For a moment he was still inside her, turgid there and quivering. Then as he began to move, in the sudden helpless orgasm, there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling inside her. Rippling . . . like a flapping overlapping of soft flames, soft as feathers, running to point of brilliance, exquisite . . . and melting her all molten inside . . .
--D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley’s Lover
It was Pavel who took me to my first and only orgy. Orgies were part of Pavel’s open marriage lifestyle, and one I was trying to understand. Though by becoming Pavel’s lover I was part of his open marriage with Lou Anne, it wasn’t any way I’d want to live if I were married. I really only wanted Pavel, and wished he wanted only me. I didn’t even really want to go to an orgy. I was doing it because Pavel wanted me to, and because it was his way of sharing.
Though Bill was about fifteen years older than I, he was nearly thirty years older than his wife Lou Anne, who, with a bit of a stretch, could have been my daughter. I couldn’t help thinking of us as a sort of family—Pavel the dad, me the wife, and Lou Anne the child. Sascha, Pavel’s dog was the baby.
The idea of an orgy made me nervous rather than excited. I pictured about twenty gorgeous Playboy Magazine-type people on an enormous round satin-sheeted bed in some fancy penthouse. Or a dark, damp cave-like place in the meat market district, with sounds of water dripping, animal heads hanging from hooks next door, and with dark corners peopled with bald men and women, tattoos moving peristaltically, pulling each other’s nipple rings and sewing each other’s testicles. By the time we, Pavel and I arrived, everyone would be intertwined like some enormous octopus, one creature with many limbs and many suckers. How would we join in? What if no one desired us?
Our cab stopped at a nondescript modern white brick high rise in the east forties. Pavel nodded at the doorman, and we took the elevator to the seventeenth floor. Pavel, blue backpack full of pigeon feed and maybe some cat food, his breath smelling of Scope, and I, in my maroon silk shirt and jeans and platform sandals, padded across the carpeted hallway with its matching flowered and flocked wallpaper. Holding my hand, Pavel rang the buzzer.
“Hi, Alvin,” said Pavel to the man, bearded and balding, with a large gold Jewish star nestled in profuse pepper and salt chest hair, who opened the door. “This is Deanna.” Pavel, still holding my hand, pushed me slightly in front of him and over the threshold like his recalcitrant child.
“Hi, Alvin,” I say. Even though this is an orgy, I’m polite.
“Come in and get undressed.” My heart starts pounding. I look back at the door.
Once inside I see that Alvin is naked except for the heavy coating of hair that covers his entire body except for his penis, his heels, his buttocks, and the top of his head.
Pavel is already throwing his jeans, shirt, socks and scruffy sneakers onto the pile on the beige living room carpet, which blends nicely with the nude bodies I don’t want to look at right away. There’s nothing Playboy Mansion-y about this apartment or these people who share an innocuous middle-class middle-aged look.
“Do I have to get undressed?” I whine. Pavel is beside me, naked, unselfconscious, stomach protruding, stolid, toes gripping the carpet. Again he takes my hand.
Small groups of people stand around holding glasses of wine or mugs of iced tea. Some Lawrence Welk-y music is playing. The place smells of room freshener, like a taxi. This would look like an office party if everyone weren’t completely nude except for one woman’s hot pink bikini underpants. When I look more closely I see two beige people off in an alcove, half on and half off a beige couch.
Alvin’s a good host—noticing my hesitation, he waves me further into the room, then takes my arm. “Deanna, this is Olivia. My wife.” Olivia holds two wineglasses in one hand. Slender on top, with delicate round breasts, her stomach and thighs seem meant for a larger woman. Her dark nipples engage me—I can’t seem to look at anything else—like when I see a nose, tongue or eyebrow ring—or someone with purple hair. In fact I wish I did see more piercings, some tattoos—some decadence that could be interesting to me.
“Where’s Lou Anne?” Olivia asks Pavel. “She couldn’t come today,” he says. “She told me to say hi.”
I don’t want to think of Lou Anne here, feeling quite at home, probably the youngest of this group. Tall and slender, she’d have shed her clothes easily and comfortably. I picture her long legs, her round rosy bottom, straight, blunt-cut red hair.
“I’m bored,” I say. “Can we leave yet?”
“How about getting undressed,” Pavel says, helping me open my satin shirt, pulling down my tight jeans, which I step out of while holding on to Pavel’s balding head. “Let’s just stay a little longer, Poopkie,” he says.
“Looks like it’s going to rain,” says another balding, bearded man, checking out the sky through the large window. He swings his penis for emphasis. I drop my green socks, the last of my clothes, on the pile.
Someone else says, “What nice hair you have.”
“Thanks,” I say, pulling on a strand near my forehead. Without their clothes I can’t tell any of these men apart from each other. They are all bald, have beards, and are developing paunches. “I like a lot of body hair,” he continues. I look down. Do I have a lot of body hair? I’ve shaved my legs in preparation. “Maybe we can get together later?”
“Yes,” I say, politely.
Pavel puts his arm around me, and tries to kiss me, but I pull away. “I’m not in the mood, Pavel.”
“Let’s meet some more people, Poopkie. Soon you’ll see, you’ll have a good time.”
Pavel pulls me into the bedroom alcove, where a man, the only one with hair on his head, is kneeling. He’s also partly dressed—in a black and white maid’s uniform, with a short white apron, under which I can see his semi-hard penis. He’s also wearing a black studded collar around his thin neck, to which a matching leash is attached.
“Harder,” he tells the woman holding the leash, who is also slapping him on his rump.
I laugh. Pavel smiles at me, glad I’m finally having fun. The man on the floor grabs my calf. I jump, but then it feels okay, so I let him touch me.
“This is Warren,” says Pavel.
“Hi. I’m Helena, Warren’s wife,” says the woman holding the leash through her dark hair that hangs over part of her face.
Warren remains on his knees, rising up a bit to give me his hand to shake. I stare at his studded collar, and the starched ruffles on his apron, and laugh some more. Before I know it, I’m under him and he’s inside me. His wife still holds the leash. Pavel watches.
“Smack me,” says Warren. It’s an order, but not overbearing.
I laugh, but hit him on his behind.
“Harder, please,” he whines.
“Ha, ha,” I laugh, unable now to stop. I feel like I’d love to hit Warren harder, much harder—really hard. But from under him I can’t get enough leverage. Helena, trying to be helpful, pulls the leash hard, and at the same time, hits him with some sort of whisk.
“Good, good,” Warren says, closing his eyes. I am still laughing. Pavel sits cross-legged, the fibers of the rug cradling his genitals, and watches. I don’t want him to feel left out. I don’t want him to leave my side. Yet I have a sudden urge to make him jealous—after all, why are we here? So I begin to move under Warren, who moans, “I’d like to invite you to our summer house in Maine.” He’s sweating. “I like you.” “Harder,” he says to Helena.
“Ha, ha, ha,” I laugh.
“We go up in August,” he continues, panting. “Bring your kids. We have two.”
“Ha, ha.” I look over at Pavel, touch his thigh. Does he like this? Is he jealous? He doesn’t look it. “Ha, ha, I laugh.” Then I remember something. “I forgot my birth control.”
Helena pulls hard on the leash. Is that some kind of signal? Warren moans, then chokes a bit, but gets up. “I really mean that about August. Helena will give you our address.” Helena says nothing to me, but leads Warren to the door.
“He likes to ride the elevator in that outfit,” says Pavel. It excites him to shock whoever is in there. Are you having fun, Sweetie? His Polish accent is comforting.
I watch the new arrival, a tall, dark man with thick wavy hair, who slipped through the door as Warren crawled out. Pavel looks at me. Do you like him? his blue eyes ask. So far he’s the only person who attracts me. I wish I could stop laughing. I cover my mouth, and watch the new arrival remove each article of clothing until he’s standing in nothing but his hat, a black fedora. From under the brim, two long side curls swing out. With long delicate but strong-looking fingers, he carefully places the wayward hair behind his ears. He’s young, handsome, with huge dark eyes. So what if he’s Hassidic?
Pavel seems pleased to see me interested in someone, something. “Hi, Nathan,” he says.
“Ha, ha,” I laugh, as Nathan and I fall passionately onto the carpet. Is Pavel still holding my hand? I’m vaguely aware of a sea of legs. Perhaps any kind of passion or excitement is a rarity, since these people seem to know each other too well. Not only am I attracted to Nathan, it excites me to know that for him this orgy goes against his religious prohibitions. I can see the room, the people, Pavel, in Nathan’s enormous liquid eyes. Pavel reaches out to touch me. I push his hand away.
“This is Deanna,” says Pavel.
Isn’t it a little late for introductions? I want to ask, but I am laughing too hard.
“Haaaa, haaaa,” I moan. Pavel seems pitiful. I want to protect him. I want to hurt him.
“We have to go, Poopkie,” he says. “I have to feed Natalia. I can’t count on Lou Anne for anything.”
Oh, suddenly, just at this moment Pavel remembers that he has to feed his dog? And it must be done right away. And he has to bring up Lou Anne?
Outside it’s raining lightly, a heavy mist, and strangely, it’s not yet dark.
“Well?” Pavel asks.
I wonder what he hopes of me. “It was funny,” I say. “It was hysterical.”
Pavel smiles warily. “Good, good.” He puts out his arm for a taxi.
“Maybe because I was so nervous, and maybe I couldn’t get into it, but all in all it’s
not very sexy,” I say. “And I’m surprised that most of those people are married.”
“They have problems relating,” says Pavel.
Does that mean himself? Lou Anne? A holocaust survivor, Pavel is extremely eccentric—so from me, and maybe others, he gets a pass. He once told me that fear and desire are one and the same.
He holds my hand and hails a taxi with his other. “It’s the watching and being watched that’s exciting,” he says.
Why didn’t I know that? I try to apply this information to something that’s already passed without my awareness of it. Doesn’t that excite me? If not, why not?
But maybe if Pavel had fooled around with other women I would have been excited, would have found him suddenly sexier. I might have desired him more.
“Do you like Nathan?” asks Pavel, throwing some of the pigeon food out the taxi window. He can’t stand that any creature should go hungry.
“He invited me to another orgy at a Holiday Inn,” I say. “I told him maybe.”
I study Pavel. He’s told me he never feels jealous. I want him to roar and rage with jealousy. Then again, I want to protect him. I place my hand in his khaki rain jacket pocket and lean back against his arm. I am grateful that he stayed beside me the entire time, that he didn’t make me feel jealous. If my own mother had been this supportive on stressful occasions, including my first day of kindergarten, where I was so scared I threw up on Ellen Povill’s new black patent leather party shoes, my whole life might have been different.