Or Not. But I’ll Probably Never Know…
(I should say here that this piece has nothing directly to do with the title. I just wanted to write the word “clitoris” once in my writing career)
Last week, I met Sylvia for coffee. That’s not her real name, but this is the real conversation:
“I would tell you what we did after, but you’re so vanilla that way, I can’t.”
I sat my cis self up for a minute. “What makes you say I’m so vanilla?”
Sylvia laughed into her double pump pumpkin spice latte. “You never talk about anything sexual and you don’t seem to like…get stuff, ya’ know?”
“I don’t?” I asked, wondering what there was to get. I mean, sex is pretty basic. It’s kind of like a muffin recipe: you can wrangle lots of variations, but the ingredients don’t change. Not the basic ones.
“Nope. You kind of just sit there when I tell you about new things I’m trying out, about my relationship stuff.”
“I’m not sure how I should act when you’re explaining intercourse to me, Sylvia. I thought I was just listening.”
Patiently, I wanted to say, oh-so-patiently, but didn’t. It’s a bit boring, to be honest, but I just sipped my coffee (so okay, it was a vanilla latte). I don’t find other people’s sexual exploits remarkable or riveting in any way.
Sylvia looked a little offended. “There’s no one way to act. But you always look so prim when I tell you.”
“I don’t mean to look prim.” (How do I “look” prim? How does anyone? I thought about that idea for way too long) “I just get more excited at the idea that sex is like…private. Maybe sacred even.”
“And,” she said winking, “super vanilla.”
She said “vanilla” with pronounced condescension.
And that’s when I understood: we have opened up the spectrum of sexuality to be a judgment free zone and that’s great. It’s about time. The only problem is if you are, like me, straight and modest, you are termed vanilla and that’s vanilla as in dull and dowdy and who would want that? Seems you have to be somewhere new on the spectrum to be at all interesting. If not new on the spectrum, at least you have to act super animated when talking about your body parts and their response to friction.
Does that sound too scientific? That’s really how I feel. I don’t want to know about your penis or your labia anymore than I want to know about your pancreas or your liver. To me, without connection or emotion, sex is a big yawn.
See, I like my vanilla self, my monogamy, the fact that I like men and men only, one at a time, with commitment and ordained sides of the couch and the bed. It’s pretty exciting to me when a guy says he can “put in a bathroom” or “build a staircase” — those old, predictable roles still cause me to sit up and take a second look at him. Maybe a third.
I can’t imagine judging anyone’s sexual preference. I may not choose to experiment to the level that you do, or maybe I don’t want to experiment at all. Maybe I enjoy the awkward moments more than the practiced moves. Maybe I want intimacy and connection more than props or toys.
Bottom line? My vanilla orientation is every bit as valid and deserving of respect as your pansexual, bisexual, homosexual, transgendered, nudist or any combination of all-that-is-out-there orientation. The trend toward seeing vanilla people as less than is every bit as dangerous and narrow as the reverse.
I think Gao Xingjian summed it up best for me when he said, “Once the buttons are undone, you know how it’ll all end. It’s all in the game, there are no miracles.”