What happens in a Winnebago: part the second

Continued from previous

I sat down at their table, bold and brazen. (At least, I hope that’s the impression I gave.) By way of introduction, I ventured, “So, tell me your names and about yourselves.”

I get the story: friends from Nevada, traveling and doing legwork in support of Proposition 8. We make introductions but I focus on the blonde boy’s name alone. Initially, I sense he’s amused by my presence. To get a shot with him, I need to charm his friends; I have to win the group over and get in their good graces.  It’s only fair–I took the group by surprise so it’s my job to carry the conversation and offer my wit. And if I do say so, I did my job well. One of them even remarked upon it: “You are really good at making conversation, you know that?”

Why, thank you, I guess.

I discover my target is an English teacher in Nevada (swoon) and an aspiring writer. We chat about books and literature, his writing, and teaching. I find out his buddies work in the coal mines… and I genuinely was shocked that coal mining still exists in this country. Moreover, in Nevada it is fairly common for high school and college age students to work there as a first job. Not to be ignorant, but I had just assumed the U.S. had mined all of our nation’s coal decades ago and sourced these essential minerals abroad. An eye-opener, to say the least.

They are finishing up the last of their pitcher around this time and, being gentleman, offer to me some. I don’t have a glass so, being the classy lady I am, I grab the pitcher and sip right out of it. It was a ballsy move, but I knew I had to prove I was chill to roll with them the rest of the night.

It did the trick. They laughed, and my blonde-haired man offered me his pint glass to share. They said they were going to go next door for pizza and invited me along. I agreed, and told them I’d meet them outside the bar after I closed my tab.

Arriving at the bar, I see one of my friends taking shots with the Irish gentleman. She yanks me over and demands, “take a shot with us!” She’s a little blitzed, but enough in control that I don’t need to worry. I’ve got higher pursuits, so I decline the shot and share a little that I’ve learned about my target.

“So, ya’gonna sleep wit’him?” slurs the Irishman.

“I don’t know, we’re going next door for pizza. Hey —, I’ll text you and let you know if I need a ride home.”

When I step outside, I look up and down the block but can’t see them. Shit. I worry they took the opportunity and left, that my English teacher wasn’t interested in me at all and was just playing along or being polite. I check the pizza joint next door, to no avail. I wander back inside the bar, deciding to use the bathroom and then check again before giving up completely.

My friend spies me exiting the restroom and yanks me aside. “What happened? Thought you were going with those guys?”

“I couldn’t find them. Think they ditched.”

“Damn! He was hot though. Come drink with us then, — is pissed at one of the French guys. He knows her cousin and said something weird so we’ll probably leave soon.”

“Nah, I’m going to check outside one more time. Hopefully I just missed them.”

When I step outside again, the trio shouts and waves me down outside the pizza joint. “Where’d you go? We thought we lost you,” they ask.

Thank god. I relax a little, my fears unfounded. “Ladies,” I say by way of explanation.

We go inside, they order slices and we wedge into a corner table with stools. Loud hip hop mingles with revolving noise of drunk customers and street-side shouts. I have to lean in closer to the my blonde-haired boy to talk to him, and during conversation catch myself resting a hand on his knee. He doesn’t move away. Our conversation turns to his teaching, and he shares that his favorite work is The Complete Works of Edgar Allen Poe.

He pulls out a book from his messenger bag and hands it to me. “I always carry The Raven with me. I have it memorized, I re-read it constantly.”

His friends laugh and tease him, “We’re sick of it! It goes everywhere he does.”

Throwing our greasy paper plates away, we head back to the street. I ask him why he loves that poem so much–why The Raven of all the stories by dead white men in the canon of literature? He seems affronted by the question at first, but then I see this shine to his eyes and notice the steadiness of his hand as he takes the book back from me.

He opens a page, and he begins to recite.

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore –
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door –
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door –
Only this and nothing more.”

I can’t help but gape at him: in the middle of the sidewalk on Pine St, as young people pass him by and linger outside bars and hot dog stands and food trucks, this beautiful man is reciting poetry. To me. Holy fuckballs.

He continues on, unabashed. His voice rises and falls with the rhyme, picking up speed, escalating in volume. He’s planted himself firmly with the open book in his right hand. His eye darting periodically down to the pages, but I suspect holding it is just for show.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; – vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow – sorrow for the lost Lenore –
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore –
Nameless here for evermore.

There’s nothing for me to do but watch and listen, smiling broadly. His voice is loud enough now to attract attention, and I catch stares from nearby smokers. A few naive youths pass us on the street, jeering and snickering and cat-calling, but my Poet’s attention does not break. Enunciating the consonants and vowels, applying rhythm and tone from stanza to stanza, the recitation is theatrical. Shakespeare in the Park? No, I’ve got my own Poe on Pine. His devotion to the text is forceful, his cadence well-timed. He’s magnetic.

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
“Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore –
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of ‘Never – nevermore.'”

But the Raven still beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore –
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

By now, his voice cracks and breaks in places; the telltale signs of the spliff he smoked earlier. Nevertheless, he persists. He is going to recite the poem in its entirety and I am entranced despite myself. Who cares if he woos all his women this way? He’s a goddamn Casanova. He is a beautiful man but it’s his passion that creates a pull in my hips and a tightness in my throat.

I want to take Raven boy to bed.

To be continued…

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What happens in a Winnebago: part the first

Oh, were I wish it true, dear readers. That in certain locations, operating under the magical law defining Bermuda’s triangle, some acts will never, ever, reveal themselves.

But I’m much too blunt–or honest?– for that.

The second time I had sex, it was in a Winnebago. Oh yes, I do have quite high standards for all the men with whom I copulate. In actuality, the whole Winnebago thing was a bit of an accident, and it has turned into quite the funny tale. It’s kind of my one story about fucking in a weird location. You know, some people have barn haylofts and mountain gondolas…. I have a brand-name RV. All in all, I like to think of it as one scenario (of many) in which I’m subconsciously making up for my late-blooming sex life. That is, since I didn’t get up to shenanigans typically partaken through the inexperience of youth, I am trying to make up for it quickly and comically as an adult. I suppose when you have serial one night stands these types of situations can arise. And when you throw in alcohol, plus a trio of vagabonds, shit is gonna get a little weird.  Thus, lucky man number two (whose first name I do remember thank you much) is fondly referred to as “Winnebago” among my girlfriends and close compadres. In private, however, I refer to him as the Poet or Raven boy, and for reasons which will soon be revealed.

The night of my second sexual encounter goes as follows: I’m out at one of my favorite tequila bars with two close girlfriends. We are sitting at a table off to the side of the bar, a good location to survey the people around us as happy hour dwindles and the evening crowd piles in. We are seated for only a few minutes when a group of men–business types– come over to strike up conversation. My friends find common ground with them when they discover that the suits are native French speakers; I presume one of the lads had overheard bits and pieces of our conversation, as my friends often slip in and out of French when a topic gets particularly personal and we don’t wish prying ears to overhear*. The three of us proceed to speak exclusively in French with the suits and, being the least fluent of the group, after a few minutes I have lost the topic at hand. Not one to be a wallflower, however, I find that amongst this well-groomed group of Frenchmen is a lone Irishman. And it is he with whom I make conversation–and thank god I did.

(*My friends are fluent, but I am not. My comprehension is quite high though, so if I pay close attention and the conversation is held at a relaxed pace I can keep up and contribute with a sentence or two where relevant!)

Sometimes, there are nights where my friends and I meet strangers and fun things happen. We aren’t always receptive to these interactions, but when they happen it’s like a sort of magic.  The night I met the Poet, my Raven boy, was a night of magic.

The Irishman is an older gentleman, easily in his 50s. He sits across the table from me and after two minutes of conversation I’m ready to be his best friend. See, I studied abroad for a brief time in Dublin and while I was there I fell in love with the country. Dublin is a gorgeous city, full of culture and pubs and literature (the study of which being the chief reason I lived there briefly). I absolutely want to go back and maybe perhaps live there again one day. But the country on the whole, Ireland’s geography and history and remarkable people and national identity, has a sacred place in my heart–and therefore my heart has a weakness for any man from it! Anyways, this Irishman is fascinating. Like many I had met before him, he knows how to spin a good yarn. He talks about his life, about leaving Ireland and moving to the States, then coming to Seattle and never wanting to leave. We talk about his profession and his passions. And somewhere along the way we land on the subject of attraction: why men and women are desirable and why; whether some features are universally attractive and what those are; whether one personality trait is inherently more desirable than another; etc. It’s a strange topic to discuss with a stranger, but in this particular bar I’ve had a number of such odd and surprisingly pleasant encounters. In fact the chief reason we frequent it so often is because of the type of nights we’ve had there, its central location and quirky atmosphere attracting a wide array of individuals whether native or recently relocated or visiting.

After debating the complex reasons why men and women might be attracted to certain characteristics over others, the Irishman challenges me to survey the room and pick out the hottest guy in the bar. He’s argued that attraction is nature-based: women are attracted to men on the basis of their ability to provide. In our modern age, the ideal male provides security, financial and otherwise, to the female. The nature argument, in reductive terms, asserts the caveman’s skills as the hunter and the female’s as the gatherer. Conversely, I’ve argued for nurture-based attraction, with a dash of scientific rationale:  we are attracted to those who share characteristics we value (i.e. socially constructed heteronormative definitions of beauty and success) as well as those who are biologically appealing (along the lines of pheromones which match to create a more complete DNA profile). To demonstrate, the Irishman picks out the guy he believes best fits a nature-based argument in our modern context: an athletic, tall, blandly handsome guy seated at an adjacent table amongst three pretty women and two other athletic-looking guys, all roughly in their earlier twenties. The subject in question is cracking jokes and clearly holding court amongst his friends. He’s the hottest guys in the bar, argues my Irishman, “Because he’s sociable, confident, good-looking, and knows how to make women laugh. The women are responding to his body language, leaning towards him and flirting; the guys are sitting back, envying his confidence and letting him lead. He’s that guy everybody wants to be or be with.”

“No way,” I argue.  Taking a reductive route, I counter, “He looks like a douche! He thinks he’s the shit, but he’s not even engaged with his group–he keeps looking around the bar, checking out other people. Sure, he can get pretty girls to laugh at his jokes, but he’s not the hottest guy in the room.”

“Then who? Point him out.”

“Ok.” I take a moment to look around. In a corner booth just past the bros and biddies, beneath paintings of matadors and wrestlers, are a trio of guys in their mid to late twenties sharing a pitcher. They are just hanging out and talking, though no snippets of their conversation are audible from where I’m seated. Two of the guys, left and center in the booth, have brown hair and long beards. My impression is that they are disheveled, mountain-man types. The third guy seated on the right is the one who’s caught my attention, his curly blond hair partially covered by a beanie and his trimmed beard just the right measure of scruff.  He’s slouching a little in the booth as he talks to his friends, and I can see a bit of cream string tied around his right wrist as he rolls a cigarette between his fingers. I watch as he brings the paper to his mouth, licking the edge of the paper and sealing the joint shut. He doesn’t attract attention in the bar, but he’s attracted mine. Though I can’t say why, he strikes me as the type of guy you want around because he’s good and knows how to coax a smile. I feel a magnetism towards him: I see him, and I want to keep seeing him.

“That guy, there.” I point, quickly, and gesture with a nod of my head. “He’s the hottest guy in the room.”

“Are you kidding me? That guy in the corner? He looks like he’s stoned. He’s slouched in his seat, he’s not commanding the room. And he’s skinny.”

“No, definitely him. He’s slim, yes, but his body type is lean muscles, he’s strong and tall. See his hands? He’s deft. I don’t know, there’s something about his hands… his fingers are elegant. He’s quietly confident. He’s not commanding the room, but he’s enjoying himself and he’s not making a show of it. He looks intelligent, too.”

“You really think so? Then go talk to him.” The Irishman is daring me, and I know that winning the argument rests on how I respond.

What he doesn’t know is that I really, really like to win arguments and I rarely refuse a challenge.

“Ok. I will.”

I get up and make my way across the room. I stop in front of the booth, planting myself slightly to the left of the man I’ve selected. I smile and I make my move.

“Hi. My name’s Danielle. Can I join you guys?”

To be continued…

The Blushing Lush

The First

I lost my virginity on a one night stand.

Not entirely original, I know. But for a privileged, educated white female born in the late 80s to middle-class parents who opted for liberal city living and alternative public schools, who could expect much more “radicalism”? I grew up on Disney princesses and the feminist backlash. I graduated high school with a Women’s Studies course under my belt, and I spent summers lazing on city park greens watching friends roll blunts and sneak sips of 40s or bottom-shelf libations from their voluminous purses and backpacks. My sexual liberation? Well, fuck, you gotta get some first. So here goes.

The story goes like this: I am 23. (Old, right? I still think so). A close college friend is in town for a visit, and we’re going out. Of course, in lady-speak, this means I’m taking her dancing. We go to a trendy hipster club that has an actual line outside door. Why so surprising? Well, this club serves its cocktails out of mason jars, for starters. And its dance floor is decorated with a woodsy pine mural and chandeliers made out of antlers. It’s just how the 206 does classy, y’all. So there we are, going into this club full of men in beards and flannel and women in sheer H&M tops and tiny patterned skirts. I, on the other hand, am wearing a pastel pink tulle skirt (fine, a tu-tu) and a white sleeveless blouse. I look adorable and also a bit ridiculous, but I am in fact pulling it off because I have one of those attitudes that says fuck you if you don’t believe me.

My friend and I are dancing and having a good time when a group of seven or eight guys wearing the same t-shirt come onto the floor. They are wearing one of those tuxedo shirts, gag gifts no one seriously wears in public, and on the back is a terribly awkward photo of some guy’s floating, over-sized head Photoshopped onto a groom cake topper.

Yes, dear readers, they are a bachelor party. And what does this girl do? Make friends. I dance with them, and surmise after many attempts at audible conversation that they are fraternity brothers. From Canada. I ask why they are dancing at a bar here, in a city no one would call a party. Why aren’t they at a strip club, or in Vegas? They shrug; not that kind of stag party, I guess.

Quickly, I set my sights on one taller guy who is scruffy and blondish. After a couple of songs, it’s clear his frat bros are pushing him to talk with me, dance near me. We try to chat, and we dance around each other for many songs. When last call comes, I assume it’s the end of the night and that it will just be another funny anecdote. But it turns out my friend, who has for the past hour or so been AWOL, has also met a man and she has decided to leave with him for the night so they can keep “talking”. So there I am, standing outside smoking with the stag party. I find out they are going to “an after-hours joint”; I toss out names for a few places to see if I know of it, and they are surprised when I share I had never heard of nor been to it. So I go with them, because how could I not know about this place? And there, at this after-hours, living-room sized electronic club, I dance with the scruffy boy. And it’s clear we’re leaving together. So we do, and then this is where the story becomes my own, I mean really my own, and not one you’ve heard before (I promise).

We hit the street together, and start walking. His hotel? Negative–he’s splitting a room with five other guys. (I’m so not into group sex, y’all). So we have to go to mine, except that mine is also my dad’s. And while I have my own rear entrance and the entire basement floor to myself, I still live at home. It’s totally lame, but while I know it is (and was) very much temporary, it was clear that my living circumstance made him a little uncomfortable. Did I mention he’s older? No? Well, he is. He’s 28, and he works for the Canadian government in the labor department or something. He is an adult, that much is clear. Me? I look like a little girl playing dress up. But then we walk into the house and he’s still a little drunk and I’m not entirely sober. We go into my room and then we’re kissing, and he tastes good and everywhere he touches me feels warm; adrenaline is coursing through my body and I am literally aching to know where his hands will go next and what he looks like shirtless and how his chest feels against my skin. And so when he manages to pull my fluffy skirt up over my chest, my top and bra both coming off in seconds, I hear myself asking whether he has a condom, please tell me he has a fucking condom, and holy shit am I more adept at taking off a man’s pants than I thought I was. And he has a condom, so he puts it on and then pushes me back on my bed and kisses my hips and stomach and breasts and then his hands are pushing my thighs down against the mattress and then, there, he’s inside me. And it hurts, it does. But only for a few seconds, and then I am holding him closer and rolling my hips up toward him and we’re having sex. Just like that. There’s no music, no romance. If memory serves, we left the light on. But we’re two consenting adults and I made the decision that I was having sex and I wanted to have sex with him.

And then as soon as he starts, he stops, and looks down, and asks me if I’m on my period. Yep, this is where the really sexy stuff starts, dear reader.

And I pause and respond cautiously, “No…” and look down. There’s blood on my sheets, and I freak out a little in my head. I apologize and get up to go the bathroom, then I sit on the toilet and feel absolutely mortified. And of course the blood does not stop right away, so I turn on the shower and hop in. My man for the night knocks on the bathroom door to see if I’m alright, obviously concerned and I would assume totally freaking out, but I am ok. I mean, I’m pretty embarrassed I bled everywhere but I am, physically, fine. And I tell him so. I lie, and tell him it’s been a few years since I last had sex–and it was only once–so it must be that. By then I’ve regained some composure and cleaned off, so I invite him into the bathroom and he gets into the shower with me. We kiss in there, and he’s really sweet; he’s cautious and gentle at first, but I tell him it’s ok and that he’s not going to physically hurt me. And we start again.

You want to know why I lied, right? Why I didn’t reveal my virginity when it was clear that my hymen had broken? See, I didn’t want him to know. Losing my virginity was for me, and me alone. And, aside from the inevitable physical situation in which I found myself immediately after said sexual act, it was none of his business that he was my first.  Sex, for me, didn’t need to be emotional. I am comfortable with myself and my body; I don’t need to know someone intimately to feel sexual desire towards them. I knew that already, and the timing felt right. I wanted to lose my virginity because I felt like it. I wanted to have sex, and I decided to do it with him.

Looking back, is that fair? Not at all. I don’t know what he thought then, or what he thinks about it today. My cynical brain insists I’m just another horror story to him, a drunk aberration or at best a funny story of his youthful antics. But to me, all it meant was that I wanted to feel what sex was. I wanted to feel good; I wanted to feel pleasure that was different from that created by good food or lots of booze or drugs. So I lied. I brushed aside my broken hymen like it didn’t matter so I pretended it didn’t.

And so we fucked in the shower and it felt really, really good. We moved back to the bed–after putting a towel down first, we’re adults here– and it was clear he was too drunk to come. Or maybe he wasn’t comfortable,  so he couldn’t (or didn’t). So we talked and fooled around for a bit, and I played with his balls because he asked me to and then I really put myself on the map. I mean, REALLY. Are you ready, dear readers, for this mortifying tidbit?

I compared his balls to horse balls. And told him I think penises are weird. I mean, my exact words weren’t those. I think it went something like this:

“What?”

“Nothing. Just… thinking.”

“About what? Share.”

“Well, ok, so women totally got the better deal, anatomically speaking.”

“…. what?”

“I mean, the female form is just so much more physically pleasing to the eye, you know, circles and all that. And male genitalia…. Ok, well, the penis is kind of funny. And balls are weird.”

“*awkward laughter* What?”

“Well, uh, I just mean that penises, in general, are kind of anatomically strange when you think about it. I mean, I grew up familiar with the phallus ’cause I used to ride horses and work in a barn so I’ve seen large ones but still balls are just… weird.”

“Um, ok.”

There’s not much to say after all that, is there? I’m pretty sure I redeemed myself a little bit (I now hope) when the conversation turned towards whether men like to be tugged (oh come on, we’ve all seen that Sex and the City episode!) and what he likes and what I can do that he likes…

You get the idea. When we realized how late it was–4am–we decided to sleep. While he promptly rolled over and passed out, I mostly laid there thinking and absorbing all of it. And I was happy. I mean, I wanted him to touch me and not be totally absent, sleeping and snoring lightly on the other side of the bed. However, I also felt I couldn’t expect much because he was basically a stranger; I didn’t feel empowered enough to demand a little post-coital cuddles. (Note: now, I feel much empowerment in that regard–if you fuck me, I get to demand what I want.) But, hymen and post-coital activities aside, I was happy with the situation.

In the morning, I drove him back to his hotel. That drive was uncomfortable, and probably the worst thing about the whole experience: both of just sitting in this space, not knowing what to say first. And of course the awkward was prolonged: I had to drive around in circles looking for the hotel because he couldn’t remember its name–turns out he had gotten wasted in the car with some of his buddies before they even checked in. After a few phone calls, he figures out the hotel. When I finally arrive, he kisses me on the cheek and thanks me for the ride. Then he gets out of the car and leaves. We don’t exchange numbers because, well, what’s the point? He lives in Canada. I never asked his last name, either, so I couldn’t Facebook or Internet stalk even if I wanted to. He is gone, and I doubt I’ll see him again. And I’m 100% fine with that.

I do know his first name, of course. But a girls’ gotta have some secrets. So, in honor of my best college friends to whom I told this same story to later that day, my first will be forever known as “The Mountie”. Because, well, Canada. And well, you know, he mounted me. For the first time. Ever. Yeah.

And that’s the story, which the Internet now has on record. I will be sharing the others that came after, and perhaps even as they happen in, albeit slightly delayed, real time (who would blog as they had sex? That’s just rude), but that’s for another post and another day. What I can tell you now is that there is less awkward. And I literally mean LESS awkward. Because I really have no clue what I’m doing; I just know that I like doing it.

Until next time,

The Blushing Lush