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Blind Lust

[whitespace] Venus
Illustration: Detail from 'The Birth of Venus' by Sandro Botticelli.

Meeting--and doing it--in the dark

By Sarah Phelan

W HEN PHIL and Sabrina (not their real names) found each other through the romance ads, they both were desperately seeking sex and touch. For weeks beforehand, Phil had resisted the temptation to place an ad, figuring only losers use the personals. Eventually, however, he succumbed to his desires, as loneliness outweighed his fear of being a failure.

So what if he was one of those "men seeking women"? He rose to the challenge of producing one inch of witty, stimulating copy, shooting his wad of freely flowing creative juices into an ad that stood out from the usual collection, one that would lure the "beautiful brunettes" and "trim temptresses" on the prowl for a "sexy sweetie" or "wicked wizard" with whom to share magical, mystical moments. Not even the "hippie with beard, brains and bucks" nor the "galactic human seeking ascension partner" was a match for his piece. It read: Vegan Slut--sweet, soft-skinned, and safe, masseur, writer, teacher, good cook, back from Euroyears, pining for hungry touchmonkey with sharp mind, soft heart, and sense of humor, for funsex, and cuddlelove, more if we dare. Poly possible.

Deliberately avoiding descriptions of his appearance--which, in his opinion, "are almost meaningless, since people put their own interpretations on it, anyway--Phil focused on what he wanted, and showcased his personality through clever wordplays coupled with naughty suggestiveness.

His daringly original and direct headline caught Sabrina's roving eye as she flipped through the classifieds in search of a likely prospect. To her non-vegetarian mind, the word "vegan" implied a concern for personal and planetary health and a potentially safe sexual partner. As for "slut," that spoke to the sex goddess in her, especially since her ex-boyfriend had once joked that "whores do it for money, sluts do it for love."

Either way, she hadn't met a nice, available man in a long time, and she was feeling horny as hell. Obviously this guy wasn't offering a long-term relationship, but strictly sex--which was exactly what she wanted. She called and left a short message, confirming Phil's belief that it's best to ask for all you want all of the time.

When Phil returned her call, Sabrina immediately fell in love with his voice and the thoughts behind his words: He was smart and articulate, her favorite type of man. What's more, he didn't disappoint the sexual adventurer in her. During their second phone call, he popped the question--of having telephone sex. Without hesitation she slipped into a fantasy lovemaking session with him--supposedly on the long and very slow late-night bus ride from Watsonville to Santa Cruz. After this exciting and intimate trip, they both wanted more. But, suddenly, the prospect of meeting in the flesh scared Sabrina. What if there was no physical attraction whatsoever between them? Or, worse yet, if only one of them was attracted?

Dark Passions

PHIL SUGGESTED a saucy solution to their dilemma: since they both liked playing mental games, why not play a forbidden one? He proposed they meet in the dark, do it in the dark, and then part in the dark. In other words, the ultimate blind date. Feeling wicked and brave, Sabrina accepted his weirdly intriguing offer. Her friends were appalled. "Suppose he has a horrible disease or is dangerous?" they warned. But Sabrina decided to trust her gut feeling: this would be a terrific experience and Phil would be a safe partner.

They laid their plans meticulously, choosing the night of the new moon for their twisted tryst. She would turn her car lights off as she pulled up into his drive, then put a hood over her head, so he wouldn't be able see her face as she entered his house. Driving across town to his home that night, Sabrina felt incredibly aroused. As she knocked on his door, she felt "very bold, a word we both used about each other."

The door opened. Sabrina couldn't see Phil's face or coloring, but she could see his slight build and height. She realized she'd never been with this shorter, skinnier body type before. She'd always had taller, bigger men. "Oh well," she thought, "I'll look in his eyes to see if he's somebody I could find attractive."

But her search for some sort of visual clue was interrupted. Almost immediately, he led her into his pitch-black bedroom, backed her onto his bed, and pulled her panties down. She left her boots on, "which was especially absurd, since his house has a strict no-shoes policy," she laughs. More absurd was that suddenly she was making passionate love for an hour with someone she didn't know and couldn't see.

She admits that "one time I got a little afraid--when it got to be really rough and I had a flash that maybe I was wrong about this guy--but he sensed it immediately and eased up." After Phil and Sabrina had boldly come where few others have gone before, she got up, her boots still on, and dressed. He took her to the door and she disappeared into the night, leaving them both to relish what they'd just done. She called him when she arrived home.

"We were excited and both agreed to do it again," remembers Sabrina, reliving the thrill of it all.

This time, he told her he'd leave the door open and wait in bed. Although unsure of the layout of the house, she agreed. As she opened the door and stepped inside, a hand reached out and pulled her down to the ground "like a lion flooring an antelope," Sabrina says. "This brought the excitement level up a lot and we made love right there on the living-room floor, then in his bedroom. It was during the day, so he'd taped blankets and thick bathroom towels against the windows to block out the light completely."

Other than his body size, Sabrina couldn't make out anything, except gradations of gray, charcoal, and a lot of black dark, although she admits she caught herself straining to see him.

Shedding Light

OVER THE FOLLOWING WEEKS, they did it twice more and she "never knew if he was the man at the bus-stop, in the checkout line, or sitting in the same restaurant." But by the fourth occasion, both felt it was time to shed some light on their relationship. Although they were afraid that they might lose their mutual attraction--and with it some great sex and fantastic fun--they agreed ahead of their date-in-the-dark that the lights would come on post coitus.

So, after making fantastic love one more time, they turned on the lights, very slowly. A candle at first, but it wasn't enough. Finally, sitting on opposite sides of the room under the glare of incandescent lights, they saw each other for the first time.

It was an illuminating moment. Sabrina remembers how "strange it felt. I was curious to see him. His was a face I would never have stopped to look at. As I sat there digesting all this, he said, 'So what's it like to be with someone who's not your type?' "

It was a painful question for both of them, as they felt the flame of passion suddenly sputter and fizzle out under the vicious scrutiny of their visual honesty. Sabrina's heart "was physically hurting, because although I liked his voice, his mind, and having sex, a rejection was happening within me.

"I questioned that reaction because I thought it was really shallow of me to feel this way. But it wasn't a conscious visual screening, but a deeper voice within me saying no. I might have been willing to try to get beyond the visual, but there were other things not right about the connection," she admits.

Phil also felt guilty about his negative judgment of Sabrina. "It was shallow," he confesses. "I have these visual templates in my head, so that when I meet a woman I'll secretly say, 'Cellulite! Hmmm. Not a fit subject.' That won't stop me from having a relationship with that woman, but it won't be a physical one."

Phil had to struggle with the fact that he'd "already been attracted to this woman, and had great sex with her. I fell for her sluttiness, her sense of adventure, and her boldness, but once I saw her, I wasn't attracted anymore."

They went to bed a few more times in the dark, but when they tried to make love in the light, the spark wasn't there, and that was the last time they did it. Phil found the episode left him questioning "the importance of visual information: Is it a guardian at the gate, or do visual screens keep out wonderful potential lovers--and others?" But though the door to Phil closed, more exotic ones opened. Says Sabrina, "Since then, my life has absolutely been about that. I took a female lover, who's been married happily for 10 years. The relationship became a love triangle with my lover's husband involved as an extra pair of hands and lips. Using the personals opened me up for more adventures."

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From the February 5-11, 1998 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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