Lust, we are hard wired for it. It propels us and compels us to go after what we want. There is greed, gluttony, sexual lust, blood lust. Whether it’s to gain power, to amass wealth, to rise to fame, to hunger for an excellent steak tartare, or to consume another’s flesh in all the ways we wish to devour our lovers; our lust can transcend reality into delirious heights of ecstasy. There are all kinds of ways we lust, yet we often feel ashamed of wanting the things we desire. Even still, we love to live vicariously through characters like Madonna, Samantha Jones, Hugh Hefner, Cleopatra, and King Solomon.
We have constructed rules about governing our lust, and clouded it with guilt and shame. I suppose on a mass scale it keeps the streets safe from carnage. But it’s this drive that fascinates me. How many wars have been waged, inventions created, artworks rendered, and empires built in the name of lust?
New York takes lust to Gatsby-like excess. We are like vampires with our needs, wants, and aspirations. We have a long and illustrious history of taking our lust to new levels. Our skyline of steel phalluses rising into the atmosphere is proof positive.
Some animals when stalking to feed, hunt in packs, but they also share the carcass. I prefer to hunt alone. I have never seen the logic in bringing bitter competition to the party with me. Yet lust has the power to strip us of reason. We can morph from rational people to base animals within minutes. Even seconds.
I was at a cocktail party when I met a passionate, slightly eccentric woman. She told me she had once driven through the gates of her ex-husband’s property and then crashed through the glass into the living room. Why? To confront him out of scorn or jealous rage. As he sat there in his living room, naked, smoking a cigarette, watching her advancing, frozen in disbelief, the episode apparently metamorphosed into two days of mad, passionate sex.
Lust can be emotionally or hormonally driven. As a woman in her prime, I can attest to experiencing feelings like a lioness in heat. With the impending expiration date of my eggs, it seems that my hormones are in full throttle. Screaming “last call!” as my reproductive years begin to wane. I’m not a whore; I’m in heat. It’s not my fault. It’s the hardwiring of my hormone-drunk brain. But it seems to me we only ever hear of women’s cramps and hot flashes, or occasionally the proverbial “ticking biological clock.” Lust is an inevitable part of natural life, yet an aspect that we guilt into the closet — choosing to cold shower our urges into submission. How miserable. I hate the cold.
There is a song from the musical Oklahoma sung by one of the two females leads (Ado Annie) called “I Cain’t Say No,” written by Rodgers and Hammerstein. The song is endearing in its sweet, honest, helpless portrayal of a familiar inner conflict: her inability to resist the desire to receive (and give) affection in the face of being labeled the town tart. The world often tells women they are not entitled to the same lust that men are privileged – and even applauded – to possesses. Absurd.
Lust, heady and intoxicating, is part of life. Revel in it. Embrace it. Bask in the satiated afterglow like the tip of your e-cigarette. Enjoy it responsibly. We should be conscious and clear in our dalliances, rather than ashamed. Embracing our wanton ways, although harder, is ultimately healthier.