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Adam's Transgression, or, The Honorable One Night Man
By Tova Gabrielle
Sunday, September 15, 2002
Divorcees have a way of throwing themselves at men....
She’d told herself she was having the most delightful time of her life. Except, well except, that she was beginning to figure out, as she’d told Professor Cohen back East before she ran away from that husband of hers, that perhaps a few hours of ecstasy was not worth a few weeks of longing and that it "sucked" to be someone’s mistress. And here she was, now, ruminating on the plane home from Berkeley and the fling that turned into a disaster, about the old common belief that one should only engage sexually if there was love and commitment.
Really, truly she wanted more to be loved, than to be held temporarily and invariably rejected for being too desperate (and desperate, she knew, she was). Not only had she confused sex with love, but love with being rescued. She’d wanted most of all to be rescued.
"And as much as men may like the idea of being heroes", her therapist would say to her after she returned East, "they want nothing to do with rescuing." Most men were, themselves desperate to be rescued, although few, besides Adam, would ever admit to this. It was his openness and neediness, she thought, that had been what attracted her, even made her believe she had love to give to him, a man she had know for an afternoon and an evening.
She’d met Adam at the temple during refreshments (Anoch Shabbot). "He was a religious man, not an abuser," she’d told her therapist. "He just wanted too badly to please me…".
"Well," she’d confessed to him that night in the flat, she had "one small problem": she’d never had an orgasm, not even in 15 years of marriage (and that was partially why she was here without him). Adam’s eyes became large and hopeful.
" How dare your husband deny you full pleasure, why Jewish tradition maintains that a husband’s failure to satisfy his wife is grounds for divorce" he’d cried out. It was so "unfair", he’d insisted, claiming he knew "what to do".
She’d eyed his long wide palms, these dexterous quick fingers were surely tools of an obvious connoisseur of love, and a Mediterranean doctor, at that. He would give her whatever fantasy she desired, he’d heal her slighted mind and body.
"You lovely, deprived woman, you sweet thing… what ever you didn’t get for those years, you owe to yourself tonight—no withholding! Come with me into the bedroom," He’d insisted. Said he would provide her with essential pleasure that "every woman deserves". " I promise that you shall scream with pleasure!"
That was it, her brain just up and left. She would just love to come undone, to be outrageous. Who did she have to answer to anyhow—not her husband any more, so who was left…certainly not her mother!
Yet, she was living, not her own life, but an "as if" existence in Berkeley, the land of the run-aways…even runaways in their forties.
Each decision now, was based on how great this twist would be, as if her life were a movie-in-progress, where anything could happen. How deliciously unexpected it would be, to crash the boundaries of love (or was it lust, and what WAS the difference?). An end of life as she had known it….
Forget that she had said to her clients back East that "there is no way out of reality," no way out of pain; that "sooner of later we must all feel what we are feeling". Forget that she had said the only way out of insanity or death, is "to feel what you feel".
Who needs sanity, when there’s sex, the ultimate quencher of hungers? "Yeah", she wrote between sniffs, on that plane back to her broken home: "…until the next day, or whenever that longing begins, and it just goes on and on and on, and eats you up. Alone in bed it devours you, until you are not soul, but only emotion and need, without understanding or a home or a friend; for you never took the time to make the lover a friend first. So don’t complain that there’s no friendly shoulder to lean on when you’re fatigued from the work of fighting the parade of emotions that overrun you in the lonely night when he’s not thinking of you any more, as if he ever was.
OH this is not to deny that in the moment that he wants you, he is your best friend—your spiritual consort... your most loyal supporter. He is your healer, your therapist, your bad boy all rolled in one: he listens, he understands and he responds with his whole body, and so well! He will look in your eyes if you ask him to, and say "open to me, open to me," if you want, just like that. He will make you whole and you will feel his penetration with every fiber of your body, as proof that you are also whole and that life is good."
…Well, at lest she’d gotten some writing out of the fling; couldn't even dignify it with the name, "affair".
In Berkeley she’d said "God, I could eat you up." Just waiting for the reaction from Adam, trying to pretend he gave a damn about what Jack Nicholson was doing on that video screen.
But what was nice about this man was he caved in so easy, dropped the charade, didn’t know about being American. He’d fallen back at the impact of her womanly foce, as if she’d grabbed him. Then, like a little boy, had given her a big, appreciative grin. Of course, being no child in reality, he'd added, "Well the night is for enjoyment, what do you say?"
"… wait till we both are sure it’s not going to be something we feel sorry for in the morning," she’d answered, not to tease him, but truly conflicted, for she didn’t know who she was from moment to moment.
"Oh you will not be sorry, you may be exhausted but you will not be disappointed," he had said.
"No, that’s not what I mean, your talk is extremely enticing, you are very sweet. I like your body, I like your voice, I think I like everything about you so far, but I’ve learned…."
"What have you learned? Have you learned how to tell a man exactly what you want and have you learned the pleasure of receiving it?"
"No, I haven’t. And I must admit that I want that more than anything right now; but I’m conflicted."
"Why are you Americans so tortured? Life is delicious; you are a beautiful woman, why should you suffer like this?"
And so it was, that they smiled, like two Cheshire cats well into the night, as he rose and fell, rose and fell on her and in her, like waves that didn’t subside. As long as she wanted him to dance inside her, the waves didn’t subside and the two smiled so hard into each others faces, that everything but those smiles disappeared, except for the echoing, muted, music of the waves crashing on the shore of her cervix. And he could only say how great she felt; how beautiful and full her breasts, how wide and well formed her nipples. They were feeding each other such attention, and making each other so happy, how could this be a mistake?
He was a masterful lover and he looked into her eyes and they smiled with amazement at each other. He lasted a long time but was disappointed when, as she knew would happen, he couldn’t bring her close to orgasm.
They made love twice more that night in other positions and they were thrilling but still, no orgasm.
He said, "it is not good, I am lagging behind you. You are the hungriest woman I have ever had."
"Its fine, I am very happy with you, you are a superb lover".
He said, "no, no, it is not good, I should be more present for you, I am letting you down like your husband…."
She said, "no you are not, it is my body and it will release when it is ready, and that is only when it knows it is safe to do so. I can’t just throw away all of my fears in one night."
But he couldn’t hear her, that it was about her, that it was her orgasm, not his achievement.
"Look, forget the orgasm, that’s what the sex manuals even say, they say to experiment. They actually say Not to have an orgasm, to delay it if you feel it coming on," she pleaded in vain.
Finally the dawn brought on full daylight and the spell was broken. Adam left, apologetic, but loving, saying he would phone her.
"When?" she asked, feeling the old grip starting its squeeze on her heart.
"Tonight," he smiled. She was relieved.
That night he returned. Before she could walk from
the doorway into the living room with him, he pinned
her against the wall and began pulling her clothes
off. He was in some kind of frenzy. She felt afraid,
confused, but she didn’t want to spoil things. He
said, come; let us go into the bath right now, I have
a plan. A plan? She didn’t want a plan.
She felt all of the energy leave her, and said, no, she didn’t feel like going into the bath, that she just took one.
Then take another he said, pulling her toward him. No, I don’t want to; I want to go into the bedroom. But it will not be the same, he said, almost anxiously.
She only laughed, couldn’t appreciate his anxiety, disliked his urgency. Said, "hey so it will be different; who knows how it will be anyway?" thinking of calling the whole ordeal off and noticing his ears stuck out and his hair was too short and wondering what she’d gotten herself into.
She couldn’t stand not liking him, nor disappointing him; and went into the bed and he soon began to fuck her with no foreplay. She felt hurt, "Please. Let’s Stop".
"What is it, what am I doing that you don’t like?" he asked in an annoyed hurry.
"No, nothing, just, just slow down."
"Then come; come with me into the tub."
She’d felt sorry for him, but now he was too anxious to and it wasn’t attractive, she began to feel more sorry for herself. But pity was quickly replaced with a familiar, muted confusion.
"OK," she said, but wondering how to get him to take her to see the Pacific Ocean instead.
In the tub he looked around frantically and found the "right" kind of soap, peppermint, and began to lather her all over.
She tried to relax and enjoy the slippery feel but she just felt luke-warm and humid.
"Turn over," he said, and for just an instant she was thrilled.
"No!" She gasped, hurting, "No, not there!" But he began to push again, then stopped himself but it was already too late, he'd hurt her.
"What is wrong with you!" he charged.
She was momentarily speechless. "Wrong? You have to ASK? Fuck YOU" she yelled and ran out of the house as quickly as she could pull on her dress, dripping and crying and even more confused. She stormed down the street, then back feeling as if the anger made her bigger.
She blew back into the house, crying, how dare you, you bastard.
He was fastening his belt; his eyes were glazed and wild. "You curse me? How dare you curse me, woman, when I am only trying to bring you pleasure? For what, for what are you doing this to me? You are not my friend!" he cried. "I do not have to take this abuse. I see I can not please an American woman. Go back to your husband, maybe you do not want to be happy, maybe that is why you push me away."
"I try to please you, to excite you. I try everything, and you push me out like an animal. I feel you are treating me like a beast."
"No…you don't get it, do you?"
"I am a well-liked man, a fair, religious man. Look at me, I am shaking. I must sit. I
"You sit. I'm going into the other room. I don't know what to do either."
So he sat. And she went and lay down in the bedroom, confused and miserable, unsure who was the more wounded.
In time he tip-toed in. He said, "…Please, I have some thoughts. I think they could help. I am frightened and ashamed. I have not acted in a gentlemanly way: Let me explain myself to you so that you do not think I am some kind of monster, or what do you call it, 'abuser': In my country we are taught to get the girl, to squeeze her very tight,
so that she can not resist and then to conquer her. This is what we believe a woman wants, to be taken over…."
"Well, yes, maybe we do in fantasy, but if I did I'd ask you to do that! You can't just assume! If I don't ask then its not fun anymore, it's violent!'
"But how else will you learn to have your orgasm?"
"I don’t know, but not by scaring me and certainly not by hurting me!"
"Please, you do not understand me. I thought it was part of the game. I felt like being
naughty, how do you say, ‘funny’? I thought you would find it exciting."
"Well, I just feel like crawling into a hole and not coming out again."
"I do not know how to tell you how sorry I am. I am terribly misunderstood. What can I do so you do not think I am now a bad man?"
"I’m going home. I’m leaving tomorrow. You won’t see me again," she said.
And then she did go home.
And because he was so extra-caring for a brute, she did see Adam again, a year later. But as they sat in the theater there emerged, a felt bitterness between them. They just argued. Directly from there, he rushed her home, said he was tired. She only felt resentful that she'd not been the first to say that. They didn’t kiss or even say goodbye when she pulled herself out of that car in one tired humiliated piece. They would go back to forgetting, the Hell with excitement. Of course, they avoided each other after that at temple and made a point not to speak within earshot of each other again. Only once: The rabbi was speaking to Adam and she walked up to ask the rabbi a question. He immediately asked them if they were acquainted and she'd said right in front of Adam, "…let's just say, we had a difficult friendship once," to which the rabbi had retorted, "…and aren't they all?" As for Adam, he turned on his heels and left.