This is what it was always like. Quiet drinks in the corners of bars, or grabbing cups of coffee during the day. Men enjoyed my conversation and wit. I made them laugh, feel good, they could almost forget I had a disability. My charm always won them over. They told me how interesting I was (‘interesting’, such a boring word) my travels, the people I had met. They were enthralled enough to eventually want to have sex with me. Though they were never quite enthralled enough to introduce me to their friends or family. With all the women out there, why would they actively pick a woman with a disability?
And if I refused? The look of confusion on their faces was a picture. I was expected to be grateful.
It was society’s unsaid rule. If you don’t believe me, Reader, ask any of your able-bodied friends or family if they would choose someone with a disability. One out of ten might say yes, at a push. However, I had watched the men dance around me before I was too old to fully understand what they wanted. Sniffing around me like wolves, waiting for my first blood. On a trip abroad one year, tired, hair unwashed and a face void of make up, a man who worked at the airport had begged me not to get on the plane, and stay with him. “You was too beautiful to leave, stay with me” he had said. I had assumed he was talking to someone behind me, but after looking around and pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t in a sleep-deprived hallucination, the only conclusion I could come to is that I was ovulating. Men could smell the mating pheromones a mile away.
Then there was Devotism – the sexual attraction to people with disabilities. I have come across a few, they were usually power-hungry too, and wanted me languishing on them in every way. The more in need of them I was, the harder their cocks became. The trouble is, I am independent and stubborn and thankfully they lost interest in me, quickly. Men’s ableism dressed up as a fetish! An able-bodied saviour complex, if you will. Human beings never failed to amaze me.
Then there were the men that saw me as something exotic, different, an experiment and something to tick off on their sexual bucket list. They were usually the ones that expected me to feel ‘grateful’ that they found me attractive – and DAMN – beyond grateful that they wanted to have sex with me. Gratitude with a capital G. It was how I had been bought up and what the media and society had drilled into me. But fuck that. I have never been one for playing by the rules. A man I had been having phone sex with had asked in a drunken state if I was ‘an obedient girl’ I laughed hard at this suggestion, then realised he was completely serious. No, no I most certainly wasn’t. He could jog on, frankly, and he did.
So we tried each other on, sometimes for a night, sometimes for months. I’ve never been one for sharing my bed for all eight hours. I become too hot, claustrophobic. I like to be able to roll over to the cool side and stretch myself out. Quite often I would leave them there, naked, sleeping with their socks still on (what is it with men and their fucking socks?) and lie down on my sofa. Inevitably though, I would crawl back in, a part of me craving skin to skin contact, which then lead to sleepy warm sex and if I was lucky, just a twinge of regret the next day.
I sometimes wondered if people just collided into each other and hoped for the best. You could find a new person to play with every week if you wanted to, but yet humans in general have a need to feel connected, sometimes to one person, sometimes to many. Every man I had ever loved was still there somewhere. I had thought for many years that I had never really truly loved any of them, besotted maybe, or at worst, slightly obsessed, but I then realised that I had loved them all, and still did, just each of them in a slightly different way. If I believed in such things, I would say my collisions with men were bad karma from a previous life, but I didn’t, so I called it bad luck. I was called strong, bossy, too independent but, after looking after myself for most of my life, I didn’t know how else to be. Men either patronised me, or left me alone because they felt intimidated. This life, this strange life, where you danced with strangers in hope for a connection of some kind. To find solace and understanding in another human being, only to find them as flawed and messy as you. And yet I thought, maybe it was all worth it, those continuous moments with another, it all held purpose….didn’t it?