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The Balboa Dancer's Tale

I had not sat down for two minutes when a woman joined me at my table. She was soft and a trifle overripe, in an appealing way. She wore a becoming frock, gold jewelry, and a fuchsia lipstick that made her mouth look like an exotic fruit.

I did not have to prod. She told me her story unbidden.

She came from Bombay but had been raised here. She had never known love as a child, had never been touched, and even in her marriage, had never been touched or hugged. She said she had some kind of disorder that came from never having been shown love-- “affection disorder,” or “love disorder,” or something. Some clever marketing psychoanalyst took a sad but common state of affairs and pathologized it and now people are going around putting themselves in boxes saying they have a disorder, when really they just weren't loved enough. Anyway, since she was never shown love, she says, she doesn't know how to show it.

Could have fooled me. She was a charming, warm, and genuine conversationalist, who wanted to tell me all about her deep love of the song “People” as sung by Barbra Streisand, and how she loved to sing it in the shower, from her heart.

She had been married for forty-four years. Then one day last year, out of the blue, her husband threw her out onto the street with nothing, not one single dime. “But aren't you entitled to at least something by law,” I asked. She shrugged. “It’s the culture,” she said. That's how men treat women. There's nothing to be done about it.

When she was in AlAnon someone told her she was a sex addict and had to join a 12-Step Program to stop being a sex addict. She said she had never had sex before, had never been touched or loved, and she needed love. In her marriage she was never touched, and even when she got pregnant it was via artificial insemination.

I don't think she's a sex addict (another pathologization of common human behavior). I think she's someone who didn't get properly laid for forty-four years!

But, because someone told her to, she is obediently going to her sex addict meetings and talking with her sponsor and working hard every day to short circuit her desire to meet men and go out with them. She is working hard on being with herself and with God more.

I am of two minds about this. I am all in favour of people learning how to be good on their own. But I also think some asshole is really screwing her over. People are herd animals, they are social, they need love and touch and attention and hugs and kisses and a good fuck. Sounds pretty healthy to me. That a woman in a sterile-sounding marriage is finally free to live her own life does not make her into an addict. It makes her something much scarier: a woman free to live her own life, for herself. If only she knew this too.

I left after the first set. She still had not danced.

Come on, guys.