Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Justine's Sofa

They sat on the sofa, one at each end, yet sometimes moving slightly toward the middle. Justine's feet were sometimes tucked beneath her, sometimes not. He studied her, tried to keep listening to what she was saying, but it was hard to do. The lights were dim, the hour was late. They were alone. They'd only met one another that day, introduced by a mutual friend who wanted them to get together, and their talk seemed both tense and curiously relaxed.

Just as Tanner started thinking it was more relaxed than otherwise, though, she'd surge toward him, leaping at him in the subdued light to emphasize some vivid verbal point she was making, and raising her voice as she did it. This made him very nervous. Her face, looming so suddenly large in front of him, perplexed him. It seemed like a face that wanted to be kissed, but not enough so. He was certain that she needed to be kissed, but she was too crazy, too intense. So, for that matter, was he. Of course, he might be assuming too much that she was something like him, but he didn't know any other way to figure her out. It was all he had to work with, since he didn't know her.

He couldn't help thinking of her as a potential lay. She was overweight, but so was he. She was, at the least, a handsome woman. Their mutual friend has told him that she was in a period of crisis in her life, and no matter how he respected and feared that sort of thing, he couldn't help thinking of comforting her, and comforting himself thereby. Their mutual friend Hampton had left them alone together with the kindest of intentions, but presumably meaning for them to do their best to sleep with one another. It was all too weird. It didn't seem likely to happen.

"She's a good fuck," his friend had told him. He wondered what Hampton had told her about him!

He wondered what he was supposed to do with that information? Hampton had said she was good, but hadn't mentioned if she was easy. They'd been talking and talking all night, and now it was so late and he was so baffled that he couldn't even imagine getting an erection, much less sustaining one and impressing this talkative woman with it.

God, could she talk! Had she ever stopped talking long enough when she leapt forward at him, Tanner might have kissed her and it might have amounted to something, he had no way of knowing. But she talked, on and on and on, as if to prevent his pressing forward to meet her deep red lips, and he yielded, almost gladly, to her evasion, thinking that perhaps she knew what she was doing. He was relieved, it was a connection he wouldn't have to make. Yet he wanted her, too. It was only that he wanted her to be easy-or at least clear—something that seldom happened for him.

They weren't doing very well together so far. Maybe she wanted to be more aggressively seduced, but couldn't stop being so aggressive herself. Could it be that she just talked aggressively? Tanner had no idea. He seldom knew what to do about his own or anyone else's aggression, that's what it came to. He began to realize that he'd begun to forget how to go about a seduction. It had been too long. This time around, they would be doing it mainly because she was there, or because he was there, and not because either of them knew the other. He knew he wanted a woman, but he didn't particularly want Justine.

It takes a lot of nerve to venture a kiss when you know you don't know what a woman is like or what she likes or if she's thinking about elegant wines instead of you or if she might make your skin crawl. It seemed to be as difficult with one that's 36 as it ever was with the teenage girlfriends of his youth. If he'd been in love, instead of in mere marginal lust, perhaps he'd have risked whatever it was he thought he had to risk. As it was, he took no risk, gave no offense, got no kiss. A kiss like that might have been nothing, after all. Or it might have saved his life. You never know.


Thinking Of Her As A Sex Object

"I didn't feel bad about thinking of her as a sex object. I felt bad because I couldn't be sure whether she was one or not!"

They Talked Past Midnight

They were trying to get to know one another. But were they really talking to get to know one another or just to get to the point where it would be too late to touch, caress, or fuck?

Bizarre Relationship

"This shit is turning into another bizarre relationship instead of an assignation," he thought bitterly. That might have been wonderful, except that it wasn't. The more he looked at her, the more he wanted her, but the more she talked, the less he wanted her. The more he knew her, the less he wanted to know about her, yet she still had a strong attraction and he still had a slight yearning to have sex with her.

Topics Of Her Night's Conversation:

-Mexicans, how she hated them because they were so prevalent in San Antonio, how they screwed her out of getting all the good jobs because they had all the connections.

-Justine begins talking about Dr. Ruth's show. Justine's repulsion about the very mention of anal intercourse.

-She was a make-up expert, she said, putting her make-up on in front of him. They were sitting on the sofa again.

-Expert driver (pushy)

-Drinking (aggressive)

-Cigarettes: "Don't let me do that again!" she told him after smoking another one of his. She was ostensibly trying to quit.

-Mother/father deceased. Referred to herself as a homeless waif.

-Stomach stapled shut twice. First time without any long-term success; second time without much success at all.

-Won the legal case against an insurance company for a wreck she was in and had gotten a large settlement that she quickly blew on high rent and a high life style. Didn't try to make it last. Now the money was nearly gone and she was still unemployed.


A long while later Justine phoned him long distance and asked if she could come live with him, that all her options had run out.

"It was so depressing to tell her No," Tanner said later. "On the phone she sounded so fragile. But we couldn't have succeeded any more together than we had alone. Though she was in some measure a very self-confident woman, I knew I didn't need anyone that needy. Of course I may have been wrong."

Read an ancient poem about love and infatuation called

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