Yesterday, I was playing that really fun game where you count the number of people you’ve slept with. Please don’t judge me because we’ve all done it. Although I’m not sure why because it seems like no matter what your number ends up being, there’s a good chance you’ll feel bad about yourself afterwards. If it’s too high, you’ll think you’re a slut and if it’s too low, you’ll wonder if you’re an undesirable freak who no one wants to sleep with.
In my case, however, I felt neither. Apparently I’m like the Goldilocks of sex—my number was just right! I did end up in a shame spiral about something entirely different though. As I was nearing the end of my list, I was reminded of the one-night-stand I had in London over a year ago and couldn’t, for the life of me, remember the guy’s name. I thought real hard. “John, Simon, My Favorite Mistake, My Ultimate Mistake…” No, none of these names were ringing a bell.
I was in uncharted territory here because I am typically someone of a somewhat prudish nature. I don’t sleep around; monogamy is my # 1 jam. Even if I’m hooking up with someone who I don’t particularly like, I have to date them for a few months so it feels like I’ve at least tried to turn it into something real. So the thought of being with a random whose name I would later forget seemed unfathomable to me. But here it was, staring back at me. Mr. What Was His Name? I’ll never know. Right now, he might be updating his Facebook status with something like “I love my name. Don’t I have the best name? Thanks Mom and Dad for bestowing me with such a memorable name.” and I will never know because I don’t know who he is.
This discovery raised a lot of questions for me about intimacy. We would like to think (or at least I would) that when you sleep with someone, you gain some sort of connection with them. You see their naked body, you do so-called intimate acts with them that are meant to bond the two of you on some sort of level. But now I’m starting to think that it’s all bullshit. In fact, sleeping with someone you don’t have strong feelings for seems like the quickest way to absolve any chance of intimacy. Sure, I may remember the names of everyone else I slept with and I might even know the general ballpark of their birthdays, but for the most part, I didn’t know them in a way that I know my closest friends. It now seems easier to open your legs for someone than cry on their shoulder in a cab.
This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, this wasn’t the way I planned it. Sex was supposed to mean intimacy. Sex was supposed to mean tell me everything about you, I want to know. And for some of the people I was with, it was. But for most, sex ended up meaning “Um, I don’t really understand you and I won’t be vulnerable with you but I will give you a BJ again, I guess! That’s something I can do for you.”
It was naive of me to think that everyone I would have sex with would later serve a greater purpose in my life. That’s just not the way it works. If it did, maybe that would be overload. Everyone is just too different and you can’t spark with every person you bed. Sex is like the appetizer for many relationships and most don’t make it to the entree which is, “Meet my parents. Tell me about your greatest fear. Clean up my vomit.” I guess I just hoped to have a lot of entrees.
Now that I’m thinking of it, my most intimate moments with someone don’t even involve sex. They involve someone holding my hand in a cab or stroking my hair or crying to me in their backyard. They’ve been with my lovers but the majority of them have also been with my friends.
In the end, it doesn’t matter if I remember someone’s name or not. It’s a technicality. In fact, I might as well not know the names of some of the other boys I’ve been with because it wouldn’t make a difference. I couldn’t connect with them; their names are just the extra fat that’s weighing down my list. Snip snip.