My Night with the Sailor

Note: I published this blog post this morning, then had to pull it and edit the hell out of it in order to protect “Tom.”  The descriptive quality of the narrative has been somewhat compromised.  That is all.   


I met “Tom” at The Campbell Apartment at Grand Central.  My friend and I went to Grand Central on the assumption that the sailors would congregate at the public transportation hubs after a long day of sight-seeing and/or participating in the Memorial Day activities.  We picked The Campbell Apartment on the assumption that officers would be there, because enlisted men would have no interest in drinking $22 cocktails that do not include naked exotic dancers.

       We were right.

        Kat didn’t want to approach them.  She definitely has no confidence issues, but she thinks that men ought to do all the work.  The problem with that is that you might not get the guy you have your eye on, because you’re going to get tied up with whomever approaches you first (and maybe his buddy).  If you don’t like him, then you have to disengage and get another man to come up to you, and then the first one is put out, and the men get some dick-swinging thing going on, and if worst comes to worst and they’ve been drinking enough, a fight breaks out.

        Nope.  Best thing to do is to take charge.

        I did not pick the most handsome.  Handsome guys are jerks and they are often boring in the sack (seriously, the most handsome man I’ve ever been with looked like a human Ken doll and if you could have bottled his sexual mojo, it would give ambien a run for its money).  The one I picked was slightly plain, with perfect posture and a blade nose.  He was wearing a wristwatch.  Who in hell still wears a wristwatch?  He was alert like the Harris’s hawk that I saw at The Cloisters on Sunday and I could see him sneaking glances at me and my friend.  He reminded me of the men in my family.  He looked early 40s.

        I went right up to him and asked him if I could buy him a drink as a gesture of appreciation for his service to our country.

       They stopped talking and stared.  Men always act surprised when they get hit on.  

        “Well, I appreciate it, Miss, but I’m not supposed to drink in uniform.”

         “What?  Sailors who can’t drink?  What sort of preposterous bullshit is this?”

       They started laughing, and I knew I was in.

        He made eye contact and gestured with his head to another group of men at the other side of the bar.  He said, under his breath, that he was with his boss.

       “I took you to be the boss!” (I did, actually.)  Then: “Are you from here?  How do you like New York?”

        The others bought Kat a drink and Tom went to the bar and kicked his buddy off the stool so that I could sit down, and that was that.

        “Tom” was a sailor serving on a ship. 

        I don’t know much about sailors or sailing, but I thought that the surest way to his heart would be to ask him flattering questions about his boat.  The Mathematician had a boat (lying scumbag), and boy, did he love his boat.  Sure enough, Tom loved his boat, too, and was a wealth of knowledge about everything having to do with it.

       I asked him if he had pictures, and he produced his cell phone and showed me eight million photos of the huge metal boat and all of the sailors running to and fro about it. 

        Did you know boats have “histories” and “distinguished services”?  I didn’t, but now I do, because Tom told me.

       Tom was very polite, and bought me expensive soft drinks and a $22 appetizer.  He kept asking me if I wanted anything.  He had an intense, energetic quality about him, even though he didn’t move very much.  I was impressed with his vigor.

       He was smart, but had zero intellectual curiosity.  I tried to get a handle on his intelligence–I’m good at that, I do it for a living–and he seemed like a problem-solver.  Nothing in his conversation was speculative.  It was all data and observations about people and concrete objects in the immediate vicinity.  He spoke in simple, clear declarative sentences. 

       He wisely, and sensitively, did not talk politics (military guys skew Republican, and however well he treated me, the minute he started bitching about welfare recipients or liberals, I would have had to dump him).  The only political vibe that I got from him was when I told him that I was a teacher, and he said, “That’s a good career for a woman.” 

        After a few hours, I asked him if he wanted to see the East Village.

      He hailed a cab and it was cute because he didn’t know how.  When he finally got one, he opened the door for me, and then ran around to the other side to get in, and that was cute, too.

        At the bodega across the street, he bought himself a beer and a case of Diet Pepsi for me.  

       The sex was good for vanilla sex with someone I just met.  First-time sex is usually not that great because both parties are nervous and worried about offending each other–it’s polite “getting-to-know-you” sex.  Tom was pretty decent.  He was competent, which is precisely the word I would use to describe every aspect of his personality, and he asked permission before doing anything, which could either be sensitivity or a shitload of military-ordered sexual harassment training. 

        Nice body, nice cock, did not try to get out of having to wear a condom.  Did not pull any pornsick guy moves.  I came.  Fun but uninspiring.  What else can you ask for in a one-night stand?  It was good to shake off the rust.  Besides the stuff I’ve been doing with Professor T-Rex, my sex life this year is the worst it’s been my entire adult life.

       Before he left, he changed two burned-out lightbulbs, entirely of his own volition.  When I went to the bathroom afterward, I saw that he’d folded his bath towel into a neat little square. 

       He thanked me for the sex…well, he didn’t say “Thanks for the sex,” he just said “thank you” after he came.  It always makes me feel weird when guys thank me for sex.  I don’t know why. 

        He told me that I was beautiful, which was nice.

      He’s sent me two friendly but impersonal text messages, and a selfie of him on his boat.  

       It was fun, and he was nice, but I felt a little conflicted about it the next day, and I discussed it with my analyst yesterday.  I felt like I objectified him, like I went out on a scavenger hunt, and maybe it is not nice to think of people that way.  I am objectified at work by most of my clients, which is fine because it can’t be too personal, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel so great emotionally to have an intimate experience with someone and know that you are just an avatar for their fantasies.  

       Did I do something wrong or immoral, in picking up Tom?  I mean, he wanted to be there.  He got something out of it.  I didn’t hold a gun to his head or anything.  Hell, the date probably cost him a hundred bucks.

        I’ve had plenty of brief relationships and one-night stands and even entire affairs that were predicated on sex.  I never gave a thought to it, aside from a few guys I wouldn’t have shagged if I’d been sober.  I never second-guessed myself before.  Why am I doing it now?

        I guess because it’s not enough, and I’m still going to the museum alone.


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