I Find It Difficult To Answer My Own Needs

To the cheeky gal who shared this tale...

For the better part of an hour, a French, Muslim, Moroccan man had been massaging my head with surprising coordination and persistence. His fingers were strong, but the kneading mostly gentle. Juxtaposed, the pair of power and finesse gave me a deep sense of reassurance. He made good use of my hair too, occasionally running his fingers through it, occasionally squeezing it tightly into his fist. Finally, and unexpectedly, he advanced from my head to my back.

In addition to being from France, and speaking little to no English, and being of Moroccan descent, as well as a member of the state of Islam, this man was also a twin and, years ago, I had learned he was a Muslim, French, Moroccan twin who shared a one-bedroom apartment and its lone queen-sized bed with his identical twin brother. The interaction I found myself in with this man, now years later, felt like a new low, but I firmly believed that I owed it to myself to reach some level of closure on the matter. The shared bed situation and the many questions it raised weighed on me heavily…where did the two masturbate if not from the comfort of their beds? Assuming they did not fuck each other, which I did assume, where did they fuck? It had been vaguely implied he fasted on holidays and didn’t drink alcohol—perhaps they also belonged to a subset of the religion that prohibited sex or sex sans marriage? Perhaps their shared DNA was mutually A-sexual? The gnawing of these unanswered questions left a hole in me, an ardent feeling that an absence of closure would haunt me like a symphony left unfinished. Allowing him to sleep with me—more or less sanctioning the opportunity—in exchange for the answer seemed fair.

 I gathered a possible answer to the “where” as he’d invited himself to my apartment under the guise he was “in the neighborhood.” And against all my expectations of him as a man, and undoubtedly my cultural ignorance, his hand had actually made its way to my butt! Did Alah know one of his sons was such a lewd little cad? Much to my astonishment, it appeared increasingly likely sex did indeed occur, was, in fact, likely to occur hic et nunc, and happened not in the bed that the brothers shared, but in the privately owned beds of the women like me. 

I wanted to believe there existed a prevailing societal norm, the expectation that sexual affairs should ideally involve a mutual exchange of intimacy—where women may rightfully anticipate a shared experience marked by mutual pleasure and satisfaction—which really had me feeling this was indeed a low of the “all-time” variety. There was no hope for that here and it felt as though I was breaking at least a few laws of attraction...my very consent, likely doing him a disservice—may have inadvertently contributed to an illusion—perhaps leading him to believe his actions were sultry and indicative of a higher level of desirability than reality suggested. He was not an ugly man by any means. His charming smile sort of complemented his golden skin and of course the French always seemed to emanate an innate je ne sai qua as if it were a birthright, but these things remained near the bottom of the list of reasons I was willing to sleep with him, which was just mad. Reasons to F someone did not, or at least should not, include “because it tickled my fucked up sense of humor”. Yet my unhinged intrigue prevailed! Intrigue into the mystery of the forty-year-old man who shared a bed with his kin, to reveal whether or not he was capable of sex and allowing the man to do as he pleased with me for merely having it in him. While I may not consistently hold a high opinion of myself, I wasn’t so lacking in self-esteem as to believe a sexual encounter with me shouldn’t demand a deeper connection than what was being presented. 

In spite of my spotty success, I’d been committed to self-honesty and had to admit there was another likely reason beyond the bizarre bed-share. It had been forty-six days since I’d last had sex and I was firmly in the throes of withdrawal. Forty days was my saturation point (no pun intended). A night earlier, I’d been reading at a local bar when I caught my leg drifting from my stool into the leg of a stranger without either of our consent. To say I was DTF offered only a superficial understanding, suggesting I was only receptive to the idea—especially if the right person came along—when in reality my body demanded it, making it more than a casual choice. While it didn’t outright insist any upright man would do, my body seemed willing to leave the door cracked for any bearable man willing to put forth reasonable effort. I called this episodic malaise overwhelming me mentally and physically my ticking time bomb state…the various levels of explosions were relative to just how far from the forty days I went—the further out, the more loose with my standards I became. The forty-six-day mark was evidently when I found myself being fondled by a weirdo, in an attempt to understand how weird. 

And while the enormity of the thirst was undeniable, there was a flaw in the time-bomb logic—more often than not the quality of the sexual experiences I had while in the state were subpar. It was hard to fathom that the mere act itself was enough to put out the fire. And yet I had not, to that point, encountered an experience so dire, despite an abundance of truly wretched ones, to leave me in the time-bomb state. Astonishingly, each time the urges were satisfied enough and my internal timer reset. The sense of fulfillment may have been misleading and I fooled by the shallow act of completing a formality. It was also certainly plausible, I’d thought, that sexual fulfillment wasn’t the “need” at all. I knew myself to not be inclined towards self-destructive behavior for self-destruction’s sake, so the sexual acts, be it fulfilling or not, in all likelihood filled a deeper, unmet emotional or psychological need. 

Admittedly, there were also certain social taboos I chronically resisted—such as those suggesting every intimate encounter possess the depth and substance associated with genuine connections, particularly when involving unfamiliar partners. On a good Thursday evening, I might cook myself a good meal. It went without saying the opportunity cost of having sex versus continuing about my typical routine was not especially high. I believed the opposite to be true—even mediocre sex seemed a better alternative. Sure it made me a bit of floozy. Did it add to my total body count that no one—myself included—was keeping count of? Sure. But I had to remind the part of me that felt empty following these encounters, without undue self-criticism, that these things didn’t have to be that deep. Condoms in instances like these, when making do with what was available, were mandatory, which more or less removed every ounce of intimacy anyway. He’d never make actual contact with my vaginal canal, his ejaculate would vaguely fill the condom reservoir and then seep back down onto him, not out of me, our sexual liquids would never meet let alone become a slurry. Save for the funny story I’d share with friends from time to time, it would be as though it never happened. 

Even so, the realization had dawned that my needs were not being fulfilled because I’d failed to identify them, leaving me with a deep sense of remorse for not unpacking them as thoroughly as I should have. At the time, it seemed like something that would come to light after I’d found someone. I imagined for several months this person and I would go on an intoxicating, largely bare-skinned, waltz of discovery and desire. When we weren’t sixty-nineing and exploring all the contours of our sexual selves, the two of us would share our favorite things—places and songs and excerpts from books. We’d develop rituals for brushing our teeth and getting ready for bed and when we woke, there’d be a ceremony around making and drinking our morning coffee. Together, we'd nurture these independent loves and everyday activities into shared passions, deepening the connection we held. With the attachment solidified, we’d grow comfortable. Eventually revealing the parts of ourselves we’d tucked away. We’d begin prioritizing our own needs and comforts over the others, taking a few too many liberties with our mutual commitment to love. The ease with which we’d hurt each other would grow with our confidence in the unlikeliness of a split. The strong foundation we’d built falling in love would take on cracks and, with the onset of the slow erosion process, we’d start keeping score of the niceties we’d both pulled back on. It would be then, in the face of indefatigable compromise, with the issues of the relationship well-defined and documented, when the boundary setting and the discernment process to better understand needs would come forward.

As the man draped himself over top me, engulfing me in a mix of Moroccan and French pheromones like a blanket, I admitted this seemed backwards…to kickstart the waltz, I had to first closely examine my needs. In a manner reminiscent of the head rub, the man was gentle but firm as he placed himself in me. In terms of size, he was neither too cumbersome nor insufficient and the tempo of his movements initially sparked hope within me for a promising performance, when, much to my dismay and discomfiture, the man completely moved off the patience he’d displayed in massaging me for much of the night—the temperance and groove with which he thrusted swiftly faded—and what began as a sort of rhythmic belly rolling, much too hastily turned into rapid-fire in and out. The reciprocating motion seemed better suited for a man aspiring to deliver oodles of stab wounds to a highly specific target area, not a person trying to get a woman off.  And in the throes of his impetuosity and rather intense perspiration, he’d forcefully driven his forehead into my cheek and, with the full pressure of his weight pressing down on me, I had to synchronize my inhalations with the moments he withdrew himself. In any case, it still remained largely pleasurable and, frankly, was a frequently employed method for men from the masturbation culture we find ourselves in. Far more troubling and inconvenient was the hindrance it all posed on the considerations being given to my needs, which had been overlooked and undervalued long enough.

It didn’t stop me!

Thus it was that I decided I needed a man who’d anticipate my arrival with some level of eagerness and extend a heartfelt greeting. I was longing for someone who’d willingly share their time, recognizing such a bond could exist only if they cherished my company. I wanted him to be smart, despite not having settled on exactly what sort of intelligence I sought. I had a relationship with a man called David Brandon who initially appeared to meet that qualification. He taught English and was very well-read. The dilemma with David Brandon, aside from the two first names, laid in the application, or absence of an application, of his intelligence. There was no denying he possessed knowledge, but his ideas were exclusively drawn from the pages of books, like a cover band. I had since gathered that I desired a man who could draw from a reasonably deep well of erudition but whose thoughts were his. I was also seeking a man with the capacity to maintain his physique. I had more recently been in a largely sexual relationship with a forty-year-old boy called Cody, who steadily fed me unsolicited pledges to reverse both his muscle atrophy and plumpish appearance, as well as his overall life situation, the decline of which were undoubtedly attributed to alcohol. Eventually, he reversed another course, explaining he wasn’t looking for a relationship. I believe the truth was he’d grown too weary to attain even his humblest of goals and could no longer commit to a positive future for himself. Naturally, this sort of fuck boi bullshit didn’t bode well for the possibility of long-term plans or a commitment within the relationship. As he woke up before me that morning, swigging a leftover Coors Light, the resignation in his eyes seemed a tacit acknowledgement that his harmful coping mechanisms were on display and a return to waking in solitude offered an escape from the discomfort and embarrassment he grappled with. Better to not be seen at all than to be seen a drunk and a weakling. I imagine he wasn’t aware just how gravely he longed for companionship—what he lacked, it seemed to me, was not the desire for a relationship so much as he’d allowed himself to become entrenched too deeply in isolation and self-need that there was no way for love to break through or for a partnership to form. This was all to say, as shallow as it may be to want a fit man, I’ve witnessed too many instances of men too weary to exercise and care for their bodies that also failed to exhibit the endurance for life or lifelong companionship. 

Smarts and a good bod were just wants, though, not needs. I could have, perhaps, aspired for something loftier, but what I came to realize I needed was to be needed. For all these years, I’d accepted being wanted for the briefest of moments, lusted after for the span of a date or two. This was despite being a painter! Despite knowing four languages including French, without which the French-Moroccan-Muslim and I would’ve been unable to speak! Despite being much more interesting  than a large portion of the dumb dudes who rejected me! Sustained desire seemed fair. I’d like a guy to care about what I had to say, even after getting in my pants—something that likely contributed to my letting them in in the first place, to see if they’d return for the conversation. I sought a sincere, unadulterated interest, with no underlying motive or insecurities—no need to chase or prove themselves—just the interest in me. 

The Moroccan-French-Muslim-twin came. I didn’t. He didn’t call. Nor did I. A new timer was set: T-minus forty days and counting.

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