Mr. Saturday Afternoon

My life is an HBO show.


It was Pride this weekend, so we decided to go as a family of four to support our gay child. We had never taken the kids before, mostly because our past Pride experiences were sex, drug and alcohol full dance parties. How would we explain all the naked people? How would we explain the hyper-sexed culture of it all?

We needn’t have worried. Kids are amazing and just roll with things. They laugh if someone’s dingle dongle is hanging out. They are with their parents, so they aren’t nervous. They know us — if they have a question, we’ll answer it honestly. From their vantage point, Pride was about letting your freak flag fly. Completely accurate. Be your brave, bold self in all its rainbow glory.

Kids are smart. More on that later.


Mr. Saturday Night has been a bit more chatty over text this past week. Mostly because, hey, we had an incredible time together two Saturdays ago when I had him over for dinner and he had me for dessert. Ba-dum-cha!

He was texting me yesterday about Pride t-shirts and I assumed he had seen them at the museum where he works most weekends. So the fam and I wandered up the avenue, past the food trucks and the DJ booths and the corporate “activations” to the public school where a big Family Pride event was taking place. We had the option of going into the gym or walking back to the playground, and our adorable queer kid chose the playground because there were monkey bars. This kid has never met a set of monkey bars that weren’t a magnet for them.

I send Mr. SN a photo of my kid standing in the middle of the rainbow-painted avenue in full costume with the caption, “Baby’s First Pride!”

“Awesome. Come visit. We are at the school.”

RECORD SCREECH! Not that I could hear a record screech, my heart was pounding so loudly. I am standing with my ex and my kids and this handsome man, whom I’m smitten with, this gorgeous creature that I just had amazing sex with the week before is saying he happens to be right where we are. I freeze.

“This is why Dr. X says we should stop doing things as a family!” I berated myself. After scanning the schoolyard casually, I excused myself and went to a Port-a-Potty to hyperventilate and consider my next move.

I text my friends and they mostly laugh at me. I would too. I’m an idiot. Why do I keep hanging out with my ex? Breathe, Maria, breathe. OK, just put it all on the table. He’s a grown up.

“So are we! Where are you? Heads up that their dad is here with us. Which is weird [shrug emoji] but perhaps not…”

“Gym.”

Oh phew, I can escape the Port-a-Potty at least. When I reach my fam, they are watching a magic show. I tell them I have a friend in the gym and I’m going to say hi. I wander into the dark gym. There is the usual gym food fare by the stage: a desiccated fruit tray, the orphaned raw broccoli in a veggie tray, some sad-looking pizza with green peppers on it (ew). There’s a mom breastfeeding in a corner, and a painting station and some assorted wee chairs to have a rest on. And there in the back of the gym is the handsomest, most charming man I have ever had sex with. Even in this dull gym, he is SPARKLING.

I try to do a sultry, sly walk-over. I catch his eye and melt a bit as the corners of his mouth turn up at the site of me. I convince my knees not to buckle. He introduces me to his colleague, a 50-something woman with glasses and dark curly hair. I promptly forget her name. “Where’s the gang?” he inquires. Out watching a magic show, I tell him. “We can’t compete with that,” he quips. We talk a bit, he tells me about the community outreach programs they do to educate people about the museum. Then I decide to go get the kids.

This. Is. Happening.

The younger one is immediately interested. The magic show was babyish and pissed her off. We walk in together and I introduce him as “My friend, Sam.” Mr. SN is smiling, clearly pleased to make her acquaintance, and shows her the antique historical artifact he’s brought with him. They use it to make something tangible, my kid’s hand on the same machine as Mr. SN and I can barely contain myself.

He hands us the tangible thing to take home and just as I think we are going to walk away now, my kid wants to play a game of giant checkers, 10 feet from where Mr. SN’s booth is. So I take off my jacket and indulge and try to play it cool at the same time. I text my ex, who is with our other kid, that we are in the gym playing giant checkers, but I don’t want Theo to come into the gym and don’t know how to say it.

The game takes way longer than I’d like it to. Mr. SN is serving visitors and I’m playing giant checkers and we’re pretending not to take notice of each other, but all I want to do is go over and kiss his whole face. Maybe find some bleachers to make out behind or something. But I don’t know how to be in this new world where two worlds are colliding. Not yet. I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t have time to prepare! Is he even the guy worthy enough to be the first person I introduce to my kids?

Then Theo walks in with our older child, who has just done a project on exactly what Mr. SN knows the most about. Introductions are made. Mr. SN gives an even bigger performance of his subject matter expertise. He wants to slay. I’m not sure who his audience is: me, the kids or Theo? I am so uncomfortable, I just want it to be over and yet I want Mr. SN to impress the shit out of all of them.

Mr. SN shakes Theo’s hand. Firmly. Looks him in the eye. There’s a macho-ness to this interaction. The hand that a week before had been all over my body (and way up inside it, too) shaking the hand of another man who had years ago been all over my body (and had seen a baby fly out my vagina). It felt like a Clint Eastwood western.

HOW IS THIS HAPPENING?

We say our goodbyes and I give another sly smile. He sends a happy face emoji and I say something about how hot he looked with the antique machinery. Then I say it was lovely to see him and I was glad he got to meet my humans. He responds saying my humans are great and he was glad to meet them. SWOON. But the fact that Theo is with me makes me question both our uses of the word humans; is Theo included in that?


Theo is CLUELESS. No idea. This is partially because I know EVERYBODY and he can never remember a name. So if I say, “This is my friend Sam,” then he just assumes I know the person through work or social media and never asks. I could have just left it. I assume that someday Mr. SN could be an anecdote, because I’m still new at this. I can’t possibly have found a person I might settle down with so soon.

So I should have said nothing, but I don’t, because I’m neurotic and a fool. “Sorry, I didn’t know Sam was going to be here. I hope that was OK.” Theo still doesn’t get it, and then eventually his old fashioned lightbulb flickers on. “Oh! Well he seems like a nice guy… He’s really good-looking!” Yup. Sigh.

“Does he like you?”

In hindsight, WTF did he mean by that question? But I love that I didn’t waver. “Yes… yes, he likes me.” Because he does, even if it’s mostly just sexually right now. He likes me. He waited 5 dates before trying to sleep with me. Which I now get. Because when you’re as good-looking and as charming as him, you can get women to sleep with you fairly easily. But if you can like getting to know someone enough to last five dates, then it makes it a bit more worthwhile. It means that the person is more than just sexy, there’s something there. Yes, Mr. SN likes me. And I REALLY like him.


So it happened. Everybody met everybody. Nobody died. Nobody had a Russian Roulette style shoot-out outside the saloon. All hearts remain in tact. The kids, however, are not clueless.

“How do you know Sam? Like, where did you meet him?” Uhhhh, work? Kids can see through bullshit like Superman checking out Lois Lane’s undergarments. I resisted the urge to talk about Mr. SN all day. I just wanted to conjugate his name for hours. Sam, Sammy, Samuel… but I kept my glee in check and focused on my time with my littles. I often say I live on two continents since the separation. The one with the kids and the one I occupy when it’s just be and I’m not with them. But yesterday those two states collided. I think it’s inevitable. The lesson is that there is a new me and a new life I’m trying to build. And if I keep a foot in the old life, then I am going to be faced with this kind of awkwardness over and over. (To be clear, it was only awkward for me.)

I need to move forward. And yet part of me is still tethered to Theo. I came home last week, a little sauced after taking Ali to dinner for his birthday. And I waltzed in with a swagger that only three glasses of rosé and a flirty dinner with one of your lovers can provide. And Theo started in. “Do you think that someday we may get back together?” Argh.

I told him no, that “back together” implied backwards and I’m not headed that way. Besides, what exactly would be better? Why, WHY after we broke the kids hearts, would I even consider it? I hate that he asked me this question. His refusal to let me go, whether conscious or subconscious, is problematic. Does he not realize how much hurt and pain he’s caused?

For now, I distract myself with these men, handsome and fun and wanting only me. I need to make some more changes, commit further to myself and treat myself like the lover I’ve always dreamed of. I’m going to practice that this week. Stay tuned…

Can I just title this with drool emojis?

ZOMG! Mr. Saturday Night. Dinner on my deck. And then… fireworks!!!💥

What was I so afraid of? That… was… wow!!! I didn’t know that could happen!! 💦 😍

I mean, I knew THAT could happen, I’d read about it. But I mostly thought it was a myth. When a dude’s been making love to women for 40 odd years, I suppose he gets pretty good at it. Oh lord! * fans self to cool down *

Anyway, tired as all hell. G’night!!

Let’s have a wee look up yer kilt

When I said yes to meeting Gavin (Edinburgh, if you’re keeping track of Gap Year cities), I knew he was married. Because when I asked him what the story was, he was completely honest.

“The open relationship is relatively new and weird and works well for us, but I understand it’s not for everyone. I can be of assistance in three ways:

1. I’m old with kids. So I know how hard/fun it all is. I’m not a demanding fellow. I know what I want and I’m finally a good communicator.

2. Sex is best with someone you know. I can read in a park with you. I can nighttime date you and I can lunchtime ramen you. I love talking on the phone and I’d love to throw you down on the couch and make-out.

3. I don’t need a lot so you won’t get any pressure from me. We’re just a middle-aged married couple that has emotionally matured beyond expectation but can also remember being young and dum and into having fun. But I am happily married and don’t wanna blow anything up.”

You guys, this sounds ideal for where I’m at right now. Plus I LOVE talking on the phone. And being thrown down on a couch for make-outs. The only thing that’s bothering me (other than him being married), is that the dating app settings were set to metric, and I have no idea how tall someone is in centimetres. Gavin is a GIANT. Literally the tallest man I know. Taller than Lars of the Peaches, who is my tallest friend.

My house is a wee Hobbit house. My bedroom ceilings are only 6’2. I stupidly built my bathroom under the bulkhead and it’s only 5’7! This dude will not fit in my home.

But he’s married, so he will never need to fit in my home. He just needs to be able to make it to my bed without getting a concussion. And before you get all judge-y, his wife has a steady boyfriend, so this is not a modern way of excusing adultery. If all adults are consenting, then maybe it’s not for us to judge.

Gavin the Giant was supposed to come over Friday night, but I got a nasty head cold and needed to rest. With good reason.


Midweek, midday, on a walk with a female colleague, I butt-dialled Mr. Saturday Night while talking about how big Gavin the Giant’s dick might be. And I left a message.

“Sorry, I butt-dialled you by mistake.” I texted, hoping the butt-dialled message was garbled and incoherent.

“What did your butt want?” SWOON. I adore Mr. Saturday Night, who had tried to engage me several times with some basic “Happy Mother’s Day” (sweet), “Happy [insert public holiday here]” (WTF), and my personal favourite, “Full moon tonight…” He’s mostly a terrible texter, who reveals nothing too personal in writing, but I can’t help but get swoony.

“My booty wanted to know what it would take to get your buns to ask her out sometime.”

“What are you doing Saturday night?”

FUUUUUUUK

I was going to an outdoor concert. I’d bought tickets months ago, thinking, fuck it, I can’t find anyone to go with, it will just work out. And by that I mean, I’d sit on a blanket and run into someone I know. Except by this point, I had a small posse going, including Lars of the Peaches and his wife Zofia and another friend from my writing circles, Matryoshka, who knows Lars from way back to junior high. Matryoshka is a Russian doll of a woman, who looks all sweet on the outside and is full of layers of deep writer inside. She also has two of the cutest, sassiest girls ever.

“I would love to accompany you to THE OUTDOOR CONCERT OF THE YEAR…” Clearly the message my butt left did not come in clearly. Or if it did, this hombre is chill AF and way too sophisticated a dater for a small-fry like me to even be steppin’ to.

SO I PROCEED TO FREAK THE FUCK OUT FOR DAYS WITH NERVES, BECAUSE I’M A FUCKING GUPPY OF A DATER WHO HAS ZEROOOOOOOO CHILL. (We’ve already established this, n’est pas?)

I meet Mr. SN at the venue, which is a historical place that he knows A LOT about as a historian of our city. I am 15 minutes late, which I feel terrible about. Like so bad I’ve convinced myself I should give him head to make up for it. He’s cool and I look good and he immediately notices, but plays it ice cool like he does. He says, “You’re wearing your jewels,” or something like that, noting the crystals around my neck which I fucking baked in the full moon a few nights before, along with my intentions for a good life, because I am now a semi-witch who does this shit. He doesn’t bat a fucking beautiful eyelash, because he’s totally down with witches. SWOON.

OMG you guys, he’s so fucking hot, telling me about the 200-year-old history of the city we live in and the spot on which we stand. He walks me over to a cannon to give me its significance and at this point I’m basically an emoji with hearts for eyes because he’s saying smart shit and he fucking knows it and his confidence on his subject matter is so sexy. Also I am seriously hoping that on Date #4 he’s gonna invite me home after to show me his CANNON. We sit on the deck that supports the cannon and watch some kids playing soccer, while the French Canadian equivalent of Amy Winehouse takes the stage and I just want to sit in the sunshine in this beauty with him for a long time. He suggests we move closer to the stage.

When we get to the stage, I check my phone, because we ran into Matryoshka and her older kid and then she had texted to say she lost her daughter. Meanwhile, Lars messages to ask where I am and I look over and see him. And I know I should give Mr. SN a heads up that I have friends here, but I’m so grateful to see my best guy friend in the wild that I say, “I’ll be right back” and then next thing I know they are meeting. Lars knew to expect Mr. SN. In fact we had a funny text exchange the night before where I joked, “When did I become Lars circa 2009?”

I’m fully excited that Lars meets Mr. SN, because they are both totally my kind of dude who knows shit about this city and can talk dreamily about just about anything smart. It’s funny that intellect is something that attracts me, because my mother always goes on about how my dad was “college educated” but had no social skills or earning potential and I shouldn’t fall for that kind of thing. Sigh.

We smoke some ganja and maybe that wasn’t so smart. Because it’s not what I’ve brought, which is mostly CBD and just super effing relaxing without the head-buzz. It’s Lars’s shit which is kinda heady, and I don’t know how Mr. SN will react. So he kinda goes further into his not-touchy, cool-headed self, while I’m horny AF, but SO FARKING INSECURE that I’m stuck, not able to ask for what I want. And what I want is for this hot piece of walking art to hit on me a little bit, but no dice. Or if he feels like he is, he’s not speaking my language, which is more OPAQUE that a pair of 40+ denier tights. BE A LITTLE OBVIOUS, MAN! Sigh.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from Ali Ahmed, it’s that a person’s hotness can build up in your mind. Because how Ali sees me, every single time, even with no makeup and a saggy stomach from having two kids, is so incongruous with what I see in the mirror. I know I’m bigging up Mr. SN in my mind and that there’s the risk of it all being disappointing. But I want to find out for reals this time, you know? I don’t want to talk myself out of it due to fear. I know conceptually that it’s probably nothing, but maybe I’m totally wrong about that. Right now, Mr. SN is like a glass of wine that I don’t need to share with anyone else, but who makes me feel amazing when I’m indulging in its company.

If I sit with the Buddhist books I’m reading, I should basically enjoy that Mr. SN and I are both alive and that our aliveness is somehow speaking to each other. But as I have ZERO CHILL, I died a little when I saw the tattoo over his heart peek through his shirt. I wanted to kiss that hairless spot BADLY. But I couldn’t help but feel like our date had grown platonic, my friends being around not helping this situation. We snuck off to eat some paella in the grass together. He produced some hard-boiled eggs, which I’m actually not a fan of, but ate because a man brought them to me like a slaughtered beast, and then I burped egg the whole night after. SPEAK UP, MARIA!

I wanted him to hold my hand. But yet I never reached for his. I was waiting for some bullshit patriarchy version of romance. And he’s smart enough not to fall for that shiz, I think. Because he’s probably played all those roles, to varying effects. And he’s 50 and has even fewer fucks to give than me. But will it work for me? I have had difficulty accepting male energy and detachment in my marriage. Can I accept this now?


We parted ways at the end of the amazing concerts. There was a moment of perfect happiness mid-day, where he was lying back on my picnic blanket, and I leaned back to look up at the quintessentially sky blue sky while my favourite band played, and I was a bit buzzed, this gorgeous human specimen beside me. I looked over at him and smiled, “I’m really happy right now.” And everything about that moment was as true as the sunrise when my second child was born.

The crowd existed en masse and I really felt like he should grab my hand and guide me through the crowd. My ex would have done that. Ali would too. But nope. Maybe he’s a bigger feminist than me? Who knows? He walked with me to my bike, and I STUPIDLY PUT MY HELMET ON, because I was trying to play it cool when he asked me which route I take home, and I sputtered my actual route when what I really wanted to say was, “Which way are YOU going Billy?” Which is not his name but a Susan Jacks song I have on vinyl that my mom always played for me, but considering I’m writing this after three glasses of rose, you’ll have to permit me the indulgence of this bullshit. Our kiss goodnight felt lacklustre. Helmets make heads safe but make kisses too safe for my liking.


I went home and settled it with battery powered devices. I texted Ali the next day to give me a testosterone embrace, fully out of weakness. But I don’t feel bad about it at all. I chose it consciously. And it was perfectly what I needed on that day. I fired up the apps, disappointed at the ending of the date the night before, but not ready to tell Mr. SN what I can’t tolerate, which is someone playing it TOO COOL.

I made a date for Gavin the Giant to come over, but even though he’s all cool about the situation, I can’t shake my puritanical good girl need to understand if I can morally accept that I made that choice. But he’s so fun and flirty. Just SO WHITE and SO TALL and SO MARRIED. How will this go? Is him not needing anything what I need right now? And yet he needs something, and it seems to be flirting and sex. For me that comes at a cost. But what is my value? And what exactly is open for business? I’ve yet to figure that out dear reader. I’ve yet to shag anyone other than Ali. But maybe, just maybe, I’m going to go to a new town just yet. So far, I’m not very good at this Gap Year thing…

My hangups with sex

This entire post requires a trigger warning. Heck, life deserves a trigger warning. Like many women, I’ve had a few experiences with sexual harassment and assault.
I will stick to the two-three most noteworthy events for the purposes of today’s introspection. Don’t worry, faithful reader, there are some laughs to be had in here too.

When I was a few weeks from my 18th birthday, I narrowly avoided a rape because the dude’s friend came by the house we were making out in. This was a guy I thought I really liked, though looking back, all we had together was witty, flirty banter. We had nothing else in common really, except maybe dancing. Let’s call him Luigi.

Anyway, Luigi had taken me to the prom but there’s not even a photo of us together. At the end of prom, he made out with me on my parents’ driveway. I was wearing a white brocade sweetheart neckline, spaghetti strap dress from Le Chateau. It was as pure as me. My period was at the super tail end, back in the days where my flow was a joke, and I remember him feeling up my crotch over my tights, and me having anxiety about my pantyliner. We got pretty hot and heavy there in his white Grand Am. But then he said, “I would take you to the hotel after-party, but my friends won’t like it because you’re not Italian.” So I excused myself from the car and his fumbling fingers.

A week or so later, he called and I thought he was taking me on a date. Instead he showed up in sweaty gym clothes, said he’d just been to my favourite burger joint without me, and then took me to his parents’ house, where we began to make out in the basement.

When he took off my clothes, I told him I was a virgin and that I wasn’t planning on having sex. I was pretty religious back then, and I stupidly believed that preserving my chastity was an important path to getting married, a.k.a. The Ultimate Goal. He took that information as a challenge, and proceeded to rub his shaft against my clitoris and then came the “I’ll only put it in a little bit” dance.

I was NOT INTO IT. But I also had no idea as to what I was supposed to do. Growing up religious, I was pretty clueless about sex and sexuality. I knew very little about women’s rights. The TV was on and so, realizing he was just going to do what he wanted and not care about my desires or my pleasure, I turned to watch the Simpsons. He didn’t like that at all and put his baseball cap over my face. Then the friend, who looked like Emilio Estevez, showed up and for a moment I thought I was going to have to deal with both of them, but thank Gord, they just put me in the car and drove me home. Phew. It all fizzled out from there, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was still trying to date him after that incident. Ugh. Why do we do that as females, why do we try to date these monster men as though being his girlfriend would have legitimized the experience and somehow cleansed me of my sin of having a body?


Weeks later, I would meet my first long-term boyfriend and sexual partner in summer school. I was trying to up my marks for university. He was trying to stay in high school. Manny Rodrigo was my chance to practice everything I learned over years of reading Cosmo. He was my latin lover, and within 4-6 months of dating, I gave him my virginity for Christmas. With Jell-O. Because doesn’t everyone pop their cherry with a side of red Jell-O?

WTF was I thinking? Did I think the red Jell-O would hide the fact that I might bleed from having my hymen broken? Was I kinky, but didn’t know it? Was I performing? Probably. I’m guessing (without digging up my old journals) that I wanted it to be “special” and original. Even then I think I was subconsciously architecting my experiences to become laugh-out loud stories some day.

Manny was a player and a cheater. Back then, it wasn’t children keeping me home, but strict parents, who had me home by a curfew and a schedule. Plus I worked part-time and kinda did homework on occasion. (I was smart but had undiagnosed ADHD and only graduated by the skin of my teeth.) But I did not have enough time for him and he was constantly out. Still I never suspected cheating.

He was an unbelievable lover. He totally knew what he was doing and how to give a woman pleasure. I cannot dispute that I was addicted to having sex with him. And while I have so much resentment about him in general, I will reflect back and be grateful that the sex part of my first serious relationship was actually attentive and pleasurable. We had no idea then that orgasms release oxytocin and make you think you’re in love with the monster you’re sleeping with.

One night, we were at a rave and went into the unisex bathrooms, because I think Manny was touching up his clown makeup (!), when I noticed a woman out of the corner of my eye. We had dropped acid (the party drug of choice for broke teenagers in 1991) and I was just starting to “peak,” so this woman’s auburn head began to turn into a bull’s head. Steam was coming out her nose and for a moment I felt scared that she was going to hurt me. She angrily approached me and when the bull opened her mouth, what came out was, “WHO. THE. FUCK. ARE. YOU?!

“I’m Manny Rodrigo’s girlfriend. Who the fuck are you?!” I retorted, because I come from a tough neighbourhood and I knew how to talk to bull-faced bitches.

“How long have you been his girlfriend?”

“A year.”

“Well if you’re his girlfriend, then why did I have sex with him on Thursday?!”

I don’t remember much else. Sliding to the ground, maybe? I recall Manny coming out the stall in full clown makeup and the Bullish Bitch (who I no longer think is a capital-B Bitch) started slapping him and yelling at him. Next thing I know, some lovely angel of a black girl was next to me, saying she understood, let’s go get some air girlfriend, you don’t need this shit and before I knew it we were outside of a club in a sketchy neighbourhood and the big phallic tower of my city’s skyline was a throbbing penis against the night sky. And there was no re-entry, sorry. At midnight. When I still had SIX-EIGHT hours of getting the LSD out of my system. So I stared at the big dick in the sky until Manny came out to ask my forgiveness. Both of us effectively evicted from the club, we went to go sit in the alley, behind the booming base building.

I sat there, watching a broken pane of glass fracture and recompose, over and over, trying to understand what had just happened, trying to find meaning in what the window was trying to tell me. As Manny tried to explain what had happened (he cheated on my because he was sad about a friend dying, poor fragile boy), his face would transform from pure and beautiful to the Joker from Batman to demonic and evil, and back again. I looked up at the trees for help and they were iridescent and rasta colours and calming. He didn’t want me to leave him (he needed a drive back to Scarborough), so we drove home as the sun came up, the highway becoming a rubber road with shifting waves of concrete peaks and valleys. I spent two more years with him, having condomless sex (I was on the pill) with a very slutty bisexual man.


There’s so much more to the story of Maria and Manny, including an assault that happened to me while I was drunk and looking for him at a party, but I’m leaving it here to illustrate why the following story happened.

In 1997 I was in Acapulco, Mexico for spring break. We were sharing a door between rooms with four guys that we loved hanging out with. We all loved to drink and dance and I never correlated that whole culture of nightclubs as part of “date rape culture.” But now, when I see those same guys on Instagram, still partying with young girls 20-years later, I realize that so much of getting women drunk and high, letting them dance while wearing next to nothing, their guards down, completely free, it’s not about a celebration of music and dance and Bacchanalian merriment… it’s about detaching the female body from the female mind, bringing them to the point of separation where the subconscious male desire to objectify can take place with little resistance thanks to reduced judgement and motor skills.

I first saw Lorenzo on the elevator. He was built and cute, if a bit short, and was wearing a very bold silver lamé shirt that caught my attention. We flirted on the way to our rooms and I got excited at the thought that I might meet and hang with him later. At the club, I found him on the dance floor (my happy place), and was attracted to what a good dancer he was. We danced the night away and I got drunker and drunker.

We went outside for some air, which is a tactic dudes have to separate you from your friends (who will usually prevent you from going home with just any random dude). Then the negotiation started. “Let me take you back to the hotel.”

“But then you won’t want to be my boyfriend,” I whined. He didn’t want to be my boyfriend, because he already had a girlfriend, a fact I’d learn in the days to come. I’d never had a one-night stand, was I about to? Everything in my head was cotton candy and Marshmallow Fluff. “I can’t leave without telling my friends,” I slurred, that was our safety rule #1 to make sure none of us got murdered. And still somehow, for reasons that tequila shooters made unclear, I was in the back of a cab, in a time before cell phones, heading to the hotel.

I am embarrassed to recall being in a bathroom stall and the moment I chose to sit on his dick with no condom. All I remember is that I was almost blackout drunk. Almost. Sadly. And that I couldn’t stop thinking about how I just wanted to get it over with, this first fuck after Manny, this random dick to erase the magic cheating one. I hadn’t slept with a guy in three years, in my twenties, when I was hot AF, because religion and misogyny convinced me that I shouldn’t have sex with boys, especially boys I really liked and should make my boyfriend. You know, lest he be marriage material, because marriage was how you became a real girl, à la Pinocchio.

Somehow we got a security guard to let us into my room (I was never trusted with the keys). I don’t remember much of what happened next, just that it wasn’t thoughtful or considerate. It wasn’t love making or exploring, it was straight fucking and I was a sloppy regretful mess. I know I never said no, but I also know, without a doubt, that sober me would not have done that. I experience my apprehension to sex all the time now, where I won’t sleep with any of these guys I’m dating, because I don’t know how to ask for what I want.


It’s taken me roughly 1900 words of recalling some bad sexual experiences to get to that point: I don’t know how to ask for what I want. I have been lucky to have never experienced violent assault. I know the above stories are nothing compared to the many stories I’ve had the honour of holding for their survivors. As one of the founding members of a 1300-member secret Facebook group for feminists, I’ve read brave, honest and horrific stories of assaults. As a collective we have pondered and debated the “Cat Person” essay, the Aziz Ansari story, Ghomeshi, #metooMMIWG

Countless writers and scholars, more prolific and studied than your truly have tried to put into words the mess that is this world of oppression and violence we live in as women. A world that was not built for us and instead has been built to keep us as bodies for breeding. I was reading about how male chicks are often just pulverized to death, because they are useless as they can’t make eggs. It reminded me of Oryx and Crake, in which Margaret Atwood imagined a world where female chickens would just be bred nearly-headless with giant breasts and fat thighs and little else to support their structure. Chicky nubs. And in a similar vein, women today are often being viewed as headless, brainless breasts and thighs. An all-encompassing, highly replaceable hole to be filled and discarded.

I know this seems cynical, but it’s critical to understanding my apprehension and FEAR when it comes to having sex. We are raised to protect our “flowers” at all cost, knowing that owning a vagina is a liability, walking through Middle Earth fighting enemies who are coming for our one ring to rule them all. Feeling like the only solution is to walk our fannies into Mordor and burn them in the fires of Mount Doom to quell man’s desire and thirst for greed and death.

Can I learn to enjoy sex without emotional connection? I haven’t had that experience yet, and maybe I’m being too picky. Can I learn to enjoy the company of men, without the fear of being controlled or harmed? How do I find the ones I can trust with my body, my mind, my soul? How do I let it all go?

The opportunity to see a guru whose writing has helped me immensely has just (in this moment) presented itself, thanks to a goddess-witch. I’m hopeful I’ll find some answers there. Thanks Universe.

Witchy Woman

Hi faithful readers, I’ve been lax about posting of late. Lots going on. Sadly not as optimistic as that last post but then the twists and turns are happening on the daily. Here’s one I never quite finished from a few weeks ago to tide you over until I get the rest down this weekend. But I’m dedicating this to DD, whom I hope never loses her wide-eyed wonder and never becomes a jaded bitch like yours truly.

*********************

I was hoping to final spend a night sleeping in one of these cities I’ve been visiting on my Gap Year, but London and Paris both had plans to be out of town for the long weekend. Le sigh. I spent a bit of time on a dating app, but I didn’t feel like giving a first timer my kid-free long weekend. So I ping-ed my single friend Gogo, who always knows what’s going on in town. Perhaps she was going dancing, an activity that always brought me great joy, but that I haven’t done much of since having kids, after dinner Disney dance parties aside.

“Are you witchy or road trippy?” she wrote back. Are you kidding me? BOTH! I opted for witchy, because it was the most intriguing and fit with my schedule. I’ve been known to be a bit of a hippie-granola type, who reads Eckhardt Tolle and Pema Chödrön. I’m writing a book on how beliefs define you. This would be perfect research. The universe strikes again!

practicalmagicBefore I knew it, I was added to a thread about Beltane, a Celtic festival in May that celebrates the peak of spring and the beginning of summer. Given that it was above 20 degrees Celcius in my fair city that week, I think we nailed the date. There was talk of eating aphrodisiacs and baking penis bread and making rabbit stew. I got excited and ordered a deck of Native Spirit Oracle Cards. I slept next to them as directed, and bathed them in crystals baked in sunlight. I looked at each card mindfully and with love, trying to understand what it meant, waiting for them to speak to me, realizing this wasn’t an exam I could cram for. I settled for, “Let me read them with an open and compassionate heart.”

Gogo had recently moved back into a condo she’d been renting out and was looking to reclaim as her own space. So the witch party was about clearing the air. As I’m on a journey to reclaim my femininity, my culture and the parts of myself that were lost or largely unknown, I was DOWN WITH IT!

In a tiny corner of the small library in the nearest strip mall of the income-disparate multicultural suburb where I grew up, was an eency-weency Occult section. I frequented it often. I was drawn to anything remotely psychic, because I felt I had strong intuition and as an anxious child, was open to anything that made me feel I had more control over the unpredictability of life.

I don’t know why I was drawn to magic in my tweens, but my family, while very religious, also believed in a superstitious mysticism. I come from post-genocidal survivor-types, who looked for signs and performed acts of cleansing, prayer and what can only be described as “Middle Eastern Voodoo.”

As a small child, I remember my maternal grandmother, who survived genocide as an infant and spent her formative years in an orphanage until her mother could afford to raise her and her brother, praying over my sister and me.

Yorab ben çocuğa dua etmesini öğret, başıma taş köy ilelebet benimsin, amen.

Dear God, teach this kid how to pray, put a crown on my head and I’ll be yours for eternity.

My grandmother knew things that I could not explain. Her daughter, my mother, also had some rituals, like burning olive leaves on the stove to clear the air in the house while she prayed, or sticking a sewing pin in a door frame if I was late getting home, to give me a little prick in the butt and subconsciously remind me to get home. Anyway, I’m pro-witch and that should come as a surprise to no one who knows me. What could be the harm in a few ladies conjuring up some spells a la [insert any 80s or 90s movie about witches here].

I had the best time. I made some new friends and re-met some women I’d been dancing with before, but given the setting was intimate, it didn’t take long for six women to start sharing their stories of being burned at the stake or staked through the heart—romantically, at least. So we slathered the freshly baked penis bread in butter (the only way I’ll be eating a dick any time soon) and several alcoholic potions later, we were all buds for life.

We headed out to the deck to burn a retainer that one woman found in her closet, confirming her suspicions that her husband was cheating on her. We weren’t real witches, so we roasted it on the BBQ in a Pyrex until it was barely recognizable, laughing about how she probably had to take it out to give head. We burned sage, inhaling deeply, letting the smoke wash over us, and then let Gogo smudge in her space, which she did with a panache that was so true to her. We talked about sexual energy and reclaiming it. And then I lit my favourite “sex candle” (to give good sex vibes—many Ali orgasms to that scent) and did a card reading, for everyone but myself. And by that point, everyone had an open heart, which is a thing that matters when you are going to ask people to take deep breaths and call upon the spirit of their ancestors for guidance. You can’t fuck around with that shit, or you’ll end up like a bunch of 13-year-olds hiding in a dark bathroom with a Ouija board, pretending you’re not trying to make the indicator go to “R” so that you can say, “See! I told you I was going to marry Rick Springfield!”

So the wisdom of the indigenous woman who manifested our deck of cards and the general mood everyone was in made for some great reading, everyone taking away what they needed from what I read them. And there was a great solidarity in finding a group that embraced the “Yaya sisterhood” feel of the evening. Beliefs are key to experience, especially when you’re trying to harness the power of things that can’t be explained. There was something so intoxicatingly feminine about the evening that I had just revelled in. As someone who has spent years playing both traditionally “male” and “female” roles, embracing my womanhood and all the things that are fun about just being with a group of women, was hugely empowering and grounding.

“Thank you!” Gogo was full of gratitude as she ushered us out, “My place finally feels like home.”

***************

Loads of Gap Year boy developments to come, including a trip to Edinburgh (who is fetching but quite tied to the UK) but it’s so hard to explain that and be really vague at the same time, so hold tight! I will try to find time to hammer it out this weekend.

I see London, I see France

You saw that headline coming, didn’t you? I mean, Gap Year!

Two weeks ago, I swore I’d swear them all off. After turning down 27 when I realized I’d never be attracted to him, and then gracefully cutting my emotional tie to Ali, I thought about Mr. Saturday Night and Le Prof and I thought, “I’m done with the bullshit.”

Well, I didn’t totally get there on my own. My BFF, Boss Lady, and I reviewed the current cast of characters in my life, and she was blunt. “I don’t think any of these guys are the one to move ahead with.” She pointed out that I left the father of my children because I ran out of tolerance for his bullshit, so why was I going to take bullshit from this lot? Do I need to put up with a sextaholic and a dude who only texts about the weather? DO BETTER, MEN!

So I mentally shifted, had good food and hangouts with my pals, went dancing, laughed until I cried. And then of course, the men sensed it, because the universe likes to fuck with me, and well, I’m weak. Le Prof asked me for coffee on the first sunny Sunday of the year and given my “everyone gets two dates” rule, I said oui. We met on a cafe patio. I was casually late and he glanced at his watch and gave me a disapproving look. I ignored it, because fuck it. He was late on our last date. I was even. If that makes me petty, so be it.

I’ll admit that I’d been put off by his nightly requests to “play,” his seemingly insatiable appetite for sexting was wearing thin, and part of my nonchalant attitude was born there. (He claims he’s insatiable only for/because of me.) But in person, he was completely charmant again, instantly intelligent and funny, completely respectful. Knee to knee, we spoke at great length about grey issues around race, religion, politics, responsibility. He spoke to me mostly in French, and I tried to summarize my understanding. “The French lessons are free if you stick with me,” he quipped. I’m a pretty intelligent woman who can see through a lot, but when it comes to men, I am a dripping wet mess over an accent and a foreign language. If he is sexually driven by the visual, for me the turn on is mental and aural.


Am I a fucking sapiosexual? I don’t like that word, mostly because the guys in apps who say they are one are full of shit. (A sapiosexual is a person who finds intelligence attractive or arousing.) But I’m realizing that for me, everything sexual happens in those early conversations: the flirting, the witty banter, the ability to volley back some sexy sarcasm. I can’t imagine a life without this spice. It’s everything for me. The question is: Is it sustainable?

“This is my favourite week,” Le Prof sighed, reminding me that the Sunday prior, our entire city was hiding indoors due to a snowstorm. “In just a week it can go from winter to spring,” he enthused en français. What a great metaphor for life that we should all remember, I said, smiling at the discovery that I liked this man. Le Prof continued to French my ears with his sentences and when it was time to go, we French kissed on the sidewalk, and I didn’t care if the whole world was driving by the busy avenue watching us. My city was Paris in that moment, the pair of us a cliché Robert Doisneau black and white photograph.

robertdoisneau

I have since been completely forthright with Le Prof as we try to navigate two equally complicated schedules. I told him I don’t want to be asked to sext all the time when we haven’t even actually had sex yet. I told him I don’t have much time to date, but if he’s willing to get to know me and be patient, that eventually our schedules might line up to make room for this. He responded, “To be clear, I’m not looking for sex. I’m looking for extraordinary sex. Let me know when you have three hours, not 30 minutes.” Um, hot. We shall see…


A few days later, I dressed pretty, let my hair go free and big and wild (my ex preferred me to straighten it) and sat at a bar in a dark woody establishment, waiting for Mr. Saturday Night. It was finally the day of days, the date I’d invited him to weeks before, because the event was a mix of museum and theatre and if you’ve been reading, you might recall that he’s a hyphen of these elements.

When he arrived, I had a glass of red, because happy hour was ending and it had been a LOOOONG news cycle full of emotions. Being hyperbolic by nature, one can only imagine where my head was at. I have two states:

THE SKY IS FALLING! < – – – – – – – >  EVERYTHING IS AMAZING AND WONDERFUL!

But as soon as I saw him, you can guess which camp I switched into. In fact, just thinking about laying eyes on him makes my stomach flip-flop. I get that he’s an actor and they are supposed to be beautiful, but wow, he just does it for me, and it’s not just the sparkle in his eye and his adorable mannerisms. He was wearing a black button down shirt with a black tie and a black blazer and dark jeans and I nearly fell off my barstool, but managed to keep it cool. I think.

NOTEWORTHY: Guys! I made it to Date 3!

“What’d I miss?” the Fantastic Mr. Foxy Saturday Night asked with a sly smile.

“Well, you have 10 minutes to decide if you are into buck-a-shuck oysters,” I informed him, secretly hoping he was, because oysters! To my delight he was totally game. We talked about our work weeks, his big project, his health and his daughter, and I will leave out the details but just say that he’s so damn easy to talk to.

We headed to our event across the street and immediately he recognized a beautiful woman in a smart suit standing out front. They embraced and caught up while I stood back a bit, observing the scene. I had a feeling this would happen, and I wanted to pay attention to how I reacted. She was a big deal in the theatre world and as we walked away he casually mentioned that they had been lovers. To my surprise, only the slightest pang of jealousy. The overwhelming feeling was a thrill and also the relief at having met someone who could just come out and tell me the truth. This is who he is, George Clooney, minus the Lake Como house, a 50-something eternal bachelor, a lover of women. If we make it to date 4 or 17, I’m sure there would be a lot of former lovers we’d run into. (I’m pretty certain we’d run into some current ones too.) The old me would have hated this, but since I am adopting a “Holly Golightly meets Rey the Jedi” mentality about dating (I belong to no one, no one belongs to me, I belong to no one, no one belongs to me), I allowed myself to just be a bit removed and enjoy the scene.

hollygolightly

He worked at the event space at one time and knew some of the staff, who were all happy to see him. I’ll bet he was lovely to every person he worked with, from the lowest rung to the highest, I can see this already, even in just a month or so of knowing him. He introduced me to his friend the bartender, and we got free drinks. As he walked through the atrium saying hello to people he recognized, I noticed the way I was being seen. Everyone who saw me with him looked at me like I was the flavour of the month, which again, is my perception, I have no actual proof of it. But I found it thrilling. I’ve never been anyone’s younger arm candy before, not that I can recall, and now in my 40s, it’s exciting to be seen this way. To be with Mr. Saturday Night is to be “one of many” and I wonder if my girl Amal felt this way when initally out with the Cloon-dogger.


We enjoyed the presentation, whispering in each other’s ears throughout. Man I wanted him to take my hand, but alas, no. I’m chalking it up to “he wants to pace it.” But compared to 27, who was adorably handsy in the movie theatre, and Le Prof, who texts throughout the day in an attempt to connect, Mr. SN is distant. But while frustrating, that’s more about me and my need for attention than anything. Watching/observing it, because it was an issue in my marriage too. It’s how I ended up with Theo; I found his distance was catnip for me, because it made him less attainable. The new Maria wants EQUAL ENTHUSIASM. Something to explore, for sure.

Mr. Saturday Night and I toured the galleries of ancient European empires afterwards and I was tempted to pull him into a dark corner and snog him with a coy, “When in Rome…” but I resisted. I need a better mantra going forward than, “Don’t let him sense how much you want him to kiss you!” We talked about a big exhibit he was curating and he mentioned a reception for it, then, after a beat, “You should come.” I told him I was going out of town and would miss it, but would love to see it at another opportunity. To be honest, it’s too soon to meet “his people,” especially in my “flavour of the month” capacity, and I was relieved to have an out.

We talked about our big breakups over wine and cheese, he mentioned that he’s got no sexual bucket list but that he’s into it, he just knows what he likes at his age. Interesting in contrast with Le Prof, who is in a mode of sexual exploration… I wonder which man has had more lovers? Then Mr. SN asked if I’d slept with anyone since my husband left and I told him that I’d had a “friends with benefits” situation, but that had ended recently. I told him I have no expectations right now, that it’s like I have a Eurail pass and I’m moving from town to town. I’m not ready to settle yet. He laughed and nodded in approval. “So in 20 years, you’ve slept with two men?”

I think I got a bit defensive at that. He wasn’t accusatory, he didn’t mean anything by it, just an observation, but my response was something to do with the fact that I had a lot of practice in those years and I’d learned a few things. But have I? Am I as good as I think I am? Suddenly I felt nervous.

Somehow we recovered from that moment and noticed that we were the last two non-employees still sitting there. He and his bike walked me to the subway in the rain. At the doors to the subway, there was a “So I’ll see you when I see you?” kind of awkwardness in him, and I was sure he liked me too. And then there was a kiss, a soft wet kiss in the rain that intensified and I so tried to keep my hands at my side but I couldn’t help but lift a hand to his beautiful face and stroke his bearded chin. So if this were a London kiss, it might be like Mr. Darcy kissing Bridget Jones. There are disappointingly few famous London kisses, which is something to consider. Is Mr. SN a Mr. Darcy? Can there be parallels to their cool as a cucumber ways being misconstrued as disinterest? Is he just an introvert? I don’t know, but two epic kisses in a week was nice.

bridgetjoneskiss
What’s next? I don’t know, but I’m rolling with it. I’m learning that I overbook myself all the time and for the first time ever, my pace is exhausting even ME! Why do I need to fill all the spaces with activities? I’m booked until June! So I made a point of going through my calendar and marked off a few dates that I should keep open just for dates. I marked off some quiet time too. I’m trying to get to a space of quitting, I think, of saying no to the pull of DOING ALL THE THINGS. I read this great piece in the NYT on this concept and I’m going to let it marinate. I need to learn when to step back and observe, as I did that night with Mr. Saturday Night, but in my own life. If I don’t make space, if I fill all the gaps, I will never make time to mindfully clear out the warehouse of my mind and soon it will be filled with debris and old lawn chairs again. Off for a really long walk in silence in the sunshine. À bientôt.

As the story unfolds

I hate writing things as they are happening, because you don’t get enough distance and then you can’t really trust if how you’re putting things down is really what’s going on.

My head is kind of spinning today. I published an article about dating after many years of not dating and felt REALLY vulnerable. Like so nervous. I think I respectfully spoke to the end of my marriage without maligning my ex and I probably deserve a medal for that.

And BOOM! The universe opened up. Public messages from friends and loved ones cheering me on. Quiet messages from women in the shadows suffering in silence. Three gay men reached out (OK one of them was Grey), because gay men are the unicorns of the male universe. Two talk shows. Like bananas. And it’s hard to experience that mindfully, because there’s a lot of ego that starts to play a part in how you respond and how you see yourself, which can be dangerous.

I’m not hot shit. I’m a regular average human like you. I’ve got cellulite and a big ol’ zit on my cheek and I should really put my clothes away after taking them off. I have anxieties and neuroses, and an overbearing mother and debt. But I’m choosing to be optimistic, choosing to believe that with effort and focus I can improve my experience here on earth. One day at a time.


After I published the story and shared it on social media, the men started messaging. Only Ali is on my social media accounts, so I doubt the others would have seen it, unless they follow the women’s magazine I wrote for.

The only one I truly care about hearing from is the elusive Mr. Saturday Night. OK and my buddy work-Drew. Le Prof messaged to cancel our date due to flu, and I was relieved because his last text to me was “Do you have high heels?” First off, have you seen me? Obviously dude, and really great ones at that. Second, I don’t want to be somebody’s fetish. I mean yes, I want to explore my sexuality, but if all we ever talk about is how much you want to see my tits, I’m out. BORING! Sigh.

Ali messaged a condescending message, because our relationship has been nothing but stupid since he first decided to come onto his friend (ME) when I was still pretty vulnerable. “Feel better, Maria. Yeah, it’s hard out there.” Turns out he’s thinking about Russian Twinkie again, even though he couldn’t get her off, because they had so much fun together. And now he can’t have her back, because he dicked her around like he dicks every woman around. I resisted the urge to tell him that he’s never attempted to have fun with me outside the bedroom, because I am just done. Instead, I told him, we are all at a buffet. If you’ve got shrimp in front of you and you like shrimp, don’t get too obsessed with the idea that there may be lobster further up the table.

27 messaged, hoping for a date this Saturday. But ever the consummate planner, once I decided that all the men in my current net were not meeting my needs, even as a collective, I made plans to go dancing with girlfriends. In fact I made a lot of plans with girlfriends, because they fill my fucking bucket.

Still, I want to have sex dammit.


Mr. SN texted. And I texting him right back, telling him I was having a conniption fit because my article was published. He waited, and then asked if he could see it. I made the wincey face emoji three times and flipped him the link. He was appropriately complimentary.

Over wine with a friend tonight, I decided I would just be bold. “So questions? I’m here for them?”

He offered similar, “vice versa.” Stalemate, I replied, who goes first? He responded with “ladies first, always.” And then, “Even as a feminist…”

Hot. Why does he get so up into my brain?! He’s fucking cool as a cucumber, or that’s how it feels, and I (as we WELL know) have ZERO CHILL!

I was probably too eager in my question responses. So stalemate again. I’m learning that men are skittish creatures and not to take it personally. I’m learning that I have to temper my intensity a bit. I can’t help it, but I think if I’m more mindful, I can keep it in check. My more experienced friends suggested that I calm down. #slowyourroll has become our new hashtag. I joke that I’m gonna tattoo it on my forehead. Maybe if I gave myself a rule, like wait an hour before responding unless it’s critical, I could CTFD. I’ve definitely learned that sleeping on it is a great way to deal wit lots of things that seem urgent or stressful at 10/11pm.

As a feminist, I just want the opportunity to be myself and ask for what I want, but perhaps, as my pal pointed out, I’m rushing things. I don’t even know what I want yet. I don’t. I’m just scratching the surface.  And it’s going to take a LOT more bad dates and dates who aren’t showing up how I’d like before I even know! I’m just gonna keep doing me, keep writing the good write, going to yoga and therapy and pushing forward. If you’re into personal growth, I’m here for it!