The other day I met up with an old friend for a drink. There we were, chatting away nicely, when she suddenly asked me how many women I've slept with in my life. I was quite taken aback and had to take a sizable swig of brandy to steady myself on the bar stool. I told her I didn't have a clue.
Her question reminded me of two things. Firstly, a controversial work of art by Tracy Emin called "Every-one I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995." The work was basically a tent with a list of some 102 names daintily embroidered onto panels on the tent's inside. But the names included, quite literally, every one she'd ever slept with, including her grandmother, teddy bear, a couple of aborted fetuses, not to mention scores of drunken one-night stands. The tent, incidentally, sold for 40,000 pounds but was recently destroyed in a fire.
The second thing my friend's question reminded me of was a recent conversation I had with an American expat living in Riga, to whom I posed the very same question. "Oh, I reckon about 150," he immediately rplied. He then went on to explain that most of these were tallied up in Riga.
To tell the truth, I was shocked by this revelation. His words evoked the sad image iof a long list of names ingrained into stone like a monument for the fallen. But mostly I was just shocked by the logistics of it all. The guy was just so ugly.
But back at the bar, I tried to deflect my friend's question. "How many have you slept with?" I asked, laying great stress on the "you." She thought about it for a moment and then replied using one hand as an abacus.
Actually, I must confess that I sat down later that evening and seriously tried to compose a list of all those I have ever pernoctated with. And to tell the truth, I quite enjoyed making it. It was mostly a devastating testimony to my stupidity, and I couldn't stop groaning as name after half-remembered name came back to torment me. And how many were there in all? Well, I'm not one to reveal such intimate things about myself. Suffice it to say, I've known more bed mites than bedmates.