Friday, May 29, 2009

Persona

Molly was quiet as we walked away from the restaurant. “It’s funny,” she said finally. “No one is anything like I imagined.”

I nodded. “I am continuously impressed by that. Though I suppose I’m also used to it, as that same thought occurs to me so frequently.” We walked on. “I’m going your way; come on, I’ll give you a ride to the Metro.”

Molly and I were leaving a brunch attended by two dozen or so sex bloggers and others involved with sex online. I knew most of the group, but this was the first time Molly had met so many people she had known only through their words and images. “That’s you?” she said repeatedly. “Wow. I’m a fan.”

Our conversation continued as we drove over a bridge and neared the Metro station. “Okay, we’re here, “ I said, pulling over. “Now, you’re sure you know how to get to where you need to be?”

“Yeah, I’m sure.” Molly paused for a moment. “You know, the more I know you, the more I think I like you better than I like Jefferson.”

I smiled. “I’m glad. I like the you I’m getting to know, too.” I leaned over to kiss her. It was a nice, lingering kiss. When it ended, Molly smiled, said goodbye and opened the car door. I watched as she crossed the street to the station. She’s really nice, I thought. I picked up my cell and typed: “On my way, canes in tow.” I tossed my phone into the seat vacated by Molly and drove off.

Molly and I met as mutual sex bloggers. We enjoyed a flirtatious correspondence, as you do, and in the goodness of time, she invited me to a cam date. I use my webcam very infrequently but I appreciated the offer and agreed. For the first time, we saw each other as we are, not as we are represented in the words and cropped portraits in our respective blogs. We each liked what we saw.

She offered to remove her shirt. I thought that was a grand idea. She adjusted the camera so that I could see her breasts, which I admired. We then carried on our conversation as before until I excused myself to prepare for bed.

The next day, she wrote to tell me that we would not be having sex. I replied that I hadn’t anticipated that we would, as we don’t live near one another. But, I asked, why did she feel the need to point that out? “First of all, you are much older than me, and that’s weird. Second of all, I’m not used to men looking at my breasts and not cybering with me.”

Molly made a good case. We are years apart. Further, she was well accustomed to cybersex and to being desired online. She has a particular kink, one that fascinates me even though I don’t happen to share it. As it is a rare kink, and her place in it so unique—she is a dominant in an arena in which women are more frequently submissive—Molly is well known in her online community.

I explained that I don’t typically cyber as it doesn’t fit my life. It would be inappropriate to do so when my children are home. When my children are away, I’m busy having sex. This leaves me little time to pursue cybersex. Molly and I agreed that we wouldn’t be having sex, and probably not cybersex either, and resumed our correspondence as before.

Some time later, she happened to be in New York and wanted to meet. I invited her to a party. It was the first time we had met in person. It was nice to finally meet my online friend. “You don’t look old,” she remarked.

I signaled to a servant. “Refill my bourbon, boy.” A handsome young man in a black suit hurried to take my glass. I took Molly’s hand. “Come on, let’s talk on the couch.” By the time my glass returned, I was going down on Molly.

Later, she reclined on a bed watching me fuck a woman. As Molly was between me and another woman I wanted to fuck, I fucked Molly en route.

Still later, I handed Molly a bamboo and invited her to join me in caning Nate. She had never caned anyone before. She was a quick study. Nate attested to this by falling silent and allowing me to ruin his legs in educating Molly.

The party had left her head reeling, so the next day, we met privately. She appeared ready for anything and as we went along, I became ever rougher and she became ever more submissive. We were well attuned and aroused by one another.

At one point as we fucked, she said, in singular earnestness, “I hope that when I’m your age, I fuck as well as you do.”

I smiled. “Keep practicing.”

When next we met, I served her a straight boy dripping in ice cream. Once more, I pulled up her dress in a crowd and chased her orgasms.

Now, all of this is the kind of thing Molly might expect of Jefferson. We flirted online, we fucked minutes after meeting at an orgy, I dominated her privately, I fed her fetish and made her feel submissive in public. Throw in a few glasses of bourbon and some snappy repartee and that satisfied the impression she had formed of Jefferson before we ever corresponded.

Jefferson confirmed her expectations. But along the way, she also got to know me. To her surprise, I was not the man she expected to meet. And then, as she met other sex bloggers, she continued to encounter this disconnect between the personae she imagined and the people she met.

Most sex bloggers are aware of this distinction between our lives online and in reality.

For some, this schism is inherent in the relationship between writer and reader. Authors may write under their real names and make no distinction between their public lives online or off, but still they find people struggling to match the person reading at the podium to the words encountered on the page. This is a reality for any writer, really.

Others deliberately manipulate their online persona. They adopt pseudonyms with particular language in writing and particular styles of dress if appearing in public. This allows them to retain a kind of privacy; their deliberate self-presentation is a mode of self-preservation.

Others hide a shameful truth behind their online persona. Beyond the trappings of elaborately crafted personality and fabulous self-promotion hides awful insecurity: an adopted dazzle disguises the drabness of the actual individual.

Others are simply who they are beyond the perceptions of others.

For myself, I became aware of my online persona only as it developed.

When I first began to keep this blog four-and-a-half years ago, I had no sense of a readership. I hardly knew what a blog was. I wrote into the void the stories I had otherwise been telling to friends. People who knew me recognized my voice in the stories I wrote. I had no awareness of other readers.

Within a short time, a reader named Shelby and I met through my blog. She liked what she had read and wanted to meet, clearly intending to have sex with me. This astonished me—someone would want to have sex with me because I wrote about having sex? Yet Shelby could take me as I was. The person she met was the person who wrote Jefferson. In her mind, and in my bed, there was no difference between the two.

Over time, I became aware of that Jefferson was increasingly a character only partly of my creation. Like most literary characters, he was completed in the mind of the reader. If people encountered me in person, they assumed that I was like the persona they imagined based on my words. Someone thought I would be taller, though I had blogged my actual height. Someone pictured me as dark haired, though I had written that I am blonde. Someone imagined me older even as someone else imagined me younger, though I had given my actual age. This was all fine by me. Their individual fantasies completed the version of Jefferson that got each of them off.

By this time, being Jefferson was becoming complicated.

Every word I write in this blog is true, describing events that actually happened. I’ve never intentionally sought to push Jefferson’s persona one way or another, instead choosing to write the stories I found most compelling at any given moment. In doing so, I created, in the minds of some readers, a kind of extraordinary character. Whereas I expressed my wonder and excitement that extraordinary things occurred in my life, some assumed that I participated only in extraordinary events. I argued otherwise when pressed. Anyone who read this blog as a narrative about anything other than relationships, I asserted, was not reading what I believed myself to be writing.

Within a few years of beginning the blog, it was read by everyone with whom I was sexually involved. I had met most through my blog. Many began blogs of their own and wrote frequently about me. This suited me, as I wanted to be as honest and transparent as possible. I was out. Blogging and being blogged reinforced that.

Still, creatively and ethically, I encountered landmines. If I focused on relationships in my text as a writer—developing characters, exploring emotions—I risked hurting the feelings of people I cared about. This became most evident to me in writing about my relationship with Madeline. As she and I fell in love, and as we collaborated in writing about it rather movingly, I encountered my first controversy as blogger. In essence, I was revealing to some a side of myself that some other partners had not encountered in person. If Jefferson had the capacity for falling in love, they wanted that from me as well.

I found myself unable to write Madeline in this blog as I would like. Instead, I kept my writing light, regarding it as escapist erotic nonfiction. Most readers are not bisexual, most have never attended orgies and most don’t balance their sexual lives with their lives as parents. I felt I could offer some insights into how I went about all that, even while entertaining a readership that was now growing substantially. For those who did relate to my life and situation, there was a sense of commune that was equally satisfying. None of us was alone.

But here again, I ran into conflict. As I wrote about my sex life, so too did other bloggers, with my blessing but without my editorial direction. I read their stories once posted, just like any other reader. I wasn’t surprised that this might occasionally upset other partners. After all, they read about me having sex with someone else. That could understandably cause jealousy. What surprised me was the way the blogs could be used to compile rationales for upset. If a blogger wrote that she had sex with me “last night,” another might ask why I hadn’t chosen her “last night?” If a blogger wrote that she and I had gone to a museum, another might ask why we never went to museums. If a blogger described my participation in an activity I rarely pursued, it was automatically on the menu for anyone who wanted it.

Once blogged, anything I did with any one partner was an assumed privilege for all partners.

I saw that my privacy was withering away. I recognized that I had volunteered some measure of privacy when I began to write about my sex life in public. Still, in writing my own life, I told the stories I wanted told and reserved those that I preferred to remain discreet. I could keep my private life intact. Now, with Jefferson becoming a character to be claimed by whoever chose to take him up, I found my online persona being turned in ways I had neither intended nor imagined, in ways that might have little to do with me.

Sometimes this occurred in the texts of well-intentioned bloggers who were working out feelings, not thinking of themselves as writers—which I never grudged, as blogging began as diaries and is not limited to writers—but at other times, I was a target for bloggers with their own agendas to pursue. Frequently, the agenda was simple: why him and not me? Why is Jefferson content, enjoying sex and acquiring a measure of celebrity, when those things are denied to me? What can I do to attain these things? If I can’t attain them, how can I make them less desirable by robbing him of them?

When my custody case began nearly a year ago, I was reminded by my friends at the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom that legal battles fought in the media were fought by the media for reasons of its own; usually, to sell papers. Given that truth and the fact that my ex was using my blog against me as evidence, I voluntarily shut down my blog for the duration of the case. I took Jefferson offline in order to focus on my real life. I asked my friends to do likewise. They complied.

However, once Jefferson had been created in the minds of others, he was no longer fully mine to withhold. Aware of my absence, others seized on the opportunity to define Jefferson to their own advantages. I read as Jefferson was portrayed as god and demon, saint and sinner, Svengali and dupe. There were those who cashed in on his notoriety at lunches and over drinks, people with little else to do, it seemed, but to conjecture about Jefferson in order to make themselves look more interesting. Watching on, I first felt the other side of celebrity: having created something public, I was now denied privacy. While I was dealing with a real-life crisis of the first order—a threat to my family in court—people were vacuously gossiping about me between cosmos, tweets and shoe sales.

My life had become an entertainment commodity.

But the more I became absorbed in my real-life struggles, the more assured I became of the banality of online chatter. It meant nothing to my situation, but gossip seemed to matter enormously to those who perpetuated it. Gossip about me was—for one shining moment, in one miniscule cohort—the most singular ticket to being perceived as interesting. Listen to me, went the clamoring voices, for I have the very latest, the story you won’t hear anywhere else. Did you hear? Did you know? Why, that scoundrel!

Eventually, the gossip died down. What else could it do? The sheer repetition had to weigh down its listeners. People who had never met me wearied of hearing that a friend of a friend had repeated variations of the same tired revelations. In the hands of others, Jefferson became old news.

When my custody case ended and my blog reappeared, some began to churn at the creaking gossip mills. Did you hear? Did you know? Listeners weighed the stories being told. In one ear came repetitious gossip. Did I tell you about the time Jefferson did me wrong? Did you hear about the time he did a bad thing? In the other ear came reality. A blogger had faced down a First Amendment fight. A bisexual had kept his children. A kinkster was living though the very reasons we work to revise the DSM.

All of which, really, in either ear, wasn’t entirely about me. It was above all about challenges to private life in an era with a diminishing regard for privacy. It was about the power and limitations of celebrity and gossip and their transformation by social media. As for me, I was still the person I always had been—still a parent, still a pervert, and, beyond the hype about Jefferson, still me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Nineteen-Sixty Eight

As my marriage deteriorated six years ago, I argued with my wife that we had put in too much time to let it end. We had three children, a home in the suburbs and fifteen years of shared history.

We were fighting over a business trip. She argued that I should not go to the Persian Gulf during the invasion of Iraq. I argued that the trip was perfectly safe and provided a great opportunity. She was accustomed to getting her way, as I kept the peace by acceding most things on a day-to-day basis. I only stood my ground as I built my career over her objections.

Whenever we fought because I stood firm, she would declare that we were “finished.” We were “finished” when I wanted to move to New York, “finished” when I applied to graduate school, “finished” when I took the job that started my career. She declared us “finished” to win this fight, but I had heard that before. After fifteen years, I was pretty much finished with “finished.”

In the end, I went on the business trip. It was uneventful. I watched the invasion of Iraq on CNN just like everyone else. I did my work and came home.

The business trip was over. I was home safe. But these facts did not end the fight. I had defied her. She ordered me to sleep on the couch. I replied that if she didn’t want to sleep with me, she was welcome to take to the couch. She responded with the silent treatment, one of her most effective ways of controlling me. This was her tried and true standby. She knew I was humiliated if anyone detected her rage.

Above all, I wanted people to think we were normal. That meant hiding her depression. Her employment of the silent treatment was an effective way of asserting power over that subterfuge. She refused to speak to me privately in order to punish me. She refused to speak to me in front of friends, family, neighbors and, later, the children, to humiliate me in front of others.

At times, Lucy hit me. She gashed my flesh with her nails. She woke me with pummeling fists, outraged that I was snoring or that she had had a dream in which I angered her. I knew these assaults and I knew how to defend myself from them, within the context of our relationship. It generally happened privately. The humiliation of her silent treatment, though, left me defenseless. I could not make her speak. Her refusal withstood any argument, any geniality, anything I could say or do. The longer she remained silent, she knew, the more she controlled me.

Controlling others by controlling her environment was a lesson Lucy had learned as a child.

When Lucy and I started dating in nineteen-eighty eight, following the threesome of our first date, we sat on my front porch to unload our baggage. I had an unmatched set. I was bisexual, which everyone knew. But also, I had a six-month-old daughter, which no one knew. I had agreed to keep silent about that as my daughter’s mother wanted her boyfriend to believe my daughter was his child. I told Lucy these things knowing she might beg off any further relationship. We were just out of college. My life was already complicated.

She listened, nodding and smoking. Finally she asked, “You’ve never met your own daughter?”

“No,” I answered. I took a swig of Rolling Rock. “I probably never will. I don’t see how that would work.”

“Look, you have to meet her.” She stared at me intently. “You have to do that. You have to be in her life. Promise me you’ll do that.”

I shrugged. “How can I promise that? Rachel lives with her mom and dad, you know, the guy who thinks he’s her dad. The live like a hundred miles from here. How screwed up would it be if I just showed up and got in their lives?” I took another drink of beer. “I don’t even know Rachel’s mom all that well. The only thing we have in common is Rachel.”

“Look at me.” Lucy sat on her knees and grabbed my wrist. “Look at me and promise me you’ll meet your daughter. You have to do this. Promise me.”

I shook my hair from my face. “Um, okay, maybe. I guess I can. I talk to her mom all the time, so . . . I guess you’re right.”

Lucy released my wrist. “Of course I’m right.” She reached for a beer. “You know I’m right.” She twisted the top from her beer and took a drink. “Look, I’m sorry, this is just really important to me. I didn’t really know my dad growing up, and I can tell you, it’s not healthy.”

“Wow, seriously?” I rubbed her leg. “That’s awful.”

She nodded, avoiding my eyes. “Yeah, he left my family when I was four. My brother was two. It was the Sixties, he didn’t want to have a family, so he just left.” She picked up a lighter. “He worked for Playboy, so . . .” She shrugged.

“God.” I rubbed her leg. “What an asshole. Who does that?”

“No, it’s cool, we're cool.” Lucy reached for her purse. “We get along okay now, he was great when I was in college. He really helped me out.” She retrieved the Ziplock bag that held her pot and her one hit. “It’s just this: when he left, it was because he didn’t want a family. He abandoned all of us; me, Mom, my brother.” She used a finger to scoop pot into her pipe. “But then he met someone else, got married and had another daughter, my half-sister. He said he didn’t want a family, and then he got another family. He got another daughter. It wasn’t that he didn’t want a family or a daughter.” She toked on her one hit. She held up a finger, waiting. I waited. She exhaled. “He wanted a different family. He wanted a different daughter. It felt like he didn’t really abandon us. He abandoned us because of me. I wasn’t the daughter he wanted.”

I leaned forward to wipe a tear from her face. “I already hate your dad. Who does that?”

Lucy sniffled. “Look, my dad is fine. Don’t worry about that. The thing is, you have to be there for your daughter. You have no idea how much a father matters. Can you promise that?”

I sat back, grabbing my hair into a ponytail. “Okay, look: I’ll try. Okay?”

She nodded. “You’ll see. I’m right.” She sniffled and then laughed. “So, this is some date.”

I laughed. “I’ve never had a date like this.” I looked over my shoulder. “And look—no William!” She laughed and reached for her one hit.

Later that night, she told me that her mother and brother were both gay. “You’ve got a father who abandoned you, a lesbian mother and a gay brother,” I said. “Now you’ve found a bisexual boy with a daughter he’s never met.” I held out my beer bottle. “I’d say we are well matched.”

Lucy tapped my bottleneck with hers. “That’s right. We’re both broken in the same ways.”

I took Lucy’s words to heart. I asked Rachel’s mother how she would feel about including me more deeply in our daughter’s life. She thought it over and didn’t object. As a result, I was a part of Rachel’s life as she grew up. Rachel knew Lucy as her stepmother and knew my other children as her siblings. She bonded with my family as her own, and also regarded Lucy’s family as an extension of her own.

As my relationship with Lucy deepened, I got to know her family. I met her father as the man he was twenty years after he abandoned his family. Lucy said she had forgiven Bernard for leaving her, so I bore him no grudge on her behalf. I could take him as he was. He was charming and welcoming to me. I enjoyed his conversation and felt I could go to him for advice. Well before I married his daughter, I regarded him as family. When Lucy and I had our first child, I wanted his family name in our child’s name. Lucy and her brother are the end of the line for their lineage, and her brother had no interest in having children. I am the eldest of four boys in a family that favors prodigious progeny. Lucy’s father regarded this passing on of the family name as a special favor. I felt it was just what family does.

Years later, following my business trip to the Middle East, as Lucy dug in and refused to speak to me, Bernard interceded. He suggested I leave our home to stay at his empty apartment in Manhattan. “It won’t get better so long as you are both fighting,” he reasoned. “You should leave and let her cool off.”

“I can’t leave,” I said. “We can’t give up on being married. We have the kids, the house, our whole lives.”

“Just go,” he said. “Let her calm down. Just go to the apartment and wait it out. Leaving is the only way to solve these things.”

“And do what? Wait until Lucy isn’t mad? What if she is always mad? Then what? Do I stay until we divorce, I fall in love, marry again, have another kid? When does a separation end?”

Bernard chuckled. “When Lucy is angry, you just need to give her what she wants and keep quiet. You can’t do that if you live in the same house.”

I saw the wisdom of that. I knew the only thing to do was to placate Lucy’s anger. Her father was right. And so I moved out to live in an apartment Bernard had inherited from his mother. Lucy knew it as her late grandmother’s home. She had visited it throughout her childhood. We had moved into it during graduate school and conceived each of our children there. Now, it was to be my place of exile.

I accepted that Bernard was right in placating Lucy’s rage. A few years later, I saw things differently. Lucy had long ago learned that the best way to earn her parents’ attention was to be angry with them. I had long since inherited her family’s expectation that Lucy’s anger should always be placated.

If Lucy was angry with her mother, she was rewarded with a fight. Throughout our relationship, I was impressed with how often they spoke and how often they fought, “You know, you are much closer to your mother than I am to mine,” I observed. “My mom and I talk now and then, but I can’t imagine getting into a fight with her. You and your mom argue almost every day.”

“I am not close to my mother,” she snipped. “I hate that bitch.”

If Lucy missed her father, she would pick a fight or create a crisis demanding his attention. I doubt they were ever closer than when Lucy and I divorced. Lucy simply refused to talk to me. Our attorneys stayed above the fray of the personal, keeping the divorce on the level of passing papers. Lucy used her father to communicate the day-to-day needs of two parents trading children back and forth.

“Why doesn’t Lucy just talk to me?” I would ask, exasperated. “I have no idea what is going on unless you tell me.”

“She miserable,” Bernard would say. “Just miserable. And she has no one to blame but you.”

“But what did I do?” I asked. “I went on a business trip. She treats me like I abandoned her. But when we broke up, I only left home because she absolutely insisted on it. She was punishing us all. You, me, the kids, all of us. You know what it was like.”

“I know what it was like,” Bernard said. “I don’t remember her mother being so distasteful. This isn’t like any divorce I’ve seen. I don’t think you’re to blame. I don’t think it’s her fault either. It’s my fault. This happened because I left Lucy’s mother in nineteen-sixty eight.”

I didn’t get that. “Bernard, Lucy’s divorce wasn’t fated. You didn’t make it happen. It’s a choice she made.”

Bernard hesitated. “I don’t see it that way.”

The divorce and its aftermath gradually separated me from Lucy’s family. This saddened me, as I had come to regard them as my own extended family. I had no experience with divorce, but I assumed that, after fifteen years, we had forged our own familial relationships.

That may happen in some families, but Lucy wasn’t interested in allowing me to continue in her family. She needed to cut me off from her parents and siblings and, ultimately, our own children. She voluntarily cut herself off from my birth family and, saddest of all, from her stepdaughter Rachel.

Divorce, in Lucy’s mind, was definitive. That’s how she had experienced it at age four. Her father left her and he was gone bye-bye. He had decided he liked another little girl better.

I would come to survive our divorce. I adored my four children. I made new friends, enjoyed new romance, and, to my astonishment, I fell in love.

Lucy seemed unable to let go of the past. She was the abandoned child left alone in the house we once shared, afraid to move the furniture lest it mean moving on.

Her family had taught her that the past is ever present. The future requires a break from stasis. The past, whatever its terrors, offers the comforts of familiarity.

The past is a fight always ready to be revisited. Fights, in that way, offer the constants of love.

Abby Winters



Phoenix

Monday, May 25, 2009

Sequestered

The call from Lucy’s lawyer was my first indication that my ex-wife was taking me to court. “There’s going to be a court appearance tomorrow morning, at which time a judge will decide whether or not to hear the case.”

“Okay.” I picked up a pen. “So what does that mean?”

“That means that tomorrow, we’re presenting our motion to the court and at that time, it should be decided if a judge will hear the case.”

“Okay, so there’s a motion? What's in that?”

“If the case is assigned to a judge, you will be served with papers. Then we’ll have a court date.”

I took notes. “These papers will tell me what this motion is about?”

“Yes, the papers are the motion. They will tell you why the plaintiff has filed, and what the claims are.”

“’Claims?’ What’s that, like child support? And the plaintiff is Lucy, correct?”

“Uh, yes, the plaintiff is my client. I’m getting another call and need to be going.”

“Wait, just a few more questions, please.” I sat down. “I’m sorry, but this is only my third custody case, so I’m still getting down the process. Now, we’re supposed to be in court tomorrow morning? Am I supposed to have an attorney?”

“Well, um . . . you aren’t required to be there, but you may want to be there. Of course, it’s up to you whether or not you have counsel.”

“But I should, shouldn’t I? I mean, if Lucy does, I suppose I should, correct?”

“It’s not really my responsibility to advise you on the advisability of obtaining counsel.” Her voice was growing irritable.

“Oh right, of course, you represent the other side. But tomorrow morning is soon. It’s already late afternoon. Is there any way to get a postponement so I can have time to get an attorney? I mean, I don’t even know the claims being made.”

“If a judge takes the case, you’ll be served papers and then you’ll know the claims. We won’t ask for a postponement since we filed that this was an emergency situation . . .”

“An emergency? What emergency? What’s happened?” I stood up.

“Again, you’ll know that if a judge agrees to take the case. Then you’ll be served. Now, I really do need to take this other call. If a judge takes this case, I’m sure I’ll be able to clarify this with your attorney.”

“So I’m going to need an attorney.”

“Yes, if a judge takes the case, you will need an attorney. You can’t represent yourself in this court. Now, as I’ve said, I really do need to take this call. If you are served papers, you’ll have my contact information to relay to your attorney. Bye.”

“Bye.” I hung up. The day before, I had still been on vacation with my kids. Just the night before, I had spoken with Lucy and she had made no mention of this. Now there was an emergency? And I needed an attorney in less than twenty-four hours?

I called Lucy. No answer. I left a message and called her cell. No answer. I left a message and called my son. No answer. I left a message and tried Lucy’s cell again. No answer. I made a few other calls to my family and to friends who are lawyers. I was advised that I should not go to court without knowing what claims are being made against me. I collected leads on family lawyers.

I again tried the circuit of numbers to reach Lucy and my children. All went directly to voice mail. After an anxious evening, I went to bed.

The next morning, I tried to call Lucy and my children. Again, I only got voice mail. I made coffee and checked my email. I was surprised to see a note from my eight-year-old daughter.

im srry im not supposed to be emailing you so make this our secret please please please i just want to tell you what ever happens i love you very much! i have to go im srry

She wasn’t supposed to email me? What did she mean by “whatever happens?” Why was she apologizing? Why was her email a “secret?”

I wrote back:

Honey, that's silly. No one can tell you that you can't email your father, or talk to him on the phone, any time you like! So write notes any time.

I love you very, very much.

Dad

Oh, and your M magazine has arrived! Gossip galore.


If my daughter was under the impression that she was not permitted to write to me, I suspected that this prohibition extended to phone calls. I wasn’t getting anywhere trying Lucy’s numbers. I decided to call Lucy’s mother to see if she knew what was going on.

“Hello?”

“Hi, Bucky, it’s Jefferson. I’ve been trying to call Lucy and the kids for a day now and I can’t get through. I’m worried. Do you know what’s going on?”

“Yes, they are here,” she stammered, surprised by my call. “And you can’t talk to them. Bye.” She hung up.

I looked at the phone in my hand. I called back. She answered. “Bucky, it’s Jefferson. Are you telling me that you have my children and you are not allowing me to speak to them? That’s not acceptable.”

“Well, that may be, but you can’t talk to them until Lucy gets back. Bye.” She hung on me again. I called back. The phone rang and went unanswered. I tried calling my son’s cell again. It went to voice mail.

I felt helpless. Evidently, my children were being sequestered on Long Island, kept from me by my ex and her mother. I had no idea what was going on, but I did know how to phone tree Lucy’s family. When Lucy was uncommunicative, I could try her mother. If her mother was unresponsive, I could go to her father or her brother. There, cooler heads generally prevailed. I called her brother in California.

“Richard, it’s Jefferson. I’ve been trying to call my kids and your sister, but I can’t get through. I just called your mother and was told that she has the kids, but she refused to allow me to speak to them. I got an email from my daughter saying she wasn’t permitted to talk to me. Now, I have my car. Should I drive out to your mother’s house to get to the bottom of this?”

“No, you don’t want to do that.” He paused. “You don’t want to do anything that might upset the judge.”

“The judge? So what’s happening here? Has a judge ordered the kids not to speak to me?”

“No, I don’t know anything about that,” he said. “Though, Lucy was meeting with a judge today, and I haven’t heard the latest. But it should be clear to you what’s going on. You’ve written about it many times. Your double life has been revealed and now Lucy is suing for custody.”

I sat down. “My double life,” I repeated.

“Yes, your double life and your blog. Lucy found out about it in the spring and showed it to all of us. Now she’s suing for custody.”

I sat for a moment. “Okay. Well, thanks for letting me know. No one has really told me anything, so this comes as a shock.”

“You haven’t seen anything? No court papers?”

“Lucy’s lawyer spoke to me yesterday, but she declined to tell me what this was about. This is the first I’ve heard.” I paused. Richard was silent. “Okay, anyway, thanks again. If you would please talk to your mother and tell her I want to talk to my kids, I’d appreciate it.”

“Sure. Take care.”

Richard was right. I had written many times that my greatest concern in keeping this blog was that Lucy would discover it and file for full custody.

She had sought full custody in the original divorce. At that time, she had no reason to expect that I would be denied joint custody. Still, she had dug in her heels, defying the advice of her family and even her own attorney. She resisted any compromise and sought every opportunity to protract the case. The more time we spent in court, the more she could hope that, despite all evidence to the contrary, she might prevail.

Further, she wanted to control and punish me. Her family’s money made it possible to pay for unnecessary legal fees. The more expensive she made the process, the more she could bully me. I lacked her resources. She knew she could use financial intimidation against me. Money or no, she knew that her bullying had worked in the past.

Now, she had discovered my blog. For the previous four months—even as she worked to have my family removed from her father’s apartment, never expressing any concern about where the children and I would go—she had been going through my blog, searching for evidence she could use in once more seeking full custody. With twenty-five thousand dollars of her mother’s money, Lucy had retained lawyers to take this blog and turn it into her desired vindication—full custody for her, ruin for me.

I would not see the assembled evidence until that afternoon, after a judge had agreed to take on the case and I was subsequently served papers. My “double life” had been revealed and Lucy was rushing me to court. She was hurling her family’s money into an emergency filing, knowing I would have to struggle to keep up.

What I didn’t yet realize was that Lucy had already broken with the original custody settlement. No judge or legal authority had given her permission to deny me contact with the children. We had yet to appear in court and Lucy had already defied an existing court order.

I wondered what must have been going through the children’s heads when their mother told them they couldn’t speak to their father. How did that feel to them, particularly after two entire weeks of vacation with their father?

I didn’t yet know what the children knew. I wouldn’t know for several months. Lucy had already outed their father. Lucy had told the children that I am bisexual. She had told the children that I go to orgies. She had told the children that I spank people. She had told the children that I write pornography on the Internet. She had made the children understand that I am a bad man and they are not safe with me. She was going to protect them from me, which meant going to court. In the meantime, the children would not be seeing their father and they were not to speak to him.

Saying these things to the children may have satisfied Lucy's rage, but saying them was clearly not in the best interests of the children.

It would be months before anyone involved in the case would know what Lucy had told the children. Even her own attorneys seemed to be in the dark. By that time, Lucy had sworn in a court document that the children had learned about my “double life” when they encountered my blog on the family computer. I asserted that this was highly unlikely. The children’s law guardian visited our home for a private tour of the computer’s security features. She agreed that they were formidable. Still, better safe than sorry, she said: better to get another computer for the kids and keep them off the shared one. Already financially strapped by Lucy’s emergency filing, I was now out of pocket for a new computer.

Lucy may have gloated about the added expense—another “win” in her campaign of financial intimidation—but the gloating wouldn’t last long.

In describing my sexuality to the children, she had defied another order of the original custody settlement: parents are not to disparage one another to the children. What’s more, Lucy had claimed in the original motion and a subsequent filing that the children had learned about my blog on our shared computer. In fact, she had told the children about my online writing about sex. There was no evidence that the children knew the URL or had ever seen it on our computer.

In her haste and rage, she had once again perjured herself before the court.

All of that was yet to come. A few days after our vacation and one day after I had learned of the custody filing, Lucy appeared with her lawyers before a judge. The judge agreed that the charges in the motion deserved consideration on an emergency basis and ordered an appearance for the following week.

Lucy was ecstatic as she left the courthouse and retrieved her car. She chain-smoked as she drove to her mother’s house, her mind racing as she calculated how well this was going. She had really stuck it to Jefferson this time! She was going to get him, finally. Where was that loser going to get twenty-five thousand dollars in less than a week? He’d fail to get a lawyer, fail to show up in court, the kids would see what a failure fucking asshole he is, and finally, she would be vindicated for divorcing him. Everyone would see what a loser he is!

That afternoon, I got a call from our daughter. Her mother had given her permission to call. “Hey Dad, guess what?” she said excitedly. “Mom totaled the car. We get to get a new one!”

In the background, I could hear Lucy talking to her mother, a mile a minute, her voice racing to keep up with her thoughts.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sex, Lies, Videotape

On July fifteenth, just before midnight, I pulled in front of Lucy’s house. As we had called ahead, she sat waiting on the front stoop, smoking and drinking a beer. She smiled and stamped out her cigarette. I smiled back. She avoided eye contact with me; her smile was for the children.

The kids and I were returning from our annual two-week vacation with my family back home. After two days on the road, I was glad to be getting home. The kids leapt from the car as soon as I parked. I unpacked the trunk as the kids hugged their mother and began excitedly relating the adventures we had on the road and on the lake.

“Bet you’re looking forward to some quiet,” Lucy said to me.

“Oh yes,” I smiled. “I’ve heard enough ‘hey Dad, hey Dad,’ to last for a while. I’m sure you’re glad to get them back.”

“I am,” she nodded. “I really need them, especially when they’re gone.”

I put a bag over my shoulder and lifted two others. “Here, let me get these things in the house and I’ll be on my way; they won’t calm down for a while.”

“I know! They are really bouncing up and down.” Having satisfied the need to acknowledge me, Lucy returned to the children. I set down the bags in the living room. I’m very rarely in the home we once shared, maybe once a year, and each time, I’m struck by the fact that it looks exactly the same. It’s as if time had stopped when Lucy kicked me out five years earlier.

I said goodbyes to the children, kissing each of them, and waved a goodbye to Lucy. I closed the door on my way out, the children’s voices following me to the car. As I drove away, I turned off the radio, rolled down the windows and enjoyed the quiet summer air. Funny, when you think of it, I mused. Twenty years ago that night, Lucy and I had made love for the first time.

Lucy and I worked at the same bookstore. I was an assistant manager; later, we would joke that this was the last time in our relationship that she wasn’t the boss. We had worked together for six months before she took a long look at me and decided I might be worth dating. But first, she had to clear something up: was I or was I not dating William?

William had come to work at the bookstore that spring. He took an immediate liking to me and followed me everywhere. “He’s like your new puppy,” a friend observed. William knew I was bisexual, as did everyone, but, as he constantly reminded me, he was straight. He had a girlfriend. Together, they tended a gay bed and breakfast. Whenever I visited, I read their copies of Honcho and Bear.

One day, William called me upset. He and his girlfriend were breaking up and he needed to move out. His parents lived in the suburbs and he was welcome there, but he didn’t want to return home. I suggested that he stay with me until things were sorted out. That night, he moved in and we began to share the bed in my tiny room.

My friend teased that we were now an item. “No, it’s not like that,” I replied. “William is straight.”

“So? You’ve been with straight boys.”

I tilted my head. “William is straight and Catholic.”

“Ooh.” My friend nodded. “So that means waiting until he says his prayers.”

“Not happening.” I maintained.

Still, like everyone else at the bookstore, Lucy assumed that William and I were having sex. She decided to get to the heart of the matter. One evening after work, she invited William to join her for a beer. They walked to a nearby Ethiopian restaurant. When the beers were served, Lucy got to the point. “So are you and Jefferson doing it?”

William spurted his beer. “What? No! No, no way. I like him as a friend, and he’s bi, so maybe . . . maybe he’s into me that way. But I couldn’t . . . wait, why, did he say something?”

“No, he didn’t say anything. So you’re sure he likes girls?”

“Sure, he likes girls. Why?”

Lucy smiled. “I think he’s sexy.”

William sat back. “No way! Really? Come on, you have to tell him. Come over tonight.” He reached for his beer. “Hurry, drink this. We can get some more beer on the way to our place.”

Lucy laughed. “You’d think you were the one getting a date!”

I closed the bookstore that night at eleven. After accounting and closing up, I walked home, stopping to pick up a six of Rolling Rock. I was surprised to find Lucy and William on the front porch. I sat with them. Lucy passed her one hit. We sat talking and drinking beer. It was getting late and Lucy showed no sign of leaving. I was a little nervous about smoking pot on the porch, so I recommended that we go inside to my room.

As William and Lucy laughed and rolled a joint, I put on an album. I liked Lucy but I was feeling a bit put out. Maybe William wasn’t my boyfriend, but still, I wasn’t keen on him bringing girls home to my room. I didn’t want to be put out on the couch while they screwed.

Lucy suggested that we play strip poker. William lost, but refused to part with his boxers. Then Lucy lost and refused to remove her panties. She did concede her breasts. Finally, I cheated so that I would lose and undressed. “This is the point of strip poker,” I chided. “You get naked to see what happens next.”

What happened next was that Lucy kissed me. My hands touched her body, finding William’s hands already there. This was really nice, I thought. I hadn’t had a threesome in such a long time.

The three of us fooled around, kissing and touching, until I recommended that we go to the roof. Being nude outside and making out was even hotter. Soon, I was going down on Lucy, my knees scraping on shingles. William watched, stroking his cock. After a moment, Lucy stopped me. “Hang on, that’s a bit much. Can we stop for a second? I need to catch my breath.”

“Sure.” I grinned and moved to be next to her. I nuzzled my face into her neck.

“Listen,” she whispered. “I’m here for you, not William. Can you make him go away?”

I sat back. “I had no idea.” I turned to William. “Hey buddy, can we have some time alone?”

William was taken aback. I was asking him to walk away from a naked woman, something contrary to his every instinct. “Um, okay,” he said, still holding his erection. “I’ll, um, meet you guys downstairs.”

“Thanks, buddy.” I watched as he climbed the ladder back to my room. I turned back to Lucy. “So I thought I was crashing your date.”

“No, he was crashing ours.” We kissed. That night, we had sex until well past dawn. She declined to sleep over, saying she had to feed her cat. The following night, she came back.

I had received a video camera for college graduation just a few weeks earlier. I videotaped everything. That night, William made a video of Lucy and I making love. Our sex was slow and sensuous, just right for a summer night with soft lighting and ambient music.

William’s video interspersed footage of us with shots of my room: the lamp, the bookcase, the poster of Rilke. After a while, he put down the camera and joined us. His energy was entirely different from ours. Watching us through a viewfinder had left him keyed up and anxiously aroused. He had sex with Lucy abruptly, pulling out to shoot on her stomach. Lucy would later say it was the fastest sex she had ever had. I offered the excuse that William had probably never been so turned on in his life.

Lucy wasn’t interested in more sex with William. He knew he was a third wheel, so he set out to add a fourth. He began to date Lucy’s best friend. She joined the three of us almost every night, nude, talking, laughing, smoking pot, making love, passing around the video camera.

I thought about that summer, twenty years later, as I drove home from Lucy’s house. These were among my fondest memories of what it was like to fall in love with Lucy. I had replayed these memories in my mind over and again as our marriage became increasingly devoid of intimacy, replaying the videos now and then to remember more precisely what we had said and how we had felt.

I hadn’t looked at videos in quite some time until after my divorce, when William suggested we dust them off. “Wow, we were so young,” I said. “I was one skinny kid.”

“And look,” he grinned. “We both had hair.” We laughed and then fell silent, eavesdropping on our younger selves. I watched as he massaged Lucy. “Oops, sorry about that,” he winced.

“Ha, no worries,” I said, watching as he and his girlfriend made love on a couch.

The day after my return from vacation, I called my daughter to let her know that she had left a game in my car. There was no answer, so I left a message. I hadn’t expected an answer, really. I was sure they were still asleep and tuckered out

The next day, I got a call from a lawyer. Lucy had filed for full custody of our three children on an emergency basis. I was told I would soon be served. I was stunned. Lucy's lawyer reluctantly answered my questions, repeating that I would soon be served. I was confused. What did this even mean?

My hands shook as I called Lucy. No answer. I left a message and called her cell. No answer. I left a message and called my son. No answer. I left a message and tried Lucy’s cell again. No answer.

The following afternoon, a messenger arrived with a package. I opened it and found a stack of papers about the size of a Manhattan telephone book. I learned that Lucy had discovered my blog and was using that as the basis of her motion. I flipped through the pages, reading over and again the words “sex,” “sexual,” “bisexual,” “orgies,” “hypersexual.” Blog posts were excerpted throughout. Attached at the back were pages and pages of printed posts.

I called Lucy. No answer. I left a message and called her cell. No answer. I left a message and called my son. No answer. I left a message and tried Lucy’s cell again. No answer.

I returned to the papers. One particular excerpt caught my eye. The preceding paragraph asserted that my sex partners are permitted to fantasize about my children. That’s absurd, I thought. I looked up the original post. The excerpt had purposefully been shorn of context so as to distort its meaning. “You want to play literary critic?” I said aloud. I reached for a pen and Post-It notes. “Let’s go.”

As I read Lucy’s motion in more depth, I was struck by two curious assertions.

Lucy said that she discovered my blog after it was featured in Time Out, New York. Apparently, a friend had read the feature and thought it might be referring to me. Lucy would have wanted to know more; at the time, she was working hard to have my family removed from an apartment her father owned. She went to the Time Out website but couldn’t find the cover story article then posted on the site's front page. The feature was on newsstands that week and remains online to this day, but Lucy apparently lost interest in looking further.

A few weeks later, our eight-year daughter approached her. “Mom, did you know that onelifetaketwo.com is Dad’s secret website?” Lucy said this was news to her, but she didn’t bother typing in the URL her daughter had conveniently provided.

At the end of June, Lucy's therapist recalled having read the article. She agreed that it sounded like me. She provided Lucy with a copy. Then, at long last, Lucy read the feature. As it happened, I was going to be leaving town for a vacation with the children the next day. It was also the first day of Lucy’s long-planned sabbatical from her job. It was incredibly fortuitous that her discovery came at the very moment that she would have free time to address it. Fearing for her children’s safety while they were in my custody, she did what any concerned mother would do. She told me to have a nice trip with the children and contacted a lawyer. She hired her attorneys on July second.

I read over this timeline a few times. It made no sense. Lucy? My Lucy? After so much effort and energy spent in our divorce, despite her continuous hostility over the course of several years, she expected it to be believed that she was so disinterested? Despite her concerted efforts in making me homeless, Lucy cared nothing about reading “Dad’s secret website,” even lacking the basic skills to navigate Time Out, New York's website?

I flipped through the motion. I noted that many of the pages provided by her lawyer’s office had been printed well before Lucy had contacted them. Why on earth, I wondered, would Lucy’s lawyers print selections from my blog before she brought it to their attention?

I checked for IP addresses on my StatCounter. I asked other bloggers to check theirs. I took notes.

The other curious thing was Lucy’s repeated assertions that she had no idea that I was bisexual or interested in group sexual activities. This simply wasn’t true. She knew that I was bisexual before she knew me. She had asked William about that before our first date. She had known Donnie, my high-school boyfriend, and she understood when I needed to care for him as he died of AIDS. We would name our first child in his memory. She understood that Donnie’s influence in my life was one reason I continued to identify as bisexual even when Lucy and I were monogamous. We discussed this over and again in couples’ therapy. Friends I’ve known for twenty years or more could attest that Lucy has always known of my sexuality. So why claim otherwise?

This would vex me until my first meeting with my attorney.

“She had to show a change of circumstance,” I was told. “In order to file on an emergency basis, she needed to show that she had newly discovered information that she did not have at the time of the original divorce settlement.”

“But she’s always known I’m bisexual!” I said. “She knew about my group sexual activities, too. Heck, she even participated in them with me.”

My attorney sat back. “Really?”

“You want to know what’s more?” I tapped my finger on the desk between us. “I’ve got that on videotape.”

She laughed. “Well, you may want to hang on to those tapes.”

Lucy would repeat her alleged timeline of discovery and her claims to be ignorant of my sexuality throughout the fall. As we prepared for court-ordered psychiatric evaluations, Lucy began to claim that the videos did not exist and I lied in saying otherwise. She then changed her story to say that the videos did exist, but I was lying about their content. Her story shifted until she settled on the central fact: I was lying.

Some people believed her. This was important, as her entire claim of an emergency situation rested on two necessary facts: she was ignorant of my sexuality and had only recently discovered it.

“This is absurd!” I complained to my attorney. “This isn’t a case of ‘he said, she said.’ This is a verifiable fact. One of us is lying about the existence of the videos and their content. If I’m lying, I’m being dishonest. But if she’s lying, she’s lied in court motions. Isn’t that perjury?”

My attorney paused for a moment. “I think I need to see these videos,” she said.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

StatCounter

Like many bloggers, I use StatCounter to track activity on my sites. Today, I signed in to find two large banners advising me to “save” marriage by contacting my state legislator to block passage of a gay marriage bill in New York State. The ad was paid for by The New York Marriage Fund. Rather than link you to homophobes, I’ll send you to look at Comedy Central’s description of the organization.

I contacted StatCounter support.

I am dismayed to find that StatCounter is running banner ads opposing the passage of a gay marriage bill in New York State. I use this service in my work, and I do not appreciate being confronted with homophobia in this manner. I urge StatCounter to decline such advertising.

As I noted this ad on my Twitter feed, which is read by many bloggers who also use StatCounter, I wanted to let readers know how StatCounter replied.

Hi Jefferson,

My apologies for the inconvenience and confusion. I am *extremely* sad to hear this ad ran on our site, and that's an understatement.

We use one of the world’s largest ad providers, Google. Sadly, Google does not make it easy to keep the ads on message. You'd think they would, but they don't. Ideally we want *ONLY* relevant ads on our site yet this kind of garbage keeps slipping through. Trust me when I say it upsets all of us here at StatCounter every time something like this happens.

In the future when you see these ads you have two options :

1) Right click the ad and copy the URL, then send it to us. This is the only way we can filter it out on our side.

2) Sometimes the ads contain a link that says "Feedback - Ads by Google." Click that link and then scroll down to the link at the bottom that says "Send Google your thoughts on the site or the ads you just saw." Now do know that some ads don't have this link; why all ads don't have this is beyond me.

Once again, I am extremely sorry you had to see this trash on our site—we really do regret it.

I hope this helps clear things up. Please let me know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Thank you,
Rory
StatCounter

Friday, May 15, 2009

Parking

I stood on the corner, scanning a cluster of people preparing to cross the street. Some had wet hair, some held coffee mugs. Most wore expressions of early morning distraction as they went about the first steps of their commutes.

I didn’t see her lips. I opened my phone and typed, “I’m here.” Hitting send, I noticed a woman on the opposite corner open her phone. I had found her lips. She didn’t notice me, nor would she, as she had no idea what I looked like. I waited for the light to change and crossed to her side.

She smiled as her eyes caught me looking at her. “Good morning,” she said.

“Isn’t it?” I replied. I took her face in my hands and kissed her. I ran my lips across hers, lingering. I had been thinking of her lips for days and I wanted to savor this first taste.

“Hmm, not here.” She pulled back and looked to her side. “This is my daughter’s school. It wouldn’t do to be caught kissing here.”

“Ah, right. Well, then let’s kiss elsewhere. Come with me.” I took her hand and began walking. She fumbled to put away her phone, laughing that she was nervous. I smiled at her. “Good. I like nervous. Come on now, we don’t have much time.”

She had written to me that she was glad to see my blog return and to congratulate me on the outcome of my custody case. She had been reading for a while, having first learned of it through her friend, Phillip, with whom I had traded a few notes as well. She’s known Phillip for most her life, she told me, and they are very good friends; so much so, she went on, that her husband is a little jealous of their friendship. “So we have to play it down in front of him,” she said. “My husband is too much the jealous type. Which is inconvenient now that we have an open relationship. I’m only allowed to flirt with girls and even that is the cause of endless negotiation. It’s hardly worth the effort! Fortunately, I’ve got a great girlfriend now, and he approves. She’s married, too. We’ve got a lot in common.”

“It’s a shame your flirtation is restricted,” I said. “Are you any good at it?”

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to avoid flirting with you, Jefferson,” she replied. “I’m afraid your writing has me too turned on for that.”

“Perhaps you should get your husband’s permission to flirt with me,” I suggested. “I’d hate to cause trouble.”

“That would definitely cause trouble,” she averred. “So I’m just going to flirt without permission. A girl likes to have some secrets.”

“I don’t mind being a secret. Let’s see how well you flirt.” Our correspondence heated up, for it turned out that she flirts very well. She casually dropped a link to a site including her photos. When I failed to notice, she directed me to the link, shaming me for being such a poor stalker. “I may not be much of a stalker,” I said. “But I do know pretty when I see it. And you, my friend, are very pretty. Look at your lips!”

“Thanks. I think my lips are my best feature.”

“I can see why. My gosh, they are so full and seem so soft. They give you a sensuous look. Are your lips as soft as they seem?”

“Yes, I’ve been told they are very soft.”

“Are you much of a kisser? Because it would be a waste to have such lovely lips and be an untalented kisser.”

“I’ve been told that I’m a very good kisser.”

“I’ll be the judge of that. Let’s make a kissing date. Would you need permission for that?”

“Hmm, let’s just have a kissing date. My secret.”

Our date was not to last long. She had about half an hour before she needed to leave for her office. I led her to a side street where my car was waiting. “Get in the back seat,” I said, walking to the other side of the car. I realized, too late, that I had failed to open the door for her. My manners were slipping in my haste to have her kiss.

“Your car is very cozy,” she said, bouncing slightly. “Very clever idea, kissing in the back seat.”

“It’s rather high school, isn’t it? I thought it might add to the illicitness of our date.” I leaned forward. “And well timed too, because in half an hour, any car parked on this street could be ticketed. This will keep us on schedule.” My lips touched hers.

“You really do think of everything,” she murmured in my mouth.

“Yes,” I whispered into her. “Now shut up and kiss me.”

She hummed in response. Her lips were as soft as they looked. I nibbled slightly, eliciting a contented coo. I lowered my mouth to her neck, feeling her quiver as I kissed and lightly licked her skin. I bit faintly. “No marks,” she moaned. “Remember, secret . . .”

“But you do like to be marked,” I said, brushing her ear with my cheek. “It’s obvious.”

“Desperately,” she replied. “But I can’t have marks.”

“You can’t have visible marks,” I corrected. “Secret marks are different.”

“Secret . . . ?” she began, but her question was lost in my mouth. I held her face tight in my hands, feeling the warmth of her rising temperature. I closed my eyes and gave over to our kiss. “Look,” she said after a while. “We’ve steamed the windows.”

I glanced up. “So we have. It’s all you. Your body is so warm.” I ran a finger across the slick perspiration on her sternum.

“I know.” She blew a curl from her face. “It’s a little embarrassing.”

“On the contrary.” I licked her collarbone. “It makes me want to kiss you in July. In a sauna.” Her breathing accelerated as I kissed her neck, my hand massaging her hip. She raised a leg to my lap, grazing my pants.

“You’re so hard,” she observed, looking down.

“I’m very aroused,” I agreed, biting into her shoulder through her low-cut top.

“I’m sorry, I have to see . . .” She hurriedly unbuckled my belt and unfastened my jeans. “Wait, I just . . .” she said to herself before slowly unzipping me. “Oh God, that’s just so . . .” With that, she bent to take my cock in her mouth.

“Look at you, look at you,” I said, running my fingers through her curly hair. “Such a pretty little cocksucker.” I pet her hair and leaned back, letting her suck me. “This is just a kissing date, something sweet and innocent,” I reminded her. “But look at what a slut you are.” She moaned, grabbing my leg. “It’s going to be difficult to abide by your guidelines if you disobey them yourself.”

She took her mouth from me. “Secret,” she breathed, then returned to sucking my cock.

“That’s right,” I stroked her hair. “You’re secretly blowing your secret. No one knows.” I turned my head. A man got into the car behind mine, turned the engine and pulled away. He glanced my way, seeing only, I assumed, an indistinct shape through steamed windows.

I lightly touched her ear, watching as her head bobbed. She really is pretty, I thought. I took her hair in my fist and pressed the back of her neck. She took me into her throat. “Such a slutty faggot cocksucker,” I mused. “Can’t control herself. I just wanted a kiss and now she sucks my cock.” She gurgled appreciatively.

“Come here.” I lifted her hair. Spittle connected her lips to my cock as she gasped. “I want more kisses,” I said, bringing her mouth to mine. Her kiss was hot and wet, really more of an interrupted blowjob than a proper kiss. I pulled back on her hair. “Open,” I directed. She opened her mouth. I put three fingers on her tongue and pushed back. She swallowed quietly as my hand entered her throat. I help it there. “Good.” I took a breast in my hand and squeezed. She turned her eyes to watch mine, swallowing the slick saliva that pooled at my fingertips. “Good,” I repeated. I released her breast and moved my hand under her skirt. She was wearing no panties, as I has instructed. “You’re wet,” I told her.

She slid her mouth from my hand. “I’m sorry,” she said, coughing slightly. She moved my forearm from beneath her skirt. “But I promised someone I wouldn’t let you inside me today. I mean, inside me . . . there.”

“Oh, we can honor that promise.” I reached to shift my cock, still wet from her mouth, back into my open jeans. “So you did ask your husband for permission after all?”

“No, he doesn’t know.” She slumped forward slightly, smiling. “I’m being very naughty. No, this is another suitor. Someone who knows I’m with you and is really a little jealous about it.”

I gently took her breast in my hand. “Your girlfriend?”

“No.” She ran her hands through her curls. “Now you’ll think I’m really bad. I have another suitor.”

I shrugged. “That’s no concern of mine, except that your suitor has put a rule on you that affects me.”

“It’s just this one time. Like I said, my suitor is a little jealous that I’m with you.”

I touched her hair. “You’re rather intriguing, aren’t you?”

She laughed. “That’s a compliment coming from you.”

“Shh, shh, shh.” I took a fistful of hair. “Enough talk. Suck my dick.” As she returned to my cock, I pinched small bits of her scalp and gave her hair long, slow tugs. She responded by groaning on my cock. This girl, I knew, wanted to be marked. I sat back and let her blow me. I trained my eyes on the construction workers at the end of the block.

“Come here.” I pulled her hair, She sat up quickly, arching her back, poised to react. Smiling, I returned my fingers to her mouth. She eagerly accepted them. “You’ve given me such nice head. I want to give you something in return.” I pulled her head forward and kissed her neck. My mouth made its way into her hair. I found flesh at the base of her skull and bit. She grunted. Her teeth clamped on my fingers. I bit harder. I continued until she coughed on my hand.

I pulled away. “No visible marks,” I whispered in her ear. “No one knows about that mark but you and me. It’s secret.”

“Oh my God,” she said, rubbing her neck. “That’s so hot. I can already feel that; it’s really going to hurt.”

“I hope it hurts. You’ve been very nice to me.” I nodded toward her lap. “Thanks for wearing the skirt like I asked. Now lift it.” She leaned forward, took the hem of her skirt in her fingers and lifted. “You’re smooth,” I observed. “And you’ve got a nice piercing.”

“I’ve got navel jewelry, too,” she offered.

“Show me.”

She lowered her skirt and raised her shirt. “Nice,” I admired. “No restrictions on your navel.” I leaned forward to lightly bite her belly. I grabbed her naked thighs. “Are your nipples pierced?”

“No . . .”

“Show me.” She raised her shirt higher. I lifted her bra. “You have such pale nipples,” I admired. I squeezed one, watching her squirm. “Good.” I bent forward to taste it, biting softly.

“Unh,” she moaned. “You can bite harder.” I bit much harder. Her thighs wriggled under my hands. “Oh, you make me want to do bad things, to be marked. But I can’t, I can’t.”

I sat back. “Your husband.”

She adjusted her bra. “And my suitor. I promised I’d behave.”

“A promise is a promise.”

She nodded, adjusting her clothes. “Do you want to know who my suitor is?”

“If you care to tell me. I’m not likely to know her.”

“Him.” She wiped her brow. “It’s Phillip.”

“You friend Phillip? The one who reads my blog?”

She nodded. “It’s complicated. We’ve known each other forever and always really liked one another, just so much. But he was married and I was married. Things got complicated last year. My husband got really jealous of him, and then Phillip, he and his wife broke up. So he was available, and my marriage was open now, but still, my husband can’t stand the thought of me and Phillip.” She dropped her hands in her lap. “Phillip’s in love with me. My husband is afraid he’ll take me away.”

“Will he?”

Her lips smiled. “No. No, he won’t. Still, he wants to be my lover. And I want him, so much. So we’re going to have an affair.”

“Going to.” I repeated. “You haven’t initiated it yet.”

“No, but we will soon. That’s why he’s jealous that I’m with you now. Maybe he’s worried that you’ll take me away.”

I took her hand. “You seem to enjoy being desired. But no, I’m not going to take you away from your husband, and I’m not going to take you away from your lover.” I thought a moment. “Though, I may steal your girlfriend.”

“No, no,” she giggled. “She’s married and not nearly as much fun as me.”

“Okay. Then maybe I’ll have sex with your lover instead.”

“Now, that I would really love to see,” she laughed.

“Easily done,” I began. “The two of you can suck my cock, and then you can sit on his face as I fuck his ass. Has he ever . . .” I was cut off by a loud whoop. I looked over my shoulder to see a police car. Two officers looked back at me. “Okay, party over.” I leaned back casually to zip up my jeans.

“Holy crap,” she said, lowering her face to my shoulder.

“Busted,” I said. “Come on, get out of the car. They just want us to move. Parking hours have ended.”

We kissed goodbye quickly on the sidewalk. “So, just to get this straight,” I said. “Your husband does not know about me, but your soon-to-be lover does. And both are jealous men.”

She raised a shoulder. “They both love me very much.”

I touched her face. “I don’t love you. I barely know you. But I am very likely going to be fucking you. Be sure you keep this as simple as you can.”

She nodded. “I will. I’m telling my husband nothing and I’m telling Phillip everything.”

“Are those the guidelines you will keep? Because I can tell Phillip myself. If I blog this, he will know.”

She took my hand. “He would be so jealous.”

“We may have to help him to share.” I kissed the lips that had steamed my windows. “Okay, get going. I need to move my car before I get a ticket.”

“Okay.” She kissed my cheek, smiled and began to walk away. I opened my car door. “Oh wait.” She stopped and turned to me. “Can I be Lola?”

“Excuse me?”

“Can I be Lola in your blog?”

I laughed. “Have a good day, Lola.”