The Story of My Sexless Marriage

My two most popular Medium posts consolidated into one domestic disaster

Mookie Spitz
35 min readFeb 24, 2024

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Background

The best comics wear vulnerability on their sleeves, letting it all hang out. We laugh at them laughing at themselves, self-deprecating humor the most relatable and least offensive. The tradition continues from Woody Allen to Louis CK, awkwardness becoming cringe when boundaries collapse between performer and person, easy to forget and forgive.

When I posted “From Sperm Bank to Vasectomy,” the first part of my sexless marriage saga, I figured what the hell, might as well crawl out on a limb here on Medium. Burned out in my professional career, yet another relationship imploding, my older son driving everyone nuts, and my younger one shambling around with a broken leg, I was at a low.

The story poured out with surprising ease, and I experienced a wonderful catharsis. While living it, I never thought anyone else would care, until my friend Ken in LA convinced me otherwise. For years he told and retold it to his own friends, who were mesmerized, wanting more. Eager to reignite my writing gene, I chose the topic as lowest hanging fruit. Boom, it worked.

The post immediately went viral, thousands of reads and likes, dozens of comments, most of them sympathetic. The post was so successful that I mistakenly assumed the metrics were baseline, none of my hundreds of subsequent blogs coming close to being that popular. I’ve since given up with the platform’s firewall, so here’s this oldie but goodie for all to see.

The second part, “From Horny to Heartbroken” was also popular, mostly riding off the success of the first installment. Reading both of them again and reposting after a few years, I’m eager to continue the series, especially given the twists and turns our family has experienced since. Spoiler alert: my two boys and I have lived to tell these and other tales — hope you enjoy.

Here goes…

From Sperm Bank to Vasectomy: The Story of My Sexless Marriage, Part 1

The hoops I had to jump through, and the lessons I learned along the way

Wishful Thinking

Deep down I knew my wife would never have sex with me, but I was married so had nothing to lose. We’d play the same predictable game each week, me asking, her rejecting. Having a headache couldn’t work forever, so her denials became increasingly creative and conditional, leading to a series of excuses progressively more obnoxious and absurd.

At first she refused to make love because our apartment was too messy. We had two young boys, reminding me we’d done it at least two times before, infusing me with false hope. Worse still, by the time I cleaned one room, the kids messed up another. Noticing my strange obsession with tidiness, they deliberately sabotaged my efforts to ensure dad never got laid.

After I finally managed to clean up, my wife’s next excuse was the bed. Was it too small? No. Was it too big? No. Was it too soft, too hard, too high, too low? No, no, no, no — then what, for chrissakes? She couldn’t or wouldn’t say. She simply didn’t like the bed. So we bought a new one. Was it any different? I couldn’t tell. Neither could she, apparently, because she still wouldn’t put out.

Her excuse next round? The bed replaced, the room clean, she suddenly didn’t like our bedroom. So we rearranged the whole goddamned apartment. Every permutation explored, our furnishings were moved between dining room, living room, kids’ room, and bedroom. We exhausted every possibility until she finally sighed, the neighbors below wondering WTF was going on.

Bed, check! Room, check! Bedroom, check! OK, now what? The whole apartment had to go, of course. We lived in a second floor walk-up, and carrying groceries apparently wrecked her. The only way I’d ever get any, she insisted, was if we relocated to a first floor space where the stairs wouldn’t tire her out. Packing and moving won her several more blissfully sexless months.

The switch perked her up, but the happier she got, the less inclined she remained. I had done everything she’d asked no matter how ridiculous, and her excuses were running out. Amazing how otherwise unimaginative people instantly become creative to avoid doing what they don’t like, necessity indeed the mother of invention, or in this case the engine of marital misery.

So she cunningly shifted from domesticity to biology, terrified of getting pregnant again. Birth control pills upset her, condoms could break, other planning methods proved too risky. Our only solution was to indefinitely forgo sexual intercourse. Maybe we could have sex again after the kids went to college, she explained, when she became menopausal, and I finally gave up.

Bio-mechanics might have had something to do with it. I’m a six-foot-two, two hundred twenty pound white guy. She’s a five-foot-nothing Korean woman who’s less than half my body weight. Sympathetic friends said we looked “cute” together — while imagining a Great Dane screwing a Chihuahua. Our kids came out adorable, though, one tall, the other short. Who knew?

Duck and Cover

Before you dismiss me as another sexist male, Neanderthal chauvinist, or pre-#MeToo asshole, allow me to assert that back in the day I tried: Flowers, date nights, candlelit dinners, breakfasts in bed, home improvement projects, investment plans, shopping sprees, Louis Vuitton bags, kid sitting weekends. Was I an awesome husband? No. Was I an abusive prick? Not by any stretch.

Her Korean stepmom would agree. One summer early in our hopeless marriage I flew granny in to meet the kids, hang out, and nibble on freeze-dried grasshoppers. She was a sweet old lady who didn’t speak any English and looked like Jimmy Page after sobering out. Recovering from the initial shock of meeting her new American son-in-law, she earnestly tried to help.

Part of her arsenal consisted of a pair of interlocking wooden ducks, strategically placed on the nightstand of our postpartum bed. The ducks’ orientation was traditionally used by a wife to convey whether or not she was in the mood: If the ducks faced away from each other the husband wouldn’t be getting any; if the ducks faced each other the wife was ready to romp.

After a week not only were the ducks chronically facing away from each other, they disappeared altogether. “What happened to the ducks?” I asked too loudly one night, our two-year-old shouting from the other room: “Fuck duck! Daddy suck! Good luck!” And that was the end of that. If a sympathetic grandma and R-rated toddler couldn’t wind her back up again, nobody could.

She stayed in our marriage because I took care of her. She didn’t work, had no intention ever doing so. Her basic needs were met, including zero intimacy. I stayed because I loved our kids, and our kids loved their mom. She correctly surmised that I wouldn’t leave her because I wouldn’t leave them. All she had to do was continue ovulating and say “No” with ever more exotic excuses.

Some relationships evolve over time, others inexorably return to how they began. When we first met I was horny, and she needed a green card. A blind date, I felt lust at first sight, the cutest woman I’d ever seen; she saw me as a big goofy oaf who’d do just about anything to get laid. We were both right: I quickly got what I wanted, and she eventually got what she needed.

Only two weeks in and resolutely resisting my attempts, she somehow agreed to don a Valentine’s Day form-fitting nightie, worn awkwardly as if the pink silk lace were a burka. We smoked weed, which made her skittishly paranoid but distracted enough to succumb to my ham-handed advances. Getting instantly knocked up sealed our fate, closing the gates soon as they opened.

Unable to sue Victoria’s Secret for paternity, and unwilling to get an abortion, we found ourselves all-in. I was thirty-seven at the time and happily single, but felt a higher power got involved. My time had come to settle down. I did the wrong thing, for all the right reasons, a pattern that continued throughout our tortuous decade-long marriage, her yin stubbornly resisting my yang.

Endangered Species

We were set up by the receptionist of the sperm bank where I worked as a medical editor, writing clinical manuals on semen analysis. True story. Men would check in, enter a room to the side of the office, watch porn videos or flip through back issues of Penthouse magazine, then jerk off into a small plastic container, which they’d place on a small ledge facing the lab.

I got the gig through the editor of a local paper, who offered me up as a favor to her best friend, a tall slender woman who flew around the world electro-ejaculating rhinoceroses. An endangered species, they needed all the help they could get. Her sample extraction was more elaborate than the guys in our lab: She wore arm-length rubber gloves to zap rhino prostate from the inside.

She proved far more adept at jerking off rhinos than writing research papers, which is where I came in. After several excruciating drafts we couldn’t stand working with each other. But I stuck around thanks to the rapport built up with her lab mate and colleague, Dr. J., a Sri Lankan emigre who wore terrible toupees and had the knack for getting high strung white people impregnated.

In between rhino citations I edited the doc’s correspondence, convincing him that I could help realize one of his dreams, getting published with Cambridge Press. The acclaimed institution had too few books about sperm, and luckily the professor stumbled onto the right guy for the right job. Leaning against a liquid nitrogen tank, he dictated Semen Analysis: A Practical Guide.

As I edited our magnum spermus on an old PC, his Filipino clinician took freshly filled sample containers, smeared loads onto a slide, squinted through a microscope, and tapped on a clicker device, once for every ten sperm cells counted. Mixing up gender pronouns, she told me about her many family trips to Vegas, her chip girl niece, and plans for retiring on The Strip. Click, clack.

One random weekday Maria the receptionist handed me a business card from “Barbie Nail Salon” on Pulaski Avenue. On the back was a handwritten email address. “Yippee is a cute girl new to this country who wants to be taken out,” Maria hinted. “I promised her you were a gentleman, and would take her out to fun places.” Demonstrably under-qualified, I emailed her anyway.

We agreed to meet the following Sunday evening at a coffee shop. I spent the afternoon in a bar, arriving late and buzzed. I saw two Asian women, one striking, the other ready to strike. I had to guess who was my date, who was her protective escort. I guessed correctly, but they lied, so for the rest of the evening I flirted with my future-ex-wife’s chaperone. We got along great!

Second date they let the cat out of the bag. I was excited she was the more attractive of the pair, yet disappointed since I’d grown fond of her escort. Only after our sixth date were they comfortable enough to allow alone time with Yippee. Despite the chivalrous chaperoning, our first night out we wound up at my place doing drugs, getting naked, and having unprotected sex.

Odd Couple

The frivolity of our fling was instantly torpedoed by knocking her up, further complicated by her precarious immigration status. Drastic action had to be taken. Eight-and-a-half months pregnant, I rolled her into the county courthouse to get legally married. Judge, bailiff, witnesses, everyone laughed out loud. Google “interracial shotgun wedding” and you’ll see our photo.

What began as a lusty look across a coffee house rapidly accelerated into a life-changing relationship. The only child of toxic parents, I had spent my adulthood avoiding marriage with the same gusto I resisted a career, largely for the same reasons. My nuclear family having nuked my youth, the last thing I wanted was to dive back into the pain I spent decades fleeing.

A serial monogamist and chronic dumper, I’d recklessly fall in love and commit to a romance just long enough for the endorphins to dissipate and the challenges to mount. I’d then invent excuses and walk away with impunity, rationalizing my mate’s anguish with the callous assertion that I was honest and open from the start, claiming to have never been in it to really win it.

Sooner or later, though, something had to give. Was I running away from what I feared, or running toward my idea of a better life? Scientists have speculated for millennia as to what happens if an infinite force impacts an immovable body: Are they both destroyed? Or is all that power transformed into a weird object that’s strangely moving and staying still at the same time?

A sudden unwanted pregnancy with a stranger I had nothing in common with somehow triggered the need for a genuine relationship. For years I adamantly refused to play ball with Freud, my infantilism finally surrendering to a warped interracial Oedipus complex; Darwin also kicked my ass, the forces of natural selection transforming fun single sex into grim marital death.

Although our vast differences didn’t bode well for a long-term relationship, the unlikely union was certainly promising in terms of what in animal husbandry is called “hybrid vigor.” Every two people on Earth can eventually be traced back to the same parents: Bedouins might be only forty years apart; Yippee and my ancestors likely hadn’t shared a cave for forty thousand.

That results in vigorous gene mixing and robust offspring, an evolutionary advantage. Scientists also describe “Genetic Drift,” whereby isolated pockets of humanity fight disease by occasionally intermingling DNA due to the sexual allure of strangers having different physical traits. Does it sound like I’m rationalizing an otherwise terrible marriage? Sure. But that ship has sailed.

Being white, I unconsciously assumed an Asian woman was submissive; being Asian, she consciously knew such an assumption gave her complete control. Being male, I didn’t look beyond getting laid; being female, she instinctively understood our entire situation. Fast forward five years, two kids, zero sex, and infinite excuses later, Freud and Darwin had officially left the building.

Family Jewels

Getting a vasectomy was my idea. Although that sounds naive and optimistic, for the first time I was thinking end game, and how, sterilized like a feral cat, I’d again be able to irresponsibly have sex with other people. Either way, she couldn’t have cared less. She rejoiced in a fuckless future for us. Shooting blanks made absolutely no difference to her. My balls were in my court.

I did some research, looked up doctors in-network. Of all the nearby physicians, “Dr. Jeffrey Spitz” immediately stood out, a seasoned testicle-snipping pro with terrific creds. A relative? Not that I knew of. Spitz is relatively rare, but not to the extent we were all closely related. I considered our shared family name as a sign. At least I’d be in good hands, so to speak.

In German spitz means tip, or point. That’s why a ball point pen is a spitzplume, a pointy-nosed dog breed is a Spitz, the city of highest latitude is called Spitzbergen, and why crowds of German sports fans cheer “Das ist Spitze!” when their team scores, the equivalent of yelling “Hurrah!” or literally “That’s the top!” (Spitzname means nickname, by the way, don’t ask me why.)

Anyway, the irony of Dr. Spitz snipping my spitztip wasn’t lost to me, or the hope that our familial bromancing would offer extra protection for the family jewels. Dr. Jeffrey Spitz might feel a special bond with Mookie Spitz, who was freaked out that his genitalia would soon be sliced and diced by a complete stranger — like his wife, who’d done even more damage by avoiding them.

Perfunctory introductions aside, Dr. Spitz was indeed amused by our shared surname, a brief exercise in personal history and Ancestry 101 nonetheless yielding few clues. Both of us were from Chicago, which thickened the plot; but his father had died in a motorcycle accident at a relatively young age, his mother remarrying, making tracing anything deeper entirely speculative.

An expert in vasectomy reversal, Dr. Spitz also seemed over-qualified. I kept us focused on the matter at hand, which he promised wouldn’t be nearly as traumatic as I envisioned. A buxom blond nurse confirmed his assurances, at least initially, when she shaved and rubbed disinfectant all over my dick and balls. She made small talk as she worked, which I didn’t take personally.

A satisfying start yielded to piercing pain. Shots of anesthesia were local and excruciating. Since I likely wasn’t going to get laid at home, anyway, the futility of the pointless procedure hit home. I had spent years spinelessly acquiescing to the whims of a mean-spirited crazy person, and now my legs were spread wide with the delusional hope she’d someday open hers.

The anesthesia mercifully conquered my adrenaline and the pain subsided, giving way to a groggy, euphoric buzz. A seasoned pro, Dr. Spitz quickly got to it, opening me up and reaching right in, prodding, pinching, and pulling. Still conscious, I distinctly heard his scissors snipping, my tubes cauterized closed with a burning tzzzzzzt sound, smelling the smoke as it rose to my nostrils.

Karmic Whiplash

Sterilized and in my moment of greatest discomfort, for the first time I noticed the music pumped into the operating room. Designed to distract, perhaps even soothe, I instead shuddered in shock and awe: “Clocks” by Coldplay was streaming, and I was screaming. I hate Coldplay. Not your usual impulsive turn-of-the-dial, but a passionate revulsion to the worst band ever formed.

Monotonal whining, soulless songwriting, how had these four effete British arseholes faked their way into international stardom? To me, Coldplay is the String Theory of pop music, a train wreck stifling creativity for generations. In my day Led Zeppelin was denounced by old farts as trash, but what did they know? I was getting a vasectomy, but Chris Martin never had any balls.

“The lights go out and I can’t be saved / Tides that I tried to swim against have brought me down upon my knees / Oh I beg, I beg and plead.” OMG, who listens to this shit? Answer: Everyfuckenbody. I’ve met cool people only to discover they liked Coldplay, the cognitive dissonance disorienting, these people then dead to me. By association I now hated Dr. Spitz, and his hot nurse, too.

Whether a byproduct of the powerful drugs, physical discomfort, or the dismal reality that I was force-fed Coldplay while being sterilized, I gazed upward into the bright light and experienced a terrifying vision: Serenaded by the whimpering emo vocals and boring piano arpeggio was a circle of faces staring down at me, their fingers pointed in accusation and mockery.

I recognized them all, and remembered the ignominious circumstances of our partings: from one night stands to year-long relationships, from punch-me-in-the-mouth breakups to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind memory deletions, the living ghosts of everyone I had ever ghosted had me where they always wanted me — lying prostrate below, my prostate literally dangling out.

They taunted and teased me with elaborate coordination, as if they’d been rehearsing together for years. I got the feeling they’d compared notes, my foibles pantomimed with precise skill and insulting exaggeration: they snored like hibernating bears, humped like bonobos, masturbated like chimpanzees, did housework like tree sloths, and let me have it like black widows.

Glaringly absent was my wife, for whom this entire unnerving procedure was meant. She wasn’t even in the waiting room, having dropped me off to go shopping with her girlfriends. I asked her to pick up over-the-counter meds the doc recommended for post-op “discomfort.” Not only did she forget to stop by the pharmacy, she forgot to come get me. I had to call, writhing in pain.

Finally, we played it all out: I cleaned up, bought a new bed, moved rooms, then apartments, got a vasectomy. I healed a month later, and made a move. “No,” she snapped. “Why?” I foolishly asked. “Because I don’t want to have sex with you,” she admitted, both of us greatly relieved. Sooner or later the truth comes out, and life catches up. You just have to give it time. Tick, tock.

From Horny to Heartbroken: The Story of My Sexless Marriage, Part 2

Where after doing all the wrong things for all the right reasons I somehow finally got laid…

My first blog post on Medium was a sleeper hit about how despite every effort my wife refused to sleep with me. Family, friends, coworkers, and thousands of strangers drank up my marital drought with enthusiasm, asking for more. So here‘s the next chapter in my sexless marriage, where sperm bank and vasectomy lead to horniness and heartbreak. Enjoy the ride…

“Some days I think I’m going to die of an overdose of satisfaction” — Salvador Dali

Against All Odds

Half of all marriages end in divorce, and of those that don’t, an alarming percentage wallow in unhappiness. Despite these sad statistics, predicting which marriages fail and which succeed remains a mystery. So when my accidental girlfriend got accidentally pregnant weeks after we first met, I “did the right thing” despite the odds, and married a total stranger.

I’m tall, she’s short. I’m loud, she’s quiet. I’m a bald middle-aged white guy, she’s a younger, attractive Korean woman. I wanted to keep the baby and projected a life of marital geisha girl bliss; she more accurately saw a Sugar Daddy dangling green card and AmEx, offering a 1950s vision of suburban American leisure while her inner ninja planned a breezy, sexless marriage.

Getting knocked up was her first excuse, a good one. I did research, and a small but significant segment of women indeed lose interest when pregnant. Post-partum moodiness came next, officially precipiating a dry decade momentarily interrupted four years later by having another kid. Mission accomplished, she sealed off her Demilitarized Zone for good.

As told in The Story of My Sexless Marriage, Part 1, I mourned the demise of our love life through the “Five Stages of Grief,” shifting from denial to anger, bargaining to depression to acceptance. Since I learned long ago that anger and depression are two sides of the same futile coin, I did my best to bargain my way back, laughing as much as crying every celibate step of the way.

Flowers, date night, doing chores, nothing worked. She didn’t like our bed, so I got a new bed. She didn’t like our bedroom, didn’t like our apartment, we replaced those, too. My vasectomy was a last ditch attempt that didn’t help, either, but it at least assured me that I had tried everything to appease her, getting us both off the hook. The Netflix original would be called Unfuckable.

After she ran out of excuses and finally ‘fessed up to never letting me hit it, we entered the acceptance phase and our relationship actually improved. All expectations curbed and pretenses removed, we gradually shifted from faking a shitty marriage into embracing more honest roles as doting parents and reluctant roommates, each of us making the most of a hopeless situation.

Detente didn’t happen overnight, but we eventually started speaking again. Having officially thrown in the towel on any physical relationship, we got frank about our feelings for each other: She couldn’t have cared less whether I lived or died so long as the bills were paid, while I agreed to stay with her because our young kids preferred mom and dad living together.

Our new and relatively peaceful arrangement nonetheless begged the question of how I’d ever get laid. My bed the living room sofa, my love life best described by my browser history, fake plush and Web porn could only get me so far. The well was dry at home, and I was thirsty. Our marriage was bullshit and my lust was real, so sooner or later, something and someone had to give.

When husbands wander they tend to be self-conscious and sloppy, like men are with most things. Inevitably they get exposed and busted — usually because they want to — their way of simultaneously saying “Fuck you!” and “I’m sorry…” I was no different, doing what a happily married man would never do, yet not crossing any boundaries until boundaries soon crossed me.

Zucked Up

Word got out at work that my home fires were smoldering, extinguishing any chance of overtime noogie. Formerly flirty single women suddenly ran for the hills as my Married Guy Shield collapsed, while unhappily married women who once craved this paragon of Family Man virtue now looked into my desperate eyes and saw the reflection of their own disappointed husbands.

Coming up empty at home and office, I had other options. But we lived in Irvine, California, on the top ten list of safest places in the country. A city planner’s wet dream, choose any cardinal diection and you’ll run into a school, a pool, then another school. Thoroughly domesticated, trapped like a lab rat in a suburban maze, I felt too claustrophobic to have a local affair.

Luckily at that same time, circa fall of 2008, this annoying social media platform called “Facebook” was gaining popularity. People “friended” acquaintances and even total strangers, and posted pictures of food, which got “liked”. Pointless games were played that asked permission to access all your personal information, and everyone consented without thinking twice.

Years before hostile foreign powers hijacked these social networks to destroy Democracy, guys like me used them to destroy their marriages. One lonely Orange County afternoon my horniness morphed into nostalgia (a maudlin condition called nostalginess and hornalgia) when I shamelessly succumbed to the most shameful of digital deeds: searching for ex-lovers on Facebook.

After several tries came up missing or married, I typed “Anna Fortnite” and stared transfixed at the screen. Not a common name, I nonetheless got dozens of results, yet none of them an obvious match. But as I scrolled down an alluring woman from Philadelphia drew my attention: long blonde hair, wearing a scarf, holding a cat, mysteriously facing away from the camera.

The Anna I dated nearly 20 years before was in LA, a busty brunette, dressed 72-and-sunny, was allergic to cats. By any stretch this Anna Fortnite wasn’t that Anna Fortnite, but I applied the same strategy trying to have sex with a stranger that I had unsuccessfully tried to have sex with my wife: I was married, so had nothing to lose. Going for it, I sent Anna a private message.

Greetings from California!

I’m looking for Anna Fortnite, a woman I dated years ago in California. If you’re that Anna, hello again from Mookie! And if you’re not that Anna, then I sincerely apologize for bothering you.

Mookie

“What was I thinking?” I thought. Up to then I hadn’t taken Facebook seriously nor understood its potential, distractedly befriending dead Presidents, cartoon characters, and dudes named “Mookie Spitz.” While most people gloated about their fabulous families, jobs, and vacations, I counter-programmed with random science trivia and updates from the toilet.

My social presence was therefore so full of garbage that I panicked, wondering what Anna Fortnite or anyone else for that matter would think if my intentionally ridiculous page were their sole source of background info. So you can imagine my surprise when, less than an hour after sending my desperate message into the ether, the new Anna Fortnite actually responded.

Hello from Pennsylvania!

No, I’m not the Anna Fortnite you dated in California. What kind of a name is “Mookie,” anyway? Don’t worry about bothering me, I’d love to have a Facebook friend on the West Coast. So let’s stay in touch.

Anna

A mouse click away, we clicked and became Facebook friends. I zoomed to her now-visible profile page, saw a kaleidoscope of hot blondes sporting various poses across life’s many settings: bespectacled with colleagues, tipping beers with bar pals, smiling with parents, smirking with what looked like grown kids, gardening with the sun blazing through her long beautiful hair, oooh.

Mistaken Identity

Getting attention from a gorgeous woman, even if only through social media, got my lonely heart racing. I was alive! Somebody cared — and not just anybody, but Anna Fortnite, a mysterious new “friend” with the same name and hots yet completely different look of a former lover. Did that count as deja vu? Was I plummeting into the past, or hurling headlong into the future?

Nowadays people meet online all the time, openly admit to and even boast about hooking up that way. But in the early days of social media most lovers insisted on using aliases for the same reason people were terrified of doing their banking over the Web: You had no idea whom you were really talking to, where your private information went, feeling more exposed than engaged.

That’s because twenty years ago our moms told us to never talk to strangers or get into a car we didn’t recognize — fast forward and now people buy nearly everything on Amazon and take an Uber everywhere. About a decade ago rules of privacy, security, and convenience were already evolving, but slowly. Anna and I weren’t exactly trailblazers, but we were out on a limb back then.

As the boundaries of privacy and propriety shifted, new standards formed, largely driven by convenience. A proven strategy of online dating, for example, is cut right to the chase: After checking out profiles and exchanging a few very short messages, the immediate next step is an in-person meeting in a public place, just a coffee, maybe a drink. The goal is to quickly and efficiently vet a potential lover face-to-face, instantly decide yay or nay.

But Anna and I broke every rule in the digital dating book that was still being written. We rapidly migrated from Facebook messages to personal email. What began as short, off the cuff what-I-did-today blasts turned into a daily, increasingly detailed and heartfelt exchange where we got deeper and deeper into sharing thousands of words about our innermost thoughts and feelings.

From our first few messages Anna overwhelmed me with her scintillating wit, masterful erudition, exquisite sense of humor. She was smart, fast, funny, and sexy. She effortlessly shifted gears from flirty frivolity to poignant polemics about art, politics, relationships, and her life story. Her personality shone through every sentence, and I devoured every word, insatiable for more.

Maybe we tacitly assumed the distance was a shield; more likely we had no idea what we were doing. I was still married and had never wandered; she was recently divorced from a bad marriage that was bad in many of the same ways mine still was: loveless, echoing with emotional and intellectual emptiness, we endured years dedicated to family yet devoid of any fun.

As our emailing, messaging, and real time texting built up steam, so did the sexual tension. Somehow we sensed that actually talking on the phone was out of the question, would break the magic spell. Perhaps we both wanted to ride the crescendo of desire to who-knew-where — or feared disappointment. Instinctively we sensed something special, and chose to save it until we met.

We didn’t have long to wait. Facebook being Facebook, my friends friended her and her friends, and her friends friended me and mine. One of her friends was Mike, a high school classmate with whom we shared love for film and theatre. I stirred his attention when I posted that Mamet was on Broadway that season, Speed-the-Plow. Turned out truer words were never spoken.

New York, New York

Offhandedly, Mike suggested what the hell, fly to New York City and check it out. Anna chimed in on the thread. “Sounds like a blast! Let’s all go see it!” The idea triggered another flurry of back and forth likes, comments, and shares, the possibility of meeting each other tantalizing and terrfifying us. Mike proved to be an awesome wingman, calmed us down, kept us on point.

Meeting Anna across the country suddenly made as much sense to me as never having spoken to her. Feeling the heat, Mike became an even more awesome wingman and bowed-out: it would be me and Anna, just the two of us. I booked the flights, bought tickets to the show, and reserved a hotel room in Manhattan. Anna agreed to meet me there before curtain call, knock knock.

We’d go out to dinner, take things from there. Take things from there? WTF? How about from where? — and significantly — to where? Unhappily-married-with-kids was one state of being, happily-girlfriended-while-still-unhappily-married-with-kids was another. So far the only skin in the game I had was hundreds of emails, messages, and text. I hadn’t officially strayed — yet.

Had any common sense or hope that my marriage wasn’t totally bullshit remained, then those doubts were annihilated by the intoxicating rush of finally meeting and spending an entire weekend with my new Anna Fortnite. That she might in person be nothing like her writing didn’t enter my frazzled mind; my desire had overtaken my loneliness with hallucinogenic zeal.

Meanwhile, my sexlessly married home life paradoxically improved. Sensing a crescendo of distraction bordering on euphoria, my wife took advantage by foregoing the obligation to talk to me at all, or justifying her perceptible increase in credit card swipes. Fuck it, let her shop! I had plans. And with all my business travel that year, neither she nor the kids would miss me.

Within 24 hours of my departure Anna and I stopped communicating, as if we bowed our heads in reverential silence while our caravan approached the Holy Land. Lost in the desert of our marriages for so long, we no longer cared whether the looming oasis was real or an illusion; the unlikely voodoo that brought us together and electrified our rapport was infinitely irresistible.

On impulse I bought the script for the Mamet play we’d see on Broadway. A former theatre critic in Chicago, I often read the plays before I reviewed them, and now imagined how Anna and I could similarly enhance our experience. So with a tinge of presumption, zero irony, and hope for good luck I tucked a few condoms into a hardcopy of Speed-the-Plow. Jeremy Piven, kiss my ass.

I texted when I arrived at JFK. “I’m here!” She succinctly resplied, “I’ll be there!” That was it, and until we were set to meet hours later, I was on my own to face the ecstasy and agony of contemplating this absurd situation. Terrified she wouldn’t show, I visualized myself alone in New York City, stuck in my posh hotel room like the ultimate sucker, hustled at home and now here.

More alarming than a no-show, she might appear and look nothing like her photos. Or she’d dazzle my eyes, the tease no match for intractable inter-personal chemistry. Or both. She could have been some dude for all I knew, a prankster or stalker or worse. We’d brazenly broken all the rules, every step of the way, and had the time now come for me to pay the karmic piper?

Peek-a-Boo

The few frantic minutes before she was set to arrive I paced the NYC hotel room like a caged chimpanzee. In the bathroom I stared into the mirror at this bald middle-aged white guy who looked way out of his league. Back at the door I anxiously peered through the eyehole at a fisheye view of an empty corridor, then shambled back to the bathroom only to rinse and repeat.

The feeling of trapped urgency reminded me of the marriage I was fleeing. Nobody put a gun to my head to marry a woman I hardly knew, while two young kids couldn’t justify staying in a hopelessly dysfunctional relationship. Far as I could tell I’d done everything possible to save our sexless marriage; but if I was going to blow it up it’d have to be for an equally powerful reason.

What did I want? How much was I actually in control? Psychiatrists insist we relive our childhood fears in our adult relationships, endlessly replaying scenarios meant to send us back into comfort zones, or at least what we consider home. That’s why we fall into repeating patterns, hook up with similar types of people, wreck things in the same ways for the same reasons.

Given all that, finding my own patterns was easy enough. Growing up an only child with toxic parents, I stumbled into adulthood allergic to commitment in any form, romantic or professional. Avoiding marriage and career like the plague, my love life and jobs were random. The French might call my attitude amor fati, a “love of fate,” while less kind souls dismissed me as a bum.

So here I was again, exhibiting exactly the same behaviors that got me into this situation in the first place: Reckless impulsiveness, creative spontaneity, a pollyanna hope for the best within existential crises fueling the worst. But so what? I like myself, and love life. My mistakes are my own, product features of who I am, and what I — often despite and to spite myself — yearn to become.

Our designated 6pm time came and went, 6:02pm, 6:05pm, 6:07pm… I was in the bathroom again, examining a stray nose hair somehow inexplicably missed, when and I heard a gentle knock, knock on the door. Room service? I didn’t order anything. Complaint about the noise? I was quietly by myself. Could this actually be happening? Come on, dickhead, answer the damn door.

Anna — someone — was on the other side. I fought the almost irresistible temptation to peer through the eyehole, stare fisheyed at either sucker punch or salvation. But I decided not to gain an unfair advantage, especially this early in our relationship. That was total bullshit, of course — I was simply too frightented to look. We would finally meet eye-to-eye, for better or worse.

In my panic the original Anna Fortnite sprang to mind, that LA brunette who inspired the search precipitating this bizarre tryst in NYC. In many ways the Anna Fortnite I’d known resuscitated me much like the Anna Fortnite I was about to meet: they’d both entered my life when times were tough and I felt trapped, opening my heart and giving me the courage I needed to change.

The first Anna Fortnite and I didn’t end well, hopefully not a harbinger of what was soon in store behind that hotel room door. Since then I’d learned so much, such a life-altering relationship worthy of another blog post. Was Anna #1 smirking or sniffling across twenty years of time and two thousand miles of space? Was my eponymous NYC date her final “Fuck you!” or “I’m sorry…”?

Speed-the-Plow

Breath held, temperature rising, blood pressure soaring, I was resigned to my fate yet eerily confident. This electrifying moment was a long time coming, and I had paid my celibate dues. Imagine a mischievous accounting gnome filling in a ledger of love, reconciling good relationship points with bad; my sexless spreadsheet had to be balanced by some spreading beneath sheets.

At last the time had come to collect — with interest. I swung open the door and felt a volcanic rush of pure desire: There she was, Anna Fortnite, smiling, beckoning, and hot as hell. Holy smokes, not only was she the real deal, but she looked even sexier in person. “Cat got your tongue?” Anna winked. “You gonna let me in, or should I stand here as you undress me with your eyes?”

I couldn’t speak. All I could do was gesture for her to enter, awkwardly checking her out. She noticed, I blushed, she smiled. “For a guy who can’t stop writing, you seem to be shy in person.” I was flummoxed and befuddled, fluddled and bemoxed; I was elated and embarassed, elarassed and embated. She felt comfortably familiar yet alluringly alien. I was delirious with joy.

Civilization has given us flush toilets and fire, wheels and Snapchat. The poor now eat better and live longer than the Pharaohs. Enshrined within the luxuriousness of technology, we often forget the price we pay for forfeiting intuition with intelligence, endorphins with ego. In other words we think before we feel, act before we react, trust our minds more than our hearts.

But every once in a while we’re reminded who we are, how we’re wired, and what really matters. Like an echo reverberating through the caverns of our ancestry, we might one day touch another human so gloriously delicious that we unconsciously gasp and make a move, time standing still until the mind finally catches up to the body days, months, sometimes many years later.

Before the memories even formed and I remembered them again and again, we hit it on the couch, in the bed, on the floor, in the bathroom, back in the bed. The breadcrumb trail of our love making seemed to retrace the trajectory of my nervous pacing before she showed, as if the Universe were unwinding itself, time traveling in reverse, years of unhappiness over-written with bliss.

Our physical compatibility was off the charts, but what sealed the deal was the intellectual and emotional combustion. Our minds and hearts sparked in unison, catalyzing each other’s curiosity and enthusiasm. We found ourselves in lockstep in and out of the sack, consuming ideas with as much relish as our bodies, loving our love making alongside our love of the arts, science, politics.

Arguably most astonishing as I write these words is how little I remember of the sex during that first encounter. Chaise lounge opposite the door, French press in the kitchenette, zebra skin rug in the bathroom — all indelibly etched into my mind alongside the warm softness of her skin, the soothing sound of her voice, the luxurious flow of her hair, the vast depth our yearning…

Couples describe that “magic moment” when they pass the tipping point from one night fling, casual dating, true romance, and into life partner. We felt it fast our first night together, naked and embracing in bed, reading Speed-the-Plow aloud, playing the characters we’d soon see on stage. Deceit was their inexorable undoing; ironies abounded as sadly, honesty would soon be ours.

Meet the Parents

That winter was particularly cold in New York City, but we were burning it up. Insta-lovers, we were meant for each other, mesmerized and in constant contact throughout that amorous weekend. From Broadway to the East Village, MOMA to Soho, restaurants to room service, our first weekend felt like a Honeymoon, making up for our eternities of lonely marriages.

We were in different places, but wanted exactly the same thing. I was sexlessly still married with small kids, while Anna was divorced, had adult kids, was busily dating, with a boy toy on booty call to keep her company. After two hours together, our external lives vanished; and after two days, Anna raised the stakes in blending my life with hers by inviting me to her home in Philly.

Infatuated, as impulsive as I was, Anna plunged me into her life with a visit to her favorite bar, introductions to some of her close friends, and a passionate evening at her house. I could feel the local vibe: shellshocked she’s now lovestruck, for chrissakes she’d just met this guy — and reveled at her pushback: here he is! can you see we’re madly in love, soul mates only getting started.

Breathless, our time up, already physically and psychologically addicted to each other’s bodies and minds, we somehow wrenched ourselves apart and said our goodbyes with the assurance that the separation wouldn’t last. It didn’t. Back home our texts skyrocketed from hourly to minute-by-minute; New Year’s Eve was only a month or so away, and we made Big Plans.

I lied to my wife for the first time, telling her business forced me to Chicago close to the holidays, might as well stay with friends. I rationalized my deceit with the tacit truth she didn’t care what I did if I came back and took care of her. We weren’t intimate anyway. She didn’t like me anyway. And I was in love — Love! — The sheer zaniness made our second getaway even more powerful.

Before I knew it I was at the Philly airport, texting her a fantasy: I‘d be a’ visiting colleague, interviewing for a promotion. The details are fuzzy, but submissive sex-with-the-boss remains as vivid as yesterday, the thrill of Anna being in absolute control of my destiny a tantanlizing projection of our actual situation. Falling back out of character, we fell even further for each other.

If we’d lost our minds six weeks earlier in New York City, we went totally bonkers that holiday week in her home town. Love was the drug, and we were high as hell. When not coupling, as a couple we went everywhere Anna could take me: Museums, restaurants, bars; her friends’ homes, businesses, work places; I got the World Tour of Annaland, with the intent I’d be back to stay.

Cutting muster with everyone near and dear, the heavy vetting loomed ahead. As we drove to her parents’ home Anna marveled at my fearlessness while warning me about her mom, who’d already expressed scepticism bordering on alarm: I was married, had young kids, lived in California. “She’ll never let me move,” Anna said — which implicitly meant “You’ll have to relocate here.”

Yes, we were talking crazy like that. Oblivious, her father was stately, taciturn, and kind, boozing us up; her mother gave me a laserbeam stare-down. I somehow managed to break the ice and ingratiate myself by sharing an oral history of my sexless marriage, all of them losing it at the part about working for a rhinoceros breeder: turns out Anna’s ex sported the nickname “Rhino.”

Last Hurrah

I was everything Anna’s ex wasn’t, and Anna was everything my wife wasn’t, what could go wrong? Only fly in the ointment was my seemingly hopeless situation and its ridiculous logistics. Meanwhile Anna had her booty call boy toy and long line of local suitors, which seemed to me far less threatening than the prospect of upending my entire existence for someone I’d just met.

We want the one we can’t have, and if you have someone you don’t want, then the best way to want them again is for someone else to have them. So when my wife’s niece snooped and found Anna’s text messages on my phone, our sexless marriage got reanimated: Realizing that her free ride was for the first time in peril, my wife effortlessly transformed herself from ninja to geisha.

I shrugged at her accusations, resisted her propositions, then texted Anna that our cover was blown. “OMG” she wrote back, “what are you going to do?” What was I going to do? On the one hand I knew the game my wife was playing; on the other I understood that, regardless of the predictable outcome, my young kids’ happiness and stability were at stake.

As the uncertainty rose, so did the frequency of her sexual advances, Bizarro World morphing from go-fuck-yourself-forever to love-you-long-time-tonight. I knew she was totally using me; she’d let me hit it for a month, likely less, until interest in this Anna person went away. The coast clear, she’d turn me back into a freezer burned popsicle, ground state of our sexless marriage.

Even though I knew this, and she knew that I knew this, and I knew that she knew that I knew this, I felt I had no choice but to give her a chance. Our whole family was at stake. So far my kids knew nothing about my pain or her indifference. I had shielded them from my anguish. If I blew the whole thing up, there would be no turning back. I had to indulge her to make damn sure.

Anna called bullshit. She pointed out — correctly — that I should have left this shitty marriage years ago. She insisted — correctly — that I was an asshole for demanding the wife who hated me have sex with me. And she observed — also correctly — that by going back I was simply assuaging my guilt and postponing the need to take responsibility for my own life and actions.

Instead, I insisted on that last chance, rationalizing the choice with the help of my friend Ken, who suggested Anna chill and wait it all out. Before long I’d be in the same boat, sleeping on the same sofa, browsing the same porn. I simply had to leap back in long enough for the obvious to be inevitably revealed. After the smoke cleared and dust settled on my sexless marriage, I’d be free.

What I loved most about Anna was her stoicism, her belief in doing the right thing, seamlessly blending with her effervescent energy and impulsiveness. Certainly those same traits made it impossible for her to tolerate being benched while I screwed my ex-wife for the sake of eventually divorcing her. I frantically texted and called. Anna scorned me. How long would she wait?

I took my wife on a “date,” our first in years. California Pizza Kitchen seemed fitting, as everything about the place was fake, especially the pizza. I gave her an ultimatum, and insisted she repeat it out loud: “If we don’t have a normal married life, including a physical relationship, we are going to get divorced.” She distractedly looked at her watch. The clock was now running: Tick, tock.

The One that Got Away

The next few weeks sent me headlong through the lookingglass, sexless marriage and perfect lover turned upside down and inside out. I gaped at how strange life had become as my once frozen and now hyper-sexual wife effortlessly made herself available every morning and evening, from floor to ceiling, eagerly welcoming every position, location, and kink I could think.

If that weren’t weird enough, our fleeting marital ecstasy was flustered by the relentless agony of knowing Anna had again summoned her booty call boy toy. The videographer in me imagined a split screen, on one side Anna in her candle-lit bathroom tub getting banged by a twenty-three-year-old, on the other this distracted Korean woman faking it with her big bald Sugar Daddy.

The irony of finally have sex with my sexless wife thanks to having an extramarital affair wasn’t lost on me. But what really shook me up was the irony of falling deeply in love with someone now avidly re-entering her local dating scene, triggering overwhelming feelings of jealousy. I was wrecked and obsessed. I wanted Anna, and now she was sharing her affections with others.

We all have coping mechanisms, behavioral techniques to protect and make ourselves feel better. One that I often use is projection: In this case, I was so completely consumed by jealousy that I sent Anna a YouTube video of Sting and Branford Marsalis singing “If You Love Someone, Set Them Free.” A smooth move. Anna went ballistic. “How dare you give me permission?”

Meanwhile my domestic sexcapades dimished day-by-day, and night-by-night. Utterly predictably and like clockwork, slowly at first and then more rapidly, the diminuendo continued across every sexual variable, from frequency to duration, intensity to experimentation. What started as a college dorm fuckfest within weeks reverted to a nursing home euthanasia program.

My marriage proved itself a fraud, of course, and I was finally free. But by then it was too late. Infuriated Anna had not only gone silent, but unfriended me and all my friends. My marriage again dead, my new lover gone, a lucky break propelling me light years ahead only to break me back down into my tiny house of mirrors, infinitely reflecting my foolish face in all directions.

Where Anna and I ended was as we began, random people on a social network, one with the same name as a former lover, and Our Hero having loved and lost, again. What tore us apart were the same forces that joined us — radical candor, brutal honesty, limitless desire. People meet people and hook up all the time, but you know it when a lover changes you forever.

The Chinese concept of yuanfen is an interpersonal mix of karma and darma, destiny and decision. We’re allegedly born with unique yuanfen for everyone we’ll ever meet. All told, Anna and I were physically together for less than a fortnight, a romantic blur — but we shared more than that, those passionate moments reminding us of an unknowable future as we relive countless pasts.

Despite our heartbreak, we became the catalysts for the next phase in our lives. I wouldn’t be The One, but I showed her what was possible, set the boyfriend bar, and inspired her to find the man of her dreams, which she soon did. Anna similarly ignited my passion and potential, helped me leave an unhappy marriage for a happier one, awakened me into finally growing up.

Postscript

Anna never forgave me for going back to my wife, and of course I couldn’t blame her — and despite a few subsquent attempts, if only out of sheer curiosity, I still haven’t been able to find the Original Anna Fortnight in LA, or wherever she’s moved to, and with whomever. But the story is still a good one, and my jets again firing for writing Part 3 and beyond — stay tuned…

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Mookie Spitz

Author and communications strategist. His latest book SUPER SANTA is available on Amazon, with a sci fi adventure set for Valentine's Day 2024.