Evelyn, the sexual savage

17Dec08

savageEvelyn had wanted to be an anthropologist and study the lives of primitive people since she was a little girl. By the time she began her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago she had developed a keen interest in what she’d often refer to as “The Sexual Lives of Savages.” This, incidentally, was also the title of the ragged, dog-eared book she carried everywhere. “It’s a classic in the field, Knox,” she told me during UC’s Saturnalia celebration. Later that afternoon she read me passages from a chapter of the book entitled Orgiastic Assaults by Women. I was instantly enamored.

In order to pursue Evelyn aggressively, I decided to audit a seminar she was taking the following spring. The seminar was a real hoot. I remember such topics as transgendered Brazilian prostitutes, buggery in the New World during the Spanish Golden Age, and contemporary views of female ejaculation. Throughout the entire 12 weeks Evelyn and I flirted like crazy. Sometimes she’d draw obscene comments and pictures in the margins of my books. I’d tell her how I was going to chase her through Hyde Park with nothing but a spear and a loincloth. The two of us spoke incessantly about our desire to sleep with one another, evaluating the benefits that an evening of unbridled fervor would bring. We even made a promise to realize this desire by the semester’s end.

But such an evening never came. That summer Evelyn left to do field work in Papua New Guinea and shortly thereafter I was expelled from the University for sending a dead fish to one of my professors.

Years passed and I was working as a translator in Beirut when a letter arrived in the mail from Evelyn. She was living in a tiny Balinese village that worshipped cockfighting and Nissan pickup trucks. What began as a perfectly normal missive documenting the details of her daily life in the village quickly digressed into a provocative screed that catalogued, in ethnographic detail, her countless sexual exploits among the men, women and adolescents of the village. I was at once repulsed and heavily aroused. I wrote back to Evelyn promptly, imploring her to share more with me.

And share she did. For the next six months I received letters on a weekly basis, each one more graphic and telling than the last. Then a letter came suggesting that I travel immediately to Bali to fulfill the promise she had never forgotten.

Forty-eight hours later I set foot in Evelyn’s village, gaunt, feverish and sweating, with a libido powerful enough to burst through the Hoover Dam. That night I had, hands down, the worst sex of my entire life, after which I contracted a bad case of malaria and had to spend the next three months wrapped up in a mosquito net taking spoonfuls of God knows what from the village medicine man. Sometime after my second week of illness Evelyn left to take a job teaching at New York University. The experience taught me a thing or two about managing my expectations.

The first thing I did after returning to Beirut was to sell all of Evelyn’s letters to Penthouse magazine. I spent the next month-and-a-half getting high on a small fishing boat off the Mediterranean. Evelyn, to the best of my knowledge, was not offered tenure.



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