It was the year when I became so preoccupied with sleeping with women that I lost motivation for almost every other pursuit and began to worry, at times, that I might starve. The women I slept with would feed me, I hoped. Or perhaps I’d establish a network of male friends, preferably wealthy, whose envy of my lifestyle would transform into an urge to help me, sustain me as an avatar of their own desires, a mild-mannered satyr through whom they could live vicariously. I was surviving on a combination of government grants and awards and a monthly allowance from a local dowager, sentimental and cruel and extremely old, whom I’d met at the opening of a play I’d written, a Holocaust fable about erstwhile child star Jonathan Taylor Thomas (JTT) and the working poor. It wasn’t very well received, but my benefactor-to-be, quite senile, thought me a young genius. Once she died, which could happen at any moment, I knew it would be much harder for me to survive.
In the meantime I was pretty happy. I got into the habit of discussing my situation with Debbie, brilliant and anxious, an inveterate overachiever who greeted with ambivalence my merry fornicating ways. “Debbie,” I’d say, as we lay entwined in bed, “I worry sometimes that I’m spending my whole life chatting with girls at Starbucks, and also at ‘independent’ coffee shops. I go to such places to write, but I always end up talking to some girl. I’m not getting any work done.” And Debbie would squeeze my bum and say, “I don’t want to hear about this,” if she felt jealous, or, “You’re so ballsy,” if she did not.
She was an acquisitions editor for a major publishing house and a wonderful freak who could reach orgasm only when first spanked and then, during intercourse, scolded with biblical verses suggesting she was not among the elect graced by divine providence, generally selections from the Book of Jeremiah or, during fellatio, Isaiah. We’d met online. She was more or less okay with me fucking other people as long as I took care of her needs and was kind and honest. This contract was agreeable to me—my standard boilerplate, as it were. She could read incredibly fast, a symptom of or qualification for her job; often she’d read my writing. “It’s shit,” I’d say, as she read my manuscript at the kitchen table. She’d hold up a finger to shush me, and I would shush. “It’s seriously shit,” I would insist, and she’d tell me that if I wouldn’t shut up she’d exile me to the hallway. I had a bachelor apartment in a low-rise building; the hallway was poorly lighted and offered nowhere to sit besides the filthy carpet. “Okay,” I’d say then, trembling, “but if you come to feel you’ve wasted your time reading that shit and you’re resentful, you’re the only one to blame.” She may have given me the finger, if my peripheral vision is to be trusted. In any case she gave me a finger.
Well, but I knew my “work-life balance” wasn’t tenable, so I decided to visit the dowager for advice.