THE BACHELOR CHAPTERS: A THINKING WOMAN’S ROMANCE
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.
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.