Dear fantasies and crushes,
I have been thinking about you a little more than usual lately—Bob, Kip, Chuck, Billy, Willy. That’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time immobile—in bed, on the kitchen floor, on the sofa—moving my laptop from one barely comfortable place to the next.
I consider you a healthy part of my psyche. You help my self-esteem, make me more confident.
In my fantasies, my underwear is lingerie. My stomach is flat. My breasts sit way high above my navel. You have pecs and triceps. You smell like water. Your socks and underwear are new—like right-out-of-the-package new. And you are nice. You actually like me because I am cool and charming. We both dig cake and ale. And we are single. (What kind of person fantasizes about breaking someone else’s heart?)
But I wonder, now, whether my imagined affairs with you are innocent, especially since I have told the world that I love you. The other day, author M. Gary Neuman told Oprah’s viewers that people who discuss intimate aspects of their lives are having emotional affairs. He said our spouses should be all the support we need.
(I know you stopped reading for a minute to sing, “Here in my car, I am safest of all….” )
One of Oprah’s call-in guests was a woman who suspected her husband of cheating. She checked his cell phone and found a photo of him, naked, wagging his stiffy. He was a call-in, too, and explained that he had shared his nude self-portrait with some online strangers. I can’t remember exactly why he did it, but I’m sure it’s why many of us expose ourselves to strangers. It’s what I do nearly every day in my writing or my photography.
(In my fantasies, you think everything I say is interesting, so, even though it wasn’t about you just now, you are still following me, nodding, saying, “Yes, my love, tell me more.”)
You and I want validation. We know our husbands and wives desire us. We know our moms and dads and sisters and brothers like our writing/singing/ dancing/guitar playing/stock brokering. It’s their job. But isn’t it grand to know that thousands of screaming fans love you, too? It’s kind of like I feel when someone comments on my blog.
Take a quick check: Do you send that funny e-mail to your friends at work—but not to your spouse? … Do you get a secret thrill out of flirting with coworkers—thinking it’s safe because you know it’s not going any further? If so, you’re committing emotional infidelity—and you’re draining your marriage of the energy it needs to be great.
I sent my husband an email yesterday, an interesting political essay I thought he might like. He doesn’t ever check his email. But many of my cubicle-working and self-employed friends, male and female, do. And flirting? Well, though it’s sometimes a thrill, it’s never a secret. I have never sent you a private confession of my love. It’s always a public declaration on your My Space page. Or it’s an open letter on my blog.
But its public-ness is not why it’s safe. And although your charm and wit and talent and all the delicious visible parts of you don’t really make you less accessible, they certainly increase the competition for your affection.
What makes it safe is this: In real life, my lingerie is underpants, six for twelve dollars at Costco. (They are made by Itsy Bitsy, which, in my size, is ironic.) My stomach won’t be flat until I grow a full foot taller. And gravity is unkind to well-endowed women; my shoulders have bra-strap divots in the bones.
And in real life, you have a flabby gut, black socks, and tighty whities with a finger-size hole in the saggy seat. You smell like booze and socks and the back of a bus. You have had sex with so many women that you would need a condom made of iron to keep me safe from your diseases.
That we will never see each other naked is the best part of my fantasy.
So even though a guy on Oprah says I should stop flirting with you and leaving virtual smooches on your pictures, I am not giving up on our love. I didn’t want you to worry.
P.S. Sometimes, when I think about you, the back-of-the-bus smell gets in the way, and you turn into Enrico Colantoni. He smells nice. Like olive oil and garlic.
P.P.S. You are so hot. [wink, wink]
Oh! I came across that Neuman bloke. He also thinks that women are responsible for their husbands’ affairs. Unfortunately, like the whole ‘surrendered wife’ thing, a lot of people will listen uncritically. I have observed (but maybe my perceptual bias is turned full-on) that there are a good number of men who think that platonic friendships between men and women are not possible. Is this because they fancy all their women friends and cannot conceive of those women not fancying them?
I realise that here you are not talking platonic, though 😉
Ah! I suspected this, which is why I turned it off.
Them poor mens. They cannot control theyselves.
neuman’s full of crap. we’re animals at heart, and we’re always looking and fantasizing, all the time, regardless of any rings on our fingers. it’s what we as humans do, and anyone who says they don’t is repressed and needs to be kissed on the mouth.
Go on loving them and sharing your crushes with us. I wouldn’t want to miss them.
“I hope my wife doesn’t catch me reading this”
Platonic friendship between men and women is fine, as long as both of them are really ugly.
who listens to that Neuman guy from Seinfeld anyway?
I laughed my ass of at your description of your clothes/underwear. I’ll try not to look to see if it’s true. But if I’m checking out your ass you’ll know why.
As a long time befriender of women, you really can be friends with the opposing sex. But if you go in thinking – well , we can be friends even though I’d like to jump his/her bones…guess what? You’ll still want to jump their bones. Unless you’ve made a horrible mistake and they turn out to be related by blood. Though I hear in certain states that detail can be overlooked.
This blog was funny and right on.
all i gotta say is that gravity sucks.
Ummm…if I’m repressed I get a kiss in addition to those from Bh?
“Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I’m being repressed!”
I assume Neuman is hostile to polyamory (like, well, most of the world). It’s a lot of work but can be the foundation for a solid relationship for a lot of people. Having open communication and explicit rules usually helps.
It comes in different forms, too. For some folks, serious flirting outside a primary relationship is OK but that’s it; others say all-out sex is ok but no mouth-to-mouth kissing; others are cool with emotional and physical intimacy of any kind.
I can credit the idea that thought = deed in the sense that if I’m consistently fantasizing about someone, it probably means there some relationship issue going on to which I need to pay attention. It may be not be a problematic issue – but there’s probably an issue.
If the relationship ain’t broke — don’t fix it!
if it wasn’t for flirting, i’d be screwed.
or something like that…
Your blog was just right. The correct mix of seriousness and lightness, honesty and levity.
I agree with you absolutely. My husband is my best friend and my partner and my confidant, but good god, we are not one person. He doesn’t read the same books I read, so if I find a great article about an author I love, I send it to someone who will give a damn. The way this neuman guy makes it sound, just having friendships robs your marriage of something. What counts as an intimate part of your life? If I discuss our sex life with my best girlfriend, and one or both of us has be romantically involved with a woman in the past, does that mean we’re sortof having an affair even though neither of us would ever (in reality) consider sleeping with the other? I’m just sayin… People who try to define anything about humanity in absolute terms are most likely making a pretty gigantic mistake.
Just to draw a parallel: I secretly want to be a rock star, but I don’t have the motivation to self-promote quite that aggressively, and I suspect I would hate PR people and the like in real life, but when I drive home from work, I just really want to belt out rock ballads and pretend the whole world is screaming for more. Does that mean I’m not giving my all in everything else I do? Well, no, but it seems like the same kind of logic Neuman’s using, doesn’t it?