Sometimes I wonder if people like Renee are merely plants --
dropped into my life for the express purpose of exposing me to some aspect
of sexuality that I hadn't considered in any great detail. Renee was part
of the Bored Cat Women clique: impossibly beautiful, sexually courageous females who slunk around my social periphery and batted my questions
around with impassive amusement.
The last time I'd talked to Renee, she'd breezily related a tangle
with a penile pierce and a pair of scissors. Now I'd
heard from the other Bored Cat Women that she was in love, had changed jobs
and had moved -- all in the space of nine months. After a few weeks of
phone tag, we made a plan to meet late one evening at Farallon -- a beautiful and thoroughly expensive restaurant in
downtown San Francisco. That was typical of Renee, who was known to
match her surroundings to her appearance. I tried to imagine her downing
shots of whiskey with Harriet and me in one of the old-man bars we
frequent when in New York, and I shuddered at the thought.
"I'm late. I know, I know." I practically steamrolled into
her. She was sitting at the bar by herself, calmly deconstructing a
sculpture of seared ahi tuna and crispy lotus root with a heavy silver
fork, and merely leaned over and kissed me on the lips.
"It's OK, sweetheart," she said, and with Renee, it actually was.
It was rare to see Renee upset about anything. "Do you know Rick?" she
said, as a GQ-type bartender began pouring me a glass of red wine. "He and
I used to work together at Plump Jack's. Thanks, Rick."
"So," I began, feeling flustered and blown around next to these
creatures of cool. I tugged on my cardigan, opened a few buttons, then
buttoned it right up underneath my chin. "You've moved. You have a new job.
And I hear you've met The One. Congratulations."
"Thank you," she said dreamily.
"No more pierces and tangles for you then."
"Nope," she said.
"No more pioneering of your body by some sexual woodsman."
"Uh-uh. Well, there has been some pioneering --"
"So it's just same old, same old, from here on in." I patted her
hand. "Welcome to the real world, where sex isn't nearly as fun as what
you're probably used to. But that's OK -- because you're in love!
Seriously, I am happy for you." I clinked her glass.
"I am in love," she said, with a disgustingly happy gleam in her
round eyes. "I bought a strap-on the other day for us," she continued. "Did
I tell you about that? It really got me thinking."
I should have known. "It got you -- thinking? I wouldn't say that
would be the purpose of a strap-on, but please, do share."
"Well," she said, carefully pushing some strands behind her ears,
"I have had many, many boyfriends who seem to have an anal fixation. And
depending on how open they are, which they usually aren't, I've kind of
dabbled around with it. You know -- a finger in there, stuff like that. But
never, never a strap-on. I didn't think that would really be a turn-on for
me. But anal stuff is such a turn-on for Mark that I thought, what the
hell. I'll go shopping for one. I'd considered one before, when I was going
out with Nick, but then -- oh, I bagged it."
"That's not like you," I observed.
She took a large sip of wine. "Nick was too desperate. He really,
really wanted to be fucked in the ass. And just the way he asked me -- I
don't know, it made me feel too, um, dominant. It didn't turn me on. But I
went shopping one time, and would you believe they cost $75? It pissed me off. Hey -- poor people like to have fun too, right? Anyway, I didn't buy it then. But the other day, Mark and I were going at it, and I just slipped two fingers in. I didn't even do anything, just sort of moved them around -- a little prostate massage -- and boom! That was it. He came in a second. And this is a guy who can control his orgasm down to the last possible second. So this is what got me thinking."
"More wine?" asked the bartender.
"Yes, absolutely," I said.
"So -- I went back down to look at the strap-ons again," continued
Renee. "And since Mark is a triathlete, I thought, well he won't mind the
sporty-looking one. He might even prefer it, since it looks like something
you'd take on a camping trip, maybe without the dildo part, I guess. It was
the cheaper version with the buckles and nylon strap, and a little Velcro
strip to put the dildo in. I think I should have gotten the fancy, S&M kind
in leather, though, because it feels a little flimsy. Plus I have to hold
the dildo when we're doing it." She returned to eating, lifting her fork
calmly to her mouth. "Do you want a bite? It's really amazing -- I was just
so starving that I had to order something."
"No, thank you," I told her. "What does this thing look like?"
"It doesn't look like a real dick, if that's what you mean," she
said. "In fact, it's all so fake anyway, I don't
want to pretend that it's a real thing. I thought I should just get it in a color I like. And I wear a lot of black clothes, so I just got it in
black -- like I'd buy a black handbag."
The bartender poured some wine in both our glasses and stood back,
ready to join in the conversation.
"And then," Renee continued, "I put it on when I got home and
looked in the mirror and thought, this is such a joke -- I mean, how
am I going to be bossy in bed when I can't take myself seriously? But I got
over that. Because Mark is so into it -- I mean, he really likes being
fucked in the ass. A lot of men I know really like to have their
asses played with, or I suspect that they like it, but they can't bring
themselves to ask because of the whole gay connotation. But I think if they felt it was socially acceptable, they would ask their girlfriends to anally stimulate them a lot more often."
The bartender turned and began cleaning a small part of the mirror
at the opposite end of the bar.
"I think it's the penetration thing," said Renee thoughtfully.
"Also -- look what happened with Nick. He did ask me, but I didn't like the
way he asked me. It was a turn-off. I guess you can't blame them for being
"My friend Rex says the same thing: Men have a secret penchant for
prostate massage but are deathly afraid to ask. Because then maybe the
woman will think he wants the real thing in his butt. But he says there's
nothing that gets him off faster, or better."
Renee returned to her tuna and said, "I think you have to really be
comfortable with your sexuality to ask for things like that. For men, it's
incredibly difficult because they have all these roles to live up to. Now,
the thing is, I like to be dominated too. So we switch roles. We have
amazing sex -- it's never just kiss, kiss, now you go down on me, now I'll go
down on you and then we'll do it and it's over. Every time it's different
-- and I think the strap-on really opened us up that way." She sat up on
the stool. "Where did Rick go? He looked like he was going to join us."
I leaned over the bar to see Rick at the opposite end, bending down
and rearranging bottles with a look of heavy concentration. "I think he was
afraid to ask," I said.