An Officer and a Gentleman

I broke down and watched “Magic Mike XXL.”

Look, it made it onto an unreasonable number of “best movies of 2015” lists and was being widely and weirdly lauded as a feminist triumph. I’m not sorry I indulged, exactly, but it’s hardly anything other than Exactly What You Think: a simple movie full of airbrushed meatheads doing sensitively-manly things while gyrating to Ginuwine. Accompanied by champagne/peach moonshine cocktails, however, it was a fantastic way to spend a girls-night-in. (Also, the cocktails are now called “giggle juice,” and my new inspirational mantra is “Any God worth believing in certainly sends you men in thongs when you’re in need.”)

Man-Friend pointed out that the most notable difference between male strip clubs and regular (lady-stripper) “gentlemen’s” clubs is that women seems to be unreasonably turned on by men dressed up as firemen, carpenters, police officers, etc. – his theory being that women want to make sure that guy has a JOB in addition to being a beefcake (can you imagine how much groceries cost for a paleo-diet-based Chippendale?!). On the other hand, men are happy that strippers have a job… the job of being a stripper and taking their clothes off for money.

I think he’s being overly simplistic. Women aren’t turned on by the mere fact that you have a job, even if that’s an extremely lucrative job. (When was the last time you saw porn featuring network engineers? Rule 34 says it exists, but it’s up there with “Sluts Packing Nuts” in the “porn I’m comfortable with never seeing again” category.) An inordinate number of women are turned on by a man in uniform. Two dedicated couch potato friends just signed up for a fun run featuring beer, chocolate, cupcakes, AND “the finisher’s medal placed around your neck by a fireman” – clearly, the uniform is a significant motivational tool.

I’m not a uniform junkie, myself, although Baby Sister is certainly a devotee. In my favorite Freudian auto-correct ever, I attempted to text her: “Have you been downtown lately? It’s Meet the Fleet week!” (The week when the Navy ships pull into the harbor, disgorging swells of swol little kippers to enhance the syphilis transmission rate and satisfy the yearnings of bored housewives for live-action sailor porn.) My text was corrected, most appropriately, to: “It’s meet the fleet suck!” and she was on her way downtown as fast as she could drag up the anchor.

Partner In Moonshine Consumption theorizes that a uniform conveys respectability, class, or power, but I disagree. It doesn’t seem to make a significant difference what the uniform is, as long as it in some way represents “authority.” A friend related once that a paramour who found success writing smutty erotica memorialized their trysts in a tome featuring him as a riverboat captain – based on his summer as a theme park boat ride operator, complete with jaunty cap. (File this under “why you should bring gallons of hand sanitizer to Cedar Point.”) And homeowners have been misled for decades about how quickly you will, in fact, get a serviceman to respond to your call by porn featuring Henry the All-American Plumber “fixing your pipes.” (I was pretty sure I had accidentally hired the erotic version of handyman when Henry informed me that the reason my disposal was backed up was that the drain valve was installed upside-down and was draining to the roof. Disappointingly, the most action he brought to the evening – despite the attention of two women and a bottle of Beaujolais – was an impressive pratfall on the moss-covered veranda.)

Despite my ambivalence, I find that uniformed personnel are in fact overrepresented in my archives, from boy scouts to firefighters and cops to military and former military. The uniform isn’t what turns me on about them, but somehow, the characteristics that make me drop my thong are apparently learned in scout or boot camp. (Although, in fairness, there’s also a coincidentally larger-than-expected history of gingers, Jews, and engineers, compared to their share of the general population, so maybe the whole thing is just coincidence.)

But that part in Magic Mike where he interrupts his evening of designing and crafting some gorgeous custom furniture to gyrate around the workshop? I’m gonna be much more moist if you get your pelvis off the lathe and finish whittling that masterpiece. As a proponent of usefulness and efficiency, I like a man who is able to do things well (chief among those “things” being “me”). (The current world heavyweight champion won my undying devotion when I realized he was actually cooking me dinner while fucking me in the kitchen – not a euphemism.) Maybe a uniform is just indicative of a man who is able to get a job done. In that case, bring on the firemen!

 

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Let It Go

Once, I moved out in the middle of the night, while my partner worked graveyard, leaving a “Dear John” tacked to the front door and my personal belongings crated in a corner. Another time, I ended an almost-five-year relationship by two-character text. And I waited until after spending a sexless, joyless week in New Orleans to end my engagement – on New Year’s Eve. (Did you know that there are enough bloodsoaked battlefields and haunted cemeteries in the Big Easy to absolutely ensure you’re not in a sexy mood for seven full days?) I admit it: I suck at breaking up with people. But I’m not alone – turns out, pretty much everyone else does, too.

My friends have relayed stories of ghosting on multi-year relationships (apparently people really do still go out to get a pack of Newports and never come home); waiting until they’re standing in the ICU with soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend’s imminently expiring father; throwing a champagne flute at to-be-dumped in a hot tub stuffed to the gills with drunkards; and calling the sheriff to report they’d been kidnapped and taken to a swingers’ party 40 miles from the city limits. (Encouragingly, many of my friends relay these stories as the victims, rather than the batshit-crazy instigators, but I suspect some of them may be reversing the truthful roles.)

Because of my Irish roots, however, I excel at getting all my douchery out in one fell swoop, rather than engaging in an extended passive-aggressive social media campaign. While I’ve ruined New Year’s Eve for two dozen witnesses to an inebriated, histrionic, relationship-ending tirade (embarrassingly, not with the gentleman mentioned earlier), when the spectacle is done, I’m done. I heartily endorse this philosophy. Vaguebooking about your ex’s poor areolar grooming habits, lousy hand job skills, Miley-Cyrus-based weightlifting playlist, inability to parallel park a Smartcar, or new too-reet skank will not only ensure that you never restore a friendship with your ex but that you cropdust a swath of other friends along the way. If you can’t handle seeing whom your ex fucks after you while continuing to act like a civilized human being, utilize Facebook’s “block” function to make them effectively drop off the face of the (social media) earth. (Seriously, it’s like they don’t exist – which makes thread comments in a group that you’re both in suuuuuuper confusing.) In fact, just go ahead and “unfollow” or “unfriend” them immediately, and start the “moving the fuck on” process for yourself ASAP. Stop caring about their visits to that Cajun place that was your special après-ski sanctuary with someone else, or their nasty jabs about the profession you spent seven years getting a doctorate to practice and they used to (allegedly) admire.

I’m not trying to excuse my abhorrent dumping behavior, either, but sometimes, a horrible breakup event is absolutely exactly what the dumpee deserved. My midnight move was necessitated by a partner so childish, retaliatory, and violently unpredictable that he unpacked the boxes awaiting the moving truck and burned everything sentimental contained therein, including my diplomas, a response I did not find surprising. My breakup text message was in response to a manipulative, two a.m. text from an emotionally abusive man who had isolated me from virtually every other human being. When I ended our relationship, I not only slept with a hammer under my pillow for the next two months but didn’t feel safe until I relocated 2100 miles away – and blanch when I open the bunny-boiling messages that eight years later still ping periodically into my inbox declaring his undying “affection.”

And my shameful NYE exit was an unfortunately timed way to end a fiction that we both knew was impossible to maintain. Relationships grow apart, and people change, growing up and out in different directions. But sometimes it’s agonizingly hard to figure out how to be the one to snap off the dead limbs, even though you know it’s necessary to keep the plant thriving.

I’ve also learned that not a lot of people are significantly more competent at this than I am, and while I’m not on speaking terms with any of the aforementioned souls, I do remain friends with most of my previous relationship cohorts. The secret to that is letting go, and really, truly moving forward – and if you can still appreciate the things you loved about them in the first place, forging a new relationship, on new terms. It also might involve pouring a beer on them when you’ve reached the limit of how much snark you can handle about your infidelities, or seventy-nine hours of silent puck watching while you figure out how to talk to each other again about anything other than hockey.

Or, you know, you could scorch the remains of your relationship to dust and move to the other side of the continent. I’m actually getting pretty good at that one.

 

 

Re-use, reduce, recycle?

I must admit that being called upon to arbitrate disagreements about the etiquette of sex toys is both flattering and a little unnerving.

I’m actually not a huge fan of sex toys. I don’t object on principle, mind you, but just out of the general haughtiness that comes with easily-orgasmic privilege: I don’t decorate cakes with fondant flowers, because the real things are lusciously, inimitably gorgeous (nothing compares to a candied violet), and the artificial ones are lovely to look at but overwhelming when taken internally. However, I’m in full support of arming oneself with whatever trinkets, baubles, and foot-long vibrating buttplugs help you and your loved ones get their respective rocks off.

My Inquiring Friend is a completely middle-lane level of slutty, as far as I know. That is, he dates women, and, I assume, has sex with them, but he’s not Wilt Chamberlain or one of the interchangeable Kardashians (whom I’m pretty sure just tag each other in as necessary to finish whatever gangbang they’ve begun).

His question was disappointingly ordinary: what’s the etiquette about using sex toys with more than one person? (Sequentially, that is, not “at a time” – that’s clearly covered in our last episode, with the takeaway being “don’t touch anyone currently being tortured pleasured by the cattle prod unless you’d also like to feel like you’re escaping the bounds of the dog run.) I think the answer, for anyone who has had sex with more than one person, is crystal clear: wash the item appropriately[1] and feel free to use it on someone else, just like you do with your genitalia. (It is good practice to take the extra step and sanitize the dildos and other insertables; however, dousing your genitalia in sanitizing solution or running them through the dishwasher is not recommended in any situation.)

I vaguely remember reading a variation on this question years before my life pendulum swung from “French vanilla” to “everything and the kitchen sink”-flavored. Unmemorable anorexia-inducing-women’s-magazine-advice-columnist-lady advised that if you were going to delve into the world of exotic and titillating adult novelty items with your partner, the good and decent thing to do is to dispose of those tainted ben-wa beads with the burning embers of your love screeds and extinguished hopes and dreams when your relationship crashes and burns off the end of lover’s lane.

Inquiring Friend noted that this practice would get expensive quickly, particularly if you invest in quality playthings. I concur: No one buys a new set of china after every time you have dinner guests, even if you do have that friend who won’t refrain from dipping his balls in the gravy boat. And although *I* host an inordinate number of dinner parties, anyone who has more than an occasional soiree would be wise to invest in quality dinnerware and care for it appropriately so it serves you well for many years to cum. Besides, up here in the Pac NW we recycle everything, and I don’t think you can put old dildos in with the mixed paper and metals (and they are specifically excluded from the separated-glass bin, you-don’t-want-to-know-how-I-know-that). So re-using is good for not only your partners but the PLANET, amirite?

The interwebs tell me, however, that in lesbian relationships, re-using toys from one relationship to the next is completely anathema. A particularly disturbing quote from one Q-and-A observes that “[a] lesbian couple’s dildos become suffused with the energy of the sex in the relationship and end up symbolizing the sexual connection the poor doomed couple had. They belong to the relationship.”[2] (Just – wow.) I suppose I can see the logic in picking out a special new phallus to be the best kind of hush-baby third in your otherwise-monogamous lady relationship (but only if you get to name it together – I propose “Agamemnon”). Then, when the union goes sour and lesbian bed death sets in, you can blame it on old Aggie before hooking up with a new lover and trading in for a younger, more enthusiastic model of purple glittered faux-cock.

**Please bear in mind that I have equivalent experience being in a monogamously lesbian relationship as raising bees (both popular pursuits in Portland I have no interest in taking up), and do not hold myself out to be an expert on either – my etiquette recommendation is only aimed at straight(ish) folks with a slutty level of at least .69.

But you wash your ankle spanker and re-use it on your next partner, don’t you, gentlemen? Why wouldn’t it be equally appropriate to re-use clean, genital-shaped implements, assuming they aren’t crafted out of the ashes of previous girlfriends’ dead Chihuahuas or bedazzled with their initials? And that they aren’t infused with – well, anything, really, lingering-ex-energy or otherwise.

I recommended buying some dedicated sex toy cleaning solution and keeping it with whatever arsenal of insertables and inflatables your bedroom chest contains. Then, when showcasing the wares, you can ensure a sterile, cat-hair-free penetrative-assisted experience together. And if you decide you’re sticking with this new fuck-hole for a while, maybe you can buy a special new friend together to enhance the collection.

My answer seemed to satisfy Inquiring Friend, but this brings up a new quandary: I need a witty sobriquet if I’m going to be arbitrating these kinds of dilemmas. Emi-lay Post? Miss Man-hers? I’m sure my punnier friends will, ahem, rise to the occasion.

[1] Do note that properly cleaning and sterilizing sex toys is dependent on the material of the toy. Shitty sex toys that can’t be sterilized don’t belong in any orifices, period. Just as cucumbers are a one-and-done kind of item, when in doubt, throw it out.

[2] Savage, Dan. “Can you use sex toys in more than one relationship?Village Voice, 5 Feb 2008. Web. 28 Oct 2015.

Rock me, shock me, roll me through the night

We’ve met up in a city that neither of us live in for a big, slutty club party, with a ridiculous aquatic theme featuring a sperm whale looking for love. (These parties must make more sense if you’re on mushrooms, which, alas, I am not.) I know the party organizers, and can expect to see a smattering of familiar faces (and breasts), but mostly, we’re on the same level of anonymity with this crowd. The notable difference, however, is that I’ve been to dozens of these parties – a few in this town, most in my hometown – and I know generally how the cocktail shakes. He’s a slutshow rookie, but has aced his tryouts and has been an all-star in the regular season, so I have high hopes for his performance in the postseason.

We haven’t seen each other in too much time, so once we meet up in the bar, we essentially slam our pints and make for the fresh king sheets. The hotel is old – it reminds me of the kind of joint that 1950s traveling salesmen would’ve called home when hustling a few days in the big city. Its décor has been freshened up, but not its soundproofing: you can hear virtually everything from the next room, particularly if you open the closet (something that eventually disproved our theory that a family of leprechauns was living in the safe). I’m not quiet normally, and with the pent-up separation pangs I give the local spankoff theatre a wank for its money. But I figure that at 4 p.m. I should be pretty safe to moan as enthusiastically as I like without attracting much more than a bemused underage bellhop, so I throw caution to the wind.

We “catch up” for about an hour before we figure it’d be a good idea to clean up, make a cocktail, and then take care of our administrative duties: check in for the afterparty and acquire wristbands, meet the neighbors, say “hel-blow” to our organizers, and see where all the rest of our slutty friends have been roomed. As he takes the first of seven showers (turns out sex really IS great cardio), I scroll through the FB group, where our fellows have been posting their room numbers and explicit pre-fuck pre-func invitations. One post in particular sets the tone for the night: “We’re in 509. WHO IS IN 508?! :)” … uh, yeah. That would be us.

About three minutes of silence pass before there’s a knock and request: “Hey! Can we come in? We just thought we NEEDED to meet our neighbors….” Two amply-bosomed ladies – one blonde, one ginger – and their enthusiastic escort sidle into the foyer and introductions are made. Promises are exchanged to get to know each other more later, after bourbon is consumed and costumes are arranged. Eventually, after business is attended to, we do another few rounds of warmup throws, and head to the club to check out the rest of the talent pool.

By 11:40, I’m over the boots-and-cats scene and have about 3 minutes of teetering on heels left in my screaming soles before they revolt and refuse to ambulate. We pop into a Lyft with the neighbors and head back to finally start the main course. They’ve come vastly more prepared than we were: their room, at the far end of the hallway, is now effectively a discotheque. (Why didn’t we think to bring the portable strobe and speakers?!) Everyone mills about for a while before someone finally relieves someone of some clothing and it’s Game On. The statuette for “best mastery of a skill that will get you laid” went to the fella who could effectively make each lady squirt like a drinking fountain in an average of 90 seconds. (The award for “biggest asshole moment in the orgy” went to the last lady in line, who sprayed so vehemently and copiously that she was able to get up and shake like a Labrador to share it with the other half of the room, too.)

Neighbors have also thought ahead to bring a boutique’s worth of sex toys, from floggers to vibrators to double-ended dildos. Winning for “most terrifying moment” was when one hauled out “the shocker,” which is unsettlingly Exactly What It Says On The Tin. Apparently, following Rule 34, some insane fuckers actually like being stimulated by a tool that roughly approximated the feeling I experienced when foolishly repairing the dryer without unplugging it first and enjoying a healthy jolt. One touch of that was enough to propel me off the bed completely, especially after re-learning basic high school science principles like “everyone being shocked by this thing will conduct a charge” after being unpleasantly surprised by a casual stroke to my partner’s business areas. Get me fucking out of here, stat…

By this point it’s 3:13 a.m. and I’m flagging. My partner in crime still wants to taste all the jujus in the candy store, and I tell him he’s welcome to go explore without me, but that’s not really how it works… he makes the effort but is politely refused without his companionate set of tits, and claims to see the wisdom in getting a few hours of sleep before checkout and departure to our cities of origin.

He wakes me up at 6 a.m. with a passable cup of coffee and a gigantic hard-on. Thank god these parties are only quarterly, or I’d have to work on my equestrian lingo to explain my perpetual saddle gait. We’ve got five hours to checkout, and we’re going to fuck the marrow out of each of them.

A little less conversation…

Knowing each other for around two years, now, it’s only appropriate that after eating special cookies and watching Bob’s Burgers for two hours our date devolved into a conversation about whether we’d eat our own amputated toe.

On our first actual date, we went to one of those horrifically hipster shall-we-shag bars. It was the kind of place that served upscale-twee drinks with punny literary names, cramming sweaty-palmed hormone-buzzing millennials into uncomfortably rustic bench seating. As the buzz amplified around the hopeful romantics, we slipped into a peculiarly easy, if borderline psychopathic, conversation.

Unfortunately for the wholesomely-vanilla-looking couple dripping desperation six inches to our right, our chatter revolved around current events. I’d spent the evening before with a charming couple I see frequently, and somehow our pillow talk had devolved from “best methods of canning homegrown tomatoes” to the recent disappearance of a twenty-something female hiker. Around Oregon in the summer, that kind of thing isn’t extraordinary, but the circumstances of this one were peculiar even for the Northwest: she had wandered off from a meditation-yoga retreat at a hot springs (not unusual), wearing not a shred of clothing (getting weirder), without a compass or any other piece of wilderness survival gear (unheard of in this part of the world, where the Boy Scout gene is dominant). Somewhat unsurprisingly, she was never seen again, sparking our disturbing speculation about the details of her demise.

Now, Couple and I had determined that, best case, the Meandering Meditator died of exposure and the scavenging animals made quick work of her locally-sourced, grass-fed flank steak and chops; worst case, she wandered aimlessly until she collapsed or injured herself, before bleeding out agonizingly or dying of shock. First Date, however, snorted derisively that we had been far too limited in our creative ruminations about her end. Within sixty seconds, he’d outlined a much more Saw-worthy plotline involving rabid lupine dismemberment and a cannibalistic inbred family of kidnapping skullfuckers. I had to admit that, in fact, his was a much worse worst-case scenario.

As per usual first-date briefing, I did explain at some point my custom and policy that I don’t let anyone come home with me until I know him or her well enough to believe my date won’t gut me like a Steelhead – impulse killers are much less likely to off you in their own digs, considering quicklime so rarely goes on sale at the Home Despot and crawl spaces fill up so fast, even if you chop the hookers into pieces.

Nonetheless, the following Saturday found me recovering from a raucous pre-Thanksgiving rumpus (involving three deep-fried turkeys, 70+ revelers, a few hours of no-holds-barred Sinatra-dancing cleanup, and hair-pulling sex with a virtual stranger in the man cave, no pun intended) and gearing up to go hiking with First Date… three hours from civilization. I didn’t even bother bringing weaponry…the ripping hangover ensured that dying sounded like a perfectly acceptable way to end the evening.

Two hours into our drive, my inherent tendency towards carsickness amplified by the alcohol-sweating nausea, I finally insisted that First Date pull the car off right now and sent the remains of at least one turkey off to be salmon snack. The intermission gave him the opportunity to discover that we had, in fact, been driving for about 15 minutes on a completely abandoned service access road rather than the “main” one-lane road heading to our target hot springs. (In retrospect, the hangover was probably the only thing that kept me from panicking, hog-tying him to a tree, stealing his car and hightailing it to the nearest ranger station with tales of my attempted kidnap/murder.)

We did eventually make it to the completely abandoned hippie hot springs paradise, spending a glorious evening naked in a handmade, private outdoor tub. And, as evidenced by last evening’s baked conversation, I made it home with all of my body parts still connected, despite stopping off at a roadhouse straight out of Deliverance for some chicken fingers on the way back to civilization.

Which leads us to our latest inappropriate date fodder. This has followed a conversation about the various body detritus and excreta that one can consume from one’s own body, on a sliding scale from “boringly normal” (hangnails, boogers) to “fetishistic” (urine, feces, scabs) to “frankly impressive” (your own come, if drunk directly from the source).

“So, you’re having a toe removed – an extra toe, a sixth on one foot, that has always given you trouble, but that isn’t diseased or anything. Do you eat the toe?”

Now-long-ago-First Date goes on record: “Yes. BUT with the necessary caveat: in response to your question, I would say yes, I’d eat the toe, but it never would have occurred to me if it had just been a situation that, you know, just happened to me. Without you having put the thought that toe-eating was a possibility in my head.”

Riiiiiiight. Because I’m the one who’s the bad influence here.

Change is the only constant

A few years ago, I learned the vital life lesson that just because something doesn’t last forever doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful.

I used to be a scenic artist. The nature of my work meant that I painted and created something glorious that was destroyed within a few weeks. I grieved each time a show closed and I watched flats get repainted and disassembled – watched creations that took hundreds of hours be dismantled ingloriously and repurposed for new configurations. I cried at strikes, and my heart hurt.

A few years ago a friend moved away, and prepared his living space for one final installation before he began a journey that would take him to parts unknown of his past and future. I confusedly asked him how he could invest so much time, effort, and artistic integrity into a one-night show, and he told me: “Nothing lasts forever. Just because it is transient doesn’t mean it’s any less meaningful. I make art so that I can express what is in my soul at this moment, and hopefully connect with other people – to touch them now, and maybe live in them through the changes that makes.”

My wife told me a story tonight about something she remembered from years ago – someone who had touched her life when she was very young, who came back into her world and renewed a friendship that may affect her future. It made me think about the things that have changed me, and my fear that people will leave and things that I will lose, and my constant struggle to battle that fear and enjoy each moment that I have with them.

So many people come and go through our lives. We try to hang on to each of them, to keep them – to make them promise they will not leave us, that things will not change. But nothing is constant except change. Sometimes we grow and change with people, and sometimes we grow out of them and grow apart. Each one of them changes us as much as we let them — and if we choose wisely, they help us blossom into multi-dimensional, vibrant humans of the very best kind.

I have brilliant memories. I have memories of everyone I have loved, everyone I have connected with, everyone I have forged relationships with. I used to feel that I was tragically bad at commitment, but I realize that truly loving others means that I must give them the freedom to change, and grow, and move in and out of interaction with me and my life. And a life tinged with sadness and loss for impending change dishonors the value of this moment that we are living right now.

This thing, this moment. This is all we have. Nothing lasts forever. This moment is what matters. This connection we have with each other. This love that we experience. This joy in life and in each other. Without sadness, and without regret, and without need for a future or past. Each moment that we live is beautiful and sacred. Live the hell out of all of them.

How green was my valley…

So far this summer my campouts have included thousand-dollar science technology, giggling voyeurs, and almost enough cake to make me diabetic satisfy my unending bloodlust for dacquoise…the usual quota of shenanigans. But, you ask, after a rousing night of sock-darning, spitting uncouthly, and losing my clothing, what could Saturday possibly have done to outperform Friday?

Which brings us to the FLIR incident, graciously guest-blogged by one of my more lucid campmates. Enjoy!

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“Well,” he said. “The canyon is clocking in at 117 degrees.”

We should back up. There was a beachfront camping trip, a bag of Stay-Pufts, and a FLIR infrared camera. And a wee bit of alcohol. (Note: We use “wee bit” in the traditional Irish way, as in, “Chicago has a wee bit of corruption in its governing organizations” or “Lake Erie is a wee bit polluted.”) Don’t panic – we had a handheld breathalyzer, and it’s not like we were going anywhere.

Does our normal Blogess like s’mores when sober? We’re unsure. But playing with fire is something every tipsy person wants to do, and since she has a little alcohol amnesia, the folks from the fire circle are filling in the blanks for her (and your) enjoyment. She deserves the aphasia: An early evening reading on the breathalyzer showed her at 0.13, and by the time everyone forgot how to work it, she had hit 0.21.

So there we were, innocently roasting marshmallows, patiently waiting as the chocolate slowly melted on the graham crackers. Someone suggested the idea of dunking the sugar bombs in whiskey first, and the teacher and event coordinator decided to be enablers, since they just happened to have some lying around. The engineer, having had several special “infused” gummy treats and feeling squinty eyed and slightly vague, muttered about how the whiskey would start dissolving the sugar and therefore making it hard to roast. He was stoned, but right. Our Blogess managed to drop one treat in the cuff of her crops, and when bending to grope for a towel, forgot she had another s’more on her lap, which this action ground messily into her bosom.

It had been a day of sandy beaches and hikes and hanging out with really good friends, and to no one’s surprise who reads this blog, when her clothing became sticky our heroine just took them off beside the fire ring. This was somewhere around the time the breathometer registered 0.18.

There was a Jedi robe involved. Eventually. Peripherally, as it were.

Meanwhile, the stoned engineer had pulled out the infrared camera and was taking images of the teacher, who was sitting on the other side of the campfire. He was making a valiant effort to prove his previous observation that the warmest spot on a human tends to be the eyeballs, but the ambient heat from the fire was messing with his readings.

So our heroine says, “I’m on your side of the fire, try me.”

She’s sprawled in her camp chair, left leg draped over the arm, as he aims the device and looks onto its tiny screen, with the heat readings represented by a rainbow of colors, still complaining about the campfire throwing things off and taking a few extra readings.

He’s completely oblivious, and quite obviously so, to the composition of his subject. His girlfriend, sitting next to him, is laughing uproariously, as he has no idea that he’s framing a stark naked girl in his lens. The aforementioned robe, still over her shoulders, serves only to frame her feminine figure in the firelight.

His reddened eyes fixed on the FLIR display, the engineer points his instrument directly at her chamber of secrets and observes confusedly how unusual it is that the valley there registers 117 degrees while the eyes are merely 115. In his defense, he was doing science!

Unsurprisingly, Sunday morning was rough all around.

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It’s f*cking in tents

Surprisingly, I’ve suffered no serious coital injuries this camping season – by this point last year I’d already fractured my foot and impaled my lady bits on a sharp stick in sex-related incidents (the decision to hike in a dress without underpants was, in hindsight, a regrettable mistake I blame entirely on sex brain).

This year, one fine Oregon weekend found me glamping with the folders. I’m a buncher, myself – i.e., I just grab a couple squares and crumple it up in a wad rather than carefully stacking the Charmin in a neat pile – and my camping gear involves a backpacking tent, sleeping bag and pad, and a real pillow if I’m feeling fancy. I knew I wasn’t among my own, though, when “I plan to pack a few sandwiches” was a completely foreign response to “what are you bringing for food.” When I realized that my fellow campers had constructed a full kitchen roughly the size of my apartment, complete with dish-washing station and color-coded labeled bins of kitchen supplies, to prep the elaborate evening repast, I felt the best thing for everyone was to pour four fingers of tequila and stay out of the way.

Six hours and nine cocktails later, I found myself in a vastly more glamorous tent than my own. Not only did I not have to slither awkwardly through multiple zip-doors, this palatial spread contained a queen-size air mattress and two quite sexy humans removing what remained of their clothing. As the last of his wardrobe came off, however, I noticed a quarter-sized hole in the gentleman’s left sock. My pickled, desperately-happy-to-feel-useful brain perked up: “Hey, I have a needle and thread! Even though I’m drunk, I can still darn a sock!”

Upon my triumphant return from the low-rent tent district with sewing accoutrements, I realized the lady had finished disrobing and was now reclining somewhat impatiently, leading to the QOTN: “I’m torn between darning a sock and eating pussy.” (Apparently I will never, ever learn that tent “walls” do nothing to prevent the entire rest of your camping party from hearing both your conversations and consummations, as this quote promptly made it to Facebook courtesy of one of my campmates.)

Sock successfully darned (no one is going to notice that it’s lime green thread keeping that white sock together, right?), it seemed prudent to brush some of the taste of decaying alcohol off my breath. I borrowed the lad’s toothbrush, because if I’m planning to put my face in your nethers in T minus 4 minutes, I think we’ve already agreed on our acceptable level of oral sharing. After I unzipped the door and hocked a mouthful of pasty spit discreetly outside to the right, he advised: “Next time try not to spit in the vestibule.” Since that sentence didn’t make one lick of sense to my drunk, erotically-focused neurons, I ignored it completely. To his consternation, I spat again a moment later in exactly the same place. In the morning I learned that really fancy tents have not only a proper stand-up door, but an area between that and the rain fly with a tarped floor (this “vestibule” of which he had been speaking). Oops.

After the evening’s festivities concluded, I eventually crawled back to my own tent-slum. (Despite the luxury a queen blow-up lends to sexy times, I recognized that inevitably this would deflate and result in a central trough of enforced cuddle-smothering.) Not being a morning person, when my excretory senses mumbled me awake a few hours later, I buried my head to muffle what I believed were the sonorous orgasms of my neighbors and buy a little more time in dreamland.

When I couldn’t repress the urge to pee any longer, I careened headfirst out of said tent and, to my surprise, found said neighbors placidly fireside sipping cappuccinos. Apparently what I believed to be the lovely lady’s moans of delight was in fact a nearby dog’s falsetto yapping, which had woken everyone else and subsequently annoyed them for nearly an hour. (The gentleman’s chest puffed noticeably as he thanked me for my mistakenly flattering assumption of his longevity and skill, however.)

15 hours into this camping trip, my head buzzed and I hadn’t yet seen the beach. Fortunately, the folders had whipped up something edible to go with their espresso and it was promptly deposited, with a mug of regular-old coffee, into my lap. (Somewhere around this time it occurred to me that although I was wearing the sweatshirt I had on the previous day, the two layers underneath had disappeared completely: the customary beginning of my favorite traditional morning scavenger hunt.)

I was rebuilding my strength before the sun cleared the treetops, rallying for adventures to come. After all, we still had three bottles of rum, an infrared camera, and a hell of a lot of weed-infused gummy candies.

Next week! One of my camp-mates fills Saturday’s blanks for me in an extraordinary guest blog, complete with thermal imaging. 

Turning Me Off

My belly button hurts.

Also fairly tender are the severed, cauterized ends of my now-purely-decorative fallopian tubes, swimming freely in my abdominal cavity, relieved of their duty to hunt down sperm-hungry little eggs. But those are rather more of a deeper, fiery ache, like someone fed me bad curry.

I’ve never wanted babies, and I’ve been a lifelong diligent fighter against my body’s natural inclination to want to replicate. With a Republican-led administration seemingly imminent, and since I have a complete unwillingness to give up sex, what with my shiny new health insurance it seemed like a great time to fix this up once and for all. Despite all the talk about how “casual sex” should have consequences, I don’t really like to think of mini-humans as “consequences”… “consequences” are having to re-screw and bolster yet another broken bedframe, mollify neighbors with ever-more-impressive baked goods (I think we’re probably at the Cronut stage), and creatively figure out the name of that fifth gentleman who joined up later (the one that made the killer manhattans and had amazing cunnilingual skills, both of which earn him an invite to the next friendly function).

So there I was at a horrific pre-dawn hour, tying myself into a glamorous paper assless gown (of course memorialized in the obligatory over-the-shoulder ass-shot), trying not to pass out while getting jabbed with IVs, clipped to electrodes, and re-questioned about all manner of familial mental illnesses (too many to even start counting). Two hours later, I said goodbye to my babymakers and was wheeled off into unconsciousness for an hour of prodding around my netherbelly. (My friend says the doctor showed her photos of my lifted-and-tucked tubes, along with my gloriously healthy and intact appendix, while she was waiting. We’ve reached a new level of intimacy! All they used to have was Highlights for Children to pass the time.)

Honestly, the most terrifying part was waking up. Some histrionic woman was screaming her ovaries off, which made me feel like I was in a combat zone (maybe I’ve been watching too many M*A*S*H reruns lately). Myself, I just comatosed-ly repeated “ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch” and curled into the fetal position until someone pumped Fentanyl into my IV drip. Unfortunately, just as the pain receded my doctor dropped in to tell me that they had called my mother, and she was waiting for me outside, which nearly induced heart failure.

(My sociopathic mother informed me this past Christmas that she’d like a “trial separation” from my sister and me, “just for a year” because she felt “unappreciated” and “taken advantage of.” From a woman whose highlight reel includes asking me to help her push my sister down the stairs in hopes of inducing a miscarriage, this was the best holiday present I’ve ever received (even eclipsing the do-it-yourself penis casting kit, not a gift from mom). Since that blessed morning chat six months ago, I’ve moved house without leaving a forwarding address and I work from that new mystery home – basically doing everything I can do to be as Kaiser Soze as possible – so the thought of her waiting for me in recovery almost sent me into hysterics.)

Fortunately, the doctor had apparently only glanced at my good friend/surgical caregiver from the back of a galloping horse on her fly-by before scrubbing in – the postop nurse assured me that it was the same woman who brought me in, who is definitely NOT my mother. (In theory, if Friend had been a very precocious 12-year-old, this situation could have been possible, but likely neither one of us would have successfully reached our current ages if we were thusly related – god knows we get in enough trouble as it is.)

Returning to the recovery room, Friend and I discovered that we were everyone’s favorite Punch-and-Judy team – despite being severely undercaffeinated and doing our very best to restrain our typical patter to “PG-13” rather than “Unrateable.” Our first morning CNA had cracked a joke about my friend being “an easy stick,” paling to a sickly shade when she realized how far from appropriate this was, but immediately signing on as our sidekick as soon as we lustily embraced this appellation. I was frankly impressed that neither of us had adorned anything with flying cock stickers or drawings, despite there being a perfectly good white-board and assortment of markers within easy reach. Mostly, however, I was just enthused by the sensor attached to my finger that glowed like ET’s finger, so I made incoherently obscene alien-appendage jokes until I was sucked back into unconsciousness.

I slept the easy sleep of the recently-deactivated into the early afternoon.

Having no modesty whatsoever, I was an unusually easy patient; I’m sure that helping someone pee who cares who sees her naughty bits is exponentially more difficult. Once I had done so successfully, my kick-ass afternoon nurse – a hulking bald fellow with a penchant for musical theatre jokes – agreed to start the discharge process. When I asked him how long I should wait before taking the garage for a test-drive, he advised two weeks of “vaginal rest.” My raised eyebrow signaling my disagreement, he softened his advice to “nothing too vigorous.” Wouldn’t want to rip the abdominal incisions, mostly…seeping is never sexy.

Twenty-four hours later, I’ve eaten a lot of toast, warded off two very aggressive kittens looking to cuddle with their claws out (which shall be a euphemism for “Tuesday” going forward – warding off aggressive pussy), mostly eked out a day’s work with the help of the Vicodin fairy, and am enthusiastically back to watching M*A*S*H reruns. I should be up to at least half-speed ahead by the weekend, damn the torpedoes, no “consequences” in sight that aren’t treatable with a good course of antibiotics and a tetanus shot or three. Certainly nothing the god of biomechanics won’t let me into heaven for.

You say three-way, I say “Thursday…”

I’m such a spoiled sexpot.

In this bubble of Portland-privilege that I live in, I forget that for much of the rest of the world, having a threesome is an actual bucket-list item rather than, say, after-dinner entertainment on an ordinary Thursday. From the occasional ads that pop into my Facebook feed from mainstream lad mags (think “Maxim”), I’ve learned it’s apparently the “number one male fantasy.”

I don’t understand why the #1 male fantasy isn’t a perpetually horny partner whose idea of a perfect date is cooking you a steak dinner and watching Die Hard marathons with you while sucking the chrome off your tailpipe, but I’ve gotten used to the fact that most men aim low. (My personal #1 fantasy is someone who would like to drop by, landscape my yard, scrub my stove and plow my lady garden without wanting an actual “relationship” – I’m not holding my breath, though.)

Imbued with such heady significance, it’s hardly surprising that for your average non-Cascadian muggle, the actual experience of a ménage-a-trois hardly lives up to the fancy French name (contrary to the experience of escargot, which is much more explosively delicious than even its exotic name implies). I hear tales of girlfriends caterwauling so loudly during such a girls-gone-wrong episode that they’ve been kicked out of hotels, of relationships ending over just the serious conversations about such an encounter, and of simmering resentment that subsequently seasoned every miserable interaction between previously “content” couples. I’ve never been a part of any truly disastrous first dip into the poly pool, but this is largely because there’s only one acceptable answer to my screening question:

“Why do you want to have a threesome with me?”

Now, I hear quite a few variations on essentially the same wrong answer to this inquiry, including “it’s my boyfriend’s birthday/bar mitzvah/graduation/retirement/13-year-sobriety celebration,” particularly if wheedling girlfriend has thus far demonstrated her minimal capacity for self-assurance by pouting through cocktails with one old college girlfriend with Jessica-Rabbit-worthy midlife-crisis “enhancements.” It’s a virtual certainty that upping the ante on this will end with ladyfriend locked in the powder room, sobbing and vaguebooking, while birthday boy apologizes profusely and sucks up 8x surge pricing to assure the arrival of a Uber removal vehicle as quickly as possible.

If you yourself are not enthusiastic to get naked with my bad ass, I am never climbing into your bed. Period. Not with you, not with your boyfriend, not in a box, not even for some of that spectacularly lovely lox from the deli around the corner with the pickled beets…. I digress.

Many well-executed novice threesomes – that is, experiences that are magically delicious for all the exotic creatures involved – involve an established couple and a unicorn. Ideally, the established partnership has excellent communication skills with each other — and both partners desire and respect the solo player. A threesome, like a baby, is an incredibly shitty way to save your floundering relationship; one partner’s passive-aggressive assent is truly only going to result in sleepless nights full of resentful tears and trips to the marriage counselor while at least one of you fantasizes about running away to join the Peace Corps.

Many poorly-executed novice M-F-F threesomes involve arbitrary, completely unenforceable “rules” of the Pretty Woman “no kissing” variety, essentially designed to ensure that the takeaway experience is as non-intimate as possible with the extra woman. This won’t make man-player less aroused. It will definitely not accomplish your nefarious plan to prove that the experience is “not all it’s cracked up to be” and that you are definitely the best girlfriend ever just for giving it the ol’ half-assed college try. Regardless of how much you dehumanize that lady, the moment your mouths are both around his pork sword he will elevate that moment to first-track playback in his spank bank for perpetuity. Rest assured that you will have to endure aural, enthusiastic recollection about its majesty ever time he has three whiskey sodas for the rest of your relationship…fortunately, that likely won’t be too long.

I’m not for a second implying it’s not fine to have rules and boundaries. But there’s a chasm of distance between “use condoms” or “if anyone’s uncomfortable, we can all stop anytime and go right back to eating shortbread and watching Robin Williams” and “No kissing!” “No hugging!” “No hitting above the neck!” (OK, maybe the last is a fair limitation, unless you met at amateur bondage night or a Three Stooges fan-con.) But for chrissake, use your grown-up words and try actually articulating your concerns (from “what if I fart on you, would that be weird or cool?” to “I would prefer not to perform cunnilingus on you – I’ve never done it and vaginas kind of scare me“ to “what’s your disease status, and your reproductive prevention plan?”). If you can’t manage to have those conversations, even after a fortifying/lubricating cocktail or two, you have no goddamned business screwing around with someone else’s genitals – or feelings.

On the other hand, if you can correctly answer the gatekeeper question with “because we both really, really want to have steam-the-paint-off screaming sex/make sweet Barry White love/explore our mutual interest in making furry porn with you,” or some reasonable variation of that sentiment, I would just love to join you for a cocktail. I mean, it IS Thursday.