Musing VI: The Natural Giver, a Memoir of a True Geisha


I come from the old school of love and seduction. I'm a Casanova-style fantasy figure who sweeps in from out of nowhere and miraculously presents you with everything you've only ever dreamed about. I study you, profile you, and figure out what makes you tick so intricately that I can give you what you want before you even know you want it. (This often happens literally, by the way, and it delights me to no end.) It is through the outward focus of my attentions that my best work is done. I sidestep all the self-doubt that might trip me up by getting out of my own head and getting into yours. It's where I'm most comfortable.

This is a boon in our world of self-absorption. Everybody is so caught up in worrying about how others perceive them that they forget to actually pay attention to other people - a remarkably counterproductive tactic because usually they end up falling prey to their own insecurities, acting like dicks, and pissing everyone off. In a world full of people like that, it's deeply disarming to meet someone who somehow knows how to put us at ease and make us feel good. But then, as those who know me intimately would say, generosity is my default state. It's what I do. It's become almost a fetish of sorts, perhaps a sort of vermicular branching of my humble Asian childhood into an artful, subtle yet proactive form of pleasure-giving. I'm a modern courtesan. I am the fucking Floating World come to life. The trouble is that somehow I've managed to let an insidious double-standard creep in here. This is hilarious to me because I am so outspoken against the misandrist gender double-standards I see in the world. And what I realized was that in my quest to become America's Next Top Geisha, I've often deprived my lovers of the pleasure that I myself most enjoy: the act of giving pleasure to another. Case in point, I have a very handsome European lover, who just happens to be one of the best pussy eaters I have ever had the pleasure of being intimate with. Whenever our bodies intertwine and he so lovingly makes his way down to my lady parts, I always cum... and cum, and cum - over and over again. In fact, a typical romp will be littered with at least six orgasms (and not including his). Although I know he genuinely loves pleasing me, I constantly feel this overwhelming wave of guilt of self indulgence every time I orgasm and he isn't being serviced. So I realized this - I'm bad at receiving. Really, really bad at receiving.

Recently I solicited someone for some advice, as it was about a field in which he is far more well-versed than I. I felt trepidation about even asking that much, because I am really bad at asking for things but I figured a bit of brain-picking was ultimately a very reasonable request. What he offered me instead was a huge favor in helping to set me up with some resources that would be of tremendous assistance on the path to accomplishing my goals. This kind of freaked me out a bit. I made sure to explicitly state that I had not been looking for a favor when I called, and spent countless hours biting my fingernails worrying that he might think that such a favor was what I was in it for all along, and the idea gave me a slight panic attack. Then I stopped myself, cleared my head, and after some serious consideration realized that if our roles were reversed, if he had called me asking for my help and I had been able to offer a resource that would be of use to him, that would have made me feel fucking elated. And it was ultimately selfish to feel weird about accepting his generosity because that would deprive him of the pleasure he might take in doing something nice. This concept is counter-intuitive to me, especially in matters of love, intimacy and relationships. I related this issue to a trusted confidant, and he reiterated a bit of advice: "You can't achieve intimacy with someone if you never allow them to take care of you." Well, shit. I'VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG THIS WHOLE TIME.

Part of seduction is about making it very, very easy for someone to be with us. We create opportunities that are easy for our recipients to say yes to. It's the dating equivalent of handing someone a pen and a dotted line at the end of your sales pitch. I'm notorious for making all the arrangements for an evening and simply telling a recipient when and where to show up. I take all the work out of the equation. And that's a great gift to be able to give someone. But part of me wonders if some of the reason I do this is because I'm afraid they'll flake at the first sign of any obstacle. And the answer to that is yes, yes I am afraid of that. And then I say to myself, why would I waste my precious time on people who are that flaky? Unless perhaps you consider that people in New York, or maybe just people in general, are inherently prone to flakiness. I once had a date with a woman who called to cancel at the last minute because her dog had been to the dentist that day and she felt bad leaving him home alone. Seriously, I can't make this shit up. Not too long ago I stayed up late one night with one of my artist friends and we joked about the row we would cause if we ever decided to date one another. And then I turned to him seriously and said, "You know what would actually happen if we dated? We would both be so generous to one another that we would end up thinking it was weird, and it would turn into some awkward one-up-manship kind of game. You would drive me crazy because no matter how much I tried to reach out to you, you wouldn't let me get close enough to take care of you. And I would chase you down that rabbit hole and go insane because I would keep trying, and it would never be enough. I would self-destruct trying to keep up with you and you would never let me in." He got very serious and said, "When you've been carrying a burden around all your life, you become used to it. But the moment you put it down, even for just a second, it becomes impossible to pick up again."

And perhaps that's what I'm afraid of, ultimately, is that the minute I accept an ounce of care-taking from someone, I'll get used to it and feel comfortable to possibly the point of being dependent on whatever they're giving me. Life is so much easier when I don't expect anything from anyone. I happened upon a blog entry written by my friend, a musician and controversial modern-day philosopher, about how he believes independent women will end up either lonely or in relationships with weak, leeching men. He is by no means a relationship expert, and he enjoys the fact that his ideas are so extreme as to spark debate amongst his followers, so his writings are often not intended to be followed to the letter. Still, some of his words struck me as relevant to the ideas I've had simmering in my mind:

By eliminating your need for a man, you are no longer interesting for a man. You see, we want to be needed. If you don’t need us what the fuck are we going to do around you? Especially those of us who are strong and dominant. Don’t confuse this with oppressive machismo. We just want to feel like our presence is needed, appreciated and therefore prized. When you have no need for us, we will not seek you out.

The truth, of course, is that I do feel the need for a partner in my life, but it's a weird kind of need, because what I need is someone upon whom I can direct my geisha-like pleasure-provider talents. I feel a void when I have no outlet for that. But I'm not sure that this ever registers as "need", because it is admittedly unconventional. Even I realize how ridiculous it sounds to ask, "Would you do me the favor of giving you an amazing evening followed by a full-body massage?" But, you know, that does it for me. And it's selfish and stupid to think that maybe doing something like that for me wouldn't directly equal pleasure for somebody else - cue the example of my "your pleasure gives me pleasure" lover. I guess being a companion has helped me to mitigate these fears. I give you (drama-free) happiness, and you give me a gift for my time and company. So we leave each other happy, and there are no lingering feelings of anxiety around a potential lack of reciprocity.


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"Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art." 

© 2020 Grace Lee Riley