*In honor of the indisputable fact that the world can definitely use a little more love, I’ve decided to reach deep down into my bank of generosity and offer my two cents worth of carnal knowledge.
I know. Sounds patently full-of-self. Who the hell do I think I am?
I’ll tell you. I’m the guy who, while having lunch a couple weeks back, overheard this early 20-something smooth operator in the booth behind me boasting to a compadre that he’d finally got a certain young woman into bed, and recanting what happened when they got there.
And it all just sounded so wrong. Horribly tactless, insensitive. Clinical. This from a young man who confided to his buddy that he thinks he’s in love.
Like the old LeVert song says, “I ain’t much on Casanova.” I don’t profess to be anyone’s Don Juan. However, after hearing that kid’s pathetic moves, I consider this particular column my civic duty.
And since age alone doesn’t breed wisdom or skills, there are plenty cats my age who can use this information, too. By the way, it doesn’t matter what floats your boat. Certain actions are universal.
Listen, what I volunteer here is way more than I got. When I was a boy, no adult ever told me shit—-not one syllable–about sex. I suppose they figured I’d figure it out the same way I assume they figured it out, on my own.
The closest Mama came to the subject with me was while she and Miss Davis, our next door neighbor, sat on our front porch one humid summer Oklahoma evening having a casual conversation that suddenly went somber in tone.
Something I heard her say made me stop pushing my toy car. “Mama, what is rake [sic]?”
Pause. Then, solemnly: “Well, Stevie, let’s just say it’s a very bad thing.” That was that. She didn’t dare correct my pronunciation of the word rape.
Daddy? Forget it. Now and then he’d randomly lay on each of my four siblings bite-sized, home-grown philosophy, usually offered as he drove one of us somewhere. He’d begin with the ominous, “Son, WHATEVER you do in life”, followed by a durable life gem like, “never let a drunk man give you a haircut”.
In fact, the only advice Daddy proffered me regarding body function at all was his nifty remedy for constipation that involved the deployment of my index finger. Don’t judge. In a fix, it works.
Initially, as a youngster, what I learned about the “birds and the bees” I literally learned from birds (specifically, pigeons), bees and Freckles, our family’s never-spayed and thus a little too lovable female Collie/German Shepard mix, who, to my head-hanging childhood disappointment, turned out to be the neighborhood ho.
I first heard about sex between actual humans during recess on the playground at Carter G. Woodson Elementary. According to the crude narratives of my preteen peers, when a boy penetrated a girl with his penis, she almost always responded with “ouch.”
The storytellers would spice these infantile chronicles by imitating feminine moans—the boy’s idea of the sound of a woman’s erotic pleasure. Today I wonder who the kid was who actually heard the supposed sounds and passed the story around. It had to start with somebody.
By my teens, the stories, while more detailed, weren’t any less ribald. It was all about the physical conquest, which, since we were teens, usually took place either in a car, in the woods or at somebody’s house during a school day when parents were at work.
There was always the guy who’d produce from a compartment of his worn wallet a dried up, used (?!) condom. Supposedly, solid proof of his gettin’ down.
It wasn’t until the ripe old age of 21 that I actually did the deed. Thankfully, she knew more than I did. Later I’d learn that sex and intimacy are two different things. And my lessons, one way or another, came from women.
My partners and I would engage in what the 20-something me considered mind-blowing sex. Afterward, we’d lay there on our backs in spent silence, studying the ceiling. If she enjoys herself, that’s often when a woman, all sweaty, meditative and unguarded, will talk.
That’s when I learned one of the most important things a man can do to be a better lover is shut up and listen. Make a woman comfortable enough to reveal who she truly is and what she likes (and doesn’t like), and you’ve a better chance of giving her what she wants.
Quietly, women shared with me stories of men emotionally unavailable; anecdotes of relentless cheapskates, men who couldn’t kiss; grisly tales of male hygiene.
There was uncensored testimony regarding skid-marked underwear, selfish bastards who skirted the issue of giving head but relished getting it; men who loved giving head but were depressingly lousy at it, and sad readings of the infamous, ever frustrating Sixty Second Man.
In short (no pun intended), women told me all about the kind of man I didn’t want to be.
P, I discovered, is for patience: everything is better when a woman is absolutely relaxed and not being pushed or coerced. Before and especially during the act, pay attention to her body, which is always talking when she isn’t. What she doesn’t say, her body will.
One of the biggest mistakes any lover can make, no matter their preference, is to assume that what pleases one lover pleases all. Exploring a partner’s personal yearn—their distinctive desires, wants and needs–is part of the excitement of discovery. Yet guys will advise other guys to try different moves and positions as if recommending a certain brand of motor oil for their car.“Next time, try this [fill in the blank] on her. Works every time, man.”
Finally, from women I learned this: for the most part, women themselves are only as knowledgeable about sex as their experiences with men. If she spends a lifetime with partners like the ones described above, then the epidemic of deplorable sex is perpetuated over and again.
Someone might read all this and say, “Well, Mr. Flintstone, things have changed since you first had sex.” No, they haven’t.
Yes, how we meet has changed, and culture has resphaped what is acceptable and when. But sex itself will always come in two sizes–good and bad. From each of those places, it can go either way. May the good Lord have mercy who those who don’t know the difference.
Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]