Thomm Quackenbush, author

" Proof | 2008 | Skate Like a Pirate "

09.18.08 4:03 p.m.

The angel kisses you good-bye and moves on to someone else, perhaps another girl or an old man or even a cat or dog, because angels can't tell the difference. Angels can fall in love with anyone. 

-A. Manette Ansay

 


Ethical Slut

Hannah has decided, among much else, that she is not in the market for a new relationship after being dumped by James. Instead, she is seeking casual interactions, a step above random hook-ups or what I believe is traditionally considered "dating" these days. While not my flavor - I eschew all romantics and touching until I let someone pounce on me with the understanding that I expect them to keep pouncing - I can't begrudge her the experience. She did this before I met her and, aside from the guy who chose WarCraft over her company, I assume she has done it well enough to make consensual non-monogamy an experiment worth repeating.

Daniel, upon her revelation that she would keep toward transitory cuddles and sex, volunteered himself, possibly hoping that she would ignore the fact that nothing would ever be casual with him, as he is the triple threat of ex, roommate, and party plainly interested in a more formal relationship. One ill-advised hookup between them would reap a harvest of awkwardness and bruised feelings neither of them can afford right now if they are to remain as close friends. Their current friendship takes priority over his returning to the realm of his only sexual relationship.

To settle an informal debate between Melanie and me, I once asked Hannah if she felt that indiscriminate sex was an essential part of the college experience. It wasn't anything I had or especially wanted after 17, having gotten enough kisses though my high school serial monogamy and not wanting to catch an STD or increase my tally of sexual partners. She hesitated for a moment before replying, "Yes and no. I only had one boyfriend through most of college and I kind of regret missing the random sex." She will not always be young or able to have this attitude, so there isn't much reason for her not to carpe the diem and make up for lost time.

There would have been a time, years past, where I would have subtly criticized her lifestyle choice, as though it were remotely my business. The only person ever before exempt from my passive nagging was Melissa, because I knew for certain she was well in control and had also done so much more than I could imagine that suggesting to her that hookups were a bad idea would be akin to asking a shark if maybe it should cut back on the seafood a bit. Nothing in Hannah so far leads me to believe she is not the master of her destiny in this (I'd say mistress of her destiny to be grammatically correct, but then we are throwing S&M or bad fantasy novels into the bag). She'd already gone on a couple of dates with an older man we referred to only as The Republican, naming him for the most tragic - but not only - flaw in his character as far as something lasting with Hannah goes. But, of course, she doesn't need to Crazy Glue her future to some man. He'll be lucky to get a Post-It.

I could proselytize monogamy and commitment from the convert's pulpit. They have brought me to this point in my life and I am possibly the closest to content I've ever been. Being with Melanie is like Kate without our hormonal snits; Emily without her needing to leave for a competition, open circle, girls' night out, or some other event that may not have existed as advertised; Jen without our inexperience and awkwardness, just best friends wrapped in bed sheets. Never before loving Melanie did I more want to live forever and despair that I will not.

On the other hand, I have witnessed several couples who remain together for reasons that are far less than fulfilling. For the sake of keeping these people as friends, I will not detail too much (though, if you are telling someone else that you wish you could kill them so you could be happy again, that might be the time to examine the relationship). Suffice it to say, I doubt anyone reading this doesn't know one couple who wilts one's faith that romantic love is still (or ever was) a valid idea.

Hannah once asked me what I thought my biggest flaw in a relationship was. I told her that I have idealized the other person to the point of blindness, thinking of Emily. She says that hers is quite the opposite, that she can't just let herself gloss over the imperfection of body, mind and soul. (Daniel, incidentally, said his is that he can't get a significant other, though I don't know that his flaw doesn't reside somewhere between ours.)

I personally think you find a partner with whom you are deeply compatible and try to stay that way. Being a good partner is part of my ego map; it is something at which I want to be successful. I know that is not how everyone feels, nor should they. A relationship is supposed to be there to make your life a better, richer. If it doesn't, that isn't the right relationship for you. You really have to progress as far as you can on your own before you can drag someone along with you. It isn't an easy lesson to learn.

I don't think relationships are for everyone. At worst, they are another more-than-full-time job. How people manage polyamory, I will never know because that makes the number of relationships one has to manage rise exponentially and there are only so many hours in the day. Not everyone needs romantic love. Some people just need hot sex and then video games/horror movies. As I don't have cause or inclination to entice these people into love and am thrilled beyond reckoning with the women I have seduced away from extracurricular hookups, I'm keen to listen and learn vicariously that which I wouldn't want to try.

Soon in Xenology: Aydan. Eviction.

last watched: This is Spinal Tap
reading: Spook
listening: Highly Evolved

" Proof | 2008 | Skate Like a Pirate "

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.



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Works by Thomm Quackenbush

Anthologies

Find What You Love and Let It Kill You by Thomm Quackenbush
Pagan Standard Times: Essays on the Craft by Thomm Quackenbush
A Creature Was Stirring: A Twisted Christmas Anthology by Thomm Quackenbush
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