Matador Review

A Quarterly Missive of Alternative Concern

Christine semenow


diary of a sex addict

The Fever Breaks
January, 1997

            GENTLE MASTER AWAITS. Dominant SWM, 41, ruggedly handsome with both a firm hand and soothing touch, seeks submissive female with a dreamy desire that begs expression. Present limits respected, or new ones safely set. Age and race are open, but please be healthy and sane.

            He was the first one. I'll call him Spence. He lived in a third-floor walk-up at Howard and the lake. Dicey neighborhood. Sprawling three-bedroom right before the place went condo. You couldn't get any closer to the lake if you tried.

            I drove there, frantic, the snow coming down sideways, as fine as popcorn salt. I didn't know where the fuck I was going, and I didn't know anything about this guy. Except that he was the "gentle master," and he wanted to know what my ass looked like. He had asked me that earlier on the phone. "Does it get nice and red when it's whipped?" he asked. I started blushing right through the phone. He wants to meet, but his car is messed up and he can't get to a coffee shop or anything like that. "And besides," he says, "it's snowing," like I hadn't fucking noticed.

            I had a bad vibe about the guy, even though his voice was sexy as hell. I told him I couldn't make it, I'd meet him when he got his car fixed, trying to be the responsible personal ad respondent. Safety first, right? He gives me his address, explicit directions, just in case I change my mind.

            As soon as I hang up, I start pacing the house. Chain smoke ten cigarettes. Super Bowl Sunday afternoon. It's snowing. I'm feeling like I'm trapped inside an hourglass watching the snow bury me like sand. I start thinking about all the cozy couples watching the game over chili or chicken wings. "Get me another plate of chicken wings, would ya babe?" my boyfriend says to me as he lovingly pats me on the behind. Oh wait... I don't have a boyfriend. And there aren't any chicken wings in sight. Nothing. Nothing moving except the snow in the snow globe. Who's playing in the Super Bowl? I'm in a bad place. Sundays. That empty feeling like I cooked a huge pot roast dinner with all the trimmings but no one showed up to eat it. Miguel—I wouldn't be in this jam if I hadn't have left him. How many years has it been? Five? Seven? So he drank too much—is that a fucking crime anyway? I didn't think about when I left him; I was leaving the extended family. And I missed them. Especially on Sundays. I started to get all agitated, thinking about this guy and how deep and dark his voice was and how he wanted me to call him Master right away. Sunday afternoons are made for sex. Yeah, Miguel and I had that routine down.

            Next thing I know I'm in my car, driving in the snow. I'm just gonna take a ride. I mean, I'm not going to actually meet the guy. I'm pissed at Millie and Nina and Susan because the bitches deserted me now that I moved out here to the suburbs. Why should I call them?

            There are some winos under the El tracks on Howard and I start getting scared, and the street starts getting narrower and narrower and then it just sort of ends and I look at the address and Bingo! his house is at the end of the line and it looks like it's about to fall right into the water. Wow. I have to squeeze the Hooptie along the breakwall and I'm sweating, I turn the heat down and just sit there for a while, listening to the wind and the waves whacking. One thing I can appreciate about the suburbs, there's plenty of fucking parking. The snow is filling up the windshield and it starts getting cold again and I figure that since I got dressed and hauled my ass all the way over here, I may as well just see what the hell this guy looks like. I step into the doorway of his building and I realize that I don't know this guy's last name, but I look for the initials of his first name and press the buzzer again and again and again when I hear his irritated voice say hello, I say as nonchalantly as you please, "I changed my mind."


            The door buzzes to let me in and I start walking up the steps, my heart pounding my chest; he's standing in the hall with his gray-brown hair all messed up. I look at this guy, the guy that I know I'm going to have sex with. Saying no at this point is totally out of the question. He's forty-five, stocky in a dwarfish, Mongoloid way like his arms and legs are too short for his torso, with a five-o'clock shadow and green sweats to match his green eyes. He looks mean and sort of crazy. He says he was napping and that I should never ever ever come over unexpected like that.

            "I was bored," I said, flashing my famous Cheshire Cat smile with just a touch of a dare-stare. He doesn't smile, but he steps aside to let me in. The place was steaming hot and he had all the windows open wide, huge frozen chunks of ice bobbing up and down on the waves, I felt queasy, seasick.

            He told me to sit down on the couch by the window. I sat there between these cold blasts from the window and the heat from the radiator and I felt like I was caught in some barometric zone that the weather man points to when there's some kind of major storm front heading in.

            Spence looks at me in a serious sort of way and I can tell he's sizing me up and I feel like I'm on a job interview. I mean, I never really did anything like this before. Oh, I've had my share of one-night stands, but this was different. So all of a sudden he starts asking me, "Why are you here? What are your fantasies?" "What do you want?" And I'm thinking, what do I look like? Fucking Socrates or Plato?! I'm supposed to tell you why I'm here and what I want, just like that? How many women know the answer to that question... I mean, I'm sitting in some stranger’s apartment, stone-cold sober in broad daylight discussing my fantasies. How weird is that?

            I'm sitting on the very edge of the couch like I could bolt out the door any minute. "Do you have anything to drink?" I ask.

            Spence seems a little annoyed, he wants me to answer the question. He's into the scene and he doesn't like bullshit. "Listen, do you want to play or not?" he asks me.

            "Yeah, yeah, I want to play," I say. I'm scared now, more scared than I was and my face is getting red and he's standing there staring at me. He breaks his stare and goes into the kitchen. I hear him rustling glasses. He comes back with the dregs of a bottle of red wine in a dirty glass, hands it to me, sits in a chair opposite me and raises his eyebrow, anticipating my response.

            "So? What are you into?" he asks.

            I'm looking out the window watching these huge chunks of ice floating around on the lake and I don't know what to say. What am I into? I take a sip of the wine; it's soured but I don’t care. I stare him straight in the eye and I hear myself saying, "I have a doctor fetish. I like to be inspected, thoroughly... and then fucked." He seemed disinterested. "I also like to be spread out and tied up. I like to be spanked, whipped and violated." His face softens as he marks the little check list off in his head. "I also have a table fetish—"

            "What do you mean a table fetish?" This, he found this intriguing.

            "I love tables. Cold, hard tables. Especially tables with squared edges. Round ones won't do."

            "What kinds of things are you into?" I ask him.

            "I do them all," he says.

            He never took his pants off completely., I think he may have been deformed. His thighs felt funny, bowed and large, when he shoved his cock into my mouth. I noticed a gritty, fuzzy residue in my mouth, but I kept right on sucking. After a few minutes it was gone. He pulled his cock out of my mouth and shot off on my neck. "A strand of pearls," he said, laughing. I was with him for about two hours. He tied me to the bed and stroked me with a riding crop. He told me to hold still while he shoved a rubber dildo into my ass. I kissed him on the mouth when I left. "Thanks for coming over," he said.

            "Thanks for having me... and having me," I said. Pretty clever, huh?

            Don't know the time, don't know how I made it home—

            Sick. Sick. Sick. I didn't even get my coat off before I hurled in the toilet. The taste of him in my mouth. The house is dark with that same lonely, empty feeling. Thank God Jack wasn't home. I couldn't bear to face the kid. Steaming hot shower thinking about him ramming his cock right up my ass. Was it his cock? I can't remember. What is the matter with me? God, what is wrong with me? I let this freak use me. Just like that. Gave myself away as usual. Check out the back of my insurance card for the tiny line that says Mental Health. Call it you dumb bitch! Thank God I'm home safe and sound. It was an experiment, that's all. Just checking it out. But I got what I wanted. Hard core, straight-up sex. Why should I waste my time with losers at the bar who can't even get it up? Slobbering drunks.

Sick. Sick. Sick. I didn't even get my coat off before I hurled in the toilet. The taste of him in my mouth. The house is dark with that same lonely, empty feeling.

A Sick Day

            Spence is a far cry from his delicious ad. It must have been the fever. I was delirious with a fever—day four of lying in bed, with nothing to do but listen to the wind howling outside my corner unit. Why do I always seem to have bedroom windows that howl and cry? Call in sick again and that awful guilty feeling of missing everything; life going on without me.

            Canned soup and the talk shows. Men attracted to obese women. The men feed them desserts. Their outfits barely cover their huge flat breasts. Men dressed as women. Stylized pre-ops who can't find dates. Teenage prostitutes. That could have been me. Vita and I were fifteen. Some men invited us to a party at a bar. It was the afternoon and the bar was closed. I drank vodka gimlets with some Italian men—they told me to walk—and turn—and walk—and turn—so they could check out my ass. A stringy blonde gave an old man in a wheelchair a blow job in the bathroom. They wanted me to whore for them. I never went back.

            TV gives me a headache. Move to the bed and read the paper. The Arts. Holiday sales. Part-time jobs. Lectures and workshops. Switch papers to the Reader. All four sections. Section 2 blows me away. Hundreds of tiny little blocks. Hundreds of tiny little voices calling for attention. Red Line at 5:30. You were reading a book. You smiled at me. But I was shy. Personal ads. Athletic handsome men looking for slender buxom athletic independent bookish women. I don't qualify. "None of the Above." Reading and re-reading the ads. Hoods and darkness. Leather and blindfolds. Discipline. I orgasm just reading it. French maid service. Swingers in the northwest suburbs looking for a little girl to spoil and teach. I'd love that, the parents I never had. Black Master will train. A black Master would be nice, too. Foot fetish. Not interested. Spence's ad. His voice for $1.99 a minute and my fingers between my legs. The fever broke. I could feel it. And it all made sense. His voice in that box of type, those four little lines closing in on me like my mother's Venetian blinds and my secrets behind them. I Dream of Jeannie held in that bottle just waiting for Master to give the next command. I'll keep the blinds down and cook naked, my Master and I, his wish is my command. I want to be kept in a bottle, commanded to perform.

Saturday night

            J, that prick. Portuguese soccer player. Cafe BaBaReeba at 1:30 a.m. Millie was pissed; she had to drive home wasted, alone. If she doesn't want to pick up, that's her business. Apartment by the Four Farthings Pub. His sister's place with a huge bottle of Angel on the dresser. He wants me to blow him just like that—I want to get fucked. Maybe that's too personal for him. But we do it doggie-style, his one hand tight on my hair and the other, smacking my ass. Wow! I should fuck cokeheads more often!

Thursday, Shrink @ 6 p.m.

            Family psychiatry. Right off Milwaukee next to the fucking fruit stand. Ironic, right?

            Nice-looking dark-haired man. I tell him I'm having sex with strangers. I tell him I'm picking up men from the kinky ads. He thinks I'm weird, I can tell. Whatever.

            He says, "Just look in the mirror and practice saying, 'No.'" Ha! Just say no to drugs! He must use that one, too. I don't like what I'm hearing. How many years of training did it take for him to come up with that gem of advice? I'm stunned. I'm humiliated to ask for help, humiliated to admit that my life is out of control, to admit that my sexual encounters are becoming more and more dangerous. And now, I am even more humiliated by this stiff white shirt telling me to talk to myself in the mirror.

            "I can't stop. I don't know how to stop," I said, averting his gaze, choosing to scan his gold wedding band, the polished black wingtips, gravitating on the silver belt buckle and black leather belt, lingering there, searching for some sign of life inside his trousers.

            "What about your health? Your safety?" he asked, rolling a Mont Blanc between his fingers. "What about your son?" I suddenly felt stupid, ashamed. Nice pen, though.

He says I'm a sex addict. That I need medication. A sex addict? Medication? I'm not taking any pills. Obviously, he doesn't get it. I ran out of his office and went home. I looked in the mirror. That same feeling of dread. Who is this face in the glass?

He says I'm a sex addict. That I need medication. A sex addict? Medication? I'm not taking any pills. Obviously, he doesn't get it. I ran out of his office and went home. I looked in the mirror. That same feeling of dread. Who is this face in the glass? Dr. X says I must teach her how to say no. This is a lesson she doesn't yet understand. I shake my head and say, "NO." My voice is stern, my forehead furrowed. "NO!" I say, pointing my finger to scold the naughty girl. I pull the hair away from my forehead and lean in closer to the glass. "NO. NO. NO." But the face in the mirror smiles back, that Cheshire Cat smile, and bobs her head, "Yes." "Oh, yes." I know that girl. I know she will outsmart me. I know she is wild. I know she won't take no for an answer. She's not finished yet.


            Thinking about Spence and how he didn't give me his number. Lucky for him! The house is dark and still and it's all back and I can feel that crop creeping down my back and his voice saying, Don't move. He knows how to play.

Reader Ad. The Tickler.

            Weird cop/lawyer wants to tie me up and tickle me. He gets off on tickling women. Wine at his house, looking at the dated '70s wood paneling and funky lamps. His hair is too long. He's saving a stash of weed for his retirement. Dinner with a radish salad. More wine. He steals the lamp right off the table. Nice truck. At his place he asks me if I want to get tied up. I say OK. Ultra- soft bed with high wooden posts, white sheets and tons of pillows. His hair is soft like a woman's. He tickles me but I don't laugh. I'm not ticklish. He begs me to stay the night, he wants to hold me, but I want to get out. There's no action to be had and plus, he's got guns.

Spence, Friday night—

            So the bastard finally calls and tells me to bring some pot and my dildo. We play fantasy games.

            Rubber. Latex. Hairbrush. Crop. Restraints. Clamps. Master/slave. Daddy/baby. Kitty cat/doggie.

            The guy is so fucking twisted I can't stand it. I'm too wired to orgasm. My senses are pushed to the limit. It's 3 a.m. and I don't want to drive home. "Can I stay here tonight?" I ask. In the dim lamplight he looks softer, kinder.

            "You want to stay? You can stay as long as you don't touch me during the night. You can stay, but you must stay on your side of the bed. You cannot get up during the night for whatever reason. I don't want to be disturbed."

            "Yeah, OK," I respond, turned on by his strict orders, his harsh voice. I'm playing along; I'm the little slave captive until the house becomes dark and still and he falls asleep and I hear the wind howling and the waves smashing against the breakwall and I hear his heavy rhythmic breath. He's left me. The room is boiling and sheets are musty, soiled, they smell like Debbie, the girl who left her riding crop behind. I'm crunched up against the wall, afraid to touch him. I don't want to play anymore. And again I feel empty and alone. Like I'm sleeping with Ramon, El Diablo, my stud, my rebound man. The man who was too much like Miguel to be healthy. But he was sexy as sin and fucked like the devil. But it's all the same fucking thing. Just like El Diablo—fuck me and roll over and go to sleep. I hear you snoring. I am not useful anymore. How many nights am I going to lie next to dead men? They don't know me. They don't want to know me. They want to get off. Maybe that's why I'm mad, because I can't even get off with these guys. I use them for fantasy material, for my own finger between my legs. Spence talks in his sleep. He laughs. He calls out "Marilyn!" The room is dark and the wind is violent, beating against the window. He turns his face toward me to scream in an ugly whisper—GO HOME!! I press my back against the cool wall and pray for morning. I doze until I see light filling in the shadows. There's no coffee. No kiss. Just Spence standing in the doorway looking at me; he's wearing only a sweatshirt, his lower body exposed. I can't look at him. I'm waiting for him to say something nice. To welcome me here. But he just stands there like he's waiting for me to get out. I grab my clothes and get dressed. He stands watching.

            "You know why I come here?" I say, shoving my dildo into my bag. "I come here to get off. I expect to get off. And if I don't get off, I get very angry," I say, getting myself worked up. I hate him now. His bowed naked legs, his filthy prick, his dirty bed. "And a cup of coffee would be nice, too!"

            I push my way past him, wrapping my scarf around my neck. I fumble with the door, sweating. He twists the latch and I bolt into the hallway. He stands there with his flaccid prick and says smugly, "Good-bye."


A Quickie During the Week

            Third time's the charm and Spence lingers over me. My sweater. My perfume. Angel. My lingerie. My nude body. But as soon as we finish, the TV is on. Typical. When I lay down he is my fantasy. All my time and energy spent on this... for what?

            Sexual gratification? Emotional needs? Mystery and adventure?

            Kicks? To get off at any cost? I don't know him. But he knows me. Birds of a feather... 


Saturday night, 3:30 a.m.

            I get a call from my son Jack from the Buffalo Grove police station. "Come and get me. I got picked up for curfew." This is the second police-station call. Smoking pot $75. At least there's no fine this time. Get directions from the cop. He tells me to go west and how the fuck do I know west/east? I get lost and end up in Highland Park. No fucking street lights out here. I make it to the station at 4:30 a.m. frustrated and I get lippy with the cop... you think they could bring the kid to the house... but I decide to stop there. Get Jack and go home. Find the iguana in the house and go to sleep at 5 a.m.


Sunday night

            Spence calls and wants to rape me in the ass. "Let me get back to you on that," I said and hung up on the prick. Whatever. Rape? I don't think so, but thanks for the offer, you moron! I said—you're weird. And he said—you're normal. I want a fucking boyfriend. It's not Spence. He's a loser and a creep. He picks up change from the street. He says he's gotten $35 so far. But there's plenty of women out there for him, he says. No more for me—call the shrink. Cigarettes out of control. Weight out of control. Drinking like a fish. A lush is more like it. Even R, my old work chum and drinking partner, says she's worried about me. Cruising the ads. Jack is a mad-man-child at 16 and I've been at the job for 10 years! What a fucking life. Get into the writing program at Iowa.

            Turn into the cemetery today. 3:30 p.m. and I cry for the dying. I feel like a prisoner. I'm thinking about calling the personal ads again.



            Sexual pervert to use me and toss me aside. Command me in any way you like. I'll get hurt and risk my safety and emotional stability—just let me be your whipping post. I'll cook for you and cancel my plans for you. I'll deny my own son for you. I'll be right here waiting by the telephone. Call me when you're drunk. That's even better. I'll be right over.

            Where did it start? What happened to me? Why am I like this? Why can't I be normal?

            I'm always restless. I've never been truly happy or joyful. God, this is insane.

High-School Yearbook Sketches

            I went for a ride with a black pimp I met at the beach. He gave me some tranquilizers. I wanted to fuck him. He wanted me to work for him. I read Dostoyevsky. I painted my bedroom purple and wrote my poetry on the walls. I wrote a poem about love and rain. My mom said the lines were crooked. My mom found a bag of weed in my jeans. She held it up in front of the whole family. It was funny. I started hanging around the projects. I met a drug dealer who looked like Jimi Hendrix. He gave me a diamond heart necklace. He gave me gonorrhea. He chased me down the street. He wanted to kill me. The Puerto Rican girls from the projects wanted to kick my ass. I snorted rat poison and passed out in the snow. I met Vita's half-brother, Miguel, on my sixteenth birthday. He stuffed his face in a big white peony. We did blotter. He saw the universe in that peony. I had gold hoop earrings that my mom gave me. Vita told me not to fuck him. I fucked him that morning. I like peonies in May. I was sleeping with Louie, a Puerto Rican cab driver. His wife wanted to kick my ass. My friend, Red, and I were juniors in blue herringbone skirts. I won an award for taking 110 words a minute in shorthand. I got my school ring at the junior ring ceremony. I was under the Christmas tree and thought I was dying. I told my mother to get off my back. I won a national essay award. I fucked this guy Fred in a church basement. My mother asked where I was all night. I said I was watching the sunrise. I lost my gold earrings. I lost a lot of weight. I cut my hair short. I was voted the girl who changed the most. I wasn't scared any more. Duarte turned into a dyke. I took Vita's half-brother, Miguel, to my senior prom. I dyed my roses green to match my nails and my dress. Green mescaline. Red and I double-dated at a motel for the night. She got pregnant. We graduated in white gowns and cried the whole time. I was high. I got a job downtown and slept with my boss. He was a writer. I read his manuscripts. He taught me the word risqué. I thought I was Jo from Little Women. I told Vita's half-brother I was pregnant with his kid. He said how could he be sure. I told him I was having his kid. One day, my mother asked me if I was pregnant. I said yeah. She said I could go away to any college I wanted to. I laughed and said it was too late for that. I was having Miguel's baby. I stayed at home and got fat. I ate piles of sunflower seeds and started crocheting a big afghan. The doctor told me I could drink a glass of wine. I went out with Vita and smoked some grass. Pot was organic. God made pot. Miguel said getting married was just a piece of paper.

            I had the LeBoyer birth. Classical music and a warm massage bath for my boy. Miguel massaged his son. We had a huge healthy smiling boy with big brown eyes and rosy cheeks. I named him Zack Garcia. I lived at home. I wore jean jumpers and bandanas. My parents spoiled that baby. My mother cooked me lamb chops. My father laughed all the time at the boy. My mother gave the boy baths and knitted him sweaters with animals on it. Vita was in nursing school. She came to pick me up one day and I took Zack and went for a ride. We smoked a joint in the car. My mother started nagging me about how I shouldn't take the baby, driving around like crazy. I told my mother to stay the hell out of my business. I stuffed a bag of baby clothes and bottles and wrapped up my big-eyed boy. I called a cab. My pa started crying. My mother kept her big fat mouth shut then. I looked up at the window before I got into the cab and saw my pa press his hand against the glass.

            Pa. My pa. Did you think that you would never see me again? Did you think that I was leaving forever?


            Jack's out again running around. My boys... my boys... they saved me for a while. I was happy then. Days at the park with the house full of sand and sticky fingers. Their father, Miguel, and I making love all weekend. But now Miguel is gone and my boys are gone, too. I'm pushing Jack out. I can't wait for him to go away to college. Because it's back. My need. My obsession. My longings. They were lying dormant, waiting for me to finish raising my boys. I was working on the family life. But that happy family didn't quite work out as planned. Even after we split up, I let Miguel use me. He forced himself on me twice. I found myself getting aroused by the use of force. Paul says I was raped. I never thought of that. I said no, but did I mean it? Was I enjoying myself? Something started stirring. I've got to find my own satisfaction. It's time for me to unleash my fantasies, finally do what I want to do.

I'm pushing Jack out. I can't wait for him to go away to college. Because it's back. My need. My obsession. My longings. They were lying dormant, waiting for me to finish raising my boys. I was working on the family life. But that happy family didn't quite work out as planned.

March, 1997, Moody's Pub

            Assertive blue-eyed Italian, 55, salt & pepper with broad shoulders and great singing voice seeks shapely, passive female for light spanking and fantasy games. Satisfaction guaranteed.

            A black-tie fundraiser at Navy Pier and I change in the bathroom at work. The girls from the office think I'm going, but I decide to meet the blue-eyed Italian instead. Wear the clingy black dress on Friday night. He's standing at the door, hesitating. I'm at the bar and I see him. He's old, older than I expected. Leather jacket and beige sweatshirt. I make eye contact. He approaches me. I already had one Jameson's. He orders drinks and we get a table. Vodka on the rocks with water back. He spills the water all over. Clumsy old man. Thick gray curls, blue eyes. Bags under his eyes and a bit of a paunch. Diamond ring, diamond watch. His eyes are twinkling like Santa Claus.

            I'm already lit from the whiskey and so I say, "You're a little older than I expected."

            "Well, we can leave right now," he says reaching for his wallet. In two minutes, I've found his Achilles heel. But I'm dressed and I'm drinking and I want to play around.

            "But I think we can have a good time," I say, trying to calm him down. "I like older men. I'm looking for a daddy." He's hooked. The place is dark, really dark with peanut shells all over.

            "How about another drink?" he asks, settling back in the booth.

            "That'd be great."

            "Honey," he beckons the waitress, his hand waved in the air. "Get us another round of drinks," he barks when she looks his way.

            "I gotta tell you," he says sipping his vodka, "you are a knockout."

            "Thanks," I say, blushing.

            "And she blushes. That's cute. I bet your ass turns a nice bright red, too. Do you like to be spanked?"

            "Yeah. I think so."

            "Have you ever been spanked before?"

            "Not really. You're the third ad I answered. The first guy whipped me with a crop and the second guy wanted to tickle me."

            "So you went home with these guys?"


            "Honey, let me tell you something. I've been doing this for a while now and there are some crazy mothers out there. I met a girl who told me that some guy wanted to hold her head under water. They're not all nice guys like me."

            "Oh. So you're a nice guy who just wants to spank me, huh?"

            "I know how to please a woman, that's for sure. That's why they keep coming back for more. Most guys hop on and off in five minutes. That's not my style, darling."

            He's growing on me. I look at his heavy hands. Nice hands. I blush. He's eating it up. I go to the bathroom, wasted, spinning, crazy in my black dress. I stagger back and he tells me that I've got a million-dollar ass. Burgers. He picks the food on my plate. He's spilling water all over the place. He eyes are eager, gleaming. Let’s go to another bar. Yeah. Once we get outside, he slips his hand inside my coat and kisses me. I'll follow you home, I say, driving right on his ass, doing 80 m.p.h. on Lake Shore to his high-rise. The place is a corner unit on the twenty-ninth floor, full of windows and mirrors and white furniture and glass tables. Vodka on the rocks. We smoke a joint and I'm standing on his balcony, the wind in my hair, looking at the cars on the drive like stars on the Milky Way, dizzy. He's playing some wild record albums like Shirley Bassey and Lena Horne. I take my panty hose off and lay down on his king-size bed. I'm waiting for him. It takes him a while to follow me, but he comes, finally, pulling my slip up over my ass and then he pats it and rubs it and spanks it and I'm moaning and he flips me over like a rag doll and massages me with a vibrator. Orgasm. The old man is so fucking good, but I want to leave. I've got to get home. At 2 a.m. I'm back on the Drive, head pounding, driving back to the suburbs in my little black dress.

Saturday Morning

            Thinking about G, an old man and his $$$$$. I'm game for that. It's like taking candy from a baby. He tells me I'm gorgeous. He loves my South-Side bullshit. Adores my ass. He's loaded. I call him in the morning and thank him for the wonderful orgasm. He says, "Maybe we can do it again sometime?" You're dangerous with that thing, I tell him. But yes, I'd love to do it again sometime.

Sunday Afternoon

            G is a wizard with that vibrator. He won't fuck; he says he's afraid of disease. He whacks off while I kiss his nipples. I don't want to. I make him force me to do it. He's a lightweight with spanking. He just wants to pat my ass. He's not a real dom. In the afternoon light, I see him now. Old-man legs in boxer shorts. Dago T. His teeth are yellow. His dresser is filled with meds and vitamins. The bathroom smells like old-man piss. The kitchen is filled with coffee mugs for grandpa, cabinets filled with cheap booze. Pictures of him all over the house. Slip-on deck shoes, white and blue, in a line inside the door. Tacky ashtrays he’s lifted from bars. He gives me a gold band; he says that he's my Master now. I take it, but I don't wear it. I can tell it's plated. He says he needs to tell me something important. He's not 55. He's really 67. He says that he didn't want to tell me right away, but he doesn't want to lie to me.

            I got to get out of there. I'll call you, I say. Get the Hooptie from the valet guys downstairs, G tells them to wash it, two big black guys, brothers, who weigh at least 350 each. I don't like the way they look at me, those silent stares, I feel like a call girl, only I'm not walking out with any cash. They see me coming and going. And from the way G's phone keeps ringing, I think I'm not the only one... the stories they could tell!

Monday Morning

            Call UnitedHealthcare Behavioral Health $25 co-pay. Might as well use the COBRA, I'm paying for it. Make an appointment for Thursday with Dr. H., addiction specialist.

Thursday Afternoon, Northbrook

            Dr. H has gray hair and a beard. He wears a plaid flannel shirt and corduroy pants. I like him immediately. I tell him that I'm playing sex games with a man about his age. He pauses.

            What kind of sex games?

            S&M stuff. Master-slave. Spankings, crops, restraints, sex toys.

            And what's the problem? he asks.

            I don't know. I start to cry. It doesn't feel right.

            Dr. H gives me some pamphlets. He thinks that I may need to join one of these groups. He says it too, Sex Addict.

            I don't think so. I'm just trying to have satisfying sex, I say. Well, take them anyway and just look them over. I schedule another appointment that I know I won’t keep.

               SexAholics, Sat. 9:30 a.m.

               Sexual Compulsives

               Sex Addicts Anonymous

               Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous

* * *

Life's a Cocktail Party
May, 1997

            Mother's Day! Yippee! Off to brunch with Mom. I really don't want to see my mother today and I wonder if my sons feel the same way about me. Distant. Strange. Resentful. Did I ever like my mother? Guilt. Compulsion. Regret. Let's visit that today.

            My mother had a Speed Queen wringer washing machine. Huge, heavy, creaking. She rolled it out once a week for laundry day. This is when I knew we were different. Vera, down the block, had a washer and a dryer. And, she was Mexican. Mary and Janie's mother had a whole laundry room. I never saw it, but I smelled their baby-powder clothes from the dryer vent. My sister and I were never allowed in Mary and Janie's house. I don't know why, because they came over to our house all the time. I imagined their mother with orange lipstick and face powder, folding all the fluffy clothes in nice little stacks, in their fancy room set aside just for the laundry. It wasn't like that in our house.

            The great ivory beast, stout and stoic, like my mother, rolled from the back porch to the kitchen, its huge black prong sucking power from the outlet, and once that red Speed Queen dial turned on, the whole kitchen agitated and agitated, and my mother agitated right along with it. She used a swollen and cracked wooden dowel to poke and prod and pull the clothes up and out of the water and into the mouth of the wringer. This was a luxury compared to boiling water and the scrubbing boards she used in Germany and France. Here, she had a faucet, hot water and a hose to fill the machine, and the old Speed Queen workhorse did all the scrubbing and wringing. Why couldn't I see what a luxury this was?

            Laundry started early;, my mother raided every corner of the house for clothing, disturbing all the quiet little piles on my bedroom floor. (Years later, this would cause great strife as she confiscated my nickel bags of marijuana.) She'd sort the clothes on the kitchen floor and I'd watch in horror as they began to grow, covering the speckled tile floor that gleamed from my mother's constant hand-and-knees waxing. It had to be done. Just like the laundry—it had to be done.

            A week's worth of laundry for a family of five was no small chore. My father's heavy work clothes, thick white socks and soiled T-shirts, towels and more towels, sheets, jeans, the throw rugs and even the rags got washed and reused. But the worst was the underwear. There were secrets in our underwear, and now they were laying exposed on the kitchen floor. Five sizes of underwear swishing together in the kitchen. My mother knew about us from the secretions and stains on our underwear. She checked the crotches and scrubbed them clean with the sheer force of her hands. Those musty scents erased with Borateem. When my first spots of blood appeared on my cotton panties, there they lay, right on the kitchen floor. It would have been the perfect opportunity for a mother-daughter chat, but that, like everything else, would disappear with the wash water. (I thought I had cancer or I had injured myself on my bicycle, until my sister threw a Kotex at me and said, "It's your period, stupid!" Wasn't my mother supposed to tell me something?)

When my first spots of blood appeared on my cotton panties, there they lay, right on the kitchen floor. It would have been the perfect opportunity for a mother-daughter chat, but that, like everything else, would disappear with the wash water.

            I dreaded laundry day and I hated that Speed Queen almost as much as I hated my mother. There had to be an easier way. One of the neighbors across the street took her laundry to the launderette just down the block. I watched her wheel her shopping cart down the street, a scarf around the huge rollers in her bleached blonde hair, and within two hours she'd return with her laundry—clean and folded and ready to be put away. Later, in the afternoon, I'd see her sitting out front with her hair all fixed up, drinking lemonade.

            But that would never do for my mother. Washing day, like shopping day, was a huge event that had to involve everyone in the house and had to be made as difficult as possible. No one was allowed to slouch around. Everyone had to be doing something. "The sheets need to be rinsed out in the bathtub," she'd say, as soon as I started to walk into my room. I wondered what I had done to suffer so much—my hands twisting sheets in ice cold water. But my mother suffered too, having to do all this heavy laundry, piece by piece. She became angrier and more tired as the day went on.

            During the day, the piles moved from one place to another. From the floor to the washing machine, to the bathtub (for their first rinse), back to the washing machine (for their second rinse), until eventually all the piles ended up in a huge iron tub at the foot of the washer. That's when stage two began. Hanging the clothes. Three lines ran in the yard. A line ran from the porch window to the garage, and a few more lines were strung up along any available wall space in the attic.

            When I hung the clothes, the sheets always went out first in the yard. On a good day they'd dry in an hour and have to be taken down right away to make way for the rest of the clothes. I always hung our underwear in the middle clothesline hidden behind the sheets so that our neighbors couldn't see them. Like David and Stanley and Moochie. When my mother hung the laundry, she'd string our bras and underwear right on the first floor line for all the neighbors to see. God forbid anyone mention sex in the house (my brother got a bare-butt whipping right in the kitchen for looking at a National Geographic), but clean underwear hanging in the neighborhood was nothing to be ashamed of. I never understood that. I never felt safe as I watched my clothes sway over the yard below. I thought for sure the man who lived next door, the one who never threw anything away, would be looking at the underwear and he would know which pairs were mine. If a pair flew off the line, which they sometimes did, and land in his yard, he'd be able to keep them forever.

            Laundry was easier in the summer, clothes dried in shifts during the day, wooden clothespins plucked from the corners and placed back in the bucket. I liked clothespins. Wooden clothespins. That feeling of smooth wood between a tight metal spring. I put two of them aside, and discovered that wooden clothespins clamped onto my nipples felt good. Good old-fashioned pain.

            Years later, I noticed a package of wooden clothespins in a hardware store and I thought back to our porch window. I heard the faint screeching of the reel as I pulled in the cotton shirts, hung from the bottom (so the pins don't dent the shoulders!), swaying above the tomato plants and roses—and I was overcome with a mixture of rage, shame, and sadness.

            But in winter, laundry became a much heavier chore. My mother would say, "Take the towels up to the attic... and don't forget the clothespins." (Once, I made the mistake of complaining and she grabbed a wet towel and beat me until red welts formed and she felt calmer.) I would trudge up three flights of stairs with thirty pounds of wet towels, watching steam escape from this mound of warm laundry, up to our A-frame with three small lines, each towel pulling the line closer and closer to the floor. (Sometimes I'd yank my top up, the cold tingling my nipples hard, and I'd stick two clothespins on and then straddle the railing. The creaking of the wood, the breathing towels, the ice cold banister becoming warm between my legs. Strange behavior, I know, but more would be revealed.)

            It took a few days for the towels to dry, stiff and scratchy and wrinkled. After my mother got a dryer, (she finally convinced my father that we needed one!), she still hung the towels outside. This I could not understand. And, so every day, for as long as I can remember, whenever I stepped out of the shower, rough, stiff towels grated on my skin, because my mother insisted on hanging them outside.

June 24, 1997
Call Master G. The compulsion has hit again—

            Dinner, dinner, dinner, dinner... G is pulling out all the stops. He has a wallet full of credit cards and that does appeal to me. Golden Ox German restaurant, drinks at the bar. I feel ashamed of G, his cheesy mustache, his cheap shoes. He keeps his bills rolled in a rubber band that he snaps as he pulls out a C-note and then tips one dollar. He's all rat-pack-swank and so out of place with someone like me. But the martini is the best I've had, ice cold, and once I start drinking, well, I forget about all of that.

            G and I ate and drank until we thought we would burst and all the while he was diddling me under the table. Patrons were dropping their forks and clicking their tongues, I could see them from the far corners of my eye, but the haze of drink and food and G's finger in my cunt distanced them, so much so that my surroundings became inconsequential... all very inconsequential...

            G is a sick fuck, a real sadistic prick, the kind of guy that will ply you full of wine and chocolates and then shove you in the trunk of his car for the ride home. It drives me wild. "Check out the ass on that broad," G says as we snake our way to the exit.

            "Would you do her?" I ask.

            "Honey, she'd be harder to get rid of than snot on a fingernail," he says as he shoots her a glance. She's right up his alley. Tight clothes, tacky make-up, a few extra pounds just where he likes them.

            "She's a cutie, and she's about your size, huh baby?" G asks.

            "Forget about it, G, why have ground beef when you're having prime rib?"

            "Remember, honey, you don't know what you've got till it's gone," he says as he gingerly pats my behind as we walk out the door. Both sides of the same coin, the field of extremes. G starts up in the car... a small plug-in vibrator. That's the kind of wheel man I can appreciate.

Friday Night for Escarole

            Bertucci's—one of G's favorite places. A little place right on the corner of 24th and Princeton, where the streets are really narrow and all the Italians double park their cars, and if you walk one block more you'll be in Chinatown and the parking's no better there, either. And neither are the drivers, for that matter. It's hard to tell exactly where one boundary ends and another begins. In fact, you'll hardly notice that the concrete statues of the Blessed Virgin Mother have suddenly been replaced by colorful, mysterious looking circles that dangle above doorways.

            But on the weekends, the Catholic school's parking lot is filled with the cars of Bertucci's customers. Nobody tells you can park there, it's just understood, that's all.

            When you walk into Bertucci's, the first thing you notice is the long wooden bar and the pictures painted behind it. There's a gondola on one side and a picture of Venice on the other, both done in fluorescent orange and green and blue paint on a black background, and it pops just like the posters in the back room at the head shops. Above the bar on the dark wood paneled walls, are all the college and pro football helmets you can name, and wedged in the corner of the bar, right next to a couple of poker machines with broads in pink bikinis, sits Jimmy and his magic Casio keyboard. He's got a microphone and a tip jar, but he's not singing, he's just playing some cheesy lounge music that makes you feel like tip-toeing.

            It's Friday night at 8:00 p.m. and the place is packed. The hostess is a frowsy brunette with eyebrows that are arched just a little too high. She's wearing a red blazer and skirt and beaten, red pumps. She sips from a glass of white zinfandel that she keeps next to the lamp on her station. The wall opposite the bar is a patterned Plexiglas that looks like a huge amber spider web and along the Plexiglas wall are five tables for two where the cigarette smoke from the bar hovers dangerously close.
            The bar is crowded mostly with gray-haired guys in polo shirts smoking cigars. There's one woman, thin, tanned, with long brown hair and cropped bangs and heavy eyeliner, and she's talking with a few of the guys and every once in a while she gets up to watch her little girl, with the same cropped bangs and a diamond tiara on her head. She's running back and forth along the crowded aisle with olives stuck on the tips of her fingers.

            Two guys are sitting across from each other at the first table behind the hostess station. One has long gray hair and a flannel shirt and the other guy must be his son because he's far too young and quiet to be a friend. The man is drinking bourbon on the rocks and the kid is having a beer and they're both eating bloody steaks with a side of pasta. Every once in a while, the hostess squeezes her plump behind next to the man with the flannel shirt and he puts his arm around her. The kid just keeps chewing his steak.

            About an hour has passed and the bar has thinned out and Jimmy is still playing some tunes I've never heard before, but the music makes you want to move your shoulders and giggle for some reason. Jimmy's wearing a red shirt and he's got an ashen complexion and gray hair that's lacquered to his head and all of sudden I hear someone singing, but Jimmy's mouth isn't moving. I see that Jimmy's given the microphone to some old queen in the corner of the bar and he's singing something that sounds like Ella and all of a sudden the guy with the flannel shirt and the hostess get up and start dancing in the aisle. The man in flannel has a thin face, hardening from the inside out, but he's holding the hostess's hand like he was Fred Astaire and her tattered red pumps step so lightly, you'd think she was Ginger Rogers. The room is filled with magic and G and I look at each other, raise our glasses and smile. "Life's a cocktail party, baby, and we're two drinks ahead of the rest."

The room is filled with magic and G and I look at each other, raise our glasses and smile.

Saturday Morning

I drank and ate and smoked myself into oblivion again. Why, why, why? I think I need to quit drinking. I smoke pot even though I have a job interview and possible drug testing. Do I care? I'm addicted to so many things, sex, food, pot, alcohol, shopping, cigarettes... I don't know what I'm going to do, but I have to get myself together somehow. G. G. G. What about G? I don't know what I want from him. Passive/aggressive. On one hand I really care about him and on the other, I want to get as far away from him as possible. I need to be free of his control.

            What I really want is to pick someone up and get fucked. Down and dirty. What's with these people that wait for years, like Millie. She's waiting for Mr. Right, she's waiting for her prince, she's waiting to get married. She's been waiting nine years now. Not me. I'd like to find a guy, or maybe two guys. I could really get into that. But I'm with a man who wants to massage me with a fucking vibrating machine, day in, day out. It's so boring. He just keeps on and on.

            Every day, every night. Whenever he wants and I just let him. I'm driving myself crazy.

            Am I doing anything right?

               —Bought a treadmill

               —Filled out two of the three applications for grad school

               —One son in college... and one to go!

               —Have a nice place and a new car

               —Have money to go to the theatre and movies, dinners

               —Have some good friends

            Bought an art book. Toulouse-Lautrec. His paintings personify me. The whores, prostitutes, dancing girls like pieces of meat. When am I going to stop thinking of myself like a whore? I just have an incredible libido. I go walking in the park and start fantasizing about sex—G—he has me addicted.

            Met R and her boyfriend Larry at the Hopleaf for drinks, obsessing over a chiropractor who always sits in the middle of the bar reading his paper. Dark beer. We came back to my place and started reading the ads from the paper. I think R and Larry are into the dom/sub thing, and again the mind roams, the energy is redirected and it all becomes about sex. Larry flirts with me and R gets mad and wants to go home. We're drunk. I can't continue at this pace, it takes too much energy. Try to get into school.

            Twenty things I like to do:

               Have sex

               Look for men

               Walk or hike

               Go to ethnic neighborhoods

               Shop for clothes

               Go to readings, lectures

               Lounge at the pool, beach

               Do wild and crazy things

               Meet new people

               Go to a strange bar and have a drink


               Switch both ways

               Go to galleries

               Go to plays

               Travel with friends—road trip!

               Saturday mornings at the diner

               Write fiction and poetry

               Go to resale shops

               Watch frogs and fish

            I sit and wonder: will I be strong enough to endure this? The desire is so strong. I call G and it all starts.

            "Can I come over?"

            "No. I don't want a dirty whore like you in my bed. Who knows who you have been fucking."

            "G, why won't you believe that I am true to you?"

            "How can I when you're running around at the bars, hanging out with queers, faggots. Honey, I been at the bar before you were born. I know what goes on in there."

            "I just go to have a drink with R, to socialize, that's all," I say. G can be so exhausting.

            "Once a whore, always a whore. I can't let you come into my clean bed. God knows where you've been. God knows what diseases you're picking up. Fucking every Mexican and faggot in the city."

            "G, please. I need to see you," I say now, the tears forcing into my eyes.

            "You should have thought about that before you went out whoring with your friends. Who do you think you're with, honey, I didn't just fall off the turnip truck."

            "G, I'm coming over."

            "The doorman won't let you in. Don't embarrass yourself. Call Paul or R or those other fucking faggots you hang out with... you don't need me now..." Click. He hangs up.

            I am struck down—the afternoon is shot. My little plan has failed. I don't have the strength to break away from him. Addicted. But when he is good, he is very, very good. And when he is bad—it is very, very good! The arousal of submission. The connection from early childhood and my father's black strap. It's all I have. It's all I want. I am addicted.

Saturday Night Alone

            Chain smoking cigarettes. I sit and stare at the black-and-white picture of my pa, sitting on a pier by the water's edge, his back to the camera, his elbows on his knees. Quiet and alone. Like him, I am drawn to the water's edge.

Dear Pa,

            I was sitting in the dark, smoking, when I saw you in the shadows, your cigarette glowing in the dark. I could see the outline of your arms, thin and muscular. I could see your hands, hands that dug up the earth and buried the dead, hands that stilled vodka and caressed my mother. You had nice hands. Man's hands. When I meet a man, I always look at his hands to see if they're like yours. I see the green tattoo on your wrist; it looked like a bear's head with some numbers under it. I asked you about it once and you yelled, "What do you want to know about that for?" Do you remember that, Pa? I do. Like I didn't have a right to know about your life. I mean, you were only my father and I was just a foolish little girl. What was it that you were always thinking about, smoking in the dark? It's really maddening to be trapped inside your own head, isn't it? I mean, living in fear that someone might find out that you are really afraid.

            I know that you were afraid of me. I don't blame you. How could I? You were afraid that I might see through you, see your pain, see your tears, your fears. You would never let that happen, would you? You, who had fled your homeland, your family and the horrors of the war... you thought that you left it all behind you, didn't you? But it crept back, slowly hardening your insides. You could have saved yourself, and us, if you would have let it out. I feel really sad about that.

            Pa, you won't believe this, but like you, I am a survivor of the war. I saw the destruction every day in our four little rooms. You were a dead man. And now I search the eyes of dead men, looking for you.

            I didn't know that fathers hug their daughters, kiss them goodnight, give them advice, I didnt' know that fathers smile and lovingly shake their heads. I didn't know fathers did that. I thought fathers beat their daughters with a leather strap. You used to keep it in a drawer, do you remember that? I do. I guess that's why I think that love equals pain. I guess that's why I like the smell of leather. I guess that's why I seek out men with nice hands and leather straps. I don't blame you for it, really, I mean, how can I? You gave me all you had to give. But I was just a kid. I didn't know that I wasn't supposed to talk or laugh... or be happy. I really can't blame you for that. I know your pain was much greater than mine.

            Pa, I remember how you used to sit for hours looking out the window like a cat watching birds. You used to sit for hours staring at the water's edge. I guess you found peace there. Sometimes when I look at the water, I am overwhelmed by the waves. I can feel your heart. I can feel your pain. I know, I know.

            I'll never understand what hell war is. I'll never know what horrors you endured. You were a prisoner. You were one of the lucky ones. I guess things must have been pretty bad;, things must have been so bad that you were afraid to let them spill out.

            I'd like to say that it's over now. I wish I could say that, Pa. But it's not. Not for me. You're dead. And I'm barely alive. I sit and smoke in the dark. I look out windows for hours. I sit by the water, listening.


I love you,

Christine Marfa

Pa, I remember how you used to sit for hours looking out the window like a cat watching birds. You used to sit for hours staring at the water's edge. I guess you found peace there. Sometimes when I look at the water, I am overwhelmed by the waves. I can feel your heart. I can feel your pain. I know, I know.

Saturday Night, The Seven Hills Ristorante

            Bottles of house wine and lovely garlic rolls. Tapestry and high-backed chairs. G wants me to dress like a whore. Short skirt and heels. He orders seafood appetizer. Escarole and beans, like his mother used to make. And I enjoy watching him. I enjoy his pleasure. He is a man of emotion and pleasure. Controlled by his five senses and yet he has no soul. He is dead. He can't love. He can only control. Coffee and thin wafers. Cognac. G is coming over to my house and I don't like to have him there. I like to keep him secret, but G doesn't like that. Bob, the drunk downstairs, and his wife sit out and drink every night and of course, G has gotten friendly with them just to keep tabs on me. And they like to talk, especially if a six-pack is involved.

            But I like the Seven Hills. Big fat Cadillacs in the parking lot. Big fat gold necklaces shining in the candle light. Always the whore... and a cheap one at that. Trading myself for a glass of wine and dessert.

            We come back to my place and G tells me to change my clothes. Put on the corset and the garters. I'm wasted. Have you ever tried to snap garters when you're wasted? Believe me, it's not easy! G lights a joint, I can smell it. Candles. I am fumbling with stockings and hooks and eyes. I want to cry. I want to say that I love you. I want to sit on the sofa and cuddle with a movie like normal couples. But I buckle my ankle straps because that's what we do. That's normal for us. It's time for our fantasy. We can't deal with reality. We bolt the doors and G wants me bent over the table. He knows what I like. But there's a disconnect. I want him to stop. To slow down, he's pulling things out of his suitcase. A wooden brush. Wait, I say, wait, and I can feel the tears coming down my cheeks and G seems to like this even more. My tears. Wait, G, wait... and he says I don't need to wait, bitch. I know you want this. A black dildo. It's all part of the game. But I love you, G, I do, I love you in my drunken stupor sobbing with my legs spread on the kitchen table and the hum of the vibrator between my legs.

Sunday Night, two weeks later, 12-step group in Evanston

            I decide to check it out. There is a tiny little voice inside of me that wants me to get well. It's constant, nagging and yet so faint, it's terribly easy to ignore. But I go. Fluorescent light in a church classroom. Everyone sits in a circle. There's an old lady with frizzy hair, Heidi with long brown braids, and a skinny man with thick glasses, twenty people, maybe more. I raise my hand and say I'm new. My heart is racing when they start reading. It makes sense to me. I think about how angry G would be if he knew. I wait until it's over and I run out of there. I don't want to be a sex addict. I am not like them!

Self Help book #6, exercise

            Ms. Chris' Deadlies


               Blocks my emotions, low self-esteem,

               Feeling left out,

               Can't dress well, self-conscious,

               Makes me lazy and crazy


               Hangovers! Makes me smoke!

               Drunk driving. Picking up men.

               Costs money.


               Diseases. Sex with strangers. Can't have real intimacy.

               Addictive, compulsive behavior.

               Had sex for money and pot

               Had children too young

               Bad role model for my boys


               Sold out for money

               Lost touch with myself and nature

               Makes me feel trapped and unhappy

               Caught in consumerism, spending


               Bad example for my son

               Waste of money

               Not healthy, emphysema

               Makes me unattractive, stinks

Thursday Night at the Mall

            Shopping with G and I love to lead him around. Movies. Dinner. Drinks. And what a pair we are. The dirty old man with his dumb blonde. I love to watch him whip out his charge cards. Hours at the department store jewelry counter. The middle-aged housewife behind the counter pulls out ring after ring. The pearl? No. The red one. Can I see the pendant to match? No, not that one. G taps his credit card on the glass case. I see the judgment in her eyes. I kiss G to make her turn away.   

            G stocks his house with all my favorites. Chocolate-covered cherries. Maker's Mark. Absolut. Big fat olives. Diet Coke. I went shopping for you, baby, he says. The old man tries. And the more he tries, the more I want to pull away. He gives me stamps for my mail. He gives me quarters for my laundry. One-hundred dollars for my hair. Washes my car.

            Whatever I need. Pure indulgence. Hours of sex. Any fantasy. And we know each other so well. I am not shy or ashamed to tell him because he understands. My daddy! My sugar daddy! On some level he understands the finer points of a true mind fuck.

Sunday Night, Self-Help Session #8 or #18

            Things I liked about myself as a child. I can't remember. I had no hobbies, no sports, no music, no activities. Men. I tried to sleep with them all. Even my brother's friends. I didn't know any better. I still don't.

            Was I nine or ten? We shared a room. My sister and I had bunk beds, my brother was on the other side. How old were we? My sister and I don't talk about it. My mother worked nights cleaning offices downtown and my dad went to pick her up. 10:30? Midnight? My brother said let's play strip show. Was he sixteen? Fifteen? My sister and I took off our pajama tops and ran across the top bunk bed while my brother put a flashlight on us. I remember laughing. My brother closed the bottom bunk with a blanket. We were all in there. He was touching my sister's breasts. I wanted him to touch me, but my mother came home and found us like that. My sister and I with our tops off. Is that incest? Is he a perpetrator? My brother moved to the attic after that. Is that why I like the attic? I would sneak up to my brother's room. He had Playboys. The women were nude, they were beautiful and they were all dressed up in pearls and lace dangling off some fancy couch with their asses up in the air. I looked at the pictures for a while and I started to feel really sexy. I started to feel the power of being a woman and the power I could have if I took off my clothes.

My brother closed the bottom bunk with a blanket. We were all in there. He was touching my sister's breasts. I wanted him to touch me, but my mother came home and found us like that. My sister and I with our tops off. Is that incest? Is he a perpetrator?

            I seduced my brother's friends. The one guy across the street. What was his name? He gave me a box of chocolates for Valentine's Day and I wanted to sleep with him. He rejected me.

August 1997, Saturday Afternoon
The Air & Water Show

            Sitting in G's high-rise is like sitting on the edge of the world. A corner unit surrounded by nothing but lake and sky. I'm stretched out on the white sofa, watching a skywriter paint a huge fluffy X on the blue canvas. Then I look into G's eyes. Blue. Nothing but blue. And the blue seems so distant, so soft, so clear and so astonishingly beautiful that all I can do is sigh because I find myself lost.

            I'm lazy, the fickle feline, kicking my feet on the pillows. I want to see some of G's old pictures.

            G sits with his arms curved along his deep blue armchair, brushes aside his heavy gray curls, and at that moment I know he would grant me anything. A gleam of excitement rises in his eyes and spreads to his mouth, his lips curl up into a smile.
            "Old photos? I have some old photos... " he says rising from his chair like Poseidon from the sea. I tilt my head, following him as he stands above me, admiring me. I love the way he looks at me. I feel so beautiful and so wanted. He reaches down, rubs my satin robe and inches it up over my buttocks. "Stay like that, honey, you look nice like that." I do not move.

            G comes back with a tan cardboard box and sits down on the carpet. I'm spiraling my finger through his curls as he leans against the side of the sofa and opens the dusty lid. He shuffles through the stack of pictures and pulls out a Polaroid. It's a woman. He tells me it's Selma and that she loved to pose for the camera. G is smiling.

            The photo? A dark woman with black stringy hair on G's bed, nude, her back propped up with pillows and her legs spread wide, revealing a smeared, pink slit. I pull my hand away from G's hair, my feet freeze in mid-air and my heart sinks into a deeper shade of blue.

            Bev—he goes on. She had a hair salon down the street and she, too, was crazy for G.

            Another Polaroid. Another nude on the same red bedspread. I know that G had a lot of women. He never kept that a secret. I know that G can make women do just about anything; he has that charisma. Those blue eyes and that smile. I've done things for him I never thought I would... but I won't pose. He asks me all the time. G wants to add me to his collection. His nudes in the dusty box.

            I want to see family photos, wedding photos, baby pictures, war photos, whatever...

            G says he burned his wedding album because there's nothing that he wants to remember about that day. He sits there sorting out pictures of women, like playing cards, laying them on the rug.

            I sit up and sweep my toes through the pictures... I've seen enough;, in fact, I've seen more than enough.

            G sat still, hardly noticing me as I sat down on the rug across from him. He's holding a picture in his hand and I look out at the sky and see that the fat fluffy X has evaporated into a blur.

            "God... this here is Suzi... I had forgotten about her. Man, I was crazy about this little broad," G starts. "Did I ever tell you I was in Korea? Yeah... 18 months. I was in the Artillery Unit. I shot a 155mm Howitzer... I'm telling you, I saw men get blown up... but I learned things about myself, I really believe it made me a man... They used to call me 'Chi,' because I was from Chicago. I was the big shot, the ring leader. There was a group of New York Italians there I used to hang with. But I used to sing blues with the niggers and country with the hicks. I had some good times there, too. Especially when we came back... we were the first battalion to come back to the U.S.. There was a ticker tape parade for us and everything, the 189th Field Battalion... that was a good day. But this Suzi, I met her in Japan on R&R... I had been to Japan twice.

            "Once when I was stationed in Korea and I got a pass to go to Japan, because what the hell do you want to buy in Korea, there's nothing... but in Japan they had these hotels where you could rent a girl for 7 days... the guy in charge, was called the 'honcho' and he would parade around these girls in smocks and we would pick one. Fifty dollars a week for the girl, the hotel and the food and in 1952, that was a month's pay for me... and if you got tired of a girl and wanted to switch after a day or two, all you had to do was tell the honcho, 'Changee, Changee,' and he'd parade out some more girls. But that's where I met Suzi... I'll never forget that week... the room had a big tub, you know the kind of metal tubs you see on TV and she used to wash my hair and clip my toenails and give me all the sex I wanted. At night, all the guys would take the girls to a big club and go dancing... that room was filled with nothing but soldiers, sailors, hookers and cigarette smoke.

            "So anyway, after the war was over, I was a noncommissioned officer and I wanted to see my little Suzi again. So I started this contest and the winner got a trip to Japan and a strand of Mikimoto pearls. You ever hear of them? No? They're famous all over the world. So the way it worked was that the guys would present a picture of their wife or girlfriend and a group of judges would vote on the best looking of the bunch and the winner would go to Japan. Well, I had this thing for that Suzi and so I paid off the judges to vote on the picture of Maxine, she was my girlfriend at the time. I ended up marrying her a little while later because she tried to kill herself, but anyway I fixed that damn contest and I got to go and see my little Suzi in Japan."

            I looked at G, his eyes lost in the photo. I plucked the picture from his hand. I want to see this Suzi broad that drove him so crazy. I see a thin Japanese girl, one hand behind her head and the other holding open her robe. She's got no breasts. Her hair was messed, like they had just finished having sex. Suzi had a strand of pearls around her neck and a smile that seemed too big for her face.

            I look up at G, his face is turned toward the sky, his eyes the color of glass.

Selling Condo-Moving in with G


Pros                                                                                     Cons

Save $$$                                                                           Lose friends

Won't have to work                                                   Maintain addictions

Location                                                                           No privacy

My fantasy life                                                            No 12-step groups

Live with G                                                                      Live with G

October, Friday Night

            Chocolate Sundae seeks sundae lover.

            Answered another ad. Just keeping my options open. Sounds like he's looking for a good time. Aren't we all? Don't know if we'll meet. But things with G are strange. I'm with him and he constantly gets calls from other women. What am I getting out of this? Someone to pass the time? Someone to have sex with? But I can't let go of the sex. It's a form of self-expression. But where is it leading? G and I went to a sex shop and a dungeon. A seedy storefront with porno and a basement playroom. We just looked around the basement and yeah! I'm game. It's another world. It's another reality. And it suits me just fine. G bought some nipple clamps and some mags to read to me later. I just love daddy to read to me in bed! Spanking, bondage, daddy fantasy... I have certainly met my match. It feels so right and so wrong. It's that same suffocating feeling like being back at home. Ha! The guilt and verbal abuse reminds me of dear old Mom. G is on me for everything. Pick up after yourself, give yourself a haircut, you know I like your pussy hair short, quit smoking, eat something, take that shirt off, it makes you look like a dyke, where have you been? What time did you get home? Who were you with? Your hair needs a touch up, where are those nice panties I bought you? And on and on. I need to grow up.

            I let my fingers do the walking and I dial D for Diablo.

Wednesday Night, Tangiers Motel

            Four hours with El Diablo in a cheap room. I was feeling nostalgic for a good, old-fashioned fuck. I love the orange, green, and blue neon sign blinking outside the window. It looks so exotic, when in reality it's just a dingy room. I'm a sucker for a cheap motel and a quick fuck. We're hot for each other. A good sound fucking! There's nothing like it, even if I don’t get off. I never do with R—but he's such a hot Latin lover. Latin guys—their skin is warmer, their sperm is hotter—it's in their blood.


( to be continued ... )

Christine M. Semenow is a freelance writer and educator living in Chicago. She is a certified Story Workshop® director and also studies Jungian dream analysis. Her writing workshops include, The Art of Writing Erotic Literature and Writing Your Own Life Stories. In 2003, Christine spent five weeks in Russia studying her family history. Her essays "Displaced Persons," Hair Trigger 25; and "Metro," Hair Trigger 26 resulted from that journey. Also, her poetry has appeared in Hyphen Magazine. Currently, Christine works as a pharmaceutical editor and spends her free time with her four grandchildren.