< a little fable.
Despair has started to interfere with my ability to fuck, he tells me, to which I naturally take offense. Am I not good enough, I ask. Do I not make you forget your despair? Even for a moment?
No, no, that is not it, he says, peddling backwards. It's not really that fucking isn't able to scrub despair from my mind, I guess, he says. Just but that I am actually worrying for you, about you, he says, picking up speed and confidence, adding that he is trying to place himself inside of my experience, because it had started to appear to him, and now he is asking for my affirmation about how it has started to appear to me, that his despair might be getting in the way of his ability to provide me pleasure. You have to let me know, he says. It is all for you, he says, with a straight face. I fear I might have, in a way, he says, been contributing to your despair, and then explaining himself further: i.e., what if I am passing it on? What if there were unintended consequences? How could I, as it were, live with myself?
But I am not despairing, I tell him. I thought that I was the happiest I had ever been. What disheartens me, I admit, finally, because I sit in silence for what feels like hours before reaching my conclusion, is not that he feels despair, but that he has hid it so well from me, for so long. That I had not been thinking about it at all. It is like I am the asshole, I say. It is like he has made me the asshole. After all this time, we were not even on the same page.
He says to me, oh, baby, oh no no, of course we are together. But I cannot tell, I say, anymore, and so we are not together on this, not really. I begin to cry. Sometime later I stop. It does not matter what we are, or are not, if I cannot tell. And I make him promise me that he will always tell me how he is feeling, which he does for years and years. But all it makes me realize is that I have no control over how anyone feels, especially him, and moreover that, as far as I can tell, the quality of our sex has no bearing on despair’s spectre or not, and I find myself, at the end of it all, without recourse even to prove that despair does not make it better for me, the sex. And so I am regretting my wish, after years and years, like a child who has accidentally touched the genie.
Stop telling me, I ask him, at the end of my one long continuous thought portioned out over years and years. He is surprised, because he had been thinking other things, in the meantime. He had gotten promoted. He had bought a new car and bought a puppy dog, which had grown up, gotten old, and then died. We had attended his mother’s funeral. He tells me he cannot stop now; he says, telling you all of this has lifted my despair! or at least made me not care how it comes and goes, or what it does, or where it is. I did not even cry, he says, when the dog died.
But that is not the point, I say. I feel very behind the times. You have let the cat out of the bag, I say. But he is telling me some other story, some other long-winded thing about how he feels today, or tomorrow, or whenever it might move him to say.