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Nuwe skryfwerk | New writing > Fiksie | Fiction > English > Published authors

First Chapter: Bad Sex – Part 2


Leon de Kock - 2011-09-13

Bad Sex
Leon de Kock
Publisher: Umuzi
ISBN: 9781415201527
Price: R190.95

 



Part 2
"Licking His Knife: The Post-Mortem"

 

‘It’s my conditioning, Anna. I studied hard. I got more than one degree. First I was rough and then I got smooth. I still hang around Wits seminars sometimes, at the back, like I secretly want to become a professor... but then I go home quickly before they all start saying hello and bye-bye to each other, right at the end. The rough side of me is there, under the surface. But I know a little about “sexual politics” too. I also read up sometimes about gender and so on. All that academic theory’s on the Internet, nowadays. I read. And I feel. Strongly—’

‘Sure, sure—’

‘And it was at moments like this, when Sabina would cut the argument with a breezy “that’s it, then”... it was at times like this that I began to see how, over the past few months, I’d been checkmated, yes, checkmated... by a move called the ideology of bliss. Ha! How’s that for academic! I mean, she could boss me around at work, that was OK... but now I began to feel I was also being bossed at home. And this was harder to swallow—’

‘Mmmm...’

‘... I began to see, amid this... this welter of love, sex, food, drink, cigars, gifts!... I realised that this ever-so-sweet homebossing was allowed... yes, allowed... not by me, but by the new gender deal out there. Women were taking the whip-hand wherever they could. Why not? Just at that time, there was an empowerment company run by black women called Wiphold – that’s not accidental, Anna!

‘Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying social redress is suspect. I support equity. I agree with empowerment. In all forms. But my good PC attitudes would only push me further into the trap. She had every right to hold the whip-hand. Redress of previous wrongs! Eina! Take it like a man, boetie!

‘In the clear light of day, now, I can see I’d allowed myself to become a “kept man” – and there I was, thinking I’d made the conquest of a lifetime! Ha! A kept man who needed to toe the line... or reconsider his options. And the options, outside of Sabina’s charmed circle, didn’t look nearly so glamorous as the sumptuous life I’d been leading up on the ridge... especially now that I’d moved out of my own rented house in a lower lying Joburg suburb—’

‘So,’ Anna rejoins, ‘you saw that you had a lot to lose if you refused to “toe the line”. What was it about this whole set-up that hooked you so deep in the first place?’

‘Jeez, it was a sweet joint, I tell you. Let me try to explain a bit, Anna. It was like a bounty. Mutiny on the Bounty! I mean, when you put love in a setting like this, everything starts to glow, like treasure. And you let go of your doubts... especially when there’s a gleam of gold – sex, connection – in the new order, this beauty you’re buying into.

‘Also, what you’re buying into, letting yourself be sold on, is a place that is suspended. Mid-air living. Here, it says, you can rest. It’s like a hammock. Here, you don’t have to make the rules (or, in this case, the money). The rules are already established, and look how solid is the castle they hold up. Look how beautiful it all is, like Sabina’s house, its layered gardens, its terraces with competing styles... thick fern growth here, clipped lines of Iceberg roses there. Phalanxes of herbs. Clumps of real bush- veld. A cliff-top infinity pool—’

‘Shoo!’ exclaims Anna.

‘Shoo-wow, Anna! But there’s more: the house’s overflowing art collection marched out, almost, from a teeming interior, onto the house-wide veranda... this was a covered place of deep, cream couches... a kind of forever sundowner space.’

Anna blinks and then nods.

‘Let me describe this place a little more, so you can get a feel for what I was buying into, the seduction of it. Take, for example, the art that spills out of the house and onto the patio... a Penny Siopis or two, some Battiss, a Karel Nel, a Pierneef, a Marlene Dumas, Simon Stone, William Kentridge, Deborah Bell, you get the idea... as well as a whole lot of trendy black art, a sculpture by Lucas Sithole, even. And the interiors! The kitchen: an L-shaped space with recessed lighting and soft, peach-tinted colours. One of its walls had photographs of close-up food shots taken at a market in Dar es Salaam. On the adjacent side to this, floor-to-ceiling chicken-wire-and-plank cabinets loomed, in “distressed” style, with expensive snacks almost bulging out. And all of it was caressed, you might say, by surround-sound music filtering through, filling the air with harmony... reeling off New Age chants and meditational riffs... music that composes the soul for a higher order of life.’

‘Not bad,’ says Anna.

‘Not bad at all! For a boy from the lower suburbs, a bloody dream! And that’s not to mention her bedroom, built to create the feeling that it teeters on the edge of the ridge... creating a kind of only-just stabilised vertigo.

‘You don’t at first – especially at night – see the sloping garden before the “fall”... there’s an incline just outside the sliding glass doors, and a few metres of lawn before the edge of the hill. Then a steep drop. The feeling of being on the brink is complete. This is a bedroom in which the idea of losing yourself is all too real! I swear, there’s a full-wall mirror behind the bed. It creates a feeling, inside the room, that you’re suspended in mid-air... it’s like a mountain-top chamber from which you feel you could tumble over, in front and behind, into the speckled blackness of Joburg out there, just beyond... a falling and a falling from which you’re held back by the clench of guts and torso... the earth-magnetised hook of roaring blood and ferocious fucking, taking yourself to the literal limit, the edge, almost, of nothingness. Now that’s what I call living!’

‘OK !’ says Anna.

‘Here, here, in this place, suspended at this high point, on this bed in the middle of the semi-dark... with that golden Joburg smog-light at the edges... here your life gains weight and distinction. I mean, Anna, there you are, held in mid-air, in this bubble of luxury, on a vast white bed, anchored by your crotch. What could possibly be a better outcome for a self-improved runt from Mayfair? What more could Samuel L Baptista wish for?

‘For this environment, every detail arranged, right down to the little objets d’art that you don’t notice, they’re so artfully placed... garden nooks winking through old-fashioned window frames in the bathrooms... for this kind of class, and then, to top it all, for the promise of seduction at some point... an elevated, lifestyled kind of sexual encounter, including the promise of redeemed wildness, richly studded with power and luxury... for this, I confess, I sold my soul. To be fucked like this felt almost like being taken up by the gods—’

‘But?’

‘But there was a catch. Either I got reprimanded – gently, but reprimanded still – for being “negative” or “academic”, or I was expected to play the role of the white knight who unfailingly supported Sabina. I didn’t get to have bad moods because that would crack her mood. She took up all the mood space. My role, it soon became clear, was to be “there” for her, in mood-support, especially when she was troubled by work. Then my role was to listen and sympathise, to tut-tut and um and ah... give her the stage and be an attentive – a sympathetic audience. She called this support “being there for me”... and she needed a lot of it.

‘Fine, she needed me to be there for her, and my God I was there for her a lot, almost all of the time, for God’s sake. But how was I supposed to live inside a M R. M IN can forever? Agreed, in business M R. M IN is the right guy, but there must be a time and a place for Handy Andy, too. It was beginning to feel to me like she wasn’t just saying “be positive”, or “be more practical”, or “get to the point, Sam”. No, she was actually saying, “be more like me”, “stop arguing with me”, “why must you al- ways disagree with me?”

‘She didn’t want me to act in ways that rubbed up against her own way of doing things. This became clearer and clearer, in a hundred and one little ways: how we spent time together, the kind of things we talked about, the opinions we held on politics, people, business, art. What she was really saying was: “Why don’t you be just a little more like me, Sam? Just give an inch, for God’s sake, and then you’ll see, things will be much easier.” And she was right, things would be easier, much easier, ’cos we’d argue less, for fuck’s sake! And so, in this way, inch by inch, you start giving in, submitting to the criticism, the judge- ment, the disapproval. Because you need her. You need every- thing her approval gives you: the goodies, the nice goodies of all kinds... the feeling that you’re OK. That you’re not in the wrong. Again.’

‘Are you sure this was her agenda?’

‘Well, she wasn’t saying it in exactly these words, but that’s what it came down to, that’s exactly what it came down to... her whole attitude was saying it. That was the price of entry into her body. The price of sex.’

‘But surely it works both ways?’ Anna replies gently. ‘As you sit here, you’re talking about your own “core”, which you say Sabina was attacking, and which you didn’t want to give up, right?’

‘Yes, of course, Anna, it should work both ways. But she was the one calling the shots. I was in her house. I was little more than her guest. That’s the one thing. The other thing... the key thing... is the leverage of granting or not granting sex. Sexual love. The power and the glory. The happiness of having access to her. Access to her sweet, sexy power.

‘As you know, Anna, the world is no longer just a man’s game. Not by a long shot. The sex wars are very different from the way they played out in Mad Men on TV. A lot’s happened since the ’60 s. The Women’s Room happened. Feminism happened. “Post-feminism” happened. Opportunities for women have expanded, big time. A lot’s been written on this... the slow change in the balance of power. And I’ve read up on it, too. I’ve had reason to! Nowadays, they’re saying “gender” is a “performance” – and I agree, God, what a performance! Ja, that’s what the new “gen- der experts” say: everyone is performing like mad. Men and women, transvestites, queers, letties, bisexuals, the lot! And these experts, they don’t like what they call “universalising feminism” either. Or the idea of a “universal patriarchy” – in other words, that all men are bad by default because they be- long to the wrong side. No. They’re saying this is an easy way out, blaming the men and feeling all self-righteous. It’s not that simple any more. But it seems like this newfangled gender the- ory hasn’t yet reached the hearts and minds of everyone... because there’s still a climate of opinion out there, among the educated classes, a feeling that men need to suffer a bit longer, just a little longer, for good measure—’

 


"Licking His Knife: The Post-Mortem" – Part 1
"Licking His Knife: The Post-Mortem" – Part 3