Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sex Histories

I read Saint Gregory of Nyssa to her on the same day she asked me about my sex history.

Under the circumstances, it seemed appropriate. I mean, I assumed we had tossed the flayed and rotting carcass of this particular noxious issue onto the road behind us years ago. But it was just the other day and here it came again, rumbling up beside us in the rearview mirror. It was definitely worse for wear: Missing an eye over here, vulture-pecked shoulder bone hanging out over there… Awww, I tell you, it was ghastly!

I was not expecting it. Not that expecting it would have helped, really. My wife sat down next to me on our cat scratching-post/ couch and she asked me, “So how many people have you slept with?”

Just like that.

Point blank, as they say. No segue. No lead-up to it. Nothing. Just “So how many people have you slept with?”

You could have knocked me over with a… with a…. Well, with something that seems much too small and much too light to knock an adult human being over with.

What in the dirty blazes of the ninth circle of Hell makes a person ask this sort of question? Makes them come to believe that this is a subject worth addressing?

I wonder. I want to know.

Because it sometimes seems to me that most of America goes on about its day – dutifully brushing its teeth and checking its work email, the whole works – mostly on the off-chance that it might stumble across somebody (anybody at all!) on whom it can unload its sex history. Dare to dream: This could be the day!

There is nothing good that can come of this conversation. Ever. There is plenty bad that can come of this conversation, and will. It will haunt you at some unforeseeable point in the future. It does not matter whether you are Mother Teresa or Paris Hilton. It will be thrown in your face a week from now. Or a year from now. Or maybe on your death bed.

It could happen during a random fit of jealousy. During an argument over the dishes or a spat after you come home from work ten minutes later than usual. It could happen when you are in a grocery store and you look at a stranger’s shoes for a moment too long.

It will probably happen at your Aunt Clara’s funeral, because it’s almost always at the very worst time. Or at your daughter’s school recital. Or on the fourth consecutive night you watch “The Rachel Maddow Show”.

The person you have told will look at you and they will say, “Oh! Looking for lay number twenty-seven, are you?” Or they will say, “I bet you were more agreeable when you were doing the whole girls’ basketball team back in high school!”

Hypothetically, I mean. The specifics will vary based on your personal history.

I have only learned three things during my twenty-six years upon this earth (or four things, if you’re going to count the whole “Never pay money to see an M. Night Shyamalan movie”  thing), but I have learned this: Never share your sex history with anyone.

Not a spouse. Not a lover. Not a best friend or a shrink or the household tarantula or some random stranger on the internet. Not in a box. Not with a fox. Not in a house. Not with a mouse… Do not make a chart of the various and assorted… acts you have performed, put it in a bottle, and toss it into the Gulf of Mexico.

Instead, here’s what to do when that special someone – spouse or lover or best friend, household tarantula or random stranger on the internet – decides that it is a good idea for the two of you to share sex histories.

a)  You can tell them, which we have already established beyond a shadow of a doubt is the worst of all possibilities;
b)   You can fake a heart attack;
c)   You can feign deafness;
d)  You can choose that moment to mention that you haven’t seen your eldest daughter in the week and a half since she climbed into that van with “Free Candy” spray-painted across the side; or
e)  You can do what I did when it happened to me: Haul out the Saint Gregory of Nyssa. 

Because that old guy, he knew way back in the fourth century that a person’s sex history was pretty much the decisive aspect of their character. Greg was a married bishop, you see, but clearly, he felt engaging in sex had made him less admirable in the eyes of God. Less pure.

So when someone asks me about my sex history, my response is always the same. I turn once again to old Greg. To a bit he called “On Virginity,” in which he tries to keep others from making the same dirty, dirty, mistakes he had made.

I flip past the section called “That virginity is stronger than the power of death.” Then I flip past the section called “That true virginity is seen in every activity.”

And when I get to the section called “That virginity is the peculiar achievement of the divine and incorporeal nature,” I begin reading, and this is what I read:
“If someone wishes to examine carefully the difference between this [married] life and the life of virginity, he will find as much difference as there is between the things of heaven and earth… Truly enviable are those beyond all desire who are not barred from the enjoyment of these goods. The more we come to know the wealth of virginity, the more we have disdain for the other life, having learned from the comparison how many precious things it lacks…. The power of virginity is such that it resides in heaven with the Father of spiritual beings, and takes part in the chorus of the supramundane powers, and attains – ”
That is as far as I have ever gotten. That is as far as I’ve read before the party in question throws up his or her hands in despair and screams out, “Enough! Enough! Okay, you win! It does not matter after all!”

Far be it from me to ever try and pretend that sex with me is not an amazing, heroic, and life-changing event.  Or that it is not the sort of thing people write epic poetry about.

Found new societies for.

Rewrite their moral codes around.

But it seems to me that there exists a possibility that here in the West, our cultural and psychological baggage have caused us to… you know, make a bigger deal out of sex than it really is. I have checked quite thoroughly, and I can find no evidence that people who have sex are categorically different than people who do not.

Then again, what are listening to me for? After all, I am twenty-six years old and have only learned three (or maybe four!) things during my time upon this earth.          

53 comments:

  1. I have asked this question to every romantic partner I have ever had, as a friend. As someone who is cool and confident enough to not be threatened by someone's past. As a person open to sexual expression and discussion. As an idiot. It chips away at you. I wish I could say that I have learned my lesson, but I have not.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is really tough to explain to someone who is jealous, "Look, you are making a WAY bigger deal of this just hearing about it, than I did in DOING it."

      Delete
  2. Katy, is your ultimate fantasy to find yourself naked in bed with an equally naked Amber Heard ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm... She's not really my type.

      So no. Not "ultimate"...

      Delete
  3. My first response is always so instinctive it's basically a survival reflex: It's a trap! An IED! My response will forever haunt me no matter what...

    I would never, nor have I ever asked anybody that question. You could make the case it's rude and none of your business, but it can abolutely lead you no where good.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See, I thought there was a rule that guys HAD to ask girls that on the internet within 5 minutes of initial contact!

      Delete
  4. "Makes them come to believe that this is a subject worth addressing?"

    Ha ha. You said "come".

    ...which is exactly what I would do if you posted an in-blurred pic of you.

    BTW....what's with the sweating banana in the foreground in the last pic?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Huh-huh. She said "come"...

      It is a great honor for me to have Beavis and Butthead visiting my blog tonight.

      Delete
  5. I couldn't agree with you more. It is a question that should never be asked - or answered. That's because there is no answer that will improve the relationship, but many that could damage it. I have always felt it is simply none of my business what my partner did (or did not do) before we became a couple. It is enough that he/she chose me to be with. If that is not enough for my partner also, then I have chosen foolishly and need to move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Ted!

      I understand human curiosity, and it can sort of be a turn-on to get the inside dirt.

      It's what happens two weeks later that scares me.

      Delete
  6. There is no point to THAT conversation. The person asking loses as much as the person being asked. The other conversation to be avoided is "if anything happens to me, I want you to hook up with person X" I opted to feign deafness then flee to the workshop for some emergency woodworking. Running a table saw, chop saw and planer dampens any conversation.

    PS - it is 5 things, you left out avoiding Nicholas Cage movies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dana knows that if anything happens to me, I want her to commit suttee. It would, after all, be too hard to live without me.

      I watched this Youtube bit last night that had the 100 best Nicolas Cage quotes. Here: http://www.dangerousminds.net/comments/the_sayings_of_nic_cage_a_gospel_of_awesome

      He's one of our finest actors.

      Delete
  7. The other option is lie.

    I have only ever had one relationship where it was ok to be completely honest about this, he was also the only man with whom I have ever been able to share sex stories without any jealousy or later recriminations.

    A rare thing that.

    Men are strange, they all love it when you're doing that thing you do that they REALLY like, but at some point they will wonder just where and with who you learnt how to do it.
    "I thought it up just for you" or " I saw it in a porn movie" have consequently been other lies I have told a few times.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm... So a good lie would probably be... Start with the number she knows about for sure and add one?

      This blog and line of comments is now reminding of "Chasing Amy."

      There's an old quote - I don't know who said it - that "What men most desire is a virgin who is a whore."

      (Google informs me that's a quote by someone named Edward Dahlberg)

      Delete
  8. I wonder if that means I perhaps performed an error by posting my sexual history out on the net.

    Personally, I've always preferred sleeping with sexually experienced women, and I wasn't bothered by the fact that I was my ex-wife's eighth partner. But that's just me.

    I wonder if Dana meant how many women you slept with, or men, or both.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I mean, that's what the "Experience" section on your job resume is for, right?

      I saw a statistic once about average numbers of partners. For hetero folks, it was like 8. For gay males, it was 100+. For lesbians, it was 2.

      I think Dana meant both. Gay folks are very aware of gender-neutral terms.

      Delete
  9. I'm not afraid of this question, and I've never been afraid to ask this question either. The number doesn't count so much as just being able to answer it. Being able to trust your partner.

    Unless that number is in the triple digits. Then it's time to get the hell out of there.

    Yeah, I said it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I think Dana would probably handle it fine. She handles all sorts of crazy stuff gracefully, and that's CERTAINLY not the craziest thing about me.

      Despite that, I'm still sticking with Saint Gregory.

      Delete
  10. I can post a heavily researched piece proving that Rick Santorum is descended from anteaters, and get two comments.

    I think I'll write about sex from now on....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's all about balance, Will.

      A wise woman once said that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...

      Delete
    2. You'll get a lot more hits if I tell the anteaters that you've slandered them.

      Delete
    3. That's true, Bill. For the sake of Will's blog, we MUST find a way to convince people he is more incendiary and scandalous.

      Delete
  11. I hate that f'n question too. It is a double edged sword for both the folks with high or low numbers. I don't consider myself a jealous woman, but after being told [I did not ask, but my ex "wanted to be honest" ... barf] a ball-park number of women who added to the bednotches, I was kind of grossed out. You put what where, with how many women before me?!?!?!?! Eeeewwww.
    And yes, every time we were out, and women would come up, ignore me and go in for a hug and kiss [to my now-ex] I thought "did they fuck?"
    I really did not want to ever know.

    Why people ask this shit perplexes me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, exactly... Strange turn-off of sorts. It doesn't seem like the pinnacle of intimacy to me, either. I understand A Beer for the Shower's point, above in comments... sort of.

      But I'm not sure how TRUST would figure into it with me. My sex life hasn't been overly shocking and frankly, Dana could publish the details on the internet and there would be ZERO repercussions for me.

      Anyway, it seems like a big intimate turn on to think of your partner with someone else, I suppose, until you start reading about the incidence of herpes in the general population. Not so cool then, is it?

      Delete
  12. I dont know about this question. But I dont think I would ask this question or would like to answer this question.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the worst part is, it always ends up WORSE than you think it's going to end up.

      It seems like such a simple thing.

      I can't even say the safe answer is to tell the other person "The same number as you have," because in the case of guys, they're always adding #'s to make themselves look like studs or something, so then they can accuse you of basically being a whore.

      No good answer.

      Delete
  13. I bet Mother Teresa was FAR Kinkier than Paris Hilton could ever HOPE to be! The quiet types are always the freakiest!(Or so I've read somewhere....) I like to use Steve Carrell's response in the "40-Year Old virgin" How Many POTS have you smoken? When you use this response to that question, the inquirer is confused enough for a few seconds where you can run out of the room as though you need to use the bathroom REALLY BAD!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose we'll only know for sure when the Mother Teresa sex tape finally comes out...

      The Catholic Church has managed to keep it tied up in the courts for years now, but as soon as I can release it, I will post it right here on this blog!

      Delete
  14. So how many people have you slept with?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly the number you think, whatever that is.

      Delete
    2. Damn. You hussy!

      Delete
    3. Yup. Although, to be honest, it IS your mind that came up with whatever number you're thinking of...

      Delete
  15. Considering the opening photo, I am surprised by the relative low number of responses. Always take quality over quantity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There have been a few comments I haven't approved.

      I'm still learning about how to measure the popular success of a blog post here. It seems like page views are a better guide for me here than comments. People don't comment a lot, but they sure keep coming back to certain blog posts.

      I'll have it down to a well-oiled machine within months...

      Delete
    2. Oil, KY Jelly, any lubricant will do.

      Delete
    3. No kidding.

      Hey, if you saw the keyword searches that bring traffic to this site, you'd see that's hardly a joke.

      There are some screwed up people in the world. And most of them are doign weird Google searches.

      Delete
  16. I was asked that question relatively recently, and you're right. I should have feigned a heart attack... not that I could come up with an exact number.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Based on your personal history, you might want to choose something OTHER than a heart attack, Cal.

      You hussy.

      Delete
    2. Well, at least feigning a heart attack would have been believable.

      Hussy? I believe you're the first one to call me that! You're my first! haha

      Delete
    3. No one else has called you that? That must because no one else knows ou like I do.

      I don't judge. It's just a fact. Hussies are people too!

      Delete
  17. Katy, when you watch porn do you prefer to watch beautiful gorgeous sexy young girls being buggered and sodomized by rampagingly heterosexual geezers or do you prefer watching girl on girl action where the girls are buggering each other with giant strap on dildo's ?.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rampaging heterosexual geezers are always effective at reminding me why it is I am not heterosexual.

      Delete
  18. jervaise brooke hamsterMarch 5, 2012 at 5:07 AM

    Perhaps my dear, but you still didn`t actually answer my question, i`d still like to know what kind of porn you enjoy jerking off too more than anything else ?.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. POrn? That's that online stuff that computer nerds end up getting arrested for, isn't it?

      Yeah, I can't imagine I'd be interested in any variation of it in which males were involved.

      Delete
  19. vivian smith smythe-smithMarch 5, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    Perfect Katy, that falls in line so beautifully with my murderous homo-phobia, i told you we were girl-t for each other ! ! !.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You don't have to publish this, but, since I have finally read this essay, I might as well give you what you want: feedback and connection with another human being via words.

    Sex history, like all history, is a part of a person’s life, in fact one of the most important and meaningful aspect of a person’s life. And when a lover or spouse or someone contemplating to take interest and to invest their life and soul in someone, say, you, it is in fact crucial for this person to know your sex history. Not for ridicule or arguments when things turn sour down the road, which BTW only shows how paranoid and insecure you are if you would think and fear this way, but for the ultimate loving desire to truly and completely know you, understand you, appreciate you, and share with you all the life experiences and lessons you have gained or still refusing to gain from such history.

    Sure, it is entirely inappropriate for a perfect stranger to ask you this question before, or even after, your third date with them, but for someone who has already committed their life to you, at the moment at least, it is then a very reasonable and necessary topic for a truthful and heart-felt discussion between two understanding minds. Sure, this person may not ultimately have the depth and maturity and love to safe-guard and treasure this information in the future, but that is their fault of character and soul, which should never affect yours in how you treat an important person in your life, at the moment at least.

    Yes, I try to never let guilt of the past nor fear of the future affect what I should and must do at the moment. Instead, to do what’s right and meaningful is the only guide I have, while never forgetting for a second the guilt of the past and the fear of the future. Yeah, sometimes, I too wish that being a human can be a little less complicated. I guess that’s why some people become monks, which is the best way to not have to answer this question at all. So maybe you should visit and check out a seminary sometimes, just to keep your options open.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if it's lack of trust or lack of security, though.

      There are just some things that seem like bigger deals when discussed than they really were. People's private lives are awkward and embarrassing and full of bad ideas, false starts, and a lot of other things.

      And that story is probably relevant when two people are getting closer. But numbers themselves are... pretty useless for anything except causing hard feelings down the road.

      I think my original generalization was correct: "Nothing good can come of it."

      Delete
    2. Many years ago I heard a news report that the latest surveys showed that the average number of intimate partners Americans had was four. So I realized two things, that there was someone out there who stole my quota and had seven partners, and that it was within a couple of standard deviations for a woman to have had such seven partners in her life.

      Maybe I am too logical about it, because numbers like these do seem to be a factual and meaningful indication of what kind of life a person has had. And if I was to take interest in someone’s life, then it would be very important to know what kind of life she has had. You would assume that Dana was not a mindless and frivolous person in asking this question in the first place, right?

      It’s like if and when I am an internist examining a new patient. If he says that he has had two or three partners in the 20 years of his adult life, I would recognize it as the norm and not be concerned or prompted to do anything more than the routine procedures. If he says that he has had seven or eight, and he is about to get married, then I would urge him to get a full spectrum blood work, just to make sure nothing would spoil the honeymoon. But if he hesitates, evades, cracks jokes about a Saint Gregory or such before finally admitting to having had dozens of partners, and he is still a single middle-aged man like the Mr. Big in the Sex And The City evening soap, then I would insist on drawing his blood myself, while calling in my psychiatrist colleague to get started on a six-months counseling regiment. Therefore knowing the actual number is as important as life and death in many such occasions.

      Numbers don’t lie, people do. And the best way to build and keep any relationship alive is for two people to trust that honesty and acceptance are the best way to deal with all of life’s problems, so that they could actually spend most of their time on the good things.

      Delete
    3. I dunno. In my experience the question about partner numbers is not USUALLY done when someone I know is deciding whether they want to marry someone.

      It's usually done while drunk as some kind of turn on.

      It's ALWAYS done within the first 10 minutes of some clod trying to hit on me on the internet.

      In the case of Dana, it's too late now to use it as a way to weed me out before marriage. She knows MUCH worse things about me, anyway.

      But in general, I don't think that anyone ought to feel obligated to cast themselves in the worst possible light for a partner or potential partner. If I notice an attractive woman today, I don't have to go home and tell Dana I fantasized about someone else. If Dana does not look her best today, I don't have to TELL her that. If I was pigeon-toed as a kid, that might not be important enough to tell her...

      Most importantly, Dana was okay with it when I said I didn't feel the need to tell her this. She said, "You know this is only going to make me blow this number way up in my head, right?"

      To which I said, "That's on you and your dirty mind then, not me."

      Delete
    4. Wow, so it’s not dozens, but hundreds? Well then someone will have to call in the CDC and APA in your case. Or a Hollywood publisher, for a tell-all book like that will surely supplement your meager quickie-mart income in no time.

      But seriously, would you lie about this number in order to romantically impress someone who is clearly interested in you and whom you are clearly interested in? But, doesn’t the guilt start to build from that moment on, and then one day at many years later you would wake up in the middle of the night, terrified that he or she might have found out about your truth, and the fact that you had lied to them from day-one?

      Maybe this is just how I think, that honesty is the best policy, because it leads me to that special someone I can share my life with in the rest of my life, despite of all the assholes I might have run into and wasted my time with along the way. But if I lie to everyone about everything, just so that I am not going to get hurt or look bad for the bad decisions I had once made, then I will NEVER find good friends or my companion in life. Simple logic, isn’t it. We shouldn’t live our lives for the assholes we may run into from time to time, but we should always live our lives for the ones we want to be with and share some rare happiness with amidst the mundane modern life.

      In fact, being asked this question is more of a test on the person who is doing the questioning, than us who are about to see just what kind of person they truly are. Isn’t it? So cheer up, girl, for there are life’s passion and rewards in every situation and at every moment of our being.

      Delete
    5. Hmm... Yeah, lying about an answer be worse than not answering. Which is why I am speaking out in favor of not answering.

      As far as what any of this says about the person doing the asking: I suppose you can read whatever you want to into almost any old thing.

      I choose to interpret all of this like this: EVERYONE ASSUMES THAT EVERYONE ELSE WANTS ME, TOO!!!

      Delete
  21. Who you would vote for in 1912 turns me on. I always ask voting history.

    ReplyDelete

Hey you! Why not leave a comment to tell me what you think of what I wrote?