Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Worst Birthday Present I Never Got

I was 18 years old, wispy and wanton and supple, and having sex with TWO, who barely seemed to notice me on him. He’d smile contentedly, let his eyelids fall closed, and look a little like he was lying on a lounge chair at the beach. I was in a different world perched there atop him, and I knew it.

When we were new, he politely declined my inaugural offering of a blowjob ("eh, I just don't really like them"), and I had to go down on my hands and knees to convince him otherwise. I knew I was dealing with a different creature entirely than ONE, who had to pull over on the drive home from school every day to have me before his homework.

TWO, as I’ve mentioned, was complacent about sex. Curiously, he was also the boyfriend who’d slept with so many girls he couldn’t remember the number. But maybe these things go hand in hand.

He was an incredible cook, and he’d make lavish meals for me: hand-rolled sushi and home-fried tempura. Ice cream with candied lavender petals that I helped him brush with egg white and dust with sugar.

He was also a DJ, and I’d follow him around Amoeba for hours as he buzzed through the aisles with a spring in his step, his face contorting in pleasure with each surprising discovery. When we got home, I’d watch from the couch as he stood at his turntables, his long neck arching gracefully beneath the weight of fat headphones, his long fingers pulling rhythmically at the vinyl.

Sometimes I would quiz him: Sex or music? Music. Sex or sushi? Sorry babe, I’ll take the latter.

* * *

For weeks preceding my 19th birthday, TWO hinted that he had some sort of secret surprise, some secret sexual surprise for me. When the day finally came, he took me out to sushi and then back to his place where we sat on the couch with his younger brother. The two of them rolled joint after joint and blazed in front of late-night cartoons. I grew tired and bitter as I sensed my secret birthday surprise slipping away.

I’d been delighted for weeks with the thought of my sexually complacent boyfriend plotting for my pleasure, but now: oh what a letdown. No mention, even. Wordlessly, but with a glare shot his direction in the dark, I climbed up into his lofted bed and tried to sleep. When he finally climbed into bed and I asked him about the surprise, he taunted me with “What surprise?” and said it like I was some sex-fiend, like I was his pet teenage girlfriend with the big ugly sex drive hanging down like hairy oversized balls.

Still wispy and wanton and supple but now 19, I fell asleep in a sexless loft saturated in birthday disappointment, and shamed by my stoned boyfriend's taunt.

* * *

I’ve had my share of guys who were a little mean, but what TWO did to me that night still feels like one of the meanest things anyone has ever done to me. No one else has put my desire in the spotlight like that, just to throw rotten tomatoes at it.

For all its immaturity, my relationship with ONE had taught me that sex was something fun and joyful—something almost innocent in its purity of purpose. But this understanding was torn at the seams with TWO. Whether he meant it or not, our desire disparity left me with self-doubt and him with a valuable resource in a relationship: Power.

Power plays weren’t on my mind back with ONE—maybe because I so thoroughly and effortlessly controlled the game. And even though I wouldn’t realize it until later, ONE taught me how power is exercised by giving (daily coitus on the side of the road). TWO taught me how power is exercised—even by men—by withholding.


  1. Linz, you write so well. I see so much of myself in your entries... it's a nice chance to reflect on some of our shared coming-of-age experiences. Thank you for sharing your eloquence. Much love to you.

  2. aw thanks mir! lovely to know that you're reading & enjoying...