Esther Greenwood

Posts Tagged ‘sex’

Sex Horror Stories, Part One

In Uncategorized on September 22, 2009 at 3:18 am

So, it’s been awhile.  I apologize.  To make up for it, I am going to share a funny true sex story shared with me by a med student acquaintance years ago.

My friend Josh was working as an intern at a hospital in New York.  Once, while working the late shift, a man and woman came in.  The woman had severe burns and the man was in extreme pain.  This was their story:

The man and woman, we’ll call them Claude and Claudette, decided to get high one night.  They got stoned, and started having such a good, relaxing time they decided getting naked could only add to the fun.  So they hung about the apartment butt-naked.  Joy.  Claude, as some stoned folk do, got hungry.  He decided to make himself some pancakes.  So he went into the kitchen and started flipping some flapjacks– still naked.

Well, nothing says sexy to a woman like a man who can cook.  Claudette felt herself getting a little horny, and decided in her stoned glory it was a good idea to go down on Claude while he was standing, flipping those flapjacks.  So she started giving him oral, and Claude got so into it he lost control of his pan and dropped it on Claudette’s fragile head.  Well, that pan was hot, dammit, and covered in hot pancake mix.  Claudette went into shock and bit down on Claude’s manparts.  This, of course, hurt like a bitch.  Claude, panicked, trying to get Claudette off of him, started beating Claudette over the head repeatedly with the burning pan. Both ended up in the hospital.

I can’t remember how they turned out, other than okay/alive.  Josh and I have lost touch and he hasn’t returned my text, so I can’t relieve your fears.  But there’s a funny story for you all!  The moral– carbs really are the enemy.

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Relationships in Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia”

In Uncategorized on August 15, 2009 at 1:27 am

While it’s not uncommon for me to cry during a “chick flick,” it is uncommon for me to cry during a comedic one.  Yet, Nora Ephron’s “Julie & Julia” elicited that reaction from both me and my mother (a repeat viewer) not once, but twice.

“Julie & Julia,” for those who don’t read the papers, watch commercials, or notice billboards, is the movie version of Julie Powell’s blog where she attempts to cook her way through Julia Child’s famous tome of French cooking.  While certainly a lighthearted flick in general (what movie with Meryl Streep portraying the hilarious Julia Child could fail to be so) there were many deeper, more meaningful moments in the film.  Moments that were anything but lighthearted– especially all those concerning the two heroines and their often beleaguered, albeit amused, husbands.

The love felt and, more importantly for the medium, shown, by the husbands for Julie and Julia took my breath away.  I fell in love with those relationships.  I have never before seen a movie for women about women where men weren’t the villains or the main focus.  Writes New York Times movie critic A.O. Scott, “Most strikingly, this is a Hollywood movie about women that is not about the desperate pursuit of men. Marriage is certainly the context both of Julia’s story and of Julie’s (about whom more in a moment), but it is not the point.”  Yet, for me, the portrayal of relationships in “Julie & Julia” was one of the points, if not one of the main high points.

Both Julie (Amy Adams) and Julia (Meryl Streep) are characters in their own right– neurotic, anxious, prone to fancy, slightly crazy, and while obviously in love with their respective spouses, not always the best at showing it.  The husbands, meanwhile, do an excellent job of supporting their women.  (While I was at first seriously displeased that the women weren’t portrayed as equally supportive, there is a nice moment where Julia Child supports a rather distressed Paul Child (the superb Stanley Tucci) regarding his career.)  Julie and Julia both reach for rather extraordinary, insane goals involving food, and the husbands, while fully aware that their wives’ ventures can end in disaster, are nonetheless supportive.  Not because they believe in the projects, per say, but because they believe in their wives.

When Julie experiences one of her many freak outs over her life/blog, her husband Eric (Chris Messina) responds in what we learn is his usual teasing, witty way that is meant to be nonetheless a simultaneous pick-me-up and a means to bring Julie back to Earth.  It’s both beautiful and enjoyable to watch the couple’s witty repartee and Chris Messina’s many amused reactions to his crazy love.

Tucci, meanwhile, has the best moments in the film– the ones that made me cry, the ones that made my mom and I look at each other and go, “I want that in a marriage.”  For example, there is a scene where The Childs host a Valentines Day dinner for their friends in Paris.  Tucci stands up, looks at his wife with this deep, soul-consuming love in his eyes, and proclaims, “You are the butter to my bread, the breath to my life.”  While it’s sappy in text, it’s anything but corny in context.  (Plus, Paul Child really did say those words to Julia Child.)  The way Tucci’s voice breaks and Julia smiles up at him, the way Paul kisses Julia’s hand or cheek, the way she blows him kisses, and the look in both the Child’s eyes…  they adore one another.  While it was a movie and the actors were acting, it felt real.  I wanted it to be real.  And because of that, it made me cry.

Plus, being a young woman living in très-hip New York, it was absolutely invigorating to watch these “based on a true story” romances where the men did not care if their women were bone-thin sticks or, as Julie sobs at one point, fat.  They still find their loves beautiful.  They still want to grow old– fat or thin, wrinkly or tan– together.

In an age where so many married couples seem to be unhappy or divorced, it was a relief to watch a film where support and nourishment– both physical and emotional– were the main entrees.  I have precious few examples of those relationships in real life, and yet I think it is what we all strive for.  Sure, Ephron throws in a random spat between Julie and Eric to show that no marriage is perfect, but spats are normal.  Disagreements are normal.  We all know that. What was nice about “Julie & Julia” was that the fights didn’t necessarily mean the husband would go off and cheat on his wife and the film would end with her victorious but alone.  They worked things out.

In most movies involving true love, the romance is unbelievably passionate and sexy.   And while Nora Ephron has no qualms  showing the healthy sexual lives of her two couples, the passion (specifically the Child’s) had, over time, begun to show itself in the ways the couples would hold hands or cook dinner together or just generally talk to one another.  For example, nothing seemed more romantic than the moment where Julie– feeling incredibly guilty– has to boil a live lobster.  The lid flies off the pot and she runs away screaming.  Eric, who had been singing “lobster killer” throughout the day to the theme of The Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer,” runs in and holds the pot down.  He helps her out on something he personally finds incredibly ludicrous.  That’s sexy.

While I’m not calling “Julie & Julia” realistic by far, in moments such as those it did seem more true.  No marriage or long-term-relationship that I know of is nonstop “tear off one another’s clothes” passionate… love, deep love, and passion, they’re there, but shown in ways other than good ol’ fashion sex.  And again, physical intimacy was most definitely still present.

I went to “Julie & Julia” expecting to hate it;  perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so.  I had low expectations.  But I know one of the main reasons I left that movie wanting to see it again was it gave me hope.  Maybe even I, in my crazy, neurotic, scary-creative way, would not scare away the good guy.  Maybe I could end up happy and with someone to love.

My mother informs me that my father, upon seeing “Julie & Julia,” kept whispering to her throughout the film whenever Amy Adams came on the screen, “She looks like Emily!  That’s so Emily.”  In how the women (for the most part, again I’d be way more supportive of my other half) are members of a loving relationship well past their twenties, I can only reply– “I hope.”

Are Women Human?

In Uncategorized on August 2, 2009 at 7:25 pm

I don’t mind the sun sometimes, the images it shows
I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes
Cinnamon and sugary and softly spoken lies
You never know just how you look through other people’s eyes

– Butthole Surfers, “Pepper”


“Well, women bleed.”

– My brother, the day I got my first period in 1999.


When I was in middle school, I used to get great joy out of reading Seventeen Magazine’s section “real life embarrassing moments.”  The anecdotes contained– apparently coming from real girls with real tales of horror– ranged from “I accidentally had phone sex with my boyfriend’s little brother!  I farted during a makeout!”  I never believed the stories– especially ones involving a girl’s period.  Bullshit, my fouteen-year-old self would snicker.  You made this up just to get published.   Then I’d turn the page and read an interview with the boys from Weezer on what they considered “sexy.”

Well, karma’s a bitch.  Because I, too, have an embarrasing story, and one I think worth sharing for the purposes of this blog.

Once upon a time, I had a lovely date with a lovely fellow.  We had a lovely time.  We went for a walk in the park, had drinks, made out during Casablanca.  The morning after, I slept with this lovely fellow.  It was also lovely and all those things you want good morning sex to be– I even forgot to worry about morning breath.

If only that had been my biggest embarrassment.

But no, after the act itself I got up, only to hear an exclamation of surprise from said fellow “Are you on your period?!”

It’s a good thing I was looking at the opposite wall, because if he had seen my face it would have been a horrifying mixture of shock and embarrassment.  Being on the pill, I was well aware that NO, I was not on my period, I had two weeks to go.  Yet, sure enough, there were the signs– my blood, on his intimates.

I think I did a good job of hiding the absolute mortification that ran through me.  I threw him a towel, made a joke, and ran to get myself a drink of water and to check my pills.  Sure enough, this wasn’t supposed to happen.

I am not a fan of period sex.  I’ve had guys want to have sex with me when I’m on my period, citing it’s all natural body stuff.  But I’m a no-go on that.  In my book, I’ve got enough going on down there.  When I asked my friend Spam about bleeding during sex, he claimed:

Spam: the blood and mucous is a natural part of your lady parts health cycle.
It’s the byproduct of a healthy body
different people feel differently about period sex, but it’s your body
so in MY opinion, you’ll be happier if you’re more less mortified by menstruation.

Then there’s Vince, always full of his wisdom:
Vince: Emily for fuck’s sake
Vince: Would you leave a guy who gets his spit in your mouth when he kisses you?
Vince: of course not
Vince: why not?
Vince: because the mouth makes spit
Vince: and guess what the vagina isn’t full of fairies and horses and wild fucking flowers

And that’s true, periods happen.  But there’s a difference between being okay with your monthly flow and forcing it upon a boy you like.  Especially after a good date when you were just thinking to yourself how wonderful it is that you’re finally comfortable with said person.

The guy handled it like a champ.  He could tell I was embarrassed and made tons of lighthearted jokes.  Plus, he didn’t flee right away, though I bet every bit of his soul was screaming to get the hell away from this woman who bleeds on him without warning.  I, so thankful for the jokes and his carefree response, mentally made a note to bake him cookies and/or get really good at oral sex (actually, who says I’m not already?  Zing!).  And this gave him a “do something terribly mortifying get out of jail free” card.

Alice: whatever, you know what’s worse?  accidentally shitting the bed.  see?  that is SO much worse.

Leah:  Well, you’re definitely in a relationship.  At least you didn’t queef.  That’s so much worse.


True, ladies, true.

I guess what causes the embarrassment is the fact that being in a relationship you want to keep the illusion alive for as long as possible that you’re perfect and inhuman.  I’m remembering the episode of Sex and the City where Carrie farts in front of Mr. Big.  She’s mortified.  Miranda scoffs,

Miranda: You farted. You’re human.
Carrie: I don’t want him to know that.

Amen, sister.

Things get even worse for Carrie’s psyche because Big, for whatever reason, stops having sex with her.  Being a woman, she assumes her slight imperfection has killed their relationship.  And of course Samantha agrees:

Samantha: “We aren’t supposed to fart, douche, use tampons or have hair in places we shouldn’t.”

I think the unfairness of this double-standard doesn’t need commenting upon.

Carrie spends the rest of the episode freaking out.  “I’m terrified he’s going to leave me because I’m not perfect,” she tells Miranda, echoing a fear shared by most women once their paramour sees them first lose their shit over something emotional, get their period, or hears them pee.   In the end, Big shows up at Carrie’s apartment for the first time and tells her he likes her “just as she is” and all that jazz.   It all ends happily ever after.

Why do we women feel like we can’t acknowledge our basic humanness in front of guys?  One of the best compliments women give when gushing about their boyfriends is, “I feel like I can be myself around him.”  Yet, even we reach our limit when it comes to bodily functions.  Do I blame a puritanical society and upbringing?  Or just common decency?

Vince: settle down
Vince:  sometimes I swear to fucking god you are the most anti-feminist person I know.  it’s like you perpetuate the notion that a woman should have tremendous guilt for offending a man with her woman-ness, ie a bleeding vagina


In the end, shit happens.  And as I realized, if the guy flees because of something that was totally accidental, something else less embarrassing (and bonding) would have caused him to leave soon enough.  And I really don’t see that happening.  I have faith in him.  I have faith in the relationship.  In a weird way, if I were to accidentally bleed in front of anyone, I’d have chosen him.  That’s a fucked up compliment, but a compliment nonetheless.

Still, that doesn’t make my cheeks flush any less red when I think about it.  Soon they’ll match the stain on my sheets.

So if the gentleman in question somehow stumbles upon this blog, let me be the first to say, thank you.  Thank you for not fleeing, and I hope one day to reestablish myself as perfect, inhuman, and a really good baker of “I’m sorry I bled on you” oatmeal cookies.

“I can be myself, how about you?”

– Fastball, “Fire Escape”

Sex Changes Things

In Uncategorized on July 27, 2009 at 9:50 pm

[My follow-up to “265 Cloverfield” will be delayed.]

Last night my friends and I hit up this amazing bar in Greenwich Village called The Olive Tree.  The place is pretty cheap, has a full menu plus full bar complete with cool cocktails,  constantly projects old Charlie Chaplin silent films and has chalkboard table tops that you can draw on.  I was out with my friends Leah, Claire, and Ollie.  Ollie brought with him his friend Richard, whom I had never met.  Like all mature adults, the minute we sat down we started drawing genitalia on the table.

About a beer in, Richard started telling us about a girl he was dating.  Last night, apparently, had been their “first time” together.  I didn’t know the dude from Adam so I stayed quiet and drank my Diet Coke.  Richard proceeded to groan.  “Fuck,” he said.  “I slept with her and I don’t know if I want to be with her.”

This struck me as tragic, while it struck the rest of the table as hilarious.  Sure, it’s funny, if it’s not happening to you.  But I can’t help but put myself in the poor girl’s shoes and feel bad.  What a horrible thing to do to a girl.  That’s like our worst nightmare, sleeping with a guy and having him “fuck and chuck” you the next day.  Or worse, what if he just stays with you out of obligation? It’s better if he does makes this decision pre-sex, but post… it hurts so much more.

So why, why, does sex change everything?

After my second cousin Stephan slept with his ex-girlfriend, she got ten times more “clingy.”  She expected him to call, go out on dates, be a part of her life.  Granted, this was a given as they were a couple and that’s sort of supposed to be how it works.  But I think the minute you sleep with someone the tiniest of grievances can tend to freak a woman out.  The guy frowns or doesn’t want her to stay over?  He forgets to call?  She immediately assumes it’s something wrong with her, and maybe not that the dude in question needs some alone time.

Meanwhile, I bet after couples do the deed the first time the guy thinks everything is great.  I mean, the girl slept with him, after all.  It’s all got to be good.  He can relax, be himself.  The girl, meanwhile, raised by a society that told her the minute you give that milk away for free the guy isn’t going to value her as much, looks for those warning signs/red flags prematurely and freaks out when she really should just take a chill pill.

Men, women know this.  We realize this is our cross to bare.  And, I speak for the women I know, we’re trying to calm ourselves down.   Please understand and give us a hug.  We’re crazy, and we need you to be steady while we try to find something to grab on to.

Sex changes things.  At least when it’s not a casual hook-up, when it’s two people who like each other, it does. Suddenly you are seeing that person in a new and vulnerable light, and I’m not just saying that due to the likelihood of nakedness involved.  When you sleep with someone, you’re opening up to both a basic, carnal part of yourselves (a part much of puritanical American religious culture can cause us to loathe) and a more intimate, scared side.  And once you open those parts of yourself, you need to know that person there isn’t just going to rip at that soft underbelly and leave you open and bleeding to death.

I guess this is why communication post intercourse is important, and it’s what I would have advised Richard had he not ended up going home sick.  Instead of telling friends and random strangers his concerns, he should have talked to her about slowing things down.  Who knows, maybe they would have worked out.

265 Cloverfield

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2009 at 10:50 am

Author’s Note:

Below is a story I wrote that was published last year by Narrative Literary Magazine under the title “Santa Monica”.  Since it’s basically 95% based on truth, I figured I’d post it because my follow-up post has to do with themes expressed in this story, anyway.  That, and I’m lazy.


After he fucks you he gets up to smoke a cigarette. You remain prone, your jeans strangling your calves in a reminder that you really need to get to the gym. Calmly, you pull your shirt back down over your stomach and adjust the bra. You’ve never been a fan of showing skin.

You watch as he opens a window and lights up. It’s still early enough that the sun is gentle instead of harsh, an embrace with ambiance aided by the fact that you are on the coast where the sun does not rise but rather sets.

He coughs, the bedside clock ticks. He does not look at you but briefly places a long, cool finger on the windowpane before scratching his neck. His fingerprint winks at you.

You are unsure as to how to proceed. Is this your cue to get the heck out of dodge? You wonder where that particular phrase came from and you smile, enjoying the respite the absurdity of your post-coital thoughts affords you.

He turns, nods at you, exhales. The smell of smoke, which reminds you of your high school boyfriends, fills the room.

“What are you smiling at?”

You shrug and put your smile away. You try to be mysterious. “Life.”

“That’s specific.” He turns back to the window. You both watch as a sparrow circles around a tree once, twice, and glides out of view and into the tree’s dying leaves.

The clock continues to tick in the offbeat of your pulse.

“I wonder if he has a nest in there or something,” you offer, filling the silence. Then you sit up.

It’s his turn to shrug. “Probably.”

You grudgingly admire his chick-lit novel of an outline: tall, lanky, beautiful. He is beautiful, and you hate him for it. You do not hate him for the fact that he is smart, or for the fact that he knows—really knows, and loves—music, or books, or for all the other reasons that make him both so colloquially perfect yet so damnably unobtainable; no, you hate him for his beauty. It is some quality, some aura (if you believed in that crap), he emanates that makes people instantaneously like him without just cause.

Last week he showed up at your friend’s swanky birthday party because you had promised him if he did he might—might—get lucky. Really, you just wanted to see him. Frankly, you were shocked he showed up at all. Of course he said all the right things to all the right people. You were so thankful for his popularity, so proud. It was show-and-tell in Mrs. Knudsen’s kindergarten class all over again. Only this time you didn’t bring in the wool scarf your aunt knit, no you showed up with a basketful of space rocks. His coolness made you cool. Over neon-colored martinis envious girls in tight dresses told you how great he was, how you two were so cute together, that couple-dome was right around the corner. Their business school boyfriends patted him on the back. You smiled and nodded and became drunk without taking a sip.  And like many a drunkard before you, you fooled yourself into the belief that maybe, maybe finally the one man who refused to fall in love with you finally would.

Still smoking, he walks away from the window and bends down to pick up his shirt. He’s been lifting weights, and you wonder if he’s noticed that you’ve stopped.

With nowhere else to look you look up and notice a water leak, ugly and dark and awkward amidst the comfortable tan of his ceiling. It is not like him to leave his home so grossly stained. This is the man who alphabetizes his books in the bookshelf only after fastidiously wrapping their covers with construction paper using just three pieces of tape. The fact that his bookshelf is home to a sterile stripe of brown-backs instead of the hodge-podge collage of rainbow bricks found strewn about in your own library unnerves you. Sometimes you wonder what literature he is so ashamed of, or if the construction paper covers blank, meaningless pages instead of significant words.

He claims he is fucked up, a metaphorical mess. So are you. You can be messy together, a whirlpool of chaos. Your pool could be one of the Wonders of the World, if he would just let it. People would visit from foreign lands with their travel groups and sunblock just to take your photograph and marvel at the symmetry, the controlled chaos, of your togetherness. Math books would be written about the genius of your equation. Together, you could defy science.

Instead, the void of your unsaid relationship will remain just that: a barren, empty waste of space. Display closed until further notice. Please redefine your mathematical proof. Evidence lacking.

Finishing his cigarette he starts to dress, his black boxer briefs harsh against pale skinny legs. Maybe you don’t love this man.

You consider asking for a towel to clean up, but that feels too vulnerable. Instead, you wipe yourself as best you can with a sheet. Though you have been in this bed for over an hour, for the first time you notice his sheets are Star Wars themed. You feel vaguely perverted as the Wookie cleans up your nether regions. Quickly, you pull up your pants.

You do not know the proper etiquette for these situations. You do not usually have random, meaningless sex. You were raised to sell the cow, not give the milk away. For Christ’s sake, you were raised religious. Your mother would be so disappointed in you. Or worse, she would pity you; she would pity these desperate graspings of a drowning woman, begging for a breath of air.

He drops his cigarette in a glass of water perched on the window ledge. You want it to be half full. He sits down upon a chair far across the room. He looks at you but doesn’t see. You shut your eyes for a long, cool moment. Then you open them, slowly. You hear the bird outside fly away; neither of you looks. Somewhere outside on the street a car horn honks. He blinks and the day begins.

“I’ll put on my shoes,” you offer, after a moment.

“Okay.”

You hate him. He’s not going to get back in bed with you; he’s not going to pretend that this was about romance or, God forbid, love. He has never wanted to hold you after sex. You are angry with yourself for even being hurt. You knew this would happen; yet you willingly came over to “listen to music.” Ashamed, you stand up and walk briskly out the bedroom; he trails behind like the metaphorical lost puppy. You glance briefly at the framed photograph hanging on the wall of him, his ex-girlfriend, and his sister at the zoo. You hate that photo. You want him to take it down but refrain from saying so. Usually you comment on the fact that he has a photo of an ex still hanging up. You purposely make your tone casual, so he doesn’t read too much into it when you both know he should. But today you just don’t have the energy to fake not caring. Discouragement, like depression, causes fatigue. The kisses that you had naively hoped were sweet and not just sexual really were just sexual. There should be an anonymous club for masochists like you.

Yet even drunk, you managed to keep some of your control.

“I’m glad I could help you cum this time,” he murmurs, looking at you through slit eyes as he all too casually opens the apartment door for you to leave. He wants some validation of his manliness. You want some validation of your worth. Neither of you will get what you want.

Your car looks lonely and bright by the grey curb. It is the freak of the dull neighborhood. A sparrow, perhaps the same one from before, flies by and lands on the sidewalk adjacent to your car. If you were a bird, you would never land on the ground. It seems too dangerous. A neighborhood cat could come out of nowhere and kill you instantly, leaving nothing behind but your marble-sized head on someone’s porch.

You step over his neighbor’s Jack O’ Lantern as you escape from the porch. The pumpkin grins lasciviously at you; one triangle eye is exaggeratedly larger than the other. You feel its stare as you move to shoo the unsuspecting sparrow away. He stays framed by his doorway.

“Yeah,” you say over flapping wings. “You were great. Thanks.”

So you both speak lies. He pretends he could fall in love with you; you pretend you could ever trust him enough to let him give you an orgasm.

He quickly glances around, his large brown eyes– eyes that in moments of stupidity you describe as “puppy dog” and “loving”– anxiously scan to make sure none of his neighbors heard. Not for the first time, you have the urge to slap him.  You should have given him a hickey, not a love-bite but an honest hickey, violent and angry and small. A hickey would be something for him to worry about later, some primordial mark that signifies “mine.” Another lie.

None of the other women you assume he meets and likely flirts with know you exist. His sister doesn’t even know your name and she lives down the street in the pink apartment complex with the garish spray paint of a palm tree slapped on its side. That apartment complex is more suited for the miserly seniors in Miami than the scenesters-cum-surfers of Santa Monica, an observation he brought up the first time he had you over years ago. You are the longest secret you’ve ever kept. The one time you accidentally met said sister during an uncomfortable late-night diner run-in (him with sister, you with friend) he referred to you as an “old-coworker.” Shame stopped you from saying anything, but your friend held your hand across the diner table as you did your best not to cry. You were only partly successful.

His semen drips down your leg. You’re not sure what annoys you more: the fact that you will have to wash your jeans and they’ll then shrink and cause you to feel fat the next time you put them on, or the fact that his semen is dripping down your legs and he can’t fucking walk over and give you a hug.

You look at him; he looks at something over your shoulder. You turn, but all you see is his neighborhood, stucco and suburban, suddenly darkened by the nearby sea’s fog. A palm tree leaf larger than your arm waifs by. You turn back to him, eyebrow expertly arched.

“The bird,” he explains.

You nod.

“Well,” he says, shuffling his feet in acknowledgement of your sudden awkwardness. “Bye. Glad I could be of service.”

Inwardly you cringe, all too aware that he makes this about pleasing you to absolve his own guilt. If you were a little less low, you would comment wryly on this. Instead you dramatically roll your eyes, causing him to laugh.

“Bye.”

You sit into the cocoon of your car and start the engine and the heater. It’s inappropriately cold for the beach environment. You watch in the rear view mirror as he turns into his apartment without looking back. Lost in your own sad thoughts you place the car into drive, and you barely recognize the thump below your feet as the sound of your car running over a bird.

The X-Year-Old Virgin

In Uncategorized on July 24, 2009 at 4:07 am

Sex is a discovery.

– Fannie Hurst

Like a lot of firsts, losing my virginity involved a great deal of anxiety.

For one thing, I was young.  Older than some, but the youngest of my friends.  So this meant that once I “popped that cherry” I felt like a slut.  Nobody else close to me was having sex.  Nobody else was even talking about having sex.  (Now, years later, I realize we were all just a bunch of closeted horny teenagers but hindsight is 20-20.)  And there I was, with my much-older boyfriend who told me flat out (albeit very passive aggressively) that if he dated a girl for three months and she didn’t sleep with him he would consider breaking up with her.   So when I finally did sleep with The Older Man, I waited a year to tell any of my friends, even my best friend to whom I confided everything.

But the act itself… I remember being especially tension-causing.  I didn’t know what I was doing.  Do I take off my undies?  Does he?  When he asks “Are you sure about this?”  was I really sure? I still don’t know the answer to that last one, though I can honestly say, eight years later, I don’t regret it.

My friend Lindsay suggested that it was a lot more stressful for girls to lose their virginity than for boys, and I think that’s a crock of feminist horseshit.  While sure, it’s maybe “easier” for a guy to get off on his first time (I have yet to meet a woman who has accomplished that), he’s got to worry about a) stamina (I mean, from what I know losing your virginity for a boy feels pretty fantastic and most guys lose it in under a minute) and b) you’re probably worried about hurting the girl if it’s her first time, too.  Because yeah, for most women it can be painful.  Nothing close to the pain of anal sex, which another friend Lisa describes as feeling like “a snake breathing fire,” but still painful as all hell.

So yes, here’s the thing: losing your virginity is awkward as fuck (ha) for everyone, physically.  Emotionally, though, it can be made a lot less stressful.  For example, when I lost my virginity to The Older Man, it hurt at first.  I was scared and there was this pain.  (I remember thinking to myself, “Holy shit if this hurts there is no way I am ever giving birth.”  That shows how in to it I was.)  But then the dude looked down and told me he loved me (and while I don’t doubt the veracity of that comment at the time, I’m dubious) and, suddenly, it hurt a lot less.  I relaxed.  And I lost my virginity.

Years later, regardless of whatever ill feelings I might feel towards The Older Man, while I know what we had was definitely not love, I am always thankful that he tried at least in that one moment to be sweet.  First time sex can be awkward, but if you can be rational about it, if you can realize that and laugh at yourselves, and be having it with someone who is on the same page as you (meaning, be romantic and kind and maybe silly if you’re in a relationship, get down and dirty if you’re just being fuckbuddies or hell, also in a committed relationship depending on the mood) I think you can embrace the awkwardness and have that “life changing” experience your parents tell you will only happen if you wait to make love until you’re married.

But maybe practice really does make perfect, in that regard.  You might not realize the importance of making the other person comfortable until you’ve already been “deflowered,” and by then, regardless of those Spam emails you get, it’s gone.  Oh well.

Meanwhile, my friend Vince told me point blank he would never want to sleep with another virgin; while Kevin on the other hand points out:

Kevin: oh oh oh
how
a huge hilarious difference between girls and boys
is that no one ever fantasizes about taking a boy’s virginity
sleeping with a virgin who is female has practically been deified.
it’s like everything you ever thought about the sexual experience wrapped up in one experience
but then it’s like sleeping with a virgin who is male is like,
Kevin: “hey wanna have an awkward time that probably ends up with him masturbating in your bathroom”
with door closed. alone.

I actually feel bad for guys when it comes to virginity.  There’s like this stigma out there, at least I feel, that you have to “lose it” right away.  For example, The 40-Year-Old Virgin mocks Steve Carrel’s character because he’s, that’s right, forty, and hasn’t had sex.  Well ya know what?  Maybe he hasn’t met the right girl yet.  Some of my closest guy friends are still waiting to have sex, and I don’t think they’re freaks.  Right now it seems that it’s more accepted to meet a virgin woman (though still, in our culture, eyes are raised) than a man, and I think that, to put it in sexual terms, blows (with teeth).

There’s an episode of How I Met Your Mother (possibly my favorite current show on television) that I think is relevant to this discussion with myself.  Guest-star Sarah Chalke tells the main protagonist, “Guys regret the girls they didn’t sleep with; girls regret the ones they did sleep with.”  For the most part, I think this is true, and I’m not awake enough at this point in time to make a smart comment on what this says about society.

What’s my point?  I lost it somewhere in the midst of this post.  But I believe it was  aiming to be simply this: there’s a lot of things said about virginity, there’s a hell of lot of emotions surrounding it, but once it’s gone it’s simply one of those things you can look back on, talk about over a pitcher of beer, and put away towards the back of your mind while you move on to the good stuff.

Makeout Mix

In Uncategorized on July 21, 2009 at 8:21 pm

“I can hear you singing to me in my sleep.”

– Semisonic

The other day I was talking to my friend Spam online about seduction.  The conversation was going normal enough until he mentioned that his favorite “makeout” album involved Jewel.  This threw me for a loop, because when I think of Jewel I think of whiny girls with guitars singing about angst and evil men.  As a woman, such thoughts do not usually make me want to stick my tongue in some dude’s mouth.  Jewel makes me want to cry; Jewel wants me to punch the men who have hurt me.  Unless I’m trying to have angry revenge kissing I don’t understand the use of Jewel.

But this brought up for me what had always been an interesting question… to have or to have not music while making out?  A guy I knew, we’ll call him Santa Monica, had spent hours on what he would call a “sex mix.”  I never listened to it (thank God), but I knew some of the songs on it.  One included the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Down Boy” from their EP and I believe a Kills song was on there like “Tape Song.”  These are certainly sultry songs, and “Down Boy” is one of my favorites, but again… I think that leads to rather passionate, angry, making out.  Now of course you want passionate, but I’m not so sure about the anger.

How can music so easily change a mood?  In a recent article by Scientific American, scientists explore what it is about music that “moves us.”  One passage states:

“Instead of facilitating a largely semantic dialogue, as language does, melody seems to mediate an emotional one. When a composer writes a lamentation or a toddler exuberantly bangs out a rhythm on a pot, that person is not only revealing his or her own emotional state but also causing listeners to share those feelings.”

Well, this makes sense then why a dude or dudette would want a “makeout mix,” we’d want someone to feel those same “I like you/I want to kiss you” feelings as us.  But again, everyone has different taste in music and I, for one, can learn to love a song I never used to love because of the feelings I had for the person who was sharing it with me or the situation we were in, not because the song is particularly good.  (Interpol’s “No I In Threesome” is an example of this.)

Anyway, I’m no academic.  So I decided to take my question to the streets.  Below is a conversation with good old Vince, the standard interviewee in these blogs:

cafevince: um
cafevince: first of all I haven’t made a mix since like freshman year
cafevince: I guess I have playlists
cafevince: none of those, however, are specifically for making out
SpookyEmyII: do you have selective songs you play though or an album?
cafevince: absolutely not
cafevince: I have to say that nearly 99.99% of my making out is spontaneious
cafevince: meaning there’s really no place for advance planning and putting on mood music

cafevince: is this something others do?
cafevince: wait so you would get back to his place, and then he’d pop in the cd and you’d know it was “makeout time?” Or you’d start making out and he’d interrupt to pop it in? Like how does this even work?

I’ve bolded above what I think is important.  Now, we’ll take words from a woman, Callie:

Callie: I actually can’t make-out to music
Callie: because my mind gets hooked onto the song if I know it and so instead of focusing on the matter at hand I’m focused on the music and potentially the meaning of the words
if I don’t know it, I get caught on that I don’t know it
Callie: it’s like audio velcro

This is a phenomenon I am familiar with.  Why, just today I was having an absolutely lovely brunch with someone when The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun started playing on the radio.  I literally kept interrupting dialogue to sing along.   I’m pretty sure doing that in the middle of making out would be embarrassing for both me and the other person involved.

Leah seems to echo Callie’s remarks:

Leah: i hate making out to music
unless it has no words
Leah: like, jazz is really nice
otherwise feel like I’m in a music video

I’ve made out with music (as far as I was aware not pre-arranged) and with silence, and I couldn’t say I prefer one to the other, though I do agree with Vince’s praise of the spontaneous.

Kevin: you should post all of this. i feel like ur format is for people who can read long paragraphs.

i generally like to consume my info via bullet points
and blurbs beneath fotoz
but anyway i would never use makeout music
it’s far more sexual to hear someone else’s mouth move against yours

Kevin might have put it best.  But at the same time, music can’t hurt unless you’re playing like Nordic Death Metal.   Then again, I made out to Jaws eating loudly screaming women and it was awesome so maybe, with the right person, even Nordic Death Metal can be good. And, speaking of film, what about when you have someone over to “watch a movie”?  That’s code about 75% of the time for making out, unless you’re just starting out dating or really do actually want to watch the movie.

Susan: ooh the right movie can be good.  A nice romantic movie like love actually……..or do you mean something more hard core like a porn

I have got to disagree with Susan there… I’m pretty sure Love, Actually would put me in more of a hand-holding mood (and we all know how I love to hold hands) than a “let me jump you” mood, but then again… A usually leads to B.

cafevince: I think my problem is your choice of semantics
cafevince: I have certainly started making out while watching a movie
cafevince: but I’ve never “put on a movie” to make out
cafevince: that would be very strange in my mind

So I guess what I’ve learned is everyone has different “moves.”  Some just go right at it.  Others put on music and let the music move them.  Others do the movie.  What I think we’ve learned is nobody out right admits “hey, I’m having you over to kiss.”  Everyone enjoys the act– whether or not it be a facade– of spontaneity.

Granted, this makes me think about the art of making a mix tape… likely a blog entry for another time.  An entry that will also likely include some of my favorite romantic movies and songs.

Until then, put on a movie, put in a CD, curl up with your loved one and have a nice night.   Some need alcohol to do that, others need music/media, but in the end all you need is that other person, singing to you in your sleep.

ADDENDUM:

cafevince (5:04:12 PM): I think your entry might just be missing the point that making out has nothing to do with the peripheral efforts made to “get someone in the right mood to make out” and more to do with whether A and B like each other in the first place. If they do, they’ll probably have a grand time kissing and more regardless of whatever the hell else is going on.

I Want To Hold Your Hand

In Uncategorized on July 18, 2009 at 11:04 pm

“I want to hold your hand.”

– The Beatles

Call me a romantic, but few things make me smile more than seeing an elderly couple holding hands as they walk down the street.  I believe it’s the combination of presented sweetness and hopefulness that causes me to smile.  First, that the elderly can still be romantic.  There’s hope for all of us aging individuals.  Secondly, people still hold hands.

I love those simple yet meaningful acts in a relationship.  The hand hold, or the kiss on the forehead, pet names, door holding, all such general acts of kindness.  As I sit in a tea shop watching what must be a pair of twelve year olds hold hands over hot cocoa, it occurs to me that not until very recently have I experienced such sweet touches.

What makes them so special?  I think part of it is that as we grow older we become more and more bitter and world-wary.  Being cool, hip adults we don’t have time to take the, well, time to grab a hand or kiss someone’s cheek.  We’re too busy joking with our buds about the best way to reach the finish line, to give head or who did whom on the Brooklyn Bridge.

I’m not dissing sex.  We all like having the sex.  (And all our mothers taught us that “making love” with someone we really care about can be a life-changing, special experience, etc etc.)  Yet most women will agree that sex is ten times better when you’re having it with someone who does those deeds that show he/she is interested in more than just, well, getting laid.

Plus, I think those special touches allow us to access a part of ourselves that the breakups and fights and bad relationships over the years have damaged– the hopeful, lovey-dovey part.  The part that doesn’t mind acting foolish and silly by kissing someone’s eyebrows, the part that is ecstatic that we’re not being made fun of for doing just that.

There’s enough anxiety in being physical with someone.  Does he like this?  Did she fake it?  Did I hold that wrong?  Hand holding, butterfly kisses, there’s seriously NO wrong way to go about those acts.  A lot of other things can go wrong and take some time getting used to (it’s why we’re all aware that the first time being physical with someone is just as awkward as it is awesome), but the simple act of holding a door or kissing a neck… there’s no way to fuck that up.

Faking sexy is easy.  Faking sweet is not.

The Beatles had it right.

And when I touch you I feel happy inside.
It’s such a feeling that my love
I can’t hide, I can’t hide, I can’t hide.

Yeah, you’ve got that something,
I think you’ll understand.
When I’ll say that something
I want to hold your hand,
I want to hold your hand,
I want to hold your hand.

Sexting

In Uncategorized on July 11, 2009 at 6:23 am

Sexting

Or, How I Flirted With A Cell Phone And Did Not Lose Service

[Author’s Note:  This is an edited version of an article I published in USC’s underground paper in 2005.]

Myself being a follower of proper work ethic, I once had an affair with my co-worker.  Possessing the typical spine-tingling bravado attributed to all things generally looked down upon, this affair in nearly every way was stereotypical:  Secret, awkward, and sexual.  However, one basic difference separated this affair from your typical make-out-in-the-backroom-and-behind-closed-doors deal.  This was an affair done solely through the phenomenon that is text messaging.

Like all liaisons, my flirtation started innocently enough: A playful trading of numbers during a shared lunch break (we both  happened to adore Baja Fresh) to see who could text whom faster.  We worked in a rather large chain bookstore in Santa Monica, and let me tell you– us booksellers are nerdy and bored, bored people.  We found the simplest of things amusing.   How was I to know that a simple G-rated text such as “Hi I can text faster than you” would, a week later, lead to the soft-core porn of “I want to bend you over and fuck you hard”?  (Imagine getting this message while driving away from an eight-hour work day and you can see that the thrill of a text message liaison can, at times, far out do the thrill of a real affair—danger involved alone.)

After all, I only texted the guy.  In our era of avoidance, text messaging is the ultimate vehicle for communication and evasion.   Hell, it’s even safer than instant messaging online.  With the internet being people’s second homes, getting someone’s screen-name involves a near knowledge or trust of the person.  Screenname means friendship… or the possibility of one.  (You could, after all, block the person or always have an away message up.)  And don’t even get me started on Facebook… once you are Facebook friends with someone they might as well be one of your drinking buddies, unless you are really diligent about what particular photos you display.  Today, nearly everyone has a cell phone.  Giving out your cell number is no biggie.  And neither is texting.  It’s just another part of our obsession with communication without really communicating.

The beauty and secret lure of the text message is that you never have to acknowledge it.  Coworker and I could be working the same shift, texting one another the most flirtatious (later, dirty) of sentences and act perfectly natural around one another.  This was a reticent rule.  The text message world we visited outside of work could never be visited while we habited our bookstore or were within view of one another.   This way, we never, ever had to face up to what we were doing.  Our cellular connection took us to a world without consequences.

For a time.

Like the liaison itself, the breaking of the rules also started relatively innocently.  One night, as I lay down under faded purple plaid sheets dressed in my favorite college-days pajamas (an over-sized Winnie the Poo nightshirt) my cell made the familiar gurgle of exclamation that had already started to bring a smile on my face.  I knew who it would be.  Secretly I checked my suggestive text, and there was Coworker’s newest and latest “Long and hard or soft and gentle?”  I giggled and looked around, ashamed.  I didn’t tal like that, not with anyone else.  (And certainly not since.)  Yet, as my blush lessened, I suddenly felt free… wild.  Nobody could see!  Nobody could hear.  The only mood music was my roommate’s breathing.  With a sly grin, I texted him back.  We proceeded to have the strangest version of phone sex I have ever had.  My thumbs had calluses.

The next day, a customer wearing a bikini top came in and asked for a book on anal sex. (No.)  Coworker was stacking the ever-popular Men Are From Mars books near me.  I looked up and caught Coworker’s eye.  He winked.  I blushed.  We connected.

And suddenly our connection wasn’t so technological anymore.

Swiftly, a text message about how we should copulate standing up would come to mind when a customer told me they couldn’t reach a book in the C++ section.   Coworker started to bend the unspoken (and even un-texted) rule by texting me about how cute I looked in my skirt.  Pleased, I replied that he looked cute in his metrosexual way—he is still the only man I know who can pull off pink and tight jeans.

Yet our flirtation brought with its fling and fantasy, a problem.  The more we texted, the more we flirted, the more I liked Coworker.  It had started to become something other than sexual, something other than cellular.

I took the ever-bending line of our decorum and straight up broke it about a month in when I texted Coworker about something non-sexual while working.  I asked him about his ex-girlfriend with whom he had a dinner date that night after work.  Coworker was wearing a nice green plaid shirt; he looked good.  I didn’t want to admit it, but I was jealous.

While text messaging is just a bunch of letters showing up on your cell phone screen, the words can convey emotions.  I could feel the shock in his in reply to my text “Nervous about dinner tonight?”  Where was the sexual innuendo (“I’d do you for dinner” for example)?  Where was the flirtation?  This sounded needy.  This sounded…

Real.

“A little,” he replied.  “Surprised you asked.”

I opened a Dummies Guide To BBQ and hid my cell phone between recipes for grilling sauce as I replied, “Just interested.  Curious.”  I paused, watched as a customer across the store chose a book on Labradors.  “Do you still like her?”  I bit my lips and hit send.  My heart was beating as I put the Dummies book back in its place, and hid my cell back in my nametag.  The thrill of the forbidden (cell phones on the floor are a strict no-no) was overcome by the worry as to his reply.

My phone buzzed.  “Maybe.”  A few seconds later, just as I could feel a customer approaching (we develop a second sense for you guys):  “Yes.”

Suddenly, text messaging wasn’t so thrilling anymore.  It was painful.  Just like a real crush.  Holding back tears, I helped a nervous old lady who smelled like bad fish find Angelina Ballerina for her six-year-old granddaughter.  I then proceeded to lock myself in the backroom closet and cry.  Somehow, even through the barrier of wires and screens and bad connections, my heart had still managed to get hurt.

The next night a group of us went out to a late night dinner at Denny’s.  Coworker and I did not—could not—look one another in the eye.  I spent most of the time being passive aggressive and ignoring him.  He spent most of the time hitting on a lesbian in front of her girlfriend.  Both of us engaged in futile efforts of fun rather than facing the predicament: my obvious upset.

There is constant talk in our media today about how the internet requires new laws to control the freedom of communication it promotes—freedom of speech, freedom of downloading, freedom of porn, whatever.  But the internet, while breaking boundaries, can also create them.  Its wires can tangle up a heart just as easily as any “maybe I’ll call” from a guy or a wink from that foxy lady down the street.  When is that ever brought up?  We don’t discuss, not seriously, at least, how the medium of electronic media—be it my cell phone or even the internet—affects day to day human interaction.  Sure, we joke at a party that we spend more time on AIM than we do doing homework, we brag to our gal pals about how we Facebook stalked whatever cute guy caught our fancy and made the mistake of telling us his last name, or the casual study is released on CNN about how children need to spend more time in the park than watching the boob tube.  But what about us adults and our relationships?  Online dating is becoming more and more popular.  One of my friends is now living with a woman he met on Ok Cupid; and I now know two married couples who met on eHarmony.  So while technology has certainly helped the lonely and more socially inept, I do believe it can cause a whole new form of awkwardness.  Nobody “talks on the phone” anymore, none of us use up our minutes.  Now when we sign up for phone plans what matters is not unlimited daytime minutes, but unlimited texts.  And I know now that I am not the only one who flirts, dear heavens, conducts full blown relationship communication, with her cell.

And there’s the catch.  In the end, reality hits.  Sure, kids spend “too much time” watching television or playing with their Wii or whatnot.  But they are, thank God (or Zeus or whomever), forced to eventually go to school, grow up, talk to fellow geeks (and I write that with love).  I was—and so was Coworker—eventually forced to have real human interaction and feelings.  What the digital media does is simply put it off for a while.  But not forever.  In the end, pesky human need and curiosity always peeks over the fence, reaching through the wires and over the keyboard for a fellow human hand.

Let’s Just Be Friends

In Uncategorized on July 9, 2009 at 10:46 pm

“Sex is an emotion in motion.”

– Mae West

Today on the subway I witnessed what seems to be a solely New York phenomenon: the subway break-up.  On the four train heading to Union Square, I watched as a very uncomfortable looking twenty-something year old male wearing an ACDC shirt broke up with his girlfriend, her most noticeable characteristic being the shades of purple that streaked through her otherwise black hair.

Now, nobody on the subway purposely spies on others’ conversations.  But when someone starts crying loudly and whispering “you son of a bitch” at not a room voice, well, you can’t help but listen.  The man stared at the floor, the woman stared directly in front of her– basically at me but not seeing me.

“I just want to be friends,” Mr. ACDC said as our train roared from Brooklyn to Manhattan.  You could feel the collective wince from all the other train passengers.

Luckily, the (ex) couple got off at the next stop, and I was able to conduct the rest of my errands pondering the question of friendship post relationship.

Is it really possible to “just be friends”? Can you maintain the carefree yet caring relationship with someone who you once liked in a romantic and sexual way?

I, personally, am good friends with two of my exs.  I consider Vince and Ollie to be two of my best friends, and I dated them both.  Granted, Vince and I were friends beforehand, and  Vince and I in particular had a really nasty break-up in 2004, where I kind of went crazy emo about it for a good few months.  (We’re talking a mix-tape making, four-minute long message leaving crazy.  I am so glad I am no longer twenty years old and an idiot.)  Vince asked after our break-up that we not talk for a few months, and this nearly sent me over the edge.  As Vince had been a big part of my life since 2001, the idea of not speaking to him on even a friendship level put me in a huge depression.

Yet, in retrospect, it was the greatest thing for us.  Our friendship survived, and today Vince gives me invaluable personal and romantic advice.  So was the break what saved our friendship?

My friend Kevin believes it has to do with the folks involved, and that if you are friends first, the friendship can continue post the end of the romance.

But then, let’s consider my friend Ollie.  Ollie and I met and pretty much started dating immediately.  And while we didn’t date for THAT long, we did date.  Today, we’re friends.  Good friends. (We both realized we made better friends than romancers.)  He, like Vince, is one of the people I go to when I am feeling particularly down and I share my crazy low-self esteem filled thoughts with.

So then I wonder, am I able to share these parts of my neurotic self with Ollie and Vince because when we dated they saw my really bad sides?  I flip out at them about things I never flip out at/to current romantic entanglements.  I think there is a trust I have there, post breakup and solid friendship.

Yet, then there’s my friend Leah, who point blank will not be friends with her exs.  As she bluntly puts it, “You’ve been inside me and you want to break up with me?  We’re not friends.”  This is an opinion shared by many of my acquaintances, and echoed by Mae West in the quote above.  Sex can be a very personal, trust-giving experience.  Once you tell a person after sleeping with them that you no longer want to know them in “that” way, both feelings and self-esteem take a pretty solid blow.  A trust is broken.  A faith is broken.  And perhaps this leads to the realization on why I am able to be such good friends with Ollie and Vince and not, say, Adam, who broke my heart: I never slept with Ollie or Vince.  Maybe it’s easier to retain the friendship if you haven’t slept together.

So maybe it really does just depend on the person.  Some people can be friends post breakup, some cannot.  For the couple I saw earlier today on the subway, I am pretty sure friendshp is not a stop they will make.