Addiction, Breakups, Masturbation, Phone Sex, Texting, Writing

All I Want is Phone Sex, and Here’s What’s Happening

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Although by Friday night I am so tired from teaching that I need to keep reminding myself it’s left then right then left again as I shuffle along, and I’m ready to face-plant onto the first piece of furniture that doesn’t have a seventh grader on it, when Sketch cancels our prearranged Netflix-and-chill, I’m supremely bummed out. Now the evening stretches out, long and boneless, and I text him hi like eleven times, but he’s either off putting it to someone else or, more likely, is in front of his computer chain-smoking luckies and sighing with contentment that no one is bothering him.

Into this void I message Deal, gorgeous and far away and kinky and fun, because I basically am a gasping chasm of loneliness and need, and there is nothing like the unavailability of sex to make me feel like I am dying a thousand existential deaths.  If you get too close to me in my tight pants, you can hear a sucking canyon-wind sound from the places where I need attention. A week without sex and my vagina is basically a haunted house. Deal texts me: Can I call you, and I figure this is an appeal for phone sex, because no one talks on the phone, ever. I use my phone for messaging, and for taking pictures of myself that then depress me, and one time for killing a spider.

As of call time, I am naked, vibrator at the ready. I used to do this professionally, you know. It’s not hard—phone sex is just storytelling with an orgasm at the end. I ask him to tell me about some sex he had with some German couple in Central America. I want the details. I want specifics.

But I can’t quite get into the groove of it. He keeps asking me what I’ve been up to, how I’m doing, and I realize that only one of us is trying to have phone sex here. The other one is trying to drive to a date in La Jolla.   I’m finished in about 30 seconds after we get off the phone, but it is a frowning, faintly disappointing sort of orgasm.

None of my social interactions have been going as planned. The weekend passes in a blur of gaffes, stupid jokes, long uncomfortable silences, and awkward exchanges with counter help. I should probably stop trying to strike up conversations with people until this passes, but I’m worried that this is just how things are.

By Sunday I’m ready to take myself and throw this whole mess into the ocean, so I go with some friends to Long Beach for the Polar Bear plunge. The icy swim is an annual Superbowl Sunday tradition benefiting the Make a Wish Foundation, that organization that gives one day of awesome to terminally ill kids who normally have only day after day of unremitting suck. I love the Make a Wish Foundation and sort of think they should have one for grownups too. Grownups are much better at wishing and wouldn’t waste it on something dumb like meeting a fireman. We want to do other things to a fireman, or at maybe to get to knock out a crowd of people with the fire hose. I would pick the Black Friday shoppers queued outside a Best Buy on Thanksgiving.

Anyway, fifteen thousand people come out to Riverside Beach in Long Island, and a bunch of them run into the water whooping, myself with them in a black bikini and an enormous fluffy hat with ears. The experience is a weird medley of charity, bravado, and exhibitionism that fits right into the grooves and depressions of my personality like a key.

Sketch and I used to do the Coney Island polar bear swim back when we still lived together and did normal couple things like swimming in the ocean in February. I remember how tightly he held my hand, roaring come on, T and charging in.  The cold compresses your lungs so you can’t breathe, and your body goes into shock, flooding your organs with lifesaving blood, abandoning your extremities. Afterwards, we couldn’t stop laughing. I have a picture of us in the frosty water together. A picture of how things were before, when I was in a relationship.

Here’s a few snapshots of what it was like, when Sketch and I lived together.

  1. I was bad at sharing the closet or the refrigerator. I am like a gas; I fill up all available space. With the best of intentions, I joined a CSA and mysterious leafy things unfurled from every inch of the fridge, unwanted kohlrabi rolling out every time anyone opened the door to get out the milk. From time to time he would stage a vegetable purge, and the look on his face when he pulled out a limp parsnip rolled up in an old Forever 21 bag made me lose my shit.   It still makes me laugh.
  2. I do not squeeze toothpaste from the bottom. It always looks like it’s been accidentally stepped on or run over by a bicycle. I tend to lose the top.   This was frequently commented on.
  3. When he lived here, I liked to hide in my room. The electric blanket and certain doctor-sanctioned get-highs were in there, the prescription bottles hidden in my bookshelf. He told me recently that he always felt like I was ignoring him, but I wasn’t. I was just stoned.
  4. He was a fan of the snooze button, which I personally believe is how the devil pierces the veil to our world. All intelligent people understand there is no point to the snooze button. Sketch and I could not reach a compromise on this issue.
  5. We took a lot of walks together. Even once we were very firmly broken up and situated with other people, we would still hold hands when we walked. A friend was recently telling me about a couple he knows that always walks and holds hands when they fight; something ancestral about walking side by side makes it hard, apparently, to sustain a resentment.
  6. It was hot under the covers with him. I liked it best when I could fall asleep first and he would join me later.
  7. It was hot under the covers, so I liked to wake up before him and press my cold feet to his flanks while I read a book and drank a cup of tea in bed in the morning. Neither of us were big on morning sex; it’s too sunny in my bedroom and anyway the morning boner is like 90% pee.
  8. He always had something interesting to say. It didn’t matter what we were talking about. He could say something thought-provoking about traffic or the weather.   He was never not the smartest man I had ever met.
  9. He always told me I was beautiful. He always paid attention to me. He teased me in the exact way that I long to be teased. I always felt like I had his attention, utterly. I always felt important.
  10. He carried his past around with him with remarkable lightness despite the mantle of his history, of the infamy of the crime he went to prison for. He’s not dismissive of it, but he has a easiness about his relationship to his past, this ability to glance behind him and still keep trucking forward that I keep hoping I will pick up from him the way I pick up other people’s accents or fashion choices.

I’m impressionable, but I do not have this lightness when reviewing our history, so it’s generally been easier, not having this person who was my boyfriend around. And for the last few months I’ve been reveling in the roominess of living alone, seeing Sketch on the weekend, checking in on the phone. But a phone conversation is not the same as having him walk into the room where I’m reading and hold up an ancient celery knob and ask if we really need to keep this. It’s not the same as having the luxury to ignore him in favor of a book or to use his slumbering body as a piece of furniture. It’s not the same as knowing all the confetti moments that make up a person’s day. I miss having him around. I miss having a boyfriend.  Phone sex, it seems, is not sex.

But it’s hard to feel sorry for the terminal disease your relationship has when all around you are people swimming out into the Atlantic to support the wishes of children with actual terminal diseases.

Plunging in with my friends, I find myself thinking, this water is not cold enough. It numbs my arms and legs, but not enough to stop me from wanting to wrap them around someone.

I’m off from school the next day for Chinese New Year, and so I meet my adorable friend Connecticut for lunch.  I can’t stop sort of wanting to sit in his lap. “I don’t know about you,” I tell him, “but I am not generally friends with eligible straight males. It’s kind of weirding me out.” And I tell him about Sketch, a hastily abridged version of our story but one that is still true. That we are still involved, and that I need constant attention from men or I feel like I can’t breathe, and that I also need to mostly be on my own. I have to pee but I don’t dare get up, because if I have to start this speech over again I might not be able to resist the temptation to fabricate, to position myself in a more flattering light, to see Connecticut as the source of the validation I crave instead of as a human being who also has to pee, who also has competing urges for disclosure and for obfuscation.   I tell him that his texts are a bright spot in the afternoon, and that I have an emoji assigned to his contact name so that when his texts roll up I can spot it on the screen of my phone from across the room. Which one, he wants to know. So I text him the Conecticut emoji—it’s the winking one with its tongue out. I know, I know: this emoji needs to rein it in a little. But every time I see it, it’s a tiny wish granted. My phone flickers, sending me twenty or thirty characters of relationship, and a wink with a lolling tongue. It’s enough. It’s enough. Really, it’s mostly enough.

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Russell Stover: disappointing girlfriends for over fifty years.

Happy Lupercalia  xoxo

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20 thoughts on “All I Want is Phone Sex, and Here’s What’s Happening

  1. I love this. I yet I can’t put my finger on why. You shed a camouflage of common feeling, and acknowledge something of a reality within yourself through story telling. This is a fun piece – and still, it is one which makes my heart skip. You have found yourself a new follower 🙂

    Willow

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite part of this was your list of explanations of your former relationship. I mean, I loved the other stuff as well. I can relate to that oddly desperate feeling. But the little things in your list, they were fucking perfect and heart breaking and kind of relieving and I hope that you find that again, cause life is nice with that.

    Like

  3. Pingback: The Reformed Werewolves Club | When You Stop Digging

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