Maybe I’m naïve, but I assumed most people had the same values as me: don’t steal or lie, don’t cheat on your exams or taxes or people, be kind to others, help if you can, work hard, protect your family, protect our world. Actually, I’ve been surprised at how often our values aren’t in synch: how many people are disingenuous or dishonest; how many are cruel or lazy or neglectful; how many can’t see how their actions make our world and hearts a bleaker place.
I’ve been taking refuge in the Thai’s vagina for nearly a month and I have to say, it’s all been rather wonderful. In all the hoo-hah with the Friend, I’d slightly discounted the Thai; pushed her to the side like an on-the-turn plum. She was a quick fix, a bandage, a fistful of aspirin to wolf down and numb the pain. She was the warm body in the night that stopped the cold and the misery from soaking into my bones.
I’m starting to realise that this woman would be many a woman’s first choice, that there are probably women from her past or present banging their heads against a wall, shouting: “How can you not see? You don’t bloody deserve her!” Well, I’m waking up. When we first met the Thai was an empty canvas, but now that I’ve started filling in all the colours and strokes of her personality, the giggly mustards and brooding maroons, I can see how beautiful she is.
For one thing, she dotes on her friends. I can imagine, basking in that devotion like a cat, you’d never want to leave. In fact, very few people do leave. Friends from every phase of life cluster around her like barnacles, growing and growing until all you can see is a pair of warm eyes gazing out from a sea of bodies. She has birthdays, events and trips every other weekend. She is loved.
She’s mature and emotionally astute. That might not sound particularly winsome: “Fucking hell Brian, you should check out this woman I’m dating, she’s so astute,” (although god how I would love it if we described each other in those terms) but maturity is such a rare and undervalued quality.
(One thing I’ve never understood is the younger woman thing. Give me the grey hairs and wrinkles; the baggage, the history, the scars and the knowing. Give me the woman who recycles and calls her mother and writes her will. Give me the woman who’s old before her time because she’ll slip into the tumult of marriage and parenthood like a hand in a glove.)
She’s a woman of integrity. She puts others first. She has values I admire and aspire to. In my younger years I would have scoffed at this staid assessment of a lover – I want aching and lust and 1000 orgasms before sunrise! – but the fact that I don’t is a sign, I hope, of my own deepening maturity.
One morning we’re in bed talking about the people in our past:
“My ex-boyfriend used to try and make me jealous,” she says quietly.
“Why do people do that?” I ask.
“I don’t know,” she says, “I have a thing for honesty and kindness.”
And then she kisses me, here and there. She shimmies down the bed to the well in my legs and there’s aching and lust and one orgasm after sunrise.
Values might not be the stuff of Hollywood romances but they are the bedrock of love. When two sets of values snarl up against each other, you can have all the sexual chemistry in the world but it’ll never last.
But when you meet someone who sees the world through your eyes, who’s singing from the same hymn sheet – and you have all the sexual chemistry in the world – then maybe, just maybe, you’re onto something good.