I’ve begun to think of Mr. Saturday Night as Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) to my Cecile Volanges (Uma Thurman) in Stephen Frears’s brilliant film Dangerous Liaisons. After our last encounter in the bedroom, I joked to some girlfriends that having sex with me is probably like fucking a 17-year-old, because dammit, I’M SO NEW!
Now let’s be clear, Valmont is an evil character, prioritizing his own game of power and desire over what’s even in his own best interest. He destroys nearly everyone in the story, just to try and win a game with the Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close). But there are these moments of levity and hotness, when he seduces the young, virginal Celine, awakening the desire within, teaching her the ropes in the bedroom, that I find compelling in my current circumstance.
Mr. SN is an incredible lover. All that actor training means he reacts IN THE MOMENT. He is constantly reading signals and changing up strategies and moves accordingly. A lifelong bachelor, he has probably had dozens of lovers (I’m at six sexual partners at this point) and clearly knows the female body and how to give it pleasure. But what’s more, he revels in giving a woman pleasure, over and over again. He is rough in all the right ways, like he knows just what I need for sexual healing right now. “You’re a gift,” I told him last Saturday night, revelling in the beauty of what occurred between us. “YOU’RE a gift!” he replied and that’s all I needed to get to fireworks. BOOM!
So as I’m writing, I’m realizing what’s standing in the way of all of it IS ME. Me thinking, “What is a beautiful man like this doing with a big-nosed weirdo like me?” Me thinking, “Oh this is never going to work because…” I’m trying, desperately, to stay in the moment, stay grounded, but I can’t help but think, “Would my parents like him?” WTF?! I’m not looking to bring someone into all that again just yet! But traditional dating norms are so ingrained in my psyche, that I can’t shake the romantic fantasies of something that needs to be, to quote Outkast, “forever-eva?”
OK here are the things that bug me about this relationship. Let’s get them all down, shall we?
- Lovers, he’s had lots of them, and that’s intimidating for a girl like me. He talks about them A LOT. So I’m having to work through some feelings of insecurity there. We went to dinner in between sex courses and I caught him looking at our young female server with interest. And I couldn’t tell if this is part of a game that he’s playing with innocent little me. Like was he leering intentionally or absent-mindedly. But I DID NOT LIKE IT.
- He doesn’t hold hands. Or spoon. Or kiss the top of my forehead affectionately the way Ali does. I get that everyone is scared to catch feels in this brave new world, but sheesh! And I can see it, clearly, how we start out not speaking the love language of the other and how I change and bend to fit the person I’m with, rather than advocate for what’s going to work FOR ME! To his credit, he does ask me a dozen million times, “What do YOU want?” But it’s in a way that makes me nervous, because I’m not used to speaking those things out loud in a relationship. Is this even a relationship?
- He kinda tells the same stories over and over, and it kinda works for us, because I have memory problems and can’t retain a lot of the details he so easily spits out. He can recite poetry from memory, give detailed historical facts and dates, and I barely remember them because my brain is funny from 20 years of working on the internet. But while I don’t remember the finer points, I do remember that he’s told me this stuff before, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s all there is to him. If he’s nothing but these perfectly polished stories, worn into pretty beads from years of honing the telling of them.
- I’m stuck on the fact that we are not financially in the same place. He lives with roommates, “to help with the rent.” I live with roommates too, but I’ve birthed them. I don’t NEED someone to make as much as I do, but it definitely helps to take the awkward out of who pays for dinner and whether we can do more than meet in a bedroom. If there was a future here, I’d long for travel and trips to the theatre. I also have lived in an income inequity situation, where I made 70% to Theo’s 30%, and while I think that Mr. SN is a more evolved human when it comes to ideas around gender, I really think that most men do not like when their women make more than them.
- He ignores texts when it suits him. He has this particular affliction especially when I say something too forward, or send a selfie. He’s controlling in the bedroom, which suits me very well as someone who has to have her shit together in all other areas of her life, but I can’t help but wonder if this non-response is a subtle control technique too. It was really bugging me, but I decided this morning that I would not give a fuck, because at my age, one only has so many fucks to give and if I want to send a selfie, I damn well will. Deal with it. I would, however, really like a dude that texts to say he’s thinking of me. I want someone who sends links with, “Saw this and thought of you.” Between this and the no-PDA, Mr. SN does not have longevity with me, and I have to remember that before I fall for someone who is just going to make me angry over time for not being who I want them to be. Been there, done that.
Holy fark, you guys. Writing it all down so concisely really helps to slay the demons that are plaguing me. Right now I’m in a small beach town on a giant lake, and the ENTIRE COUNTY has the same name as Mr. SN. The museum is named after him, the county roads, the local bakery specialty. It’s not a good place to get thoughts of him out of my mind. There’s even a sign a block from here that has the same word that’s tattooed over his heart, along with http://www.exploreHISNAME.ca under it. It’s torture. I think (?) he knows this. So his silence over text is extra tough on my soft Cancerian heart.
But it’s my last day in my early-forties and the heat wave finally broke. I’ve got a solid bike ride with my kids planned today and a lot of doing nothing. I’m putting a reminder on my phone that says, “Men ain’t shit” (saw that here) to remind myself that I don’t need some dude taking up my valuable brain space. Show up for me in the way I need or fuck right off. That’s what being in my mid-forties is going to be about.
When reading about Viconte de Valmont now, having not seen the film in many years, it’s clear that he raped Cecile and that in the novel that is expressed as a way to seduce an inexperienced woman. I’m writing that point down because memory and the mind are funny and are often not to be trusted. My fantasizing about this older, experienced conquistador taking control of my body is flawed. You can imbue any relationship or experience with the lens of your choosing. I must be vigilant to ask, “Is that true?” of any idea I concoct around these relationships and my thoughts about them. Because it would be so easy to manufacture something that’s not there and then wake up a decade in, wondering how you got there. Wondering why this person is not the person you fell in love with. And I’m just not willing to fall into that trap again. I’m worth too much for that.