"I can sympathize with people's pains but not with their pleasures. There is something curiously boring about somebody else's happiness."
Aldous Huxley


After the divorce, I moved into the mansion in the Poconos.

It was still not completed, but I explained to the building inspector that if he didn't issue a certificate of occupancy, I would lose a fortune in bank penalties, because the deadline for the construction loan had long expired. Thankfully he agreed to let me live in the house even though it wasn't totally finished yet.

The house was way too big for just one person. When I walked around, I could hear the echo of my steps. The loneliness was soul-crushing. I really missed Donna. I was so depressed, I spent hours just lying on the bed, staring at the ceiling, lost in thought. I was so used to having her around me at all times, that now there was a big gaping hole in my life.

But at the same time, I felt at peace for the first time in... ever? Finally I didn't have someone constantly telling me that no matter what I did, it was wrong. I didn't feel like I was constantly walking on egg shells, because if I said or did the wrong thing, someone would punish me with some psychotic tantrum.

That feeling of inner peace and serenity was nice. If only I had someone in my life to share it with.

The nearest town, Milford, was about 15 minutes away. My house was literally in the middle of nowhere, in a beautiful albeit desolate gated lakefront community in the woods.

As a teenager in Germany, I had gone to an all boys catholic school. So I never had any girls around me in school. And because my dad was the town drunk, I was embarrassed to try to meet girls in my neighborhood. I didn't want them laughing about me behind my back, because they saw my dad passed out drunk lying in a ditch somewhere.

The fact that my mother always wanted to move once my dad had humiliated her in front of the neighbors again, didn't make it any easier for me to meet someone as a teenager.

Then I met Donna over the Internet. She was my first girlfriend, and I ended up marrying her and spent the next 15 years with her.

I never cheated on her. Not just because she would have made my life a living hell if she had caught me, but because I really had no desire to cheat on her. I just wasn't interested in other girls. I was perfectly content with her.

I guess some guys enjoy the chase and love to bang a new girl every few days. To me those guys are total douchebags. Like animals in heat who will fuck anything that moves.

My mom and my stepdad have a really great relationship. They are each other's best friends. They do everything together, and they miss each other terribly when they are apart for even just a day. That's the kind of relationship I want to have. Like one soul in two bodies.

And despite its flaws, that was the kind of relationship I had with Donna. So for 15 years I had never even looked at another girl or flirted with another girl. I really had no dating skills whatsoever at this point. I had never experienced the things normal teenagers go through, when they begin to date: a first kiss at the prom from your high school sweetheart, casual sex with female friends, make out parties, or learning how to deal with a break up.

I felt a little bit like an alien from another planet, who had beamed down to Earth and was now posing as a human, but was unfamiliar with even the most basic human customs. And now I had to start meeting girls, if I didn't want to sit in this huge house all by myself every night. Terrific. What could possibly go wrong?

Patty was the first girl who answered my online personal ad. I think I was 38 at the time. She was 39 and lived in Scranton, about half an hour away. We decided to meet at a Chinese food restaurant in Lords Valley. Somehow we ended up at two different restaurants, waiting for each other for about twenty minutes, until we figured out the miscommunication.

When I met her, her voice instantly turned me off. She wasn't bad looking. She had natural blonde hair, a nice smile and big boobs. But she had a deep man's voice. I almost felt like I was sitting across the table from a drag queen.

But the small talk with her went surprisingly well, considering that this was the first time I had to do that kind of stuff. We had a lot of fun and laughed a lot. Then she went to the bathroom, and tripped along the way. When she came back, her whole lap was wet. Somehow she had managed to spill a bunch of water on her lap in the bathroom. When she sat back down, she almost knocked her plate over. She was even worse at this than I was.

After we had dinner at the Chinese restaurant, we went back to my place. We sat on the couch in the living room. She kept gushing that this was the most beautiful house she had ever been in.

The building inspector, a no nonsense bureaucrat, had said the same thing when he had issued the certificate of occupancy a few weeks earlier. He walked into the kitchen and quietly looked around. Then he matter-of-factly told me: "I usually don't say this, and I don't bullshit people, but you got the nicest house in the whole county." That made me feel pretty good.

While Patty and I were sitting on the living room couch, I told her that building this house had been my dream, and that I had designed every little detail, from the type of crown moulding that was used, down to the color of the tiles and the type of door handles throughout the house.

Then I told her that I was thinking about selling the house and moving somewhere else. Maybe Florida. She couldn't understand that: "Why would you want to leave your dream house?"

"Because my dream has changed," I replied. "I thought having a beautiful house in the Poconos would make me happy. But it didn't."

It was getting late, and she went home. It had been nice to have some company for a change.

She came over again after work a day or two later. She made meatballs in tomato sauce for me. She made the sauce from scratch, using fresh tomatoes. She really went all out, and put a lot of effort into making dinner, to impress me. She was a good cook.

Patty ended up spending the night. We went into the huge hot tub in the master bathroom. It was big enough for four people. You could float in it on an inflatable mattress. I loved that tub. The hot, bubbly water was so relaxing. I could spend hours in it, and just forget the whole world for a little while.

It felt kinda weird seeing her undress in front of me. But hey, I wasn't complaining. At least now I knew she wasn't a transvestite. She had all the required lady parts to qualify as 100% female.

I got into the tub first, and then she got on top of me, facing me, with her big boobs dangling in my face. I kissed them. In my head, I compared them to Donna's boobs. Patty's breasts were smaller than Donna's. And Patty's nipples where bigger and darker. Almost too big and too dark. Then she started playing with my dick and she tried to slide it inside of her and ride me.

I couldn't believe how easy it had been to meet another girl after Donna, and how quickly I ended up having sex with her. I really had thought it was going to take much longer, and that I was going to have to slog through dozens of awkward blind dates, until I finally connect with a girl, and we get close enough, where she would want to spend the night and have sex with me.

Somehow being in the tub seemed to be too distracting. I couldn't have sex with Patty. So we decided to go into the bedroom and try it again on the bed. Same thing. I just couldn't do it. My mind wanted to, but my dick apparently decided that this was a good time to go on strike. What I learned that night was that I really don't like one night stands with strangers.

Patty came over a few more times after that. She was a counselor at a drug rehab in Scranton. I thought that was pretty interesting, so I asked her a bunch of questions. All I knew about drugs or addicts at that point was what I had read in that book Zoo Station, when I was a kid.

We did end up having sex a few times, but it always felt forced to me. Fake. I neither felt horny, nor did I feel like I had a deep emotional connection with her that would make me want to make love to her. I really just did it, because I figured, hey, there's a naked girl next to me. Might as well have sex. But for some reason I really didn't enjoy sex with her. I wasn't sure why. There was just something off-putting about her.

I guess it wasn't even one big thing, but many little things, like her manly voice, and the way she would lie next to me in bed and closely examine my naked body, like I was under a microscope. She was looking for zits on my stomach, or my shoulders. She was a pimple popper. Hey, if you want to pop your own pimples, knock yourself out. But leave my zits the hell alone! Somehow she seemed to think that looking for a zit on me, and popping it, was very intimate. To me it was just crrreepy.

And while lying in bed, every few minutes she checked my belly button for lint. There usually wasn't any in there. But she'd stick her finger in it anyway, stir around in it for a second or two, and then examine her finger tip for traces of lint. Who the fuck does that?!

Two or three other girls had answered my online ad as well. I stopped seeing Patty after we got together four or five times and I decided to meet some other girls instead.

Jennifer was 26 and she looked like a model. She had actually been a stripper in the past. Now she worked as a realtor, selling time shares. She had long bleach blonde hair and huge breast implants. She had the perfect body and a beautiful face. She could have been Jenna Jameson's prettier sister.

The first time I had sex with Jennifer also started out in my hot tub. Her boobs were about as big as my head. And they were just perfect. Holy crap, were they perfect. Everything about her was perfect. I loved having sex with her. I could see myself getting used to that.

Then, after we had seen each other a couple of times, she finally told me that she was actually still in a relationship with this guy Ron, and they were living together and they had four children. Holy fuck.

She had three kids from her previous boyfriend, a drug dealer in Philadelphia. She left him when she met Ron. Ron was the father of her fourth kid, but he was raising all four of them as his own. He also worked in real estate.

Ron was an abusive alcoholic who beat Jennifer, and she wanted to get away from him, but couldn't do it on her own. So she was looking for someone else who would take care of her and her four kids. She figured my huge house would be perfect for them.

Once I knew Jennifer was still living with Ron, I kinda stopped seeing her. But every now and then, when she and Ron were breaking up yet again, or he hit her again, or she called the cops on him again, she would call me, and we hung out and had sex.

She would tell me what a horrible person Ron was and we'd make plans for a future together, even though I knew that next week she'd be back with Ron anyway. And deep down I knew that no matter how incredibly hot she was, and no matter how much I enjoyed having sex with her, I really didn't want to be with her, because she was obviously a cheater and a gold digger.

One time, when she told me how great things would be once we live together, she said that she would hire a personal trainer for me, and a stylist, and she'd pick out a fancier car for me.

Obviously she didn't really like anything about me, except my wallet. She didn't like the fact that I had gained weight after my divorce, because I eat too much junk food when I'm depressed. She didn't like that I dress casually and wanted me to look more like a high roller. And she didn't like that I drove a Durango, and she wanted me to drive a Mercedes or BMW or Porsche instead. She was utterly shallow and empty inside. All she cared about was looks and money. She was beautiful on the outside, but ugly on the inside.

Then I met Linda. She was 30. She had dark hair, a nice figure and a pretty face, even though her nose was a little too big. She was a single mother and had a 2-year-old son. She told me that she had just lost her job as a receptionist in a doctor's office and that she was struggling to make ends meet.

After we had known each other for a week or two, and we had sex a few times, she asked me if I could maybe help her out with her electric bill. A few days later she supposedly needed help with her phone bill. Then she needed groceries, because her kid was starving. And so on and so forth. Every time we got together, she supposedly needed money desperately or her world was going to go up in flames.

Being the oblivious space alien that I was, it took me a while to catch on to the fact that she was just playing me like a fiddle.

One day she called me and told me she didn't get her period. She said she was pregnant and I was the father. She said we really didn't know each other well enough yet to have a child together, so she wanted to get an abortion and asked me to pay for it. I gave her a couple of hundred dollars, when she came over later that day.

A few days later, when she came over again, and I asked her how she felt and how the procedure went, she told me the abortion didn't take. She said her cervix hadn't dilated enough, and that's why they couldn't perform the abortion, but since the doctor did start the procedure, they still took her money. She said now she was still pregnant, but had no more money left, and needed to go for another abortion. Naive as I was, I believed her, and gave her another couple of hundred dollars.

A few days later she told me that the second abortion didn't take either, because her cervix still wouldn't dilate enough. That's when I finally put two and two together and realized that she was constantly asking me for money. I wasn't sure if she really was pregnant or not, but I sure as hell wasn't going to give her any more cash ever again. I told her I would call the abortion clinic and pay over the phone with a credit card. She tried to make excuses for why that wouldn't work and why she needed me to give her cash: "They won't even talk to you if you call them, because you're a guy."

"Well, then tell them it's ok to talk to me," I said.

"I can't. They won't talk to you over the phone. Patient confidentiality," she replied.

"OK, then I'll take you to the clinic myself, and I will pay them with a credit card in person."

"They don't take credit cards."

"OK, then I'll give them a check."

"They don't take checks."

"OK, then I'll hand them cash. But I'm not giving the cash to you. I'm going to give it to the receptionist at the clinic."

"OK, fine," she said. "I'll go for the abortion next Tuesday."

On Monday night I tried to call her, to ask her when I should pick her up and take her to the clinic. No answer. I tried to call her a few more times on Tuesday. No answer. Then I gave up. She never called me back. I guess once she realized I wasn't going to give her one more dollar, she lost all interest in me and moved on to her next victim.

For a few weeks after that I worried about her really being pregnant, and that once she had the baby, she'd try to come after me for child support. But she never did.

Then I met Liz. She was 24. She was going to college to become a school teacher. But she hated her job, and really wanted to be a yoga instructor. She was obsessed with weed. Eeeverything revolved around weed. It was almost like a religion to her.

The college town New Paltz, NY was about half an hour away from my house in Pennsylvania. I met Liz for the first time at a Sushi restaurant, and we ended up talking for hours. She was very short and petite. One inch away from legally being a midget, she said. She had dark hair, nerd-chic glasses and a pretty smile.

We ended up hanging out every weekend for a few months. We went out to eat, watched movies together, went to art museums, spent a weekend in Atlantic City, and saw shows like Cirque du Soleil and Blue Man Group in Manhattan. We visited the Bronx zoo, and got massages at the ritzy Mohonk Mountain House spa.

Liz always smoked weed when we hung out, and kept asking me to try it. She knew I had never tried any alcohol or drugs. Her argument that weed wasn't really a drug but a natural herb finally convinced me to try it at least once. She was so excited that my first time was going to be with her. She told me that we would have to go buy me my own glass pipe first. We went to a little smoke shop in New Paltz, that had a huge selection of weed paraphernalia.

Then we went back to my house and sat on the kitchen balcony, overlooking my back yard. It was dark. She showed me how to stuff a pipe, light it, hold the carburetor, how to inhale and how to hold in the smoke. Since I had never even smoked a cigarette before, it made me choke so bad, I felt like I was going to cough up a lung. Being so inept at this made me feel like a total space alien again.

She told me to take three hits. I did. Then we talked about God knows what. After a few minutes she asked me if I felt anything yet. Nope. Nothing. A few minutes later she asked me again. Nothing.

Then she told me that weed doesn't work on everyone. Some people are immune to it, and they don't feel anything no matter how much they smoke. She said apparently I was one of those people. She was clearly disappointed.

Suddenly I had the biggest chipmunk cheek grin on my face. For no reason. I felt like I looked like The Joker. I tried to push my cheeks down with my fingers, to stop that stupid grin. But it wasn't working. "I can't stop smiling," I said. She started to laugh and asked me how I felt. The weed had finally kicked in, and within a few minutes I was high as a kite.

We decided to go upstairs, into the master bedroom. Walking up the staircase wasn't easy. Everything was spinning like a kaleidoscope. I could barely even stand, never mind walk up the stairs.

After we finally made it to the bedroom, we were lying on the bed, watching Futurama. My whole body felt tingly, and the colors in the cartoon were hilarious to me. I thought purple and cyan were the funniest things ever. I was so high, colors were making me laugh. Liz told me later that the stuff I had smoked was called Diesel. She said it was pretty good.

Since I was getting more and more involved in real estate investing, I flew to Florida a couple of times. Usually to Fort Myers, because the Southwest Florida metro area was the second hardest hit area during the real estate bubble, after Las Vegas. So there were a lot of incredibly cheap brand new houses for sale at real estate auctions.

I asked Liz if she wanted to come with me to Florida for a week. She did, but she was afraid she wouldn't be able to have a good time without weed, and she was scared to take a big bag of weed on the plane with her. I told her my friend Sheila in Fort Myers might be able to hook her up. Sheila was from Iran. She had been a lawyer and then decided to move to the US and became a realtor in Florida. She was really cool. Very smart. And a progressive liberal, just like me. Since we were both immigrants, we had a lot in common, and a lot to talk about.

Once Liz and I landed in Fort Myers, I rented the most luxurious BMW they had at the airport and we stayed at the Waldorf Astoria in Naples. There was really no need for that gaudiness. I guess I figured it would impress Liz. But she wasn't the kind of girl who was impressed by money.

Sheila really did come through. We met her at the 711 on College Parkway and Route 41 and she gave Liz a bag of free weed. Liz had also baked some weed brownies before we left New York. She had taken those with her. She ate most of them, but I tried some, too. They didn't do anything for me.

During the week we spent in Florida together, we explored Naples, Fort Myers Beach, Sanibel, Matlacha, etc. We had a lot of fun.

A few weeks after that trip, she told me that her uncle worked as an instructor at a yoga school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The school had an opening, so she decided to leave New Paltz and move to Chapel Hill to pursue her dream. I never saw her again after that, but we still keep in touch on Facebook.

She gave me a little good bye present: my very own bag of Diesel. It probably would have only lasted her a weekend. But it lasted me several months, because I hardly ever used it. I just tried it a few times while I was relaxing in the hot tub. But it never really did much for me. My head would feel heavy, and I might get sleepy, but that was it. No funny colors and no spinning kaleidoscope. I never got as high again as that first time.

When the bag ran out, I threw away my glass pipe. I had no need for it anymore, since I really wasn't interested in weed.

After Liz left for North Carolina, I met this girl Raven. She was only 19. She had seen my online ad, and asked me if I'd be interested in a mutually beneficial relationship. She told me her dream was to become a porn star in Los Angeles, and she needed to come up with some money to move to California. Alrighty then.

After the shit I had gone through with Linda, I figured that an arrangement like that wouldn't really be all that different than what Linda had been doing to me. Really the only difference was that Raven was perfectly honest and upfront about the fact that she was simply looking to make some money.

Raven had long flowing black hair, a beautiful face, huge brown eyes, and a very nice body. But she was nowhere near as sexy as Jennifer. We got together a few times. Raven was cute, but she was a total ditz. She was such an airhead, it was impossible to have a conversation with her about anything other than her moving to California soon, to break into the porn industry. That's all she cared about.

Raven really did end up in porn. When I googled her stage name a few months later, there were porn videos of her all over the Internet. Porn stars always seem so far away, so unattainable. It was weird to see videos of her on the web and think: "Wow, I actually had sex with that girl. I had sex with a real life porn star!"

I met her again a year or so later, after she had moved back to New York. We got together and she told me she hated Los Angeles and the people she had been around. They all treated her like a piece of meat. Well, duuuuh!

OSense O-Sense