For years I have led a double life – daytimes a married academic, a City University of New York librarian engaged in research on Women’s Studies, and nighttimes a Greenwich Village free spirit gadabout. My happy open marriage to author Michael Foster allowed for my dating other men, world travel and adventure. Bookish and bawdy, my shadow identity, Belladonna, wrote sexy poetry and my tell-all “Confessions of a Librarian: A Memoir of Loves” (Riverdale Avenue Books.) Bourgeois and anarchist in one, I played the female Casanova.
Monogamy gave way to a “tolerant marriage.” Back then love was in the air along with pot fumes. Our sexual horizons expanded with our consciousness. Some years later a menage a trois evolved that incorporated a natural health expert and author, Letha, who is Michael’s life partner and our significant other. Our menage became a family of choice. Let the world couple off, an odd-numbered combination suited me. The Greek philosopher Pythagoras considered three the most mystical number. A triad gave me a solid base from which to explore the Byzantine complexity of male-female relations.
Often my “nice girl” side clucked her tongue at the hussy whose skin she shared. I have sampled pleasures traditionally denied married women. When wounded by a casual lover, I crept back to my nest for healing. Instead of an angry husband, Michael understood and gave advice and Letha, over the years, has helped to hold the marriage together. Our trois synergy produced a highly researched, comprehensive book, translated into many languages, detailing the lives of famous threesomes: “Three in Love: Ménages a Trois from Ancient to Modern Times” (iUniverse).
Living with a husband in a small Manhattan apartment, while dating others, requires finesse. Scheduling problems arise, such as where to entertain a beau and how to balance a lover, a full time job, triadic activities, and a writing career? Occasionally my libido got off the beam. My “Confessions” describe, among others, one night stands in a cheap hotel on the Jersey Turnpike, being nearly kidnapped by a giant wearing a turban on the Ganges River in India, on-going affairs in Argentina, Jerusalem, and in Greenwich Village, sleeping with the Mob. Travel, adventure and romance!
In Manhattan, a woman over 40 is as likely to have a satisfying date as a youngster—if you know where to look. For me, altar-expectant men were off limits. Instead, I sought out those prepared to wine and dine me. The mature men I found had a sense of humor, charm, and rich life experience. Most consider New York’s West Village to be a quaint neighborhood notable for its Bohemian history. To me its streets are more enchanting than Paris. There, I have enjoyed hugs, kisses and a lover’s intimate affection. I stroll a lot, an excuse to conjure up memories. With lovers I went to particular bistros, bars, theaters and restaurants. Our menage haunts were elsewhere. The twain crisscrossed but seldom met.
Favorite benches in St. Luke’s garden, where we three gazed at seasonal flowers, were the site of menage epiphanies. Our triad welcomed every season. Strolling under St. Luke’s cherry and apple trees added a bucolic note. Worshipping outside the church of coupledom and daring to write a book about it put the three of us at odds with our peers and childhood values, but brought emotional enrichment. We have flourished over two decades, longer than most marriages. Our threesome has changed, grown and survived. I’ve lived out my fantasies on several continents. I have not had it all, but I’ve sure had a ball!
About Barbara Foster
Barbara Foster has worked as a college librarian and as an associate professor specializing in Women’s Studies at the City University of New York. She has published numerous articles on education and travel, as well as more than 200 poems in literary journals under the name Belladonna. Her latest book is “Confessions of a Librarian: A Memoir of Loves” (www.threelovestory.com).