Many imperiled couples want to add a third person to the mix: generally this third person is a baby. Sketch and I, uncertain of what we are to one another, are talking about adding another, more adult person to our vortex of dysfunction while we try to make sense of things. It’s not an unappealing idea– somebody else to mind the seats at the movie theater, someone to take some of the pressure off. Historically, I love threesomes, the way I love any opportunity to crowdsource my bottomless need for attention and affection. And I’ve always liked girls. They represent this weird alternate reality of my sexuality: with boys, I will vie for attention and approval until my voice gives out and my eyes are burning from lash glue, but with girls, it’s more of a sexual smash-and-grab, simultaneously shady and liberating. Submissive with men, dominant with women: it bothers me to be participating in the patriarchal paradigm of aggression after just this very week I culled all the catchy hip hop songs with casual misogyny in them from my playlists. But some tunes are just hard not to sing along to.
My horrible college boyfriend Bummer was super annoying about threesomes; I was invested, but he was obsessed. In college, I stopped bringing friends over, because he would just look at them like he was sizing them up for a hole in the backyard. It was senior year and he was getting creepier, and I knew I had to break up with him, but I kept guiltily putting it off. His family had practically adopted me, and he was so sad and needy and ill-prepared to take care of himself. Codependent bullshit, I know that, but I was twenty and Bummer had been telling me for years that this is how all men were anyway; I was just inexperienced enough to believe him. If it wasn’t for meeting Monster, I might never have left.
I was cheating on Bummer with this couple I had met; she had short, platinum blond hair and wore overalls with cropped tops, a look that put me right over the edge in 1995. Her boyfriend was hot in the regular way that most men in their early twenties are hot; today I am left with a vague suspicion of his name and oddly crisp recollection of the configuration of Green Day posters on his wall, and nothing more.
Bummer and I had that standard deal that has been boilerplate since man first sought to have his cake and eat it too: I was allowed to sleep with girls, but not with boys. My blond would come to pick me up with her boyfriend ducking down out of sight, and we would drive off to get fucked up on ecstasy and grind on each other on some dance floor until long after the sun came up.
It was a relationship, I guess, in that it went on for some time and there were rules and parameters. Neither of them were supposed to hook up with me unless the other one was there, and they both did anyway. Her smooth, white body under her overalls smelled like the frosting on a sheet cake.
I hooked up with couples for years, and that is how it always went; there was always the codicil that it was supposed to be a triangle, and not a line, but that only prevailed until desire and convenience dictated some hastily justified exception. I have learned there are no equilateral triangles. There is always someone you are more excited to be with; someone is always out of the loop on a secret. One person always sort of ends sleeping up at the foot of the bed. Is this why we crave other people? So we can pick our favorite? People love to pick their favorites, which is why coffee shops all have two tip jars, one marked KITTENS and one marked PUPPIES. We like to get to choose.
And still, for all the complications and the limitations, I love threesomes. I can get down with a girl without a guy there, but it is vastly easier with a man. A man approaches sex with a very linear organization sense of organization: mouth, breasts, pussy. There is a tidy order of operations, like in math. Women? Women are like art class, where you’re never really sure if you are done or if it was good.
So this is what Sketch and I have been talking about.
How are you going to feel about me writing about it? I ask him.
He tells me he would never tell me what to do with my writing. This is not the same thing as telling me that it’s OK.
An open relationship. Sketch suggests I go and do a little research, but this is not the sort of thing Google is going to provide the answers to. I type into a search field anyway: What do I want? All the top hits are about your career. I don’t know what to do about that either. I wish I could quit my day job and run away to Nicaragua and eat avocados and write all day.
Deal, a gorgeous friend of mine who lives in Central America, texts me a proud photo of himself in bed with a gorgeous couple the other day. He wants to Skype, but as most nights my hair is configured into two manky horns from hot yoga and I’m wearing my glasses, I make excuses. Still I like messaging him, and imagining the sweaty things I would do to him if he were nearby.
He’s dealing with some breakup shit himself, and I feel weirdly protective of him, partly because he’s so much younger than me and partly because he’s really a nice person, so nice in fact that when I tell him I’m feeling lonely and so hungry for sex I could chew through metal, he cyber-introduces me to a friend who lives in my neighborhood. Of me, he writes, “She’s fun, athletic, and has a banging body.” He also says that I am the hottest girl at yoga, which is a bald lie, but one that has the power to cheer me up immensely.
I love a compliment. Maybe I am even more compliment-starved than I am sex-starved. And this is another thing that I love about women. A woman will never fail to tell you how much she likes looking at you.
Deal and I banter a bit on this thread, but I don’t hear from his friend. It’s OK, though. Life is full of these attempts at threesomes, grappling attempts to include other people, to expand beyond the tight confines of a couple, before collapsing back down to two. That’s what Sketch and I used to call it: World of Two. He would cup his hands around the sides of his face the way you hold the sides of a coin-operated scenic telescope, and then he would bring his face down to mine, his fingers like parentheses that we could both fit inside, our eyes inches apart and shut to everything and everyone else.
We don’t have that anymore. World of Two fell into civil war, barbarism, cannibal orgies, flames. Its government is in exile, its countryside scavenged by carrion birds. And yet I’m still sweeping the wreckage to see if there is something left, because I still believe there is a person under there tapping on the collapsed masonry, waiting for me.