Intimacy 

First I used to sleep with my older brother, later with my sister, finally with my younger brother. I liked the closeness. Nowadays I sleep only with my wife and with persons whom I pay for their services. 

These latter liaisons occur infrequently. I enter a smallish room where my hostess – or as it sometimes plays out – my host, invites me to remove some of my clothing. I lie down in whatever posture my companion suggests. There my companion applies lubricant liberally and proceeds to caress my breasts. Of an instant my nipples leap to nuggety erection while the echocardiographer’s probe performs its ultrasonic mysteries. In the course of these intimacies I invariably fall asleep. In this way I have slept with a lady scientist from Shanghai, an earnest Adventist from Portland and a courtly Zoroastrian gentleman from Persia. (Noting the ritual fringes beneath my shirt, that gentleman and I compared notes on our respective holy undergarments.)

Following these pleasant liaisons I wipe my breasts, get dressed and visit my cardiologist to learn the bad news.

In his Saturday column last weekend Philip Adams wrote: ‘… when Qantas sat the first lady beside me I can still see Mrs Howard’s expression of distaste. “Don’t worry, Janette,” I soothed, “I’m passing out.” And, popping on the eyeshades, I did. But couldn’t resist telling listeners that night: “I just slept with the prime minister’s wife.”’

The story reminded me of another journalist, invited to cover the Concorde’s one and only trip to Australia. As part of the media gaggle the reporter sat in the body of the plane, with notables seated further forward. Among the notables was then prime minister, Gough Whitlam, a large man. (Malcolm Fraser, asked once how he’d compare himself to Whitlam, responded: ‘I’m taller, he’s wider.’)

In the course of the flight Whitlam wound his way down the aisle in the direction of the reporter, slowing as he neared. The reporter felt intrigued and excited: Why me? – he wondered. Whitlam came to a stop at precisely that row, and, turning away from the reporter, leaned forwards to speak to another media person seated in the opposite aisle. The ample prime ministerial posterior moved ever closer to the reporter’s face. The conversation went on for a good while. Eventually Gough straightened and returned to his seat. After sitting in a state of prolonged near-intimacy the reporter wondered: ‘Has any citizen ever been so close to his leader without exchanging words?’

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