If We Talked About Food the Way We Talk About Relationships

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Being single is synonymous with a state of lacking.

Dating is the process of escaping said emptiness.

And marriage or an exclusive lifelong partner is the gold standard.

What bothers me is there isn’t a tame opposition to a committed relationship. If you don’t believe in the “one and only” lifestyle, then you have the option of being:

  • Asexual
  • A sex-crazed polygamist
  • A man-hating/woman-hating pessimist

…instead of someone who simply doesn’t believe in the finality of a single love, lasting (and satisfying) forever. It just feels like there’s no checkbox for normal people who don’t subscribe to monogamy.

It’s hard separate the actual practice of monogamy from its positive connotation in society, so here’s a hypothetical scenario discussing the same arguments about relationships, but with a lighter topic: food. The scene is me and a friend. Let’s call him Bob. It’s a chill Sunday and we’re at the pond.

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Me: I don’t think I could eat one kind of food for the rest of my life.

Bob: Oh, don’t be dramatic, Connie! You’ll find your dish.

Me: I don’t think it’s a negative thing. I’m saying that is not something I could see myself doing. I don’t know if I’d enjoy that.

Bob: You don’t think you’ll feel hungry when you’re older?

Me: I’m not giving up eating all together, it would just be a variety of foods.

Bob: It’s fun to try everything when you’re young, but you’ll grow out of it.

Me: Will I? My taste may change, but I can’t imagine being happy eating the same thing over and over again for the rest of my life.

Bob: Maybe you just haven’t eaten the right food. Once you do, you’ll want to eat it forever.

Me: I don’t know. I don’t apply that level of permanency to literally any other aspect of my life, so it’s just kinda strange that this would be the exception. What if I have salty or sweet or sour cravings? I don’t think there’s any one food that can satisfy all those moods.

Bob: Well, you have to be realistic. Pick a food that satisfies your most important cravings. Like pickles can cover the salty/sweet. Actually, pickles can cover the sour, too. Just pick pickles. They’re great.

Me: *RBF, while throwing breadcrumbs at the ducks*

Bob: You’re not suppose to feed them.

Me: Let them eat cake, she said.

Bob: *rolls eyes* What’s your favorite flavor?

Me: I guess sweet, but I can’t eat sweet stuff forever.

Bob: You can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

Me: But, I can. Plus sushi, pasta, pizza, so on.

Bob: Nothing’s perfect. You just have to figure out your non-negotiables. Just look at Joe–he values health so it’s salads everyday.

Me: Um, Joe eats burgers.

Bob: What?

burger

Me: Yeah, we grabbed bacon cheeseburgers last week.

Bob: He and Sarah have been dieting for 2 years.

Me: Apparently not.

Bob: He loves salads.

Me: I don’t doubt that. At the end of the day, Joe is a salad guy. But he also likes burgers.

Bob: That glutton.

Me: He’s not a glutton. A liar? Yes. A glutton? No. And those cheeseburgers were the shit, thanks for asking.

Bob: Why do you think he lies about it?

Me: There’s stability in a diet. I’m sure there are fresh days along with wilted ones–either way, there’s a salad waiting for him. I mean, I’m not excusing his behavior. If you’re going to commit to a diet, stick to it. His parents are health nuts so I can see how there’s pressure to keep up appearances. And all his friends are in that stage of life where they’re dieting, so it’s natural for him to follow suit. Even if he’s not passionate about salads anymore. Even if he’s still eating burgers.

Bob: Shit.

Me: Yeah, it’s fucked up. It’s so common though–the perception of your food preferences overriding your honest cravings. You know Carrie? She hates being a vegetarian.

Bob: You don’t say?

Me: Yeah, but it’s the “wholesome” thing to do so it’s all you ever see on social media if you don’t know her well. Sometimes, it feels like she spends more time talking about loving tofu than actually loving it.

Bob: Sometimes it’s a learned love. Not an immediate inclination, but something that grows on you. Especially if it’s good for you.

Me: Beth was vegetarian before she met you, right?

Bob: Yeah, we dieted for about a year until we both committed to spaghetti and meatballs.

spaghetti

Me: What do you think changed for her?

Bob: I don’t know. What’s crazy is I never asked that of her–she said it just felt right. And we’ve been noodleheads ever since.

Me: That’s cool. Seems like you’ve got a good thing going. See, the foodie pool wouldn’t be so screwed up if people were like you and Beth. If people were just honest with themselves. But you’ve got these frauds like Joe and Carrie contaminating the waters.

Bob: But sometimes the Joes and Carries start out like me and Beth. It’s not as black and white as you make it out to be, Connie. The loyal ones vs. the liars. It’s messy and hard. Beth and I have almost slipped up.

Me: So why even do it? Why not just eat the foods you both want and be happy.

Bob: You think I don’t miss brownies? Of course, I do! But I care more about the connection I have with Beth from our shared meals. That makes me happy. It’s something we’re going through together that nobody else can understand.

Me: Hmm…

Bob: Think of it this way: when you go out to eat, you never know what you’re going to get. They may run out of the dish you order, they can overcook the food, they may not even have seating for you! I know what I like. There’s no reason for me to scrounge Yelp when I have a homecooked meal of my favorite dish waiting at home.

dinner-meal-table-wine

Me: That makes sense.

Bob: It can.

Me: I think that’s where we differ. I love having options and being able to satisfy my every impulse without thinking of anyone else, even if it comes with the risk of disappointment. I can’t sacrifice my freedom to eat what I want. And it’s not fair for someone to think I will.

Bob: You’re the only person I know that can make an all-cookie diet sound like a highway robbery. Nobody’s trying to take anything from you. If it’s right, you’ll want it for yourself.

Me: I suppose.

Bob: You’re over-thinking things. Eating is a part of life. People handle it a bunch of different ways. Some ways more common than others. At the end of the day, you choose how you want to live. And that’s all I got today. All out of wisdom.

Me: No dessert course?

Bob: Nah. Wanna catch the 7pm show later?

Me: Sorry, I’ve got dinner plans.

Bob: …burgers with a certain someone?

Me: I’ll order a veggie burger if that makes you feel better.

Bob: Just stop feeding the birds and we’ll call it good.

Conditions of Happiness: My Thoughts on Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington

I’ve been watching many videos of Chester Bennington since his suicide last week. In one interview, he points an index finger at his temple and tells a radio host:

“When I’m inside myself, I’m in my own head. This place right here. This skull, between my ears. That is a bad neighborhood. I should not be in there alone. I need–I cannot be in there by myself.”

The radio hosts laughs and says, “What do you mean?”

His nonchalant response comes off as insensitive only because Chester did end up killing himself. I don’t fault the radio host; Chester even smiled through it to keep the interview conversational. Thoughts like Chester’s are only classified as symptomatic once it’s too late.

I browsed the comments section of this interview and found many people who could not understand:

  • “Must be so tough having a millionaire musician lifestyle.”
  • “There are people who have it way worse.”

No amount of wealth or privilege or even love guarantees invincibility from mental illness, or for those who are slow to pull the medical trigger, mental turmoil.

This kind of turmoil has nothing to do with what you have or don’t have. It’s not about counting your blessings or being grateful. It’s a state of “being” so far removed from how you actually live.

You can have a good job and generous cash flow, success and power, a fulfilling side hustle, family and faith, a community of friends to the point of social suffocation, attention and admiration from strangers, and those nice shiny shoes in the window.

It is possible to have all the conditions of happiness without feeling any of it.

Chester spoke of self-inflicted pain and being inside of himself, the internal struggle. When people asked what’s wrong, what happened today? I imagine he thought:

Well, there’s no immediate threat. The neighborhood is just unsafe.

One Matchbox Twenty lyric that always stuck with me is: “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell. I know right now you can’t tell.”

Unwellness.

The state of being not okay.

People talk about the symptoms of depression as being cries for help. Save the ones in rough waters, flailing their arms for a life ring.

But that’s not what it looks like. Oftentimes, we can’t tell. Depression comes in all forms like a liquid taking the shape of a vessel, or rather, a host. Depression doesn’t discriminate. The extrovert is as susceptible as the introvert. The happy are no safer than the sad.

We’re suppose to lend a hand and a listening ear. Reach out to me if you have no one else. Talk to me.

But how do we know who to save when nobody looks like they’re drowning? It’s sunny. Hot sand, plastic coolers, colorful towels. Nobody actually dies at the beach because we all came here to swim.

So we swim.

Even when it feels like we’re not moving at all. Standing waist-deep in room temperature water, existing in two wildly different states that feel exactly the same. Whether we’re planted on our own two feet or bottom up, nostrils bubbling underwater, legs forked up like antennas from a calm, glass surface.

 

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

If you hate talking on the phone like me, you can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. https://www.crisistextline.org/

66 Days of No Sex: A Reflection from the Free Side, Part II Q&A

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66 Days of No Sex <– Where it all began…

You asked, so I answered.

These questions were collected from readers in an anonymous survey after the 66 days. Sorry, I couldn’t include all of them! I tried to pick a variety of umbrella questions that covered most of the feedback. Here we go!

Q1: What do you feel you got out of this challenge?

I have a greater appreciation for self-awareness. One of my fave entrepreneurs Gary Vaynerchuk stresses the importance of knowing yourself. For me, 66 Days was about cutting off my own crutch. This challenge was me executing on a “self-audit.” It’s important reflect because no one will tell you to get your shit together like you can.

I have a lot of blunt friends, but no one was going to say:

Connie, you talk like President of the Lonely Hearts Club, but one that hosts meetings from the middle of a dick frenzy. You want to find a worthwhile connection? Start acting like the type of person you want to attract. Because your path now and all the dumb shit you’re doing? It’s not going to get you there.”

  • Step 1: Figure out what your crutch is.
  • Step 2: Have the conviction to be stronger without the crutch.
  • Step 3: Try your fucking hardest.

Q2: Did you learn something about yourself that you hoped to learn?

Intentional or not, the challenge forced me to be vulnerable with myself. There were moments throughout 66 Days where I would just cry: in the car going home from work, in bed after a night out with friends, and in the middle of writing my next post. Instead of relying on a person or body to distract me, I had to lean into the discomfort of an unspecified sadness. It was never a single trigger, but rather a perfect storm of loneliness, anger, hopelessness, resentment, disgust, and envy.

In piecing together my week to write a coherent blog post, I realized a lot of things didn’t add up. Despite the overhaul of my love life, there was still dissonance between what I did and what I said I wanted. I documented my life as a stream of consciousness when I couldn’t identify a theme. The blog was a novel with a convoluted story arc and underdeveloped protagonist.

I learned I’m in a selfish grey area where I want the comfort and convenience of an exclusive partner, but the freedom and wishful thinking of single life. All this analysis means nothing if I don’t first figure out what I’m willing to invest.

I’m pleased that I felt disappointed in myself during the challenge. Disappointment is a great place to start because it means you have expectations of yourself. You can’t better yourself if you don’t know where you went wrong.

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Q3: I’m an Asian woman and I judge myself for wanting sex outside of committed relationships. The thing is, I judge all people (not just women) for sex outside committed relationships. Is this something you experience at all?

I can’t say I feel bad about having sex outside of committed relationships. I think sex inside a committed relationship is not inherently better or worse than sex outside a committed relationship. Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. Looks like we disagree here, which is fine. However, I do relate to the feeling of self-judgement when I behave in ways against my own approval. Example: I judge fuckbois and belligerent drunks, but have I acted like a fuckgurl and a belligerent drunk. Whoops.

Your conflict is consistent in that you disagree with all sex outside of committed relationships, regardless of if it’s you or someone else. I read a good quote somewhere: “The first thought that goes through your mind is what you’re conditioned to think; your second thought defines who you are.”

Step back and think about why you judge sex outside committed relationships. Is it because of society’s standards or your own beliefs?

You and I face the same stereotype of Asian women being submissive, reserved, and modest. If we don’t fit that mold, then we also have the option of playing the “exotic sex object.” It’s hard to find middle ground as an Asian woman in American culture, especially if traditional upbringing reaffirms the former and pop culture reaffirms the latter. How do we win here?!

I have an Asian mom who is unusually supportive of my independent thinking and outspoken nature, but also wishes I didn’t kiss so many boys. When I told her the premise of 66 Days, I joked I was turning over a new leaf to be a good girl. She said in Mandarin, “Dog farts. You are a bad girl.”

My mom and I may not agree on what I ought to do with my body, but we can agree on the choice being mine to make.

Peace of mind comes from living in accordance with your own values.

So I ask: How do you privately feel about sex outside committed relationships? When it’s just you and nobody else is judging your answer. I know it’s tough to separate our morals from what we’re raised to believe, especially when those lessons come from people we may love and respect. 

If the concept still feels wrong in the the privacy of your own brain space, then that may be your true belief. Having sex should be a comfortable decision to make, something you feel good about before, during, and after. If it feels off, then start making strides toward a sexual lifestyle you do feel good about. If you aren’t already, try only having sex in committed relationships or not having sex until you gain some clarity.

Also consider if it’s really the sex you’re seeking. Are you looking for something typically associated with sex, such as companionship, connection, or validation? I found I often confused horniness with loneliness. Make sure you’re identifying the right problem to find the right solution. A 12-course meal will do nothing to cure a thirst problem.

Q4: The whole basis of no sex for 66 days made me think, “Can this girl not go without sex for 66?” Sounds crazy, but 66 days isn’t that long. Before I just thought you were quite normal, but now I’m thinking you’re a bit of a slut? It’s 66 days! I’m no “stud” myself but I think I’ve done over 66 days at least 3-4 times in my sexual career and I’ve yet to write a blog about it. I’d have doubts about dating you after this. I just don’t like a girl’s sexual history laid in front of me before I’d even met her.

Not really a question here, but I wanted to address this. Let’s get one thing straight: It doesn’t bother you that I share my sexual history; it bothers you that I have a sexual history. Because regardless of when you learned about my past—before meeting me or years into a relationship with me—your perception of what earns a girl “slut status” does not change.

Help me understand your definition. Am I a slut for publicly admitting I’m sexually active? If I fuck in a forest and nobody hears it, am I still a slut? Or maybe I can be Schrödinger’s slut where if nobody finds me in the bushes with my pants down, I’m simultaneously a virgin. 

Does “slut status” depend solely on activity level or also choice of partner? Am I slut if I have sex with a hypothetical boyfriend for 66 days straight? Or is it sluttier of me to have a single one night stand? Am I slutty if I sleep with a different partner each week but am transparent about my engagements? Or is it sluttier of me to cheat on a long-term boyfriend in secrecy?

If a slut is someone who likes sex and wants it frequently, then I am a big slut.

I love having sex and addressing sex has a healthy and normal part of life for both men and women. I don’t get why people are so ass-backwards about women talking about sex. Nobody bats an eye if a chick takes three dicks in her left ear canal, but the second a woman wants to have an open dialogue about S-E-X? She’s a slut.

Women can watch porn. But we can’t talk about it.

Women can masturbate. But we can’t talk about it.

Women can have sex. But we can’t talk about it.

The reason you think I’m a slut is because I’m talking about it. It’s as if women’s mouths were designed for something other than making men come prematurely.

If you prefer girls who are embarrassed or uncomfortable discussing sex, then I advise you get tested. You’re due for a retroactive STD warning from a woman who was shamed for “laying out her sexual history.”

I don’t think 66 days is a long time now, but dry spells are subjective. Heck, I once went 18 years without sex.

But it was never about the length of the challenge—it was about the stage in my life when it began. Accomplishments are measured in the context of a person’s life. A month of sobriety for me is not the same as a month of sobriety for a recovering alcoholic.

If I started the blog in the midst of a dry spell or even as the person I am now, it would be a dull read because there lacks conflict. Similarly, maybe you haven’t written a blog because limited female attention and a dormant sex life are normal for you.

Please lean into your doubts of dating me. You don’t deserve the driest, nibbliest, virgin-mouthed blowjob, let alone mine. Men don’t get to shame women for the practice and then reap the benefits of a woman who knows what she’s doing. Women are scolded for putting out for anyone other than the one trying to get in our pants at the moment. Oh, the karma of a Catch-22 chastity belt designed to frustrate the very inventor.

That’s not how this works, dude. Should you ever pull your head out of your ass and surface from the infinity pool of pussy I’m sure you’re drowning in, I’d be happy to have a conversation with you about sex.

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Q5: How different would it have been if it were 6 months? Or a year? Any thoughts about how different that challenge would be for people who have a more difficult time hooking up with people/are less attractive based on social norms?

If it were a longer timeline, I may have felt more discouraged in the beginning because the goal was daunting. Bite-sized milestones are easier to digest. After overcoming the first few weeks, the rest of the challenge became exponentially easier like I caught a second wind. By Week 6 or 7, I plateaued with fewer urges (unless temptation was directly in front of me).

A zero-sex challenge for people who have trouble hooking up? It wouldn’t be a challenge, it’d be cake. They would just keep living as usual. That’s like me saying I’m going to go 66 days without becoming an Olympic gold medalist. Probably couldn’t fail if I tried my hardest and drank Michael Phelps’ body sweat as an elixir.

Being attractive gives you an advantage, I don’t think the impact is as drastic as you think. When guys hit on me, I don’t think it’s because I’m incredibly attractive (though it’s a nice assumption if I’m feeling down). It’s because 1) I’m female and 2) the guy is the type who generally hits on women. This guy has probably approached 5s as well as 10s. I was the lucky (or unlucky) number in his immediate range of options. 

Hooking up isn’t about looks or game as much as it is about timing, convenience, and persistence.

I stand a chance against more attractive women because I proactively approach men. I reach them before other women (timing) and break the ice, so it requires minimal effort/work from their end (convenience). Then, I occupy their full attention (persistence), so they have no time to approach their Choice A. That’s how the turtle wins the race.

Attractive people have more opportunity in the sense they can select from a pool of people at their attractiveness level and below. It’s like when you’re shopping a BOGO sale and you have an item in hand and need a second of equal or lesser value. If you have an expensive item, you have more options in the store. However, you’ll be shopping longer for a piece of comparable value that you really like.

In other words, hotter people have the benefit of choice, but the burden of selectivity. They want maximum bang for their buck.

At the end of they day, everyone can get laid. There are enough horny people to go around. It’s a matter of if you’re willing to dig through the clearance bins instead of shopping the front table.

Q6: Will you attempt this again?

I’m still on my first attempt (Day 128 – May 8th). Honestly, I feel like I could go years without sex. The magic of habit! I’m still guilty of the occasional SnapChat to old friends with benefits, but it’s nothing compared to my former sense of urgency.

I couldn’t attempt this again because I’m in a different mentality, one where I don’t consider it “giving up” sex. When I do decide to have sex again, I think I’ll feel a stronger sense of control. I don’t need to have sex; I want to have sex.

I’d like to think I’ll never return to a place where sex dictates so much of my happiness. Out of respect for the great thing sex can be, I need to separate physical involvement from my unresolved issues with intimacy. Until I can have sex in a responsible mindset, it’s best I don’t have sex at all.

I don’t want to be a man-hater.

I don’t want to be a relationship-hater.

It’s easy to blame external factors, but so much of what shapes life and love satisfaction is internal.

Despite the many male characters that made appearances in 66 Days, the only relevant character was me.

To answer your question: If a similar challenge could have a significant and positive impact on my life, then sign me up, babycakes.

***

A HUGE THANK YOU for following the 66 Days of No Sex series. It means the world when you choose to spend your time reading my stuff. Sending you all a million virtual ear nibbles, the kind you like so much! 😉 Actually. XOXO

Area Woman Maintains Professional Persona Between Weekends of Getting Mercilessly Dicked

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CHICAGO—Feeling refreshed from a weekend of nonstop coitus and sinfully creative foreplay, local woman Sarah Goodman arrived to work early on Monday to catch up on emails. “Sarah is one of the highest performers in the department,” reported her manager Glen Frederick, who ran into Goodman in the kitchen and ignorantly directed conversation toward the weather instead of the saucier topic of how aggressively she was shagged less than 24 hours ago.

When asked about her weekend, the 26-year-old digital strategist reportedly made no mention of the dozens of borderline abusive acts she requested her partner perform on her genitalia last Friday. Her polite and conservative response further proved how her adopted office persona was an adequate veil for the sexual deviance that would surely jeopardize her good standing with HR and any chance of promotion.

Goodman was described by her previous supervisor as a strong technical lead who exemplified professional maturity, which largely contrasts her covert participation in questionable activities outside of business hours—she has reportedly referred to her sexual partners as father figures despite the absence of any true biological relation.

Multiple sources confirmed that Goodman’s latest training module used none of the foul language typically heard through her thin bedroom walls—spoken at a volume that countered her own request that “they had to be quiet tonight.”

“I’m excited to work with such a motivated team,” said Goodman, adding that the upcoming project would bring the company to an unprecedented amount of revenue, an accomplishment that pales in comparison to her most recent 2.5-hour session of wild and uninterrupted fornication.

Colleagues shared that Goodman was “highly organized” and “an insightful mentor” around the office. At press time, she was seen compiling user feedback surveys and not seeking opportunities to have her posterior tenderized like a fresh cut sirloin steak. She proceeded to conduct herself appropriately as if she were a dynamic and socially adjusted person, capable of compartmentalizing her life to simultaneously promote her professional advancement and satiate her fuck-nasty libido through impromptu gang bangs.

66 Days of No Sex: A Reflection From The Free Side, Part I

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66 Days of No Sex challenge ended March 7, 2017

Result: Failed (technical foul on Day 55, but no sex during the 66 days)

Mood: Pensive

I was destined to have sex last weekend.

My roommate was out of town and I had the place to myself. After two months of sexual hibernation, I expected anthropomorphic woodland critters to rally around my bed at the strike of midnight and welcome me back to the lifelong dance party featuring the Horizontal Mambo.

Instead, on Day 67, I sent nudes to an old friend with benefits. The red arrow next to his Snapchat name hollowed.

“How many guys you send that to?”

“Just you.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Have I ever lied to you?”

“Probably.”

We were regulars back in the day. He earned my trust when I told him I missed him and he told me he missed my body.

That’s the kind of respect I prefer: honesty in intention, not sweetness in speech.

It’s crazy how a guy who openly expresses interest in strictly sex is perceived as less respectful than the smooth talker who habitually apologizes for not replying to your texts and flaking on plans. The charming non-boyfriend figure that hangs out with you every weekend but doesn’t want to label what you have, who tells you how much he enjoys your company as you wait for him to come around and want more than your weekends.

My regular didn’t tell me pretty things. He established a relationship of utility rather than appearances, and for that I owe him the standard I now have for a serious, long-term partner: the courage to be transparent about your desires.

“Will I be the first [after 66 days]?” he asked.

“Yes, congratulations.”

“Winner winner chicken dinner.”

He’s prideful. Always wanting to be my only, even when I’m not his anything.

I’m attracted to how indifferent he is toward me.

It’s such a turnoff when I meet a guy and he immediately caters to me—compliments me and warps his very being to accommodate me. I don’t see attraction. I see weakness in the form of a man so easily manipulated, not by me but by a woman’s presence in general.

I can’t date someone who lacks emotional or sexual discipline. I can’t date someone like me.

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Spoiler: We didn’t have sex that weekend because he never followed up. It was our last chance—he left Boston permanently few days later for a job.

I’m now batting 0 for 3 for guys I’ve been interested in (Week 6’s non-date, Week 7’s fuck-you-dead guy).

The longer I keep up my 66 days, the less voluntary it feels. I question whether this journey of self-discovery and sexual liberation was really just a narrative of a girl who couldn’t get laid.

It happens this way—the ones I like don’t like me.

Rephrase: I tend to like guys who don’t like me. I’ve damned myself to a game of cat and mouse, where I always have to be the pursuer. The problem is I like chasing mice more than I like catching them.

A few guys have asked me to grab drinks the past two months. That gesture alone makes me lose interest. I’m prompt in declining because I don’t like leading people on—it’s rude to let people be happy when they have nothing to be happy about. I’d rather be presumptuous and clear than passive and misleading.

For the record, I hate the connotation of meeting someone at a bar: the all-or-nothing dichotomy that the relationship will escalate romantically or dissipate completely, with no middle ground for friendship.

To combat this, I’ve started handing out my business card in lieu of my phone number. There’s no faster boner killer than a business card. You’re laughing and chatting it up, all smiles and shots, and then you whip out a 2×3 inch piece of card stock to really drain the blood out of Australia and everything else down under.

I wish I could put “killing boners” on my resume. I don’t need a certification, I taught the damn class.

A business card sets the tone of wanting to stay connected as people as opposed to providing a line of communication for a booty call. It’s much harder to draft an email that says, “hey what are you doing tonight?”

It’s been working well. I’ve developed a few friendships with guys who would have otherwise been lost in my contacts under pseudonyms like “Rum Guy” or “Jake from Saturday.” The further I can remove myself from situations where it’s okay to ghost someone, the happier I am.

Day 69: a Friday night.

A good friend invited me out to meet his best friends from school.

Admittedly, I love unpredictability. The thrill of primping and going out to meet strangers gives me good jitters. It makes me question if I’m prepared to be in a relationship. I love the anything-could-happen feeling, and I’m not sure I’m ready to give up that nightly sense of adventure.

Even with anticipation on high, I wore a backward baseball cap and dark purple lipstick because I didn’t expect to kiss anybody.

Handshake introductions, beers, and friendly bashing. I love how easy it is to break the ice with guys.

I was drinking a Cold Snap when my friend’s girlfriend came over.

“You vibing with any of them?” she asked, glancing at his group of friends. A decent bunch: good looks and better conversation.

“Which ones are available?” I laughed.

She spread her hands out across the dance floor.

“All of them.”

This is one of the things I’ll miss about the bachelorette life: the immense power of being the scarce female in a group of men. I’m the only thing on the menu tonight, boys. Surprise.

“I’m debating between A* and B*,” I said.

A* was sitting at the bar and B* was tearing up the dance floor.

“B* is really great,” she said. “I feel like A* could be douchey.”

“I think A* is more physically attractive, but B* is so funny. I love his personality.”

B* didn’t take himself too seriously. I appreciate when people are comfortable being the source of entertainment for a crowd. You can only derive so much happiness from looking at (or touching) an attractive person, and even that lives within a finite window of his or her age-based prime.

A good sense of humor, on the other hand, is a renewable fucking energy.

The drinks kept flowing and I lost count by the time we all went back to my friend’s house.

Funny people should be rewarded for bringing joy into the world, I thought.

I went to the bathroom, wadded up a few squares of toilet paper under the faucet, and wiped off my dark lipstick.

B* and I were rolling around on my friend’s bed, tongues in each other’s cheeks, senses spinning.

“I don’t want to have sex,” I blurted out.

We were having fun at the petting zoo, and I was already telling him about how my apartment didn’t allow goats.

“That’s fine, I—I didn’t think we were,” he said. “We can do other stuff.” He inched toward the edge of the bed and asked permission to go down on me.

Let this be a lesson to all: Always go for the nicer personality. Generosity translates to all aspects of life.

I wanted it. I don’t know what held me back, especially because he was a vetted prospect, the best friend of one of my best friends. This was exactly what I asked for a few days ago: an honest and familiar guy, saying yes to me.

“It’s okay, thank you.”

I said thank you. Like, “Thank you, kind sir, for your patronage at this restaurant. Please come again soon.”

Controlled eagerness is what I saw in him. He was a gentlemen about the disconnect between my actions and words and the other odd tidbits coming out of my mouth. We stopped touching each other as much, but still some. I felt bad.

“I don’t like it when guys like me,” I said.

“You’re a pretty girl.” He kissed me. “Guys are going to like you.”

“Let’s go back outside with everyone.”

“Okay.”

We slept on an air mattress in my friend’s living room. His other friends slept on the couch. Snores, a log of an arm draped on my side, morning like sabers through the blinds. I whispered I was cold so he would hold me closer. Throughout our drunken sleep, I rolled away and scooted back into his chest for attention.

Mouse in and out of shadows, waiting under clawed paws for the grip of life or death.

 

Part II on it’s way…

Week 8: The New Slang for Female Masturbation and My Personal Stats

Day 65 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Pleased

My friend with benefits closed my squeaky bedroom door behind us. He took off his baseball cap and wiped a sheen of sweat from his forehead, victim to the autumn’s dry heat.

“I was so bored today I jerked off like twice,” he said and flopped onto my bed.

“Yeah, I jerked off before you got here.” He raised a brow.

“Girls can’t jerk off.”

“Why?” I asked.

“…because you don’t have a penis.”

“You know what I mean though.”

“Why don’t you say masturbate?”

“It sounds so textbook-y. Like what you would say in sex ed. I like saying jerk off.”

He gave me that look whenever I did weird things like smell his armpits (I told him I liked the pheromones). We dropped the subject and did our business, but I couldn’t stop thinking about how women didn’t have the as many options as men when it came to talking casually about masturbation.

Wank it, whack off, jerk it, jack off. A million nursery rhyme combinations for guys going to town with their right hand.

And what do women get?

Flick the bean.

Perhaps the most underwhelming terminology one could think of for female self-love, especially when you consider that the clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings compared to the penis’s 4,000.

While guys refer to their privates as one-eyed sea dragons, soldiers, and even pork swords, female anatomy is reduced to pantry legumes.

We deserve at least a dignified salutation like Ms. Bean or Duchess Bean. But even then, I don’t like how female masturbation is classified as a dainty and graceful thing like blurry, soft-core porn where the camera man pans off into Naria like he forgot he was on set. 

“Flick the bean” would be appropriate in a world where I exclusively wore white lace dresses, frolicked in pastures, and drank afternoon tea with Mary Poppins, not a world where I am a proactive and assertive working woman who touches herself to get shit done.

Female needs and our reactions are just as intense (and dare I say common) as our male counterparts. Women should be able to speak as nonchalantly as our guy friends do about masturbation without resorting to dated and misrepresentative phrases like “flick the bean.”

So today, I’m officially coining the term “stab the cat” for female masturbation.

kitty

It’s spicy and playful like Taco Tuesday for your vagina, minus the hot sauce unless that’s your thing.

It’s an aggressive action word—because who doesn’t want to think about Detroit’s crime rate when they are pleasuring themselves?

Most importantly, it gives credit to female orgasms because when you stab a cat once, it still has eight lives.

The great thing about “stab the cat” is you can put your own spin on it:

  • “My boyfriend was out of town so I cut up a full litter last week.”
  • “I had some time before work so I killed Cecil in the shower.”
  • “My fuck buddy asked if he could watch, so I ripped off my Tigger onesie said, ‘Meeeoooooww STABBY STABBY DOWNTON ABBEY.'”

I’m not trying to be ostentatious about my sexuality, which is the unfortunate default for any woman who talks or writes about sex. To me, masturbation is as natural as the desire for love and connection.

Acknowledging sex but not masturbation is like being okay with people eating, but then expecting them to pretend they aren’t hungry when they don’t have food.

It’s time we normalize female masturbation.

And as weird as it sounds, I think part of the problem is society oversexualizes the idea of female pleasure. Maybe overhype would be a better word.

When a guy admits he jerks off, he’s being honest. When a girl admits she stabs the cat, she’s a freak nasty pornstar who thinks about sex 24/7.

It shocks me when men are taken aback by how common female masturbation is—or better yet, how they react to a woman who owns up to touching herself. It’s comparable to me saying I pay taxes and someone responding with, “Wow, you’re so financially responsible!”

It’s not a big deal. And this disconnect in sexual liberation isn’t all on men. Ladies need to stop feeling ashamed. I certainly understand the average woman is not as vocal as I am and that is perfectly okay.

However, there’s a difference between being private and being apologetic about your sex life. To my closet feline abusers who may feel iffy about owning the masturbation movement:

You are human. You bleed from your crotch plus or minus 12 times a year, you eat fancy brunches then poop them out, and you are allowed to touch your genitals once in a whileSay it with me: I am woman, hear me roar.

***

Data is a beautiful thing, and so is the curing of curiosity. I knew people would wonder about this “loophole” for a girl who thought 66 days without sex was a dry spell. No way Connie’s going cold turkey….

So from Day 1 of my challenge, I tracked how often I stabbed the cat. It’s cool to see my physical urges visually quantified, especially when I correlate the data to how I was feeling each week.

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The hardest weeks were 3 and 4. After that, no sex felt like a normal part of my life. On Week 5, I was so busy at my writer’s conference that I didn’t really allocate any alone time. I think that short break stabilized my libido for the remaining weeks. Aside from my technical foul on Day 55, there wasn’t much temptation or general horniness from my end, which brought me to nice plateau.

So there you have it: sex fiend to statistician in 65 days.

I’ll end with a gold nugget from a little bird. Last week, I heard a girl was upset with her boyfriend for liking my latest post—she thought my writing was too erotic.

No comment, but I love the idea of someone having to clear my blog from their browser history. Life goals I didn’t know I had ’til now.

 

After the challenge…

Week 7: “I Failed” and Other Confessions of a Thirsty Girl

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Day 61 of 66 Days of No Sex (date of incident was Day 55)

(Previous week here)

Mood: Amused/Disappointed

I’m splitting a pitcher of Budweiser with a friend and two of his buddies at Side Bar, a divey joint in the heart of downtown Boston.

“So you’re on what, Day 50 or something?” one of them asks with a grin like young Simba.

I met this guy a year ago at an ugly Christmas sweater party when I tried and failed to get in his pants. He left after we played a few games of beer pong. Our interactions after that were limited to a Facebook friend request and reciprocal picture likes. I’m surprised he’s aware of the challenge.

“Why are you doing it?” he asks.

I push myself away from the bar and sit up as if I’ve prepared something more polished than what comes out of my mouth.

”I just feel like I was doing a lot of dumb shit. Every person I was hooking up with was a mistake in some way: coworker, had a girlfriend, so on. And I wasn’t behaving in a way that was in line with what I wanted. So if I figured if I couldn’t have sex responsibly, I shouldn’t have sex at all.”

They always ask if it’s hard.

“The first few weeks, but then you get used to it.”

“And you can always touch yourself.” He doesn’t look at me when he says that, just hovers his hand over the top of his beer, rests his fingertips on the edges of the plastic cup.

“Right.” I take a sip. “You guys single?”

Of the three guys, two of them are, including Christmas party guy.

“I’m picky,” he says.

“Me, too.” I smile and hold my beer up to toast the early night. “Cheers,” I look at the taken one, “to your happiness.”

***

Literally two Budweisers later, I’m sitting on the lap of a blond dreadhead at Highball Lounge, sucking on the side of his neck because it felt so good when he kissed mine.

Two months without any real physical contact does wonders for heightening the senses—the baby hairs of his neck under my tongue, the brush of his thumb on my thigh. It’s euphoric.

Dreadhead and I shamelessly make out in one of the oversized armchairs, and I have no idea where my friends are or if they are watching my live action hypocrisy.

When I consume more than 2 ounces of alcohol, I act like it’s the first time I’ve ever encountered a member of the male species. 

Dreadhead whispers in my ear, “I really want to fuck you.”

I bite on his lip and press my cheek against his.

“That’s not going to happen.”

I’ve gotten good at saying that. I have to say it a lot at work when my prospective candidates have unrealistic salary expectations near the end of their interview processes.

The words sound harsh aloud, but putting hope to rest is one of the nicest things you can do for a person.

So I kill Dreadhead’s fantasies before he can tell me the details and explain the arbitrary 66 days and magical date of March 8th. I don’t think any of it is sinking in, so I pat him on the shoulder and go find my friends. Exit right.

I rejoin Christmas Party guy at the bar. Another Budweiser. A leggy bartender walks down the length of the tabletop, and pours champagne into my mouth from what looks like a glass bong with the spout of a genie lamp. From that height, it fizzes into my mouth and splashes against my chest when she tapers the stream.

My spaghetti strap top is drenched, and champagne is dripping from my chin and the tip of my nose. I’m the lead engineer and the caboose of the Hot Mess Express.

I dab the wetness from my face and turn to Christmas Party guy.

“I think you’re cute and I want to kiss you,” I say. He gives me that shy Simba smile.

I don’t remember what happens  here, how we transitioned from acquaintances to physically familiar. He tells me we shouldn’t, but he lets me. It all happens fast.

I’m grinding on him in the dark and crowded dance floor, pushing him against the wall, grabbing him by the wrists and running his hands along my silhouette and down the front of my sticky, sequined tank top. And although he’s going along with it, I feel resistance in his muscles and a drag in his motions.

At this moment, I’m grateful that double standards are benefiting me as a woman.

Because if I were a guy forcing a woman’s hand over my crotch at a bar, it would be perceived as the rapiest thing ever.

As a woman, I get away with sexual domination in public settings, even when the guy is visibly trying to pump the brakes.

I also consider the hesitation is him protecting himself from the drunk girl who acts bolder than her sober self is willing to claim. He’s immersed in that grey area with me—kissing me back, still holding on to my hips as I press against him.

I feel powerful being the initiator, insulated by societal notions that I am never the predator, no matter what I try or how hard he pushes back.

In a brief commercial break from my own trash reality TV, I think about this season of The Bachelor. Who am I to judge Corinne for trying to fuck Nick on the 7th date? I’m trying to fuck this guy on our 2nd encounter. The only difference is it’s not on national TV, but should people really judge their actions based on how many people are watching?

Exit Highball Lounge. Christmas Party guy offers to drive me home, but we have a quick nightcap at Beantown Pub. He tells me I don’t have to finish it if I don’t want to. I tell him we don’t waste alcohol.

“I’m going to use the restroom,” he says. “You’ll be here when I return?”

I feel like a child, but he’s smart to consider I’d run away.

In the brighter atmosphere, we actually talk. He ended something serious recently. I tell him it’s a hard place to be, when everything around you reminds you of them.

“You’re not a bad-looking girl,” he says. “I just had to leave the party early last time.”

He’s not hitting on me at all. Rather, he’s reassuring me.

We walk to his car and I have to take my heels off on the way. The hard ground doesn’t hurt my feet that badly, but I complain because I want him to know I’m in pain. He offers to carry me and I say I’m fine.

It’s quiet. The windshield frames a 2-D world outside, while we’re in a cube of bright green and white lights inside. The car is moving now.

“I want to fuck you.”

Had I not heard the words earlier, maybe I wouldn’t have phrased it this way. But I want him now.

I want to fuck him dead (to the brink of it, not in the pre-existing state)—make love to him so relentlessly and mercilessly that he will cease to exist as a sentient person on this planet.

“I’m not that kind of guy,” he says. “I don’t do one night stands,” which is the worst thing he could have said because it only makes me want him more.

Tell me how long I need to date you then. Continued: the conflict of him wanting to get down on one knee and me wanting to get down on two.

“You’re so close [to 66 days],” he laughs. “You can do it, Connie. I’m not going anywhere.”

1) Did I just cockblock myself? 2) Did he just give me pre-sale consent?

“I saw you with that guy,” he says. The streetlights color his face in shadow panels as we cruise. “I knew you were wild.”

He doesn’t mean for it to hurt me.

I see myself in his passenger’s seat, almost like an out-of-body experience: Heels tossed on the floor, loose gravel stuck to the bottom of my blackened feet, wishing I had packed my bank statements or annual reviews, anything to show him I was a fully formed adult and not the girl who was begging to fuck him.

This is the feeling I don’t want anymore. I’m disappointed that I make it hard for guys to see the sincere me. I don’t have any right to complain about fuckbois who don’t take me seriously when I act like a fuckgirl who doesn’t take myself seriously.

It means nothing to spark attraction, to grab someone’s hands and place them on your body. I’m the wild card, the girl that guys want in their hands to use, not the one they need in the endgame.

That’s because I choose to be the wild card.

Christmas Party guy idles his car outside my place, doesn’t fully park. He really did just want to drive me home. I don’t wash off my makeup when I get inside.

I’m pissed I am less than 2 weeks away from 66 days and I fucked it up. (This is a violation of Rule #2: not explicitly or implicitly propositioning for sex). All I had to do was keep my mouth shut. Be civilized, and not tell boys I wanted to fuck them dead.

It wouldn’t be so frustrating had I not gone so long without incident, had I not done so well.

I wanted to prove to myself I could change through forced habit, but tonight my character caught up with me. 

I’m going to be six feet under and my tombstone will read:

Here lies Connie Chan

Daughter, sister, friend, and writer

Who fucked them all dead.

 

I blame Budweiser.

 

Next week here!

Week 6: Why I Prefer Guy Friends and When Guy Friends Don’t Prefer Me

Day 51 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Overlooked

I’m 75% done with the challenge and from this vantage point, 66 days without sex seems like child’s play. The first four weeks were the hardest in terms of temptation, but now I feel like I could go a year or even a few years without sex. I think it’s more about adapting to a new lifestyle than sex itself.

Giving up sex is like giving up blueberry PopTarts—when I don’t actively think about not having it, it’s easy. But the second I taste that hard sugary icing and dry crust, I’m already thinking about the next time I’ll tear open a silver pouch of my favorite kind of processed crack.

I haven’t so much as kissed anyone in the past 51 days. Without any romantic activity, the only guys I see regularly are my coworkers and pre-existing group of friends. I’ve had a handful of dreams about male colleagues, and I must say, I’m pretty proud of my self-control even in Fantasyland.

Dream Connie and a coworker were on a tropical trip. Sun was hot, sand between our toes, throwing glances in the cool Caribbean shade.

We were kissing and I looked up at him.

“We can hook up a little bit,” I said, “but I can’t have sex with you.”

He said that was fine, and I went into work the next day with an unfounded appreciation for his soft lips and respect for women’s boundaries.

I told my work best friend about the dream, to which he replied: “Oh no, is he on the list too now?”

We give each other a hard time about our dating antics. At the peak of our Roaming Wild days, we made a bet that the other person would be the first to marry. Loser pays a month of the winner’s mortgage (neither of us are close to buying). He has a girlfriend now, so I’m really rooting for them to work out.

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My best friend at work is a guy. My best friend in life is also a guy.

I’ve always tended toward male company, but haven’t been able to articulate why. I used to say girls were catty, but it’s the drama I hate, and I’ve found plenty of girl friends who avoid that like the plague.

I found some clarity this weekend after comparing my interactions with two distinct friend groups: 3 girls on Friday vs. 2 guys on Saturday.

I realized I like hanging out with guys more because roasting one another is a cornerstone of male friendships.

Nothing is nicer than a merciless verbal takedown of someone you love in the name of good fun—I live for the mix of embarrassment and amusement on a friend’s face when I get ‘em good. The clap of a high five after I’ve kicked someone right where it hurts, a one-liner as scathing as it is true. It’s what I imagine a baby’s laughter sounds like to people who like babies.

It’s easier for me to break the ice with guys because it feels natural for me to shit on people or joke about something crude. I feel in my element, without the need to soften my words or brighten my demeanor.

It’s harder with girls.

My female friendships are primarily based on emotional support and validation, and while I have plenty of hilarious girl friends, rarely are we the butt of our jokes. By contrast, my guy friends can offer just as much thoughtful conversation and consolation, so it makes sense why I prefer the more dynamic relationships.

I just can’t imagine walking into a room of girls and openly addressing the density and/or promiscuity of their respective mothers. It’s probably a character flaw that I think that’s ever okay, really.

In all seriousness, it comes down to comfort level. The best friendships are when you don’t have to try to be yourself.

I’m various levels of myself with a lot of people—I’m most myself with a few.

To be fair, preferring guy friends is also a control thing, at least among those outside my inner circle. At the end of the day, if my personality falls short, a guy friend who is somewhat attracted to me has more of a reason to stick around than a girl friend. A sick, but true assessment.

Good Charlotte put it best when they said, “Boys will laugh at girls when they’re not funny.”

Attraction has a way of blinding us from the vices. It’s the same social buffer that ushers two mildly compatible people into a relationship, and greases the squeaks long enough for them to drive miles into the sunset before realizing it’s actually an engine problem.

Maybe it’s a fear of abandonment, but I like knowing someone else has a stronger inclination to hang out with me than vice versa. I like power, especially the power of choice.

I harbor a deep resentment toward appearance-based attraction, though I’m guilty of it. I most dislike when people can’t be honest about their motivators.

Me stroking the stubble of a guy whose personality and face I once loved: “If we didn’t look the way we did, we probably wouldn’t be here.”

I respect that he agreed with me.

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I grabbed lunch with the guy I asked out last week—“asked out” in a very literal sense. There was no implication it was a date, just food between friends. His reciprocated interest would have tipped the scale in my favor, but when he showed up 15 minutes late in a graphic T carrying a stuffed backpack, I was sure it wasn’t a date.

We ordered brunch plates at a newly opened tap house in the Seaport, more of a mountain cabin transplant with dark chairs, thick wooden beams, and soft gold lanterns along on the wall.

I was comfortable talking to him about work and places and politics. I didn’t feel jitters, as I did with guys online, but maybe because we were grounded with mutual friends and there was no pressure for things to “work out.”

Our interactions were not put to a test, no checklist of qualities to make it to the next round. We had already accepted each other as people. We were friends.

It still feels wrong to say I like him because I don’t think I know him well enough.

I want to separate who he actually is from who I think could be in my life.

As the waitress kept checking in on us, I was a bit disappointed about how I had no effect on him. I’m not sure what I expected to happen, what an indication would have looked like.

But that’s one of the things I liked most about him, how unnecessary I feel to who he is as a person. I hope he doesn’t need me, or anyone for that matter.

The first time we made eye contact was at a happy hour. We saw each other from across the room, and before we had talked or even introduced ourselves, I sensed it. He’s fond of me, I thought.

Looking at him now across the table, I didn’t sense attraction, and I haven’t seen it since we first met. Attraction is how drawn you are to someone. Chemistry is what actually happens when you interact.

I think a lot of people are willing to overlook chemistry when both have agreed to stay attracted.

My ease in being around him made me question whether I actually liked him as more than a friend, or if I was chasing his attraction. He has a great smile when he laughs.

We left the restaurant and as we were walking to the T, I knew it wasn’t just friends because I thought I wouldn’t mind holding his hand.

Next week here!

 

Week 5: On Being an Outsider and Watching Gay Boys Make Out

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Day 43 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Excluded

I’m at a hotel party hosted by my old college professor. We’re a few blocks away from an annual writer’s conference that draws out over 12,000 attendees every year. The hotel room is filled with educators in boxy glasses, poets in beanies, and too many liberal arts degrees. Of my professor’s network, I’m the only one not currently enrolled in an MFA program or teaching or buying a damn bookstore in Baltimore.

It’s awful being in a room with your own kind and feeling like an outsider.

My professor introduces me to another a previous student of his who recently completed his MFA at NYU. He has stubbled cheeks and an impressive mustache.

“So what do you do in Boston?” he asks.

I recite my job summary the way I would confirm my address at a dental office. I have no pretty bows to wrap up how my life fits into itself, or why job has nothing to do with writing. I feel bad for leading mustache man down a rabbit hole of failed dreams. There’s a social contract not to make others feel bad about your life not panning out and for others to nod kindly at whatever you say.

“I’m figuring things out,” I say. I take another sip of my bourbon, really hoping this mouthful will the merciful one that knocks me out. “I still write on the side,” which is technically true, like how your sirloin steak is on the side of your veggies.

“What do you write?” he asks.

It feels weird to label what I do. Erotic blogging? Slut journalism?

“Creative nonfiction.”

I exhaust my relevancy in a minute, and my poet friend jumps in to talk to mustache man about faculty members they’ve had, specifically ones I’ve never heard of. I excuse myself and my half-empty bladder to the restroom.

I’m drying my hands when my professor comes by.

“You talk to [mustache man]? I was trying to hook you two up.”

“Yeah.” I ask my professor instead about another writer who was at his reading.

“He’s married,” he says. “His wife is a writer, too.“ He tells me they’ve been married for so and so years, and cuts their dating history short when he notices I’ve stopped listening. “But if I had to pick someone who could successfully…“

I smile and take it as a compliment.

The bourbon has yet to serve me my last waking breath so I return to the party, but linger in the corner to check my phone.

There’s a guy I’ve been texting, and I have this unreasonable infatuation with him. We’ve known each other for almost a year but have only interacted in person a handful of times. We met under casual circumstances, so he has no reason to believe I like him as more than a friend.

I don’t think he has a preference for me, and if he did, he has the social awareness not to go for me the way others do—he’s not the type to let his tail wag at the smell of food.

I find myself thinking about our future, though we’ve never been on a date. I know how familiarity will feel with him: being on our computers in bed, remembering what’s in his bathroom drawers, asking him for help. We would have a sensible and emotionally manageable relationship.

I don’t want to sleep with him—I want to be associated with him, and for people to look at us and think, “that’s a strong pairing.”

I drink the rest of my bourbon and pull up his name on my phone.

Would you like to get dinner sometime?

This is the only guy I’ve asked out in the last year since deleting all my dating apps. It feels judicious.

***

I’m at a gay bar later in the night. My poet friend’s classmate is getting eyes from a guy behind me. He’s leaning against one of the walls covered in sports memorabilia and giant black and white portraits of women from the 1900s.

“Don’t look now,” I tell her friend, “but the guy in the baseball T thinks you’re cute.”

“Does that mean colored sleeves?”

It takes one rum-and-coke drink order for me to return and find them kissing. It’s all skinny arms and the ruffling and flattening of boyish hair.

They hang off each other’s bony shoulders like they’re clinging to a buoy, as if holding on to someone, anyone at all, makes them safer than the rest of us.

I can’t stop watching them kiss. Despite being in the middle of a dance floor, it’s not grotesque or trashy. In between making out, they smile at each other like they need the breath and the extra moment to appreciate the face so close to them. It looks kind. They look happy.

I’m being called honey as men excuse themselves around me. A drag queen in a vibrant fuchsia dress is being peppered with kind words. There’s an inclusive energy among the distinct friend groups at the bar.

Without warning, I’m imaging the venue being sprayed down with bullets—the framed pictures on the walls with fresh holes, the choreographed ducking and falling of bodies to protect ourselves. The playlist pounds on over a clash of voices like an unrehearsed opening night, the orchestra of fear.

I stay low and still, inches away from the face of someone else. We breathe the same sweat, and our cheeks stick to a floor covered with simple syrup and lemon rinds. We hear nothing at all, yet sense the drying of mouths and the enlarging of lungs.

Maybe we kiss to feel safe, or at least look at each other to be kind.

 

“Hey, I think I’m going to call an Uber.” I lean into one of my friends who is dancing in a tight circle. A remix is playing and everyone is smiling and on their feet.

***

I’m alone in my hotel room. The bed has two feet of walking space around the edges. It’s positioned directly in front of the bathroom, which has a toilet that runs all night unless I use the ice bucket to refill its tank.

I’m tipsy. The bed sheets are starchy and hard, and I think I’m allergic to something because my legs have been itching at night.

I lean over to the bedside table and grab my phone. I start unbuttoning my shirt, revealing more of my necklace, more of my chest. I take exactly two pictures: one on my back and one on my side where the single ceiling light throws a flattering shadow.

I don’t have any recipients in mind. Sometimes, I just like to look at myself to appreciate the times I do feel pretty, and to validate my loneliness being a choice. In pictures like these, I try and see myself how guys do when I look at them.

I see a girl who knows exactly what she’s doing.

I see a girl who’s asking for very different things than me.

Next week here!

 

Week 4: “I’m Not into Asian Guys” and Why I’ll End Up with One

Day 35 of 66 Days of No Sex

(Previous week here)

Mood: Torn

Happy Chinese New Year! It’s the year of the Rooster, but the only dick pic I received last weekend was this bedazzled cock from my mom:

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I’m pretty in touch with my Asian-ness. To ring in new beginnings (again), I attended a family-style dinner in Chinatown last Saturday with an Asian professionals group I found in Boston. Afterward, I grabbed drinks with college friends I met through Asian-interest Greek life.

Had I not grown up in rural Kansas, maybe I wouldn’t have joined an Asian-interest sorority. At 18, it was the first time in my life I could walk into a room and look like everyone else. It was a major culture shock to transition from a hometown that was 0.6% Asian to a university that was 25% Asian.

While I finally blended in with my peers, my taste in guys didn’t transition as smoothly. I grew up liking white guys by default—there were really no other choices.

My high school boyfriend was Crest Whitestrips white. We shared many of the same foundational values, but we were from two different worlds. I thought I was destined for city life, one diploma away from leaving my hometown and never turning back. He was president of the Agriculture Club and wore cowboy boots out of practicality, not style. I toured his family’s farm and, for fun, he taught me how to pitch hay. He also let me pet his goats, and that’s not an innuendo. It was like a gimmicky episode of The Bachelor where they attempt to do cute activities together but really they’re just making out in random places like barns in Kansas.

We got along, loved each other even, but we both knew it wasn’t long-term. Neither of us could provide the lifestyle the other wanted. The only lasting thing from that relationship was my inclination toward white guys.

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I barely knew any Asian guys before college. Aside from two guys from my online Chinese class in high school and a handful I met at a summer leadership camp at Stanford, pretty much all the other Asian guys I encountered were family. Because of that, I felt a sense of kinship when I did see Asian strangers, and expected cordial interactions because of our “shared blood.”

I maintained this mindset from childhood through high school graduation. By the time I actually met Asian guys in college, it felt incestuous to pursue any of those relationships romantically.

After a house party my first week of college, a brother of one of the Asian frats walked me back to my dorm. It was a sexually confusing time where I found him attractive, yet I also felt related to him. Ignorant and overly transparent me decided to tell him, “I’m not into Asian guys.” I thanked him for walking me home, and spent the next few months fawning over one of the only white guys in his fraternity.

Fast-forward a semester to a less racist me: I started hanging out with an Asian guy who friends said had a good reputation on campus. Guys and girls alike deemed him handsome. I wasn’t initially attracted to him, but I fell prey to the peculiar physical magnetism that transpires from enjoying someone’s personality.

I liked him so much, my tastes changed to suit him. On the whole, I was still more physically attracted to white guys, but he was the major exception, my special case.

We started dating and I brought home to meet my parents a year later. My mom and I waited for him at the airport in Kansas City. He stepped off a plane from New York in a clean black jacket, dark jeans, and studious glasses.

I hugged him and introduced him to my mom, whom he called, “ah yi” or a respectful title used for an older woman or aunt-like figure. They continued to speak in fluent Mandarin.

I had never brought someone home—friend or more—who could fully communicate with either of my parents without my translation.

We went to Ruby Tuesday’s for steaks afterward and he spoke openly with her about his flight, his family, his food—my mind was blown. I had one ongoing conversation with both of them, without breaks to explain phrases or mime out words I couldn’t translate. Everyone was on the same page. It felt easy.

Dating changed drastically for me after that relationship. He and I never explicitly talked about it, but our cultural similarities served as a lubricant for our already compatible personalities. There were unspoken norms, such as intense academic devotion, the binding obligation to care and provide for our parents when they grew older, and balls-to-the-walls aggression when fighting for the check at dinner.

These singular examples were only a snapshot of our upbringings and the countless experiences we shared before we even met.

For those who have never played the original Sims, there was an option to toggle your character’s personality traits. You had a set number of points you could distribute to qualities like Neat, Outgoing, Nice, etc. If you made your character very Neat, it would compromise how Outgoing were, and so on.

I subconsciously judge my dating prospects in this way. I have lower standards of physical attraction for Asian guys because I know there’s a cultural compatibility that better looking non-Asians are unlikely to have. I think we all weigh our options in this give-and-take way. The best relationships happen when both parties understand which personality points are most important to them.

For me: If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my Asian parents.

After college, I tried dating a handful of half-white and half-Asian guys to balance my physical and cultural needs. But none of them spoke Mandarin, so I may as well have dated a hot white dude. After my third failed “relationship” with a halfie, I threw up my hands and resigned to a steamy case of Jungle Fever. Contrary to popular belief, you can actually return from going black—it’s really a matter of preference, but you do you.

Korean/Irish Daniel Henney, for research purposes.

It’s hard for me to explain, but compatibility goes beyond speaking Chinese to my parents. It’s not to say I can’t find all the same qualities in a non-Asian. It’s a matter of convenience and the likelihood of finding these traits in a person. It’s small stuff that doesn’t make or break a relationship.

In the simplest sentiment: I want to be with someone whose life movie has the same background music as mine.

Currently, I’m living a silent movie. Things are black and white. There’s not even a sex scene (still going strong!), so it’s pretty much a dud at the box office. I hear music, but it’s not my soundtrack. All the same, I’m simultaneously mouthing the words to a song as a lead and watching myself as moviegoer, wondering if in the next scene my solo could  turn into a duet.

Next week here!