Monday, November 25, 2013

The Girl Whisperer

I was just going to write about how I'm masturbating a lot. I sent a rough draft to my friend Sadie.
“What's up with Gaffer Guy?” She asked. “You're not having sex anymore?”
I realized I had skipped over this little detail. That I wasn't much interested in talking about it. It's more of the same, except that now we're not even having sex. At all. And even I'm getting bored of the charade.

Our last 3 exchanges, initiated by him:

8 days ago, GG invited me to a party at his house that I had zero intention of attending. At 11:30pm, my phone buzzed.
GG: “Where you at fucker?”
Me: “Hi fucker!”
GG: “So I guess you ain't coming. Word up.”
Me: “You having fun?”
GG: “Yeah. All 40 of us are.”
Me: “40 of you?! Whatcha doin texting me??”
Felt really good about this response. He promptly followed with this:
GG: “Because I've got 3 horny single guys you can hook up with.”

4 days ago:
GG: “I want a goddamn beer.”
Me: “So order one.”
GG: “Yeah. I am.”
Me: emoticon thumbs up!
GG: “I'm gonna order 2 and hope someone I know shows up and pays!”
Me: “Good luck with that!”
VERY proud of myself for not getting dressed, putting on makeup, going to meet him, and spending the night trying to get him to fuck me.

3 days ago, I saw him hanging out with a new girl at an unrelated event. I was with another guy (my most recent potential sex friend whom I have only made out with thus far), and not that interested in playing across-the-room eye games with GG. I left before him, drove home, put on my Pjs, and just as I was removing my makeup, I received a call.
GG: “Where you at?”
Me: “Home.”
GG: “I'm going to get a couple beers. You can come or not, I don't care either way.”
Me: “Okay...?”
He mumbled some other nonsense and hung up. I put my phone down and wiped the makeup off my eyes.

So, that's what's been happening. Sometimes he comes by my work and we have tea time in the afternoon, and we don't talk about anything of substance or what's going on between us. We act as though we haven't spoken or texted since the last time we had tea time. It's better this way – we don't fight as much. Sometimes I enjoy his company in these platonic meetings because he drinks tea instead of beer and he's less of a dick. Sometimes I wonder what I'm doing there – what do I want out of this? The other day, we laughed as we watched a tiny little snail make its way across the concrete between us. I took a photo with his finger for scale.

So, I guess GG and I are “just friends” now. And I've decided to stop sleeping with my ex, and also still just flirting with my new potential sex friend (he's got a very busy schedule and – ahem – a teenage son). So, I'm not getting much action. And I masturbate a lot.

I've heard of this phenomenon whereby some people – albeit usually teenage boys and middle aged men - masturbate too often and end up losing interest in the real thing. I mean, if I can get myself off quickly and efficiently in under 5 minutes, why go through the whole rigamarole of actually having sex with another person – which often requires work to organize in the first place, potentially takes over 30 minutes of my time, and might very likely end in no orgasms for me and a very sticky bottom...  Why not skip all the beating around the bush?

And, to be quite honest, my pearl rabbit is better at sex than a lot of the guys I've slept with in the last couple years. A LOT better. An evening spent with my rabbit and a nice James Deen flick is an evening well spent in my book.

The other night, I was in the midst of a steamy little carseat make-out session with my new potential sex friend (the one with the kid – I will call him DILF), when he had to leave to go pick up his son at baby mama's house. So, there I was – all hot and bothered with nowhere to go. I resisted the relentless temptation to hunt down GG, or the nagging thought that my ex is readily available and very effective at getting me off – but rather than crawl down either of those equally complicated rabbit holes, I decided instead to crawl into bed with my rabbit.

When I'm with my rabbit, I have to try not to come. This is something that I don't recall ever having from sex. I don't know about most women, but for me having an orgasm from sex usually takes a lot of concentration and is not something that simply overcomes me uncontrollably. I wish it would. With my rabbit, the vibrating ears can make me come in like 2 seconds, so I've gotta be careful to drag out the climax for as long as I possibly can. If this level of intensity exists in sex, will the real Christian Grey please stand up??

I know the reason GG often doesn't want to have sex is because he's worried he can't please me. And I think he's haunted by the fact that he's never given me an orgasm. He doesn't quite believe me when I say I don't care. He's even apologized after sex for being a “dud.” I'm sure he'd rather just masturbate... guilt-free.

I thought about taking you through the ins and outs (haha) of my masturbation sessions but my friend Sadie reminded me that masturbating is not that interesting. There's no conflict. As any writer knows, if there's no conflict, there's no story, and there's no conflict when I'm fucking myself. I know I'm going to get off – there's no tension there. And there's no mystery about what my partner might do – because my partner is an inanimate object whose actions I control. No expectations or disappointments, no reciprocation or guilt trips. Just pure pleasure. And pleasure without tension does not provide nearly the same relief.

I felt so great about myself a week ago because I really thought I would never text him again.
“I'm over it,” I declared to anyone who would listen. They all looked skeptical but encouraging. I really thought I was done. Then, I threw my girlfriend's bachelorette party. I drank a lot of Greyhounds and watched a lot of sexy burlesque dancers writhing on poles... and my fuzzy head got the better of me. I reached for my phone.
Me: “Watching burlesque... Putting me in the mood...”
Silence. I waited a half hour. Still no response. I took a photo of one of the dancers in full splits, gripping the pole between her legs, and sent it to him. A totally irresistible and boner-inducing shot. Or so I thought.
My phone buzzed.
GG: “This guy probably cares. Text him.”
Followed by a shared contact, his friend JC whom I'd talked to the other night at the event.
JC had asked about what was happening between me and GG. I told him it was over, that I didn't like the way he treated women. Even as I heard the words “we don't deserve it” come out of my mouth, I knew I was full of shit. JC listened intently, then responded remorselessly:
“You love it. He's the girl whisperer. You don't want a nice guy.”

I knew he was referring to himself. I could tell he was interested in me, and also a much nicer guy than GG. But he was right, I wasn't interested. Because I like the conflict – as frustrating as GG is, he always gives me something to push up against. The tension keeps building and building and I'm still waiting for that sweet relief. In my brain, I know it will never come. Maybe if it did I would lose interest. That's what's fucked up about this whole thing, and my dirty little secret – if I got what I want I probably wouldn't want it anymore. Oh well, at least he makes for a good story.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What the hell am I doing?

“Here, take $10 in case there's tax.” He holds out a bill.
I shake my head, uncomfortable taking money from him. We're standing outside Trader Joe's and the air is spicy. Gaffer Guy is trying to buy me one of those cinnamon witch brooms TJ's is selling for Halloween. It costs $3.99. Again, he pushes the bill at me, again I shake my head.
“Fine. Suck a dick. I'm trying to buy you a present.”
This is just how he talks, I don't take it personally. I relent and reach out my hand but he's already shoved the cash back in his pocket and he won't offer again. I feel remorseful – I've made another mistake.

I haven't written in several weeks partly because I don't know how to write about what's going on. I also feel lately like a really big failure as a feminist, and I think I'm a little embarrassed to talk about it. Especially in light of the criticism I received from “Anonymous” on my last blog... I'm warning you, friend, it gets worse.

I don't want to say I'm dating Gaffer Guy because it usually doesn't feel like that's what's happening, but we do hang out a lot and sometimes it does seem relationship-y. He buys me flowers and brings them to me at work. We go out for lunch and beers often, and he always insists on paying.

He comes up with these strange plans, always on his terms, and I go along with them.
“I need your help with something.”
We're going to grab tea before he has to head back to work.
“You come over tonight after work and tomorrow morning at the butt-fucking crack of dawn, drive with me out to Sunland to look at this BMW. If I like it, I'm gonna buy it. Then you follow me back to my place in my car.”
“Okay, if I help you with this, you have to at least give me one kiss.” This is in reaction to last night when I sat with him and his buddy drinking beers for several hours and didn't even get a kiss goodnight. I've become very frustrated with his apathetic physical attention – getting him to fuck me takes much coercion and sometimes a little guilt-tripping. I swear I've never had to work so hard for sex – this must be what it feels like to be a guy.
“Uh yeah. If you sleep over there will be lots of kissing.”
That's all I need to hear.

These moments when he needs my help are advantageous for me, because it means I might get laid. It also means he can't crap out on me at the last minute – when something comes up that he considers more important than seeing me (which is pretty much anything – like helping his friend move big rigs in the middle of the night, for example). We're best when we have a task – he comes over to help me hang my paintings, I drive with him to Sunland to buy a BMW. This way we can pretend we're not just hanging out because we like hanging out – we really need each other's help.

That night, we meet for drinks at the British pub by his house. There's an incredibly loud rock cover band jamming in the main room, and we take turns screaming at each other over our beers. I enjoy the vibration of the music through my body, and it's so loud I'm forced to stick my face into his neck with my lips hovering beside his ear every time I want to say something - this proximity is usually a  no-no, and I take full advantage.  The band members are dorky and excited and look to be having a blast. He orders a chicken quesadilla and I'm not hungry but I eat with him anyway. His eating schedule is out of whack and I often have two dinners when I see him – one healthy and full I prepare for myself at home early in the evening, one junky and incomplete I share with him late night over beers.

I tell him I'm thinking about moving to London, that my godparents have a place there.
“We should just go there for a couple months. Tell them we're coming to stay with them.” Nothing he says ever makes any sense to me. The other day he told me I should move into his guest bedroom and pay $800/month and we could be roommates. I told him he really is crazy, that it was pretty much the worst idea I'd ever heard.
“Well, for one, you would start resenting me the second I moved in. For two, I don't want to listen to you fucking other girls in the next room. And then there are a billion other reasons it's a terrible idea.”
“Ouch, man, that hurts.” Yep, he calls me 'man'.

We walk home to his place and he's doing the dreaded slow blink that always tells me it's going to be a real challenge trying to get him to have sex with me. His dogs greet us at the door and Gaffer Guy promptly feeds them their dinner. Then he takes two hard-boiled eggs out of the fridge and spends fifteen minutes torturing the dogs by putting the eggs on the floor by their feet and making them wait to eat them.
“Daddy's home. Whose the boss?”
I beg him to just let them have their treat. He looks annoyed and makes them wait longer. Finally, he says “Thank you” in a sardonic voice and this is their cue to eat their eggs.
“I'm tired man,” he tells me again. I now know this translates to “I probably won't have sex with you tonight. It's not you, it's me.”
He changes into baggy boxers and a wife beater and crawls into bed. I'm wearing sexy, coordinated underwear but I see this is not going to have any affect on him so I take off my bra and panties, leave on my skirt and shirt, and join him in bed. He hits the lights. We lay there for a moment in the dark and I'm playing it very passive aggressive. I refuse to be the one who makes the first move again, but I'm also going to be totally pissed if I don't get some tonight. I'm on my back – not my sleeping position, but I want to make it easy for him to kiss me. And miracle of miracles, he actually does! After a moment in the dark, he takes a deep breath as if gearing himself up for something, leans over, takes my face in his hands, and kisses me long and deep. We start making out, feeling on each other's bodies. He crawls on top of me...

Afterwards, we hold each other. I kiss his neck, he kisses my shoulder and squeezes my arm. He likes to give me a little back and shoulder massage after sex, which I thoroughly enjoy. Even though I know it's my consolation prize for not coming. I've still never had an orgasm with him, which is strange because I'm obviously very attracted to him, I want him all the time, and I enjoy our sex a lot. To be honest, I don't really care that I don't orgasm. I mean, it would be nice, but it's not the reason I have sex with him. He just feels good to me, and in this post-coital moment, I feel close to him. It's not logical.

We wake up early and get ready for our road trip. Neither of us shower, both wear clothes from the night before. We head out to Sunland and it's Saturday so there's not much traffic on the road. We listen to Blue October's Sway and he talks shit and makes me laugh the whole time.
“I told the owner I'd be coming with my girlfriend so she doesn't think I'm a serial killer.”
“You should've said I was your sister. Then we could've really given them a show.”
It's a beautiful morning and I watch the sun climbing higher in the sky as we cruise up the freeway.

We drive down a suburban street that's not quite as upscale as we were expecting. We joke about a shopping cart in the front yard across from the Beamer's house – not a promising sign. The woman who owns the car comes out to greet us and we all pile in to take it for a test drive. Gaffer Guy naturally wants to check the pick up speed and zooms along the residential streets, narrowly missing a couple of early morning joggers and blowing through a stop sign.
“Whoops, didn't see that one. Sorry girls!”
The owner and I hold on for dear life as he puts this baby to the test. The owner tells us the windows recently started having issues going up and down and Gaffer Guy deduces they're off the tracks. The car is supposed to be $4,000.
“Let's say I give you $3,500 cash right here right now. Knock off $500 so I can get those windows fixed. It's probably going to cost a bit more than that but...”
The owner sounds slightly defeated but she agrees. He's good at getting people to do what he wants.

As she's signing over the title, her husband comes outside with their 4 month old baby wearing a little hoodie with bear ears. He's got orange and black Halloween socks on his tiny baby feet.
“His first Halloween,” says Gaffer Guy.
When the baby sees me, he opens his mouth wide in a big smile. He does it again and I laugh, feeling that familiar biological pang. Despite myself, I can't help but think that Gaffer Guy might notice how this baby is drawn to me and... I have to cut off this train of thought. It's coming from my uterus, which is not where my best decisions are made.
Gaffer Guy is counting out hundred dollar bills into the owner's hand.
“Gotta make sure it's all there. She likes to go through my wallet.”
Meaning me. I roll my eyes and glance at the husband, who laughs, realizing this is a joke. Gaffer Guy likes to pretend I'm his high maintenance girlfriend when we're amongst strangers. He's fond of saying things like “I need to make more money. This one needs new shoes.” Or, “Gotta go buy the girl breakfast.” Yes, it's a slightly sickening role play but I am so not this girl so I find it funny, and I sort of enjoy playing the straight man to his crazy.

He's also fond of acting out dialogue between us, naturally imparting a high-pitched squeal for my voice. When he does this in front of strangers, I try to get them on my side by telling them: “I don't even need to say anything. He acts out both our parts.” In some moods I enjoy this caustic banter, in others I find it incredibly offensive and it makes me hate him. Strangers watch our display with a mixture of sympathy and confusion, unsure whose side to take and whether or not this is a joke. I wish I knew. They probably think we're both nuts and we deserve each other.

All papers signed, hands shaken all around, we say goodbye, and Gaffer Guy hands me the keys to his old car. I follow him back onto the main road where we stop at a gas station so he can fuel both cars. He buys me a protein shake and we get back on the road. I follow him as he pushes 85 on the freeway, clearly enjoying his new ride. I hang back – I will not follow him over 80.

Back at his place, I park the Corolla he will be returning to its owner – an older gay man I call Liberace because of the way Gaffer Guy imitates his voice. We kiss goodbye like lovers loathe to separate. He holds me tight, squeezing my back in places as though trying to memorize the way I feel. He asks me what I'm doing later. I can't believe how much time we're spending together. I can't believe I'm still doing this with this person I have vowed to stop seeing more times than I can count.

My only justification is that I've seen a side of him that makes it very difficult for me to walk away. And I know it's a female clich̩ and believe me I hate myself for it, but I see all this raw potential in him and I watch him completely wasting it and fucking up his life, and it makes me want to be a good influence on him. There, I said it Рwe can all go throw up now. The other part of it is purely chemical Рthat animal attraction I can't seem to shake. It's hormones.
He texted me the other day:
“We both know I'm an asshole.”
“You sure are.”
“And yet you still love me. Who's crazy now??!”
I think he's just waiting for me to come to my senses. I know my friends are. No one, including him, understands why I keep coming back for more. I wish I knew what to tell them. Why him? Why am I so drawn to this particular flame? I'm trying not to be too hard on myself about this. I expressed to a girlfriend that I think he's much more vulnerable than me and I'm not worried about getting hurt – I'm stronger than him. She shared with me this sage analogy:
“Are the people on the Titanic any less vulnerable than the Titanic itself? I mean, the ship's gonna sink and they're all going down with it.” I laughed and told her I have a really great life vest.

Will I heed her warning advice? No. I can't seem to listen to reason right now. Not about this. Sometimes I think about telling Gaffer Guy, “you know what, I think I'm done.” But the only reason I would actually do that would be to hear him say “No! I'll stop being a dick. I don't want this to be over.” And I know he will never say that. Because he's not a guy who fights for what he wants, and his ego refuses to admit he actually likes me. Sometimes when he's drunk, he tells me he loves my face. If I told him to fuck off and never talk to me again, he would do just that. And that scares the shit out of me.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Oops... I Did It Again

I saved his number in my phone under Think About It. That was my friend Claire's idea. She's a couple years older than me and she's been through this shit before.
“If a guy treats me badly, it's over. I'm not attracted to him anymore.”
I so had no intention of ever texting Gaffer Guy again. I honestly tried to delete his number from my phone's memory and fucking iCloud foiled my plan and refused to forget not only his number, but also his goddamn name. So I saved his number under Think About It. I knew this would deter me.

And I do think about it, I really do. I'm laying in bed, in my PJs. Having already eaten dinner and watched three episodes of Six Feet Under. Already moved on to reading a couple chapters of Bright Shiny Morning before drifting into a deep sleep, when my phone starts luring me to do bad things. I stare at it. Think About It. And when I think about it, I come up with a brilliant idea. I'll text him three blank spaces, and he will receive a text from me with an empty dialogue bubble. In other words, I'm opening the door but not enough that I can't deny ever opening it. I mean, phones do weird things and text people random empty messages sometimes right? Totally could have been a technological gaff, just a friendly little digital blip reminding him I still exist. I text him the empty message and put my phone down, feeling good for smacking the ball right back into his court. Then I start to feel a tad remorseful. What if he looks at this blank text and ignores it, as he's done in the past with my accidentally-on-purpose, meant-for-him-but-not-really text digressions. What if his response is to roll his eyes at my childish indirectness and turn off his phone?
My phone vibrates.
Him: “Oh yeah? I'm going to meet some friends at a bar. Join me.”
Wow. One blank text and we're right back where we started. Is it really so simple to put all the baggage behind us? Wipe the slate clean.

But I really don't want to meet him and his friends at a bar. I don't want to give him the opportunity to humiliate me in public again. I especially don't want to be outnumbered by his weird friends. And I really just want to make out. Since he's told me definitively that he hates PDA, he needs to come over.
Me: “Why don't you stop by on your way and make out with me a little?”
Him: “Come to my house now and we'll ride over together.”
Me: “I want to get you alone for a minute.”
Him: “I'm meeting my friend. It's nice out. Come if you want.”
Me: “Have fun.”
Him: “You too! Happy friday!”
I feel disappointed, and annoyed at myself for feeling disappointed again. For setting myself up for failure. I delete the entire text chain out of my phone so I don't have the urge to write him back. I do this often with him. Virtually after every single text. It sounds a little crazy when I say that out loud.

Ten minutes later, he sends me a song to listen to. Blue October's Bleed Out.
Me: “I don't want your songs, I want your tongue down my throat.”
I don't hear from him again for awhile. But I'm excited. My heart is pounding. I don't know why this guy makes me feel this way, but it feels like I'm on drugs. Up down up down up down. I look up the lyrics to “Bleed Out.” The chorus goes “Bleed out/ I gave it all/ But you can't stop taking from me/ And way down I know/ You know where to cut me/ With your eyes closed/ Bleed out/ It won't be long/ til this heart stops beating/ So don't let me bleed out here alone/ Hear my plea/ you won't hear my plea.” So dramatic. I'm pretty sure he was the one who cut me, but whatever.

A little while later, I'm seriously getting ready to go to sleep, but also thinking he might text me again, which makes it impossible for me to go to sleep. I'm just turning out my light when... my phone vibrates.
Him: “Meet me for a drink. Yes or no.”
Me: “Why don't you come to me?”
Him: “The lady comes to the man.”
Me: “I think you've got that backwards buddy.”
Him: “No then. Copy.”
I stare at my phone. That old sinking feeling. That same old feeling that says 'why should I be the one to fucking compromise' mixed with 'I blew it.'
I delete the text chain, turn off my phone, and switch out the light. Once again, Fuck You Gaffer Guy. My phone vibrates.
Him: “I'm willing to head your way, close to your home. Last chance to be human together. Meet me for a drink. Yes or no.”
I'm already in my PJs. There's no way I'm getting out of bed to meet this asshole. I read his text again. The “last chance” jumps out at me.
There's no way I'm doing that...
But then I just do it.
Me: “Promise to be human?”
Him: “I'm nothing but.”
Me: “You gonna play nice?”
Him: “Pick a destination. Quick.”
Me: “Same spot I guess.”
Him: “OK. See you in 15.”

I jump out of bed, heart racing. Mouth guard out. Get in the shower. Don't shave your legs, I say. Fuck that guy! I'm totally not shaving my legs for him.
But then I just do it.
I dry off and look at myself in the mirror. Don't put on makeup for that fool. I take out my mascara. Sexy underwear? Goddammit yes. If what I want out of this is physical, I need to prepare for it to get physical. I try not to think too much about the clothes. Throw on a sweater-like shirt, skinny jeans, boots. Not trying too hard. No cleavage. Fall is coming and I'm not gonna freeze for this fucker.
Even though I'm going from half asleep in bed to bar-ready in minutes, I still beat him there. I'm searching through the Friday night crowd. He's not there and I start to panic. What if he doesn't show? I can't stand another humiliating episode. I'm starting to get PTSD from our last encounter at this very same bar. Maybe I should have picked a new spot, somewhere with less bad memories.

I'm just getting a table outside when I see him at the door. I don't even try to give him a hug or a kiss hello. I coached myself on the drive over to play it cool, protect my heart, don't let the conversation spin out of control... blah blah blah.
The waitress approaches and asks how we're doing this evening.
He asks if she really cares or is just saying that.
I'm about to apologize for his rudeness when she shoots back with “well, now I don't care.”
I like this girl.
She says she needs a card to hold the bar tab. He asks if he can hold it with a hundred dollar bill. He takes out a wad of hundreds.
We order beers and he orders two shots of patron. I'm thinking, there's no way I'm drinking fucking tequila right now.
He tells me he's got to work at 8am tomorrow.
We talk about a lot of things. We talk about last time we were here. We have different ideas about what happened, but he actually seems to be listening to me. He's not on an all-women-are-crazy tirade this evening, so that's a plus. Maybe things have calmed down with the female wrestler he was fucking.

Our drinks come and, when the conversation starts to go in a direction I don't like, I ask about the shots of Patron.
I say, “I can't really drink tequila anymore.” Then I clink my glass against his and shoot it back.
I explain to him that the smell of the shit he puts in his hair is like fucking catnip to me. I tell him I'm going to find out the source of the smell and make every guy I know wear it.
"Come closer so I can smell your hair.  I promise I won't touch you.  I know you don't like to be touched."
"You can touch me," he says.
He leans forward. His hair smells fine, but it's not the hair.
Let me smell your face. I promise I won't touch you, I just want to smell your face.”
He moves his face in close to mine. I breath him in. Whatever the smell is, it's on his face. He rubs his nose against mine and we Eskimo kiss over the table. Okay, this definitely counts as PDA, which he supposedly hates. I don't question it. I close my eyes, heart fluttering.
He tells me it's not that he doesn't like to be touched, it's just that when I was “petting” him last time, it was just “too sweet.”
He says he obviously still feels the “magnetic pull” between us. Well I'm glad I'm not the only one.
"So are we going to your place or mine?" he asks.
"Well, I guess yours since you obviously won't come to mine."
He doesn't argue with that.
"I've got to go," he says.  This confuses me.  Does this mean I'm not coming over?
"Are you sure you want me to come over?"
"I thought it was already decided.  You're coming over."

I follow him in my car. He drives slowly and uses his turn signal so I don't get lost. I half expect him to floor it and take off, to change his mind and decide he wants to go home alone. At his place, his two sweet old dogs greet us. They like me, I can tell.

He pours us two glasses of water and apologizes again that his bed is not made, his place is a mess.
I never have people over here.”
I don't think that's true but I don't honestly care. The new toothbrush he made me open last time is still on the bathroom sink. There's also a third opened toothbrush, but I don't ask about it. I peak into the shower, looking for the source of The Smell. I find VO5 shampoo and generic soap - clearly not what I'm looking for. I snoop through the bathroom cabinet. Aha! Three perfume bottles of Hei by Alfred Sung. I put my nose to the fullest of the bottles. I get lightheaded. The scent is absolutely intoxicating.
Found it!” I gleefully carry the bottle into the bedroom where he is making the bed, and present it to him. He smiles at me.
You obviously know this shit works because you've got three bottles of it in there.”
He starts lighting candles. I take a photo of the bottle so I can go tell every man I know to buy some and start wearing it NOW.

I return the bottle to the bathroom cabinet. When I'm back in the bedroom, he tells me to flip the light switch. Blue October's “Bleed Out” is pouring out of the speakers.

After we have sex, we keep kissing. He tells me when the CD ends, he's going to sleep. He has to get up in four hours to go to work. He means business and when the last song has played out, he blows out the candles and we lay back in bed. He kisses my shoulder and holds my hand across his chest. He doesn't turn away from me like that first night. It feels nice.

In the morning I watch him get ready for work. His hair is crazy and standing on end. I'm fond of that hair. For whatever reason, I'm fond of him. But I know I have to be careful. I know I must protect my heart, that he is fully capable of breaking it. He comes over and kisses me goodbye. I linger in that kiss. He gives in to me a little bit, then pulls away.

Later that afternoon, I'm at my friend Paula's house when he texts me.
You ever wake up? I wish I was still asleep! I'm a zombie today.”
I text back. “I'm painting your house pink, hope that's cool.”
I can picture myself becoming his worst nightmare, and for the moment this is hilarious to me.

I confessed this latest episode to my ex-boyfriend.
His advice: “You can't write about this in your blog. No one will respect you.”
I know that's probably true, and I considered strategically avoiding the subject. But then I talked to my friend Paula, who is 40 years old and much wiser than me.
Her advice: “You have to write about this in your blog. Because it's you, it's your honesty.”
I chose to follow her advice because she's right, this is me, I am a woman in my 20s and the reality of me at this moment in life is that I'm choosing to live out this story, even though I already know the ending.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Porn Culture

I'm feeling nostalgic for a more innocent time. I remember going to a girlfriend's house for a sleepover in 7th grade. She had a giant TV downstairs in her bedroom, far away from the parents, and late at night we would cruise through the hundreds of cable channels looking for... well, porn. And I remember one night very specifically, a gaggle of giggling girls crowded around the TV watching a, by today's standards, soft-core movie in which an attractive couple made love on a bearskin rug in front of a roaring fireplace as a naked woman spied from behind a wall and touched herself to the sounds of them having sex. I was riveted. Some of my girlfriends pretended they were grossed out and turned in early. Naturally, I stayed up and watched the entire film. There was nothing scary or hardcore about it. It looked like real sex. There was a softness and a sensuality... I have not seen a porn flick like this since.

Things have really changed in the last fifteen years. Porn is no longer this marginalized thing that only dirty old men watch. Which in a way is good because there is a big variety of what's out there, for different audiences, women included. What's really upsetting to me though is that, because porn is totally normalized and available all over the internet, the porn aesthetic has become a standard that incredibly young girls think they have to live up to.

I'm in kind of an angry mood about all this because I just watched two really upsetting documentaries back to back: MISS REPRESENTATION and SEXY BABY. So please forgive me for the coming rant... I'm painfully aware that I'm preaching to the choir.

Jennifer Siebel Newsom's Miss Representation deals with the media's pervasive focus on how women look over what they accomplish, and talks about how this phenomena distracts women from doing important things and sends the message to young girls that being pretty is more important than anything else. Jay Leno challenges his audience to identify if the women in the photos he's showing them are “professional newscasters or hooters waitresses.”

I mean, I enjoy tits and ass as much as the next person, but Jesus Christ. I'm tired of driving along the Sunset Strip and almost getting in a car wreck because there's a hundred foot naked chick staring down at me. And I'm a grown woman so I realize what I'm looking at is a piece of digitally-enhanced advertising-cum-pornography, but what must the 13 year old girl in the car next to me think? That this is the ideal of what she's supposed to look like, that the only way a woman is going to make it onto a billboard is if she's naked with breast implants? In my idealistic mind, I wonder how our world might be different if this same girl looked up and saw a hundred foot billboard of Hillary Clinton accepting her presidential nomination, and her thought pattern might be more along the lines of: “Wow, that woman is going to be President, maybe I can be a leader one day too!”

In one particularly disheartening scene, the filmmakers show a slew of newscaster commentary about our female leaders. Some of the direct quotes from today's top male newscasters:
When Barack Obama speaks, men hear 'take off for the future.' When Hillary Clinton speaks, men hear 'take out the garbage!'” - Cavuto, Fox News
I think I'm gonna send the senate minority and her club a bunch of vacuum cleaners to help them clean up after their meeting.” - Rush Limbaugh
Sarah Palin looks really hot in that hat.” - Glenn Beck
These skanks that make up the female leadership of the democratic party.” - Lee Rodgers
She's not the type of face you wanna see on a five dollar bill.” - Savage Nation
Remember that ugly hag, Madeline Albright? A psycho... like a fat moron.” - Savage Nation
Now we have the wicked witch of the West, you know, Nancy Pelosi.” - Fox News
Another example of how it's very rare to find a woman worthy of serving in political office.” - Chris Baker
Get a woman in power in the Oval Office, what's the down side?” - Bill O'Reilly “You mean besides the PMS and the mood swings.” - Cavuto

This really sucks. The public listens to these guys, and if it is still acceptable to say such hateful things about women on national television, we have a long way to go. As Jennifer Siebel Newsom says, “The more power women gain, the stronger the backlash against them.” I think the worst damage this kind of backlash does is to infiltrate the heads of young girls who grow up watching this toxic criticism and learn fast that being a powerful, influential woman is just too much work, there is too much hatred and judgment to overcome. It's not worth it. Much safer to just stick to what we know – twerking.

In movies, even when a woman is the protagonist and appears empowered, she is often relying on sex and her body to gain status. Caroline Heldman, a Poly Sci professor at Occidental College, coined the phrase “fighing fuck toy” to describe such “action heroes” as the gals in Sucker Punch, Jennifer Garner in Elektra, Halle Berry in Catwoman, etc. In other words, yes these women are “bad ass,” gun-wielding action stars, but they still dress like strippers.

We tend not to write women as human beings. It's cartoons we're making now. And that's a shame.” -film director Paul Haggis

Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus' Sexy Baby follows the stories of three different women. A 12 year old girl coming of age in New York City, an ex-porn star who teaches housewives how to pole dance, and a 22 year old kindergarten teacher saving all her money to get labiaplasty.

The kindergarten teacher believes her sex life will be much better when she has the “perfect” labia and can therefore feel confident about her sexuality. “My first serious boyfriend watched X-rated movies and stuff and he was like 'Oh, it's bigger than most girls, what's wrong?' And I just feel it would be a huge turn on for a guy to look like a porn star.” Her old white male doctor agrees, and gives her the scientific reading that on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the biggest and most unsightly), her “wings” are a 7 and an 8, respectively, and therefore definitely need to be “clipped.” The filmmakers interviewed several teenage boys who admitted to wanting girls they have sex with to appear similar to what they see in porn. One boy claimed he once slept with a girl who had the “meat curtain” factor... he never talked to her again.

When I was growing up, I hadn't seen tons and tons of porno vaginas, so I didn't know what a “perfect” vagina was supposed to look like. There was a freedom to work with what you had. Now, like with women's tits and asses and faces and hair and weight and everything, there's a standard of perfection that very young girls feel they must live up to.  

The 12 year old in Sexy Baby is this really smart, cool girl who goes from being a poet, social activist and gymnast, to losing all interest in everything but Lady Gaga, and suddenly she is wearing incredibly short skirts and spending all her time trying to appear sexy to boys on Facebook. Growing up, my mom was always really strict about me not wearing short skirts, but it was easier to regulate back then because the images coming out of the media were not so gratuitous, and young girls weren't so sexualized. I see these adolescent girls on the street these days and I'm constantly like “your mother let you leave the house in that thing?” But then my eyes travel up to the nearest billboard and there's a naked little girl looking skinny and depressed in an American Apparel advertisement... and it all makes some kind of weird sense.

I mean, I get it. When I was young I was in love with the Spice Girls. My favorite one? Posh Spice. Literally the worst singer of the group. Why? Because I thought she was the prettiest. Ginger was my second fave – in my mind, the second prettiest. My least favorites? Arguably the two best singers of the group – Sporty and Scary, because I thought they were the least pretty. I had 50 Barbies growing up that I loved to play with, I dressed them up and made them all have sex with Ken. But it was a more innocent time. There was no beating hookers to death in Grand Theft Auto, there was no internet porn. And the Spice Girls were no Lady Gaga. They seemed totally scandalous at the time, but compared with the music performers of today, they look like fucking nuns.

I dread the day when I have a teenage daughter and I have to keep her from having a smart phone too young and must tell her a hundred times a day to put on some fucking pants. If we already have the likes of Megan Fox and Miley Cyrus, I'm wary to think what the influences will be like in a decade and beyond. It seems literally impossible to get young girls to dress their age. Especially in LA where the default dress code is Forever 21 and 10 year olds and 70 year olds alike are shopping there.

I think women need to wise up and start representing ourselves better. Literally every time I'm in the gym (which, granted, is not that often), at least five of the ten TV screens in front of me at any given moment are inevitably playing some disgusting R&B video where a clan of wet bikini-clad females are gyrating all over some thugged-out rapper and/or brain dead Barbies are competing to become Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders by, again, gyrating in front of a slew of judges, consisting of balding men and plastically-enhanced older women. This is what girls on TV are doing. This is how some of the most visible members of our sex are portraying us. Are we cool with this? Because I'm not cool with it. I'm fucking sick of it.

I have to admit, I'm not immune to any of this. I, as you all know, watch porn. I get laser hair removal on my bikini line. And I have been known to text dirty photos to guys. But I'm a woman, I feel in control of my sexuality, and I try not to be solely defined by it (although I too have fallen into this trap). I'm not a 12 year old girl whose never had sex before. And honestly, I don't know if I would have this healthy attitude about sex if I had been exposed so early on to such a hard core porn culture as we have today. I was allowed to watch R rated movies from a young age, but they were usually the ones in which the woman was strong and smart, not the ones in which her character is defined by a mini-skirt. The porn that I was able to find as a kid was pretty soft-core as I remember. And then of course there wasn't the incredible internet access kids grow up with now. It's changed so much so fast, it's hard not to be a little scared about where we're headed.

However, the 12 year old girl in Sexy Baby makes a very smart point. “We're the first generation to have what we have, so there's no one before us who can kind of guide us. I mean, we are the pioneers.” For all her newfound desire to be sexy and appeal to boys, this girl does seem conflicted and she admits that she doesn't necessarily love the change that's come over her. I think the awareness is key, and the intelligence of this young girl and that of the upcoming generation gives me hope that maybe we won't go too far. We can't go back in time to a magical land before Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and RedTube, but I don't think we necessarily have to lose ourselves in it either.

I do have to admit that, watching the kindergarten teacher going in for labiaplasty, I started to wonder about myself. I crouched over a mirror and checked out my own “wings,” scrutinizing their size for literally the first time in my life. Are they too big, I wondered? This thought had never occurred to me before, and I wish it didn't now.
Totally watch these documentaries...
Miss Representation - streaming on Netflix
Sexy Baby - available for rent on iTunes

Monday, September 16, 2013

Casual Sex?

“Is this whole casual sex thing working for you?”
I’m having a salad lunch with a girlfriend at Lemonade.  I don’t really know how to answer this question.
“Because I was trying to find a casual sex partner for awhile and it just never worked out.”

I think back on my recent experiences.  Coffee Shop Guy was casual, but I deflected his numerous follow-up attempts, not really interested in making it a regular thing with him.  Gaffer Guy was obviously a really bad choice for a fuck buddy.  And ex-boyfriend could not by any stretch be considered casual.
“Yeah, I guess it hasn’t been that successful so far.  But I’m holding out hope.”
My friend shared that she doesn’t sleep with guys right away anymore.  She likes to get to know them first, to build up the sexual tension, and then when they do have sex it’s powerful.
“Hmm, maybe I should try that.”

Probably the best casual sex I ever had was when I was backpacking in Central America.  I met these two Israeli guys in the van ride on the way from Belize City to Flores, Guatemala.  We made friends on the four hour ride and ended up staying at the same hotel overlooking the water in Flores.  It’s incredible meeting people when you’re traveling, especially alone, because everyone is so in the moment and present that you make fast friends and people you know for days you feel you’ve known for years.  It was like that with these two guys.  Within hours, we were bickering and bantering like we’d been friends all our lives.

One night, I was hanging out in their hotel room smoking this really weak Guatemalan weed they’d bought off this guy working at the restaurant where we’d had grilled chicken and beans for dinner.  It was weak, but one of my new friends (the skinny one) just kept rolling joints, so we were getting pretty stoned.  And bonding over sex and drug stories.  I was sitting on the other one’s bed (the chubbier one), and we were kind of playing footsy in this noncommittal way.  These guys were fresh out of the Israeli military, 23 years old, traveling for six months across Central and South America.

At some point, I got tired and excused myself to go to bed.  I brushed my teeth with bottled water and washed my face in the bathroom that had vines growing through the gaping hole in the shower wall.  I turned on the fan full blast and lay down on the thin, creaky mattress, on top of the sheets because I swear I felt bed bugs the night before.  I had just closed my eyes when there was a knock on the door.  I had an inkling of who it might be but I was still surprised to find my chubby friend standing there.
“He’s asleep.  Do you want to do some stuff?”

I was really on the fence about this one, I have to say.  I knew he had a girlfriend, but that wasn’t the problem.  He had told me if he wanted to sleep with someone on this trip, he was going to – and as you know, I don’t take responsibility for these decisions.

The truth is I just wasn’t that into him physically, and I didn’t have that urge to pounce on him that usually guides my sexual decision-making.  I liked him, we were friends, we had talked and gotten to know each other a little bit, and I had fun bickering and bantering with him.  But, not to be a shallow asshole, he was just not really my type physically – quite short, very soft body, and extremely hairy, like hair inside the tops of his ears hairy.  But he did have a very nice smile and beautiful eyes, and I liked him.  So I let him in and sat down on my bed, trying to make up my mind.

He was clearly waiting for a cue from me. 
“Will it get weird between us if we do this?  And with the other guy.”
“Look, do you want me to go?”
I didn’t.  I wanted to give this a shot.  We had good chemistry, and I didn’t want to write him off because of his hobbit-like qualities.  I decided the ear-hair was Wolverine-esque, and lay back on the creaking mattress.
“Come here.”
He was gentle with me.  His kisses were soft, his skin even softer.  The words “baby fat” came into my mind, and I pushed them aside. 
He went down on me and it felt good.  I wanted to have sex, and he resisted a little.  I insisted, and he stopped and looked at me.
“We can’t have sex.”
I was very confused and disappointed and worried and a little frustrated.  Once again I find myself asking, then what are you doing here?
“I have a problem.”
Oh no.  Here it goes.  What is it?  AIDS?  Herpes?  HPV?  What is it?
“I have a cyst on my balls.”
Oh my god.  Cancer.  I can’t believe it.  He’s so young!
“Are you okay?”
“Yeah, it’s benign.”  Phew.
“How did that happen?”
“I was working security in Gaza and we got into a fight and I got the butt of a machine gun jabbed into my balls.”
I couldn’t believe this story.  This was a different reality from my own. 
“So you can’t have sex?”
“It hurts.  A lot.”

So, that was that.  We kept kissing.  He wanted to make me come by going down on me.  I still wanted to have sex.  At some point, he was really hard and said “fuck it” and took a condom out of his pocket. 

We started to have careful sex.  But not too careful.  We moved around, switching positions.  From time to time I would ask if it hurt.  He took a couple pain breaks.  But for the most part, he seemed to be enjoying himself.  And I have to say the slow and steady approach was definitely an improvement from the jack rabbit pounding favored by a lot of guys who don’t have cysts on their balls.

And I came!  From sex.  With a relative stranger.  After only one go!  It was incredible.  And then he came!  Even with his cyst and everything.  He said afterwards it usually hurts with his girlfriend, but it didn’t really hurt this time. 

The next day, it wasn’t weird between us.  Actually, it was kind of fun.  On the seven hour van ride to Semuc Champey, I would strategically position myself in the seat in front of him so that he could fondle my breasts (casually) from the seat behind.  If our other friend knew what was going on, he made no indication.

That night, he tried to coerce me into sleeping in his bed in a one-room hostel full of a bunch of other male backpackers.  I declined, not wanting to be that girl.  He was a little offended, accusing me of thinking all he wanted from me was sex.  This baffling argument again.  We tried to have sex again but it was too painful for him.

The following day, they went on to Antigua, and I went back to Belize City to catch my flight home.

That was probably the best casual sex I’ve ever had.  Probably because I got to know him a little first, we had chemistry and some nice tension build up before we did the deed.  But it’s also interesting to me that often the guys I’m most physically attracted to (in that catnip kinda way) are the most disappointing in bed.  This guy was so not my type to the point that I almost didn’t even consider having sex with him, and he was actually much better than most I’ve been with.

The best casual sex partner I ever had, and it only lasted two days.  Even if we had kept traveling together, it was really over when it was over.  And what was the future in it anyway?  Maybe my friend has a point.  Maybe I’m bad at casual sex because I ultimately want more.  Or, if I meet someone that is everything I want in a casual sex partner, I’ll probably fall in love with them. 

My mom was really disturbed by my last blog post.
“Can’t you get to know people a little first before you have sex with them?”
This surprised me somewhat coming from her.  I know for a fact my mom was a big ol’ slut in her 20s in New York.  But I know it disturbs her to think of me having sex with people I barely know, only to discover they are sociopathic (aka Gaffer Guy).

There is something creepy about this, I will give her that.  With Gaffer Guy, I completely take responsibility because I knew the guy was crazy from the moment I met him and yet I kept putting my hand in the fire knowing full well it was going to burn me every time.  

I guess if I could totally remove my emotions from sex, Gaffer Guy’s craziness wouldn’t have affected me so much.  If I viewed sex as a purely physical act, I wouldn’t care.  But the truth is that I was hurt, and I did feel the loss of something.

So, maybe I’m bad at having casual sex.  Not to say I’m putting my slutty days behind me.  Because I’m not ready to do that yet.  But it’s good to know, along the path of discovering what I want, that I ultimately do want more from a relationship (even a casual one) than just sex.