Wine Before COVID

All rights © Matthieu Joannon

Five months ago I told a new man I wasn’t going to fuck him.

I had just met him. I wasn’t in love with him. He was interesting but I wasn’t actually attracted to him. He wasn’t my type but he had confidence and charisma and I had had a lot of wine. He had smooth skin and long beautiful hair, an inscrutable confidence I was mildly curious about.

“It tastes like apricot,” he said at the first winery — a white wine I don’t remember now. As soon as he said it I could taste how right he was.

Had I known he would be reaching up my blouse and down my pants later that night I wouldn’t have worn boyshorts.

By the time this new man was running his fingers around the waistband of my most pragmatic panties, inside my jeans, I realized this wasn’t just a professional networking outing after all. When he invited me to Napa I wasn’t sure what he had in mind. But I took the train and laptop-ed until I got there. He was waiting for me at the station in ripped jeans and a plaid shirt. He looked deliberately casual for 2 pm on a Monday when I know he had to leave the bank and change out of his suit.

Almost six months later, now that he’s been inside me, and our country is a dumpster fire on wheels hurtling toward a hurricane, and he likes posts on my work page, I wonder what he’s doing during quarantine. I know what kind of porn he jerks off to. And now that I’ve been in his bed I wonder if he’s touched anyone else since me. Have other women been in his shower and used shampoo for soap? (He apologized for that.) Have other women worn his t-shirts to bed with their work clothes hanging by his suits and ties for the next morning?

If I had known the world would come colliding into a pandemic a week later maybe I would have fucked him. He was understated but passionate.

“I have condoms,” he told me that night, reaching toward his nightstand. After Mexican food, after he swore in the parking lot we could just watch Netflix if I stayed at his place and didn’t drive back to the city that night. We were sitting in his truck. I didn’t have to be at my next meeting until noon the next day but he had 9 am meetings.

We watched three comedy specials that night. I forgot how much Ali Wong talked about poop. Graphically. And then he was fingerbanging me. My high school drug of choice.

“Show me how hard you’d fuck me,” I exhaled into his ear.

“I want to show you with my dick,” he breathed back.

This, despite his reassurances that we would literally only Netflix and chill — not chill.

He already knew I liked it rough. The night before he had picked me up, my legs instinctively wrapping around his waist, he carried me from the dining room table where we sat and talked about 90s R&B, walked me to the kitchen counter and thrust against me with my arms around his neck. I had no way of knowing it would be the last time I would touch a man before some as yet unnamed disease would turn the world upside down.

He had initially struck me as pretty khaki. I was so, so wrong.

That next night he laced his fingers through mine and held my hand down on his bed. Hard.

And there it was. That aggression I loved so much. He was testing me. And he felt me relax into it. But it didn’t matter. Not really. I was old enough to know that passion with someone you don’t love is, ultimately, bullshit. It complicates your heart and there’s just no point.

Unless the world as we know it might come to a surreal screeching halt.

He slipped his fingers inside me. He did it perfectly. My whole body exhaled. Never mind that I’d been with a friend-with-benefits in this exact way just days before. But this man? He knew how to touch a woman. I felt full, complete. It was beautiful.

He didn’t seem like a fuckboy. To my surprise, being with him felt comfortable. He felt familiar, this stranger I had met at a work function just four days before. And suddenly I was not just in his apartment, but in his bed, wearing an old t-shirt of his, my panties tangled somewhere in the sheets.

Had we known COVID was coming would that night have been any different? Should it have been any different? Why didn’t I stroke his face? Why didn’t I run my hands through that long wavy hair of his? (Because it was crunchy, root-to-tip with too much product.) Now this entire human being is just a name in my phone.

If I could tell that months-ago-girl that it would become impossible to touch another human being for the foreseeable future would it have been worth it to sport-fuck a man I wasn’t in love with? A strong aggressive man with beautiful hair who seemed to like it the same way I do? He had condoms. I had an IUD. Maybe we should’ve fucked each other’s lights out before the meteor struck Earth.

But rather than fuck him I asked him what he was into, what turned him on. Unbelievably, he told me that no one had ever asked him what turned him on before. The fuck? He was in his thirties. Talking about your turn-ons can be foreplay. And if you’re not ready to do everything, it can be a proxy for sex, obviously not as physically intense, but not useless either.

“Real estate porn.”

In a million years I never would’ve landed on a genre I didn’t know existed. But he explained his penchant for professional women, in a professional setting, giving in to temptation — not unlike how we’d met when I was giving a presentation for my work — and taking that risk. It made sense. I found it as endearing as it was surprising. I knew he would be at my big presentation in a few days.

I don’t remember how many wineries we went to the night before. At least three. He was friends with some kid with long curly hair at the third or fourth winery, this young kid who, when he wasn’t talking about that long curly hair, was trying so hard to come across as a next-generation sommelier. I’m pretty sure I told him he was precious. He could’ve been my son and he was trying to act like an adult. I think that was after Italian food.

Those two nights blur into one even when I think about feeling his dick in my hand the first time.

“I thought it was average?” he seemed confused when I was recoiling from the size of it.

It was not.

And of course, he wasn’t circumcised. I never expected I would come to prefer that. But I do. And he wasn’t. I was pleased.

Had I known what “normal” life would look like just a week or two later maybe I would’ve told him what makes me come.

He had asked. Unlike too many men, he seemed genuinely interested. But I was too shy to tell him. I wasn’t going to fuck him so why disclose something so intimate?

“Stay in touch, ok?” he said, kissing me on the cheek the night before my flight.

He came to my last work function before I flew home, the big presentation, the culmination of weeks’ worth of networking and outreach. Neither of us expected anything from each other. “Stay in touch” seemed like a remarkably perfect balance between our intimacy and our nothingness. But I did want to reach under his suit jacket that night, run my fingernails down his back again and make him jump the way I had in his bedroom.

“I think I just need to hold onto you while you do it,” he said when I asked him if he wanted me to stop scratching his back. He had lurched like it was painful but then he looped his arms around me, pulled me close and moaned in my ear.

Six months ago we were appropriately concerned about STIs from untested hookups. We acted accordingly. But we didn’t have the vocabulary for how terrifying shared air would become.

And now, somewhere in Sonoma, a passionate man is sleeping alone and I wish we would’ve indulged every wild desire we tentatively shared with each other, strangers that we were.

Just fuck him, I would’ve told six-months-ago me. Fuck him like the world is ending.

Savor every moment of it.

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