A story in two acts: In Act I Nate writes a letter to Carrie, an unfinished, undelivered letter. In Act II Nate broaches the subject while driving with Carrie.
Act II – The Car Ride:
The letter, while covering the main topics, never really coalesced – too much still floating in my brain I suppose. Dinner was close by, a fifteen minute drive and home awaited us with the three ring circus that passes for our lives. So fifteen minutes we had and I jump in: a “good” topic, one that would not be resolved in fifteen minutes, but one which would be a small step in the right direction. Maybe not.
Now for the last many months Carrie’s stated position has been “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” served over a bed of “figure out what you want soon because my understanding will not last forever.” Imagine my surprise to be told that I made a comment last week, a comment that is not even on my radar screen that indicated I was still seeing men. Prior to that comment she had assumed I had stopped.
I am surprised by her perception considering the history of this drama, but it really is not a seismic shift, more a speed bump. I slow down, clear the bump and again find the gas. I mention the need to forge a compromise. I mention the need for me to make a positive step in all of this. So far, so good.
Now for the tricky part: tricky because it is not as clearly defined in my mind and tricky because it is based on Carrie’s belief system – something I do not control. She would love that last sentence because she believes much of the problem is that I do, or at least did, control the “belief system” and as long as she was willing to play by my rules, life was fine. She is not totally incorrect in that this long year started one night when she decided to fold her cards, step back from the table. This is not a criticism – who am I to decide her tolerance for my fantasies – and she has shown more understanding than many would.
But now she discusses where we were in terms foreign to me. Memories of homo-erotic fantasies run amok, memories bordering on psychological abuse. The thing is that while no denying the existence of these fantasies, I do not see them on the same scale. Yes, twelve years ago I spent a night with a man – a gay man – but then stopped for eleven years. Yes, we own some toys, but they are out of the drawer so infrequently they need sunglasses: in a decade they were touched maybe one or two dozen times. There is no denying some things: a whispered comment in my ear about another man, a hand brushing the right spot or that occasional slap: they do their job.
But what is their job. I usually do not have a problem reaching orgasm – actually quite competent if you ask me. But with age that second, that third – well they are not as accessible as they used to be. Yet with the magic of fantasy, I can still get there. And that is good for me, but it also used to be good for Carrie. Pleasure for me, pleasure for her: where are the losers?
Yet now she looks back and sees herself as a loser in this, sees herself having sacrificed her feminine for my pleasure, not our pleasure. And I am sad, I am confused. Because there are many things I know how to fix in this – whether I have the moral strength will need to be seen – but this strikes me as something I cannot fix, something beyond my control. It also saps my will, my resolve. If what she says is true – I do not really believe that – but if true, where is the carrot. If a stick is all there is, why modify my behavior, why not just “go for it:” And that attitude just feels wrong.