INERT by Karen Uffelman
Although he believed a real man should protect a woman’s feelings no matter what, Jackson couldn’t help wanting to tell her about other sexual experiences and past lovers. She seemed like she had enough self-confidence to deal, and his sex life really was his favorite topic. Where he, Jackson, was the hero.
Other girlfriends and even non-girlfriends had warned him that his enthusiasm over past sexual adventures or lovers was, at best, kind of boring, and at worst, a big turnoff and sexually intimidating. Although he didn’t imagine they were lying, he just couldn’t believe it. He found his reminisces extremely stimulating. And he thought Kelly might, too. If she did, it would be a sign that she was his soul mate. If not, well, there were other women in town. Except that Jackson had slept with most of them and not very many were keen to get back in the saddle. Which was a shame, because the sex had been really good.
His last girlfriend, whom he actually quite liked, had claimed his penchant for glorying in his sexual past as one of her main reasons for dumping him. His gut told him that it was too early to test Kelly’s patience with his sexual boasting. And yet, he just couldn’t keep the stories inside.
To tell the truth, he wasn’t very good at many things. He was tolerably handsome, but not beautiful. He had a job, but it wasn’t a job with a real future (although it did provide lots of opportunities to meet and flirt with women). He was smart enough, but not ambitious. He lived in a crappy apartment, and couldn’t be bothered to fix it up. He was fit, but not particularly athletic. He wasn’t well-read and didn’t have many interests. He was always late. He didn’t own a nice car. In fact, he didn’t own a car at all.
But he was GREAT in bed. He knew it. Women knew it. Even the women he hadn’t slept with could tell. It drew them in. Powerfully. It was really the only thing he had to offer. The only natural skill he could claim. And people, well, women, usually liked him for it. Liked him a lot. For a while.
If he didn’t piss them off too much with his lack of commitment or general flakiness (or with stories of his other sexual exploits), the women he slept with would remain his friends once they stopped sleeping with him. So, not only did his sexual prowess provide satisfaction to himself and others, it also provided a social entrée. Most of his social circle was made up of either women he’d slept with or their boyfriends or husbands, who seemed to tolerate him. And due to Jackson’s proclivity for kissing and telling, everyone in his social circle knew way too much about their friends’ sexual preferences, boundaries (or lack thereof), stamina, choice in underclothes, etc. Not that anyone besides Jackson talked about it, but they all heard about the women that came before, and assumed that the women after heard about them. One of the prices you paid to go boot to boot with Jackson.
Kelly was new to town, and wouldn’t know most of his past lovers, so she couldn’t complain that he was sharing inappropriate details about her friends. She was fairly attractive, not likely to be insecure or jealous. They hadn’t actually had sex yet, just hung out a couple of times, which was abnormal for Jackson. He couldn’t remember the last time a first (or second!) date hadn’t ended up in bed. But on both occasions she had declined his invitations to go back to his place, claiming she had to get up early. Why did she see agree to a second date, he wondered. Certainly not for his jokes!
He met her for lunch for their third date, and over grilled cheese sandwiches described how he humped the local elementary school librarian on a greyhound bus. The bus hadn’t been empty of other passengers, and the librarian was a bit of a screamer. He flushed as he talked. He usually recounted stories like this as part of his warm up routine when he already had a date’s clothes off. Kelly peered at him over a French fry, but seemed neither shocked nor titillated. He felt slightly embarrassed. She then told him how she had done a mechanics course at community college and they practiced what they learned on a greyhound bus. He waited for her to describe a rendezvous with another student under the bus or a hint that she’d like the same treatment the librarian got. Or even that she thought it was terrible that he was going around talking about the librarian in the first place. But there was none of that. She segued into how her mechanics studies had led her to become a traffic engineer.
On their next date he vowed to keep his sexual past to himself, but soon realized he had nothing else to talk about. He went into ridiculous detail about his sexual exploits with a produce stocker. Oranges rolling everywhere, other produce employed in interesting ways. Getting caught more than once in the cooler. Resulting in a short-term ban from the Piggly Wiggly. Kelly yawned.
“And our bartender, see her there?”
“With the big tattoo on her chest?” Kelly asked.
“Yeah, you should see the tattoo across her ass! It’s quite beautiful, actually. She used to like it when I’d trace it with my tongue. And those three women sitting by the window?”
“The one on the left is a cunnilingus addict, the middle one likes to screw on her husband’s desk, and the one on the right, that’s Jamie, she has amazing vaginal muscles.”
“Oh, really?” Kelly asked. She didn’t seem terribly interested, but also not offended.
It was so confusing.
On their fourth date, he finally got Kelly back to his apartment. They had a couple of drinks. She let him remove her sweater. He kissed her and she kissed him back, but he could tell she wasn’t feeling it. He bit the back of her neck, which was usually a foolproof move, but it didn’t seem to help. He tried to pull up a story, a juicy one. Nothing. He was dry.
She didn’t bother to stay the night, even.
The next morning, he was heading to the coffee shop when his neighbor, Gina, waved him down.
“Saw you finally got that new girl back to your apartment last night.” Gina smiled in a knowing way.
“Yeah, well, I’m in a bit of hurry, Gina.” Jackson crossed the street.
“What’s the story?” Gina yelled after him. “Wow, you must be in love!”
No story, Jackson thought, bringing his hand to his temple. There’s no fuckin’ story.