I stood in the produce aisle, cucumber in hand. That’s all I needed. I thought it looked strange for a young woman to stroll up to a cash register with just one cucumber, though. So I also bought a pack of gum. Then I headed to SOHO.
“I’m here for the art of the blowjob workshop,” I said to a woman who stood by the door.
She was wearing a plastic apron over an outfit that consisted of a bra and tight pants. I wasn’t sure why she was dressed so provocatively and I assumed that the smock was for something other than finger painting. She pointed to a group of women seated at the back of the store. I smiled and headed towards them. The sleek shelves of Babeland had displays of lubricants, cock rings and strap-ons of various sizes and colors. There were wireless multi-function vibrators and pulsating butt plugs—it was like Radio Shack for sex. I was relieved to be in the store and confident that I was finally going to learn how to sexually please a man.
* * *
I remember the first time I tried to learn about sex. I was 15 and I lay on the bed in my friend Colleen’s house, drunk and ready to pass out. Colleen entered the room with her boyfriend to have sex. By then I’d only made out with a boy at a game of spin the bottle. He said I was good, but that was probably because I spent months practicing with the Ryder Strong poster scotch taped to my wall. I knew nothing beyond that and was desperate to learn. Colleen seemed like the ideal teacher. She had had sex multiple times and was very popular.
“Amy wake up,” Colleen shook me. I ignored her plea. I thought that if I pretended to be asleep they would just do it and then I would know how to do it so I could find a guy and do it, too. She shook me again. “Wake up.” I could smell the alcohol on her breath. I kept my eyes closed and tried not to make any facial movements. It could’ve been my only opportunity to learn how it’s really done.
They tried to wake me a few more times until hormones overtook them and they got into the bed beside me. My heart started to pound. Was this really happening? I heard the smack of lips pressing against one another and the unzipping of Levi’s. And that’s when I realized how terrible my idea was. The room was pitch-black and I couldn’t very well just open my eyes and start jotting down notes because I was supposed to be asleep. The bed started to shake. I let out a dull whimper, inaudible amidst their moaning. The bouncing on the bed quickened and I started to feel nauseous. Fortunately it didn’t last long and I was glad when it was over.
* * *
But even today I still feel like I’m in the dark when it comes to sex. Sure I’ve had my share of flings and I’ve been with my husband for eight years. But I don’t know what I’m doing. Numerous women’s magazines provide tips on keeping a man happy with sex in the morning, dirty talk or sexy lingerie. I’ve tried all that and Sebastien reacts the same way he does to a regularly scheduled romp. I’ve leveled with him about my insecurity, but he has no complaints.
Sebastien’s a really nice guy so I can’t help but wonder if he’s just trying to be kind. Either way it was clear that I wasn’t going to get any answers from him. That’s why I sought help from the professionals at Babeland.
I found my way to the cluster of women seated in folding chairs, all with bananas in their hands. I guessed that I didn’t need the cucumber after all. Two women dressed in jeans and a t-shirt hopped on the stage at the front of the room and introduced themselves as our sexual educators. Their names were Tori and Chui-Lai. They looked to be in their early 20s. Lucky girls, I thought.
When I was their age I didn’t know anything about foreplay and expected guys to just be ready to go because I was such a beautiful temptress. I was pretty shocked when that didn’t happen. It made for some awkward moments in the bedroom.
Chui-Lai asked us all to stand up. “Before we get started we’re going to loosen up a bit,” she said. “I’m going to say a word and I want you all to shout it back to me.”
We all looked around at one another.
“Pussy,” Chui-Lai said.
“Pussy,” we shouted.
We continued repeating sexual words. It felt like a school assembly on fire safety: Except the words we said were way more vulgar than stop, drop and roll.
We sat back down and Chui-Lai asked us to pick up our bananas. A woman behind me said that she didn’t have one. I turned to her. “Oh here,” I said, handing her my second banana. “I thought I was in the lucky seat and was going to learn how to handle two at a time or something.” She grabbed the banana and rolled her eyes. Clearly she had not loosened up enough to appreciate the joke.
The instructors shared some tips and myths about fellatio, informing us that using hands was not cheating and that lube was better than spit. As they talked, I started taking notes in the hopes that if I studied this like I did French 101, I would soon be proficient. Then Sebastien, who has never complained, would be satisfied.
But just as I started to feel confident, my hopes were shattered.
“The most important thing is communication.” Tori said while stepping into a strap-on.
She matter-of-factly stared out at the audience while the long brown dildo dangled from her hips.
“You have to be able to talk to one another.”
I feared that she was going to say something like that. Women’s magazines also say that communication is key. But it’s so hard. Why can’t the most important thing be chocolate flavored lube or scented candles like the one I was planning to buy during the break? I’ve tried to have serious sex talks with Sebastien, but they always degenerate into fart jokes or awkwardness.
There’s also a lot of I-don’t-knows, too.
“Do you like that,” I’ll say in my sexiest voice.
“I don’t know.”
When Tori finished going over the basics, she told us to place condoms over our banana. Now we were getting to the good stuff, I thought. The scent of grape and vanilla filled the room as we all struggled to roll the slippery condoms over the fruit. When we were ready, Tori and
Chui-Lai read off a list of techniques with catchy names like Waterfalls, Do The Twist and Tango Tongue. The instructors demonstrated on the dildo and all of us in the audience sucked on and licked the condom-fitted bananas. I was starting to get the hang of some of the moves like the Harmonica and the Lollipop.
During the break I sent Sebastien a text message: U better shower wink wink.
During the second half of the workshop I kept eyeing the clock, just waiting for it to end. The instructors droned on about the importance of communication, but I didn’t care about that. I figured I would just ignore that stuff like the information they gave us on flogging and gender play. I was ready to go home and try out what I learned.
When I finally made it back to our apartment at 10:30, Sebastien was changing from his shower. I greeted him with a kiss then sat down in the living room where the film 1492 was playing on the TV.
“How was your acting class?” he said, taking a seat next to me on the couch.
“I didn’t go to an acting class,” I said, smiling. “I told you that tonight I was going to a sex workshop.” I leaned in close and kissed him on the cheek. “So do you—” I tried to speak in a sexy voice, but my throat was so dry from sucking on that banana that I started to cough. I choked out the rest. “Do you want to go into the bedroom and try some stuff out?”
Sebastien’s eyes moved from the TV screen to me then back to the TV screen as if to weigh his options of satisfaction. “Can’t you wait a few minutes?” he said.
I grabbed my purse and brought it into the bedroom to study my notes while he finished the movie. I held the cucumber in my hand for inspiration. Ten minutes later, Sebastien entered the bedroom ready to go. I told him to get comfortable on the bed and we started kissing. Then I quickly pulled away. “Wait a minute,” I said. Sebastien watched with confusion as I hopped out of bed and dug through my purse for the scented candle that I bought. “Where’s the lighter?” I said.
“On the counter,” he said. I raced out of the room to light the candle and set it on the dresser when I returned. I turned off the lights and got back into bed. Just as we started up again
I remembered the cucumber that I left at the foot of the bed. I couldn’t risk losing the vegetable because I needed it for future practice. “Hang on,” I said getting up again. “I have to put the cucumber in the fridge.” I was starting to think that maybe communication would have been easier for the both of us.
When I returned Sebastien was scrolling through his iPhone.
“Ok,” I said, slightly out of breath. “I’m ready now.”
After about an hour the two of us lay in bed, watching the shadows created by the flickering candle dance across the walls. “Did you like that?” I said. Sebastien told me that he liked some of the new moves I tried out, but he said it in the same way he would compliment me on a new pair of boots. I didn’t feel satisfied. I guess I expected ebullient cries coming from our bedroom that night.
But who was I kidding, Sebastien never reacts like that.
As we were going to sleep that night, Sebastien kissed me and told me that he loved me. I thought back to the blowjob workshop earlier that day and how Tori reminded us of the importance of communication. Then it hit me. Sebastien and I have been communicating all along: I just wasn’t listening when he said everything was fine. I already make him happy by being myself without any bells and whistles or orange-flavored lube. It only took me a 20 something woman with a dildo dangling from her Levi’s to understand that.