One day last week I was discussing with some people at the lunch table the fact that I'd been trying to persuade B. to stay. One of the people was a friend of a friend, Mr. LaMosca. He knows me, but he doesn't know me very well (and I don't like him much, although he may not know that). He said to me, "Vespertina, why don't you share your love with B, if you know what I mean?"
Now, here we have what I find a strange situation. What I did, I believe, was say nothing, or say something like, "I'm not going to do that." What I wanted to do was say, "You're revolting." What I now think I should have said, and wish I had said, was, "How dare you? You scarcely know me. How dare you make such a grotesquely inappropriate remark to me!"
But the second thing I felt was a kind of amazement at Mr. LaMosca's remark. When did it become all right for us to make remarks
about quite intimate matters in a casual public way? I'm going to bet that my father didn't tell any of his women friends that he had a thing for seeing two women together (even if he did). I bet my mother never had a friend say at lunch, "If I don't get laid soon I'm going to be really depressed," as if she were saying, "If they don't serve croutons with the salad again soon I'm going to be really depressed," as a friend did at my lunch table the other day. I don't want you to say those things in front of me, because I don't want to know those things about you. My sex life is my business, not because sex is bad, but because that life is MINE, not yours. If I want to have sex with my friend to entice him to stay (which, although I'm not entirely sure, I believe qualifies as a low-level form of prostitution), that too is my business. If I talk about sex on this blog, and about my sex life, it's because when I write I conceive of this as having no audience, or at least an audience that will never meet me, and so these are in a way private utterances (yes, this is how I think while I write, although when I'm not writing I know that's not the case).
It seems to me that in some curious way we've lost a sense of perspective, or of awareness, so that the ability to recognise situations in which it's inappropriate to say something has eroded, as has the sense of whom it's inappropriate to say them to.
Or perhaps it's just that these days I hang out with very young people, and so the sense of what should be said, and when, has yet to be worked out?
For me, personally, part of my difficulty in these situations is that I dislike people who attempt to shock or browbeat you with sex: those who make sexual remarks because they want to see you be shocked. I dislike that kind of power, and I dislike giving that kind of value to adolescent idiocy (although in the case of Mr. LaMosca's remark, I think that actually bordered on sexual harrassment). So I sit there and listen to it without flinching, even though I'd like to flinch. And also, as I've said before on this blog, I'm not a prude, and I don't want to be thought one. And I want to be someone people feel they can be honest with, or talk to if they need to, and one of the things people are shyest about talking about is sex. But I guess maybe this is a place where I should take a stand, if this distresses me so much: am I not allowed to say, "I don't want you to talk about this in front of me" or, "I find that offensive/inappropriate"? I've already started saying, "This is not a subject to discuss at the lunch/dinner table," about more general private discussions. Of course, that's taken enormous effort of will on my part, but I guess having exerted that will in one area, I can exert it in another.
I left that party early. I told everyone I had a headache, but the truth is that I left because I felt fat, and because I didn't have a partner. I felt miserable without someone, and when I looked around at all the people who weren't there with someone and who didn't seem to mind, I felt ashamed and a failure for being miserable. It thus seemed better not to be there, so I left, and now I'm glad I did. I missed out not just on having my own multifarious inadequacies thrust in my face, but on being shocked. And no doubt I would have had my sense of being a failure increased when no one else present appeared to be shocked at what shocked me.
Tonight I left the milonga early because my hip muscle still hurts, and I want to rest it. Who knows what shenanigans I thus missed there?