I was wiping up the kitchen counter when my brother at the computer, said slowly, “No way, this is too weird.” He stood up agitatedly and walked around, something chasing him. “Am I wigging out, or is the internet playing tricks with my mind?” After a minute or two of this he finally agreed to tell me what was going on.
“You know I registered with this Love Access, this online dating service, right? Anyway, I haven’t logged in in like 2 months, right? All of a sudden I get this e-mail: someone wants to contact me. I log on and look at her profile and – woah! She’s like –“ His hands are mute to describe her, “And what is she doing contacting me??”
I look at her profile. The picture is of a blond woman sitting on a bed. Her smile is winsome. Her breasts are champions, straining to get out. “Wow!” I say, “She is fine.”
“Yeah, but what do I do??” Shane groaned. “This is so out of the blue. And she is twenty nine!”
“Mmm, seven years older,” I say, “That is kind of a lot. But it could be nice; some older women like younger guys.” But in my mind a hot young woman was after my little brother, inexplicably. He was too freaked out to enjoy the prospect – and he had been going to church more of late. I tried to coach him. “You don’t have to be a Casanova. You can admit you are nervous. If this bothers her, then the hell with her. She just wants a plastic man.”
Her preferred age range was “18 to 99 years.” Her income was listed as 50-75K”; though some sloppy spelling clashed with that impression. She was looking for a man to make her laugh, walk with her in the park; bringing her a warm pretzel rather than a bunch of flowers would “definitely score some points with me.” She would like to keep things casual but “If your good maybe we can come to my place for dessert. Get youre mind out of the gutter!!”
“Well, she seems alright,” I say, doubting that he’ll be buying pretzels in Central Park anytime soon.
“Dude, this should be for you!” he exclaims. The breasts must be killing him.
“There’s a video?” I say.
“Yeah, but –“ he falters, “I’m like afraid to open it.”
But he can hardly wait, and goaded by my curiosity he clicks on the play button. The indicator fills up slowly. We wait. It plays, but the screen is grey. Suddenly a soft voice blares out, “Yeah, its me here –“ I search frantically for the volume. The guests upstairs will be hearing her Queens-accented warbling through the floor. Shane finds the knob and turns her down. The moment she finishes I have forgotten everything she said.
“She sounds nice,” I say. But what is confounding him is that this is the second hot 29 year old to contact him. He shows me the first one: “Miami Barbie,” another sultry woman gazing at my brother, arms folded, squeezing up her beach-bred breasts. “Damn,” I say. She too is a cipher, looking for men aged 18 to 99.
“You don’t have to hop in the sack with them,” I say, “Just have fun.”
“I know,” he says, “But I just about cream looking at their pictures! Look at her other one.” She is kneeling, hair cascading, eyes looking out from around the curtain of hair. I am as baffled as Shane is. His profile featured a picture of him back months ago when he was still drugged up, fat. He has no income but a disability check. He is adorable and boyishly enthusiastic about drums, doing crazy things that make people look, and our cat Charlie. None of this would make it over the net, much less attract a hot woman making lots of money.
Instead I say: “You’re lucky, man! Anyway, don’t worry, they’re far away. You don’t have to meet them unless you feel like it.” He can fantasize all he wants, using the distance to flirt, think, quiver, hide, and come out of it again, and maybe buy her a pretzel. He is still stuck in that age when sex is one thing, the one thing, a Rome toward which all roads lead: intercourse. I realize he has probably never slept beside a woman, a fog of sleepy trips to the bathroom, hugs, clothes floating on and off, her eyes emerging from the grey of dawn, two people slowly melting. I am tempted to tell him how nice it can be, from this height of age 34, but I don’t. Would my telling be a secret revealed, or just an experience that cannot be rushed? For me it is still new, this intimacy not heavily freighted by the future matrimony, or by obligatory acts: an intimacy that ends with breakfast. When the bagels are toasting the horizon opens up to next week when the sleepover will happen again. Sex has slipped into a supporting role, a sock-clad toe nudging me from behind as I sit with her. Play has returned as a life principle after 15 years of trying to be an adult.
But he has got 10 more years under the dictatorship of sex and marriage, the two absolutes that nearly paralyzed me and my pleasure. The next day to my surprise the Queens babe has e-mailed her interest to me, along with that same piece of her voice. The thought lingered a moment: had Shane given her my e-mail? No. The only one coming on to anyone is Loveaccess.com, which is trying to lure back lazy dreamers. I tell Shane and he is relieved. But he is probably disappointed as well, as nervous as he was. At least he was able to dream about being different, or years older, when he might actually do something, catch the train to New York, meet the woman who once let go a shard of her voice in his direction, the shard that sliced apart the ease of a dull desireless day, way back when.