Bad Coffee in Bed


Monday afternoon I called Wayne, because a conversation with Wayne was what my Monday afternoon needed. At one point he said, without a segue, "So, I've decided I need to be more of a snob." I figured there was a good reason for this pronouncement, so I waited to hear it. "I started drinking tea a while ago," he said, "mostly chais, because they seemed healthier than coffee. Green chais, herbal chais--there was a vanilla chai I really loved and couldn't get enough of for a while. Lately I've been drinking black tea and I really like it, and I realized it's not really that different from coffee. But I just like it better than coffee. And then I realized that part of the problem was that I drank so much bad coffee."

He was on a roll and it was interesting, so I didn't interrupt him.

"You know how for a long time I was all about coffee?" I made some noise of acquiescence. "Well, good coffee is really good. But bad coffee is really bad. And I realized today that I needed to be more of a diva when it comes to coffee. Not once, when I was presented with a cup of really awful coffee, did I taste it, then spit it out and say, ‘How can you expect me to drink this shit?! This is vile! This is beyond vile! I will not pollute my mouth or any other part of me with a substance so thoroughly foul!"

"Does this mean you're going to start drinking coffee again?" I asked.

"Maybe," he said. "But only good coffee. If I do, I will be a complete coffee snob. I'm ashamed to tell you about all the bad coffee I've had, Holly. I mean, coffee from some awful container that's been on the back of a caterer's truck for hours and hours if not days and days.... We're talking some of the worst coffee in the world. Coffee that even before you sugar and cream it up, you can just tell is going to take the enamel right off your teeth--both the smell and the look of it just tell that it's not OK."

There was a pause, and I imagined him staring at the painting of Gabriel Garko he had just finished, and shaking his head. "But I would drink it, I would drink that bad coffee, because it was coffee and I believed I liked coffee. I would drink the whole cup, thinking at some point, it would get better, but a bad cup of coffee never gets better, though it often gets worse."

"That pretty much sums up my feelings about sex," I said. And then we both laughed--after all, as both Karen Walker and Homer Simpson said, it was funny because it was true.

Wayne drank bad coffee just because it was coffee and he believed he liked coffee; I had bad sex just because it was sex and I believed I liked sex. I did say, on more than one occasion, "I'm not willing to have sex right now," but on those occasions when I said OK to sex and it turned out to be bad, I never said, "This sex is really bad! How dare you subject me to such bad sex! Get out of my bed!" That, after all, didn't seem polite. No, I just did what I could to make it end sooner, and hoped it would be better the next time.

Details tomorrow.


I once heard Sinead O'Connor tell this joke:

Q: What the difference between like and love?

A: Do you spit or swallow?

Sex, like coffee, is something to be a snob about. If it is bad, it's okay to spit the shit out! You've been kissin' toads for too long. It high time you haul your ass out of the swamp and start looking for a man who chooses to sit, all alone, naked, under a cherry moon. You need a prince.

I hope you find one.
Your snobby friend,

thanks for the vote of confidence, Wayne. I know there are princes in the world, but I suspect they are rare. For instance, I recently read an interview in Salon with Benjamin Kunkel, author of Indecision, a novel about Dwight Wilmerding, "a 28-year-old New Yorker with several roommates, no job or opinions, a listless romantic relationship, and an ill-gotten prescription for Abulinix, a remedy for chronic indecisiveness... an emblem of the vigor-impaired idlers currently clogging the dating pool."

Now, please keep in mind that I would not want to imply that these remarks apply in any way whatsoever to the very fine and decent men I count among my close friends. But as for the guys who haven't worked hard enough to become or remain my friend, well, I think Kunkel might be on to something in his remarks about single men:

Kunkel: I have a sense that particularly in New York -- though I'm sure it exists this way in Boston and in San Francisco -- there is a super-abundance of attractive, intelligent young women whom a man is very unlikely to be worthy of, who nevertheless set a higher value on him than he sets on them. This makes any sort of decision very difficult. Because to constantly be exposed to people whom you are unworthy of to begin with, yet who want you more than you want them, is confusing.

Salon: That assumption, that generally young men are unworthy of their female counterparts, is certainly in your book. I would get hanged for saying it, but there's an uncomfortable truth there.

K: Yes. As far as I can tell.

S: So you're a guy. Tell me what makes these men unworthy?

K: Men are unworthy in the sense of being more unfinished as people [and] in the sense of being, as romantic partners, bumbling and dishonest in a way that women are maybe not as often. The ideal of a couple that we subscribe to is one that I think is likelier to satisfy women on the whole more than it is men ... So rather than men claiming that for a deal to be made they are going to insist upon certain rights or options that would sound sleazy -- mainly some mild sort of institutionalized promiscuity -- rather than insisting on such terms as a fundamental aspect of whatever contract is being worked out, the man basically [winds up] feel[ing] as if his desires aren't quite the right ones.

So if women have a slightly harder time than they would like finding men that would like to sign up for mating it's in part because men are presumed -- correctly most of the time -- to have these desires that they're not willing to actually make a stand on, but which they'll have to deal with at some point.

S: One of reasons I liked "Indecision" was also one of the reasons it made me crazy: that it so precisely portrayed not just the indecisiveness but the lack of energy in men of my generation -- men whom I've known and dated. They haven't had things they loved, or even things they really cared about ...

K: [Interrupting] Women shouldn't have sex with these guys! As a whole, you should go on some sort of a sexual strike against just such men.

S: Well, I sort of have.

K: No. It's like with the labor movement: an individual worker striking won't do it. There needs to be a general strike. If there is not a mass strike against such men they will be able to achieve libidinal expenditure relatively frequently, if not satisfyingly; they'll fail to sublimate their libidinal energies in the way that actually makes men attractive, which is by accomplishing things that may not be what they've always wanted to accomplish but are worthy things all the same, and they'll respond to women with the slack apathy with which one might respond to women if one felt that women were too available to them. Women as a whole should go on sexual strike; this is what I'm proposing.

S: Why is it up to us? A girl likes to get laid, too, after all. Why should it be our responsibility to go on a sex strike just to energize the male population?

K: You need to make an old-fashioned masculine distinction between sex and love. Just find some guy and use him. The guys you want love from? Give them nothing.

You can read the rest of the interview here:

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on September 22, 2005 7:17 AM.

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