The Virgin, the Devil, and the Chosen One
Chapter 12

October 1, 1981

When my partner was done tracing the arteries from heart to head, my ears rang so loudly I felt like vomiting. I had to lie down for the class discussion afterward, and when I walked home I had to continually correct a leftward tilt that sent me into the bushes. I was dizzy when I got up the next day and the ringing in my ears was louder than ever. I kept stumbling to my left. It felt like I was falling off the left-hand edge of sanity into the chaos of uncontrolled emotion.

Susan and I had the house all to ourselves that night. After kissing for an hour and a half in front of a roaring fire in the living room, I started to undress her. She firmly removed my hands, then looked up at the ceiling and said, “There's this voice running around in my head. ‘Daniel doesn't hear me, Daniel doesn't hear me, Daniel doesn't hear me.’” I yanked on my pants and stalked out of the room, cursing myself for wanting sex in the first place. Being sexually rejected was so deeply humiliating, I couldn’t speak.

. . . I am given a choice: I can be a gibbon and have a penis, or I can be human and not have one.Gibbon meant gibbering idiot, as well as animal and not human. I not only considered sanity and sexuality opposites, I thought a human being with a penis was a contradiction in terms.

The next day my left leg hurt from hip to ankle, the inside of my mouth felt bruised, and a furious bumblebee buzzed endlessly in each ear. The buzzing in the right ear was so loud, it hurt. My whole world fell apart when I didn't come, and I hated that with a holy passion. . . . There is broken glass in my mouth and broken glass between two lovers. My left foot kicks my right eye so hard a burst of pain shoots into my right ear. I sat up. The buzzing in my ears was gone. A big chunk of who I was had turned left to the emotional side of things and stayed there. But I still didn’t like Susan, especially that thin spot on the back of her head where she’d nearly rubbed herself bald from all that idiotic mommy-screaming.

. . . A man gets sexy with me. He has no penis, just the outline of one on his left thigh. I'm not avoiding a homosexual encounter, I'm avoiding the feelings homosexuality represents. A man loving a man is a symbol for sexual self-love. So it made sense to walk naked into Susan’s room and climb into her bed. The threat of sexual rejection was nothing compared to not having a penis in my dreams. To my total surprise, she was ready and waiting. Afterward, my body was so heavy with joy, I felt like mooing. I waddled back to the hammock, my udder swinging from side to side between my legs.

I was so emotional the next day, I decided I needed a week or two without sex; I just wasn’t stable enough. But after supper Susan stood too close to me in the kitchen. Her voluptuous mouth opened up to mine like a soft goblet of buttered wine. “Men would kill for these lips,” I said and tugged her into the hall. Every now and then she would break away for a breath of fresh air and excuses, but her lips always pulled her back. After an hour of kissing, her knees went weak. I picked her up and carried her upstairs. After another hour we were both naked. Suddenly, she didn’t want to kiss. I waited quietly.

“I feel there's something missing, like some words you need to say.”

“Like, I love you?” She blushed and nodded. “Susan, I think you need to say it more than you need to hear it.”

After several long minutes she turned her sweet, nearsighted, hazel eyes to mine and said, “I love you.” Two tears ran down my face, and her vulva opened under my hand like a dripping flower.

I got up from her bed dazed and strange, clumsy and shy. I stumbled back to my room and collapsed in the hammock. . . . A woman shows me the book I need to read: The Way of the Soul or, The Way You Are, Not the Way You Will Be.

When I came home from class a few days later, Susan was lying on the floor in my room, tightly wrapped in many blankets. “I feel really terrible about myself,” she whimpered, her arm over her eyes, then went on and on.

“I want to be alone,” I said, my voice shaking with the strain of saying no to a woman. She didn’t move. “I want you to go now,” I said louder, my heart pounding with anxiety. Dragging her blankets behind her, she went to her room and started bawling like a wounded calf. The volume of sound such a small person could produce was astounding.

I twirled a pencil between my fingers and wondered how Carol was doing. Maybe she was as scared of talking to me as I was of talking to her. The pencil snapped in two. I threw out the pieces and lay down for a nap. The phone rang, waking me up. “Who?” I heard Bill ask downstairs. “Annie? . . . Fanny? . . . Oh, Daniel!”He came to the foot of the stairs and yelled up, “Someone named Carol for you!” I went downstairs to answer it.

“Hello, Carol.” My voice was strong and deep from sleep.

She took a quick breath. “Hi. The boys and I are going to California for Thanksgiving for a family reunion. And for divorce proceedings,” she added quickly. “The boys are very happy and very busy. Come at Christmas. It's only three weeks later.”

“I may not be able to. I'll let you know.”

I hung up and started cleaning the house. By 10 p.m. I was standing on a chair, furiously wiping the little sill above the doorway to the kitchen that had never even been painted when Susan came back from working on a client, looking strong and beautiful as she always did after she did her work.

“Carol called and said—”

“From Halifax?”

“Of course from Halifax! She said—”

“How are the boys, Daniel?”

“Fine! Very happy and very busy!” I jumped down off the chair. “Carol doesn't want me to see the boys! Still! Again! As always! Maybe I shouldn't go!” I rushed past her to vacuum the living room rug again, feeling like a stupid, childish, emotional wreck of a woman. I turned on the vacuum cleaner like starting up a bulldozer . . . then turned it off. I'd called my feelings stupid and childish all my life. I put away the vacuum and trudged upstairs to bed. I had to go back to Halifax at Christmas, even if I had to hitchhike there and they never let me back into the States; even if I drowned in a cauldron of emotion with no firm hands to take it off the fire; and even if I messed up three little boys' just-put-together lives. As long as there was breath in my body, I had to go back to Halifax at Christmas.

. . . I drive a difficult way to Carol's house. “Can coo come here?” the boys have written on my paper. They want me to come so badly, they all have fevers. I remembered how two-year-old Caleb would shoot a stick like a gun, yelling, “Coo! Coo!” He called it his coo-stick. The real question was, could I go to Halifax and bring my penis? I really didn't know if I could. I felt my forehead. I had a fever like the boys in the dream.

* * *

“Shh! Bill's outside the door!” I whispered urgently.

Susan waited patiently until he had gone. “Why were you afraid of Bill? What does he symbolize for you?”

“He means heart to me.”

“You're right, he does have a lot of heart. But why don't you want him to know we're having sex?”

“Because I don't want my heart to know I like sex,” I said, unable to stop the truth from falling out of my mouth. She exploded in laughter. Mortified, I walked into the closet and shut the door. I liked it in there, so dark and quiet. She led me back to bed by my handle, then lay down next to me and trailed her fingers down from my chest.

“See, heart?” she said with a big grin. “You love being sexy, and you love your sexy parts.”

. . . “How wonderful that retarded people can learn to eat!” a woman tells me brightly. “They don't miss their mouths anymore!” She shows me a poem I wrote: “You have to touch your brow / for the ground to rise.” I am terribly upset to read it. It means I have to submit to the galling humiliation of being emotional forever.

I looked in Susan’s room on my way to the Drake for a beer. She was lying facedown on her bed, weeping quietly. “Just what do I mean to you anyway,” she said, her voice muffled by the pillow, “that you can't commit to me and no other woman?”

“I can't be monogamous unless it just happens. The minute I add intent, it becomes a mask for celibacy.”

“Maybe later we can deal with other people. Right now it's destroying me.”

“Even though I haven't done it yet?”

“You haven't?” She sat up, beaming.

“Damn. I shouldn't have told you that.”

“Why not? But I'm glad.”

“I'm not. I feel ripped off.”

“If we had an agreement not to see other people, we'd feel safe, and we could build something stable.”

“Susan, I am not stable. You may have to say no to me to protect yourself. The no to love is the most important no of all. It makes you bigger, so when love comes back, you can say yes without being destroyed.”

“How do you know the love will come back?”

“You don't. That's the risk you take.”

“Let's wrestle!” She jumped to her feet, eyes flashing. We struggled until she was so devastatingly sparkling-eyed attractive, I didn't want to go to the Drake anymore. Which frightened me so much, I raced out of the house to get there.

When I came home I ran into her lips midway between our rooms. She wouldn't budge in the direction of either. I surrendered and only kissed. After half an hour she said, “I do want to make love, only not now.”


“I can’t decide under your pressure!”

At three in the morning, she knocked until I woke up, then yelled through the door, “Ten tomorrow morning, okay? Although I might change my mind.” I was in the bathroom early the next morning when the door squeaked open a crack. “Three this afternoon, okay?” At three she was frazzled and exhausted. “It feels really strange to make love by the clock,” she said nervously. I gently guided her down to horizontal. Desire exploded like a fireball between us. She pulled away. “I'm not warmed up.”

“You mean you're nervous because you are.” A rich, deep laugh shook her whole body. She kissed me wide and wet, and soon I was inside her and close to—

“Mommyyy!” she wailed, throwing her head back. “Oh, sorry.”

I quickly rolled under her to get the desire back, but it was too late. She lay on top of me like a dead frog. Several minutes passed.

“Do you love me?”

“Yes, I do, Susan, lots and lots.”

She burst into sobs. “Is it okay to cry?”

“Yes,” I said, licking tears off her cheeks. “The only problem is . . . would it be all right if I . . .?”

“Sure! I have something to tell you, but it'll freak you out, so come first.”

“I'm already freaked out. How am I going to come?”

“I'll help.”

She did. Clouds shot stars through my body, and the soft, warm woman on top of me seeped through my skin until we were one.

“Do you want to sleep now?” The chimes of the eternal feminine rang out in her voice.

“I used up all my self-acceptance when I came, so I won't be able to sleep anyway. What did you have to say?”

She groaned and cleared her throat. “I want to marry you.”

“That's wonderful.”

“It is?”

“I married you when I made love to you. Ejaculating is the greatest commitment I can make.”

“With anybody?”

“You're more open to me right now than you've ever been. I think you just married me.” Her face glowed like a bride's when the veil is lifted for the kiss, and I felt her walking down the aisle of my spine to marry my virgin penis. Virgin? I wondered as I fell asleep.

. . . “Have you ever had sex?” I ask the man coming out of an insane asylum.

“Is it anything like the ocean?” he asks me, puzzled. Then the waves and I froth at each other.

At least he's out of the mental hospital,
I thought when I woke up. I had to keep having sex at least until all of my people had actually done it.