Saturday, 19 December 2009

Sin With a Grin

Peta and Jack were the classiest couple I met through the sex site I used to frequent. Their joint profile was so impressive that when I first read it I actually didn't dare contact them. Eventually they wrote to me.

It was mid-summer when I turned up at their flat one Sunday for dinner. The flat was Peta's but Jack had moved in, and together they had transformed it from a shabby Edwardian end of terrace to a 50s-inspired showcase of their good taste and originality. They were equally attractive: both intelligent, fun, articulate, interesting and sexy.

Owing to Peta having just one hour before started her period, it was only dinner. I left with the firm intention of visiting again soon. Peta, unfortunately, was about to go away for three weeks on business, but a week later Jack called and invited me to dinner. I asked if Peta would be there. He said no. I went anyway.

Cycling past a tube station in north London today, I see a face I recognize. Looking pretty and cold, with almost-black curls poking out of her wool beret, it's Peta. I think she sees me look back, noticing her. I should turn around immediately to say hello, but although I hesitate my first instinct is to hide and then, moving with the traffic, I've left it too long.

So I couldn't say hello to Peta because I had fucked her boyfriend without her and then I fucked them both together. That was weird and, in hindsight, probably one of the wrongest things I've ever done. Imagine pretending to someone that her partner was new to you; that you hadn't, a week before, in her flat, in her bed, used her sex toys, fucked her boyfriend, listened to his anecdotes... I'm not proud of that.

Actually, I can't remember how we did it exactly. I definitely did not make a point of exclaiming over the uniqueness of his cock or asking how he liked to be sucked. But maybe I should have because Jack told me later that Peta had had suspicions. That was unsurprising. He had of course denied it, and if she had believed him it was a measure of both the depth of her trust and his ability to deceive.

If Peta had recognized the side of my face under my winter hat she will have had her suspicions confirmed. If we had spoken she might have asked me and I would have told her the truth. Apart from a cup of coffee one day I never hooked up with Jack or Peta again, either together or separately. Jack told me that Peta had a 'one time only' policy with the people they played with. For myself, it just didn't feel right: the experience taught me that I don't like subterfuge.

Jack contacted me a few times, the last time to say that he and Peta had 'parted on good terms' - whatever that means. I have no idea what she does or doesn't know and cannot know which would be better. So here is a poem by Ogden Nash, which I think sums things up nicely:

Inter-Office Memorandum

The only people who should really sin
Are the people who can sin with a grin,
Because if sinning upsets you,
Why, nothing at all is what it gets you.
Everybody certainly ought to eschew all offences however venial
As long as they are conscience's menial.
Some people suffer weeks of remorse after having committed the slightest peccadillo,
And other people feel perfectly all right after feeding their husbands arsenic or smothering their grandmother with a pillow.
Some people are perfectly self-possessed about spending their lives on the verge of delirium tremens,
And other people feel like hanging themselves on a coathook just because they took that extra cocktail and amused their fellow guests with recitations from the poems of Mrs. Hemans.
Some people calmly live a barnyard life because they find monogamy dull and arid,
And other people have sinking spells if they dance twice in an evening with a lady to whom they aren't married.
Some people feel forever lost if they are riding on a bus and the conductor doesn't collect their fare,
And other people ruin a lot of widows and orphans and all they think is,
Why there's something in this business of ruining widows and orphans, and they go out and ruin some more and get to be a millionaire.
Now it is not the purpose of this memorandum, or song,
To attempt to define the difference between right and wrong;
All I am trying to say is that if you are one of the unfortunates who recognize that such a difference exists,
Well, you had better oppose even the teensiest temptation with clenched fists,
Because if you desire peace of mind it is all right to do wrong if it never occurs to you that it is wrong to do it,
Because you can sleep perfectly well and look the world in the eye after doing anything at all so long as you don't rue it,
While on the other hand nothing at all is any fun
So long as you yourself know it is something you shouldn't have done.
There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball,
And that is to have either a clear conscience, or none at all.

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