It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I started to think sex was weird.
Maybe it was when we had that first health class in fifth grade and the creepy teacher passed around a maxi pad, urging us to discuss the feelings we had about the opposite sex and our changing bodies.
Maybe it was when my best friend informed me on the playground that Brian and Heather were making out in the trees next to the jungle gym.
In either case, I was left confused and mortified–probably because I thought getting your period only meant your life was cursed for all eternity (not too far off with that guess), and unless ‘making out’ meant a secret hide-n-seek game involving deciphering codes on a pirate’s treasure map, I wasn’t interested.
I can’t remember who told me exactly what sex entailed, and I’m not clear on what my reaction was when I found out. But I have a feeling it went something like this:
Friend: Then the boy puts his–
Me: NO! Nononononono! [plugging ears] I can’t hear you! lalalalalalalalala!
Friend: …and then the girl–
Me: Ahhh! AHHH! Stop! Stop talking! Oh, god! I just want to die!!! ahhhhhhhhhh!
[running away, flailing my arms and screaming at the top of my lungs]
Once I hit middle school age, the whole concept still struck me as being generally ugh-y and super icky. Sex was this big mystery and I wasn’t sure I wanted to find out its secrets. Even innocent games of Spin the Bottle gave me panic attacks. The bottle would spin in slow motion and I’d squeeze my eyes shut and silently pray, “Please don’t be me! Please don’t be me!” My greatest fear was to be banished to a dark closet with a cute boy, fumbling around in the silence. Sure, I had my crushes. I played my share of ‘kissing tag’ on the playground. I could understand the attraction part. But I always felt a few steps behind the other kids whenever it concerned actual sex. It all just seemed way too complicated and painfully embarrassing. First, why would anyone purposefully want to do that? And second, if I was ever going to do that, it could damn well wait until I at least loved the boy. Or didn’t think he had cooties.
College was filled with more confusion, bad dates, casual relationships here and there. Mostly, I spent my time in the library, holding out hope of finding my Mr. Right and not Mr. He’ll Do For Now, I Guess. Who knew libraries weren’t exactly a hotbed for singles looking for love?
Then in my 20s, I finally met the love of my life, my husband.
When you’re still in your 20s, sex is almost a constant need. You enjoy it, you look foward to it. You think it’s the greatest thing since microwave pizza. Finally you find someone that actually wants to do it with you all the time and you don’t mind! So you try to top yourselves with the sexathons:
“Hey, honey! Wanna do it again? I know! Let’s try and do it seven times in one day! We’ll break a world record!” or “Hey, honey! I just made a bologna sandwich. Wanna do it?” or “Hey, honey! It’s 2 pm. Wanna do it?” Sex is fun and giddy and full of lustful anticipation.
Then you get married, and a few years go by; you start to think, “Hey, let’s have a baby!” Suddenly sex completely transforms from this thing you once enjoyed immensely to this thing that hangs over both of you like a big black cloud sucking every ounce of pleasure out of your romantic relationship.
And if you’re like me and can’t get pregnant to save your life, sex becomes another chore. A long, drawn-out-over-two-years chore full of charts and temps and pinpointing ovulation and the phases of the moon.
“Hey, honey. Sorry, but we have to do it tomorrow at 3:15.” [sighing heavily]
“Huh? Well, I can’t, I’m at the gym then.”
“Nope. It’s 3:15. We only have a 14 hour window for ovulation. My egg has already descended the fallopian tube and it’s waiting for your sperm. So the optimum fertilization time is tomorrow at 3:15. Oh and we have to tilt my uterus at a 45 degree angle, say a few prayers, light a sage incense, and then dance naked around a fire chanting Kumbaya under the new moon.”
“Again? Aw, man! Didn’t we just do all that last week? Great. Just great.” [heavy sigh]
I finally not only got pregnant but stayed pregnant. Nothing short of a miracle for me with my medical history. Also a testament to the hundreds of times we had stressful mechanical sex for the sole purpose of merging egg with sperm every cycle for over two years. Isn’t it romantic?
After a long labor and emergency c-section, my son arrived, healthy and perfect. It was at my first post-op appointment with my OB/GYN that taught me the next phase of sex: After kids.
Me [excitedly]: So…when can we have sex again? Once the stitches heal?
Doctor: Ha! Sex? Oh, no, no, no. You won’t be having sex again for awhile, trust me. [chuckling to himself]
Me: Because of the stitches?
Doctor: Because of your baby.
After my son turned four, I gave birth to my daughter and met with my doctor once again.
Me [excitedly]: So…when can I go on birth control again?
Doctor: Birth control? For what?
Me: For when we start to have sex again.
Doctor: [snickering] Ha! Sex? Oh, no, no, no. You won’t have to worry about that. You have two young kids under the age of five! Ask me again in about four years! [laughing so hard he starts to gasp for air]
Now my husband and I are forging ahead into new territory. We’re both in our early 40s. Our kids are much older and less reliant on us so we have more quality time alone. We could have all the sex we want.
But now we’re just too damn tired.
Me: “Hey, honey…pssst…so…you wanna…”
Him: “Huh? Wha? Oh, I guess I was sleeping just then. What did you want?”
Him: “Honey, wake up, what did you want?”
Me: “Oh…sorry I just nodded off there, too. Um, yeah, did you want to do it tonight or next Tuesday night?”
Him: “Well, Conan looks good tonight, he’s got Will Ferrel on so…aw, what the hell. Let’s do it! Honey? Honey!”
Him: “Yeah. We’ll do it Tuesday for….for…..[yawn]….suuuure….[…snoring…]