I had only experienced the muscle-clenching pain of dehydration once. It had come at the conclusion of a particularly hot sweat lodge. It felt as if every muscle in my body had seized up. But I knew that drinking too much water at once woud put me at risk. When someone who has been in the desert without water for too long comes upon an oasis, the risk is that she will do herself in by drinking too much water and developing hyponatremia, a condition in which the level of sodium in the person’s body fluids becomes unbalanced. Cells can actually swell from this, brain cells in particular. In severe cases, death may ensue. The same thing might have happened after that sweat lodge, but once I realized I was badly dehydrated, I took water moderately.
Dating sites should post a warning for the person dating after a long dry spell, which is the equivalent of being in the desert without water too long or in a scorching sweat lodge. That warning should inform the dater that she might be prone to desiring excessive amounts of touching, kissing, and fondling if the right partner shows up. It should advise her to use moderation for a time to avoid doing herself in from overexposure to sensuous and/or sexual encounters.
I had wisely taken my water in moderation after that sweat lodge. The same could not be said for my caution where physical contact with Derek was concerned when I next saw him. He came to the house that Sunday afternoon. We had admitted, during a text exchange, that we liked one another, and I had told him, more than once that I felt like an adolescent.
“I’m glad,” he texted.
“I’m scared,” I texted back, “and I don’t scare easily.”
“I don’t want to scare you,” he said. “Perhaps it is really us that scares you.”
Yes, he had it exactly.
When he arrived, I took him out to my gazebo, a safe choice on a Sunday afternoon for two adults who were feeling like giddy, oversexed teenagers. The chairs had a nice safe table between them, which provided a little distance so we could talk without the distraction of touching. But the first thing he did as he surveyed the setup was move the chairs and ottomans so they were right next to each other. He wasn’t about to let an opportunity for body contact go unexploited.
So we sat next to one another and chatted, his arm around me, my hand on is leg, with the occasional pause for a kiss. We eventually moved inside to the couch. Derek had professed to be a snuggler, and it became clear that he wasn’t just any snuggler, but a world-class one. For many hours, we talked and snuggled on the couch. If snuggling had simply been a duplicitous act with something a bit more sexual as the intended outcome, then he exhibited extreme patience. But it did not feel duplicitous. Snuggling, itself, coupled with getting to know one another better through conversation, seemed to be the intended outcome.
The problem with the intended outcome was that the very act of being so physically close was like putting a couple of people who have been wandering in the desert without water next to a water source and telling them that they had to wait before they could drink. Not only were we going to touch, but just like the desert wanderers, we could not get enough.
I was soaking up the touch like a dehydrated pilgrim. And the scent of him, which had pulled me in two days earlier, was enough to make me swoon like a dehydrated pilgrim too. After a few hours, we moved from the couch to an even more comfortable perch, and the reveling in touch got more and more intimate. The day ended without the relationship quite being consummated, but if I had claimed to still be a virgin by virtue of years without sex, it would have been just a fancy bit of hairsplitting.
It was way past my bedtime when he left. I would have been happy to snuggle with him all night, but he had a dog at home that could not be left alone all night. It was just as well. I needed the rest of the night to come down from the ceiling.
Note: The name Derek is fictitious and has been used out of respect for the man involved.
Copyright 2016 by Melanie Mulhall