The Divorced Dad With a Houseguest

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Photo: Ryan Stuart/moodboard/Corbis

New York’s Sex Diaries series asks anonymous city dwellers to record a week in their sex lives — with comic, tragic, often sexy, and always revealing results. This week, a divorced dad with a houseguest: male, 43, product designer, single, straight, Lower East Side.

Day One

6 p.m. One of my best friends, Natalie, is in town from L.A. A commercial director. She’s smart, attractive, talented, ambitious, and I admire her. We’re pals. Pals who flirt. I’ve loved her for 20 years. We were naked together once, long ago — poor college kids with a bottle of bourbon, crammed together in a shower — drunk, giddy, in our early 20s. I recall rubbing soap over her back and ass, and her dancer friend’s ass, and maybe someone else’s ass. It’s a pleasant memory. Innocent and not so innocent. Our skin gleaming. I’m thinking about this as she wheels her hardshell suitcase inside my apartment — if we’re still just close friends, or if she’s here to fuck me. Do I want to fuck her? Of course I do. But good friends are precious and rare, and at this moment I desperately need the ones I have. Sex is easy. Also, I’m her host. I can’t make assumptions. Only the worst people make passes at friends who’re stranded with nowhere else to sleep.

7 p.m. Natalie says she would love to have a party at my place the next night, to see as many people as possible, since she’s only in town for two days. That’s great, I say. Like a whole slew of my friends, Natalie decamped from NYC for a career in TV and film in L.A. I envy them. The ones who worked hard and willed themselves to be lucky, who stuck out the rejection — maybe it took ten, 15 years. But still, I watched it happen. I cheered them on.

8 p.m. We walk to Schiller’s. The room is booming and alive. I remember when Schiller’s first opened, I walked past on Rivington Street and saw Martha Stewart among the throng, at a table adjacent that provocateur who made Brown Bunny, Vincent Gallo, sitting alone, and I made a note to myself to never go there. That it was a place to see and be seen, not to enjoy a meal. But then when my kid was a baby, we met friends for lunch one sunny afternoon and the staff was so kind and attentive, the service lightning-fast, I took my daughter almost every week the years I was a stay-at-home dad, especially after I discovered she’d devour the mac ‘n’ cheese. A regular. I’d proudly watch my daughter eat while I drank a beer, full of that primal joy, my offspring thriving, and felt like super-dad, all while stealing glances at the incredibly attractive people in every direction, wondering about their lives. I’d text my wife to meet us if she could get away from work, and she’d arrive from her powerful executive job in Soho, looking flushed and glamorous. Patrons turned their heads as she pushed though the front, glowing and tired in a kind of satisfied way. I was enormously proud of her.

I’d supported my wife entirely as she finished school, then built her career over six or seven years. Just like my friends in the entertainment industry, it was slow, but steady. She hustled and worked hard, and went from making no money, to a little money, to large amounts of money. That’s when I left my job to raise our kid. It made sense at the time, and I’d do it again, but it was stupid to leave my career. I went back to work after my daughter began school, but starting from scratch in a new career — my income was nominal, less than when I was first married.

9:30 p.m. Natalie and I stroll back toward my place from Schiller’s. I ask if she wants another drink. She does. We go to Clandestino. It’s quiet there. Over Irish whiskey Natalie asks a few pointed questions about my ongoing divorce. The custody battle. None of it makes sense to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. That there must be something I’m not saying. People assume it’s a light, straight path, rather than a dark maze. Safeguards built in somehow. The dominant spouse can’t just take your kid and all the money — that the law allows this to happen. I say it doesn’t, but no one is paying attention. The court thinks it’s 1960. And in NYC the person with the most money wins. People with no resources are destroyed. Why would nothing be fair or equal in every other part of society, and divorce somehow is the exception. I hate the sound of my voice.

The day my wife told me she was leaving — she had already hired an aggressive lawyer, filed papers, removed her name from the credit cards, and emptied the accounts of all our money. She left that same day — she had packed our car, picked up our daughter from school. She told me she was going to the Hudson Valley for a little while and we’d work things out, that the lawyer would be in touch. I started crying about our daughter, my head in my hands, and this person I’d known since college, whom I loved, whom I’d helped bring a baby into the world — laughed at me. A cruel laugh. Then she never came back. Left NYC after all. To another state, moved in with a man she’d long ago found on Facebook.

Not long after she left I moved our ketubah from over the bed and into the closet, and vowed to fuck as many people as possible on our obnoxiously overpriced California king.

11:30 p.m. Natalie and I are lit and exhausted. We hug good night and I show her into the guest room, which is my kid’s empty room. I’m feeling like we are still just pals, and, a bit drunk, I kiss her good night. She kisses me back. It lingers.

Day Two

8 p.m. Natalie’s guests arrive. For short notice in NYC, it’s a decent amount of people. I assume Natalie must have invited them all before asking me. Mostly Natalie’s industry peers, and a handful of our mutual friends, including a striking woman, Ellen, a stage actor I haven’t seen in a long while, and have only spoken to at parties. I quickly remember how attracted I am to her. She’s tall and auburn-headed, and wears a tight-fitting cashmere dress.

9 p.m. Ellen corners me by the counter. “So did you have an affair? Is that why she left?” An affair is no reason to end a long marriage with children, I say. No, she left me for another guy. He’s got more money. Much more. She was tired of the pressure to earn. “Did you know him?” Yes, I say. I met him long ago, and had forgotten about him. He didn’t threaten me in the slightest. Completely surprised. “Well, love is crazy. And marriage is fucked up,” she says. “You’re in good company.” I tell Ellen I’ve always been attracted to her and would love to go out sometime. She grins, and says she’d enjoy that. I sit on the couch and watch the party unfold. Natalie is growing progressively more wasted. I overhear Ellen laughing, smacking her hands together and yelling, “Bang ’em, and hang ’em!”

1 a.m. Everyone left is sloppy-drunk, Natalie worse than me. I say I have to crash and Natalie follows me into the bedroom. I say, “What are you doing?”

1:15 a.m. Natalie and I are naked. I’m kissing her breasts, sucking and biting her nipples, feeling her warmth, her wetness. She is getting off. I sit up on my knees and look at her whole body, my cock hard over her chest. She doesn’t grab my cock. She doesn’t put my cock in her mouth. I could have showed her what I wanted, but suddenly become disgusted with the whole thing, imagining she is selfish, rather than drunk, and that we are pathetic and sad. I don’t want to lose you as a friend, I say. We argue. She’s angry.

Day Three

10 a.m. Natalie apologizes but is still angry. I apologize. I say she’s beautiful and I love her. She feels rejected. I feel betrayed. I say I’m angry she would so casually risk our decades-long friendship for sex. I don’t tell her I would have have loved for us to fuck each other slightly more sober, and maybe she should have grabbed my hard cock when it was right there in front of her face. She says, “You have no idea how you appear to the world. How easy it is for you. How people see you.” I say that she’s right and I have no idea. Neither do you. No one does. I say my wife left me for another man and took our kid and I have no idea what is happening. It’s impossible to know what that grief feels like, that I make every excuse not to come home to this empty house, that I stumble through the rooms howling like a wounded animal.

1 p.m. I hug Natalie good-bye, put her rolling suitcase in the trunk of the black car, and she heads to JFK. She doesn’t believe I’ve always loved her.

Day Four

9 a.m. I’m shaky and hung-over. On my way to work, the neighborhood dads, my friends and neighbors, walking their kids to school, look at me with a pallid expression, like I’m a ghost, or I have a disease they fear is contagious.

2 p.m. I text Ellen and ask if she wants to go to an event at a bar the next night in Brooklyn.

7 p.m. A divorced dad in my building, Matt, smiles at me as we enter the lobby and shakes my hand. “Welcome to the club,” he says. He’s lost weight since the last time I saw him, when I was one of those dads walking my kid to school and afraid to speak to him, for fear of catching whatever he had. I recall us all going out together years before, when our kids were babies. “It gets better,” he says, “maybe two years from now.” He flashes his phone at me, and says, “Let me show you a picture of my 23-year-old girlfriend.” I laugh. The idea of dating anyone under 30 is terrifying. “Are you on Tinder or OKCupid?” he asks. No, I say, I married before online dating became the norm. So far I’ve not had to brave it.

Day Five

8 a.m. Ellen and I are easy with each other. She sidles up to me at the Brooklyn event like we’ve been dating for years, our hands on each other constantly. I’m glad to be with this gorgeous, vital woman. It’s vain, but I want the world to see that I am fine. Of course I’m not fine. We run into people I vaguely know — our circles overlap — an attractive Russian woman, Mira, who once worked with my ex-wife, and her boyfriend. We chat and laugh and have a few drinks. Ellen goes to the bathroom. Mira’s boyfriend moves outside to smoke. Mira is also divorced with a kid. She’s wearing a low-cut red dress, and has this insanely attractive gap in her two front teeth. She radiates something that I desperately want. We look at each other’s eyes and it is plain we are interested in something similar. I hand Mira my number and she puts it in her pocket.

12 a.m. Ellen and I fuck each other with an athletic frenzy. She’s in incredible shape, her skin pale and taut. In the end, she rides my cock until I am bucking. The pipes in her old Brooklyn one-bedroom hiss loudly.

Day Six

7 a.m. I wake Ellen up, my arms wrapped around her body, and she reaches for my hard cock, pressed against her ass. I grab the top headboard and arch my back and she screams underneath me.

9 a.m. Ellen and I say good-bye on the train to work. She tells me she knows my life has just blown up so let’s just enjoy each other. And she says she’s sorry for encouraging Natalie to fuck me. She wasn’t thinking of my situation, but that Natalie was having a hard time in L.A. and just needed sex. I say, “How do you think Natalie will take this?” She shrugs.

8 p.m. I meet Kathy for dinner at a Korean place in Gramercy. We worked together years ago. I reached out over Facebook maybe a week before. I remembered once at a holiday party she was high and giggling and asked me if I ever thought about her pussy — and that it was amazing. I laughed it off then, but it stuck in my mind. Over dinner I hand her my phone to show her a recent photo of my kid. Gleeful, she flashes her phone to show me a picture of her cats, coos, “These are my babies.” Right after dinner I walk her back to the train, “It was nice catching up,” I say.

Day Seven

11 a.m. I ask Ellen to dinner after work.

4 p.m. Mira texts and asks if I’d like to grab a drink at the end of the week.

10 p.m. Ellen is on all fours on my bed, and I’m standing on the floor, my cock sliding in and out of her pussy. It’s a bit weird being in my home, in my bedroom, fucking another woman. Maybe I’m inhibited. Maybe I’m boring. Ellen says, “You can come in my face, fuck my ass, hurt me, I like everything.” We take a break. There’s no hurry. I rest beside her, say I’m not into pain and relatively inexperienced with anal. But later my cock is in Ellen’s perfect ass. I notice she’s pinching herself hard enough to leave a bruise. I pull her atop me. I love the way she looks, riding me, the line of her jaw and cheekbone, the color of her hair. Her skin.

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