Museum Date

—Sunday, August 7, 2011—

The old rumor is that the average adult male thinks about sex every seven seconds.

If that was considered high volume then this date was a record day, because sex was pretty much the only thing on my mind.

Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex. Sex.

My date, Lora, and I were heading to the Museum of Sex and we were going to be surrounded by the damn thing as if we were in the center of a bukakki circle.

As soon as Lora and I decided that our date was going to be the Museum of Sex, I thought it was absolutely perfect. I mean, yes, I barely knew Lora and I hadn’t seen her in quite some time, but her personality and the fact that I wanted to have sex with her were overriding factors in the determination.

Lora had reentered my life earlier that year via Twitter, of all places. When I saw that one of my attractive former residents (I was an RA in college) was following me, I followed her back almost immediately. She had been rather entertaining ever since, frequently saying whatever she damn well pleased via the 140 character medium. She mused on sex, drugs and rock & roll without apology. I had always thought she was kind of bad ass when I knew her in school so her internet persona made sense to me.

Oh, and calm down. I know, I said that I wanted to have sex with Lora, but that was not really a secret. Would it have been better to say that I always thought she was hot? If so, would that not have inferred that I wanted to have sex with her? I already said she was attractive. I was a 25 year old man. You could safely assume that I wanted to have sex with almost everyone I found attractive. It didn’t mean that was all I had on my mind. Well, normally. As it were, it was practically the only thing on my mind that day.

Is that really a surprise though? It shouldn’t be. Every ‘nice guy’ in the world thinks about sex. Every perfectly decent young woman you’ve ever met has thought about sex. It’s a bigger part of some people’s lives than others, and though some make it a focal point while dating, others deem it less important. Regardless, it’s ever present and inescapable, so we might as well be honest about it.

For just an afternoon, I wanted to forget the quiet, overly-guarded, behind closed doors nature of sex in society and just talk about it like adults.

I met Lora at Grand Central terminal, where she was ending her travels from Poughkeepsie, which was a bit further away than I had thought when I initially invited her to go on a date. I felt selfish that I made her travel all that way, but I figured she was not going to do anything she didn’t want to do, so I was able to live with myself for a few more hours. I was waiting by Track 35 and I saw her when she emerged from the archway. She gave me a casual hug hello and said, “Damn man, it’s good to see you. It’s been, what? Five years?”

I realized two things in that moment:

The first was that she was right — I hadn’t seen her in years. It’s weird how the internet can warp your perception of when you’ve last seen a person. On my computer screen, I saw Lora more or less all the time. Jeeze. I bet she wasn’t the only person who could have caught me off guard in a similar manner.

The second thing I realized was that previous to her greeting, I had no idea what her voice sounded like. I mean that — no idea. We had never spoken more than a few words to each other and it would have been years ago in passing. She was always quiet around me in the dormitory and I was too shy to ever strike up a conversation with her. It’s weird to think that something as basic as the sound of her voice was new to me.

Lora then gave me the once over and told me I looked good, pointing out that we were both wearing gray jeans and casual blue tops. I laughed. We looked pretty awesome together. I had been worried about being underdressed but I figured Lora wasn’t the type to care too much. I think I hit the nail on the head.

Museum Date 1

Before we went anywhere, Lora needed a 5 Hour Energy. She was addicted, she said. I told her that I was similarly addicted to coffee. She was tired because she had been out out until 5 a.m. the night before and I t0ld her that I hadn’t gotten home until 4:45 a.m. Two peas in a pod, she and I. “Oh right, don’t you never sleep?” she seemed to recall. I confirmed her memory. Yeah, that was me. I was the RA who was always up at all hours. She got her shot of energy and we exited out onto the streets of NYC.

As we began to walk West on 42nd Street, Lora warned me that she was notoriously bad with directions in NYC. I assured her it would be all right because our journey was to be an easy one and I knew more or less where we were going. I asked her about Poughkeepsie because I’d never been there, nor did I have any other friends from there. I think I first heard of the city because of a Something Corporate song, but I couldn’t remember which one. [It’s the second line of I Woke Up In A Car.] She knew exactly what I was talking about when I made the reference. In fact, she was coming right back to the city the next night for a Jack’s Mannequin concert, which was the current band of Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon. I’d never seen Jack’s but I was lucky enough to catch Something Corporate once or twice in high school.

We neared where I thought the Museum of Sex was located and, as I took out my phone to check the exact address, we found ourselves standing right outside its doors. We entered through the gift shop (get fucked, Banksy) and grabbed our tickets without any kind of wait.

Before I had a minute to think about what I was actually doing, we were inside the Museum of Sex. Full penetration. Balls deep. I would be spending the next several hours looking at explicitly sexual content with a woman I barely knew but already wanted to sleep with. Clearly, I was trying my best to put myself in as many uncomfortable situations as possible with this project.

The first exhibit, ACTION: Sex and the Moving Image, explored the history and evolution of pornography from the earliest forms of film, through the heyday of Deep Throat, onto the celebrity tapes of the 90’s & 2000’s and the kingdom of internet porn today. Watching people fuck is definitely a good way to quickly break down any kind of awkward barrier which may exist on a first date. Since I knew the subject matter wasn’t anything that would offend Lora, it was not overly awkward to immediately immerse ourselves in the subject of sex.

Porn was a particularly interesting place to start a dialog about sex since it had traditionally been subjected to a don’t ask, don’t tell policy in my life. I was way looser about it by that time and place in life, but I could remember a long period when talking to women about porn was a big no no. It was this secretive thing I’d watch in college and not tell my girlfriend in Boston about, although I’m sure she assumed as much. You know though — don’t ask, don’t tell. By 25, we were all adults, so there was no reason to bullshit each other. Plus, we were living in a time where it was perfectly acceptable for women to watch porn too and Lora certainly agreed with that sentiment.

By the time we were out of the first room, we’d already determined that neither of us had any particular fetishes and it was clear that we were establishing a fairly open dialog. I also got to see 1 Night In Paris for the first time, so I finally got over 2004.

The second exhibit was Spotlight on the Permanent Collection and focused on the history of sexual study and various sexual contraptions. I learned that the first vibrators were actually invented for medical use as a way to calm down hysterical women. I found it sad that there was a time when female sexuality was so greatly misunderstood. I’m sure that a good vibrating helped calm many women down, but the fact that it was perceived as medical treatment and not sexual pleasure seems just plain weird. Also, the archaic vibrators looked more like power drills or wand blenders than anything I’d want massaging my genitals. But that was just me. There were people out there who had sex with machines, so I was not going to judge.

Hilariously positioned upright, in glass cases, they had a couple different pairs of full sized, rubber sex dolls on display. I wondered aloud to Lora what compelled a person to own one of these things. They couldn’t be cheap. Also, they must be a logistical nightmare. Imagine if every time you had company over, you had to hide an entire human. Did you just throw it some place out of sight? Good luck getting an apartment with that kind of closet space in NYC. The thing that disturbed me the most was the whole matter of where the man juice went. I suppose you were supposed to wear condoms, but if you were going to have sex with a thing that you owned and that you were the sole user of, what man is his right mind would want to wear a condom? We didn’t even want to wear condoms when having sex with real women. I guess the guys that owned those things were probably a little bit left of center anyway, so maybe they’d developed a system. Still though, no thanks.

One pair of dolls were actually set up so that you could sample the goods [hands only] and so I grabbed a boob while Lora finessed a detachable penis. She asked me if it felt like the real thing and I said, “No, it feels like rubber. Too firm and sticky.” The vagina on the thing was a total joke. It was just a gaping hole. Terrifying. She asked if I wanted to touch the big rubber dong next to me and I told her, “I’m all set, I’ve got my own.” (Real one, not rubber.) After some gnarly fetish costumes and a million-dick hologram, we were finished with the permanent collection.

The third exhibit of the day was The Sex Lives of Animals, which was fairly self-explanatory. I actually knew about that one ahead of time because a fellow Fairfield alum (Go Stags!) had visited the museum the month before and sent a bunch of us a picture of the “four stags doing each other” diorama in the middle of the room. Lesson? Either that Fairfield grads knew how to get down, or that there were lots of gay, gang-banging male deer out there. I wasn’t totally sure.

Preceding the stags, the first part of the exhibit was focused entirely on bonobos. Holy shit. How had I not known about these apes before? These things were sexual giants. They basically had sex all the time. The females had giant, swollen genital areas that they rubbed against anyone and everyone for pleasure. Women often rubbed them together to make each other feel awesome and since they didn’t rely on men for sexual pleasure, they actually held all the power and had developed matriarchal societies amongst the bonobos. Hear that ladies? They have provided a blueprint and it all has to do with sex. I’ll let Beyoncé lead the charge.

The rest of the exhibit was really interesting as well. There was an incredible variety of weird bits and pieces used across the animal kingdom for sexing each other. The exhibit also made many mentions of homosexuality in various species of animals as well as animals which defied any kind of gender definitions we might have thought basic to all life. For instance, there are creatures who change their sex throughout their lifetime and others for which there are as many as six genders. One of the more memorable items was the female hyena’s clitoris, which looked just like a long male penis. The part that was difficult to think about was that they had to give birth out of it. You hear that guys? Imagine giving birth out of your dick. Woof.

The next exhibit was Obscene Diary, which put the life of Samuel Steward on display. Steward had been a professor, tattoo artist, a pornographer and most remarkably, a sexual record keeper. Steward documented every partner and sexual act throughout the majority of his life. He was a one man, private Kinsey experiment. In fact, he later on aided Kinsey’s research a great deal. It was fascinating how detailed his records were and for how much of his life, he had to keep not only his sexual exploits, but even the fact that he was gay, a complete secret. He seemed to be extremely free and liberated in his sexual life and simultaneously quiet and restricted professionally and socially. The man had a fascinating story, that was for sure.

The last exhibit in the museum, Comics Stripped! was all about sexuality in comics — everything from Betty Boop to graphic Asian sex manga. The medium allowed for a great deal of humor, which I could really appreciate. Many of the funniest pieces were the ones which parodied characters we were all familiar with from childhood. There was a large mural on the back wall of entirely Disney characters doing things to each other that no parent would want their children to see.

Museum Date 2Museum Date 3Museum Date 4

We exited the museum and toured around the gift shop a bit before going to the museum’s basement bar, Oral Fix. They had a variety of aphrodisiac cocktails and Lora was nice enough to treat me to one. They were also selling some kind of Spanish Fly, which I was extremely tempted to get and take, just to see if it worked. Lora seemed into the idea as well, but I balked at the last second. Drinks and hours of sexual education were good enough reasons to be turned on already.

Aside from a great deal of commentary on sex and our chat while walking to the museum, sitting there having drinks with Lora was the first extended conversation we’d had that day. We talked about drinking and partying and I reminded her that in college, I didn’t drink at all. Not drinking must have made me look like an uptight RA to a freshmen who was out drinking on the regular. In fact, Lora used to hang out at my friends’ townhouse quite a bit and I never went up there that year since I had so many residents who partied at the house. She also hung out in the stoner room on my floor. I never bothered those kids as they were way less trouble than the drinkers. We ordered a second round and by the time we finished, the museum was closing and we were the last people out of the bar.

We were right above Madison Square Park and in search of food, so I suggested that we head to Shake Shack if Lora wanted a real NYC summer experience. There was a long line, but waiting in it with Lora, it didn’t seem to take long at all. I brought the menu up on my phone so we could check it out before getting up front. She informed me that she was a vegetarian, and although I told her we could go elsewhere, she assured me that she would be just fine with their vegetarian options. I got a Shack Burger, Lora a portabella burger; we split fries; and we each got a shake and a beer. I offered to pay, but Lora insisted on getting it herself, which was fine by me. She even put the fries on her tab.

We found a table and waited for our buzzers to vibrate and let us know our meals were ready. When we finally had our food, Lora shared with me how her sandwich was surprisingly good considering she didn’t usually like mushrooms. I froze for a split second. She knowingly got the only vegetarian thing on the menu, even though she didn’t think she’d like it, simply because I had suggested the place? She really shouldn’t have been so accommodating.

I hate to admit it, but after several hours together and a lot of very honest and frank conversation, I couldn’t get a solid read on Lora. She had come all that way just to go on a date, she had insisted on paying for herself (even a couple drinks for me) and she was eating something she didn’t really want, all because I had asked her on a date. Those actions would normally amount to someone who liked me or was at the very least attracted to me, but Lora was so casual in her conversation and body language that she didn’t give off any of that vibe. It definitely seemed like she was enjoying herself and I was having a great time, but there was nothing overly flirtatious about it. I don’t want that to come off as a negative judgement though, because I truly was enjoying myself. It was just unusual to be that much in the dark, so far into a date.

The thing is, I’d long had Lora built up in my head as an object of sexual desire. She was a hot freshman in the dorm when we lived there, she’d been provocative on Twitter and we had seemingly flirted via text message months earlier. In the midst of our date though, she was just another person with whom I went to school. The glorification of Lora as some kind of sexy co-ed was fading rapidly. She was down to earth and kind, and while I didn’t know her well outside of our day together, she was someone who I found it very easy to be around.

She mixed her creamsicle shake and beer together in an experiment of dessert and alcohol. It was actually not bad. Not my favorite, but completely tolerable. It began to rain as we finished eating and once it started to get heavy, we ran for cover. Under the awning outside Shake Shack, I bumped into my friend Andrew, who was there with a group of co-workers. I don’t think he realized that he had found me on a date, or if he did, he was not saying anything. He suggested that Lora and I seek more permanent shelter across the street at a bar he knew. We thanked him and made a run for it.

Across the way at Live Bait, we hung out, talked and got a couple rounds of drinks. Lora paid for the first round. I told her that she didn’t need to keep paying for things, to which she replied that she knew how much the whole OHD thing must have been costing me, and that she was just trying to help out. It was not much money to her and it had been a good excuse to come to the city. I thanked her and really, the fact that she had my finances in mind was very thoughtful of her.

It was getting to be a bit late considering that Lora had a two hour journey home and I asked her if she wanted to get going, but she was perfectly happy hanging out and taking a late train home. She was like me in that regard — sleep was the least of her concerns. I told her that she could catch an 11:12 p.m. train which would be direct to Poughkeepsie, so we shot for that.

The rain had stopped while we were in the bar so we walked back to Grand Central. We got there with about ten minutes to spare and Lora noted how it was the earliest she’d ever made it to a train. When left to her own devices, she was usually rushing to just make it.

After saying goodbye to each other but before turning away, Lora said, “Don’t be a stranger. We don’t live that far apart.”

That was a message I was glad to hear.

And in case you’re wondering, while the date de-glorified Lora and made her more of a friend than anything else, I still really wanted to have sex with her.

Hey, I’m just being honest.