A case for speechlessness

Off the Beat: Sex on Tuesday

I’m not the mysterious type. I’m never short on words. Actually, someone should muzzle me. But in bed, dirty talk isn’t all too high on my list since I wasn’t raised to talk with my mouth full.

When I was hooking up with a co-worker, our off hours were spent getting each other off. Fooling around and going south of the border, he said the words that shook me. “Talk to me.”

That dream of standing (lying) in front of an audience naked and forgetting your lines came true. The room was deafening, and after the longest pause, I stammered a few laudatory phrases saying I love it when you blah blah blah. These were all sincere, but it was strange to be asked to speak on command.

For my own sake, I’m hoping we all have moments where we clam up. Holla to the shy librarians out there!

I’ve learned that dirty talk is just something to warm up to. Never think too hard about it; no elaborate tale or story arcs needed. Keep it simple: Narrate what you are doing, ask questions, say what you like or simply how you feel.

Then there’s always that age-old question — “what do you want me to do to you?” This straddles the line of being a thoughtful gesture and also a cop-out.

Sex is like an audition, and any good actor comes prepared. First, show off your best moves, and if your partner wants to change the pace, they’ll probably give you some direction. Have confidence that if nothing is being said it’s most likely because you shouldn’t stop.

Dirty talk has all the potential to make things hotter or be a confidence booster, but it could also be just plain awkward.

My friend from NYC went on a few dates with an MBA student who played lacrosse at a major Ivy League. He seemed to be a catch, then later revealed to having had six concussions. While hooking up, he asked if he could “take off his Wranglers because (he) wasn’t wearing underwear and the denim hurt his erection.” He slipped into something more comfortable — orange basketball shorts.

Aside from him calling jeans “Wranglers,” I didn’t find anything wrong. However, a few days later he texted her to join him at a Midtown Christmas party, saying, “If you want some of my Big Christmas Yule Log come to Fifth Avenue. Now.”

The holiday dessert is forever ruined.

Then there was my friend Graham, who once was with this guy who’d turn on ridiculous porno noises blathering four-letter words before things even got to that point. Graham stopped him and said, “are you for real right now?”

Perhaps putting someone on the spot by saying “talk to me” or calling someone out for being too chatty isn’t the best form. Relishing in the moment trumps worrying about what to say next, but in retrospect, I realize some people get off by hearing a little something-something. I should have committed a bit more, upped my game and not taken it too seriously.

Communication is an important aspect of relationships, but during the mechanics of hooking up, words are secondary to action. Sex is about feeling and not recording a podcast.

Words live in this ambiguous space where the silly things you say in bed can often be brushed off because you were caught up in the moment. Whether we realize it or not, the words outside of the bedroom hold the most weight. A sincere connection with someone starts with a friendship: shared moments and conversations that back a physical relationship with meaning.

While studying in Dublin, a brilliant blue-eyed hipster was somehow a big fan of my un-ironic librarian sweaters and Coke-bottle glasses. We’d rationalize our love for ’90s cartoons, watch home videos and laugh in strange pubs with striped circus tents or a double-decker blue bus.

One night, over our pint of Carlsberg, I shouted over the busy pub, “I can’t help it: I’m just a gregarious person.” He replied, “I know. If you were a guy, your name would be Greg.” Then, unexpectedly, he kissed me for the first time.

I thought studying abroad should be casual and light-hearted, so I felt utterly betrayed by my own heart when my feelings ambushed me a la guerrilla warfare.

I look back to those specific hours we’d spend together falling into the quiet between us. He turned me speechless as my rambling mind drifted off and settled on the feeling of him.

Caught up in his dizzying kisses, he’d press up against me, hold close attention to my bottom lip as he ran his hand through my hair and grazed down my lower back. Words were not necessary.