Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 26

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 26

Let’s do the math: a short business trip to Chicago yields three nights of sex with three total strangers. That adds up to one backslapping victory for the man on the prowl, while the same score for a woman invites the timeworn indictment that the chick is a slut.

You might think that a woman who had lived half her adult life as a lesbian would have skin too thick to be riled by such conventional finger wagging. Sadly, that was not true. Female promiscuity seemed to be the final frontier of sexual liberation, and for me, it was yet another hurdle of ignominy to overcome. Just like I learned to talk circles around my partnership with a woman—least I offend mainstream sensibilities—or invite harassment and judgment; so I kept a lid on the reality of my middle-age preference to remain a player on the field.

Filming my guest spot on the pilot for the reality series: "Lumber Jills", about Alana Huls, Canadian Timber Baroness in Panama, 2014

Filming my guest spot on the pilot for the reality series: “Lumber Jills”, about Alana Huls, Canadian Timber Baroness in Panama, 2014

In business, and in the public social sphere, a woman can be coupled, looking to be coupled, or chaste. Deviations invite prejudice, which is rarely conducive to earning a living or keeping a conversation on target.

When I began to come out as a bachelor—my third declaration of sexual deviation—the usual comeback was that I had misspoken: I was a bachelorette. Not possible, I argued. There is no resemblance between the two ways of life. A bachelor can have a long-term lifestyle, but a woman is a bachelorette only the night before she is married. Opposite sex contact for a woman, prior to engagement, was no more than a succession of way stations on the narrow path toward marriage. Until now, that is. I had discovered a different possibility, and I wanted the world to know. Now that women could be bachelors, we could stop being sluts.

My word for these episodes was dating, the mature woman’s euphemism for sex. In reality, I had no desire for traditional dating at all. I was not interested in going to movies, or for walks in the park, or on visits to museums. My foreplay was nutritional and physical: give me dinner, a drink, and a spin around the dance floor. Give me a man with a hot body and an above average intellect who could turn me on with conversation, and seal the deal by taking the lead. I didn’t want to spend the time we could be having sex with handholding activities or field trips with friends. I had a full life, with a challenging career, and a developing art business. I had a deep well of family ties and friendships to sustain, a rigorous workout regime with my trainers, a household to maintain, and a cat to pet. I loved every activity that consumed my long days, and I wanted to insert high-octane sex into the mix, and I wanted it on a regular basis.

Ideally, I wanted ongoing sex partnerships without the obligation of conventional partnerships; no checking in, no Sundays with his folks, no zoo trips with his kids. I wanted one hundred percent of his attention when we were together, and I wanted no obligation when we were not. I wanted integrity, so my men had to know I dated other men, but those relationships would remain private and were not open for conversation. I assumed that my date would have other women as well, and I expected to be kept in the dark about even the slightest of details.

I aspired to a mind-blowing, capacity-stretching, sexual trade: free from the framework of love and partnership, but adult-style respectful. I wanted a good time with a good man, and because I wanted to keep him coming back my plan was to be the best date he ever had, every time. I wanted more than one man, but not for that sullied excuse that I was a slut. It was because I had come to understand that my failure at monogamy was not because I was weak, or lacked morality, or was merely a selfish asshole. It was because at my core, I was a passionate, playful, thrill-seeking connoisseur of my own sexual expression. It just wasn’t possible I could be the only woman in history that fit that description. I was on a quest to find the men on the planet that belonged in my tribe. And finally, it seemed possible; again and again, I was meeting my people.

TOMORROW: Chapter 27

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: Chapter 25

Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series: One Chapter A Day

THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

Chapter 25

With windows rolled down, and music blasting, the Chicago freeway had blown by, and he’d gotten us downtown in a heartbeat. We started with cocktails at Whiskey on Rush Street. Kyle Ross was single, but only recently, and still bitter about the breakup. It was a story to echo Brian’s: a woman critical of how a man lived his life.

“Did you do anything—at all—to deserve her criticism?” The guy was warm and gallant, plus hotter than hell. Only a witch would disrespect him.

Up close and personal in Buenos Aires with The Rollbeats: Argentina's award winning Beatles cover band.

Up close and personal in Buenos Aires with The Rollbeats: Argentina’s award winning Beatles cover band, 2012.

“Vicki Marie, I treated that woman like a queen! Cooked her dinner, helped wit’ her car, took her dancin’ an’ to Bull’s games; I even took her kids to Europe, and to Disneyland, too. They’re not my kids, but their dad was a punk. They needed to learn what a father—an’ a man—really was.” I didn’t like what I was hearing about the straight sisterhood in Chicago.

“Let’s dance, but not salsa,” I said, after he paid for our drinks and we walked out to Rush Street. We hit Sin, two doors down; a slick club packed with pretty people. The DJ fired up fresh house and ass-shaking remixes. Once again, his dance style was killer, and this time so was mine; we cut a sharp flow on the floor.

“It’s time to take you home,” he said, putting his arm around me as we walked to his car. I leaned into his torso and slipped my arm around his center, and discovered it was rock solid, too. He opened the door, than pressed his lips tenderly against mine.

“Thank you, Vicki Marie.” I smiled back into his brown eyes, not at all sure what he meant, and not needing to know.

I opened my eyes and saw that he had laid his jeans on the chair, and I watched as he stepped out of his shorts and socks. Next, he turned to join me on the bed. “Wait,” I told him. “Stop. Turn around.” He rotated in place slowly, taking his time, like he understood my need to look. Naked in the dim light, his faultless musculature seized my view and I stared in awe at the body before me. I could only compare him to a Greek statue; this was no Roman imitation. This was a body gifted from the heavens themselves, a flawless original, and the most pristine example of masculine design I had ever seen. No one would argue that this wasn’t the master blueprint for creating the perfect man: an ebony landscape of chiseled contours, a perfect symmetry of shadowed depressions and rising plains.

“You are amazing,” I exhaled with my words. “You are a beautiful man.”

His humility was sincere as he thanked me. We locked eyes as he crossed back to the bed where I lay naked, undressed moments earlier, by his hands and my cooperation in the fierceness of desire.

Our sex was passionate and athletic, audible and acrobatic. I was small, and gratefully overpowered by his impulses and his strength. Every position he folded me into, or lifted me up to, was a blessing, and a trigger for deeper response. My body was fully dominated but never passive; my submission was my activation. His passion found no resistance, as I pressed and spread and contracted into each unexpected orientation with a hunger and a physicality I hadn’t known I was capable of. This was the same feeling I had experienced in Paris and that I knew was possible with a potent lover. This was what I wanted in my life: a partner with a drive and a desire to push sexual capacity, unhinged from love, as far as I could go.

When morning raced into the room, Kyle said he would drive me to the airport. I told him I would take a taxi, but he insisted. Traffic was heavy, and the drive took some time. He had the radio on, and as the old school R&B spun, and the DJs entertained, I thought back on the evening. It had been perfect in every way; maybe even the best date of my life. It definitely rivaled those grand nights in Paris, with that woman who’d had a monopoly on the best date title for more than twenty years.

After setting my bags on the curb at Midway Field, Kyle asked for my phone number. Of course, I wanted to see him again, but reality was geographic; the plane was returning me to Seattle. Besides, I suspected Chicago’s Finest had asked out of social obligation, and I preferred a more honest farewell. We were adults. We’d had sex. We moved on.

“I’m gonna call you—but you have to gimme your number, first.”

“Kyle,” I said, trying to let him off the hook, “I’m leaving the country next week—I’ll be hiking in the Himalayas for a month. You can’t call me.”

“When you get back?”

I was annoyed, and I had a plane to catch. He was never going to call me. I knew it. He knew it. Why couldn’t we just thank one another for a mind-blowing moment, and move on with our lives?

When I’d told Katsu I couldn’t bear the idea of a string of one-night stands, I was arguing against sex without a connection. I wanted to be stirred, because I knew that was how my sexual capacity could be deepened. As my bachelor lifestyle progressed, I came to see that I’d underestimated what was possible between two people destined for only a single night of passion.

The evenings with Kyle and Brian were two examples. I had been touched by both of these men. My life had been enriched by the social energy we shared, and by the time sex came into the scene the exchange of energy burned between us. Our connections were brief, only a moment in a lifetime, but timetables were irrelevant. It was meaningful to me, and that was all that mattered.

TOMORROW: Chapter 26

Subscribe to Vicki Marie’s Sexy Summer Reading Series at The Bachelor Blog and never miss a chapter! Or follow on twitter @vickimarie44

Copyright Vicki Marie Stolsen, 2014, Forever Forty-Four Publications, Publicity Rare Bird Lit, Tyson Cornell, Tyson@rarebirdlit.com, Distribution by Ingram, Available online and in bookstores in paperback, eBook, and audio format.

“What would happen if I told every man I dated that I didn’t want a boyfriend, and I didn’t want a husband, and I didn’t even want a one night stand?”

That was the question to answer back in 2004, when I walked away from monogamy and gave birth to my bachelor life. I had made up my mind to cultivate sex—without love or stigma—so I de-gendered bachelor and claimed that slice of male privilege as my own. With that linguistic gesture, I became a respectable bachelor, and could no longer be called out as a promiscuous slut.      

“Vicki Marie Stolsen delivers a strong, smart, sexy story about defining one’s passion after years of following the rules. In this brave account of charting her own erotic map, Stolsen explores the power to be wildly curious and to declare one’s desires without apology. The Bachelor Chapters is a manifesto on becoming a connoisseur of sexual expression.”       —Elise D’Haene, writer, RED SHOE DIARIES 

With readers at Fit Poling Studio, Panama City

With readers at Fit Poling Studio, Panama City

The Bachelor Chapters tells the story of how my search for sexual satisfaction landed me in unchartered terrain along the margins of the mainstream. I wasn’t the first middle age divorceé to imagine emancipation and a steamy sex-life; what I didn’t imagine was how many ways my life would thrive when I did it.

Signing books at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle

Signing books at Ravenna Third Place Books in Seattle

     “Not only was it an enjoyable read, but it also explored important themes in a bold and unique way. As a woman, it touched me to read of many issues that unite us as a gender. However, the book also offers new and unfamiliar perspective on race, age, and gender that are both engaging and provocative. Race is explored through interracial love, however clichéd stereotypes are avoided. The Bachelor Chapters is an uncensored and intimate glimpse into the life and mind of Vicki Marie. But no matter what age, gender, race or sexual orientation you claim…there’s something in this book for you!   —Katrin Koscis, University Student, Toronto and Cartagena

In Portland at the Jack London Bar

In Portland at the Jack London Bar

Three months after the release, readers from five different countries have chimed in, and on this they agree; The Bachelor Chapters has enhanced their lives, too. Readers seek me out and explain how my story resonates with their own memories: sometimes it’s the part where I get real about love, or how I come clean on adultery, or when I parse the dissimilarities between black and white men. Or it might be the passages where I raise the curtain on lesbian and gay prejudice of bisexual’s, or how I describe the consequences of female sexual shame, or when I remind every one of the timeless injustice of slut slander and stigma.

Private reading for the taping of the reality pilot, "Lumber Jills" in Panama City

Private reading for the taping of the reality pilot, “Lumber Jills” in Panama City

     “I read Vicki’s book in less than a week. I was mesmerized. There were moments I felt like I was reading my own story—mine’s not quite as glamorous though. I instantly connected with Vicki’s desires to make her own choices and not feel shame. I left a marriage with a man, entered into a relationship with a woman and have since, dated both. Vicki was able to put into words what I felt through the process of “coming out” again. I will re-read this book. —Julie B., Publisher, Woodinville, WA

Family showed up in San Francisco for the reading at Hotel Rex

Family showed up in San Francisco for the reading at Hotel Rex

The Bachelor Chapters is not Fifty Shades of Grey for Forty-Something’s, because my romantic tale is fact driven and could never be managed like fiction. There are more than a handful of scenes where the sex-action fires up the page, but at the same time, this mid-age memoir strives to normalize sex as it broadcasts the truth: sex is rich and rewarding even without love or partnership.

Publication party at The Lobby Bar in Seattle

Publication party at The Lobby Bar in Seattle

   “It has been a while since I sucked a book down so voraciously. The combination of your excellent writing style, brave and confident Bachelor life, humor that I can hear as if you were talking right next to me, and most of all—the truth about us humans spoken so honestly and accurately. There is more, but I am no writer. I wish I had read this book when I was thirty. Thank you for this gift to women’s sexual freedom. Enough shame already. I’m going to give both of my thirty-something daughters a copy.”   —Tamara Cottongim, RN, Ashland, Oregon

Making strangers into fans from Los Angeles to Colombia

Turning strangers into fans from Los Angeles to Colombia

Last Friday night, I did a reading in Panama City, Panama, where I have lived since January. That makes eleven readings, six cities, and three countries so far, and next month we add Toronto, New York, Boston and Chicago to the club. What sounds jet set and glamorous is actually intimate and down to earth. As an unknown author with a new business to run, I am in the grassroots phase of wooing readers one-by-one. As I get better at presenting, the audience questions have deepened, and every exchange with each person teaches me exactly why the story I wrote actually matters to the world.

"Ladies Night Out" in Panama City

“Ladies Night Out” with The Bachelor in Panama City

     “Was not sure what to expect with this book. What I got was more than I expected. The authoress openly tells her story of a chosen lifestyle which is out of the norm, in a way that unexpectedly imparts lessons. Yes, it is hot but also teaches the freedom of a non-judgmental lifestyle. In addition, it also explores the value differences placed on male and female social behavior from a standpoint that most people do not give much thought to. She lives her life in a bold, brave, confident style in everything she does to include business, hobbies and sex. She looks to no one for validation. Such strength is rarely encountered and I sure did not imagine I would receive life-learning moments from a book about sex, love and adultery. Read and enjoy.” —Jackie R., Retired, Panama City

Siren founder, Susie Lee, and guest collaborators in Seattle

Siren founder, Susie Lee, and guest collaborators Amanda Manitach and Jim Demetre in Seattle

It’s too early to call it momentum, but something is resonating, and some of those readers have influence. Because of them, I landed a monthly gig on Huffington Post, which is in the can and ready to launch. I sign on as an advice columnist for the new dating site, Siren, set to release next month. The Bachelor Chapters will contribute to the Barcelona and Guadalajara Book Fair’s in the fall; we’ll be in Cartagena for the Hay Festival come winter. It just seemed good business to channel that energy into a crowd funding campaign, which means we’ll be on Kickstarter soon with a pitch to fund the Spanish translation.

College students in Medellin, Colombia made it clear they want a Spanish edition

College students in Medellin, Colombia made it clear they want a Spanish edition

If you’ve read the book, you’ll remember that potent revelation that I describe while in Paris with my girlfriend:      

“We were a team and we were competitors in collaboration toward rapture. At that moment in my early forties, I started to understand sexual response as not simply pleasure, but as capacity. I could not believe how much I was capable of feeling.”

Recording the audio edition at Rare Bird Lit in Los Angeles

Recording the audio edition at Rare Bird Lit in Los Angeles

The business plan for The Bachelor Chapters echoes the wonder of that epiphany. At this moment in my mid-fifties, I’ve come to understand business as not simply moving product, but as generating energy. My vision for this book will take me to the some of the world’s finest cities, bring me face to face with adventurous readers, spawn an on-line audience through an influential blog, and allow me to offer expert insight to take the edge off of dating confusion. I’m counting on more energy to follow, and I’m not at all shy to tell you where I expect this to land: in bed with a seriously smart production company and their team of brilliant screen writers, making history with a sizzling hot series about a promiscuous, middle age, lady bachelor and her lovers.

Manifesting success with guerrilla product placement at Powell's Books in Portland

Manifesting success with guerrilla product placement at Powell’s Books in Portland

     “I am happy to see a woman live out of the box, challenging what you are supposed to be, to be who you are and feel free. A book full of surprises and encouragement for women to explore, feel curious and feel free. A must read for every women and a should read for men if you want to get to know women.” —Maria Contreras, owner Pole Dance Factory, Barcelona

Pole is the ultimate feminist sport because we make sexy normal and not shameful

Pole is the ultimate feminist sport: just like Vicki Marie’s challenge in The Bachelor Chapters, pole women are making sexy normal and driving out shame

The book is my story, but I already understand, its success will not be about me. Nobody has to be a bachelor to get the meaning of this memoir. Readers see themselves in these pages, and in spite of flaws and fears and episodes of utter dismay, they like who they see.

I wrote a book about courage

Quote

It’s a conventional tale, but has characteristics that make it spicy: after divorce, the middle-age protagonist launches a grand experiment to elevate her desire for sex—unhinged from love, or even monogamy—from the disgrace of sluthood assigned to women; into the respectability of bachelorhood granted to men.

        “What happens when a forty-four year old woman, decides to make sense of a divorce, recalibrate her heart, and sets out to find sexual satisfaction without falling in love?”

IMG_0064 It’s a true story, one that has no doubt been lived many times, by many women. Such a path is not common, but it’s also neither unique nor groundbreaking. Yet, because of the bias that follows women who stretch toward a lifestyle outside of partnership; because of the unequivocal hierarchy that we attach to long-term monogamy; the stories of those women’s lives, and the relationships that are developed, have been at best marginalized, but more often, they are demonized.

        “What would happen if a woman told every man she dated, that she didn’t want a boyfriend; and she didn’t want a husband; and she didn’t even want a one-night stand?”

Those were the questions I wanted answers to. It was not the first time in my life I had strayed from the parameters my culture assigned to female sexuality. I had come out as a lesbian in 1976, when I fell in love with my high school girlfriend. I lived the first fifteen years of my adult life as a lesbian, and I had a married-like partnership for the last ten of those. It was not easy to be a lesbian back in the beginning, but it was possible; with courage and community, women dismantled the proverbial closet board-by-board, and nail-by-nail.

When I was thirty-three, I fell in love with a man. I knew there would be consequences for merging into the mainstream, so I found a new closet to bide my time, until I once again had the guts to own the facts of my life and honor my heart. When I came out, many in my extended family of same-sex activists were horrified by what they understood to be betrayal, just as I had expected. No matter that I had served on the frontlines of gay liberation for years. At best I was tolerated for my transgression; at worst I was ostracized. I was confused by my social identity, but not by my heart; sure I was in love with a man, but did that make me straight?

        “What would happen if a woman could have sex; without lying, without cheating; without shame?”

I wrote a book about courage, but not until I solidified my status as a female bachelor; not until I left a career in business where perceptions always matter; not until age graced me with the wisdom to know that judgments opposed to my lifestyle said more about the jury than they did about me. The book is particular to my life, but the journey described is universal: look fear in the face; over-ride self-doubt; stand above the distraction of critics; and live your passion.

The book goes on sale next month, and from the beginning, I wanted a piece of the profit to benefit young people in pursuit of their passions. Higher education was the category I picked, having had my own life-changing entrance to college funded by the enlightened legislation of the Federal Pell Grant Program. Access to education is political when marginalized groups are left out because of income or discrimination.

Donating funds from the sale of my story to benefit young adults mapping out their own courageous plans was the perfect synergistic match, and so I picked a scholarship fund that was founded more than twenty years ago specifically to compensate for discrimination aimed at lesbian and gay students.

Only, I hit a hurdle with the scholarship fund I chose to receive my donation, and my proposal was respectfully declined. My book on courage speaks too frankly about sex. Sex spells risk. After twenty years, the scholarship administrators are experienced with risk. Sex—partnered with students—will offend some donors, and will also prevent some educational institutions from advertising the opportunity to apply. And with that, this venerable fund that was founded to compensate for discrimination against queer youth, has little choice but to reject public affiliation with a life story that—ironically—describes one woman’s struggle to overcome discrimination.

“Did I want to dance? Of course I wanted to dance and that’s not all.”                                        —Erica Jong, Fear of Flying

Warning: living can be sexy. Warning: Living can be sexy

I wrote a book that describes the self-doubt, the social ostracism, and the balls out courage necessary to stand one’s ground when faced with the facts of a life that cannot be folded neatly into social convention. Written forty years after Erica Jong published Fear of Flying, The Bachelor Chapters is also a story that spotlights social change and social stigma. I did not write this book for my own self-aggrandizement; the story is often unflattering and conflicted because it is so bloody honest. I called upon courage and audacity to write about my life because I recognized that my experiences had a larger purpose: that my obligation is to brighten the path for the young women and men behind me.

When you buy my book next month, you will partner with me, because I’m not abandoning my plan to donate ten percent of the profit. Why would I? There won’t be the publicity I had hoped for, but after this episode, I’m even more convinced that proceeds should benefit the next generation. Together, you and I will fund access to higher education. Thanks for your support. So many young people need us. Now, enough with the bullshit. Let’s dance. And that’s not all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I rewrote Chapter 38 this morning

and then this afternoon, I rewrote it again. I had closed the manuscript last month; I’d celebrated the finish with a reading in Medellin and whiskey in tall glasses. Since then, I’ve launched my new career as publisher. I’m busy at my new job; there are marketing plans to coordinate, distribution decisions to settle, and the cover art design to complete. I’ve even hired Red14 Films out of Los Angeles to make the trailer—yes, the trailer—even a book needs a video and a YouTube channel to compete for legitimacy these days.

writing is invention Reinventing Chapter 38 for the miracle of a better story. 

So, while I work at my publishing job the manuscript sits dormant, but ready for release and a public life in the very near future. Impulsively, I cracked the spine yesterday. I was suddenly motivated by an immediate curiosity; after eighteen months, thousands of sentences, and four long weeks since I keystroked the final change—was The Bachelor Chapters really complete?

 After a month-long hiatus, I found that the story flowed smoothly, reading exactly as the page-turner I planned for. Until I crossed over to Chapter 38, and that’s when I saw it: somewhat clumsy, slightly confused and missing the mark. Chapter 38 was not bad, but I immediately realized it could be so much more. I’ve no doubt that the few people who’ve read the manuscript will applaud the change, and the rest of you who haven’t would feel the same if you had.

 The sweet miracle of writing is when the invention of ideas transfers from whimsy or opinion to solid form. When I set out to rewrite Chapter 38, I responded to the fact that something was lacking in the chapter—but I could not have told you what was missing, and I sure didn’t have a plan to correct it. Fixing becomes faith in a writer’s repertoire, something I experienced over and over again as I crafted the story. That may be the thing I love the most about my new art form. I have faith I will be able to concoct miracles of invention—everyday that I write—with only a laptop and expertise of the English language.

 Today I present my latest miracle; The Reinvention of Chapter 38. I surprised myself with the arc of the chapter and where it landed. I am beholden to another satisfying miracle of invention from my miraculous writing life.

 

CHAPTER 38 from The Bachelor Chapters: A Thinking Woman’s Romance

Shaun Madison was twenty-seven years old, but I didn’t know that the night he drove me home from Jason Sinclair’s party. Later, when he told me, somehow I heard twenty-nine. In 2005 I still had a bias against men in their twenties because of the obvious; they are men in their twenties.

 It’s just a fact that this is the apprentice decade of adulthood; it’s ground zero for getting it right and amateurs are everywhere. And then there was my own personal handicap; I had missed the entire decade from a heterosexual perspective. Twenty-something year old men were foreigners to me. I didn’t speak their language and I was certain there was no reason to learn.

Already though, younger men swarmed in and out of my bachelor chapters, discrediting forever the myth that heterosexual desire is aimed exclusively at queen bees below thirty. It was on my first date with Tyrone, when he confessed to his irrepressible erection, that I began my tour of duty with the proud army of men who saluted God’s truth; older women were just about as hot as it got. From that point forward, the thirty-something’s made it clear that they wanted me, and I instantly discovered that this is the decade where men perfect marathon sex.

I dated men of all ages, but the way things trended, my lovers were younger. I would have been labeled a Cougar if that title had existed in the early years of my bachelorhood. When I was inevitably accused of it, I rejected it like I’d rejected the unsavory booty-call. These were slams that stunk just as much as slut, casting women who have sex as lecherous or desperate. My title was bachelor, a term that elevated promiscuity to social acceptance.

The younger men in my life either preferred older women or did not discriminate. After Shaun Madison, it became clear that I could consider men from every adult decade for my bachelor pool. Born in 1979, this Jamaican American, Buddhist-mediating chef and Kama Sutra-inspired lover walked into my world, and gave me reason to revise my bias. We stood on opposite sides of a twenty-one year age gap, but with the grace of destiny, we stretched across that divide into a sensational sexual fit.

As the years moved along, and my collection of men expanded, I began to think of their birth years as vintages. The year 1969 was a good one for me, and over time, I continued to add spicy reserves from that season to my collection. Worthy varietals from my birth decade, the 1950’s, were in dwindling supply. Still, I continued to uncover those select Super Tuscan’s that shattered expectations, their silky flavor a mouthful to remember. Most of my tastings were from the 1960’s and 1970’s, and never a green batch among them. I was just lucky that way, like I had a filter that trapped quality.

I had almost crossed over into my fifth decade when I was tempted by the bouquet of an earthy 1985, an adventurous surfer-boy, while both of us were vacationing on the Pacific Coast of Panama. My surfer buddy was barely twenty-two when he smoothly hit-on me after dinner one night. He laid a steamy kiss on my lips, than strung a rosary of kisses around my neck. His passion was absolute and my arousal was immediate. The man was hot, and he had me, until that same passion broke the spell. “Do you know how sexy you are?” he whispered, before bringing me in for another kiss. I couldn’t answer with his tongue in my mouth, but I did the calculations. My tempting ocean athlete had been having adult sex for a mere twelve months: I’d been in the same club for twenty-eight years. Liberated I may have been, but the consequence of his question came at me like a bucket of ice water upended; in the shock of social context, the heat was just gone. I’d bumped into a virtual border and found a line I could not cross: the anti-age blow that I was older than his mom. We all draw the line somewhere; as individuals it’s our call. But in society others draw the lines and call the shots. We call those boundaries normal, but it’s a fact of history that sometimes normal is in need of a change.

“How old were you when you first had sex with an older woman?”

That was something I asked all my young lovers, and I learned quickly I was never the first—far from it—their experience had been initiated years earlier, always as adolescents. “I was fifteen; she was twenty-eight.” “I had just turned seventeen, and she was forty-one.” “I was dating her daughter—I think she was thirty-nine.” Of course I was stunned: until I heard it every time. My sex-positive bachelor lifestyle had uncovered a secret sub-culture of women breaking taboos—and often the law. These teenage lovers had adopted a code of silence: not because they felt odd about their desire for older women, but because they had to protect their adult lovers from the consequences. I was often the first person they had ever told.

If these were adult men with teenage girls we would label them predators and charge them with rape and put them in jail. By contrast, the truth expressed by all of these adult men was gratitude. They were grateful for their sexual apprenticeships. All these men were masters at sex, and every single one was proud he’d been trained. They felt fortunate to have studied early, that they had learned a valuable skill, and that they had become great lovers for the rest of their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are friends, as my long distance lovers and I often are

He and I stand to the left of convention: both of us holding bachelor titles, and to be clear, I’m referring to relationship status—not academic achievement. For the purpose of this post, suffice it to say that we are dear friends and mutual fans, both Americans, having met in Central America, which remains the backdrop and the sustaining link of our adult-style friendship.

He wrote a memoir, too—a laser look at a life that began way to young on the streets of Brooklyn—messing with the mob as way out of poverty, and then stepping into the army as a way out of jail. My friend became a career soldier with a CID title—a serious shit-kicker in that corps of cops whose duty is to police other soldiers. The budding criminal saved by a law enforcement lifestyle; it’s a compelling saga told well in his words. As I read it, it was easy to imagine the movie adaptation would produce a celebrity hero.

Training Days The author in training for the up-coming battles that will follow the January 2014 release of her memoir, “The Bachelor Chapters: A Thinking Woman’s Romance”

Our political views are polar opposites, and there is not even grudging respect for how we both understand that the world is framed. I was certain he was the first Republican I’d ever had sex with, until he clarified that he is no more or no less than a passive independent. Passive, because he’s not an activist; but he’s Italian by heritage, a New Yorker by birth and his conservative views are loud and proud and reported as fact.

It was the energy of that New York pedigree that drew me in; I gravitate to strong characters whose confidence is absolute. Early on we left the political discussions off the table, and instead enjoyed a raucous repartee of every other subject over good food, Pacific Ocean views and smoking-hot sex.

When he asked to read my memoir, The Bachelor Chapters, I didn’t hesitate, and sent him the last revision of the second draft on the same day it went to my editor, Stacey Donovan, in May. Of course I wanted to hear what he thought, and of course he agreed to call and tell me when he had finished.

When I moved to Barcelona for the summer, Stacey returned the second draft, with red marks bleeding thorough the pages. I was mortified; the second draft was a fist-pounding improvement over the original manuscript, and I was certain only minor corrections would be in order. “Trust your editor,” that’s my advice—and if you don’t—go find another. I took on her notes; I considered every critique. I got mad—more than once. Eventually I came to understand that the fury I felt for HER—was the fury I would never have to experience from my future readers. That anger reflex led to my smartest self-editing reflections: Am I saying exactly what I mean? Am I keeping the reader in the story?

Wiser people than me won’t be surprised to hear that after one more rewrite, the third revision soars above that second draft, and soon, let’s say January 2014—I’ll be recommending a “buy” on the title, and begin the gamble on the reviews that follow. In the meantime, I had reason to call my Brooklyn-born buddy yesterday, needing his opinion on the situation that has us both bound to Panama in Central America. We hadn’t spoken since I sent the manuscript five months earlier, and he hadn’t answered the text message I sent later prompting his opinion.

Our business complete, I changed the topic. “So, wtf—did you read my book or not?” “Yeah, I read it,” his voice slowed down, and I thought I knew what was coming, “as soon as I got it.”

“You were gonna call me, r e m e m b e r—and tell me what you thought!”

“Yeah, yeah—well—I messed that up completely,” he confessed, as confident men often do. No excuses, no BS. These people still exist.

“So it would seem. So give it up now. Whaddya think, baby?”

“Well, I thought…” he didn’t so much drag out the sentence, as take a deep breath for the spate of condemnation that followed, “…I thought, what the hell are you trying to do here—lose all your readers?” That was what I expected, and he didn’t stop there.

“I mean you sound like—now, don’t get mad—you sound like an angry, white woman! You hate white men, you hate straight women—who’d you write it for—? —a bunch of lesbians who hate everyone?” Like I said, no bullshit from this man: just a little breather between facts.

“You’re doing this to get your story out—and to sell books,” he reminded me, “and how are you going to do that when you rip everyone apart?” It wasn’t a question as much as a critique, and when I thought he’d slowed down the steam, I jumped in with the obvious.

“Oh come on—I hate white men and straight women?—that’s what you got out of it?”

“Well, you do!

“I do not!”

“You do, too! Come on! It’s in the book!”

“Hell-ooh?—there’s like, one paragraph where I take on white men—but there’s no man-hating in the book—I’M HAVING SEX WITH WHITE MEN IN THE BOOK!”

I knew I wasn’t going to change his mind—but I was practicing the battle. I’m going to hear this again when the book hits. And when the book flies—I’m going to hear it a lot. And that’s not the half of. There are big, plump, cherry-picking opportunities to find offense with my fifty-shades-of-worldview that make up, The Bachelor Chapters. Two minutes with my guy and I’ve already decided; I need a trainer.

“I’m just telling you what I read—and it’s on the very first page!” he staked his position with that irrefutable fact. That’s exactly where it was.

And with that, I had to decide all over again, I had to cue up the questions, I had to bear the echo that familiar nagging voice: is this how I want to start? Is this going to cost me? Is this going to marginalize me before I even qualify for the game?

And there’s still one possible answer that always falls first: it just might.

So, today, right here, right now: I’m going to publish the first page—the preface, the prologue; the one way—out of a million ways—I decided to start my story. You tell me what I’m risking.

 THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE

The Prologue

You want to know what I think is cool about black men? They’re not white men.

Hear me out. I’m not saying it to offend; I only say it because it’s true. For readers who aren’t white men, my point is old news. What’s also old news is that so many white men won’t get it, because the point is just that: so many white men don’t get it.

They don’t get that the world has been laid out for them. They don’t get that the cards are stacked in their favor. They don’t get that they are at the front of the bus and in line to take over the wheel. I don’t write this to pick a fight, or debate the merits of my claim; I write it to testify to the fact that there’s nothing quite as irritating as a misinformed white man with his denial on display. The rest of us are weary when these dudes won’t own up to the reality that they have privilege, and we are bone‐tired of their inane insistence that the field is level, and they are self-made.

In my life—lived first as a girl, next as a woman, and for many years as a lesbian—the field wasn’t near level; there were ruts and sinkholes and shifting sand. With no other option, I finessed the terrain and played the game of making it in the white man’s world and calling it mine. Of course, it’s mine too; in spite of the obstacle course that just kept on giving. The black men I’ve come to know don’t need to be convinced about the uneven playing field or the truth about blockades and double standards. They made their plays in a whole other ballpark, in a game with a different set of rules, and where the odds were also rigged against winning. But they won, too. It’s just the truth that the big game of life is played in the white man’s world with the white man’s rules; and what’s cool about black men is they can’t annoy me with either innocence or stupidity that somehow that’s not true.

That was one discovery that I made about Black America when I began to date black men in the first decade of the twenty‐first century. At that time in my life, I had set out to save myself, one more time, from my presumptuous culture. I was forty‐four years‐old and single for the first time in twenty years. I had just recovered from a serious illness, the debilitating side effect of a personal crisis. After I got well, I decided to adopt a new lifestyle, making it up as I went, guided by wisdom and instinct, and the drive to get it right. I didn’t have all the answers, but I had a direction and an advantage. I wasn’t just starting over; I was starting smarter.

But that came later, and this story won’t make a lick of sense, or deserve your attention, until I set the stage and you’re clear on what happened before.

(chapter one follows)

 

 

 

He called me fat

or more specifically, “gorda,” because his language is Spanish. We were in front of the vanity after sex, the mirror reflecting the shining skin of tropical heat. My skin used to be pale, the evidence reduced to the twin territories that mark the bikini I wear everyday now that I have a pool on my roof. The new color I carry is toast—exactly the shade of browned white bread that my brother and I would smear with butter, before Saturday morning cartoons, after mom went to work.

His color is always the same: toward coffee, with cream, smooth on the eyes in the same way that milk interrupts the sharp bite of black. The sun bears down everyday on the coast of Colombia, but the wardrobe of my lover, and the millions who’ve always lived here, elevates fashion over temperature. Blue jeans, long sleeves, and even skullcaps defy the elements when the mind considers style. Clothes and hair—personal style transcends poverty in Cartagena Las Indias. People care about appearance and they celebrate it in others—you know you’re on when your chico’s shout, “bacaaaannnnooooo!”

superman vista

I’d been in Bogota for only a quick trip, but the days on either side added up to a week without contact. We’d reunited in a fierce embrace that began at the entry next to the washing machine, pushed through the long kitchen and into the front room, before shaking the wall behind the bed. Reunion sex is conflated with the reacquisition of territory. People will say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but what I know for sure, is that it makes the dick stand harder.

 I had splashed water on my face, bent over the bowl, slick beyond capacity in a climate where a body can’t compete against the twin assault of humidity and anaerobic passion. When I stood up again, the adoration in his eyes matched the white smile that split his face. The reverence was non-verbal and blessedly familiar; it was almost a year since we first discovered that bilingual communication had been narrowly defined to language. It was in that afterglow moment, our eyes locked in the mirror, when, “eres gorda,” left his lips and pierced my lungs with that breath-stopping reflex.

He called me fat!

In my culture that’s a slur equal to the offense intended with bitch, cunt, slut or whore. The fact that his smile was lit with love, or that his culture held nothing but authentic desire for every pound of flesh that took female shape, failed to register against fifty-four years of  American fat-phobia. The previous hour of adult-rated choreography evaporated like vapor, as I pursued a panicked inventory of my naked reflection.

I’m an athlete by most standards, driven toward self-competition over a lifetime, with a catalog of solo sports. I’ve taken toward pole fitness recently, and the reality that reflected back at me was tough strands of abdominal strength. I carry the pride of a six-pack, female version, where my belly is framed with the clear diagonal tracks of tissue. When I’d had medical treatment in December, the weight loss had almost hollowed my gut, and rigidly defined every muscle that I’m made of.

I had filled out since then, and the hard angles had softened. That had been true for several months, and I looked healthier with the re-sculpting of meat. I’m writing a memoir, The Bachelor Chapters, so I know that memory is arbitrary, and even inaccurate behind the veil of time. I looked no different than I had the prior week; but there was indeed change since February, when the combination of aggressive weight training, and the consequences of treatment, had dramatized my figure. It seemed clear from his comment, that during our separation, my lover’s memory had pulled the February file.

There are many things that haunt woman’s psyche and self-image. So many of us are friggin’ smart—intellectually conscious of our cultural mind-fucks—yet still at war with them in the streets, in our happy hour laments, and in our language on the page. At middle age, I carry wisdom as my trophy; a vessel of accumulation from a life lived paying attention to each lesson. I command the desire of young lovers in multiple countries; I cultivate a lifestyle that reverberates the so-called youthful endeavors of dance, adventure, and creativity; I am more authentic and more satisfied in my fifth decade than ever before.

The fact that a finger pointed to flesh can preempt more than fifty years of common sense, supersede the radiance that follows sexual satisfaction, and challenge the veracity of my own eyes, illustrates more than anything I know, the weight of culture. It’s my terminal luggage. My best bet is to keep it stowed in that locked bag, where it trips me up occasionally, until I push it once again into the corner, and out of my way.

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