The morning-after shame attack. I vaguely remember it. You wake up, usually alone in your own bed, and are suddenly seized by such a powerful sense of embarrassment, you can't get up. You don't want to be awake because you don't want to deal with what you did the night before.
What did you do the night before? You hooked up with someone. You don't really like them—hell, you don't really know them, but you know you don't like them in that way and that you'd die if your friends found out, and to top it off, the sex wasn't all that great.
I've been there.
Let me tell you a story.
I don't recall how I met him. He wasn't the kind of boy with whom I would have generally been associated. He wasn't particularly smart or interesting, he dressed atrociously—like a gangsta gone Hot Topic goth and he listened to all the angsty music, but reflected no real understanding of any of it. His personality was somewhere between grossly underdeveloped and entirely counterfeit.
But the music at the bar was amazing and I was eight vodka shots in. Next thing I know, we're stumbling into this kid's apartment in the dark. The sex is adolescent at best—I weigh ninety-eight pounds, but I have a decent enough tolerance at that point to impart a lesson on proper condom usage. Sex proceeds and it's the no-frills affair typical of the hook-up. Zero foreplay because I refuse to suck anyone's dick unless I like him, and oral-genital contact from him because he's never heard of a dental dam and seems to think that unprotected oral sex is a perfectly safe practice (which essentially means no kissing, either, but I never really kissed when I was hooking up).
You'd think I'd be less judgmental seeing as I was at his place and I didn't even know the kid's last name. Hey, boink as casually or deeply as you like, just don't be a moron. My take: educated promiscuity is infinitely more forgivable than ignorance.
The sex reeks of vodka, gin and cigarettes and lasts a little longer than a Rammstein song that's playing from a sad little CD player in the corner. I'm too annoyed, drunk and tired to want to deal with going home to play sober in case my parents are back from their own party, so I stay. He doesn't look entirely comfortable with the idea, but I give him a look of death and he doesn't protest.
Next morning. I wake up and see the daylight outside. I'm chilly and hung over and it takes me a second to get my bearings. I look to my right and see his skinny back to me. Oh, God. I can't believe I did that.
Now sober, if cursed with a horrible headache, I wonder: 1.) how discourteous it would be to leave without saying goodbye, 2.) where my cigarettes are, 3.) what time it is.
I turn slowly, looking for a clock on the bedside table.
And that's when I see her.
My friend Gwen. Totally passed out, naked, with a big man partly on top of her on the bed next to the one where I find myself.
What the... ?
She opens her eyes and I pull the comforter over my head.
“Anaiis?” she asks.
The kid next to me stirs.
I pull the comforter down and peek at Gwen.
“What are you doing here?” she asks in a hushed whisper.
“Questioning my sanity, you?”
Gwen looks at the man on her belly and rolls him off gently. He gives a loud snore but doesn't wake.
I fight the urge to giggle.
Gwen slips out of bed and begins collecting her clothes, then disappears into the bathroom. Once she's gone, I turn to the kid and tap him softly.
He turns and looks at me.
“Hey,” he says.
“Hey, I'm taking off.”
“Cool, lock the door on your way out and try not to wake my dad.”
He turns over again.TAKEAWAY
Needless to say, Gwen and I never mentioned the incident.
But the incident was important in that it highlighted a couple of things to me:
- As hot as it seems to not know anything about the person you're sleeping with, there are details you should know about. Like whether he lives in a studio with his dad.
- You never know whether someone is going to be sexually compatible or capable, but hook-ups cut screening time down to zero and that is, more often than not, a gross disservice to your pleasure.
- General ignorance about sexually transmitted illness is so prevalent as to make hooking up a reckless game of Russian roulette. With a pleasure factor so low, the incentive disappears completely.
That was the last time I had a random hook-up.
As I got older, I realized my sexual needs extend beyond the physical. My brain is my biggest pleasure organ, and I need someone who can spar intellectually to get me going. Mental stimulation is my foreplay. Without that, it's a no-go.
Beyond that, life continues to expose how complex my sexual desires are. Extensive screening to ensure a man can match me is paramount.
Lastly, while I have had many periods in my life where I had sex partners with whom I wasn't in a committed relationship, our relationships have never been casual. I wouldn't necessarily call them friendships, because you tell a friend everything and I believe a level of mystery is better suited to a lover, but the relationships are based on similar tenets: mutual respect and a well-grounded knowledge about what they're into.
And this involves a lot more than casual discussion over vodka shots one night.LOOKING BACK
I was fortunate in my sexual discovery: I never contracted any sort of disease and while not every encounter resulted in dynamite sex, I never found myself in a threatening situation.
I like to think this has to do with the fact that I am fairly intuitive and committed to my personal health, but we all know there is a fair share of luck in there, too. Accidents happen. People are misread. You have too many drinks. Condoms break. The list is endless and it doesn't just involve your physical health. Rape is a mental and emotional trauma. Even consensual sex carries with it a danger of emotional damage.
What initially looks like a collection of sexy coming-of-age tales is actually a sex-ed Trojan horse.
Boodram, who confesses that she spent a lot of her adolescence trying to please men by always being sexually available to them even when the relationships gave her nothing in return, has a mission: to educate readers about sexual choices so that they at least have a foundation on which to stand.
I'll confess something—at first, I was put off by the book. Chapter one made mention of “wasted” virginities too often for my taste. I am a staunch opponent of the idea that the first time is a sacred time and everything else is meaningless or somehow defined by it. To me, that's a poisonous construct. Every sexual experience should be viewed as an opportunity to reach for the divine.
But as I read on the collection of accounts of sexual encounters I saw the book for what it is: a collection of different experiences and personal truths. Every chapter deals with a different aspect of sex. Yes, there are accounts that bemoan a lost gift, but there are many that celebrate responsible sexual freedom, too. And there are also accounts about consequences of sex (from abortions to HIV); accounts about rape; and tales of those who made the choice to abstain.
This book is a complete collection of sexual experiences, told in the voices of many people, men and women, across North America. It's not a textbook, filled with clinical language, or a philosophical call-to-arms, heavy on the agenda.
It's like sitting with a group of friends and letting them tell you what they went through. Oversharing, as the kids say nowadays.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: stories have incredible power.
“Art is important for it commemorates the seasons of the soul, or a special or tragic event in the soul’s journey. Art is not just for oneself, not just a marker of one’s own understanding. It is also a map for those who follow after us,” Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in her classic work Women Who Run With The Wolves. “Stories are medicine… They have such power; they do not require that we do, be, act anything—we need only listen. The remedies for repair or reclamation of any lost psychic drive are contained in stories.”SHARING
When I was at the height of exploring my sexuality in my teens, the internet wasn't what it is now. My knowledge was cultivated at the library, extracted from ancient manuals and sterile textbooks, and backed by my own observations from my voyages into the flesh. Because I had knowledge, I was able to better navigate the waters of sexual encounters.
But I was missing something crucial: a confidante. Because I got started on my sexual exploration before my girlfriends did, I didn't have anyone with whom to discuss what I was discovering. That, I've found, is equally important in healthy sexual development and part of the reason I got into what I do now.
We need to discuss sex not just more openly and honestly, but more humanly. Beyond offering information, Laid strives to open up the floor for sharing.
Sharing truths is contagious. I recommend this book to parents and sex educators around the country.BLOGGIE TREATS
Losing Your Virginity by Brianna: "Grandma preaches about how she waited for marriage and how the only man she ever slept with was your grandfather, which kept her from getting those dirty diseases the youngsters are getting these days. Your parents just beg you to wait for college when you’re out of their house, and protect yourself so you aren’t bringing home their grandchildren on your winter break. Then there’s your slutty friend who boasted about how great it was and had all the boys following her through the halls of high school."
One Night Stand by Simone: "Last night I was out with some friends and the topic of one night stands came up. I'm not a big fan of one night stands. It's a quality control thing. There's no way of knowing what you're going to get, in terms of sex (great, good, bad, horrible) with the guy you pick. Which is why I'm such a big fan of having a fuckbuddy. FB=known quality."
Cuz I like orgasms just as much as the next girl by Carissa: "The Venus Butterfly is an ancient Tantric lovemaking technique first practiced in India 3000 years ago. It allows the female to experience a high peak of ecstasy by having two primary erogenous zones pleasured at the same time, the clitoris and the G-spot."
AV Flox is the editor of Sex and the 405--what your newspaper would look like if it had a sex section.