Friday, July 28, 2006

You're not alone, Old Norm, you're not alone...

Reading all the fuss about our lesser Senator’s father getting some geriatric-man action in the parking lot of a blue-collar pizza bar has put me in a reflective, wistful frame of mind. Not that I’ve ever brought a woman through the thirty-eight chambers of bliss in the parking lot of a St. Paul dive joint before, mind you. No, Kevin-M is much classier than the fathers of most Republican senators: when he finds a woman willing to subject herself to unprecedented vistas of sensual pleasure, he wouldn’t dream of confining himself and his beloved to a lowly automobile, however luxurious and spacious. Well-appointed hotel rooms and secluded forest clearings are more my style. Perhaps I’m naive, but I believe this consideration is appreciated by the ladies, who seem freer to enjoy my ministrations when there isn’t the possibility of innocent children and officers of the law happening past.

Besides, I feel that privacy only enhances the glory of erotic congress. It is, at the very least, a necessary prerequisite for the clown-suited dwarves, singing eunuchs and magical rainbow-straddling unicorns that I need to command in the process of showing a lucky woman all her beautiful body is capable of. You see, too many of my brutish and hairy gender are chained to the idea that lovemaking is a purely physical act. This is as foolish as saying that Republicans are good for the economy. The sexual act---or “introducing the one-eyed spelunker to Little Miss Never-You-Mind”, as I prefer to call it—is something which takes place as much in the mind as in the genitals, however hot, engorged, and awe-inspiring as those genitals happen to be. It is a psychological, spiritual moment, shared for all eternity by two souls entwined by love and red wine and Astroglide, and it should not be reduced to a gross and rude biological function. It is more than that. At least with me it is.

But I seem to have gotten off the point. Which is that I’ve seen people “doing it” in public lots of times. Do you want to hear about some of them? No? You don’t? Well, then, too bad for you! Because I’m gonna tell you, dammit! Ha-HAAAA!

ONE: That Good-Old Gotham Goin’-At-It

When I lived in New York, I worked at the Museum of Modern Art, which is just a few blocks south of Central Park. When the weather was nice, I would sometimes go up there on my lunch breaks and eat a hotdog or two amidst the closest thing to nature that Manhattan has to offer. If you haven’t been there, let me tell you: Central Park is beautiful and glorious and I wish I could have spent even more time there than I did. Even nowadays I sometimes miss it. It is a place of respite, of serenity, of recreation and—more than anything—of top-notch people watching.

Take, for instance, the time I watched two homeless men having a bit of frenzied butt love. They were over by the pond at the southeastern end of the place, and I suppose they might have thought they were being discreet by doing their business deep in a grove of trees a few yards away from the main paths. This was New York, though, and there are always a thousands of people nearby, no matter where you are. From the bench I was sitting on, I could see them as well as you can see the words on this website. I had just spread out my napkins on my lap and was taking my first look around when they caught my eye. Now, I was at an age when I was no longer an ignorant naif, but I swear to God that my first thought was, Oh, look, that guy dropped his keys and that other guy is helping him find them! It was only a few moments afterward that I noticed that the key-searchers were not wearing any pants and were, in fact, well-along in a spot of sodomy. You just don’t expect that on your lunch hour, I suppose.

Anyway, I got up and found another bench to sit on. I’m not one of these preening moralists, but there is a difference between what I support in theory and what I’m willing to put up with when I’m eating. Their brazenness impressed me, though. There were pampered Upper East Side children frolicking all about and elderly folks were wandering the paths willy-nilly. Anyone could have seen them as easily as I had. But, still, that’s life in the city for you...

When my break was winding down and I was walking back to work, I saw them again. They were going at it just as furiously as before, only now they had changed positions. There was something sweet in that, I think, something that made the rest of my shift dealing with clueless tourists and unbearable art snobs a little easier. I’m not a good enough writer to explain it, though.

TWO: American Gothic

One day, a few years later, I happened to be on an Amtrak train between Chicago and Milwaukee. There isn’t much ground to be covered between the two cities, and so the train spent most of its time shooting through affluent suburbia and industrial wastelands. For a few minutes, however, we went banging through a pretty rural stretch, where fields of some indeterminate crop stretched off into the distance on both sides and the sky overhead was big enough to be impressive. As my good friend Greg lounged beside me, slipping in and out of sleep, I stared out the window at the Midwest hurrying by. I’ve always been fond of looking out the windows of speeding vehicles. Silos, signs, and shitty old barns—those things can make me genuinely happy. I love to watch them whip past. I could stare at them all day.

What I don’t like to see, however, are obese country couples rutting like wild animals in the beds of their pick-up trucks. Which is what I was subjected to just a few miles over the Wisconsin border. They were parked maybe ten feet from the tracks, in the shade of a forlorn overpass. They had, in what seems to be a theme of the public schtuppings I’ve seen, taken off only their pants and left their t-shirts on. I saw Harley Davidson logos on both of them: the man thrusting above the dropped-open back gate and his paramour, splay-legged and frizzy-haired in the back. They were two soft objects, softly colliding. In the second before they disappeared from my window, the man looked like he was trying to perfect an elaborate new way of falling over and the woman looked like she had never once moved a centimeter in her life.

“They’re having sex,” I said to Greg, who jerked awake and asked me what the hell I was talking about. “Those people out there, they were doing it...” I explained.

“What?” he asked.

“There were two people. They were out there. They were having sex. Like, in a pick-up truck,” I went on, somewhat breathlessly.

“You were seeing things,” Greg explained, “Because you’re a pervert.”

“No. It was real,” I said, to which Greg could only reply with a dismissive “pffft” noise. Perhaps he considered this an insurmountable debate closer, but he didn’t bank on the guy sitting directly behind us, who immediately and valiantly rose up to defend my position. “Hell, yeah!” he shouted, “They was ugly too!”

My snug nod must have gone on until we were well into the greater Racine area.

THREE: Highway Hijinx!

Because my parents used to have a fetish for very large vehicles, it often fell to them to haul my thousand high-school friends around. For the most part, they shouldered this burden uncomplainingly and I was allowed to enjoy my adolescence without ever realizing for a moment how annoying I must have been. To think of it now, it seems that my dear mother probably deserves some sort of gratitude for the endless evenings she spent, trucking a van full of hyper-active, hormonal teenagers across the metro area. Before we got our drivers licences, we were at a funny age. Technically, we were adolescents, yet we still clung onto the final fading strands of our childhoods. Thanks to this transition period, we managed to be both totally fixated on sex and, at the same time, fond of making funny faces at the cars in the other lanes.

I remember one instance in particular. I believe we were tooling down Highway 62, a whole bunch of us—boys and girls all together and all psychosexually confused—jammed into my mom’s van on the way home from some occasion or other. As the boys tried to prove their alpha-ness by being more obnoxious and more loud than the rest, the girls egged us on in their subtle, terrifying ways. Soon we were competing to see which of us could mock the passing motorists the most, resorting to more and more desperate measures to get the girls to laugh. If the girls laughed, we were golden. If they didn’t, we had no reason to live. All the while, my mother focused on the road, perhaps reminiscing over the days long gone when I used to be cute.

Eventually, we began to pass a smart sports car. Like Catskills comedians on methamphetamine, we began to fire off as many half-baked insults as our juvenile minds could devise. It was incumbent on each of us to speak as loudly as possible, so as to be heard over all the rest. The van filled with our sometimes-squeaky, sometimes-deep voices as the sports car drifted further and further to the back windows. When it was almost lost to the highway, and just before we were ready to let it drop from our attentions, we saw something interesting. We saw a woman raise her head from the driver’s lap. She had a goofy, dazed look on her face and she was, if I remember correctly, wiping at her lips.

We young people were struck silent for about half a second. And then we went absolutely apeshit. “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” the girls screamed. “SHE WAS! TOTALLY! LIKE! WITH HER MOUTH AND STUFF!” the boys hollered at each other. This went on all the way to our exit. We discussed it as thoroughly as we could with my mom in the front seat. We were at the point in our lives when there’s a great deal of uncertainty as to whether such behavior was unbelievably gross or unquestionably awesome. We sort of danced around all that with bad jokes and conjecture. Somebody was convinced that the woman had to be a hooker. Somebody else pointed out that doing that is against the law and also somewhat dangerous.

It was, without a doubt, the most exciting thing to happen in the world ever. Or at least since a kid named Brian got a boner during the swimming unit of gym class.

But, after the initial thrill wore off and half my friends had been dropped off, I started to get worried. I had the feeling that, once mom had me alone, a “talk” would be forthcoming. I didn’t want that. There was nothing that I dreaded more than a “talk” with mom. The how-its-done talk. The condom talk. The your-partner’s-pleasure-is-important-too talk. At that age, these nightmares still rung in my ears. I couldn’t bear for another one to be added to that unholy canon.

I had no choice. I pretended to fall asleep even before my final friend had finished skipping up her driveway. And it worked, too.