So another anniversary of that dark day, 9/11, has passed us by. Today, the 14th, is 3 months since my own dark day in the US: the day my own Twin Towers of Love and Hope were destroyed. Now please understand, I am in no way trying to imply that my little tragedy in any way or manner even comes close to the sheer awfulness of that day. Two religions, Christianity and Islam, and two ideologies, Western and Eastern, clashing in mindless, senseless acts so typical of humanity obviously overshadows my little life trouble. But to me it was no less earth shattering nor any less painful. In fact, there were days where I would have quite gladly welcomed the oblivion offered by a violent and sudden death, just to find peace from the pain and anguish I was suffering. Now if you were wondering whether I hate because of what was done to me, well, let’s just say I am not happy about it and leave it at that. There are times when I want to hit something or someone, and certainly times when I wish ill on she-who-may-not-be-named and this guy but I try not be that person. A friend of mine said that I should not be sad because I have only lost someone who obviously never loved me and, in fact, judging from her actions, didn’t even like me, while she has lost somebody who totally loved her so much that he was willing to give up his entire life for her. So who is in fact the loser here? But I do not fool myself, I know I still have a lot to work through, and there is a lot of damage and fallout I still need to deal with, but I know I will be the stronger for it.
So what has changed with regards my feeling towards women though? Nothing! I am here to tell you: I LOVE WOMEN!
And no! not in a sweaty pervert kind of way (well hardly ever… well sometimes…well I try not to, hehehe). To me, God, our Creator, Nature, whoever you may believe in, got it right when He/She/It created the Woman. They are wondrous and sublime: William Blake wrote of what a creation the tiger is in his awesome poem The Tiger, but to me it applies to woman and her creation. Blake asks:What immortal hand or eye. Could frame thy fearful symmetry? In what distant deeps or skies. Burnt the fire of thine eyes? On what wings dare he aspire? What the hand, dare seize the fire? And what shoulder, & what art, Could twist the sinews of thy heart? And when thy heart began to beat. What dread hand? & what dread feet? What the hammer? what the chain, In what furnace was thy brain? What the anvil? what dread grasp. Dare its deadly terrors clasp? When the stars threw down their spears And watered heaven with their tears: Did he smile His work to see? Did he who made the lamb make thee? His final question is: What immortal hand or eye, Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? So what is it that Blake asking? To me, when he looks at this creation (in his case, the tiger, in my case, the woman) he sees the hand of the Creator, as do I…or whomever, or whatever you may believe in. The beauty and sheer symmetry of their design is, to me, beyond comprehension. The wonder fills my being, and in fact, I am often overwhelmed by its enormity and genius. Should I be putting women on a pedestal? Probably not, as it’s neither healthy nor realistic, but I do. I can find beauty in every single woman on this planet; the fact that they can create life is to me a further indication of their divinity. Yet despite this they are so grounded, so rooted in the Earth; earthy, nurturing, in sync, in touch. Listen I am not denying that women drive me insane, I have been really unfortunate in love, and have had some really traumatic experiences with regards relationships (point in case my last one in the US). Does it change how I feel about women? Hell, no! I adore them! The good thing, I think, about my adoration, is that it is tempered with a healthy respect and admiration for the opposite sex. The world, most certainly, would be a better place if it was run by women. I am still fascinated by women and this manifests itself in my art and my art studies. I could quite happily spend every day filling canvases with paintings of them and paper with sketches and drawings. My particular area of interest for the last 3 years has been feminist performance artists, particularly those of the 60s and 70s in the US. This was a period when feminist art was coming to the fore leading a ground swell against Modernism and the so-called “white, God-gifted genius Western artist”. Jackson Pollock was often held up as the standard of this species, but to be fair to the man, his action painting was probably one of the things which sparked performance art and happenings.
I have had a lot more experience with women now but I can quite honestly say that I am still no closer to understanding them, but I think this is true of humanity and not particular to just one sex. What I do believe though is that if there is to be any salvation for humanity it is womankind who is the key and it is from women that the answer will come. I have always known myself too well, having thought of myself too often, and by that I do not mean in self-involvement but rather that I have tried to understand what makes me, me. I am cursed with self-knowledge and self-awareness. My self-knowledge has always been extensive, a library full of detailed scientific, biological and historical tomes, exhaustive in their detail. My humanity appalls me and always has, for I have seen it in its entire blighted, misshapen enormity, yet juxtaposed alongside is often it’s almost angelic beauty and in that I see God’s hand. Back in my youth the burgeoning, voracious sexuality in my young adolescent body added a base, earthy sensory dimension to the receptacle of my soul. I had all the natural curiosity of the opposite sex, but my old soul questioned the morality and meaning of everything. At the age of ten Jan had flashed me in her father’s lounge, and as I grew, her firm, pearl-coloured little buttocks ignited carnal and erotic dreams, reveries and titillations. Andre, my best friend at the time, and I would lie on the side of the hockey field during breaks and watch the girls play. A flash of panties above sweaty thighs was something that would set us giggling at the giddiness of the champagne of budding hormones bubbling about in our bodies. The girls we had known since class one, our first year of school, and before, were suddenly no longer irritations, spoilsports and …, well, girls. They had metamorphosed from the chrysalis of their Barbies, pet rocks, Nancy Drew books, mood rings and bellbottoms. They had become Amazons: towering above us on long, powerful legs; voluptuous, broad, hips; solid, well-formed buttocks; heavy, sublime breasts; all barely concealed, bursting and overflowing from school uniforms suddenly too small. They were ripening, flowering, pubescent, rubenesque goddesses. They were the dark shadows below a blossoming peach tree in early summer. The hum of bees, the scent of pollen as well as nectar in the air, a tangible thing. All this was promised in the pheromones they wore as perfume on their young, plush, fertile bodies. Pity we poor boy-toys aflame with incomprehensible curiosity, feelings and urges alit by these young butterflies from the womb of Mother Nature. Like goddesses they strode among us, we worshippers praying for attention from these beatific beings. Then, as if they were female bitches on heat, we were removed from their grand and splendid presence. We were exiled to Queensburgh Boys’ High School, where we regularly yearned after the glory of those creatures, for more than the brief glimpse of the unattainable glory they had promised in the crease of their buttocks; the cleavage between their budding breasts; the rich fertility of their broad hips and the simple beauty of their pouting lips and flushed cheeks.
As I have said before, mine is an old soul and though it was not easy I was able to disassociate my spirit from my earthly form and all its lusts. I had gone from a Cézanne painting where the model/ goddess was only a pretext, the real subject being the paint or materials itself, to a Renoir where the focus is on the figure and the rest is vague. I fell in love daily, and on occasion, hourly. In my naivety, my feverish dreams and imagination were filled with the afore-mentioned Renoir nudes; glowing and healthy yet not revealing the mystery contained in the swell of their hips and the meeting of their thighs; just a promise in the rosiness of the tips of their breasts. Scope, what passed for a men’s magazine in those days, did little to dispel this except to confuse even more because at the end of any naked breast was a star placed there by the Censor Board. In fact, the first nipple I saw on a woman’s breast was that of a black woman. The Censor Board had no problem with us seeing a “savage’s” nipple; only a white woman’s breast was off-limit. But sex being sex and males being males and propagation being encoded in our genetic code, fathers got porno mags and sons borrowed them and we sat in huge groups on the stands by the rugby fields and fulfilled our curiosities. But my brief glimpses of dark triangles of hair, lush and verdant upon proud pudenda, hiding some exotic source of feminine power and magic merely set fires in my loins and lit fevered dreams in my mind. To see pert, swollen bedewed nether lips was to set forces in motion within my body which erupted on my face in inflamed volcano-like pimples, a mark of my sinful nature. In my dreams at night women visited me and so real were they that they drew from me, to my horror, from my penis, fluids that were wet and sticky within my sleeping shorts.
As usual knowledge descended upon me like the morning dew on a garden. I learnt by listening to breaktime conversation at school, and from books at the library. And I learnt from experimentation with a body I no longer recognized. In Standard Five I had suddenly had a growth spurt and by the time I reached high school I was one the bigger new boys, playing lock for the Under Thirteen Rugby Team. This was a new experience for me as physically I had always been one of the smaller boys. Then hair began to grow everywhere including that part of my body that tormented me most now. I discovered masturbation and guilt, forever to be intertwined. Once I dreamed that I had yanked on my penis so hard that it and my testicles had been torn from my body like a chicken leg from a chicken at Sunday lunch. I awoke in panic, clutching my crotch, grateful to feel that my boys were still there. I asked God to forgive me for sinning and promised to stop abusing my body. And did I abuse it? Like I was going for the world record! This was to be cycle that I would repeat over and over in my life. A battle between the physical and the spiritual, manifest in my struggle to control my natural sexual urges. God’s little reminder that while my soul may aspire to the heavens I was still mired in my earthly existence and I could not remove myself from it. My humanity, that is.Back to my penis: I have to tell you that I have never been able to call it a cock or any of those other expletives as vile and icky as the semen that it issues forth. Weiner is probably the worst I have ever called it. I may not always like where it has led me but I respect this thing of power closely connected to man’s id and his ego. Males name it, their penises, that is. Women would say that this because we like to be on a first name basis with anything that makes all of our decisions. But it has more to do with the fact that we are, males, from birth, symbiotically linked with this appendage, which seems to have a life and mind of its own. It is an extension of our darker, primitive selves and yet it is a source of creation and life. The ambiguity of the human condition. Pedro, my name for my penis is Pedro. Haha as you can see I have never really taken the whole “penis-ego” thing too seriously so I just gave it a pretty ordinary name not Thunderstick or something like that! It is a fact though that we men play with it, study it, measure it, show it off, brag about it and even when we are otherwise occupied, it reminds us that it is there. Males know every inch of their penises, down to the last freckle, each little bump and wrinkle, vein and fold. To women this is a mystery, as many have never even seen the flower they possess called a vagina. It is the shy creature that nestles between their legs, below a rich and luxurious pelt and within turgid outer lips. Yet most have never seen this magnificent fount of Creation. It is a sad fact that women do not have the personal relationship with their genitalia that men do. They do not pay it the attention it deserves.
For all the attention males give their penises it only hands out one orgasm at a time, and an orgasm very similar to a sneeze at that. It begins with a combination, a tingle and an itch, which grows and grows until it culminates with the sneeze. Do not get me wrong; it is enjoyable and invigorating but nothing like a woman’s orgasm! I am in awe of the female orgasm, it is the tsunami of sensory pleasure and watching it washing across my mate’s face and body is one of my great pleasures, as though I can experience at least a little of it through them. Males have, well, to use the analogy of motor vehicles, reliable and practical diesel bakkies. Nothing fancy, made for rough and tough, frequent use in the muck and mire, without the bells and whistles. Well, it does come with bells of a sort. Penises are clubs, almost weapon-like in appearance when aroused. Much like a man’s body: nothing pretty but very functional. I myself have been told that my penis is aesthetically pleasing being a happy combination of looks and size. Perhaps this is because I have a convertible, and before you go, “eeyew, gross!”, circumcision, I feel, is a cruel and unnecessary operation to inflict on an infant. And to use the reasoning of health and cleanliness is absurd. Pull it back and wash! How hard is that? God created us with it for a reason and all the anteater and turtleneck jokes are not changing my mind. Paula would play with the impossibly soft, velvety skin of my foreskin in our post coital bliss in her res room at Edgewood, fascinated by the texture and feel of it.
Yes, sex. Masturbation, for me, was more a tool for relieving stress, to be gotten over with as quickly as possible, much like I treated all my bodily functions: peeing, pooing and eating. It was something I did but preferred not to talk about or even admit to it. Yes, my problem with my humanity again. For me, masturbation was not really a sex thing, especially later in life. I was generally disappointed with the orgasm and even when it was good, the amount of semen that came out of me, that amber liquid with smoky tendrils of pearly gel threaded through it depressed me. So little for all that build-up, thought, emotion and effort. They say a teaspoon full, ten cc’s, like the band that didn’t like cricket, they loved it! But during love making it would rocket out of me like a comet to star her belly, glistening, and then pour on to her where it would slide over her body, her abdomen and her thighs like baby oil. While when imploded within her, my essence would gush from her vagina in a huge enamel coffee cup full as she stood up to go empty herself into the toilet bowl or onto the towel next to the bed. Oh, love looks not with eyes but with mind, and when deep within my lover, pubic hair intertwined; damp with the nectars of our joining, thigh to thigh, bellies fluttering against each other, nipples brushing lightly while chest kneaded breast and wet, hot, all-consuming kisses as tongues and mouths imitated genitals, my mind would exult and ululate with my body, and for that time I would be at ease with my humanity. This was the most intimate: I did not enjoy fellatio or anal sex, only having had brief encounters with the first and never with the latter. Eeyew! I have always made love to a woman the way a woman would make love to another woman, perhaps that is why those two acts have never appealed to me, turning her body into a toilet rather than honouring it as I did when our juices were eventually intermingled.
So let me tell you about the female of my species and my adoration of them. A single mother raised me, my brother and I. My mother and I spent hours together, I afraid that if I let her out of my sight she would disappear as my father had, and she happy to have me there to fill the void left by my father. So, in the company of women I grew and was educated, knowledge settling on me, as I have mentioned before, like an early morning drizzle. I went everywhere with her: shopping, her tennis club, visiting her friends. I would play, or read, and listen to their conversations over cigarettes and coffee. On the odd occasion my mother would tell me to stop counting teeth and send me out, but most of the time she was content to allow me to be there in the lounges of a hundred women, the rooms hazy with smoke, scented by aromatic coffee and their perfumes and mellowed by their voices. Instead of playing games with the local children I read women’s magazines, instead of developing childhood friendships I became the male opinion in female debates and home fashion shows, and instead of participating in sports I soaked in the richness of femininity. While other boys, my brother David, included, were blooding their masculinity, I was learning what it meant to be a woman before I had even learnt what it was to be a male. Now let me clear up two things before going any further: one, in those days most women stayed at home, they were stay-at-home moms, so let me tell you, there were a lot of these gatherings, and two, though exploring the world of femininity, I was never the less confident of my masculinity. Oh, I was a mommy’s boy, and a softy, and a crybaby, make no mistake about it, but I had no predilection to be feminine in either the homosexual or transsexual way. I just cherished women and their company, still do and always will. So these formative years, between five and nine, I spent in the apprentice of women. When David started school my mother went off to work to become one of the pioneer career women, but by then I had spent many school holidays, weekends and afternoons with her and the Daughters of Eve, and my knowledge and maturity regarding women was well beyond my tender years. I watched them as they ran across the courts in their white frothy white tennis frocks on legs thickened by exercise and age, marbled by veins and so exotic compared to those of the girls I knew, buttocks and breasts moving with a disconcerting heavy ripeness. I sat in hair salons as they primped and ornamented themselves, the smell of hot hair and a bewildering concoction of perfumes, hairsprays and various cosmetics in my nostrils, their risqué conversations in my ears. I critiqued outfits outside the change-rooms in fashion stores: skirts and dresses, blouses and tops, shoes and boots. But most of all I hung on the fringes of their circles and was coloured by their lives: the affairs, the visits to the gynecologists, the pregnancies, the periods, the children problems, the husband problems and their fears of growing old; ugly; fat; unwanted. I loved it! I saw these Daughters of Eve quiver with a lucidity of colour and light and I could perceive the awesome creative power they carried within them. They were the source of life and I placed them on a pedestal where I idolized and idealized.
I saw women as Renoir painted them: beauty in form and gesture with a natural mystique. The glory of the curves in the body of a woman: lips, neck, breasts, belly, hips, buttocks, thighs, ankles and the insteps of the feet. Men are diesel bakkies but women are Porsches. Those curves God has created we try to replicate in things of beauty, from luxury vehicles to the lines in sculptures. Yet women all carry this beauty with such uninhibited, natural ease, not aware of the wonder and splendour of their very existence.
She walks in beauty, like the night Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that’s best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes; Thus mellowed to that tender light Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.
As I matured, my body changing and my experience and knowledge growing, so my love for females grew. I fell in love a hundred times a day, for in every one of these angels in human form I found something which bewitched me and won my heart over. I loved babies; chubby and soft, toddlers on uncertain legs, children; coltish in play, teenagers; sassy and awkward, young women; an enticing mixture of naiveté and knowledge, mature women; spiced with life, and old women; marinated with memories. I loved actresses in a myriad of roles, comic book heroines in their enticing costumes, the creations of authors and those that lived within the fertile worlds of my vivid imagination. I watched and worshipped these angelic beings from a distance, knowing I was not worthy.
Then to my horror a beast came to live within me and its shaggy form began to manifest itself on my body. I began to sprout hair, my voice mewled and husked, my shape shifted, my privates grew and the foulness within erupted on my body in the form of yellow-headed pimples. I feared some lycanthropic creature had cursed me as I became a were-beast, blood thundering through my body and my moods swinging uncontrollably. My reverent love for the female of my species became bloodied by a burning lust to possess them, a haunted yearning to hold them, to touch, to kiss, and the beast within me whispered of darker things. My Renoir-image of women began to shift as I noticed the shape of nipples below t-shirts, its colour below wet bikini tops, the rounded exquisiteness that their shorts and bikini bottoms hid. I yearned to see what Renoir and my naiveté hid, what novels by certain authors hinted at and television shows and movies cut-away from.
Guiltily I would read behind locked door, novels surreptitiously taken from my mother’s bedside table: Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw most noticeably. The very juices boiling within, seeped out of me in my dreams in exquisite torment at night, my mind filled with images of the exotic, frightening glimpsed images of dark, befurred vaginas and huge, heavily nippled breasts thrust out by slack-jawed, wet-mouthed models in pornographic magazines at school. So it was as I grew that my love and lust and reverence and irreverence for women warred within me. I learnt, as I have always done, from books but my earnest maturity frightened away the girls I liked and the older girls who seemed to be attracted to me frightened me.