Sapa semanan wayki Robert Rothwan desayunuta yanuyku West Villagepi, chaypi achkallatana qellqaymanta rimayku. Payqa And Then riwistapa qollanam kachkan. Chay riwistapi qaynimpa iskay Tarmapi tanta rantikuq nanakunamanta fotochantinwan qellqarqani. "Chay qellqayqa paykunapa kikin makinpi riwista kaptinqana cheqaqta kumpletaykunqa brother Robert ninpas". Qaynimpan kay qamutayta Manhattampi liyiykamura, chayllam Hawansuypi riqsisichkanchik
BY ROBERT ROTH
Except for an occasional check-up by a doctor and one or two very notable exceptions, my beautiful but lonesome penis has had no one but me pay much attention to it in recent years. Once the object of much interest, speculation, wide ranging excitement, desire and affection it seems not to arouse even the faintest curiosity in anyone. It is hard to imagine a whole world full of people -- billions of them -- and there be not a soul who has any sexual interest in it.
The one or two exceptions when it was noticed and appreciated resulted in chaos. Its basic role in recent years, however has been in the occasional jealousy it provokes in suspicious lovers of friends who project onto it powers that may or may not exist.
My profound disappointment in radical movements and in what for me was once the beginning of a powerful sexual counter-culture has probably played the most critical role in denying my cock the pleasures that are its birthright.
I often feel I'm doomed to a life of sexual loneliness. And the pain of that thought is immense and frightening. In almost any sexual encounter one almost immediately comes up against a bedrock of pain and terror and bitterness. Without a community to help me understand what is going on as well as provide solace and support it often feels all just too much for me. Just the other day I received a letter from a close friend who said that she felt "devalued" by men because she wasn't married. Immediately I had one thousand things to say. But the truth is that I don't feel that we have collectively come up with much to help her heal her wounds.
The Institution of Marriage and its at times slightly less pernicious cousin the Institution of Relationships are treacherous structures designed to prevent deep human contact.
Sexual freedom was and is a basic cornerstone of my political and social vision. Almost from my very first moment of political consciousness I fought against deep forms of puritanism and bigotry both within the general society and within radical social movements.
In recent years too many people I've worked with have made their peace with the social order. Nowadays if two lesbians say that Harvard is a good school or a sex radical says that there should be a strong police presence in Crown Heights I can be de-eroticized for a week.
I've had herpes since my early twenties. At first no one knew what it was. Small blisters on my cock. Appearing than disappearing. I'd get them fairly frequently. I had sex even when the blisters were open. No one seemed to worry much about it. And fortunately, I'm almost certain about this, no one ever caught it from me. I went to a VD clinic to check it out. A very old man, red faced and bleary eyed and totally drunk, took my blood. His eyes focused in on the veins of my arm. The only thing that reassured me was that he was drunk and that he was old and that he must have been taking blood in this condition for many, many years. I was then sent to a young crew cut doctor who had a mid-west accent and had the air about him of a NASA technocrat. He said officiously, "Drop your draws", examined my blisters, said he didn't know what they were and sent me to an older Eastern European doctor who in an unbearably reassuring voice told me not to worry as he took a scalpel and started to scrape away at one of the blisters. The more reassuring he got the more terrified I became. He was reassuring himself, not me. It was absolutely clear to me that the deepest part of him wanted to cut my penis right off. I broke into a cold sweat and had a glimpse of a deep terror. At one point the blisters started to bleed. He took a sample. Within fifteen minutes it was determined that I didn't have VD.
During periods of stress, usually periods of sexual stress, my herpes would flare up. If a lover went on vacation it would inevitably appear functioning as a kind of chastity belt. Even now in a sexually tense situation I might get it. Once when I was about to visit a lover in Georgia, a visit that was months in the planning, it flared up just as I was about to go. I brought condoms with me. She didn't want me to use them. One basic function -- the avoidance of sex -- thus neutralized it was years before I got another attack.
In the early eighties a herpes hysteria swept the country. In bars, at parties, at Writer Union meetings, at my parents' synagogue everyone was telling the very same ugly herpes jokes. Conversations were thick with a sex negative rage. Friends wrote puritanical and guilt producing pieces about personal and social responsibility. And through it all no one ever thought that the person they were talking to, or that the person sitting next to them, namely me, might have it. I decided I would never, ever, let a comment pass without saying something in return, without saying that I was one of those people that they were talking about.
For five months I felt contaminated, stigmatized. I felt no one would ever touch me again. The bigotry was that thick. Tragically it was the AIDS epidemic and the hatred and ignorance that it unleashed that shifted public focus and allowed me some room to breathe again.
As a result of all this I can understand very well how someone can be driven into a closet. I also understand why someone might lie about having something that is both contagious and life threatening. Even if it means putting someone else in terrible jeopardy.
A deep yellow. Sometimes it's just the color of water. Usually some color in between. When I was a boy my father would show me how to piss in the toilet. We would do it together, our two streams criss-crossing. His flow was very powerful, making foam like bubbles. My father's cock was thick. Mine was small and fun to play with. Even today when I urinate I don't usually make bubbles as big as my father did. But like the color it goes through many changes.
When I was a boy I visited Hungary with my parents. While there they sent me to a camp for a few weeks. One night I had to go to the toilet. It was dark, cold and frightening. I vividly remember making my way through the cold darkness. I remember this experience often. I usually have to urinate once or twice a night.
I don't ever recall pissing in my bed as a kid. I did have wet dreams as a teenager which was a source of embarrassment and pride and something that would inhibit me from sleeping over at other people's homes. Sometime in my early twenties I developed a mild anxiety, which I still have to a degree, about pissing in my sleep. I think I might have developed this while smoking grass. To overcome this anxiety I would try to sleep through the need to go to the toilet. I never did piss in my bed. But at one point it made more sense just to go to the toilet. So for whoever is interested that's what I do.
On occasion, while pissing, one woman or another has grabbed my penis and started guiding the flow of urine. This has always been done with extreme giddiness. My penis has been moved in various directions and at various speeds. Things have been done with it that I never had dared to do. And things have been done with it that I would never have thought were even possible.
A few years ago I was at a neighbor's apartment. He told me of a book that a friend of his had written. The author was a Jew who had worked as a spy for the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation of France. He and his wife, also a spy, had successfully befriended the Nazi commandant of the entire region and as a result were able to steal some very important documents. In order to keep their identity as Jews hidden they did not have their new born son circumcised. I asked one or two questions and it turned out that their son was someone I had gone to camp with. I remember the fascination with which I watched him urinate in the woods. A meeting was set up where by the tiniest of foreskins we were reunited after thirty-five years.
Reason number eight or nine why I never wanted to have children was that if it were a boy I didn't want to be a part of a decision whether or not to have him circumcised. Some friends of mine are very bitter about having been circumcised. I try not to think too much about it. The act on the face of it must be traumatizing. Arguments about health seem to go both ways. The friends who are bitter feel that it has diminished their capacity for sexual pleasure. My strong feeling is that if I had a son I would not want to have him circumcised. Weighing heavily against this is the feeling that as a Jew I would be making a major capitulation to a hostile Christian world. Fortunately this is a decision I doubt I'll ever have to make.
I've gone to two brisses in my life. Both times, almost as a reflex, I grabbed my genitals just as the circumcision was being performed. I wondered each time how the other men were feeling. I thought I saw something like suppressed glee on the faces of some of the women. Whether this is true or not I have no idea.
At twelve I see my friend's black pubic hair. He is a half year older than me. I haven't yet grown any pubic hair myself. This thick new growth separates us completely. I am drawn to it. I am scared of what I see. I'm in a rage.
Was it desire I was feeling? Possibly. Was it envy? Certainly. I felt he had a certain sexual power over me. I know it looked pretty. And I know I looked away. And I know for years afterwards I tried to obliterate him for it.
When I was a kid I would hang out with professional athletes. Mostly basketball players and wrestlers. After wrestling matches I would wander through Times Square with Johnny Valentine who at the time was a Villain. Later they made him into a Hero. Other times I would wait in the corridors of Madison Sq. Garden hoping to get the autographs of basketball players. On occasion I would talk myself into NY Knick practice sessions and if I were lucky wind up in their locker room afterwards.
I had a crush on a girl who reminded me of the very thin, powdery white, smooth as silk, blonde starting forward for the Knicks. And I remember sitting in the upper balcony of the Garden and have powerful sensations run through me whenever the delicate shot of the other starting forward, a graceful, powerful black man, would swish through the net. The feeling was not that different from the love I would feel for the nurse in camp whenever she would take my temperature. A strangely beautiful world would open up for me for the two or three minutes the thermometer was in my rectum. I remember wondering to myself how I could have such powerful feelings of love for such an old woman and then wondering how those feelings could disappear so completely from one second to the next.
Back now to the Knick locker room and to the time I looked at the penises of the various players as they emerged from their showers. Some were circumcised. Some were not. All the penises of course were bigger than mine. Still they looked very much like mine. Certainly how I thought mine would look when I grew older. The only exception was the player with the delicate shot. His penis was very big and very gray. And it had the hole the size of a pencil. A friend I was with could not keep his eyes off of it and started to giggle.
Years later, years after the player retired, I saw him being interviewed during half time of a basketball game. From a very gracious, pleasant sexy young man he had become this slick and arrogant multi-millionaire real estate magnate. A shiny manicured fullness stood now in the place of a once beautiful athlete. And the heart of the early adolescent still in me broke into a thousand pieces.
At seven I remember how big and strong and smart and intimidating girls my age seemed to me. One night in the country I was standing outside in a field and like a bolt from heaven was filled with wild excitement. "Yes, but at thirty-five," I thought to myself, "I can have children but they can't."
My sex seems stuck in a corner of my brain. Locked there by fear, despair, disappointment. All sensations at times seem stuck in that place. I often feel like I'm talking out of the side of my face.
Once when I was deeply in love and filled with almost constant desire I felt something like a thin silk chord sketching from my heart to my groan. It was one of the loveliest feelings imaginable. It stayed there inside me for maybe three months. One day it just disappeared. It has never returned. During that period my penis felt totally alive, also much thicker than it has ever been.
Once after sex with a woman I had just recently met a thin strand of semen covering an entire bed connected our genitals. It was quite beautiful. Taking a chance at being misunderstood I said, "See, look, look how we're connected." My comment as I suspected it might made her a little nervous. Trying to quickly reassure her I said, "Connected. I mean connected just for this moment."
"Licking my semen from my fingers," a character in a short story of mine thinks to himself in a Yoga class, "I relax, completely relax." I myself am rarely that relaxed. The few times I have been I have experienced a pleasure similar to his.
Eyes out of focus
Hands slightly trembling
Rash on the forehead
Balls feeling strained
This poem was most popular among older women whom to a person said except for one line they felt exactly like I did.
I remember my aunt in the hospital shortly before she died. Her arms and legs were shriveled. At one point the sheets fell off of her. I felt a slight tingling in my balls. It was not a very comfortable feeling. I don't really know how to describe it. Or what it means. But often I experience the same sensation when I see the flesh of someone in an extreme state of physical deterioration.
Twice as a kid I remember while I was watching TV my mother came over to my father and sat on his lap. They were very rarely physically affectionate in front of me. Both times strong uncontrollable sensations surged through my body. Each time I turned on my stomach and pressed hard as I could against the floor until the feelings disappeared.
Once when I was a kid I was sitting in a movie theater and a boy and a girl, a few years older than me - teenagers - were sitting in front of me making out. I had just read a book about sex that my parents had given me. One chapter had been about teenage sexuality. Flooded with desire, rage, confusion, jealousy I repeated to myself what I had read in the book. "Teenage boys and girls often engage in forms of sexual experimentation. Teenage boys and girls often engage in forms of sexual experimentation. This is an example of a boy and girl engaging in a form of sexual experimentation. This is an example of a boy and girl engaging in a form of sexual experimentation." I kept repeating and repeating this. Hard as I tried I could not make the feelings fully disappear.
About nine years ago I was falling in love with a woman from Japan. She had just returned from a visit home and was staying in my apartment for a few days. One evening a couple of friends came over for a visit. Though a powerful radical figure in Japan she was also painfully shy, insecure about her English, frightened of new people and suffering from jet lag. Just as my friends arrived she went into my bedroom. At one point I went into the room to see how she was doing. She was asleep, her body pressed against the wall, the covers up over her head. All I could see was the top of her head. Her hair thick and black. I stood there looking at her. I was overcome by feelings of tenderness and love.
Suddenly wild racist, misogynist images flashed through my brain. Ugly jokes, bizarre stereotypes, fragments of conversations I didn't even know I had overheard had become a part of me. I felt in the grip of a hideous sexual/racial history that spread across centuries. There is no way to avoid or escape the implications of those feelings.
How to handle all of this or any of this is far from clear to me. And it doesn't help when the air is filled with punitive sex negative mantras that make deep explorations of desire almost impossible.
In the last year or so I've had a number of dreams about being in a public toilet. The floors are wet from overflowing toilets, leaking sinks or possibly urine. There are wet brown paper towels on the floor, on the toilet seats or in the toilets themselves clogging them up. I need a place to piss. If in the dream I've found a place clean enough I'm relieved to discover when I wake up that I haven't pissed in my bed.
Sex with women occurs rarely in my dreams. And it rarely involves sexual intercourse. Usually one or both of us are wearing clothes. Sometimes the dreams are very hot. Sometimes not. A dream about someone I know might offer me clues about their sexuality. Very rarely are my dreams unpleasant. But very rarely have they been wildly orgiastic.
Twice in my life I've had sexual dreams involving men. Both times just as we were about to fuck the man's penis turned into a vagina.
Three weeks before my 50th birthday I was lying on my couch in the living room thinking about the sexual wilderness I inhabit. I felt almost beyond pain. There was a certain comfort that I was feeling. A big birthday party had been planned. And for that day at least everything sexual seemed to be settled.
At my 40th birthday party two lovers of mine, totally unknown to each other, stayed on opposite sides of a room for the entire party. They were almost like dancers. If one would move than so would the other. The distance between them always remained constant. As for me I was just hugging and kissing everyone in sight. This was done out of celebration and joy. But I have to admit that it did provide me with a cover. In the meantime friends who did not know of my relationship with either of my lovers would flirt like crazy with one or the other. The whole thing was more comical than anything else. Still there was a degree of tension I could have done without.
Three weeks before my 50th birthday - no sex in sight - why not let things be. Three weeks before my 50th birthday, my defenses way down, deep patterns of inertia slightly jarred, why not take advantage of this. Let something happen for a change. No fuck it. Who needs it.
"Well, I need it."
"Who are you?" I asked. The woman smiled. She was a black woman with full lips and big breasts. And she had entered my mind just like that - totally without an invitation. We had never met. I had never even seen her before.
This was more than a sexual fantasy, more even than a sexual daydream. It was something like a visitation. And she was going to stay as long as she liked.
"It is only three weeks before my 50th birthday. Everything about me and my friends concerning sex has been settled. Okay, at least for the short run. I don't need someone coming in now and unsettling this balance. Let me have my party. No jealousies, no guilts, no confusions, no sneaking glances. Everything is settled."
"Who you kidding. Nothing is ever settled."
"Why now?" I asked.
"And if not now, when?" she replied.
And it was clear as clear could be that I would meet this woman for real.
So I left my house that night wearing a brand new shirt. My mood was some combination of resignation, acceptance, anticipation and hysteria. There were two events to go to. First there was an open reading in Brooklyn. Then a party in Manhattan. I was sure it was at the birthday party that we would meet.
The reading took place at a karate school. I entered a dressing room where a friend was tuning his guitar. Right near by, kneeling on the floor, a huge tote bag by her side - there she was for real with a beauty more breathtaking even than the deepest part of my imagination had been able to conjure up.
"My God, not so soon. I was expecting to meet you later," I thought to myself. My friend Sohnya Sayres once described a woman in her dance class who she later found out was Madonna:
I had seen her in the dressing room of the school appraising her body in the mirror with a concentration or something like it that I never caught in a woman before. I couldn't take my eyes away...This woman short, plump, variously arranging her breasts was...words are hard to find, "complete." She dressed slowly in an extraordinary costume, never taking her eyes from the image.
The woman in front of me was remarkably similar. But she had a mystique very much her own. She arranged her breasts so they flowed out of her almost totally unbuttoned white cardigan sweater. She rummaged through her tote bag filled with books, clothing, tape cassettes, cosmetics and a huge comb. She looked up, reached out her hand and introduced herself. Shaking her hand I said, "Hello."
I started to say more but caught myself. "Robert be quiet. Just shut up. Don't talk. You'll scare her away. Keep cool. Talk to her later." I quickly left the room and went to the area where the reading was to take place. I had decided to read three short poems. "Read something sexy. Something with real energy. Something that will impress her. No stick to what you planned on reading. You never know what anyone likes." I read my three poems. She smiled at me. Throughout the evening our eyes would catch. Her gaze was steady. I would turn away.
At one point a deep sound of appreciation came from her when one of the poets used the word pussy. I looked over at her. Something about her cheekbones. Maybe it was her eyes. Maybe the way her face was set. "Oh my," I thought to myself, "This most beautiful of woman might just be the most beautiful of men." Certainly I had seen men in drag with breasts that big before. I really could not tell.
The hour was getting late. As I started to gather my stuff:
"You're not going to leave before you see me perform. Are you?"
"No. Never. Of course not." And without skipping a beat, "Want to come with me to a party later."
The performance was electric. Different personas emerging from one second to the next. Ambiguity upon ambiguity. A powerful sexual energy flowed from every movement, every gesture. And at the end the audience just erupted with delight.
Later at the party in a dark corner of a crowded room:
"Do you know the people here well?"
"I can't talk. I'm too nervous. I'm almost hysterical. You're too beautiful. I can't breathe."
She? He? - Certainly someone deep within their own mystique - But for the moment she She kissed me. We drank in each other's flesh, each other's heat. Near us old romance movies played silently on the TV screen. At one point Happy Birthday was sung in another part of the room. Twice I went to get a drink. Everyone wanted to touch me. Touch my arms, my hands, my face, my back.
My body was on fire. We would moan loudly, then catch ourselves. Other times total confusion. Had I stepped into someone's performance piece or had someone stepped into my fantasy? And then. "Let me show you how you make me feel." A throbbing hard on? A wet pussy? I didn't know what it was that I would find. It was a moment of absolute freedom. And absolute joy. I knew that whatever I would find would bring me/us that much deeper into paradise.
So much for now about penises and/or possibly vaginas.
My next piece will be about my biceps.