You want to give me an orgasm. That’s actually what you say. Your face is tucked into my shoulder and the words are muffled but I can still hear them.
I’ve heard it before. It always comes up. I’m asked how I can live without sexual release. What do you mean, you haven’t had an orgasm? It’s a basic human function. I’m stared at with wide eyes, scrutinized and measured and eventually written off as one of those unlucky bastards who don’t understand how sex works and have never had someone experienced do it with them. You’re thinking that I must be uncomfortable with myself. Have you even tried? Dumbfounded, you put your hand on your face, rub once up and once down. How many times have you tried? Your mind is off and running. You tell me that your ex-girlfriend couldn’t orgasm until she met you and then, oh boy, it was orgasm city. You can do it for me. You will fix me. I am broken, and you are here to save the day. Once you have one, you’ll be an addict.
I shut you out. It’s a spiel. In my head I make fun of you but my eyes are earnest, not because I think you will succeed, but because you think you will succeed. Your optimism is contagious and entertaining.
I imagine receiving an orgasm. That’s what I literally imagine, because your wording is all funny. You want to “give me an orgasm.” Like a present. Like it’s my birthday. Thanks, I really appreciate it. After, I’ll write you a thank-you note on my custom-made stationary and drop it in the PO box outside of the grocery store.
I get more detailed. My gears are turning. My perfect, imaginary orgasm is delicate and transparent. It has the texture of shellac-slick paint. It’s round and cool to the touch and undeniably sexy. It is unattainable. I desperately want to contain it but there is an implicit understanding that such a thing takes time, more time than I have given it thus far. I am fine with this because I know that my perfect orgasm doesn’t have an expiration date. It’s not going to mold on the second shelf of the fridge, tucked behind the remains of a squash casserole. I won’t open it up and gag at the smell of rancid milk. I will wait for it, because it will wait for me.
I imagine you are giving me your version of an orgasm. You show up at the front door, bashful and proud and only a little daunted by the challenge in front of you. You’re holding this crumpled little box, covered in newspaper and tape, and you say hi and shove the box into my hands. I ask you what it is. I said I’d give you an orgasm. Here it is. You are insistent that I open it right then. I tell you that my hunger level is a solid seven on the ten-point scale but you say that with this orgasm, I won’t be hungry for days. I tell you that I’m kind of sweaty from the bike ride home but you counter that orgasms should make you sweaty ’cause it’s a basic human function. I tell you that it takes me time to get comfortable with people and you reply that I should stop being so goddamn closed off and lighten up.
I oblige, sit down on my thrift-store couch, and peel off the tape and the layers of newspaper. The box is grease-splotched, leftover from a Chinese takeout. It smells vaguely of sesame chicken. When I open the cover, the orgasm is pressed into the corner, tinged grey and pockmarked. I touch it gingerly. It feels gelatinous. Come on, that’s it. It’s not altogether unpleasant but the whole thing reeks of desperation and overzealous enthusiasm.
As you urge my hand closer to your orgasm, I let my mind rest on the image of my orgasm rolling in my mouth, cool and smooth against my gums, clicking gently against my teeth, finally coming to rest on the soft plain of my tongue. I can’t swallow it, but the idea that it is so close is enough, for now.
The end result is that you won’t give me an orgasm. You will lie next to me and lament the complications of female anatomy and resolve to try, try again, and I will nod and smile and settle in for the long run.