This is our truth, tell us yours
Jem and I were talking, in a closed conversation, about our very different experiences of random sex. Despite all we have in common on this blog, we are very different people, and part of that difference is exemplified by my periodic promiscuity. Some of it touches on the kind of sex that was discussed as part of this post from a while ago, albeit as part of a conversation about a mass murderer. We were also talking in a separate conversation, about a drinking game I indulge in called characters. All of those conversations seemed to me to coalesce, as you might expect when you talk to a world champion listener like Jem.
Characters is fun. In the game, each player has to assume a role, a persona, which they must stick to. Slipping out of character, even if it’s just an accent slip, involves a drink or a forfeit. My characters are usually slightly off beat – Lichtenstein surfing champion, or canine chiropodist from Chorley who restores steam trains on weekends. You might wonder at the character of a man who deliberately chooses offbeat subjects where he can show off esoteric knowledge, but I hope I’m long past that stage of self awareness. The game works best when it’s just the gang, winding each other up, but sometimes, others get involved, unwittingly. That’s when the game can break down into a denouement best summarized by the woman in Bournemouth who said, in a broad West County accent, when she realized I wasn’t the Croatian national sheepdog trial champion ‘You be pulling my leg you be!’
When I was younger, that version of me, the man who could be anything people wanted him to be provided it led to sex also led me to places where my moral boundaries were tested. My experience of random sex is not anyone else’s, although some people might recognize it as congruent with theirs. As I’ve got older I’ve moved away from having random sex close to home, to only having it in places where I can be anonymous. Paradoxically that has reinforced the willingness to be whoever’s required to make the connection. On the weekend I came across this fragment of R S Thomas
What drives me to wish, sometimes, to set aside myself, and improvise another human being, one who is not me? Escapism? A desire not to be who I am at work, at home, as a parent and child? I do not know, but I do know that it is an urge that needs compartmentalization, a space away from who I am, a space away from the person who has sometimes mistaken love for the secondary response to need, not the other way round – or to quote Erich Fromm