“Just answer the question,” said Caleb, sounding increasingly annoyed.
“I can’t,” I shrugged. “It’s too broad.”
“Come on, just think about it for one second. You’re not even trying. How do you define good sex?” Caleb was lying naked at the end of the bed, flipping mindlessly through a magazine, doing his weird vibrating thing. It had been four months since we’d started dating, and by this point he was practically living at the squat. We were ‘playing house’, I suppose, but it was pretty clear that the relationship had an expiration date. Sure, he was beautiful–he had some of the most remarkable facial features I’d ever seen–but he was beginning to bore me. I’d already started sleeping with other boys. None of them let me tie them up, but I figured once I found one who did, he could be Caleb’s replacement. Unfortunately, the casting process was proving more difficult than I anticipated. But I didn’t want to break it off with Caleb just yet because… well, I don’t really like being alone, because being alone forces you to think about, you know, stuff, which is something I generally try to avoid.
“Well, there’s lots of types of sex that I would consider ‘good’,” I said. “There are too many variables. There’s no one answer. Your question is flawed.”
“OK, what about this,” he pressed: “Do you think sex is better if you really care about the person you’re sleeping with?”
“I knew you’d say that,” he moaned, flipping a glossy page.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re a phony,” he said, suddenly angry. “You’re always on my case about having ‘no emotions,’ telling me I’m a fucking robot, but look who’s fucking talking. You’re the least romantic person I know. You say a lot of extreme pseudo-romantic bullshit but you don’t mean any of it. You can barely even bring yourself to kiss me when we fuck, you just like to play all those weird… games.”
“Where is this coming from?” I asked. “Is this just because I said you don’t need to be in love to have good sex? Who are you, my mom?”
“Very funny…” He was wrestling with a T-shirt, struggling to pull it over his head. His skin nearly matched the white cotton.
“I was in love with my ex-boyfriend and we had shitty sex,” I said. “It didn’t matter; that wasn’t what it was about. Sex and love are different things–everybody who knows anything knows that.”
“I suppose that’s what you tell yourself to justify all the cheating.”
“Just because I’m in love with someone doesn’t mean I don’t still want to be fucked in back alleys by Mexican bus boys.”
“Actually, I take it back,” he said flatly, “you’re extremely romantic.”
Wow, I thought while lazily touching myself under the duvet, our first fight. That’s, like, a milestone or whatever. I have to admit, I was sort of excited at the idea that mine and Caleb’s relationship had escalated to the point where we could insult each other in this way. Maybe he IS the one for me…
“All you ever talk about is how I’m your ‘type,’” he said, interrupting my daydreams, “or about how I fit into whatever warped vision you’ve created of the ‘perfect boy.’ Well, what if I don’t want to be reduced to just some person who happens to tick all of your hypothetical boxes?”
“That’s what being in love is, you moron. Get a clue.” I am joking?, I thought. I couldn’t tell.
“I’m your fucking accessory!” he shouted in a voice louder than I knew he was capable of. “Your sidekick, your freak. That’s your shtick, isn’t it?: the girl with the messed-up boyfriend. You need me, because without me you’re boring.” He paused and rubbed his bony nose. “Or at least you think you are, anyway.”
“That’s the meanest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
“Oh god, stop being so dramatic.”
“Look,” I said, “you have an unrealistic view of love because you’ve never experienced it. Love sucks. It makes you feel nauseous. You can’t get anything done because you constantly feel like you’re about to throw up. It’s not fun, trust me. True love destroys you. Everything else is just a vacation.”
“You use sex as a weapon, you fucking sadist,” he shouted. His eyes were becoming puddles. “All that stuff you told me about wanting to cut me open and live inside my ribcage, about wanting to breathe for me–that was all bullshit. You’re just a bored, pontificating cunt who’s in love with the sound of her own voice.”
“I liked you better when you were a blank piece of paper.”