Swingin’ Sex? I Don’t Think So …

Talking Dirty at Mortimer's

A couple of days later, I was at a lunch at Mortimer's for the writer Karen Moline, who was celebrating the publication of her first novel, Lunch. Ms. Moline's book contains a memorable sex scene that involves an Oscar statuette. The talk turned to the sex club.

"Didn't you love it?" asked an English woman, a journalist. "I'd love to go to a place like that. Didn't it turn you on, watching all those people having sex?"

"Nope," I said, stuffing my mouth with a corn fritter topped with salmon eggs.

"Why not?"
"You couldn't really see anything," I explained.

Yes, I told the journalist, we did take our clothes off-but we wore towels. No, we didn't have sex. No, I didn't get turned on, even when a tall, attractive, dark-haired woman in her mid-30's entered the rumpus room.

The truth is, exhibitionism and voyeurism are not mainstream events. And neither, for that matter, is S&M, despite what you may have recently read elsewhere. The problem-in the clubs, anyway-always comes down to the people: They're the actresses who can never find work, the lower-management men who will never get to the middle. People who, should they corner you in a bar, will keep you hostage with tales of ex-spouses and their digestive troubles. They're the people who can't negotiate the system. They're on the fringes, sexually and in life. They're not necessarily the people with whom you want to share your intimate fantasies.

Well, the people at Le Trapeze weren't all pale, pudgy sex zombies: Before we left the club, Sam and I had run into the attractive tall woman and her date in the locker room. The man had a clean-cut, all-American face and was talkative: He was from Manhattan, he said, and had recently started his own business. He and the woman had been colleagues, he said. As the woman slipped into a yellow business suit, the man smiled and said, "She fulfilled her fantasy tonight." The woman glared at him and stalked out of the locker room.

A few days later, Sam called and I screamed at him. Then he asked, hadn't the whole thing had been my idea?

Then he asked, hadn't I learned anything?

And I said yes, I had. I told him I had learned that when it comes to sex, there's no place like home.

But then, you knew that, didn't you? Didn't you? Sam?