Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I’ve always viewed bisexuality as the overlap of a Venn diagram. On one side, you have the blue of heterosexuality: a girl wanting a boy’s fuzzy chest to lay her head on, a girl wanting a boy’s manly man things like grunts and hockey fandom and tinkering in a garage, a girl wanting a boy’s sweatpants boner…and then on the other side, the red of homosexuality: a girl wanting a girl to spoon with and whine about her menstrual cramps in solidarity, a girl wanting a girl to walk in silence with in the woods, a girl wanting a girl to wedge a Hitachi Magic Wand on top of as they scissor their way into another night of multiple orgasms and shared pints of gelato…The purple ellipse between the two being bisexuality. A union of amazing sexual and emotional dynamics, a blending of the best, and occasional worst, of both possible worlds.

Unfortunately, in real life, it’s far less an overlap, more like a game of Pong. On one side, I’m straight but weird, a girl with short hair, tattoos, and a penchant for wielding muscle and curses like a tiny, female midget pirate. Then I’m the gay girl, the not-quite-butch/not-quite-femme lesbian with hair too long for either category, and a demurring smile that seems to hint of something, like my love of skullfucking. All of this is fine, and not my problem, until there’s a juncture where one or the other side of my identity needs to be revealed.

This is less of an issue with men who, by and large, seem to value bisexuality as a kind of cool party trick for their girl to bust out. After all, a bisexual girl is just a girl-on-girl threesome waiting to happen to most guys. But for lesbians, my bisexuality is often viewed as less of a glittering example of my uniqueness, and more of an unsavory detail, much like a lack of faith in evolution, Creed fandom, or an STD. (Those last two might be the same.)

snuggles and hitachis

So what’s a bisexual girl to do, other than feel proud that they’re part of the 13%? Do I lie to the ladies, keeping my love of guysweat a secret? Do I trot out my queerness with a degree of self-resignation or shame? Or do I pretend that the percentage of my lesbianism outweighs my percentage of heteronormalcy somehow, as though the results have come back and I’m 65% gay, 45% straight?

Instead I usually wind up keeping it a secret, staying quiet when men are brought up or any man-bashing takes place (which is less often than most straight men would think.) Recently there’s been a bit of a predicament, however. I’ve started working for a venue that is run by two very pretty, very intelligent women who happen to be both gay and in a relationship. And while I allow them to think that my unfortunate haircut and tattoos of naked pin-up girls on my arms put me in the center of Dyke March every year, one of them initiated a line of questioning recently that sent a shiver of fear into my tiny, LGBT-supporting heart…

Her: Did you ever know a girl named Ana X?

Me: Um, where?

Her: Westchester.

Me: Freckles?

Her: And a gap between her front teeth.

Me: An Ani DiFranco “Righteous Babe” tattoo on her ankle?

Her: Left ankle.

Me: (remembering Ana X doing GHB and making out with me on a lawn at Sarah Lawrence College on a night during the beginning of spring semester of freshman year) …maybe.

Her: That was my roommate in Brooklyn!

Me: (recalling a drunken night, meeting up with Ana X and a long-haired girl with glasses at Meow Mix two years later and making out with both of them, at separate times, in the bathroom line) Oh. Wow. Yeah.

Her: We could have made out!

Me: No, no, no, I mean, maybe, I mean, no, I mean, I haven’t seen her in so long, I don’t think I met you…

Her: You never know. The lesbian community is so small.

Me: Yeah. Us lesbians. Real small. Heh.

But, while I was a lesbian back then, I lost my boy-to-girl virginity five years later, when I realized – also drunkenly – that I was bisexual and not gay. (Interesting statistic, most bisexual people won’t tell anyone about their orientation until they’re twenty years old, but most likely that isn’t a gay person telling someone they’re actually bi, as opposed to a presumably straight person coming out as bi. Still, worth noting.)

kiss kiss

Ever since then I’ve been an equal-opportunity whore, viewing bodies as bodies and people as people and respecting all forms of identity while never pigeonholing my own. But what of people, especially lesbians, who knew me as “one of their kind” way back when? Do I come out as a bisexual? Or stay closeted in my rainbow closet of gay? Moreover, is it my responsibility to do so, as some sort of representative of the ‘other’ end of the queer spectrum?

Worse yet, if I did, would I lose my job?

Needless to say, there might not be a so-called right answer. But it’s definitely something that’s been sitting its heavy ass at the foot of my bed. Considering that bisexuals are only ‘tolerated’ a little bit more than IV drug users in a 2009 survey of self-identifying straight people, I have a feeling that, while my personal predicament is less common, I’m not the only one wrestling with this. But I might be the only one who has made out with her boss, and boss’ former roommate.

Blowjobs. The Learning Annex Edition.

The other day my crimson-haired girl Princess suggested to me that I should give blow job lessons since I often find myself waxing poetically about them.

Blowjob workshops already exist, and are taught by women and gay men far more experienced and knowledgeable than yours truly. I don’t have the steel stomach required to speak publically, let alone about something that makes me blush and giggle. So here’s a manual, in the form of a post.

in the mouth

Everybody, and every body, is different. I’m approaching this list from the point of view of someone who is not nearly as good as verbal communication in the sack as I wish I were. True fact absolutism: the real list of tips and tricks for anything carnal has only one bullet point, and that is this, ask. Seriously. Just talk to one another and you’ll save yourself a lot of anxiety and guessing, and probably, maybe have a bit more fun figuring things out.

But if, like me, you choose the fool’s path of seeking without speaking, here are a few of the key screws and wrenches that have proven to be the handiest of implements in my oral toolbox.

Oh, and while I write about this from the perspective of a girl-blowing-boy configuration, I’m going to go out on a phallic limb and state that all apply for boy-on-boy action, too. If anything, you lads have an advantage, as you have one.

Reading. It’s more than just for books.

Start by figuring out your partner’s cues. Common physical markers of pleasure are fairly obvious, other than a hard-on: muscles tense up, respiration and circulation quicken, there can be flushing of the face, neck, and chest. They’ll likely wriggle around a bit, and he might make some sounds (super hot to me, though to some girls they may sound like an animal being slowly wounded in the distance, depending on the dude.) These are all good things. Negative signs are fairly easy to spot, and though I’ve fortunately never experienced ‘em, I assume they’d include wincing in pain, shrieking, smacking not-in-the-fun-way, crying, falling asleep, and calling their mother.

Think butter knife > steak knife

You have teeth. Teeth are sharp, and are one of the reasons why we’re at the top of the food chain. Vegans be damned, our canines were designed to tear at flesh. Don’t be dumb. Sure, a little nibble here and there can be some guys’ jam, but try to avoid actual tooth-to-dick contact. No chewing. If you feel contact between your bicuspids and his glans, try to shift your position, and don’t repeat that move.

The dick is not a hands-free device.

If you’re bad at multitasking, don’t. Personally, I can’t be touched, let alone 69ed, when I’m sucking somebody off. But oral isn’t just oral, it’s also manual. Use at least one hand, though I personally have found that most guys prefer two, if they have the length for it. You’re not churning butter or playing foosball, go easy, but use your mitts.

vanilla

Make a mess.

Think 5 Napkin Burger. Ideally, there will be paper towels or a washcloth required for cleanup on aisle dick. While this may not apply to every man, it seems as though many will choose sloppy over orally OCD. More spit makes for a better bj. Maybe don’t hock a loogie on his junk, but drool like a bulldog with a beachball. Get it going in your gob, the wetter the better. If you feel weird about this, watch porn. (More about this later.) You are not looking to walk away from a blowjob with your lipstick in tact. I’ve been known to leave the scene of the crime with my mascara running.

Pro-tip, if you think you’re going to wind up on your knees, hydrate properly. Good for your health, helpful for a proper slide into third base. Guzzle some Gatorade or, better yet, toast with some tap. Which brings me to…

Down the hatch.

When it comes to the end-game, the opposite tact is best. While you weren’t slurping away the spit that got your blowing needing a bib, you should enjoy the fruit of your labor. And by that I mean, swallow it down. Think about if a guy were going down on you and then pulled out a pack of wet naps and some Purell. You’ve gone that far, finish the job. Glug-a-lug and feel good about it, unless he indicates he’d rather spunk someplace else. Related, don’t quit while you’re ahead.

Follow-through.

Stroke beyond the ‘o,’ ladies. No, don’t yank it off, don’t change your game, but orgasms for men don’t end the moment the cum comes out. Pulse, pulse, quiver, happy birthday, quiver, pulse. A few more pumps to get out the last drops and he’ll appreciate the effort. Again, read cues, as he’ll likely stop you and signal the need for cessation when it’s time.

Pride brings you low.

Ladies. I know we’re all taught to be pretty. You may have spent hours putting yourself together tonight and playing mind games for months in order to kneel before his phallic throne. But now that you’re here, give up trying to stay straightlaced and coloring within the lines. Do the opposite of what would keep you looking good on the street. Get gross. Indicate how much fun you’re having. Stop trying to seem like anything other than a ravenous fat kid with a pack of creamsicles. Veto any vanity, sacrifice squeamishness, drop your dignity at the door . I personally veer towards cock worship, but that’s in part because it’s my default setting with a partner who I enjoy.

3, 2, 1, eye contact.

Look up from what you’re doing, or open your eyes if they’re shut tight. Fix your gaze on his face. Blink. Look earnest, though I sometimes think that on my face this comes across as concern. Don’t get all serious and start a staring contest, and try not to shoot him crazy eyes. Look down or close ‘em up if and when it feels right, but most men want to look at you looking up at them as you go down to peen town. Besides, eye contact is romantic, right?

Deepthroat. It’s not only for Nixon.

Deepthroating. Most of us have heard about it. And while a lot of guys of average size are able to be completely consumed, some certainly are not, and probably never will be. (Lucky!) Regardless, on dicks of all sizes, if you find deepthroat difficult, just keep trying. Get comfortable gagging. Don’t look at this maneuver as something that necessarily has to be done for an extended period of time over and over again, but I’ve found that one or two attempts to get past the uvula are much appreciated when thrown in the mix of mouth ministrations. If you have a hair-trigger gag reflex (…me!…) practice makes better, not perfect. Ease into it on your own if self-stylings are the type of thing that would make you feel more secure. I’ve found that in the shower it’s easier, sometimes I try with the handle of my toothbrush, or revisit high-school and just jam my fingers down my throat. Remember that, when deepthroating, coughing is totally okay, but vomiting is not. Look to avoid actually tossing your cookies on his crotch. Snot is not unexpected, hacking and choking a bit is fine, but hurling should be side-stepped, ideally.

Go lower. No, lower.

The balls are not just a decorative ornament or air freshner hanging off of the rearview mirror of his dick. Do not neglect them. Stroke ‘em gently, lick ‘em lightly, maybe suck on them a little. Again, read his cues. No pulling or tugging on the goods unless asked, no aggressive sucking unless told directly or implied, and no fucking biting, what are you an asshole?

Gentlemen's club

For guys only.

Dudes. Your girl is doing something nice. Do her a solid, shower first? At least tidy up the junk. Trim your pubes, manscape a bit, use actual soap when washing.

Don’t immediately grab the back of her head, unless she’s into that.

No skull fucking unless you guys have discussed it first, as that can really and truly freak a girl out and possibly hurt. (Trust me.)

If you care about her and have the sort of intimacy that wouldn’t make it weird, stroke her cheek. Say sweet things. Make her feel good while doing it and chances are she’ll do it again. Women are creatures built with an engine that runs on positive reinforcement. Compliments go a long way.

graduate level shit

Advanced Placement

Here are a few suggestions that may require a little more commitment, time, and personal dedication to the craft. I only recommend these if you are either very seriously interested in making a good impression or know that you’ll be blowing your boy, as per a previous arrangement.

Also, if you’re the type of chick who feels weird about sex, maybe skip this part, if you even made it this far…

Afrin.

I’ve found that using nasal spray to keep the breathing passageways clear can help, especially if you’re looking to bypass the epiglottis and go right to the trachea.

Chloraseptic.

I’ve read that this helps, but I’ve only tried it twice, and both times I think that other non-sexual activities took some time before getting it on, thereby leaving my throat no longer numb. A risk that I wondered about, but never found a definitive answer to, is whether or not its application could wear off on the dick. An oral analgesic isn’t the same as a topical one, but phenol, the active ingredient in many throat sprays, is also found in aspirin, and ingrown toenail treatments, and even paint stripper. I like my partners too much as a general rule to go around thinking that rubbing paint stripper on their dick using my vocal chords is a kind gesture. That said, I got the warming kind in fear of menthol giving him a peculiar cooling sensation down there as I did my thing. There are specific products made for numbing for oral, too, but that just seems like a waste of money and a little dumb. My honey lemon spritz may do double-duty during cold and flu season.

Watch porn.

Goes without saying. If you want sex advice, go to the pros. I mean, it’s not as if you’re not clicking over to Pornhub anyway.

Godspeed, suck safe, and have fun.

pop, buh-doom, doom, doom, doom

 

Slide to Reply, Let the Reply Slide

By the time you reach your early thirties, chances are you know what makes you tick.

For example, while I support veganism and understand it, I am way too attached to yogurt to give up dairy. No longer do I periodically attempt to sacrifice my daily Siggis, using the excuse that, if I don’t eat it, I’ll probably get a yeast infection from the thing I did last night. Fuck it. I like yogurt, I like animals, I hate the dairy industry, I’m eating yogurt. #thirtythree

After spending my youth trying to feel sexy with my flat chest, I got an awesome pair of synthetic tits. Cleavage, v-necks, titty fucking = No regrets. #thirtythree

In my twenties, I thought that by thirty I needed to grow up, shed my alt-porn predilections, get comfortable with “mature” sexuality and settle down. Fuck that in the face with a glass tentacle. Kinkster with piercings and plugs for life. You can find me on FetLife. #thirtythree

nope nope nope

But when it comes to dating, I’ve enacted the same pattern for nearly a decade, and you’d think that by now I would have learned. Every few months, I go through the same scenario.

Log onto OkCupid. Jazz up the ol’ profile.

Filter through the matches for guys over 5’11” who like sports, who are old and not overweight. Toss out a few corny ‘likes’ and one-liners.

Wait.

Of course, I go on a date with whatever prospect seems tantalizing and, about ten minutes in, I’m bored and absolutely dry by the way he physically presents. Either he’s losing a fight against male pattern baldness, has exposed chest hair and is wearing a chain, is short even though the filter said tall, or he’s visibly nervous. A bunch of dealbreakers in a skin suit.

I know I’m judgmental and I shouldn’t be. I present as a lesbian party midget wearing Marilyn Manson’s hand-me-downs. My tits are obviously fake, my mouth and nose are too big for my face, I have tattoos that are as ridiculous as they are hideous, my always-skewed hair seems to indicate that I’d prefer Chastity Bono to Chris Pratt, and my voice sounds like a cartoon character that nobody wants to watch. But yet, when on a date, it’s like I’m a Victoria’s Secret model doing charity work.

I’m a 2 with 10 taste.

cold shoulder

One would think that by now I’d know how to get myself out of these situations with the same ease that got me into them. And yet, while I have the fishing aspect down to a two-week-long tailored formula, throwing the rejects back is met with the same THIS PAGE INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK internal question mark every time.

I do not reject people well. I prefer to fade away and hope they catch the drift. Unfortunately it seems as though I attract guys who have less pride than they have vagina, and that only creates a whole kaleidoscope of conflict for me.

Case in point: Whole Foods Boy.

Whole Foods Boy is actually a twenty-seven year old man who works as a clerk at Whole Foods, but whose face resembles Johnny Depp in Dead Man. However, his body looks like a Portland hipster in desperate need of a shower, a few cheese pies, and a box of donuts. I went out with him because I figured he’d be a good bicycle to ride for a night, but it turned out that he’d taken a 90 day vow of chastity to “cleanse” himself…not to mention that he was conversationally as scintillating as a cardboard box. I took the chastity thing to be a means of rejecting me softly, which seemed both clever and a good thing, since the aversion to sex was, in this instance, mutual.

Well, five unanswered text messages later, it turned out that I was wrong. Whole Foods Boy wanted to bag my groceries after hours and, while I was flattered, I was unwavering in my desire to simply forget that we ever were in touch. So I didn’t respond to the first four solicitations to hang out over the course of a week, and then received a passive-aggressive, somewhat understandably angry send-off that simply read, “Goodbye.”

Fantastic.

Pro tip: Delete message threads from people you never plan on speaking to again. Better yet, delete them as a contact.

Me in Target

A few days after the final grey speech bubble sat collecting dust in my iMessage box, I was at Target, shopping for v-necks, thigh-highs, and cold medicine. I had come down with a mutation of bronchitis that left me more daft than usual and coughing with the force of a propane cannon. Waiting on line with my full basket, I decided to kill time by complaining, as girls are wont to do. I opened what I thought was the message exchange I had just been having with my friend Princess and typed the following:

Me
I CANNOT STOP COUGHING AND IT IS DRIVING ME NUTS!!!

All caps. Three exclamation points. Maaaaaybe an emoji of an explosion or two.

In the context of Princess and I, this was totally appropriate, as we are the type of female friends who relay the minutiae of every free minute we have. Princess is cold in her living room? I know about it. I’m having difficulty cracking the knuckle of my big toe while I’m in the bath? She hears about it first. So my coughing fit was breaking news that she needed to hear, obviously.

When I got to my car, I looked down at my phone and saw:

Whole Foods Boy
Let me make cough syrup for you.

I thought to myself, “Is he stalking me? Was he just shopping at the same time in Target, listening to me cough?”

As a narcissist, this seemed very likely, as I am, in my mind, a prime candidate for stalking, a reality show, and a future second wedding for Jaroslav Halak.

I opened the message exchange I saw that, after four unanswered texts asking to hang out, and a passive aggressive “Goodbye” as his final send-off two days prior, seemingly at random I had decided to scream a complaint at him about my respiratory tract.

Somehow I had sent the message to Whole Foods Boy, not to Princess.

And instead of thinking, “Bitch is crazy. Good thing I dodged that bullet” and deleting me into oblivion forever, he decided to offer me homemade cough syrup.

Mortified and confused I didn’t respond. Because that is what I do. Avoid and hide when I’m uncomfortable.

Ten minutes later.

Whole Foods Boy
It’s organic.

By this point I had shared the one-sided accidental exchange with Princess, and we were laughing to the point of tears. Actual tears, actual ‘lol’s.

Twenty minutes later.

Whole Foods Boy
I just made it. Enough liquid should separate by tomorrow. I can give it to you then, I’m free after 2.

I still hadn’t responded. But instead of just saturating in my mirth and shaking my head, it was only a matter of time until I fell into the sinkhole of self-hate.

easier than responding?

Why do I do this to people? Repeatedly! Instead of simply saying, “I’m sorry, I’m really not interested. Nothing personal, good luck,” I avoid what, in my mind, is conflict but what, in reality, is just being honest. And this is after coming across as captivated during the date because I am polite and internally churning in guilt and shame for not feeling as enthusiastic as the dude is clearly coming across. I am either a really good liar or a really horrible person or both.

Attachment avoidance and attachment anxiety are common touchstones for narcissists; and for us there’s nothing quite like introspection, it’s second only to masturbating with a mirror. And while I’m much more in the ‘vulnerable narcissist’ camp, as opposed to the ‘grandiose narcissist’ team, I’m prone to the paradoxical dismissive attachment and negative attributional biases that plague each bunch.

While it’s great to do some research and to figure out that, yep, “individuals high on vulnerable narcissism may behave in hostile and distrustful ways due to heightened affective dysregulation and negative interpersonal schemas that are linked with traumatic childhood experiences,” (hi!) there’s little by way of a manual for how to disengage quickly and painlessly from failed dating experiences as a self-involved lunatic.

Unless you include WikiHow, the portal for useless advice. In the case of their guide for “How To Tell Someone You Don’t Want to Go On Another Date” there totally is a well-mannered play-by-play of disengagement in theory, but it doesn’t exactly work for a neurotic perfectionist like me.

According to the Wiki, it’s six simple steps.

1. “Minimize possible damage from first dates. Don’t sleep with people on your first date.” Um, if I feel like boning, I’m gonna bone. Moreover, I’m not going to be an asshole if the other person is paying for coffee or, God forbid, dinner. I’m a fairly okay listener when prompted, especially if I’m reasoning with myself that I will never speak to the other person again, no matter how many passive aggressive texts they send.

2. “Be kind.” Not a problem, as I’m kind by not being. No answer, no cruelty, right?

3. “Take the high road. There’s no need to make an enemy , just be direct and don’t get hostile.” This isn’t helpful.

4. “Don’t beat around the bush. Your phone rings, it’s him/her…Don’t let it go to voicemail, answer it. Don’t give in to the temptation to say things like, “Sure, I’d love to do it again sometime, call me next week.” You think it’s harmless and vague enough not to matter, but it’s not. That’s a lie, and it’s wrong.” This is not as easy as you make it out to be WikiHow. And the way you worded that makes me feel shitty. Besides, my hands are wet, I can’t answer the phone right now. Or answer the text ever, because I’m busy alphabetizing my dog and brushing my CD collection.

5. “Address the situation directly.” Cute, WikiHow. Now you’re just repeating some of the previous garbage steps you’ve given me, only with different verbiage. Still not helpful.

6. “Keep to your decision.” But you haven’t told me how to execute my decision. So I will keep to it by not answering. Fuck you.

yeah no

Blame it on my anterior hippocampus, or physiological reactivity, or the fact that I have a differentiated superego and daddy issues. Whatever. At this age, while I should know better than to so much as keep an OkCupid profile, let alone agree to go on a date with someone from the site, at least I know how I work. Passive avoidance of potential threats is my thirty-three year old m.o. And at least some research has made me feel better:

It appears that conflict avoidance is not necessarily dysfunctional…Negativity appears to be dysfunctional only when it is not balanced with about five times the positivity, and when there are high levels of complaining, criticizing, defensiveness, contempt, and disgust.

So maybe the solution is as simple as continue to avoid responding to the pot-bellied mustache man with the vanity plates, and to do the same with my negative self-talk. And to masturbate, a lot, while taking non-organic cough syrup.