BETTER THAN SEX:
The Erotic Feast of Summer
by Susannah Indigo
When I was seventeen, my best friend died before she ever had sex. It was all we talked about -- sex, boys, romance ...sex, the size of our breasts ... how to kiss, the color of our lipstick and ... sex. Christy had a laugh that I can still hear today -- soft and free and endless, like tiny silver bells strung across the sky, blowing gently in the breeze. She was enthusiastic and romantic and full of a lust for living every single day of her life, until the hit-and-run accident two weeks before our summer vacation was to begin. The last thing we ever talked about, dancing around my tangerine and white bedroom in front of the mirrors, was how fabulous we would look in our new bikinis at the pool, and how we would eat nothing for the next few weeks in order to do so.
I have written stories for Christy since then, reporting in on some amazing things I have learned about sex; I have often tried to explore the world through her eyes; in fact, I may have fucked a few men just for her because I knew sheíd adore them. But most of all, Iíve kept a list in her honor, tracking the beautiful things that she missed in this world, a list of "things worth living for," which I call my Better Than Sex list.
My standards for better than sex are pretty high, since Iíve been fortunate to have plenty of mind-blowing, soul-touching sex in my life. I have two measures -- first, is it worth writing about in my journal reports to Christy, or can I see her just roll her eyes and change the subject back to actual sex? And then I have my personal girl-slut standard: if Antonio Banderas or Susan Sarandon walked into my life and asked me to go to bed with them right that instant and I had to choose, which would I prefer, my better than sex moment, or mad lust with one of them? (I do confess that the thought of being with both of them together might outdo any moment I have yet to even imagine.)
A better than sex moment remembered: I am twenty-two and wildly in love with a man of whom
Christy would not approve. He is married and seems to have forgotten heís supposed to get unmarried.
The sex is spectacular, but I am sad more often than any young girl should ever be. I sit in my
apartment alone in L.A., where I know almost no one except the nine-to-five people at work. I play
sad songs on my piano over and over while I wait for the phone to ring.
A man comes to my door. He says he likes the way he heard me play "As Time Goes By" and Iím
a bit embarrassed to be caught spending my weekend so pathetically. He invites me up to his place
and I hesitate, since the phone might ring. But I go, and we sit on his balcony in the sun where
he feeds me leftover food from a party. There is wine and there are chocolate-dipped oranges
and there is bread and several kinds of cheese. I donít even know this man, but somehow we talk
about music and food and our sadnesses and the secrets of our souls for hours on end, fully sating
ourselves in all the ways that matter. He is engaged to be married and I do not sleep with him,
nor does he ask me to. He does touch my hand often while we talk, and that simple kindness reaches way down inside my body just like a lover's deep kiss.
I leave his balcony that evening and I am dazed, not quite clear where I have been, although
I'm sure I have only been eating chocolate oranges with a neighbor who I will rarely see after
that day. I begin to laugh again; I begin to move forward in my life.
Today, as the long summer days overtake my desire to do anything but play, the better
than sex list gets serious consideration. How many fabulous things can I squeeze into one day?
There are baseball games and concerts and the Renaissance Faire. Picnics with shish-kabobs and fresh
strawberries, sprinklers to run through, high-dive boards to be scared of and children who like
to play games. The Santa Fe Opera, Red Rocks at midnight, fireworks watched from the rooftop with
my loverís arms wrapped around me. Frozen lemonade and upside-down rides at the county fair, old friends on the patio laughing and sipping Long Islands. Mountain hikes and Latin jazz at late-night street festivals. Any or all of these hold out the possibility of a better than sex experience, a perfect moment in time when the world stops spinning and I know I'm exactly where I am meant to be.
But still, there must be time left for fabulous summer sex. Although I might fall for that quick
romp with a gorgeous movie star at any given moment in my fantasies, long, luxurious time is of the
essence in real sex. A recent book on how fast our world has become reports that people spend an
average of -- ready for this? -- four minutes a day having sex. As opposed to eighty-six
minutes a day online. And fifty-five minutes preparing food, without a microwave, or fifty-one
minutes with one. (A small difference, but the possibilities boggle -- "Buy a microwave,
save four minutes a day and double your sex life!")
168 -- thatís the magic number for me. I learned a long time ago that we all have one thing in
common, you and me and the Pope and even Antonio -- we all get our 168 hours a week, no more, no
less (though Iíd gladly give Antonio some of mine if he asked me with a long soulful kiss).
Some use their time to work for world peace, some watch TV and forget to live their lives in the
present tense. Every day of our lives can be an erotic feast. Better than sex moments rarely drop in your lap,
and they almost always take place during primal activities that are live and in person, the kind
you canít turn off with a switch. The time to do things is always now, not tomorrow or next
week. We had no idea that we didnít have to starve for weeks to look good in our bikinis
when we were seventeen years old, but now I know that we were beautiful exactly as we were at that
moment, fresh and sexual and excited about being alive.
We are all the "content providers" of our lives. I must choose to live out my days like a seventeen year old girl full of the future does, ready at any given moment to find new experiences, to dance, to dream, to seek out those people and places that make things happen for me, to know that around every corner is always the possibility of a pure dose of real-life ecstasy. If I focus the long days of my summer on the magic of sex and touch and creativity and laughter, along with the hot pursuit of better than sex experiences, then I know that the bells I hear in the distance will be Christy laughing, excitedly, waiting for me to report in on how it is to be truly alive.
©2000 by Susannah Indigo
Susannah Indigo is the Associate Editor at Clean Sheets, and she will be
writing more on 'Better Than Sex' in the future. Her fiction is published in Best American Erotica 2000, Best Women's Erotica 2000, Herotica 6, and on audio for
Libido's Best CD. She is also published in many magazines and online journals,
including Libido, Mind Caviar, The Position, Suspect Thoughts, and her favorite online home, Clean Sheets. You can see more of
her work on her web site.