My father, long-divorced, proclaims the joys of fucking women. Not making love. Not sexual intimacy, even. Fucking. He prowls dating sites, beady black eyes assessing thin-figured women with names like Irina, Tatiana, Sandra, Svetlana, Lara. Of course, they’re not only thin figured but voluptuous. He’s always kept abreast of that.
On top of that, he wants me to carry on his lecherous legacy.
“Use it or lose it boy,” he says on the occasions I have to visit him. “You’re getting older.”
But he goes through litanies of women. Corresponds with the online ones and strings his local dates along. Presents himself as a calm, godly, patient man in his dating site profiles. A learned man. They call him names like “my valiant lord,” “my prophet,” and he promises them so much. Promises new homes and luxuries. He buys them boxes of chocolates and treats some to dinners at local steakhouses. Some he brings home and trots out when I come over for the occasional dinner. He puts his arms around them, tells all sorts of jokes. Makes them laugh. Exudes his charisma, smiling mustache and all.
But I know what’s coming. They’ll last a few weeks. Maybe a few months. It depends on his needs, how shitty the shape of his life is. If he’s in danger of losing his job again, then he’ll keep one around longer. Especially if she’s more obsequious.
Then he moves onto the next round. Thin, voluptuous, and often less-than-intelligent. He also encourages me to amass a harem.
“You shouldn’t be alone at your age, boy,” he says, his mustache bristling with lecherous cheer. “I always like to have at least a dozen at a time.”
Truth be told, I want to kill him and say I love him, as misguided and stupid as the sentiment is. Mom says I need to take him in small doses. My sister Nan says something similar.
But she’s found the secret to peace: Not communicating with him at all. I’m his son. And Nan’s in St. Petersburg, studying the Romanovs.
I seek solace in coffee shops, in the worlds of writing stories, absorbing and outlining goals for my life. And unfortunately, people-watching. There are women. Multitudes. Women in Capris, short shorts, even sharp skirts coming in and out, footsteps clickety-clacking, clicking, and some even just thudding on the floors with weary defeat. Vanilla-skinned women, chocolate-skinned ones, everything in between. Some wear cat-eye glasses, others wear aviators, some have owllike eyes, others almond-shaped ones. So many women, it’s hard not to notice, even if I try to retreat into the glow of my computer screen.
I try to focus on my future. Book deals, future tenure, better positions, better lives. How to curb my temper. But I also imagine fucking. No matter how I try to block the word, it crawls over a wall and into the deepest dells of my consciousness. I even imagine myself giving into that word. Fucking. A physical tempest, graceful body deflating, physicality blowing up. Weather forecast today, mostly cloudy, a one-hundred percent chance of fucking. Shattered objects and lives expected. Expected victims: Intimacy, kindness, love. Fucking, a word that still plays in my head, even as I try to think of these women’s lives, the lives they’ve made. Some must be professionals, lawyers, businesswomen, artists, filmmakers even.
And all they want is a moment of respite in this coffee shop. A treat. Their own time. Which I’ve ruined by thinking about them and fucking. When a laugh rises through the coffee shop, I think of its erotic qualities, imagine it rising, rising to its climax. Even the quality of a voice, low or husky arouses me.
My father once told me he broke up with a woman. A wealthy widow. He claims this was his three-hundredth girlfriend in two years.
“Then I went back and fucked her,” he said, laughing. “You understand, son? I didn’t have to. But I went back and fucked away.”
“That’s disturbing,” I’d said. “You’re Rasputin incarnate. You seriously need to get off this train. Do you know how many people you’re hurting?”
He laughed and he shook his head.
“You’re too old-fashioned,” he replied. “Everything is about power these days. Getting hurt’s inevitable. And it’s not like I’m trying to hurt them. I just have my interests, son. Your father’s a fickle man.”
I consider never working in this coffee shop again. Or at least moving to the most remote table in the shop, the one between the old piano and the wall. Especially on the days when physical urges push and tear at me like some fault line. When I notice skin through tank tops, a breast, the way someone moves from behind. The bronzed or browned legs. Sometimes the crudest of jokes even rise. That’s a fine caboose. I’d like to be your engine. Come to Papa. And when I speak those words in my mind, they’re in a voice that’s gotten deeper. A baritone. Like him. Sometimes, I feel the same gaze turned across a room. An arched eyebrow, a mouth hung open, or forming a lecherous grin. And I hope to God none of them noticed.
No one comments on it, anyway.
Sometimes, I even think of moving far, far away, where I can communicate with my father only through texts and the occasional call. But the fundamental fact is this: Thoughts of fucking and bodies dance like perverted sugar plum fairies. Every day. Every night. And women abound, no matter where I go.
I write down these thoughts of women as they come. Every single one. I write them in the clearest and coldest of words, all laid out on a page. I thought X about Y on this date. Or that. I try to string things together. Cut down on my Dad time. And sometimes, I think, I’ll tell the women all these things. All these thoughts. I will stand on a table in the coffee shop, kind of like Dead Poets Society. And I’ll confess the images I’ve stored, the bits of flesh and lust, eyes squarely upon each woman in the room. This will be followed by something that resembles a “sorry,” although “sorry” seems less than adequate in this situation.
Maybe I’ll ask a woman out on a date. Not even a date. A get-together. At a bar that smells like cigarettes and armpits. And we’ll laugh over beers, the only bodily motions hands gesticulating, heads tossed back with laughter, nerves being released bit by bit. Of course, once the second or third beer sets in, perhaps I’ll ask her to tell a joke. Or share a secret, the darkest one she can think of, a secret about her own father perhaps. And I’ll hope he’s even worse than mine.
Maybe I’ll even tell her more about my father and she’ll listen, nodding with each word released. Of course, she’ll be reluctant to share something dark. Or she’ll share anyway. Or she’ll wear this look of weariness if I pry. So, I’ll pause, reset, and ask for the happiest secret in the world she can think of.