I wanted to kiss her last night. But I didn’t, of course, I couldn’t. Why didn’t I? Because I wasn’t supposed to. Because it’s antithetical to everything that I committed myself to: Charlie and our sexually exploratory but non-polyamorous relationship. I didn’t want to kiss her. But my knee wanted to touch hers, my hand wanted to rub her neck, my arms wanted to pull her close to me, casually, playfully. When she turned to say something about the music to me, whispering almost, and I smelled the pungent sexy cigarette breath, my mouth wanted to taste her. Even though I know that if I were to go there and continue to go there, unabashedly following my desires, in two to three months time I would be repulsed by that breath. Just as I am sometimes repulsed by the fat of Charlie’s belly. This will pay off in the end, I think. This restraint. The choice to be reasonable. “Desire has no reason…” I heard myself saying to her as I, in my spinning brain, leaned my face into her neck, my pelvis pressed against hers in the dark red corner of Stonewall bar. The place that spawned freedom for the gays: this is where I wanted to kiss her, but didn’t.
When we said good-bye, in her embrace I could feel her instinct to pull. When she kissed my cheek, it was almost a default that her lips landed there. We’re both faking it terribly.
So I went home and watched “Grey Gardens” which I won in the raffle. I tried to forget, to pat myself on the back and convince myself that I did well to resist temptation. It will pay off, this struggle, it will be worth it, she will thank me for it in the end, when she’s in love with someone who doesn’t have a man in her life. Yeah, sure, it will be worth it when I’m living as a recluse with my mother and eight cats, regretting all the things I didn’t do. Slap me for writing that. But he comes home in the middle of Grey Gardens, I look around at the mess our apartment has become, and the possibility doesn’t seem too far from reality. I, after all, enjoy being alone. I’m three cats away from being a cat lady. I have not yet achieved the artistic success I desire. So I could be that eccentric prancing around an old house with a scarf on her head, thinking I could still be on Broadway, if only they could see me now. Maybe she’ll make a documentary of me and I’ll get famous anyway as a caricature of myself, as drunk drag queens impersonate me in piano bars thirty years later.
Why didn't I kiss her? Because she wants what so many lesbians want: a relationship with a woman who isn't tied up with a man. In my case, that man happens to be her friend. They've known each other long before he and I met, long before I was an adult. And the funny thing is, he practically orchestrated this dramatic sex triangle. He encouraged me to go out on a date with her and do whatever I want. I said, "Sure, why not?" without expecting anything. She didn't have any expectations either. He wasn't expecting, but hoping this arrangement might lead to a threesome. None of this would've happened if she hadn't drunkenly kissed him and said some things that gave him the impression she was interested in playing with both of us. I was not there. He came home and told me. Then he set us up. On our date, she practically denied ever having any interest in being with him. "No, it's just a fantasy. I do not want to have sex with Charlie. Charlie's my friend."
I went back to her place. Still no expectations. Though I said in the elevator, "I think we should at least make out." I had to get even. More than that, she was sexy. And I was on fire with possibilities. Possibilities that live in the land of no expectation.
Is it any surprise that we had sex, after all this anticipation of nothing, but possibly something? It was good, not great, as most first-time encounters are. She was nervous, unsure about the situation. "What am I doing sleeping with my friend's girlfriend?" I had to convince her it was okay. So it was not great, but intense. It had been a long time, over a year, since I had a one-on-one sexual experience with a woman. Maybe it was the refreshing newness, maybe it was the weirdness of the situation, maybe it was her oral devotion, her unflagging determination to make me come, that made it more than a casual one-night-stand. Then later, in the nest of sweaty sheets, we shared some things about ourselves. She saw me laugh, acknowledged it as something sweet. "When I first met you, you had an edge," she said.
It's true. To most people I have an "edge." Most people don't see the side that Charlie knows so well. But in a moment, without intending to, I let her see it.
I didn't realize how intimate we were until I saw her a week later. She had been on my mind, but I thought it was inconsequential, a natural lingering that would fade after a week of sex with Charlie. But when I saw her again, I held her for a while. I felt the buzz of seeing a new lover after the first fuck. The kind of buzz that makes me want more, not only sexually, but mindfully, emotionally. I wanted to discover her. Polyamorists call this phenomenon New Relationship Energy or NRE for short.
But I don't want a new relationship! Or do I? She doesn't want to have a threesome with us! Or does she? She can't seem to handle being with me in any way that involves him, whether he's physically present or not. And Charlie, my love, doesn't like the idea of me longing to be with a woman without him.
Where does that leave me? Pondering a kiss that never happened, in the grey gardens of my mind.