If you Google symptoms of mania there’s one thing you’ll find on nearly every list – sex. For example, the Mayo Clinic website states “Increased sex drive” as a symptom of mania. Webmd goes a step further and says “more and sometimes promiscuous sex.” Despite this simple fact, rarely do I see writers openly post about their sexual history, my self included. No worries, I’m not going to write in depth about my sexual proclivities. Instead I’ll tell a little tale that happened a bit more than a few years back.
My “eccentricity” is one of the things my boss, Jack, liked about me. I was a Director at a major hotel reservation center and he was our General Manager. One day I was heading into a class to conduct a two-week training session for new employees, but before I made it to class, Jack called me into his office. He used a stern voice, which was not like him, so I was concerned about what I had done. As I sat myself into a chair, Jack walked out from behind his desk to the front and leaned against it. He gave me a look that nearly made me sweat and said, “Do you know what really pisses me off about you?” I quietly shook my head and he continued, “What pisses me off is that you live in your own little world.” He smiled at me and I nervously smiled back. He continued, “It’s not just that you live in your own world that pisses me off – it’s that you live in your own world and it works so perfectly for you.” We both laughed and then he then proceeded to tell me that while it worked well for me, it really didn’t work well for everyone else. He asked if I’d try to conform a little bit. Try to conform? I’d been trying to conform since the day I was born. How was I going to accomplish that? I didn’t even know where to begin.
Although our hotel reservation center was located in a small town, the town was a bit rough. If you plucked the most dangerous section of Los Angeles and plopped it down in farm country, you would get our town. As a result we occasionally had fires in the restrooms. For unknown reasons, someone would put hot residue from a crack pipe into the bathroom trash and shortly after we’d have a fire. Sometimes the entire crack pipe would be tossed in. Since they are not considered disposable, that was always a puzzler to me.
We had one such incident on the second day of training, which led to a discussion on crack and meth use. This was during a period that I was exceptionally “eccentric.” The agents were swapping stories about friends and family members who smoked drugs. Some of the agents all but fessed up to using themselves. I took special note of them. It was during this conversation that I received a reality check that I was still living in my own little world. One of the reservation sales agents bravely raised her hand and asked, “Bradley, do you smoke meth?” The entire room, including myself, burst into laughter. As the laughing died I looked at the agent’s face and realized she wasn’t joking. “What makes you think I smoke meth?” I asked. She responded, “Well, because you are…uh…you are so you.” Everyone in the room laughed again.
During that particular session, I was going through one of my extremely horny manic episodes. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? All my manic episodes are extremely horny. I was so in need of a hook up that I left for the town’s only gay bar immediately following class. I hunted the bar for someone who had “that look.” That look like they were on the prowl. In just an hour there he was. I locked eyes on him and he locked eyes on me. We chatted for a moment. He told me his name was Jose. I told him my name is Bradley. That was all the information we needed. Thirty minutes later we were at my place and by eight, he was heading home. We got together again the next night. I liked Jose a lot because he had one extremely redeeming quality – he had no expectations. He was having fun. I was having fun. The only expectation each of us had is that there was no expectation.
On the third day of our first week, I scheduled the sales agents to role-play reservation calls together. To get things started, I began pairing them up. I put Janice with Cheryl, Tom with Suzy, Mike with Steve and Jose with…uh, Jose with…oh my God. I said his name and began stammering. A couple of the other agents chuckled. It was obvious they were in on the joke. How could I not know Jose was in my training class? How could I not know Jose was my employee? While I stared at him in disbelief he just stared back at me with a mischievous grin. I paired him up with another agent and excused myself to go splash water on my face.
When I got home from work Jose was sitting on the front stoop waiting for me. He explained that he thought I knew right away who he was and by the time he realized I didn’t, it was too late. He didn’t want to stop. He boosted my ego enough that I couldn’t stay mad at him, but I explained that as his boss this had to stop immediately. He said that he understood.
We then walked silently walked into the bedroom.
As usual, Jack joined us on the last day of training so he could congratulate the class on graduating. My “eccentricities” were in full force. The thoughts in my head were racing to the point I could not focus on one thought before the next thought barged in. As I normally did on the last day, I posted bullet points on a flip chart to review the sales process. The bullet points listed the sales steps in order, numbers one through eight. And so I began. The sales agents and I started discussing bullet point number one. We then, naturally moved on to bullet point number two. So far, the class was doing great. Their instructor, however, not so good. After we discussed bullet points one and two, I immediately did what any good instructor would do…skipped ahead and started reviewing step six. Following step six, I went directly to step seven. From step seven, I moved back up to steps three and four. I ended our review by then discussing the eighth and final step. I could see that Jack was astonished. Amazingly enough, the class was able to follow along with my crazy eight – step process.
As always, there was a graduation celebration with cupcakes and sodas. I then allowed the sales agents to go home early, leaving Jack and I alone in the training room. Jack chuckled and told me, “This time you’ve really pissed me off.” Surprised, I asked him why and he said, “As usual, you were in your own little world and you took the entire training class with you.” We laughed; Jack congratulated me for getting the entire class through training, started to walk out the training room door and stopped.
He then turned his head, looked at me, grinned and said, “By the way, I’m glad you had your fun, but this thing with Jose is over, right?” I stared at him blankly, wondering how he found out “Absolutely, Jack.” “Good to hear,” he said as he walked out the door.
That night, I reminded Jose we could not continue seeing each other. He said he understood as we walked into the bedroom.
7 comments on Let’s Talk About Sex
Beautifully written, like a piece of flash fiction, revealing more truth and tenderness than we usually share when we write confessional blog posts. You have a gift for writing, Bradley.
Thank you, Kitt. I believe in the earlier days of this blog I did a lot more creative non-fiction. Felt good getting back to it.
You are welcome. You write quite well. I’m always impressed.
Thanks for an interesting piece. I apologize that my reply is a mini essay in its own.
What I read into your tale as a bipolar person is the fact that in hypomanic/manic states it is not always the specific actions (sex, spending etc) that are at play, but an inability to maintain appropriate boundaries around what we say or do. In the end we can risk carrying the burden of shame for acting in a way would not in our “right mind”, so to speak. I know that hypersexuality was certainly an issue for me when I was younger and because I am not inclined to engage in casual sex, it was contained within my marriage and probably the only factor that maintained an illusion of sexual compatibility in a dynamic that was wrong in many ways. Of late, being single and with a more complicated situation, I can’t really speak to hypersexuality, but I did recently reveal more of myself in a online setting than I wish I had. This is situation I encountered many times over the years, long before my bipolar diagnosis, an inability to maintain my own dignity and boundaries when the desire to spill took over.
My blog is intentionally general in nature, more a venue for immediate musings and observations for the purpose of a writing exercise. The material I am working on for publication or submissions never goes on my blog (which would make it ineligible for consideration). I am working on much more deeply personal material to address issues that I do not hear in a way I recognize in literature, and the mild hypomania I have been living with has probably helped me get over the barriers that I have built which can not be divorced from sex and sexuality. I am a gay identified transman. I came out of a life miserably lived trying to be a straight woman in my late 30s (after a manic psychosis and diagnosis with bipolar). I began hormonal transition at 40 and with two kids and the need to create a career for my new true self at that point I actually managed to build walls so high that no one who had not known me had any inkling of my past.
No one has questioned my gender for more than a dozen years, I am a rather average looking bald 54 year-old man. My sexual orientation is not an issue but I have encountered some very transphobic and misogynistic attitudes from my LGBT peers. And I valued my ability to hide my hidden differently gendered past to live as whole person that I have managed to cut myself off from the possibility of making friends or seeking lovers. Now to write about the story I know best means outing myself and I have to do that, as needed. In this dialogue here I am choosing to share that fact. Sometimes I share carelessly when a little to manic. By the way though I am anonymous on this blog I have chosen to write publicly on trans issues (fiction or non-fiction) under my real name. That is the most profound choice I have made in many years.
No need to apologize for a long comment. It’s interesting and informative. You hit the nail on the head regarding my intentions. I never stated (and I should have) that this story is an example of inappropriate sexual behavior that could have easily cost me my job. Well, I guess it’s implied. I may go more in depth down the road because this was very tame compared to other times in my life.
It’s funny that you mentioned writing a post making it ineligible for consideration for publication. I had submitted this tale and it was rejected. (Fortunately, another short story I wrote was accepted.) I decided to shorten the story and make some tweaks here and there and just use it for my blog…and here it is.
I hope when your story is published that you’ll be able to let us know. I can only imagine the gamut of emotions you experience in your writing. Thank you for your comments.
What a great story, Bradley!
Thank you, mandy.