Thursday, July 08, 2010


I spent most of yesterday -- or, rather, far more than I justifiably should have -- feeling sorry for myself. This, because Ben and I had plans to go upstate in the late morning, to a little town three-and-a-half hours to the north, called Coxsackie. (Apparently, Gary told me, this also happens to be the name of a disease. It IS a rather unfortunate name, no?) So Ben and I were supposed to drive up in his 1975 Volvo, bearing some sort of gift for the hosts (flowers, he suggested, or a lovely bottle of wine [I wasn't planning to have anything to do with the latter because the hosts are the wine critics for Martha Stewart Living, and even I know better than give wine critics wine.]) But then, even though Ben and I have spent the last month as each others' go-to significant other, building this crazy-fast intimacy and sharing conversations about, say, how I've been realizing the ways in which I recreated all these unhealthy dynamics of my childhood relationship with my mother in my relationship with my ex (I never use Robert's name, not with anyone anymore, if I can help it), and Ben never having been touched by his parents, how he sucked his thumb for years, all these many, many deep and personal details -- we still hadn't slept together.
In point of fact, we did spend one night in his bed, but the fooling around part didn't happen organically. I got sort of weepy about my ex, about feeling like I will never love another man, about how much he hurt me -- and when I say that "he" hurt me, I of course mean also to implicate myself in the whole thing... So that night, in Ben's bed, I just wanted to go to sleep. We kissed, but that's all. I could feel the stickiness of his fingers and how sharp his nails are and I just did NOT feel attracted to him, but neither did I trust my judgment, even enough to admit that out loud, because I felt so traumatized by the demise of my relationship with Robert that I wanted so, so badly to have something secure, something platonic, to hide in a place where I could be taken care of but never hurt... Ben called me out on it, saying that he'd never had a woman get into his bed only to turn her back on him to go to sleep. He used the word passion. He expressed an expectation.
We kissed. He crawled on top of me and we fooled around for about, oh, six minutes? No sex. I didn't sleep well, I woke up in the middle of the night sweating and he woke up, too, like he was very aware of my experience, and wanting to take care of me. He turned up the a/c, which helped some, but I woke up again, and again, never quite comfortable. I didn't like the feeling of his fingers on me, his clammy face. I don't want to dip into the waters of denigration, when all these things lead to the same conclusion: I'm not attracted to Ben.
Chemistry is such a nutty thing. I didn't feel it when I first met Robert. Or, rather, I felt a spark, but it was so far removed from the sort of magnetic pull I'd felt up to that point, I didn't know what to make of it. I didn't feel immediately sexually into him, the way I did with Richard, for instance. Robert and I were never like a couple of animals, not for the first month... And I don't know if that kind of gravitational pull is a requisite for dating, a prerequisite or whatever, for even undertaking what could be a friends plus maybe more, but I do think, especially after this chaste month with Ben, that your instincts tell you what you need to know on this front.