Friday, March 6, 2009

1. I am excruciatingly vanilla--about as nonkinky as it gets.

2. But most of my social circle is distinctly non-vanilla. This is doubly frustrating: being a heteronormative dude means that I never know if my desires come from my true self, or if they're just the way I've been culturally socialized. Meanwhile, I've been subculturally socialized into figuring that not claiming some kind of distinct sexual identity of my own is a failure of self-awareness. So I always suspect I'm somehow missing the point. Plus I end up using words like "heteronormative" and "cisgender" to describe myself, which makes everyone roll their eyes.

3. On my first date with my first real girlfriend, she took me to a partially constructed house, then stood around getting increasingly irritated while I tried to figure out what the looks she was giving me meant. I later found out that her previous boyfriend had deflowered her in a partially constructed house on their first date, and that she'd assumed that was just how it was done.

4. I lost my virginity to a friend of my college roommate. I'd told her I didn't want to have sex, but she went ahead and did what she wanted to do anyway, and I didn't fight; I figured I might as well get it over with. It hurt, and she kept calling me what I later learned was the name of her high school English teacher. I didn't have sex with anyone again for more than a year, in part because shortly thereafter I got a girlfriend who was terrified by the idea.

5. I've always wanted to be somebody's first--in part to make sure somebody's first sexual experience was better than mine was. I think I can say with certainty at this point that that's never going to happen.

6. I'm incredibly grateful to almost everyone who's ever slept with me. A few of those experiences were, on their own, not so great, but most of them have been amazing, and every one of them has taught me things I value knowing about the people I've been with. A+++ would do again.

7. For a few years in my early 20s, I pretty much exclusively dated women who self-identified as lesbians--enough that it became a joke with my friends. (My response was usually that they were only a subcategory of the women I was attracted to, but they were the only ones who were attracted to me.) The advantage of this was that they were aware of what they wanted and able to articulate it. The disadvantage is that... there's nothing like having sex, or more often not having sex, with people who like you DESPITE your body to give you a complex.

8. In fact, there were at least three occasions when an ostensibly straight woman set up on a date with me realized mid-date that she was gay. This was not just an avoidance tactic--this was, like, a year later she gets in touch with me and she's living in Berlin with her girlfriend.

9. Here's the difference between a voyeur and an exhibitionist: a friend of mine asked me, a couple of years back, if I liked watching people in sexual situations. Totally, I said, of course. Then she asked how I felt about having people watch me. My immediate reaction wasn't even "no," it was "why in God's name would anybody want to do that?"

10. My tastes in porn are pretty specific: it has to be mixed-gender, more or less unstaged, and consensual. Which is to say that the participants have to be okay with having a camera there (and any hint of coercion, humiliation, etc., is a total buzzkill), but doing what they'd do if there weren't a camera there. As you might guess, this limits my options some.

11. I've tried phone sex exactly once, with a long-distance friend I'd never met in person. She called me up, chatted for a bit, then asked if I liked phone sex. I said uh, sure, tell me what you're thinking you'd like to do. A few minutes in, her monologue switched gears to a fantasy of pulling out a knife and cutting me all over. I freaked out and hung up. That was the end of that for me.

12. Another thing I've done only once (but wish I'd gotten to do more): got a booty call from a near-total stranger. Weirdly enough, it resulted in a friendship that's now gone on for a decade, although we've never done anything sexual again.

13. I've slept with people 10 years older than me (when I was 21) and 10 years younger than me (when I was 29).

14. An old girlfriend of mine once told me that her subsequent boyfriend had broken up with her when she told him she couldn't come without thinking about me. I felt bad for them both, but it's also probably the nicest compliment I've ever gotten.

15. There are naked pictures of me on the Internet. Discovering them was a little bit of a relief, oddly; I didn't have to worry about it happening any more.

16. I think most alpha males are despicable, or rather they use their alpha-ness in despicable ways. I have also always kind of wanted to be one. For the most part, I couldn't do "threatening" if you covered me with razor blades.

17. It may be because I'm relatively non-threatening that lots of women I know talk to me, a lot, about their sexual experiences. Which is flattering, and at least I get to live vicariously.

18. Several years into the most serious relationship I'd ever had, one night I said: you know, I'd kind of like to try being really aggressive and forceful and dominant during sex. Okay, she said, and we discussed it and then we did it. Huh, I said afterwards, that was pretty interesting, maybe we could explore that some more. Actually, she said, it didn't do anything for me, and by the way I've been meaning to tell you I think we should break up. And that was the end of that for me.

19. On the other end of things: I am genuinely not submissive. I'm just a milquetoast. There's a difference. The few times anybody's tried to dominate me I've mostly just found it vaguely amusing but totally unsexy.

20. I am almost 40, and just in the last year or two, my libido has made a massive leap. I'm more acutely aware of women as sexual beings than I've ever been before. I feel like 17-year-old boys are reputed to feel. I catch myself staring a lot. It's frustrating and distracting.

21. So I keep telling myself: these impulses you're having? They're just desires. They're not needs. Nobody else is obligated to tolerate you acting on them. You won't die if you won't. You might live a good long life. Look her in the eyes, or look away.

22. I'm terrible at reading people's signals. Just astonishingly bad. There have been times when people I had severe crushes on have traveled across the country to try to jump my bones, and I've thought they were just being friendly; there have been times when I've thought friends were all but begging me to kiss them, and when I've tried they've stopped talking to me.

23. ...But it's also true that at least a couple of times I've realized that someone wanted me, but I kept playing dumb about it until I forced her to say it outright, at which point I turned her down. Not even because I wasn't interested in her--just to claim that power for myself. It took a while before I realized what an awful thing that was to do, and I regret it now.

24. I try so hard not to be creepy that I end up being creepy anyway. I have occasional suspicions that I am just a beard, a Leica and a baseball cap away from being That Guy.

25. Many of my friends have had sexual awakenings of one kind or another in the past decade or so--the sort of experiences that realign them altogether, realizations that make them somehow more fully actualized as people. I am still asleep, I suspect, and I often wonder how or if I'm ever going to wake up.