TIS THE SEASON TO BE LONELY! Or… not. If you’re single, you may want to tackle every happy couple you see around Valentine’s Day, and I don’t mean in an erotic kind of way. Luckily, you can satisfy all those urges without the messy emotional entanglements of a relationship or the obligation to spend two months’ salary every year for no reason. Public (sexual) servant that I am, I’m giving away a host of eco-friendly, ethically made, all-around-awesome prizes from my gift guide and all you have to do is read this really long spiel and answer some questions (which are only vaguely related to the long spiel, so skip it if you like):
Two weeks before I first went out with Patrick, I met up with a guy named Paul Janka, a Harvard grad best known for writing a guide to getting laid in New York. It turned out that this “guide” was more like an e-book. And by “e-book”, I mean “PDF file”. As for Paul, his seduction strategy apparently consisted of booze, diligence, and a generous interpretation of the word “no”. Nonetheless, I thought he would make for an interesting column; Paul thought I would make for a good conquest. In the end, neither of us got what we wanted. I got much closer to being assaulted than I ever did to selling the story, and I left his apartment wondering exactly what kind of hell my love life had become for me to subject myself to sadistic experiments like this one. Anyway, I volunteer this information not just because I volunteer information about every aspect of my life, but because it demonstrates precisely how dire my romantic mindset was at the time. I was resorting to gimmicks to keep my love life interesting. It’s like what happens when a television show on its way toward a slow death decides to start airing “special episodes”. Paul was a special episode.
I was pretty sure Patrick was going to be a special episode too. At the time, I’d pretty much given up on dating altogether, or at least taking dates seriously. Guys were just around to keep life interesting, and sex was just a reason to get dressed up on weekends. (And by junior year at Harvard, I realized that I didn’t even really need to get dressed up to get laid.) I was starting to date and fuck like a freshman again, or maybe just like a man, and I kind of loved it in this really cynical way. That’s why I had no qualms about ditching Valentine’s Day for a trip to New York with a newly single gal pal. That’s why I figured I might as well go on a date with a known douchebag while I was in town if it meant a potential byline. Expecting nothing from no one was, after all, far better than not seeing a sex scandal coming because you fucked the wrong asshole (see: January 2008 of my life).
The same weekend I met Paul, I had brunch with my friend Julia, who is the Gawker poster girl for the Overshared Life. Talking to her confirmed all my suspicions about why my love life had gone awry. Julia, like me, found that her blog was a death warrant for any blossoming romance. Even if a guy were the first to be interested, even if they had fantastic chemistry, even if the initial dates were perfect, his interest waned immediately when he learned of her online reputation. In Boston, I was dealing with near-identical no-mances. For women like us, it seemed like the possibility of love was laughable at best.
My non-blogger friends, on the other hand, hated my pessimistic attitude. They told me that rejection was a blessing in disguise since I wouldn’t be settling for someone too insecure to date a sexually confident woman. They assured me that I deserved someone who would be willing to handle the complications that came with dating me and that I would certainly be meeting him in the very near future. (Like maybe as soon as grad school! Yay?) But seriously, I wasn’t expecting life partnership here. I just wanted one normal romance that didn’t begin with a drunken introduction and end abruptly after a Google search. At this point, it’d been two years since I started my blog and my longest relationship since then was a two-month affair that led to eight months of stalking and naked photos splattered across the Internet. So what was a Carrie 2.0 to do but to resort to pessimism? Not only was I scaring off my Mr. Bigs, but the guys who I did go out with scared me. It appeared that girls like Julia and me had two options: 1) men like Paul Janka or 2) perpetual singledom. After my brief brush with date rape, I was ready to opt for the latter.
Then a couple weeks after my trip to New York, I found myself at dinner with a guy I mostly remembered for his inability to keep me awake during statistics. Patrick was eight years older, German, and a Ph.D candidate in my department. He also happened to be the most attractive person who’d ever been in charge of my grading me. Over the previous year and a half, my best friend Jason and I took three classes with Patrick, and though I’d like to say that it was because I found him impossibly charming, I was mostly just fulfilling sociology requirements. Nonetheless, I silently rejoiced every time I was assigned to his section, especially after I realized my piece of eyecandy was a rather efficient and helpful teaching instructor and not merely a hot guy with a funny accent. To Patrick, however, I was then just a sleepy student. Statistics, which I got a C+ in, was a particularly harrowing experience. I recall Jason pinching me a lot in that class … and really not much else.
By the time Patrick and I finally went out, it’d been over two months since I last saw him and even longer since he graded one of my mediocre papers. The prelude to the actual date was fairly undramatic. Following a thinly veiled public declaration of my affection, initial contact was made over email and the date was suggested over text message. Well, actually, I suggested hooking up over text message. But Patrick, for some crazy reason I’ve still yet to figure out, thought that dinner would be more acceptable. I was pretty much thinking, “Yeah, this really isn’t necessary. Can we just fuck?” I somehow suppressed the urge to reveal this thought and along with it, my slutty nature. It would certainly be revealed soon enough.
I immediately gloated to Jason who called me crazy more than once and insisted that I was completely misinterpreting the situation and going to make things extremely awkward with a former TF who we actually might want to take classes with in the future. Basically, Jason had the mindset of someone who wanted to get into law school. I had the mindset of someone who wanted an interesting story to tell at post-grad cocktail parties. I was already getting started by telling every friend in close proximity about the TF fantasy-turned-reality and spent the day feeling rather smug about myself, despite a looming deadline for some mediocre paper I had not yet written. I probably would’ve taken out an announcement in The Crimson if possible. After all, it’s not everyday you get to fulfill a crush three semesters in the making.
Yet somehow, about an hour before the actual date, my excitement over going out with and potentially fucking my former TF turned into total trepidation over going out with and potentially fucking my former TF. What the hell was I getting myself into? I knew next-to-nothing about Patrick, even less about what to expect out of the evening, and I was pretty sure that Jason was right when it came to me totally misinterpreting the situation. By the time I got off the train to meet Patrick, I was ready to get right back on. In fact, I felt a mild wave of nausea, then panic, followed by paralyzing fear. Um, I had a date in five minutes and I was on the verge of an anxiety attack. After taking several deep breaths, I called Jason and told him, “I can’t do this. I’m about to hyperventilate.” Jason, ever so reasonable and probably fearful of jeopardizing his letter of recommendation by association with a whore whore slut, suggested calmly that I tell Patrick I was sick and then go home. Discouragement was exactly what I needed to snap out of it. “That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard,” I declared. “You’re totally useless. I’ll call you when the date is over.”
About 30 seconds after the exchange with my truly unadventurous best friend, I found myself face-to-face with Patrick who looked considerably taller than I remembered and was dressed in decidedly un-academic clothing. He looked hot, and not even in a scholarly kind of way. Given our previously limited interaction and his non-American background, I didn’t have any idea how to read him. Maybe he thought that I’d be an easy lay, but then again, he always seemed so proper in class. No, it was more likely that his intentions were genuine, which was almost endearing. Here was a semi-awkward foreign grad student too culturally unaware to realize that asking out a former student is a mildly scandalous affair. Poor thing. Also, I thought: he so does not know about my sex blog. It occurs to me in retrospect that I was being extremely condescending, but in all likelihood, I probably employed every defense mechanism available to stay calm and feel in control. Surprisingly, as soon as we got into a cab and started talking, my anxiety dissipated along with my theory that Patrick was awkward with women and clueless about American prudishness. We compared frat life at Yale (where he did undergrad) to the final club scene at Harvard and discussed the “athletic” rivalry between our schools. Patrick actually seemed normal, and my stomach seemed calm. It appeared as if I was not going to puke after all.
Dinner was at a South End establishment with live music and dim lighting, the key facilitators to close-up conversation, which is like the foreplay to foreplay. It was a relatively grown-up venue given my recent romps in fraternity houses and dorm rooms, and I realized early in the evening that I felt uncharacteristically nervous. Typically on dates, I acted self-assured and liked to challenge guys by teasing them or being playfully argumentative. With Patrick, however, I couldn’t muster up my usual feistiness. I was so used to viewing him as an instructor that it seemed inappropriate to treat him like a peer. For the first time in a long while, I actually felt flustered. Patrick, on the other hand, was completely at ease which only disarmed me further. When I failed to look him in the eye while clinking glasses, he said to me, “You know what that means, right? Seven years of bad sex.” I almost choked on my drink. My TF just the word “sex” in a reference to me. Thankfully, my nerves were nothing alcohol couldn’t fix. I rarely drank but on this night, I happily chugged glass after glass of wine. Liquid courage along with Patrick’s disarming attitude made for surprisingly entertaining conversation. I was regaining my confidence and ten-fold at that. Two hours and several courses into the date, I put my hand on his knee and leaned in closer. I wanted to kiss him and was too drunk to even be subtle about it.
All in all, the turnaround from initial email to his cock in my mouth took about 24 hours. We had sex that first night. And again the next night. And then he went away to New York for two days, picked up the pair of flats I left at a West Village repair place during that miserable Valentine’s weekend, and returned them to me first thing when he got back, not even stopping by his apartment beforehand. I spent spring bouncing from my Harvard Square dorm to his place in Beacon Hill and summer bouncing from Kennedy’s Heidelberg flat to his home in Osnabrück. When September came, I paid a full month’s rent for a sublet I never moved into. I cancelled it and have been in Beacon Hill ever since.
Don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t like we went out and it was happily ever after that, not unless your fairy tales include Internet sex scandals advanced by overzealous online stalkers or unprecedented emotional outbursts from yours truly. The path toward cohabitation has hardly been a smooth one, but slowly, I infiltrated Patrick’s life and apartment to the point where breaking up would have been both awkward and inconvenient. And now, here we are today: me, Patrick, Hamlet, and two suitcases of my stuff under the bed! It’s more than I ever could’ve hoped for. And to think, all I wanted on our first date was to get laid.
I write all this because a year ago, I really, truly didn’t believe in the possibility of love (at least not for myself) and it wasn’t just because I was single during Valentine’s Day. My blog was a legitimate barrier to meeting guys, and as the nude photo leak and subsequent breakdown suggested, it was perhaps a barrier to, um, life. Maybe if my friends were different people, they would’ve told me to shut it down instead of insisting that I was lovable, blog or no blog. Maybe if I were a different person, I would’ve listened. I’m glad I didn’t, not just because my friends were right, but because I would’ve always thought from then on that the only desirable version of myself was the sanitized version. The fact that I’m now happily playing house with the Adorno-spouting, bulldog-owning German of my dreams indicates that there is hope for pretty much ANYONE out there. If I can finagle a boyfriend with my reputation and dismissive attitude toward dating “rules”, then love is a possibility for everyone.
Basically, this was a really long and corny way of saying that I know how much it sucks to be alone on Valentine’s Day, even if the holiday is largely a fabrication of the jewelry industry. So ONE of the two grand prizes is reserved for a reader who’s single. Of course, this is totally an honor code thing but I trust that you guys will tell the truth. (And who is really screwed up enough to deny the existence of a significant other anyway?) Now let’s get to the good (i.e. free) stuff:
THIRD RUNNER UP
Twin Syndrome Custom High Rise Panty
To enter the giveaway, send an email to elle[at]sexandtheivy[dot]com with the following information:
1. Your name, age, occupation, and relationship status
2. How you found out about the giveaway
3. Your preference in sex toy if you win (for anatomical reasons, the Naughtibod vibrator is only compatible with ladyparts but the Pure Wand dildo is unisex)
4. An answer to ONE of the two following questions:
a) What is your craziest first date experience?
b) You are talking to someone who has not gone on a date in months. Every time they meet someone, they get their face spat on, their heart stomped on, and their nether regions infested with an itchy sensation. Why should they continue to believe in love?
DEADLINE: FEBRUARY 10TH AT 12AM EST
Entries will be judged on creativity and entertainment value (seriously!). Winners will be chosen and tiebreakers will be broken during a sleepover by a committee of my depressed, single friends who will only cheer up if you infuse them with HOPE a la Obama. (Oh, wait, he’s “change”, isn’t he? Whatever.) Oh, and I’m totally not kidding about this. You will actually stand the best chance of winning if you can make my jaded pals laugh. They were so damn hopeful on my behalf last year that the least I can do is return the favor now. Happy early Valentine’s Day, and stay tuned for the winners!