Sex is the opiate sought, and like any junkie on a mission, most are in this house of selling not to make friends, but only to get hands on the product.
Almost something from a dystopian novel, the typical bar room scene. Short skirted women squawk, cackle, at every unfunny joke the beer gut man in the Motley Crue shirt hollers then ends with a“bawhaha” laugh. Autotune rap blares from a jukebox that flashes colors resembling epileptic melted m&m’s. Dancers crash rather than glide, with all the grace and poise of dogs in heat. No longer engaged precisely in dance, but simulation of sex to a bass drum. College flirts prey on mid life crises like owls stalking field mice, swindling balding has beens out of money with the allure of one more chance at a young woman. No conversation takes place, just innuendo.
Communication has devolved into its distant ape cousin, bar socializing. A cacophony of showboating grunts, tittering, jiggling, and squealing. Movement is no longer the process of getting from A to B, but the art of flashing cleavage, or strategically bumping against it. Words are no longer bridges between minds, but instruments for manipulating persons. Fake laughter, false sweetness from the bartender seeking a tip, fake interest from a girl hustling a free drink, it’s a masquerade, where everyone can see your face. And no, they don’t care about the person beneath.
These are the places you’ll go, the people you’ll meet, the things you’ll regret in the morning, surrounded by persons maybe looking for love, but mostly for a plaything to use and discard. It’s a carnival of flesh, a carnal midway where if you’re lucky, and drop enough cash, you might just walk home with a prize. The butcher’s market where men and women are the prime cuts of beef on display, garnished to tease the appetite of anyone wishing to consume.
Pursuit of sex, slobbered after muse of weekend fun, bar ritual of the Saturday night, can even mimic a sort of religion.
“Check out that girl out over there, she’s wearin a thong, you can see it when she bends down!”
This can be pronounced with the urgency of a dying parishioner securing his last rites.
“Dude, those girls are drunk, kissing each other! Look at em! Look at em!”
This can be told with the proselytizing fervor of something salvation hinges upon.
“Thou shalt not become attached”
The 1st commandment of many bar rooms. And the bar has its hall of fame like any video game on the arcade, its venerated top scoring heroes, the guys who break a heart every day, pick up another girl every night. The champions of non committal, random sex.
Glad I’m not among that number.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against sex, or a moralizer preaching from higher ground. Sex is wonderful, and I speak from the same earth as any common man. I’ve been to that circus, took in the sights and sounds. I’ve just grown jaded with the show, found it unfulfilling, and ultimately boring.
What is sex, other than the gratuitous slapping between intestines, the spray of bodily fluid, the desire of adult animals to mate? Physiologically speaking, it’s essentially the expulsion of snot from a lower body orifice, just snot that feels nice as it leaves, snot that has a chance of getting someone pregnant. Yet even the most wizened veteran of the no strings attached lifestyle tends to bristle when I describe sex this way, because it rings hollow, because sex is more than that. Fun as sex is, it’s integrated with more important things than you find in a common bar room on a Saturday night.
There are men who never will see a woman as more than the sum of her curves, yet the spellbound hypnotization with boobs and ass eventually fades for most, and we start looking for a deeper connection. Because the skin deep, the surface level things, become so generic, overplayed, and uninteresting. What seems so fascinating at the onset of puberty has lost luster by young adulthood. Not that the female physique becomes less beautiful, its just after being so inundated with sex, with physical stimulation, the erotic becomes tired, like too much of any good thing, and a person starts to crave something more. Women with nice curves are dime a dozen. Spilling out of a low cut top, stuffing into the tightest jeans possible, is no special talent. Physical beauty is ephemeral, blooms for a season, then decays, shriveling to nothing. And if you’ve staked your entire appreciation of a person on how pleasing they are to you physically, that collapses too, just as quickly, just as fleeting.
Yet to see your own highest values reflected in the opposite sex, to dig past all the exteriors, and find something kindred at the root of a person, is rare and haunting. When two people can inspire laughter in each other like nothing else in the world, draw strength from each other to weather life’s storms, something beautiful occurs. When thoughts and sentiment are in constant exchange, when you can say anything, and it will be meaningfully absorbed, then returned with the imprint of another’s considerations, the highest form of communication is achieved. When two people become stronger united than they ever were apart, when the good qualities of each become sharper through each other, something intensely fulfilling happens. When two people accept the whole of one another, rather than merely amuse each other with one another’s flesh, some deep need in the human configuration is met, that physical gratification alone can never satisfy.
Past cynical outer shells, walls set to shield still tender scars, I think most will want something more than physical sensation at some time in life. We’ve all seen the portrait of nude Eve, fig leaves censoring her breasts and genitals. If that painting were redone today, the breasts and genitals would be exposed, if there were a fig leaf, it’d blot out the face, the mind, the interior of a person. (1) Nudity, sexuality, this is all very vanilla in our times. The taboo is showing any depth of your own humanity, moving through relationships as if they weren’t expendable and easily replaced, being less than “cool” and detached at any moment.
Yet, no one’s time on this earth lasts long. One hundred years from now, everyone reading this, and the hands typing it, will be bonedust in the ground. The grand bar room masquerade, and all its participants, the loves of your life, everyone you’ve ever known, will all be past. How many really want to leave this life without understanding at least one person deeply, without loving and being loved at least once? I doubt it’s the desire of many to vanish as a shadow from the drama of human history, barely visible for a time, then gone. So, why not let down your guard, and chase some deeper connection, even if it may sometimes cause pain. A mask worn too long usually becomes part of a person’s own face. Pursuing faceless, mindless, unattached sex tends to transform someone into a faceless, mindless person, alienated even from themselves. There’s a point where the real person becomes trapped in the self created persona, when the actor can’t get out of the character they’ve chosen to portray. If there’s more to life than passing through your years alone, if there’s more to human mating than satiation of animal desires, why not seek it out, why settle for less?
And no, I’m not a poster boy for a rheumy eyed romantic manifesto, I see the cynic’s objection too damn well. Because after all, what is a cynic, other than the fallen, disappointed hopes of a former idealist? And for a snip of autobiography, I often vacillate between idealism and cynicism on these matters. Nothing is more likely to hurt someone than opening themselves to another person. Love is something of a Promethean flame, many wings have been incinerated reaching for it, and many people have felt that million mile crash back to earth when it doesn’t work out. And true love tends to be a phantom of folklore, often talked about, though rarely seen in everyday life.
Yet despite these high stakes, all I’m saying is, perhaps it’s a lottery worth playing. Perhaps love is a ghost worth staying up til midnight in the dilapidated halls of humanity to glimpse.
(1) Owe that line to a discussion with a friend named Criffton