Tickle me, Elmo

A bedroom rule: Better to laugh with your partner than laugh at your partner. There's usually something to snicker about, although sexual etiquette may not let you. Certain situations can be so subtly humorous or sexual that sometimes you don't appreciate their wry flavor until long afterward. On the other hand, some obvious snafus are too hurtful to laugh about but just not serious enough to cry over. These are tales from people who lived to tell about it.

MICHELLE, 36, QUEENS I was madly, madly terribly in lust with the best looking rock 'n' roll dude. This was back in the '80s. Everywhere we went, we got into any club because of his long hair. But I couldn't come to terms with the fact that he was bisexual.

I was not mean-spirited, but I tested the limits by showing up at the house where he lived with his lover. His lover was really sweet and cool about it. One night we hung out and had a couple of drinks. His lover went to bed early. They had separate bedrooms for family reasons, but slept in the same bed. I was in "his" room. We had wild, wild sex, including much oral sex. But he felt very guilty and went back to bed after. In the morning, his lover, who had never had a woman, kissed him and asked, "So, is that how a woman smells?"

CECELIA, 31, ROCKVILLE CENTRE He was a friend of someone I dated. We were just sitting and talking and I just noticed his ears were small. I just said, "You have small ears." Just like that. One sentence. He was so insecure. "Oh," he replied, "they're too small?" I just said, "No, they're small." The next morning, he asked my friend, she was just making pancakes, "Do you think my ears are too small?" On top of that, he had a beer belly. He'd ask me, "Do you think I need to lose ten or fifteen pounds?" I'd say, "Yeah, you could. Just start running." He was like a woman, saying, "Oh, you think I'm fat." Next weekend we made out. It was like kissing a little girl. All soft and saggy.

Still, we went to Egypt together. He was really fastidious. His bag weighed 53 pounds, and I can tell you everything he took away with him. He took a hairdryer with the adapter—and his hair was short. He took this electric razor he said cost his ex-girlfriend $250. There was lights and things on it. He took this whole stereo. He took all of his Calvin Klein dress shirts. He'd wear shorts and sneakers with a silk dress shirt. He climbed the pyramids in Egypt in dress slacks and a belt. Everyone else wore shorts and Tevas and hiking pants. I ditched him after a week—and fast. But the weird thing was, at one point he said, "You made fun of my facial features." I couldn't even imagine what he was talking about.

JOHN, 41, NORTH SHORE Sex and humor don't go together. Something laughable would kill the sexuality of it. Homosexuals are like that. A lot of times they don't say anything, they don't make any expressions. There are only a few things you can say that are guaranteed to help. Almost anything else you say is going to hinder. You can say admiring things, worshipping things, but if you tell a joke, you're in trouble. It's like humor tends to belittle something or someone. I remember one time I kept trying to flatter this guy because he wasn't getting an erection. I tried for like half an hour. Nothing worked. I told him he looked like a God and he was huge, handsome, gorgeous, et cetera. It would have worked—and it had worked other times. But I think he was nervous because of the circumstances: We were in my van in a parking lot. I wasn't getting an erection either. He blamed it on me. He said he'd get excited if I did. That was probably my most pathetic dating experience.

TONY, 34, WEST BABYLON I did have this three-way once. AOL, honey. This guy who set it up was this older doctor. The third guy had a swimmer's build, puppy-dog eyes, skin baby-soft. He was delicious. As soon as he walked in, I only wanted to be with him. The doctor kind of ended up realizing it. I had had a three-way with the doctor before. I meant to say, "I like this guy better from the other." But I ended up saying the name of the doctor running the three-way. Major faux pas. Then, I said, "I've slept with too many guys this week. I've lost track of the names." Which wasn't true, but I had to come up with something.

RENEE, 30, SOUTH SHORE This one's bizarre funny, not bizarre hee-hee. In college I met this student actor. Tres strange, but with a sick body. He'd say something weirdly funny and when I'd play back with him, he'd get icy cold silent. I couldn't tell if he was practicing his acting on me. One night, I decided I wanted sex. So, I invited him over to my apartment to do homework. It took a lot of persuading to get him over. Like, hours of phone work. For a while he was acting normal and talking like a person. Then, I stepped outside to talk to my neighbor. A girl, by the way. When I came back, it was like his evil twin was back. He was offended I had been gone for so long. Fifteen minutes! And he'd been doing homework anyway. I said, "Clingy, man." Finally, we go into the bedroom, and I figure: Payday. Wrong! He was laying flat on his back. "Service me" attitude. So I used him as a prop to get me off. All rubbing, no penetration. Then, he said something about us fucking. I played dumb and said, "Just because I invited you over doesn't mean I want to go all the way." He left one very frustrated guy.

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