My 30ish, newly married dentist, whom I'll call Dr. Q, reclined the chair in which I sat while his assistant readied the tools of their trade behind me. Dr. Q aimed a bright light at me, and while he examined my teeth, asked me this surprising question, "Are women now the hunters on the sexual frontier?"
Don't you just love it when dentists ask you questions while they have your mouth crammed full of sharp instruments? I've long suspected that they get special training in these oral interrogations. Perhaps part of dental school is a course in the Interpretation of Mumbles.They continue to talk as if a conversation were actually taking place. He continued, close-up and personal, with this story:
A good friend of his, thirty-two, good-looking and divorced, was having lunch at Sunset Plaza, a posh area with several restaurants and sidewalk dining for those who like car exhaust with their meals, when three gorgeous women arrived and sat at the table next to him.
"They were young, but legal," Dr. Q said, pausing in his examination, "over eighteen." I looked up into his serious brown eyes, unsure whether I should close my mouth and offer a comment. He continued, his voice full of wonder.
The girls' conversation was giggly and silly, lightening the smoggy afternoon air (authorial conjecture). Turns out they were all nineteen, barely out of high school. Soon two of them rose and left. The remaining female did not look stranded, or scamper off to the safety of a fashionable boutique. She stared right at our hero, and asked if she could join him.
Dr. Q paused, searching for the right words to describe what happened next. Once again, I was uncertain what to do: close my mouth or leave it open. "So did they hook up or what?"
Behind me, the young dental hygienist laughed. Dr. Q joined her and I managed to laugh without dribbling down my chin. This was better than nitrous.
"Yes," he said, "they went to his condo that afternoon and after that she would call him and say, 'I want you to get undressed, get into bed and wait for me." Another pause. Another look into Dr. Q's soulful eyes. I closed my mouth, sure that my dentist was censoring the more colorful things our femme fatale said. "She would come over, they would make love and then she would leave. Just like that." Dr. Q could not suppress the amazement in his voice. I thought his friend must be good in bed, but a bit boring, and started to say so, but Dr. Q said, "Open, please," and, "Can you believe it?"
"Wait!" he continued, as if I were leaping to freedom. "It gets better. She tells him one day that she's getting married and won't be able to see him anymore, but that she's going to give his number to her girlfriends."
"I have girlfriends," I said, unselfishly, only it came out "eh hv gullfens." He laughed, the dental hygienist laughed, and I managed a heh-heh.
"So, the tables have turned," Dr. Q said, as if he'd just made an important scientific discovery. "Women are now the pursuers. The users."
The woman in his friend's story certainly seemed to have a plan, but she didn't invent it. I thought of my 19-year-old self when my goal was sexual exploration without guilt or commitment or sentimentality. I initiated an affair with a 32-year old man. My lover had been interesting as well as skilled in lovemaking, and my plan unraveled. I fell in love. That was almost forty years ago. He's been married four times since. I'm still married to the same man. My former lover and I still talk. Life goes on.
"I want to see you in six months," Dr. Q said.
Maybe this time I'll get his friend's number. Any takers out there?