The Life and Times of a Failed Sapiosexual
(of a person) finding intelligence sexually attractive or arousing.
a person who finds intelligence sexually attractive or arousing.
“Me?” Crock says. “I’m more sapiosexual than anything else.”
It’s 2011. And the first time I’ve heard that term, at a meetup for a small social group splintered off the larger local kink scene. Its mission statement identifies members as “geeky intellectual literati.”
I showed up just to hang out. And maybe play a game of Apples to Apples with a handful of folks from the dungeon. I’m new in town and trying to make as many friends as possible.
We’re going around introducing ourselves. This involves a lot of sexual orientation talk. Gay, straight, bi, homoflex, hetflex, pan.
“Honey, I’m basically fucking everyone, and frankly I’m exhausted,” is how I explain my situation (stopping just short of a musical number).
But Crock tells us she’s sapiosexual. And she’s not the only one.
“Same here. Sapiosexual,” Hilda agrees. “What-what-WHAT?”
They high five exuberantly.
Once they’ve explained it to the rest of us, I try the term on. Am I sapiosexual?
I Like Big Brains and I Cannot Lie
I’ve always been a big brain chaser. Infiltrating the honors dorm in college. Tangling and retangling limbs with every person I could have a deep conversation with.
I shared a bed with the head of the student philosophical society whenever his girlfriend was away on sorority business. Girl Scout’s honor, we only spooned. No sexy times. But SPS read Hunter S. Thompson aloud to me while I sipped whiskey out of a coffee mug. We watched Natural Born Killers and Fight Club on repeat. He compared me to Marla Singer. Said that if he were ever to go on a romantic killing spree with someone, it would be me. And that in another dimension? We were probably doing just that.
I ate up every word SPS said. He looked like a cross of Edward Norton and Haley Joel Osmont. I loved SPS. I always wanted to be near him.
But did I want to fuck him?
I’m not sure.
I like to imagine he’s out there somewhere right now, mustering up the enthusiasm to impress upon glazed-eyed freshman why they should care about Plato’s cave.
Slow and Steady?
Although there was the one time I dated someone who was…. well, for lack of a better word, slow.
Zack was a good man. A sweetheart.
I met Zack in a summer session of jazz history. I ‘d just graduated high school and had been invited to audit the class by the professor, a saxophonist I gigged with who was 40 years my senior. It was a good course though intense. One of those rapid-fire multi-hour sprints where you meet every day until you’re ready to scream.
But the subject was interesting. And the pianist from my combo, one my closest friends at the time, audited it with me, which made it more fun.
I wasn’t surprised the first time Zack came to talk to us after. I was used to guys coming up to us when I was with my friend. She was super hot. Always getting catcalled.
But what was surprising was when she turned to me after Zack left and said, “Holy shit is that guy into you.”
I laughed. “What?”
I didn’t see it. My head was in a snarl anyway. I was having a hard time getting over my ex-boyfriend Greg. I’d turned down a scholarship at a prestigious jazz studies program hundreds of miles away in order to go to college with him locally. And of course we’d broken up before I could even graduate high school.
Greg was brilliant but emotionally unstable. And often cruel.
So of course I had to have him.
For his part, Greg continued to call me at periodic intervals to inform me how much better his life was without me in it. Especially if he had something to say that he thought might make me particularly jealous.
The last time he’d called, he let it slip that he was on campus as part of a summer program.
So naturally, after I got out of jazz history, I hopped into my car and drove over to the dorm where he was staying. And as I crept along, craning my neck, hoping to catch a glimpse of Greg, I curbed my tire.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” I spat, pulling into the nearby parking lot.
I got out of the car to inspect the damage. It wasn’t an easy task. I had to keep one eye peeled for Greg so he wouldn’t catch me spying on him and think (rightly) that I was desperate. And also there was the small matter that I knew jack shit about cars.
I was mentally running down the list of places on campus where there was a phone I could use to call someone to cry and beg to get me out of this mess when Zack rolled up in his truck.
“Need some help?” he said.
He drove me around all afternoon visiting repair shops, trying to find someone who could get an odd-shaped bolt off my tire.
I gave Zack my number when he asked for it. It seemed the least I could do to pay him back for the inconvenience. Plus, he was nice to look at. Big, tall, solid. And going into his junior year of college.
But conversation with Zack was awkward. The lights were on, but nobody was home. Zack spoke like he was on a satellite delay. I caught myself counting the seconds between when I spoke and when he would respond. And I quickly tired of spending so much time explaining myself.
Still, I continued to answer when he called, feeling indebted to him for my rescue.
One night, I went to see the jazz history professor at a gig, and Zack was sitting in on guitar.
“You wanna go see my friend’s recording studio?” Zack asked me at the end of his set.
Of course I did. I met the owners, had a brief tour. As Zack introduced me, he draped his arm around my shoulder. Physically, it felt good. And it was a nice change, after all I’d been through with Greg, to feel wanted.
Huh, I thought. Am I dating this guy now?
Up until that point, I’d only dated people who I thought were brilliant. Zack was a concrete thinker, straightforward. And yes, slow to think and to talk. Which would have been fine, but what came out of his mouth wasn’t worth waiting for. It usually didn’t make a whole lot of sense.
As we said goodbye to the studio owners, Zack told me he was house-sitting and suggested I follow him over there to hang out for a bit before I went home.
My instinct was to say no. But something within me said, Oh c’mon, give the guy a chance.
You’re being a snob, I thought as I followed him over in my car. It’s wrong to discriminate against people just because you don’t think they’re intelligent. He’s a good guy. Look at all he’s done for you.
And by the time I got there, I had talked myself into being Zack’s girlfriend. I was an evolved person. Fair. How could I possibly discriminate against this guy just because we had no hope of ever discussing Joyce? Or Camus?
Zack grabbed me a drink. And we settled down on the couch. I liked the way I felt in his arms. But the conversation was excruciating.
So I turned to the booze to make chatting more palatable, but to no avail. I had only taken a few sips when I realized it wasn’t going to work.
I sat up. “Thanks for the lovely time, Zack. I really liked meeting your friends, but I should be heading home.”
“Wait!” he said.
I set down my drink, headed for the door.
“Don’t go,” Zack said. And added just as I stepped outside, “I’ll eat you out!”
Sapiosexual or Sapioromantic?
What life has taught me is that yes, I do have a thing for big brains. Spicy brains.
I can love the feel of a body, but if there isn’t a mental connection (and one that really impresses me), I’m not going to want to spend a lot of time with a person.
But I don’t think it means I’m sapiosexual. Because I don’t get horny just from mental connection. There’s definitely a physical piece, too. They don’t have to be conventionally attractive, but I have my “type.” Physical features I’m into (likely imprinting, carryover from other positive figures earlier in life). The way they smell. My body wants what it wants, and it often doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
So, no, I’m not sapiosexual.
However, what happened with Zack (and others I lacked a mental connection with) leads me to believe I’m sapioromantic, i.e., driven primarily to pursue romantic relationships with intelligent people.
Though for what it’s worth, Crock and Hilda always seemed to go for intelligent folks who were also nice to look at.