We went to bed, me in her bed, next to her, without having sex.
We were both single and “careful” about not repeating a relationship that had caused tumult. I’d needed a place to stay for the night. So I rolled to my side, she tucked under the sheets, and we both tried falling asleep. But frustration happened. Suddenly “not” having sex became an Updike-ian prelude to having sex. She sensed this, too. I sighed.
Her arm landed on my chest.
Then we were not not having sex. It felt more like get-this-done-with-so-we-can-sleep sex and, well, cut to the chase, I made the iconic guy mistake of assuming she was on the pill. When we finished, there was the hurling of a pillow at me, then a bathroom door slamming, and an awkward 45-minute conversation in the middle of the night covering gender roles to why we’d be bad parents together.
After threatening to leave and a game of musical chairs between her bed and couch, I slept in her bed, then awoke at 6 a.m., a trip to the cash machine, and I left in an envelope $40 because I assumed the pill cost about $50.
I put it under her windshield wipers. As I drove past the apartments, I saw one other envelope underneath windshield wipers, and I wondered if I was the only one. And, in case you’re wondering, the missing $10 wasn’t a slight. My cash machine only allows twenties. And I didn’t want to pay her $60. I felt like the extra ten bucks would seem like prostitution, and I didn’t want to contribute any more wood to that fire that I was somehow paying her off. She texted me a simple “thank you.” We haven’t really spoken since.
I wrote on a Post-It note stuck that she shouldn’t read into my payment as a symbol of me “wiping clear” the night’s events like some Etch-a-Sketch. It wasn’t hush money. I simply felt the financial burden was historically unfair. Fair, yes, I wouldn’t be in the Walgreens with her. I wouldn’t have to be late to work to stop off. And I wouldn’t be in the bathroom with her as she hit “game over” on the night’s biological handiwork and whatever burgeoning relationship we’d restarted. But, I could do something lame and tiny.
Still, it’s not within a long shot of being enough.
The silly thing about Plan B is not its ready availability but rather its tacit validation of me being an asshole. As far as what happened to us—and many others—the existence and “fallback” nature of Plan B allows for the nasty side effect that women remain the custodians of sex. No, Christ No, I’m not saying it’s worst than the alternative (not having rampant, cheap access to Plan B, which is still a major problem for women and men across the USA). But, Plan B doesn’t necessarily alter the really troubling, underlying gender dynamic that women are the custodians of sex—they’re cleaning up after the party is over long after the guy has put on his cardigan and waltzed back to the office in the morning and hi-fived his douchebag friend. While obviously unfair (and this isn’t really “news” as being unfair to women or thoughtful men), it’s actually possibly, maybe, I’m being gentle here in a roundabout way sort-a shitty thing for guys, too, because: a) men, via new technological ground in contraceptive methods, are licensed to cock-rock at even more reckless, consensual-but-insert-first-ask-questions-about-protection later speeds, and b) men are going to—through our own irresponsibility—turn ourselves into even bigger socially-ill-equipped, boot-cut denim toad monsters who occasionally text message in the eyes of the women we (make) love (to).
For example, hysteric #1, me. I’m still not 100% sure she took the morning after pill. And I’m not worried she spent the money on coffee. Fine, get caffeinated. It’s the least I could buy. No, the sick feeling in my stomach comes from the likelihood she could be pregnant. It was this anxiety that led me to getting very business-like: “Please text me when you have purchased and taken it,” I wrote. I only received one text, telling me “thanks for the money.”
Paranoia ensues from these interactions, and my evaluation of my partner becomes very petty: would she keep the kid to get back at me? She’s older, so she probably wants to have a kid doesn’t she! Women do this kind of shit all the time, don’t they?
These were my own, copyrighted, heated, degenerate, not-fully-thought-out thoughts following this most recent episode. Honestly, kill me. I hate reading them, and I’m a bad person. There’s little you could say to make me feel like less of a poor game-show contestant of a human being than I already do. BUT, so many people have had the shit-ghosts-aren’t-real-are-they! moments after sex where “ghosts” are babies and “real” is the well-established, peer-reviewed evidence that sex produces more humans who will require places to nap and someone holding the space-shuttle-shaped spoon pile-driving brown sauce into their toothless mouths.
Anyway, I’m only putting this down because, admittedly, to my barely-worth-saving, sniveling, post-coital inner insurance adjuster soul who should just go stand in traffic probably anyway, Plan B offered a dirty escape. The real problem, of course, are you fucking reading, was that I didn’t check with the girl in advance. But, that being aside—because that being aside happens to at least some of you a lot and many of you at least once if you’re being honest—I just want to go on record as saying that I’m probably like many guys who make a phantom Tiger Woods fist-punch into the air when girls text “I got some Plan B from my roommate last night. We’re all loose here.” You may be loose (kidding, dear god kidding), but I’m being a shitty guy.
Now, just to reiterate, I’m not really at all advocating that ANYTHING but full-speed-ahead on access to birth control for all women (Plan A-Z), except to call out guys (like myself) who see (or don’t see but just start relying upon) Plan B as another excuse not to help out on the janitorial end of things, too.
A “blue collar” friend of mine who is constantly my Virgil of like “the hard life” since losing her virginity to an adult at 14 and watching her parents’ marriage crumble after her dad lost half his brain thanks to a freak accident at the pool, says things like, “Well, duh, women are the custodians. It’s on you.” But that’s because she’s so accustomed (she’ll tell you herself) to having low expectations of men—they’ll leave her, they’ll lie about her, anyway—that she assumes there’s only one person on her planet strong enough to prevent the comet from hitting the planet (in this analogy, yes, the comet is a “potential baby” and the planet is “anything from her going back to school to staying out of her mother’s basement to not sitting in a waiting room at Planned Parenthood”), and that’s her.
In other words, women do have an “S” on their chest. But they shouldn’t have to wear it all the fucking time. Even Clark got days off for blogging. Again, it’s not that a world without Plan B is better. We’re lucky Plan B is around. Maybe you’re not. I am. My friend is. And others are, too, given that sexual decisions are made when brain-power might be complicated by alcohol, hormones, whatever, yes, it’s a good safety net. But, luck is not a criterion of a healthy sex life. And whether Plan B or Plan A, men need to put on the cape, too. Or maybe just a condom.