the eighteenth man


Today I was sitting near a cabana in perhaps the most exclusive beach club in America, surfing the aorta of high society in Newport, Rhode Island. If you know anything about Newport, you know where I was, and no, I’m never quite sure how I end up in these situations.

While Tessa and Lucy ran into the crashing waves, I zoned out for a while, observing all the white folk carrying their lunches around. A woman appeared, probably in her 30s, wearing a large brimmed sunhat, walking about 15 feet to my right. I vaguely remembered her entering the pool area an hour before with two kids, although I wasn’t sure. Either way, she was very pretty, with brown hair, blue eyes – and as she walked, she was looking right in my direction.

She was so focused that I instinctively turned around, assuming she was looking at someone behind me, but there was nobody. She smiled at my misunderstanding, and intensified her stare. In another millisecond, I understood; it was one of the rarest non-verbal communiqu├ęs with a specific and intense purpose. No, she didn’t recognize me; no, she wasn’t mistaking me for someone else; no, it wasn’t ambiguous. I knew in that moment she was, well, how to put this? She was available for eventual sexual congress.

“You sound awful cocksure,” you might be thinking, and yes, I know how stupid it seems for me to be saying it, but if you were there, in context, I think you’d be hard-pressed to disagree. And yes, this sort of look is exceedingly rare for a woman, especially a very pretty woman at this particular beach club, who clearly is not wanting for company or much of anything else.

Women deal with this shit from guys on a 17-times-a-day basis, as pretty much any look from a male stranger implies that the man in question would be more than happy to have sex. I have walked behind Tessa through crowds, just far enough away to dissuade anyone we were together, and watched the faces of dudes as they look upon her with the barely-concealed lasciviousness of the male gaze.

But the other way around? Perhaps for the utterly famous, or the obviously-gorgeous men in the world, but for oddballs like me, it would have to be because I struck her a certain way. I unwittingly reckoned her angle. Perhaps she overheard something I said, or perhaps I didn’t look like everybody else there, making me the metaphor for all she wasn’t going to find in her present life at this present beach club.


The surreal quality put it into stark relief: despite the obvious exceptions, we live in a world where almost every man would like to have sex with almost every woman. And almost every woman would balk at the idea of having sex with ANY of them. It’s truly a wonder anything gets done.

As for my nanosecond tryst, it was a non-starter from the get-go for all the patently obvious reasons, and besides – for me, every chick who ain’t Tessa is pruriently unappealing no matter how beautiful they are. Anyway, at that precise moment, Tessa’s childhood friend – a guy – came up and gave me a bear hug soaked in sweat. I tell you, give me homoerotic certainty over heterosexual dubiousness any day of the week.

0 thoughts on “the eighteenth man

  1. (Not so) Big Scott

    Ian, I know how you feel. I’ve lost close to 100 pounds over the last eight months and have been amazed at the number of women that have at least given me a considering stare. Not as blatant as your encounter to be sure, but flattering and bewildering anyway.
    The ironic thing is that after just separating from my wife after 15 years of marriage, I couldn’t be less interested in “eventual sexual congress”. Well, maybe eventually, but certainly not now. Maybe women have a way of noticing that you’re not really that interested and view it as a challenge? Or maybe I’m just as clueless with women now as I always have been.

  2. jason savage

    did you maybe have something on your face?
    that was my assumption anytime i got a stare from a woman.

  3. Anne

    Ian, what — you didn’t recognize me?
    (ROFL, LMAO, etc.)
    Sorry we couldn’t connect this time, although “your” Newport and “my” Newport are, socioeconomically speaking, light-years apart. Anyway. Holla ahead of time when you all come back to our little state and I’ll buy you a Gansett. With a clamcake chaser.

  4. Big Scott

    I don’t mind at all.
    I started at about Christmas and just began to watch what I ate, tried to get a little (and I do mean a little) exercise and laid off the alcohol. By March I had lost about 20 pounds or so and then I got diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
    This diagnosis kicked me into high gear and I radically changed my eating habits, began drinking only water and exercising in earnest. Within 10 weeks I lost 33 pounds, my triglycerides decreased by 145 points, my cholesterol decreased by 75 points and my average daily fasting blood sugar decreased from an average of about 375 to 103. My doctor estimates that these changes have decreased my chances of mortality by about 85%.
    Since then, I’ve kept up with the same regimen (mainly just carb counting, using and getting regular exercise). I’ll allow myself one big cocktail a week at the Crunkleton on Franklin Street and one reasonably decadent meal a week at a restaurant. The pounds just kind of disappeared and thankfully are continuing to disappear.
    To be fair, I should probably confess that I had a big advantage over some people. Since I was a four sport athlete in high school, there was a solid foundation of muscle under all of that extra fat. More muscle = more calories burned, so it was a lot easier for me to take off the weight than it is for some people.
    *The* biggest contributor to my success in this, though, has been making the decision that losing this weight was the most important thing in my life. The importance of that can’t be overstated.

  5. Ian

    Anne – I have the feeling your Newport is one I’d enjoy. With Menthol Newports and Boston on the radio.
    Big Scott- That’s impressive. I did it with Mother’s Little ‘Elper but yours is obviously much more healthy. My only issue with any weight loss is having to constantly think about it, which always circles into crazytown eventually. That, and it seems like our bodies WANT to be a certain amount of overweight and will sneakily try to get you back there without you noticing. But a lifestyle change of your magnitude is truly a wonderful achievement.

  6. chip

    Big Scott
    way to go
    To all commenters with kids… do you prepare or plan to prepare your daughters (and sons) for the world of sex and relationships?

  7. caveman

    Dear Penthouse Forum-
    I never thought in a million years I would have a story to share in these pages, but just last week I was sitting in a beach cabana on perfect sunny afternoon……


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