Symbiotic Sex

We have seen videos of sharks swimming along with a gaggle of smaller fish eagerly eating bits left in the shark’s teeth. The shark keeps its mouth is open so the tooth-pickers can do the job it needs done. It’s symbiotic: the shark gets its teeth cleaned, the smaller fish get fed and not eaten. They are parasites that are welcomed by the ones that need their help.

I believe symbiotic sex happens regularly in human society. Imagine Eileen, an attractive office manager enters a quiet pub at the end of a punishing Friday at work. The whole week was a misery, not only because of the office problems, but Charles had dumped her six weeks ago. She was badly hurt by the breakup. The apartment now felt dark and empty. Charles’ closet was empty, his chess set was gone, and Eileen is painfully lonely and longing to be held closely and gently.

Eileen expects to meet some of her co-workers for an end-of-week winding down. She looked around over the tables and along the bar stools. Her friends were not yet there. As she searched, her eyes met the eyes of a man who sat at the bar. He started to smile but she turned away too quickly to see it. It was one of those situations when there is a strong emotion in an instant, with no logical reason why.

Eileen strode through the busy tables to an unoccupied table near the back of the room. She sat with her back to the wall so she could see the entrance when her friends arrived. The man with the eyes was no longer at the bar, and Eileen shook off the uncomfortable feeling he’d given her. She checked her phone for messages and learned that her friends decided they were too tired to join her and headed home.

Suddenly, the man with the eyes stood at her side, looking down at her. He appeared to be seven feet tall in a crisp, conservative suit.

“May I join you?” he said. The words rolled out smoothly and deeply.

“I-I’m expecting friends,” she lied. He sat down opposite her.

“I’ll leave when they get here. My name is Roland O’Donnell.” He extended his hand. Eileen hesitated, and then put her hand in his. His was warm, dry, and steady; Eileen feared that hers might be limp and damp. Roland made Eileen feel vulnerable.

“Do you work around here?” said Roland.

“Yes. Just around the corner.”

“I work upstairs in this building. Are you hungry? Would you like to get something to eat?” said Roland.

They went together in Roland’s car to a small, obscure Chinese restaurant on a narrow lane off a wide thoroughfare. They shared their sad stories of lonesomeness and heartbreak.

Their meal complete, their stories shared, Roland drove Eileen home. She invited him in for a nightcap.

In the morning, she made breakfast for Roland and herself. They chatted amiably, and when Roland left, they thanked each other for satisfying their mutual needs.

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