Friday, August 15, 2008


Well, I didn't post any other assigments besides that first one, but do you really want to read my villanelle or other poetry? Didn't think so.

This is the story I turned in for my final. Yep, I read it in front of the class.

I'd like to emphasize that this is FICTION. It is NOT based on me and Jon, except for the conversation in the restaurant, which mostly happened (but for different reasons... remember my procedure? We had to be creative). The thing about the labels is also true; I'm sort of obsessed. Everything else is made up. I'm completely comfortable in sex shops, and I would never throw a washcloth away like that.

Without further ado...

“Something New”

I bought the corkscrew that will open the wine that will enable me to get screwed--in the butt. Is there irony in this? At the time I couldn’t decide, but in retrospect I recall that irony is dependent upon intent, and since my intent was for things to head that direction, it’s not ironic. The only irony is in the connotation of unscrewing to get screwed, and that’s a little too obvious to seem clever.

“Let’s get drunk and try something new,” I said, and watched his eyes widen. Suddenly we were co-conspirators, rather than sullen dinner companions. He leaned forward, half-whispering, “Oh yeah?” I saw the beginning of the first smile elicited in nearly an hour.

“Do we have what we need?” he asked, genuinely, finally interested in the conversation.

“It’s all taken care of,” I replied, thinking of the parcels in my purse. “All we need is the wine.”

“You don’t have to, you know.” He’s so sweet.

“I know, I want to. It’ll be fun.”

“We’ll go slow. You’ll have control.”

“I know.”

We moved on to other topics; mutual acquaintances, vacation plans. An upcoming visit to his mother was mentioned, but the subject was quickly changed. We did not order dessert.

“Will there be anything else, sir?” the waitress asked.

“No, thank you, we’re ready to call it a night.”

Liberated by a signature, we fled the restaurant and headed to the grocery store for the wine. There were plenty of knowing looks and giggles; like it was new again. I was excited, but a voice in my head nagged: Is this what you’ve come to? Buying his interest with butt sex?

That afternoon’s trip to the Love Emporium had been an adventure in itself. I approached the door apprehensively, then paused, stood up straight, and took a deep breath. Pretend you belong here. I entered and tried to appear as casual as one can look when confronted with breast-shaped cake molds and double-ended black dildos. Wandering the aisles of restrictive cuffs, nipple clamps, glass phalluses and anal beads, I realized that this place didn’t sell “love”; it sold trust. Which is a good companion to love, sure, but I love plenty of people--I’d have to really trust someone to let him near me with one of those things.

Finally, I found what I was looking for: lube. To my dismay, there were easily fifty different varieties. In the supermarket, I’m the person who spends ten minutes looking at toothpaste, reading every bulleted list of features, carefully comparing the active and inactive ingredients of each brand. Mayonnaise, peanut butter, vanilla extract, anything: I read every label before placing it in my cart, and this is for things I merely intend to put in my mouth. Lube labels lacked the convenience of a well-marked box filled with nutrition facts, but they did include ingredients, giving me somewhere to start. Having an aversion to words containing more than fifteen letters, I looked for shorter lists comprised of things I could at least attempt to pronounce. I felt confident that under no circumstances did I want anything flavored, which ruled out a significant portion of the store’s inventory. Anything in a brightly-colored or obscenely-shaped bottle was also out. I picked up a small, discreet, dark-brown bottle; it read “Gun Oil” in a bold, masculine font. Of course! I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before: pick a gay one. If it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me. I quickly paid and left. The trip to Crate and Barrel for the corkscrew was significantly less notable.

He knew nothing of my afternoon errands as we walked into the grocery store, hand in hand, to make what should have been an easier purchase.

“What kind of wine do you want? Maybe something Australian?” he asked, examining a bottle.

“I don’t care, you pick,” I answered, tired of making the decisions.

“How about a pinot noir?”

“Too dark.”

“Cabernet Sauvingnon?”

“Too many letters.”

He frowned. “I thought you didn’t care.”

“I don’t care. I just want you to pick something that I like.”

“I’m not a mind-reader.”

“I don’t want you to read my mind. I want you to know what I like.”

His frown deepened. “You can be inconsistent, and I don’t like making assumptions.”

“I’m inconsistent?” I volleyed. “At least that’s better then being completely predictable all the time.”

“What’s wrong with knowing what I like? There are worse crimes than repetition, you know.”

Nothing is as unforgivable as being boring, I thought, but I didn’t say it aloud. I knew I only half-believed it, anyway.

He picked up another bottle. “Shiraz?”

“I think I want a GSM, actually.”

He looked at me, half-smiling, half exasperated. “Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?”

“I didn’t realize it until I knew I didn’t want any of the others.”

By the time we arrived home, the grocery store storm-clouds had dissipated, and the mood was again one of anticipation. He put some music on, and we started kissing on the couch. He had one hand in my hair as the other rubbed my back, getting lower and lower until I pulled away, suddenly aware of the mechanics of our endeavor.

“I’ll be right back, okay?”

I locked the door to the bathroom behind me. I needed to make sure everything was… welcoming. I sat down on the toilet, but nothing happened. I bore down a little; still nothing. This probably wasn’t something I could force. I stepped out of my underwear, then stood and grabbed a washcloth from under the sink, ran it under the tap, and added soap. One foot up on the counter, I washed every nook and cranny. Unsure of what else to do, I threw the washcloth in the garbage and washed my hands.

He had lined up the purchases on the counter, and was looking at them intently: the lube, the wine, the corkscrew.

“I feel like I should take a picture,” he said.

“Please don’t,” I said. “Are you going to open that?”

The first glass went down fast. I poured myself a second, grabbed the bottle, and we headed into the bedroom to pick up where we left off.

“So, uhhhh…” He was clearly aroused, and looking forward to our inevitable conclusion. “Are you ready?”

I finished the last of my third glass, having purposefully outpaced him. “Yep, let’s go.”

He applied more lube than is probably reasonable. I thought about how easy it would be to poop the next day. That’s not sexy. Sex acts shouldn’t inspire thoughts of defecating.

“Alright, last chance to back out. I promise I’ll only be a little disappointed if you don’t want to go through with it,” he said, smiling.

I want to say we didn’t do it.

I want to say that instead we decided to talk about the fact that sometimes I cried for no apparent reason, or that he could go three hours without saying a word to me even though we were in the same room, or even that sometimes I longed for the awful, salty freedom of sliding my hand into the waistband of another man’s pants. We could have addressed any number of the tiny horrors we committed each day which ate at what we both once heralded as our penultimate, all-consuming love. Instead, we had sex. You know… the Catholic way. And it was good. Perhaps not as cathartic as a long, honest conversation (or the classic talk/cry combo), but it wasn’t just the naked Band-Aid I had been afraid it would be. I’d put it along the lines of a cheaper, more-orgasmic Ropes course. Our well-rehearsed routine was technically proficient and achieved the stated goals, but trying something new reminded us of what had been missing for quite some time: attentiveness. Professionals on the internet may make it look easy, but this act required care, and focus, and the ever-elusive communication. It was a start.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Yes, yes, yes, yes, YES.

Those who know me well know how I feel about birth control: bad idea. I don't mean contraception is a bad idea; contraception is basically the best idea EVER. But hormonal birth control methods (pill, patch, ring, shot, whatever) have always sounded suspicious to me. Why do women think we can keep our bodies in a perpetual artificial state and suffer no consequences? I fully support everyone doing their part to prevent unwanted pregnancies, and I believe in the right to have access to all forms of birth control. I just think we can't possibly know the long-term effects of gobbling up hormones, individually and as a species, and wish people would consider more natural methods.

Thankfully, research is finally backing me up a bit. Thank you, Science.

(Thank you, Nick, also, for posting this article.)

Original article:
http://www. livescience. com/culture/080812-contraceptive-smell. html

By Jeanna Bryner, Senior Writer
posted: 12 August 2008 08:04 pm ET

Birth-control pills could screw up a woman's ability to sniff out a compatible mate, a new study finds.

While several factors can send a woman swooning, including big brains and brawn, body odor can be critical in the final decision, the researchers say. That's because beneath a woman's flowery fragrance or a guy's musk the body sends out aromatic molecules that indicate genetic compatibility.

Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) genes are involved in immune response and other functions, and the best mates are those that have different MHC smells than you. The new study reveals, however, that when women are on the pill they prefer guys with matching MHC odors.

MHC genes churn out substances that tell the body whether a cell is a native or an invader. When individuals with different MHC genes mate, their offspring's immune systems can recognize a broader range of foreign cells, making them more fit.

Past studies have suggested couples with dissimilar MHC genes are more satisfied and more likely to be faithful to a mate. And the opposite is also true with matchng-MHC couples showing less satisfaction and more wandering eyes.

"Not only could MHC-similarity in couples lead to fertility problems," said lead researcher Stewart Craig Roberts, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Newcastle in England, "but it could ultimately lead to the breakdown of relationships when women stop using the contraceptive pill, as odor perception plays a significant role in maintaining attraction to partners.

Sexy scents

The study involved about 100 women, aged 18 to 35, who chose which of six male body-odor samples they preferred. They were tested at the start of the study when none of the participants were taking contraceptive pills and three months later after 40 of the women had started taking the pill more than two months prior.

For the non-pill users, results didn't show a significant preference for similar or dissimilar MHC odors. When women started taking birth control, their odor preferences changed. These women were much more likely than non-pill users to prefer MHC-similar odors.

"The results showed that the preferences of women who began using the contraceptive pill shifted towards men with genetically similar odors," Roberts said.

Pregnant state

Based on the work by Claus Wedekind, a University of Lausanne researcher who preformed similar studies in the 1990s, Roberts suggests a likely reason for the pill's effect on a woman's odor preferences. The pill puts a woman's body into a hormonally pregnant state (the reason she doesn’t ovulate), and during that time there would be no reason to seek out a mate.

"When women are pregnant there's no selection pressure, evolutionarily speaking, for having a preference for genetically dissimilar odors," Roberts said. "And if there is any pressure at all it would be towards relatives, who would be more genetically similar, because the relatives would help those individuals rear the baby.

So the pill puts a woman's body into a post-mating state, even though she might be still in the game.

”The pill is in effect mirroring a natural shift but at an inappropriate time,” Roberts told LiveScience.

The results are detailed in the current issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.