It’s happy hour at the bar with Skyspook’s coworkers. I’m his designated driver and feeling a bit out of place as a plus one. Most of the people there I’m meeting for the first time, and they’re nice enough, so I do my best to chat with them.
I’m relieved when Skyspook’s boss walks up to me since we’ve met in the past and talked before. It’s good to see a familiar face.
“So Skyspook tells me that things are going well with the books,” his boss says to me.
I nod. “Absolutely. First book has been out since the spring and is selling really well. Second book‘s coming out any day now. Have a third one written, ready for my editor.”
“She’s doing great,” Skyspook tells him. “Busy, busy.”
I blush involuntarily.
“You write children’s books, right?” his boss says.
Skyspook and I both break out in laughter.
“Noooo,” I say. “No. No.”
“I told you about this already,” Skyspook says.
“We were drinking, weren’t we?” his boss says.
“For some reason, I thought you wrote children’s books,” he says to me.
“If you give your child my books, they take your child away from you,” I say.
Skyspook laughs. “I have to flag our books as ‘adult’ pretty much everywhere. She writes about alternative relationships.”
His boss cocks his head to the side.
“Yeah, I write about relationships and sex,” I say.
“But I thought you worked in HR. Leadership development,” his boss says.
“I did. That was my day job before I started writing full time. My background’s in psychology. It all transfers.”
Skyspook nods. “She takes the workplace psych and applies it to relationships.”
His boss still looks a little confused, but he shrugs it off and we keep talking.
“So I had to ask myself if he had the balls to — sorry,” he says to me. “Wait, never mind, you’re the sex lady, I can say ‘balls’ in front of you.” And he continues on his story.
But I’m left to laugh. Because I’m the “sex lady” now.
I can tell it’s not meant as an insult, and the energy behind the statement is more like a 12-year-old boy. Someone who can barely mention sex without laughing or getting embarrassed. And who feels like they’ll get in trouble for talking about it.
Later another coworker shows up with his pregnant wife. She’s bored and doesn’t want to be here. A fellow plus one but even less into being there than I am. She wants to know if we have children. And if we want any. The answer to both of those questions is no.
She seems a bit surprised by this but switches to talking about her pregnancy and her plans surrounding it. “Check out these onesies. They’re so adorable. I’m gonna order all of them.” She starts reading what they say on them.
She thinks the messages are funny, but to me they sound like a parade of sadness. Most of them are allusions to the war of the sexes and a dead bedroom.
“My daddy is jealous, I had boobs for breakfast,” she reads aloud.
“Poor daddy,” I say. This elicits a smirk from her husband, who to that point had mostly tuned out and was in a passive “yes dear” nodding routine.
They bicker about minutiae all night. And I see each of them scowling at the other when their partner’s back is turned.
“It’s funny,” I tell Skyspook on the drive home. “I’m usually surrounded by sex-positive people who actually like the people they’re dating. I forget how it really is out there.”
It’s Difficult to Learn Sexual Nuance If We’re Too Uncomfortable to Talk About Sex
From inside my little social bubble of sex-positive kinksters, it’s easy to be mystified by what I see in the news that demonstrates how terrible most people are at understanding consent. How afraid they are to speak to their partners about what they really want sexually, what would fulfill them. Especially if those desires deviate from the norm.
But when I step outside that bubble, even briefly, like I did the another night, it’s painfully obvious why. Inevitable, even.
It’s really no wonder that so many people hold dysfunctional behaviors and attitudes surrounding sex. That folks who can do well in a non-sexual context often blunder egregiously when trying to navigate the social landscape in sexual terms.
It’s hard to understand something if we can’t even talk about it.
My new book is out!
A Geek’s Guide to Unicorn Ranching: Advice for Couples Seeking Another Partner