes, grabbed my jacket and raced out the door.

“This is insane,” I thought, walking around the high plywood walls that shut of the construction in the plaza, wishing I had asked for her cell phone number. I looked along the crowded sidewalk, realizing that not only had I never seen Adélaïde in person, I had only seen her photographed nude. Then, turning a corner, I caught a glimpse of her. She was walking away, but there was no question in my mind that it was her. Her hips swayed with studied nonchalance with the landing of each graceful step, her straight hair moving side to side along the length of her back. She stood in bold relief from the mortals she towered above.

I ran to catch up. She stopped to speak to a security guard, as if to ask directions. I slowed my pace and walked to her side. “Adélaïde?”

She turned and looked at my face, then down my body, and back to my eyes. “Thank you,” she said to the guard, her eyes not leaving mine. “I don’t have much time.”

“My apartment is nearby,” I smiled, indicating the direction with a sweep of my hand. “Shall we?”

She began to walk, still staring at me. “Are you from Wales?”

“Um, no. Well, yes, my family is, but we left in the seventeenth century.” I hoped I didn’t sound nervous. “Or sixteenth. I forget.”

“So you are a typical American?”

“Yes,” I laughed. “Very typical.”

“Good.” She said. We walked to my place without further conversation. I replayed her biography in my mind. She had referred to being fat, but she had the ultrathin body of the runway model she had been. She had referred to things she had done long ago, but she was clearly not yet thirty. She was tan and made up, wearing a loose top and tight jeans, obviously designer, and stepping in sandal heels that added several inches to her already impressive height.

I felt at once decidedly normal and incredibly apart, as if her reflected glamour at once attenuated and enhanced my own appearance. A taxi slowed so that the driver could admire her. She seemed not to notice.

I showed her into my apartment. She walked into the living room. She put down her bag and turned her head to me. Her body followed, her hair carrying the motion into space. “Well, you have me for only one hour,” she said. She held her chin high, apparently defying me to make proper use of the hour she was granting.

I smiled. “Then let’s not waste time on words.” I stepped forward and kissed her. She opened her mouth slightly. I took her jaw in my grip and lifted her face. “Lose the shoes,” I growled, pushing my mouth into hers. She fumbled with her shoes, kicking off one and then the other as we kissed. Once she stood flatfooted, inches shorter, I lowered myself from standing on my toes.

As one hand gripped her neck, the other moved around her body, getting familiar with the stranger I now had for one hour. Her breasts were firm yet clothed. “Hands up,” I ordered. She offered no resistance. I lifted her top over her body, exposing her bare torso. She looked at me waiting to be admired, but I had no time for that. I unzipped her jeans and pushed them down her hips, stopping midthigh. She wore no panties. I barely registered her body in my mind before shoving two fingers into her pussy. “Nice and wet,” I said, and then kissed her. “You came here to get fucked, didn’t you?”

“I have no other reason to bother,” she shrugged.

I took her hair in my fist and pulled up into her cunt. “Come,” I ordered. I walked backwards down the hall, pulling inside her body as she waddled behind in her lowered jeans.

I took my fingers from her and pushed her onto the bed. I tugged the jeans from her legs. “It’s a shame your husband waits,” I said. “This means I can’t mark you. I’d like nothing better than to beat you.”

She pulled back on the pillows, turning on a hip and extending her legs. Her eyelids lowered to her body then looked up to me. “Is that all you can think to do to me?”

I opened a drawer and pulled out a condom. “I’m full of ideas for what to do to you.”

I undressed and put on the condom. She watched, assessing me, and continued to size me up as I entered her. I can’t speak for her, but I was keenly aware of the artifice of the moment. She was probably the most conventionally beautiful person I have even seen nude, much less fucked. She would have been perfectly at home in a Playboy centerfold or walking Dior down a runway. I looked her over as I fucked her, taking in her perfectly tan breasts—implants, large for her frame—her flawless skin stretched over precise bones, the tiny sliver of pale skin a remnant of the thong she had worn all summer, the freshly waxed slip that now swallowed my cock. This girl had been admired her entire life for her exoticism and her beauty, and as we fucked, she must have expected those things to be the source of my pleasure with her.

But I knew her from her letters. I had one hour and the meter was ticking.

I took her legs over my shoulders, grabbed her arms and fucked into her, hard. She missed rough sex and I was going to fuck her roughly, using her, reminding her of what it had been like to kill a man with her pussy.

She closed her eyes, her head bouncing back and forth on my pillows. Then she opened her eyes and looked at me. “What’s the matter? Don’t I turn you on?”

“Are you taunting me?” I grunted. “Seriously, Adélaïde, husband or no husband, I will slap the shit out of you.”

She pulled up a shoulder, even as her body moved under my thrusts. “You will do what you have to do,” she sighed, affecting boredom.

“You fucking hole.” I pulled back and slapped her cheek. “You fucking plastic hole. Did you come here to insult me?”

“No.” Her face was already reddening when she turned back to me. “I came here to get ‘fucked,’ as you say, if you don’t mind.”

I felt the artifice fade. This runway model had come to me to get fucked by a dominant named Jefferson. I happened to be that dominant, or at least, to write him, and I know damned well how he fucks. If that was the lady’s pleasure, she had forty-five minutes of it coming.

I fell onto her body and grabbed her shoulders. I fucked her roughly in every way I knew, in ways I had observed my friends fucking, in ways I had picked up in other places. I flipped her around. I chewed her feet. I mauled her fake breasts. I shoved fingers into her ass and alongside my cock inside her pussy. I slapped in her ways I hoped wouldn’t leave marks.

She looked up at me. “I’m thinking you don’t like me.”

I spit in her face. “What the fuck did you say?”

She wiped at the spittle. “I think I don’t turn you on very much.”

My cock wilted inside her. Maybe she was right. Perhaps I was well outside my league. Who knows what runway models do in Paris sex clubs? She was probably remembering times when she was coked out of her mind with porn star men who left her feeling precisely how she wanted to feel under the direction of a man she would later murder with her headline beauty. I kissed her lightly and rolled off her body, panting.

“I don’t know.” She extended a foot in perfect pointe and wrapped a hand around her thigh. The thumb approached her forefinger. “Maybe you don’t like me because I’m fat now.”

I looked at the clock. Fifteen minutes. “I refuse to go there with you,” I said sharply.

She turned on the pillow. “What do you mean?” Just then, “The Ride of the Valkyries” began to play, tinny and distant but getting louder. “Oh, my phone!” She jumped from the bed and ran into the living room. I heard her speaking casually in French. Her voice got more heated and she hung up. She was agitated when she returned to the bedroom. “That was my husband, I am late. He is so angry. I must go.” She picked up her jeans and tugged at the legs.

“No.” I sat on the edge of the bed. “What you must do is suck this cock.”

She looked at me and shook her head. “No, really, he is already waiting. I’m late.”

I lowered my voice. “On your knees, Adélaïde. Suck my cock.”

Her arms dropped. Her jeans rested against her bare legs. “Can you do it quickly?”

I looked her in the eye. She understood my answer. She dropped to her knees and began to suck me.

I don’t hold out much hope for the blowjobs of pretty women. They know that men will get off on their beauty, so they may not have bothered to think seriously about working to get a man to orgasm. This was not the case with Adélaïde. Here was a runway model who had seriously sucked cock and who knew that each moment she spent with my dick in her mouth was another moment she would have to explain to her waiting husband.

I took full advantage of her beauty, her skill and her anxiety. I fucked her face hard. Finally, I announced that I was going to cum. “Oui, mon Dieu,” she whispered. I grunted and heaved as I came on her expensive face. She leaned forward to feel me as I streamed on her cheeks. “Oh, God,” she rasped. “I thought you didn’t like me.”

I was still catching my breath when she left. She hadn’t bothered to fix her make up, saying she would do so in a cab. She washed up quickly, pulled on her clothes, and was gone. I wondered if this experience would warrant me “a good affair” in Los Angeles.

She contacted me when she was home, saying she had had a good time. Her notes came at the usual pace and then tapered off as she got back into the routines of partying.

A couple of months later, she wrote to tell me she was pregnant.

She had been pregnant when we met, actually, but she had not known it. “I’m sure the baby will be healthy,” she wrote. “After you fucked me so hard and all the partying I did in LA, this baby is proven to be invincible! I am very happy, dear man. This baby is my life and changes everything.”

“That’s right,” I replied. “A baby can change so much.”

Always Love

Nada Surf

It helps to write it down, even when you then cross it out. Always love. Hate will get you every time.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Photo Album

Rachel rummaged through her suitcase, tossing a plastic bag of toiletries onto the bed. “I know, I always overpack,” she drawled. “But I’m better than I used to be. Look, I got it all in one suitcase this time. Remember that one time I had a suitcase just for shoes?”

“Yeah, I do,” I nodded. “Not many ten-year-olds pack like Imelda Marcos.”

“Hey, I needed them. Or some of them. I had that habit of jumping into puddles, if you remember.”

“Ever the country mouse in the city,” I agreed.

“Okay, here it is.” She turned and handed me a volume bound in fake brown leather with printed gold trim. “I was cleaning out some boxes and decided to make a photo album of all my trips to New York. Some other stuff got in there, too.”

“How great is that?” I smiled. I took the album and sat on the bed.

“You took most of those pictures,” she added, sitting beside me. “So there’s not much new.”

“Well, most of those pictures were left behind in the divorce, so it’s been a while. Let’s take a look.” I opened the photo album to see my girl as a toddler in a pale blue jumper. “Oh my God, look at you.”

“Such a baby,” she laughed.

She was a baby, and not so long ago. My daughter Rachel was in town for her annual visit to celebrate New Year’s Eve and her birthday. This year was a landmark, as she was turning twenty-one. She had big plans for a party back home, and enjoyed anticipating “legal beer.”

“Oh, this set of pictures is before your first trip to the city.” I pointed at a photograph in which we sat in a grassy field. “This is back when Lucy and I came to visit during your custody case.”

“Yeah, that was messed up, wasn’t it?” She tucked a strand of blond hair behind her ear. “Mom always talks about how you guys saved the day on that one.”

I turned the page. “Yeah, well, a lot of that was Lucy’s initiative.”

“Yeah.” Our eyes rested on a photograph of Lucy smiling as she held Rachel. “Sucks that she’s such a bitch now.”

“Well . . .” My voice drifted off. I hate to hear Rachel refer to Lucy in a negative way, but their relationship is what Lucy made of it. I am no longer the designated apologist for Lucy’s behavior. Still, it’s sad, given what once was.

As Rachel knew, Lucy had dragged me back to court for the third custody case of my parenting career. This time, having discovered my blog, Lucy hoped that my sexuality and writing would prove my undoing. The previous time, Lucy sought full custody during our divorce. She remained bitterly disappointed that she was unable show any cause whatsoever to get what she wanted, and the court did not simply acquiesce to her demands.

Among the saddest aspects of the two custody cases concerning our three children was the shift in Lucy since the custody case involving Rachel.

The winter of nineteen-eighty-seven was cold. One snowy night in a bar, I caught the eye of a freshman at our college. “You have really pretty hair,” she said. She began to braid my hair. Several braids later, we were kissing. I took her and my braids home. For the next several months, we had a nice arrangement. She would get high with her friends, call me when she wanted sex, and show up at my place in her pajamas. Nothing serious would come of it, she knew, as she had a “real” boyfriend back home. We parted at the end of the school year, each assuming we’d resume our arrangement come autumn.

Over the summer, I heard through the grapevine that she was pregnant. I called her and she confirmed that the baby was mine. She asked me to keep that a secret, as she wanted her boyfriend to think it was his. I agreed. I was going to have a child I would never meet. The child would call someone else “Daddy.” I kept this secret to myself. I gradually came to keep everything to myself. I studied, made art, listened to music, drank beer, stayed home.

Just after I learned that I was going to be a father who was not a daddy, my younger brother called with exciting news: he and his wife were expecting! My parent’s first grandchild was due around Christmas. I didn’t tell him that my own child might arrive sooner. When I was home for the holidays, his baby son was born. A week later, I was back at school when my child was born. Thankfully, the child we could acknowledge had come first. My child’s mother would call now and then to let me hear my daughter breathe.

I finished my senior year in near silence. My art had become elegiac. I cut my hair and grew a beard.

I started dating Lucy in the summer after graduation. We worked together at the same bookstore, but hadn’t talked much. She stayed in the back, smoking, opening crates and hiding from the customers. I stayed close to the information desk. She had heard that I was bisexual but thought I might be gay. I assumed she was lesbian.

Then, one day, my roommate brought her home. At the time, he and I shared my bed. He was in love with me but straight, so there wasn’t much to be done about that. I was annoyed that he had brought a date home to have sex in my bed, but discovered, once we were all stoned and nude, that he had brought her home to be with me. She had noticed me at a party, decided she was attracted to me, and told him. He insisted she come home that very night.

My friend eventually left us to ourselves. She and I fucked until dawn. I told her my secrets. She already knew I was bisexual—my friend had cleared that up when she expressed an interest in me—but she was surprised to hear about my daughter. So surprised, in fact, that she had to suddenly go home. I figured I had screwed up in telling her, but it was better to be honest up front rather than to keep a secret like that from your lover.

She later apologized for that reaction, saying it wasn’t so much the revelation as it was her own circumstances in hearing it. She explained that her father had left her family when she was four and her brother two. He went on to remarry and have another family, which only made it worse—he had rejected her and gone off to have another daughter. They had since repaired things somewhat, but she remained mortified by rejection and anxious about abandonment.

Hearing that I had a daughter I would never know, she identified with my little girl. “You have to know her, you have to,” she insisted. “It’s not fair that she doesn’t even know you.”

I knew she was right, but what was to be done? Another man was my daughter’s father. I asked my daughter’s mother if she would mind if I met our baby. She was agreeable and suggested that I drive out to visit one day while her boyfriend was at work. I arranged my schedule and visited the next week.

My little girl looked just like me. I know, her mother said. I looked into my own blue eyes, stroked my own blond hair, touched my own pale skin. She had her mother’s soft full lips. She was . . . real. Ours. But not mine.

I began to visit frequently. I had them to my place. All the while, her boyfriend knew nothing about our visits. He didn’t know I existed. Lucy made it clear that while she supported my relationship with Rachel, she did not want me to be intimate with her mother. I agreed. To tell the truth, I no longer felt that was appropriate. I was in love with Lucy. We soon moved in together.

One evening, my daughter’s mother called with shocking news: she was in love with another man and was leaving with him to move to San Francisco. She was sorry, but if I wanted to keep seeing Rachel, I’d have to travel to California to do so. Her boyfriend knew none of this and she planned to leave without telling him. At my recommendation, she left him a note explaining her plans. She wrote that he was not the baby’s father. With that, she was gone.

Shortly before Christmas, she was called by her now ex-boyfriend. He had found her phone number and wanted to call to say he forgave her and he understood that things had changed. To show there were no hard feelings, he wanted to send some presents for Rachel. He asked for her address.

The subpoena arrived soon after. He had filed for custody in Virginia. She had a few days before she needed to be in court with the baby. She panicked, contacted me and said she was leaving immediately to come back east. They were going to drive as fast as they could.

The first court appearance went badly. My daughter’s mother had a court-appointed lawyer who couldn’t get her name right. Her ex-boyfriend, a pot dealer, had assured her that he wouldn’t bring up pot smoking or anything that could get them both into legal trouble. His lawyer told the judge that the mother was a pot smoker who followed the Grateful Dead from show to show, putting the baby at risk. As she had absconded with the child, she was a proven flight risk. The judge granted temporary custody to her ex-boyfriend’s parents. I watched as the baby was taken from her arms. I watched the mother of my child scream in anguish.

I reported this to Lucy when I returned home. She threw up her fists. This was not fair, she yelled. That man was not the baby’s father! I was! How could the court be so fucking stupid? I agreed and added that when the ex-boyfriend’s parents saw me with the baby, they were astonished: their son’s baby was evidently not his baby, but mine. Someone they had never known about was the father of their grandchild.

Lucy called my daughter’s mother. She told her that she was going to pay for a real lawyer. Lucy made some calls. She found a lawyer. She called a broker and asked for six thousand dollars. I was shocked. Lucy could get six thousand dollars, just like that? I’d never had six thousand dollars in my life. No one I knew could make a phone call and get that kind of money. Lucy, embarrassed, told me that her family was well off. I told her that was okay. I would still love her.

The new lawyer changed everything. Soon, the ex-boyfriend and his family gave up. Lucy was willing to fund the case for as long as it took, and more, it was now obvious that I was Rachel’s biological father. Rachel was returned to her mother and new daddy. Rachel's family would grow to include seven more children, plus the three that Lucy and I bore. Lucy sat with me twenty years ago when I told my parents about their secret grandchild. My grandmother, parents, siblings, sisters-in-law, nieces and nephews beamed in photographs made at Rachel’s wedding two summers ago. No one in Lucy's family was there.

“Yeah, that was a messed up time,” I said, turning another page in the photo album. “I remember this was just after the case was over. We were so relieved that you’d stay with your mother and Frederick.”

“Yeah, I’m glad it worked out that way,” Rachel said. “I mean, I love my first Dad. He’s always been so sweet to me. But it was right that I stayed with Mom and got to be with you and my stepmom and meet all my brothers and sisters.” She looked down at another photograph. Lucy was smiling, holding hands with Rachel at the Central Park Zoo. Rachel was nine, wearing a bright pink shirt and eating crackers from a plastic bag. “Well, ex-stepmom, I guess.”

When we divorced, my ex-wife decided to allow her relationship with Rachel to wither. As she saw it, family was divided into his and hers. She would no longer regard my parents as relatives. My brothers would become strangers. Rachel was the unfortunate outcome of some irresponsible thing I had done in college, born only because her mother was too religious to get an abortion. When informed of Rachel’s plan to marry, Lucy said, “I’m glad I don’t have to deal with her anymore.” She neglected Rachel’s invitation to the wedding, handing over an elaborately wrapped gift to take in her place.

Lucy’s behavior leaves me in an awkward place with Rachel. I never spoke ill of Lucy while we were married; indeed, I made excuses when she gave offense. I don’t speak ill of her now, and certainly not with any of the children. But she behaves as she does, and sadly, in these writings, these are the only stories I have to tell about her.

If I want to recall the good she could do within our family, I can only reflect on the past and ponder the photo albums that might have been.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


In like a lion, out like a lamb. So goes the month of March, and in this month of March, so goes my custody case. It is resolved with no changes to the preexisting joint physical custody agreement. Also, I am free to continue this blog. Finally, after eight months, life returns to normal.

Thanks so much to everyone who supported me with words of encouragement and donations to the legal defense fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund will keep the fund open as we pay off the final costs, expected to be about one thousand dollars. If you can pitch in, thanks again!

Thanks also to those who respected my request not to blog about me or the case for the duration. I know many bloggers have been sitting on juicy stories, so now, feel free to let the juices fly.

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.

Cannon Ball

The Breeders

Know you, little libertine. I know you're a cannon ball.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

An Editor

I’m grateful that many people I know in a professional capacity are writing notes in support of my right to free expression. Most of these notes are too specific about my career to post, but here’s one that speaks to the content of this blog. I’ve withheld the writer’s name for reasons of discretion.

To whom it may concern,

I am a writer and editor who worked in publishing for thirty years. I first encountered the man behind Jefferson in two-thousand-and-three when he wrote an article for the newspaper where I served as Editor. The final piece was well reported, well written and insightful, and we gave it a full page.

In early two-thousand-and-five, he told me that he was also writing a blog, One Life, Take Two, under the pseudonym “Jefferson.” I visited the site and read it from time to time. I found his stories and vignettes about his children charming and light-hearted, with a gentle edge of irony. I was personally less interested in other stories that were more explicit in terms of sexual diversity, though I thought they were also well done. I understood the literary effect he was after in the juxtaposition of these two story lines: by writing about parenting, he put a human face on the character he was developing. “Jefferson” comes across as an ordinary man in circumstances some readers would find extraordinary.

I understand that he is now being asked to curtail his writing. This strikes me as unfortunate, as creative artists should not have to limit themselves and their freedom of expression in order to meet the requirements of a court or an unhappy former spouse, requirements that might fluctuate from case to case. Certainly a writer of his proven ability should be allowed to write freely. I don’t want to imagine an America where literature devoid of fiber is the unavoidable result of being forced through a sieve of censorship and repression.


An Editor

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

"Mary Alice Gummer"

My ex’s motion claims that she first learned of my bisexuality and interest in multiple sex partners in my blog, and that this revelation came as a great surprise—so much so that it warranted a reevaluation of our original divorce settlement. If I had withheld my true sexual orientation in our marriage, so goes this argument, then perhaps that settlement might reasonably be questioned.

I have repeatedly asserted basic facts in this blog—facts that I had never written with my ex wife in mind as a reader, nor with any forethought that she would have reason to deny my bisexuality or interest in group sex. I first had sex with a female at age fifteen. I first had sex with a male at age sixteen. I engaged in group sex activities in my teens. I came out as bisexual once I encountered the word “bisexual” at age nineteen, in a conversation about David Bowie while listening to “The Man Who Sold The World.” My first dates with Lucy—my future ex-wife—involved nudity, sex, another man, another couple and a video camera.

I was monogamous in my marriage to Lucy, who is female. I can see why anyone outside our marriage might assume I was heterosexual. But I continued to identify as bisexual, for personal and political reasons, to anyone who might care to know. During our marriage, Lucy and I engaged in couples therapy in which my sexuality was routinely discussed. I volunteered for an organization that did outreach to GLBT youth. I took Lucy to march in gay pride parades and ACT UP events, my camera often in tow. My high school boyfriend succumbed to AIDS and I was one of his primary caregivers.

Lucy knows I remain friends with my dearest friends, some for decades by this time. My wife didn’t know I was bisexual? Please, Mary. And speaking of Mary . . .

To Whom it May Concern,

I have known the man behind “Jefferson” for over twenty-five years. When I first met him in nineteen eighty-three, he was introduced to me by our mutual friend, Donnie. I knew that Donnie and Jefferson had been a romantic item in high school and that Jefferson was currently seeing a woman, so it was made clear that Jefferson was bisexual. When Jefferson was engaged to Lucy, they joked that although they had agreed to fidelity within their marriage, each held out exception for the object of their greatest desire. Jefferson’s dream dalliance was Iggy Pop. What I mean to say is, this side of his sexuality was never cryptic or cloaked in shame. That said, I never saw anyone happier to be married than Jefferson, and I was inspired by how seriously he took his commitment to Lucy and their life together. Jefferson adores his children with every fiber of his being. He would rather die than do say or even intimate anything that could hurt those children in any way whatsoever.

Further, Jefferson has always been a steady, reliable, compassionate and principled person in my life. When Donnie was stricken with AIDS in 1990, Jefferson and I took over all major health decisions as he suffered rapid deterioration from HIV dementia and multiple physical complications, including the loss of the use of his legs. Together, we had to oversee his hospitalizations, medications, state services, eventual move to hospice care and, after he passed away, his funeral and the packing and shipping of his possessions. I honestly do not know what I would have done without Jefferson by my side through all the hard work and sadness that was involved in this ordeal. He was so steady, thoughtful and unwavering, even in the most daunting moments of this ongoing crisis.

I have since moved away from NYC and live in Southern California, am married and have a young son. I run all the outreach programs at my church. I often think that if Jefferson were here he would probably involve himself and his kids in all the good works we do, a great deal of which is outreach to kids living in shelters. I would trust my life to Jefferson and that of my child or anyone else’s child. I think the decisions he has made in how he expresses himself in his private sexual life do not impact how he moves through the world of friends, work and parenting. I have always found his behavior to be kind, intelligent and respectful.

Finally, I will say that it has been years since I have seen or spoken to Lucy. I always enjoyed her company—she was such a lovely, interesting, thoughtful woman. I hold no animosity towards her whatsoever, just wish there were a way she could see this situation more clearly and rethink this lawsuit, which I believe with all my heart and soul is based on concerns that are not founded. I would beg Lucy to simply realize she has gone down a bad road and to drop the case. Jefferson loves his children and is an excellent father. This is all I know.

I thank you for taking the time to consider my concerns on this matter.


"Mary Alice Gummer"

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.

Time Out, New York

My legal battles began in July, when my ex filed a motion seeking full custody of our children. But the battleground was laid a year ago this week, when my ex discovered coverage of One Life, Take Two in Time Out, New York’s annual “Secret Lives” issue.

This week, Time Out, New York pays a brief visit to those featured last year. Of yours truly, readers learn:

When the article appeared, the worst thing that could have happened happened: My ex-wife discovered it and sued for full custody of our kids. I contacted the Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund, which reviewed my case and set up a legal fund, making it possible to get a great attorney and preserve joint physical custody. On the one hand, having a sex blog and an unhappy ex-wife with deep pockets is a volatile combination. On the other, had I not had this blog I wouldn’t have had a community of readers that has made it possible to fight this battle.

Welcome to those first visiting this blog courtesy of Time Out, New York. My apologies for the current dearth of sex one would hope to find in a “sex blog.” I’ve kept this blog for four-and-a-half years, charting my new life after marriage. My aim has been to tell stories that address family as well as sexuality—custody, domesticity, childhood, parenting, dating, bisexuality, romance and sex have all been themes—to show that all can be openly discussed as weaves in the fabric of real life.

When the custody case began, I voluntarily closed my blog’s previous content and now post on matters concerning the ongoing case. I apologize for going Lenny Bruce on my readers—when busted for obscenity, he turned his performances into tedious discussions of the resulting trials. Don’t worry: this story doesn’t end with Dustin Hoffman sprawled on a bathroom floor. But a year in, it’s fair to wonder: where does it end?

I recently read Saul Bellow’s Humboldt’s Gift, and was struck by an observation the narrator made about his perpetual legal disputes with his ex-wife. He mused that protracted post-divorce court cases are really just extensions of the preceding marriages. So long as a couple is fighting, they are still together.

This year, we’ve been through an exhaustive process, some of it documented in previous posts. Meetings with lawyers, court appearances, psychiatric evaluations, free speech negotiations, all while cutting check after check. My ex had spent twenty-five thousand dollars prior to filing the original motion, and that seems eons ago.

Our attorneys had an important conference on Inauguration Day. Watching President Obama’s speech as I waited to hear the outcome, I was struck by the everyday applications of these words: “People will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.”

A Bellovian rehash of a failed marriage is simply destructive. There are good and constructive ways to build on collaborative relationships as co-parents. I look forward to moving ahead on those.

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.

Barbara Nitke

I’ve long been an admirer of the photography of Barbara Nitke, both for its artistry and for its message of emphasizing the humanity of people in alternative sex communities. I was also struck by her bravery in defending free speech in challenging the constitutionality of the Federal Communications Decency Act of nineteen ninety-six, which regulates indecency and obscenity online. This was a fight closely watched by those in the arts and by those of us who publish online.

Barbara is an inspiration to those who care about freedom of expression, no matter the artist’s chosen media. She is kind enough to offer her support to my current battle.

To whom it may concern,

I am a professional photographer on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts in New York. My work has been the subject of one-woman exhibitions in New York, New Orleans, Baltimore, Provincetown and Philadelphia. My subjects include fashion, editorial and portraiture. Since nineteen eighty-two, I have also documented human sexuality.

I have known the man behind Jefferson for nearly a decade, first in a professional capacity and now as a friend. I’ve always been impressed by his intellectual curiosity and the respect and care he brings to sensitive subject matter.

These qualities continue to impress me as I’ve come to know his work as “Jefferson.” I’ve read his blog, attended his classes and observed his interactions with others. He brings great intelligence, humor and warmth to all of these. His blog is regarded as essential reading by those in the sex-positive community. Whereas other texts seek to teach by instruction, One Life, Take Two does so by example. Readers learn as “Jefferson” learns. We follow him through his passions, his upsets and his joy in the everyday, particularly in his stories about parenting. As a fellow artist, I fully respect the power of his documentary approach.

If anyone has exemplified responsibility in writing on sex and sexuality, it is Jefferson. I strongly support his right to continue writing freely.

I know the struggles Jefferson now faces. I was co-plaintiff in Nitke v Gonzalez, 413 F. Supp.2d 262 SDNY (2005), as we brought a pre-enforcement challenge to the Federal Communications Decency Act (CDA) on the ground that it was unconstitutionally overbroad. While I succeeded in proving that I had standing to bring that pre-enforcement challenge, unfortunately, the court held us to an impossible burden of providing "sufficient" evidence regarding "the total amount of speech that is implicated by the CDA and the amount of protected speech lacking in serious value, but potentially not patently offensive or appealing to the prurient interest in all communities."

While we did not completely succeed in that case, the struggle to protect free speech and freedom of expression continues. I am heartened that many of the organizations and activists allied with me in that case are now rallying around Jefferson to support him in his current battle to preserve both his joint child custody and his freedom of speech and expression protections. Any silencing of Jefferson is a loss for art, free speech and the personal freedoms we cherish so much here in the United States of America.


Barbara Nitke

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Joy Division covered by Radiohead in their studio sessions.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Lori Perkins

Thanks to Lori Perkins for contributing this letter in support of the literary and social merits of
One Life, Take Two.

To whom it may concern,

I have been a literary agent for the past twenty-one years, and an adjunct professor of journalism and publishing at New York University for two decades. I am also the author of four books and the editor of five anthologies.

I have followed Jefferson’s writing in One Life, Take Two since two thousand and six.

In my view, blogging has created a revolution in literature. The ability of authors to publish their own work has broken down barriers between writer and reader to such an extent that writers are able to immediately adapt to the responses of the audiences they create. Now and then, a writer comes along with an extraordinary understanding of his medium and his audience. I believe that Jefferson is just such an author.

Jefferson’s writing on parenting and sexuality has inspired a movement. Many other writers have begun to publish openly and honestly about their lives in both capacities, having learned from the insights and craft of Jefferson’s work. He has inspired them not only with his output but also directly from teaching and offering advice and encouragement when highlighting other writers in his weekly roundups of the best erotic writing he finds online. It is no exaggeration to say that in this literary movement, he combines the literary community of a Maxwell Perkins, the social center of a Gertrude Stein and the insider knowledge of a Walter Winchell.

Jefferson’s influence is most apparent in the blossoming of blogs about parents who write on sexuality and family life. These parents may be married or single, gay or straight, monogamous or polyamorous. But many can point to the example of Jefferson as a catalyst that led them to tell their stories.

Any curtailment of the work of this gifted, prolific and admired writer would be a setback for the community he has helped to create, and for literature at large. There is also no question that putting shackles on this author would be detrimental to his career and earning potential.


Lori Perkins

Make an ANONYMOUS, TAX-DEDUCTIBLE contribution to Jefferson’s legal defense by visiting the Sexual Freedom Defense and Education Fund at:

Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Please remember to specify that your donation is earmarked for the Jefferson Legal Defense Fund. The Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund affirms that these earmarked donations are tax deductible.