SLEEPING WITH SOLDIERS: In Search of the Macho Man by Rosemary Daniell

SLEEPING WITH SOLDIERS: In Search of the Macho Man

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Reflecting a deep-seated conflict over her passive-aggressive alcoholic father, Daniell divided the men in her life into two categories. ""I looked for my husbands among the Ashley Wilkeses of the world, my lovers from among the Rhett Butlers."" But after going through three husbands, she gives up on the first type to devote her attentions to the second: the macho man. He arrives in the expectable form of oil rigger and test pilot, army Ranger and skydiver--among the many close encounters described in raunchy detail, with an occasional hint of irony. When Daniell steps back from the bed, however, perspective fails her. She admires oil-rigger Bobby's ""animal intelligence,"" best demonstrated by his speedy return from a supposed fishing trip: "" 'I knew there was a man here; he growled, grabbing my ass possessively, then smiling half-threateningly at the nervous man friend who had just stopped by."" She's not bothered that the deep-sea diver throws wet towels around her apartment ""like a tomcat flinging his spray""; she ""could even adapt. . . to his demand that I not use birth control."" Why? Because he was ""the man I would have been, my masculine twin, acting out my secret wildness, my hidden desires for anarchy."" Her several years of cruising end when she meets Zane, a ""Stanley Kolwalski-type leaning against the bar in cutoffs and T-shirt, beer held in a fist leading to a tattooed bicep."" She believes them perfectly suited, and the fact that he beats her is all the more wonderful--""providing me with just the right set of difficulties for my task . . . a man like Daddy who. . . would reenact with me the primal scene."" Primal, perhaps; but about as surprising as Daniell's final realization that she had confused ""emotional and passionate"" with ""macho and fucked up."" Daniell did better with this material and this theme in a Southern context in her 1980 Fatal Flowers.

Pub Date: Jan. 17th, 1984
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston