At the tender age of eleven, having never been kissed by a boy or known anything more than the musky, metallic odor of the ones who played in dirt, I stumbled upon The Joy of Sex while snooping in my parent’s bedroom closet. Paging through this original 1972 version, filled with line drawings of hirsute, naked heterosexuals doing unfathomable things my body vibrated, not with pleasure but horror, the kind of weak-kneed fear you feel near the end of Silence of the Lambs. What distressed me more than discovering that his part goes into her part, was the things they did with their mouths to said parts.
In a recent fit of anxiety over whether I was doing enough to keep my finger on the pulse of contemporary sex, I signed up for Cosmopolitan’s weekly newsletter called The Thirst. It’s essentially a fluff piece platform to promote an array of sex toys and paraphernalia, but I keep opening it because I’m amused by its focus on sex positions which suggest it’s possible there is an infinite number of ways to pleasure each other with a finite number of appendages and digits.
I once attended the London Art Fair back in the days when galas were exuberant events heaving with people and you could embrace a perfect stranger without wearing a vapor barrier. I was twinkle-toes in love with the man who took me and between the wattage I felt in his company, the prosecco served on silver trays, and my thigh-high leather boots, I essentially off gassed erotic energy throughout the evening.
A man rang me up by mistake, he got the number wrong. And that thing happened that never really happens: we didn’t hang up. We could not. My body, which had been carted about by me with unloved indifference for years, became a poised centre of unexpressed longing for this unmet man. Not absolutely immediately, of course. First he said sorry to bother you, I said no no don’t worry, there was a pause, he said you’ve got a very sexy voice you know, I said so have you actually, he said my name’s Mull, I said mine is Elizabeth.
Not long ago I received an email from a friend linking me to The Guardian article by Tracy Clark-Flory titled, What I Learned About Male Desire in a Sex Doll Factory. She profiles the artificially intelligent, life-like silicone Real Dolls made in America. They start around $6,000 and can be custom-designed to one’s specifications: from hair color to facial piercings, breast size to labia shape. On the Real Doll website I discovered, “The mouth and vaginal orifice, when penetrated, form a vacuum, providing a powerful suction effect. The oral entry has soft, stretchy lips, an ultra soft tongue, soft silicone teeth, and a hinged jaw that opens and closes realistically. The tongue can be removed to allow for more space and easy cleaning.”
I had my first partnered orgasm after discovering I could rub my clitoris at the same time my man was plowing the furrow. I stumbled upon this little trick well into my 30’s and, though elated, figured it was my body’s begrudging way of finally achieving what I assumed most other women were getting without such frenetic efforts: an orgasm from PIV (penis in vagina) thrusting alone.
I lived with my former husband for six years before we married. At the four year point I suggested I liked the idea of getting married. He was not so sure. When he agreed to talk to a therapist about his feelings he came home to tell me the therapist had diagnosed him with “Magical Thinking”.
A few years back, curled up in the window seat of a rustic island cabin, I got a Facebook message from a woman I didn’t know. She was writing, very cordially, to tell me the man I was dating, the one with whom I had just exchanged sweet endearments, was her boyfriend. Of four years.
I once dated a man as generous with his compliments as a sailor is with his swear words. Granted, he was English, which made every word sound as though he were channeling James Bond. Regardless of the dubiousness of his proclamations, (“You have the ass of a fourteen year old boy.”) every adulation made my heart glow. Another man I came to adore wrote letters (with a pen!) and left little notes of endearment in my medicine cabinet and underwear drawer. I fell hard for that one, which led to a full-on face plant when those words slowed to a trickle and eventually dried up all together.
"You could never convince a monkey to give you a banana by promising him limitless bananas after death in monkey heaven." Why do we believe the silly things we're told about sex?