How to talk about sex like a man
When you're 15 years old and smoking behind the 7-Eleven, it's your God-given right to speak like Beavis and Butt-head. But where's the line for a tax-filing, door-holding adult male when discussing sex with friends?
Andrew Richdale, GQ Magazine
It should have been an easy question. I was drinking with some friends and the conversation had, as these things often do over beers with a bunch of dudes, gone into the gutter. One second a guy's defending his preference for "girls who can squirt the ceiling." The next someone's asking me, the sole silent party, "What happened your first time?"
The thing with me and talking about sex is that I once broke out in full-body hives during a classroom reading of Howl! My parents never gave me The Talk. The closest I got was a speech from my crusty gym teacher to the sixth-grade boys that mixed what he called good news—"Ladies, your wieners are about to get bigger"—and fart jokes, then ended with him actually farting. To make matters worse, I was raised in a religious family, my mouth divinely trained to reject certain phrases.
That said, there was no way I was giving a play-by-play of my actual "first time," an unnatural disaster that didn't occur until I was 21 and outwardly homosexual. Instead, I scanned back to the pre-gay age of 15 when I over-the-bra groped a chick who gave me bedroom eyes. The story seemed tame enough. I was in the middle of explaining how we were playing Truth or Dare in the alley behind a skating rink when I realized I would soon have to address, out loud, the existence of...boobs? Is that the right word? Or is that what kids who study Klingon say? Hooters seemed like the indisputable territory of men who swill moonshine. I briefly considered tommies, but, oh yeah, that turned out to be a safe-word my mom had invented while I was in diapers. So, fun bags? Sweater kittens? Lady humps?
Breasts. That's what came out. Like a med school student performing his inaugural mammogram, I even stuttered mid-brrr. My friend cackled.
"Well, what do you call them?" I asked defensively.
"I don't know, man. Tits," he replied.
In college my male-slut frat brother used to say tits, at loud decibels, usually before he succumbed to the allure of a keg stand. At age 26, it felt like I should be graduating to a new vocabulary. Is this really how grown-ass men talk? I started listening closely to the slyest guys I knew when sex came up in conversation.
Turns out that, yes, tits was very much fair game. Wang, jizz, beaver—all safe, too. I discovered that the terminology from my acne'd era hadn't expired; the delivery had changed. Rather than being delicately whispered or hammered home or accompanied by a teenage bonerface, these words arrived casually, and, above all, with self-assurance. As if that hurdle called shame had been cleared lifetimes ago.
One of my most gentlemanly co-workers recently described a girl to me as cute but not "skeet on her face" attractive. Was it crass? Sure. But it was also so funny I snorted a bit. The key was that he said it knowingly and out of habit, like a well-rehearsed punch-line that didn't require thought. Had I skipped a beat I might have even missed it.
Bing: Talk about sex
If you're like me and this kind of chatter doesn't come naturally, choose a training-wheels euphemism until it does—one that's conversational but not filthy. I went with dong. It was benign enough that it didn't activate my ulcers. The fact that it's inherently funny cooled my nerves, too. You'll know you've found your safe word because blood won't rush your cheeks. Once your tongue loosens up, you can move on to higher orders of vile.
Unsure how far you can go? Know this: It's better to err confidently on the side of the vulgar than trip up on the execution. If you're coming from a place of prude, you're probably underestimating the limits. Push the envelope a little and stop worrying about upsetting other folks. In other words, don't be a pussy.
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