Dear fantasies and crushes,
I have been thinking about you a little more than usual lately—Bob, Kip, Chuck, Billy, Willy. That’s because I’ve been spending a lot of time immobile—in bed, on the kitchen floor, on the sofa—moving my laptop from one barely comfortable place to the next.
I consider you a healthy part of my psyche. You help my self-esteem, make me more confident.
In my fantasies, my underwear is lingerie. My stomach is flat. My breasts sit way high above my navel. You have pecs and triceps. You smell like water. Your socks and underwear are new—like right-out-of-the-package new. And you are nice. You actually like me because I am cool and charming. We both dig cake and ale. And we are single. (What kind of person fantasizes about breaking someone else’s heart?)
But I wonder, now, whether my imagined affairs with you are innocent, especially since I have told the world that I love you. The other day, author M. Gary Neuman told Oprah’s viewers that people who discuss intimate aspects of their lives are having emotional affairs. He said our spouses should be all the support we need.
(I know you stopped reading for a minute to sing, “Here in my car, I am safest of all….” )
One of Oprah’s call-in guests was a woman who suspected her husband of cheating. She checked his cell phone and found a photo of him, naked, wagging his stiffy. He was a call-in, too, and explained that he had shared his nude self-portrait with some online strangers. I can’t remember exactly why he did it, but I’m sure it’s why many of us expose ourselves to strangers. It’s what I do nearly every day in my writing or my photography.
(In my fantasies, you think everything I say is interesting, so, even though it wasn’t about you just now, you are still following me, nodding, saying, “Yes, my love, tell me more.”)
You and I want validation. We know our husbands and wives desire us. We know our moms and dads and sisters and brothers like our writing/singing/ dancing/guitar playing/stock brokering. It’s their job. But isn’t it grand to know that thousands of screaming fans love you, too? It’s kind of like I feel when someone comments on my blog.
Take a quick check: Do you send that funny e-mail to your friends at work—but not to your spouse? … Do you get a secret thrill out of flirting with coworkers—thinking it’s safe because you know it’s not going any further? If so, you’re committing emotional infidelity—and you’re draining your marriage of the energy it needs to be great.
I sent my husband an email yesterday, an interesting political essay I thought he might like. He doesn’t ever check his email. But many of my cubicle-working and self-employed friends, male and female, do. And flirting? Well, though it’s sometimes a thrill, it’s never a secret. I have never sent you a private confession of my love. It’s always a public declaration on your My Space page. Or it’s an open letter on my blog.
But its public-ness is not why it’s safe. And although your charm and wit and talent and all the delicious visible parts of you don’t really make you less accessible, they certainly increase the competition for your affection.
What makes it safe is this: In real life, my lingerie is underpants, six for twelve dollars at Costco. (They are made by Itsy Bitsy, which, in my size, is ironic.) My stomach won’t be flat until I grow a full foot taller. And gravity is unkind to well-endowed women; my shoulders have bra-strap divots in the bones.
And in real life, you have a flabby gut, black socks, and tighty whities with a finger-size hole in the saggy seat. You smell like booze and socks and the back of a bus. You have had sex with so many women that you would need a condom made of iron to keep me safe from your diseases.
That we will never see each other naked is the best part of my fantasy.
So even though a guy on Oprah says I should stop flirting with you and leaving virtual smooches on your pictures, I am not giving up on our love. I didn’t want you to worry.
P.S. Sometimes, when I think about you, the back-of-the-bus smell gets in the way, and you turn into Enrico Colantoni. He smells nice. Like olive oil and garlic.
P.P.S. You are so hot. [wink, wink]