Our contributor Abby Spector, who is double-majoring in English and Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, has a confession to make:
I lost my virginity beside a pool with a guy whose age was less than the number of people he had slept with. Before penetration he said, “I don’t want anything serious, okay?” I nodded. Commitment wasn’t in my near future. I didn’t need a magical night of rose petals and “I Love You’s” to enjoy myself. In the wise words of Khia, I just wanted to “pop my pussy.”
That was three years ago. Very little has changed. I’ve still never returned home to a candlelit dinner, a Hallmark card or John Cusack serenading me via boom box outside my window. Even my prom date didn’t give me a flower. Don’t worry, readers. This isn’t an invitation for pity. The truth is that I loathe stereotypical romantic gestures. They seem forced and sterile, full of awkward touching and unsure exploration of one another’s uncharted territories. In other words, my perception of romance puts it on par with my annual doctor’s appointment.
This summer I had my first taste of traditional romance. We drank wine and strolled on the path that runs beside the Hudson River. He held my hand as we listened to a man sing in French on a bench that doubled as his home. It looked like a movie. But the casting was off. I am not your typical leading lady. I am the girl who, upon holding hands, explains how she sweats profusely from her appendages (a common symptom never covered on the silver screen). Needless to say, Hudson River Boy was not impressed by my sweat gland ramble. There was no second date.
The way I see it, our current system of attraction has a glitch. If romance is the reflection of love and love is largely based on feelings of comfort, why are traditional forms of romance so fucking uncomfortable? Romance shouldn’t be stifling. It should be about showing our true colors, hand sweat and all.
I have grown up watching my parents personify this definition of romance. Instead of buying my mom flowers or jewelry, my dad gets her hiking boots or a home-made coupon promising that he will clean up the dog shit in the backyard for an entire month. They fart while reading sex books and feed each other Indian food while watching reruns of ER. My hippie-parents are a rare specimen. Not everyone considers a discussion about bowel movements romantic. That’s fine! Romance is about opening up to someone on a level you deem appropriate. If that includes cookie-cutter river walks and picnics and boxes of chocolates, enjoy yourself. That style just isn’t for me.
Let me paint you a picture of my version of a romantic date. First off, it wouldn’t be a “date.” It would probably entail two friends just hanging out. After fighting over a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or doing a few shots of tequila straight from the bottle together, they end up in bed pulling each other’s hair and giving each other hickeys. In the morning, they share the same toothbrush and pee in front of each other. If things progress, their pillows start to smell like the other’s scalp. And if they fall in love, they aren’t afraid to be the first to say so.
No flower petals necessary…ever.