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By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Or an abomination.
"It's not about sex,'' says Jerold, drawing a perplexed stare from his wife.
"I don't know what you're even talking about!'' she says.
He explains that for him, the lifestyle is an opportunity to avoid monogamy without cheating, to meet friends who are not judgmental and to see the satisfaction in his wife's eyes when she is pleased. "If she meets Brad Pitt and wants to sleep with him, great. My love for her, and my security in us, means that everything—even every sex act—doesn't have to be about me.''
Meanwhile, his encounters ultimately lead him once again to a realization:
"Nobody fucks me as good as my wife.''
To which Janet says, wryly: "Right. And that means it's about sex.''
The Morgans "go out'' once a week, to a club or private house party. But they agree that 95 percent of the time, their activity is limited to socializing, flirting and possibly what is called "soft-swapping'' (kissing, touching, possibly some oral contact). As committed to swinging as they are, they say that they have had sexual intercourse with someone else just once in the last year.
Both couples say they discovered the lifestyle by accident. Thomas and Tammy were on vacation in Mexico on a pub crawl when an attractive young woman complimented Tammy on her breasts and goofily asked her to lift up her top. Thomas playfully encouraged her to do so, and moments later, to the couple's surprise, the young woman plunged her face into Tammy's cleavage.
Tammy recalls thinking, "That was weird but fun. We should do something like that again."
The Morgans tell a similar story. Driving around lost in Dallas eight years ago, they pulled into the parking lot of a bar and asked the doorman about his establishment.
"Well,'' he said, "it's very different.''
The bar was a swingers club, Sans Souci (French for "without a care''). The Morgans recognized that the large number of women dancing with one another, the absence of men hitting on Janet, and the occasional female patron strolling around wearing nothing but panties was indicative of something....different.
"What we found,'' Jerold says, "were people—nice people, attractive people, normal people—who didn't care what sort of car I drove or what sort of watch I wore or what brand of shoes she wore. Normally in Dallas, it's all about status...meat-market stuff," he says. "We discovered a place where you cut through all that bullshit and get straight to the fun part.''
These couples say that one of the "fun parts'' is the death of infidelity. Thomas, 43, says he cheated on "every girlfriend I ever had'' before he and his new wife eased into swinging three years ago. "And if not for this, I'm sure I'd be cheating on Tammy now too.''
Tammy says her previous marriage was "weighed down by jealousy, distrust and, eventually, divorce. There's no cheating here [in the lifestyle], because it's not cheating if we both know about it, if we do it together, if we do it in control and as a choice. And you know, that's the biggest reason it's OK: Because it's our choice. Freedom of choice. That's in the Constitution, right?''
Among the swingers interviewed, there is concern about the stigma attached to their lifestyle decisions. But they are not at all ashamed of the decision itself or by their motivations. Also, there is a good deal of skepticism about monogamy, perhaps as a defense to the familiar barrage of questions they field from those who are not part of the lifestyle: Is it just about sex? What if your husband falls in love with somebody else's wife? Aren't you worried about diseases? About going to hell? And perhaps most troubling for swingers, "What, if anything, do you tell your children?''
Says Janet: "I would not want to have to tell my daughter, so I am very protective of it. Now, a couple of years ago, I was in the 'Women of IniQuity' calendar, and one of our employees happened to see the calendar. That created some gossip. So now, no more photos.''
Thomas says, "People drink too much. Do they tell their kids? Dad goes on a hunting vacation and shoots Bambi. Does he show his daughter Bambi's bloody head? When it comes to sensitive stuff, personal stuff, I take the same caution with my kid that you do with yours.''
Therapist Hatley says, "Children are not equipped to handle the intimate details of their parents' lives, no matter the nature of those details... Children want to see their parents be affectionate to each other. Anything more than that could be damaging.''
Such solid reasoning, however, provides little comfort to neighborhood parents who would prefer not having to explain to their innocents the tangled relationships between the people who party next door.
Swinging is also not without its risks for some adults. Mimi, who is 45 and lives in Coppell, says she understands the potential damage. The divorced mother of two had a boyfriend of five years who claimed that his busy work schedule had him based part-time in St. Louis and part-time in Dallas. Mimi recently discovered, however, that what her boyfriend had in St. Louis was a wife and two kids. When she confronted him, he attempted to calm her with what he said was the "appeal'' of having multiple relationships and even multiple families.
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