This past weekend, I went up to New York to visit old friends. I met a man, who I’ll refer to as Rex. After playing a hunting game in a dive bar—I let him win the turkey round, but totally dominated the elk and oxen rounds, the ones that counted—we got to talking about communication. He is entirely pro-phone call. I, however, am so anti-phone call that I hide under the nearest table when anyone calls me, even if it’s a close friend who I really want to talk to. If this person has the nerve to leave a voicemail, I’ll let it record. The next day, I’ll work up the courage to listen to it and send a text message in response. Then I’ll take a shower, because the whole ordeal made me sweat a lot.
Maybe it’s because of our five-year difference that Rex and I fall on opposite ends of the communication spectrum. He, quite reasonably, finds it much easier and faster to call someone to make plans. After all, textual back-and-forths can take days. Plus, it’s so much easier to put on fronts when you text. If you have the luxury of time and privacy to type a response, you can be anything you want—cool, calm, elusive, witty, and more qualities I never am in person, or on the phone. Rex values authenticity. I value the illusion of control.
I’m not sure why phones terrify me. Maybe it all goes back to phone banking for the Kerry-Edwards campaign in 2004. I’d call people in their homes and ask them questions about their voting habits. I’d pray for voicemail. Sometimes people would curse me out. They’d ask me where I lived so they could call me in my home. When my mom was a little girl, she feared that people could shoot her through the phone. I think I inherited this fear.
I always associate phone calls with news: deaths, test results, break-ups (yes), all of which I do not want to know about.
Yet some people are excited when someone cares enough to give them a call. Today, my girlfriend texted me, “Aww he called me. On the telephone!!! Like we were on an episode of Roseanne!!”
I was telling Rex that if I received a call from someone I’d just met, I’d throw my phone in the river, hop on my motorcycle, and leave town. Not because I’d be sketched out—it takes a lot to sketch me out, probably too much to sketch me out—but because I wouldn’t know how to handle the situation.
At the natural conclusion of our encounter—I won’t reveal whether this was the same night or the following morning—I expected him to ask for my phone number. We both had phones. He gave me his email, which struck me as strange. Did he want me to email him? Was this just a way for us to fade out of touch, because who’s going to email someone they just met to make plans? Or was this because I’d so vehemently expressed my deep-seated phone fear?
The next day at dinner, my friend suggested I send him scam emails.
Never one to let a joke pass or try to live a normal life, that night I forwarded him a scam email, all in Swedish, and said, “hey, let me know if you want to get in on this.”
Here’s the thing: I’m a slow reader. Not only that, but I’m even slow to start the process of reading. Every week I read the New York Times Book Review and draw red stars next to the books I’m interested in. Then, the Book Review gets recycled, and I carry on with my life, playing Candy Crush and reading articles on Slate.
In the coming weeks, we are all going to be inundated with “best of 2013” lists; this makes me nervous, because I’m still working on 2012. Which is why I present to you my top five books from 2012 that I finally got around to reading in 2013. You will probably recognize these books from last December’s lists, but don’t worry—I’m giving you an extra chance to read them. It’s not too late!
HE NAILS IT.
I might not always be up on the latest hip trends and whatnot, but I have noticed that the Internet is all about lists right now. So in my effort to be the next Buzzfeed, I’m going to present you with the following ultra disturbing list of things real people have searched on the World Wide Web. Don’t worry, though. My next list is going to be adorable: 27 PUGS THAT REMIND YOU OF THE 90′s AND BEING IN YOUR TWENTIES IN A WAY YOU WONT BELIEVE.
So. The following are all search entries that have led people to my blog. I am offering you an exclusive glimpse into humanity’s seedy underbelly.
1. stories about sex with mayonnaise <–despite what you may think I have actually never written about this
2. Is there a sex and snax party? <–waiting for my invite
3. How to make self sex for women <–this makes me sad
4. hit hot live sex&hi hot <–i feel like this could be the name of Justin Timberlake’s next album
5. i must not think about sex <–you’re off to a terrible start if you’re going to the internet for guidance on this matter
6. cheesestring porn <–can’t un-see what i just imagined
7. oldwomen:-) sexand:-) dog <–is it bad im most disturbed by the emoticons?
8. what does it mean to have sex in the dream with your servant? <–i definitely addressed this a few posts back
9. Does secretion accumulate when you dont have sex? <–public health education has failed us all
10. Saudi Arabia malfoy travelocity <–interesting combo of nouns. above all else, intrigued
11. find women with low self-esteem to date <– this is the worst
A new study published in the current issue of everyone’s favorite lifestyle mag–Archives of Sexual Behavior–found that men are more likely to regret having passed up on sex opportunities (which I’ll henceforth refer to as sexportunities), while women tend to regret having engaged in random, one-night-only sexual experiences (which I’ll henceforth refer to as sexperiences.)
David Buss, the evolutionary psychologist who worked on the study, says: “These studies point to the importance of a neglected mating emotion—sexual regret—which feels experientially negative but in fact can be highly functional in guiding adaptive sexual decisions.”
Furthermore, social psychologist Martie Haselton claims that, in the context of evolutionary history, every sexportunity messes up is a missed reproductive opportunity. While for ladies, the ones who must carry their offspring in their bodies for 9 months and then offer their nipples to them, the consequences of random or casual sexperiences are much higher.
Here are some of the study’s findings: 24% of women regret losing their virginity to the wrong partner. 20% of women regret moving too fast sexually. For men, 27% percent of these fucks regret instances they were too shy to take advantage of a possible sexportunity. 23% of them wish they’d been more sexually adventurous when they were younger.
Jezebel’s Erin Ryan rightly finds this study problematic, as it seems to accept the premise that genetics/science/cavemen/evolution is responsible for these attitudes of sexual regret while entirely neglecting the possibility of societal influence.
Even the notion of a woman losing her virginity to “the wrong partner” is loaded with social assumptions, including (bot not limited to) that there’s a “right” partner to lose your virginity to. Even the simple fact that virginity is an entity we talk and think about has more to do with culture and less to do with hard-wired genetics. Had these scientists considered the possibility that a woman may regret having had sex with someone who wasn’t The One because society (her parents, friend, church, school, movies, TV) has taught her that her virginity flower should be given to someone special, like Ryan Gosling or Seth Cohen?
I mean, of course I had to come to terms with the fact that Seth Cohen wasn’t the first man with whom I was physically intimate. But we’ve all had to come to terms with this. That’s what growing up is.
But as a woman who has (supposedly) been handed down genetic tendencies to regret random sexual experiences, I have surprisingly little “sexual regret.” That is not to say I am not filled with regret. I regret every single article of clothing I wore in middle school. I regret participating in (and thus perpetuating) the words-on-the-butt-of-sweatpants trend. I regret criticizing people for drinking Diet Coke (which I called rat cancer juice) only then to drink it obsessively for the rest of my life. But never for a second have I regretted losing my virginity to someone relatively random, in a one-off sort of deal, and I honestly don’t regret any other of my one-off sort of deals. Why? Because (safe!) sex has always been a low-stakes game for me. To be real, I cringe even typing the words “losing my virginity.” I never thought of myself in terms of being a virgin or not. I never thought of not having had sex as a precious, identifying quality. I knew that as long as I used protection and that the man was not physically or emotionally abusive or had a mustache, sex was aight—and certainly nothing to be ashamed of.
Because sex happens. We have the parts. We use them. If a condom is used, no human is created, and no disease is transferred.*
I realize my je ne regrette rien attitude makes me a slut, at least to thousands–nay millions–nay probably billions–of people. If this bothered me, maybe I would be one of the 20% of women who regretted moving too fast sexually, and not because my brain wired me to feel that way. It would be because people calling me a slut wired me to feel that way.
*This is true like 99.9% of the time. It’s important to remember that a condom wasn’t sufficient for Rachel and Ross on Friends, who ended up having a child no one asked for.
I arrived in Ancona at 7:00am, greasy and red-eyed. I stumbled off the overnight ferry I’d taken from Croatia to Italy. I had only managed to sleep two hours, curled over two chairs with my overstuffed, burlap backpack as a blanket, in a cold room filled with highly talkative, middle-aged Brazilian tourists who were on some sort of religious field trip. I took the bus to the Ancona train station, where I asked for a ticket to Rome. The woman behind the window told me there was a train in 20 minutes, but if left from Falconara, a neighboring town just a short bus ride away. She printed me off a ticket and I lugged my suitcase, backpack, and tote on to the cramped bus. Ten minutes along the Adriatic, we stopped right by a sign that said “Falconara.” It’s my stop! I bashed my way towards the doors—the straps of my military backpack swinging furiously—but they closed before I could exit.
“I need to get off here!” I yelled. “Devo scendere qui!” The bus driver opened the doors, and I plopped down on the side of the street. The bus drove away. I soon saw there was no station; I had gotten off prematurely. Confused and belligerent from lack of sleep, I ran down the road after the bus, dragging my suitcase as my toddler-sized backpack bounced up and down on my back, in what proved to be the most physically exhausting activity of my life. I trotted until I reached the next bus stop, where an old man was reading the newspaper.
“Excuse me, sir. How far away is the station?”
“About three kilometers.”
I couldn’t even run that far without carrying five months worth of clothing and impulse buys.
There was six minutes to make my train. If I missed it, I would have to buy a new ticket (fifty dollars I could not afford) and wait in Falconara, my new least favorite town, for an undetermined amount of time.
A bus turned around the corner and drove towards us.
“Does this one go to the station?” I asked him.
The man nodded, so I approached the bus cautiously, one more misstep away from lying down in the middle of the road.
I schlepped my stuff onto the bus. I asked the bus driver and three different passengers whether the vehicle would take me to the Falconara station—all parties confirmed it would. Unfortunately, I had only zero minutes left to make my train.
As we finally approached what appeared to be a train station, I looked at my fellow passengers and before I could ask again, a woman said, “Yes, this is the station.”
I leaped off the bus and ran towards the first track, where there was a train. A man in a conductor’s uniform smoking a cigarette sat on the stairs to one of the cars.
“Will. This. Take. Me. To Rome?” My ticket fluttered between my hands as I tried to show it to him. He grabbed the ticket and inspected it silently, as if swept up in the drama.
“Si, va bene.”
The train, like me, must have been running ten minutes late. I boarded the train and walked through the aisle down to car eight, once again slapping everyone with my rusty backpack buckles. (I’d turn to apologize to an elderly woman, only to whack the six-year-old on the other side of the aisle.) I found my seat and put my luggage in the overhead compartment. I sat down and laughed manically for five minutes. Then I fell asleep.
I should have missed that train, but for some reason, having nothing to do with my level of planning or running speed or merits as a human, I made it. That’s the magnificent, often terrifying thing about travel—it giveth and it taketh away. On some journeys—even the meticulously planned ones—every single logistical element goes terribly wrong. As a traveler, you must accept that you have a limited amount of agency; you must surrender yourself to the transportation gods, the not-getting-mugged gods, the weather gods, and many more deities who have no invested interest in you making your trains or eating a sandwich that doesn’t give you diarrhea for three days. Traveling had made me more humble, more equipped to deal with the inevitable disappointments and disasters that fill a life.
If I had missed that train, maybe I would have cried. But in five minutes or fifteen, after indulging in my frustration and exhaustion, I would have shrugged. I would have gone to the café and ordered a cappuccino. Maybe I’d have read a book, or begun recounting the tale in my notebook.
home at last!!