Sex and the Ivy


Filed under: Aidan, Jules, Kam, Kyle, Sex — Elle July 29, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

AFTER ALL the times we’ve slept next to each other, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Kyle sleep so soundly as he did last night. Whenever I dozed off with him on my Mather twin, he never fell into deep sleep. He would lie there with his eyes closed, just skimming the surface of consciousness and ready to wake from the slightest movement.

My bed in New York is bigger than what we’re used to. The air is musky, laced with liquor from our breath. When I beckon him to bed, he comes fully clothed. I unbutton his shirt, unfasten his belt, pull off his shoes and his socks and finally — with a tug — his pants. I run my fingertips over his torso, resting them between the tufts of dark hair on his chest, and ask him to turn onto his stomach. He obliges.

I start to rub his shoulders for the first time in months. I ask about his girlfriend — or rather, his ex. They broke up recently, just a few weeks ago, and I actually believe him this time when he says it’s over. He confirms what I long assumed: his cheating on her with me was symptomatic of already existing problems, rather than their underlying cause. I think I needed to hear it from him to be sure.

“But she’d still flip a shit if she found out, right?” I ask.

“Of course.”

Everything feels displaced. All my friends I’m used to seeing in dorm rooms and dining halls are now running around New York nightclubs and office buildings instead. It changes things. I can’t imagine Kyle sitting in my common room and having a conversation with my Harvard roommates, but put us in a shabby chic one-bedroom across from Tompkins Square Park and suddenly, he’s making brunch plans with Kam. That was last night. Unfathomable. Were I at school, my blockmates (always the first to remind me of his transgressions) would have a difficult time mustering up cordial “hellos”. Maybe Kam is less judgmental. Or maybe it’s New York that’s forgiving.

YOU KNOW those nights when you enter a party slightly inebriated but completely pumped and hours slip by without you even noticing it? That was also last night. I walk into Aidan’s birthday celebration around 11:45pm with my friend Jules in tow. We dance, we laugh, we talk. Next thing I know, it’s pushing 4am, the club is emptying, and I’m getting into a cab with Aidan to drop off a drunk companion. I have no idea when everyone else left (though it’s clear they’re long gone), where my keys are (I drunkenly handed them to Jules), or how/with whom I’m ending the night. I can barely recall the last four hours. It feels like I just got there.

But I know I had a good time. I see it in the expression on Jules’ face. If her smile is any proof at all, then I must be damn pleased. I feel it too. Something about the rhythm of my heartbeat makes it feel like the last song played is still pumping through my veins. I am in such a good mood that I don’t even freak out in the cab when Aidan’s very drunk friend reaches up my dress, rubs me between my legs, and presses his lips against my thighs. I laugh uncomfortably and move his hands away. But I couldn’t get angry if I tried.

I stopped having sex after spring break. The last time was on March 29 with Sam in Philadelphia. A week later, I found out he’d been telling another girl that they were sexually exclusive and I ended things. I was about ready to give up on men altogether. Then Riley happened and if I had any doubts at that point, that fiasco cemented my feelings on the subject. I told myself and my friends that I didn’t want to sleep with anyone unless I was sure I could trust them or at least certain that they didn’t have secret girlfriends. That meant restricting sex to relationships.

In some ways, I looked forward to saying no. Most of the time, it wasn’t even difficult because I didn’t have any romantic feelings for the guy. It’s easier to disappoint someone who’s just a hookup. And with each successive encounter, my resolve strengthened, as if every refusal at the sight of a condom was a small victory in itself. Guys couldn’t argue. My reason for not having sex left no room for debate. The bottomline: if we’re not dating, we’re not fucking.

But the truth is more complicated.

I’m incredibly scared of loss. And I know I shouldn’t feel like I lose something by sleeping with someone, but I do. I decided to stop having sex because I was sick of giving away all these pieces of myself and subsequently worrying about unintentional attachment, ill-advised yearning. It felt like I had no control. It wasn’t my silly superstition about winding up with taken men (though certainly, the pattern started to worry me) so much as it was my wanting to wait for someone who made me feel safe.

I guess last night is as safe as it gets, even though some might say that sleeping with a previous partner doesn’t count. Let me tell you, after four months of forgoing sex, it counts. There are plenty of people it could’ve been, others who have made me feel safe, but something about yesterday’s circumstances allow for the situation to happen. It is organic. It didn’t feel right with the senior who I hooked up with on a near-daily basis over exam period, nor have any of the men in New York left enough of an impression to earn my trust. I was quite tempted to give in a couple weeks ago with Mark in the hotel but the place didn’t feel right even though he did. Thankfully, he didn’t push for it. I don’t know if I could’ve resisted.

It is easy to anticipate last night, even though I don’t really think it is going to happen until it actually does. We both have had a good deal to drink, but it isn’t the alcohol that convinces me. Often times, I’m most stubborn about this matter when I’m drunk. I don’t really need convincing at all. Everything is so familiar, like we have done it before — and we have — but need to remember again what it’s like. It all feels the same — his tongue against mine, the smell of his breath, the texture of his hair between my tugging fingers, the way his hands grip my waist. At the corner of my mind, I remember that Kam is in the living room, that I need to quiet my moans. But that thought is already drifting away.

I stroke his chest with my fingertips slowly, in circles — like I used to — before I lean down and stretch my lips wide to take him in my mouth. Even that is the same. He feels very, very familiar. Before he gets on top of me, he whispers a promise about not making the same infamous mistake we made the first time. I think that is what makes the difference. I laugh. I don’t care anymore.

When he finally pushes inside me, it hurts. It actually hurts. It’s been so long — not just since I’ve had sex but since we’ve had sex. Initially, the pain takes me by surprise, but then I remember that it always used to hurt.



I guess I forgot that part. After he finishes, he leans over, presses his cheek against mine, and sighs long and deep. I breathe hard. I can hear footsteps and the apartment door opening and Jules’ laugh.

IT’S JULY 29TH. Four months to the day. It’s been a pretty long self-imposed streak, if the lack of activity on the blog hasn’t already made this abundantly clear. This entire time, I thought that having sex again — just once — would end the whole mission, that I’d go right back to sleeping with men who I only vaguely trusted. I’m not entirely sure how I feel right now but if anything, I’m more firmly resolved to wait for a relationship than ever.

This morning, I wake up to the sound of storm and thunder. I can sense nausea on the horizon. Kyle is next to me in a surprisingly deep slumber, his chest rising and sinking steadily. Kam and Jules’ muffled voices filter in from the living room. I feel safe.

Sexless in the City

Filed under: Sex — Elle June 28, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

It’s been over two months since I’ve had sex and I am so sexually frustrated. After spring break in late March, I had no interest in intercourse with anyone. The Sam thing totally messed me up. The kicker is that getting to know him made me less interested in having meaningless sex with random guys. But all the guys I bothered getting emotionally invested in turned out to have girlfriends. Wonderful, right? It was like being between a rock and a hard … well, you get the picture.

I have been incredibly chaste since arriving in the city. You’d think that the hordes of summer interns and students and young-ish professionals would mean nonstop hooking up, but quite honestly, I haven’t even partied that hard here. Hangovers seem extraordinarily cliche, one-night stands even more so. The only conclusion I can come to is that I miraculously grew up over the past two months, but I think we can all agree that’s a patent impossibility.

There haven’t exactly been major temptations anyway. Third base, after all, is still fair game which makes everything slightly more bearable (not that I’ve even gotten near that since leaving school). But lately, it’s been getting harder and harder to deal with the tension. Intercourse may be highly overrated but sometimes I feel like nothing else can quite satisfy. So even though my current abstinence streak is still going strong, I’m not sure if I can really wait until my next relationship.

Thank goodness for the senior who kept me entertained through reading period and final exams. It’s a shame he’s not within booty-calling distance (though I still tried to lure him away from Boston during Commencement Week after I’d left to New York). I think it could’ve evolved into eventual sex if not for the unfortunate timing. Most of my unwillingness to engage in casual intercourse stems from a refusal to make myself vulnerable. Unlike those who preceded him, he was an extraordinarily nice, decent guy and one of the very few in recent memory who gained my trust. Plus, he didn’t have a girlfriend.

Random Thoughts on Random Hookups

Filed under: Hooking Up, Sex — Elle May 15, 2007 @ 2:49 am

My blockmate Terra said to someone yesterday that I just don’t do Harvard guys (and I mean “do” in an all-purpose, not entirely sexual sense). I can’t deny that she’s right. With the exception of early sophomore fall and the occasional drunk makeoutfest, I’ve stayed away from Harvard undergrads when it comes to both dating and sexing. I just don’t like the way college boys feel. Too young, too inexperienced, too disappointing. My most satisfying experiences have been with older guys — at least four years removed. One exception: I lucked out as a freshman with my first college fuck buddy. Despite being a virgin, he was miraculously savvy in the sack. I’ve yet to encounter such blow-my-mind manual dexterity in the year and a half since.

Is it any wonder that of the guys I have hooked up with, the overwhelming majority are from this year’s graduating class? It’s not as if two-year’s difference means terribly much but the difference, however minute, is enough. At the very least, I’m no one’s first drunken error and the guy has a condom if I don’t and he will actually attempt oral sex somewhat successfully. But I’m being completely critical at the moment, generalizing about an entire population, and not exactly offering helpful tips. So I’ll cease.

The reason I write all this is that I recently spent the night with an undergrad who was actually responsive to my needs, respectful, and not entirely awkward come dawn. I left feeling like he was a decent individual, which is not what can be said for 90% of similar situations I’ve been in. It made me wonder why hooking up couldn’t always be like this, and especially why hooking up in college, at Harvard, couldn’t be like this. From this, I formed the conclusion that there are some universal rules to abide by:

1. Phone calls aren’t expected after one-night stands, but acknowledge the other party in public instead of conveniently looking at your shuttle schedule when they pass by.

2. Unless they’re about to puke on you, let your hookup spend the night. You took them home; it’s polite.

3. Do spend the night if offered. It’s polite. (At least pretend that you weren’t just over for the orgasm).

4. Straight couples: if the girl insists on going home anyway, walk her even if it’s 3 a.m. Just do it. Gay couples: not so sure on the etiquette — call cab? Either way, muggings are not so sexy.

5. Reciprocate. Especially when it comes to oral.

If everyone would just do stuff like this, it would make the entire hookup scene more pleasant and less awkward.

On a tangent, I’d also like to take a moment to clear my name. My atrocious behavior last weekend (not reciprocating after receiving oral sex — and in fact, only kissing the guy) wasn’t that bad when considering the context. First, I told him before I even went home with him that I wouldn’t “be doing a damn thing” for or with him so I was already going further than promised. Second, he got off on going down on me anyway. Win-win. Besides, getting oral sex is far from consent to give it. It may not be terribly polite to deny the other party (after all, I’m breaking my own rule), but there is certainly no obligation. Also, this instance is most definitely a first and will not be repeated. Not that he should be holding his breath.

Partying Like a Freshman

Filed under: College, Hooking Up, Partying, Sex — Elle May 8, 2007 @ 2:16 am

This weekend harkens back to freshman spring. For the most part, I’ve been on a sober, monogamous, responsible streak. Maybe it was Cece’s visit during Mather Lather and my subsequent reintroduction to binge drinking. Maybe it was the festive year-end mood. Maybe it was my enabling friends. Whatever the case, this past weekend was more alcoholic than any other this year. Sure, I’ve had my blackout moments but it’s been a long time since a three-day streak with a different cock and cocktail each night.

Which isn’t to say that I broke the no-sex rule (let’s assume for a moment that oral doesn’t count). I just engaged in a lot of making out a la high school. It was kind of fun, I must admit. Besides the serious damage at Currier Formal (five glasses wine, a Lemon Drop, and a White Russian), I was going strong Friday with a sangria-fueled Quad-a-thon.

Things Lena Did Friday Night (probably not completely in order):
1. Drink three full Solo cups of sangria at Mather Happy Hour. Start feeling good.
2. Put on ridiculously short minidress with ridiculously tall stilettos
3. Quad Quad Quad with ZAP ZAP ZAP
4. Make out with male acquaintance at door of No Pants Dance
5. Make out with another male acquaintance inside No Pants Dance
6. Forget the name of second male acquaintance. Ask friend. Resume making out.
7. At some point in evening, yell at/hit Riley in the face seven or eight times. With permission.
8. Order $50 worth of sushi.
9. Consume $50 worth of sushi.
10. Ply Kay with alcohol. Unsuccessfully.
11. Go home with male acquaintance whose name I only vaguely remember at this point.
12. Get oral sex.
13. Tell him there’s no way I’m going down on him. (Sorry!)
14. Or so much as touching his dick. (Sorry again!)
15. Ask him mid-hookup — totally seriously — “You don’t happen to have a girlfriend, do you?”
16. Get more oral sex.
17. Realize that there’s been sexual tension between us for over a year. This is it?! Disappointed.
18. Roll over as he talks about his commitment issues and how he’s really not that bad a guy. Could care less.
19. Wake up in the morning. It is 12pm and all I have to wear are the ridiculous mini dress and the ridiculous stilettos.
20. His roommate walks in on me while I’m in a t-shirt and thong. Thanks.
21. Am invited to lunch in the dining hall with his roommates. Riiiight.
22. Attempt the Quad to Mather Walk of Shame in ridiculous minidress and stilettos. Get honked at. A lot.
23. Am complimented on ridiculous stilettos (purple peep-toes) by girl coming out of Leverett Dining Hall. Feel slightly validated.
24. Realize last night’s hookup has probably told all his roommates that we had sex in 80 positions. Hate him intensely.
25. Immediately email friends my account of the evening.

Anyhow, I can’t have more than one of these weekends a semester. It’s way too draining. Besides, I really prefer regularity over a half dozen kissing partners, even if all that means is a three-week Reading Period fling.

The Ivy Sex Diaries: Intro

Filed under: Dating/Relationships, Ivy Sex Diaries, Riley, Sex — Elle April 26, 2007 @ 2:31 pm

Forgive me for the sickness-induced hiatus which has put me behind on schoolwork, freelance assignments, and even blogging. To make amends, I’m going to offer up my friends’ amorous musings for analysis. Inspired by the New York Magazine piece, this is a week in the sex life of an Ivy League student.

Four real Harvardians (and one Quaker), seven days of yearning from across the Yard, morning-after shuttle rides, and Facebook flirting. We are a campus of grade-grubbing, budding Manhattanites and whatever New Yorkers can do, we think can do better. But can we?

This week gal pals and fellow bloggers chronicled their deepest desires. For a preview of what can be expected once our juicy journals are compiled, check out a one day peek into the psyche of Ennui and Decadence, a Harvard soph, and take a look at seven days from my previous week:

Female, sophomore, sociology concentrator, Mather House, “straight-flexible” and single

1 a.m. Headache all Sunday. Before bed, I write six Facebook messages to people I want to see in the next week. Two of them are to guys I’m interested in.
1 p.m. See Facebook response from ZAP’s friend, Riley. He likes my picture, call it “quite emotive.” I tell him I’m free Friday and proceed to pass out from fatigue.
9 p.m. Birth control alarm goes off. I’m out. Fuck.
10 p.m. Still headachey. Decide on a whim to Facebook message my friend Greg’s blockmate from the previous weekend: “don’t know if you recall but Greg intro’ed us at the sae party in currier. i commented, “Greg, you never told me you had such attractive blockmates!” totally meant it. we should grab coffee.” Pat myself on back for being charmingly forward.


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