“It would be nice if I could find someone to sleep with while I’m here,” I thought. My first day at a real estate seminar in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and I was already less interested in buying property and more interested in enjoying the romantic atmosphere of this beach hotel.
I was reveling in the freedom of being single, now that I was three months into it. To find my next partner, I had decided to date a wide variety of men. I needed to topple my belief that someone like Peter, my former boyfriend, was the ideal match for me, an open-hearted California girl in her late 50’s steeped in new age personal and spiritual growth, sensuality, and sexuality. Peter, an affectionate Buddhist beach boy in his late 50’s living the mellow life in Hawaii, had provided an oasis from my hectic Bay Area life, but we had both wanted to move on. In order to expand my ‘type’ beyond Peter, I’d challenged myself to go out with at least 50 different men.
So here at this seminar was someone very different—an animatedly friendly businessman from Atlanta, reaching out to everyone in our group by telling funny anecdotes about himself. “People ahr alwaz reversin’ mah name, Norman David,” he drawled, grinning like a little boy. Younger than me by about 10 years, his thin rugged face was fairly attractive when he smiled, but his outreach felt like a superficial friendliness that kept me at a distance. I didn’t think he would appreciate my openness, or that I would enjoy him close up.
Yet he fascinated me—he was so different. That evening, on a chilly sunset sailboat ride, I huddled next to him on the deck. With very little prompting, he opened up about his life. He’d been a successful model, social worker, and financial manager. He’d had one early and short-lived marriage. “Ahm saving mahself for mah future wife,” he said. A motorcycle accident 17 years ago had left him with a broken back and constant pain, despite surgery 8 years ago. This had cut short his modeling career. Now he was a management consultant, working on an M.B.A.
Throughout the next day’s tours, I asked him a million questions about how he’d succeeded in all those careers and sustained himself emotionally. “Ah just worked as hahd as ah could, night ‘n day,” he said. I admired his discipline.
He did not ask me one question. “I guess he’s not interested,” I thought.
I couldn’t quite see him as a model—his face and light wavy hair were not THAT good-looking—until he showed up at dinner that night in a very hip and fitted black shirt and pants that set off his face and body perfectly. My heart leapt—I wanted him.
We met at the bar, by the tables set up for our group next to the beach. My own black outfit flowed softly over my body, and by the smile in his eyes, he thought I looked pretty good too.
“Would you like to sit together for dinner?” I asked.
“Yes!” he said, like he had assumed it.
We didn’t talk to anyone else. I asked more questions and he pondered every one. After everyone had left, I suggested we take a walk along the beach.
“This is purty romantic!” he exclaimed, as we walked barefoot along the sand under a sky brilliant with stars.
“Yes it is,” I thought. But I wondered, “If he feels so romantic, why doesn’t he take my hand, or move towards me in any way?”
“The stars, the warm air, the little ocean waves lapping at our feet, wow!” he went on.
“Yes!” I agreed. I took his hand. He kept it there.
“So why don’t you ask me any questions?” I finally asked as we walked along.
“I don’t want to pry,” he explained. “Questions drive a person where they may not want to go.”
“Is that what my questions have done?”
“No, I like your questions.”
“Well, I wish you would ask me some.”
On a lounge chair in front of another hotel, he sat down facing the sea and stars. I slipped behind him, supporting him and gently caressing his hair.
“OK,” he said. I’ll ask you some questions.”
“Great!” I replied, anticipating some curiosity about my life.
“Would you rather make love on a beach or in an ice house?” he asked.
“Hunh?” I started. “Well, of course on a beach!” I said. “Is this his way of saying he wants to make love?”
“Do you sleep in pajamas or naked?” he continued.
“It depends,” I replied. If I’m alone, I wear a nightgown or PJs, but if I’m sleeping with someone, I’m usually naked. How ‘bout you?” “This is quite a leap to be talking about sleeping together already.”
He ignored my question. “Why did God make the stars?”
“OK, something spiritual,” I thought. “Well….” I started.
“Are there more stars then grains of sand?”
My hope fell. These questions were not an invitation to connect, and he didn’t seem very interested in my answers. We walked back to our hotel. I assumed the date was over.
“I’ll read you a story in my room,” he said. He didn’t ask. He just declared it.
“OK,” I said. “Hmmm, maybe he does want to sleep together.” I was still attracted to his handsomeness and the differences between us. I still wanted him.
We sprawled on his bed. He read a story from a collection by John McCain about heroes. A famous football hero enlisted as a soldier and died doing so. It was inspiring, but hardly romantic.
“Is this what he reads to keep himself going?” I wondered.
We began talking about the other stories, teasing each other, laughing, and playing with words. I was lying on my back, and he was on his stomach next to me, but not moving towards me. I reached over and started giving him a gentle backrub. He seemed to like it. At 1:30 a.m., he started reading another story.
I summoned up my courage and said, “Hey, it’s late, I’m going to give you a choice.” He looked at me quizzically. “I can either leave now, or leave and return with my PJs, or take my clothes off and get in your bed. All three choices involve kisses.”
Narrowing his eyes into a worried frown, he took a few minutes to reply. I was sure he’d just say goodnight. Finally he said, practically whispering, “I want you to stay with no clothes on.”
“OK,” I whispered. I kissed him tentatively. He kissed back. “I’ll be right back,” I said, and went to my room for my safe sex supplies before he could change his mind.
“Wow,” I thought, “I’m really getting to sleep with him.”
Returning, I slipped out of my clothes and into bed beside him. He had sweat pants on. We kissed softly, then deeply.
“Norman, could I massage you lightly from head to toe?”
“Yes,” he said immediately.
I stroked him gently all over, including his groin and his legs. He smiled without looking at me, and took off his pants so he could feel more.
When he looked at me expectantly, I said, “Do you want me to make love to you?”
“Kind of,” he said. “Umm, would you mind touching me until I had an orgasm?”
“I’d be glad to,” I said. “How should I touch you? With my mouth or my hands?”
“I don’t really know what works, it’s been so long.”
“Since before the accident,” he whispered.
My heart melted. I would be the first one touching him in 17 years. My desire to sleep with him for my own needs disappeared. I wanted to give him whatever he needed.
We decided my hands would be best, so I got out the lube and caressed him strongly and steadily, varying my strokes.
“Oooh that feels good!” he exclaimed. “I’ve not had any feeling there since the accident.”
I stroked him fast, slow, lightly and strongly for a long time. I had never felt so satisfied just giving to someone else. Eventually he got soft. It was 3 am, and we curled up to sleep.
In the morning, wincing from pain, he didn’t want to talk about the evening.
“How do you want to act in the group today?” I said, starting to kiss him.
“When you get close and have to separate,” he said, pulling away, “there’s a break, a tear. I’d like to keep it light.”
“OK,” I said, aching as he backed away. He was going back into his disciplined mind that I’d marveled at the day before.
I knew I was losing him, but I knew what I’d done. I’d given him a safe place to let down his armor, if only for one night. I’d given him the pleasure of his own body. And I had learned what a gift it was to simply give.