A Libertine’s Confession

Collective energies, expended sublimely...

Collective energies, expended sublimely...

Swinging has always seemed a bit mechanical to me, a hobby that requires almost too-regular engagement, like the conventional pleasures of Tuesday night softball. For that reason, I haven’t pursued it ardently, but I have dipped my toe into the waters. Enthusiastically, mind you, but irregularly.

I was looking for antiques in Clignancourt two summers ago when I met Kari and Ingmar (playful pseudonyms, of course), from Gothenburg, who were both working as investment bankers. I relished speaking English for a moment, and we bonded over a fondness for my permanent home of Minneapolis, and the now-defunct eatery Aquavit. This all led, with surprising haste and spontaneity, to their invitation to attend one of Paris’ “Libertine” or swingers’ clubs that evening.

I love the resonance of the term “libertine,” which suggests a kind of aristocratic sexual omnivorousness, but it was a surprisingly tender encounter. Rather than indulge in the cornucopia of available pleasures at the club [whose name will remain parenthetical to protect the less-than-innocent], I spent the evening with Kari and Ingmar, or rather with Ingmar, who told me of Kari’s request that she watch us play together. I agreed without reservation.

I will not provide a complete scorecard, but I can remember a particular moment, leaning forward with Ingmar behind me, staring into the eager and approving eyes of Kari, who smiled and smoked diffidently, collected and satisfied in the midst of the ecstatic instant.

I began to shudder sublimely, the sum result of Ingmar’s efforts. But I realized that the climactic moment belonged to Kari. She was making tender eye contact with Ingmar, celebrating the cornerstone of an intimate but collective moment of shared pleasure.

We exchanged e-mails later, but never met again. Ships in the night must necessarily pass into darkness and fond remembrance.



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