A college-student contributor friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, confesses her favorite ways to keep things under wraps, aurally speaking:
One of my favorite quotes of all time is an uncharacteristically understated gem of advice from Kurt Vonnegut: “I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.'” I try to live in keeping with this counsel and to overtly express my gratitude and joy when I’m experiencing it. At every possible opportunity. Full disclosure: I’m kind of a loud lover, of myself and of others. Being discreet in between the sheets just doesn’t come naturally to me; it feels somehow unappreciative of partner, of joy, and of sensation. That said, my audibility is often somewhat, well, unappreciative of my neighbors or circumstances. Parents’ houses, thin-walled apartments, and shoddilly constructed dorm rooms are no place for particularly audible ecstasy, stubbornly squeaky bedsprings, or especially sonic vibrations. Consequently, I have had ample opportunity to work out what works best to mask the noises, exclamations, and murmurs of my love life. I offer you the ten best:
- A fan. While this won’t mask high-decibel screams, exclamations, or demands, it does a damn good job of creating enough white noise to obscure the buzz of sex toys, low-key passionate moans/groans, and exclamations at a conversational volume. Bonus: this doubles as an anti-sweat measure for sweltering summer sex.
- Music. Cranking some tunes lends itself to a bit more wiggle room, especially if it’s uptempo and a little too loud to be considered neighbor-considerate. I maintain that this approach is more considerate, though, than involving an unintentional third (or second) party in your love life. However, music choice becomes especially important in this circumstance. I was once stopped in my mid-coitus tracks by the unfortunate appearance of the Mexican Hat Dance on my iTunes shuffle. Never have I encountered a more effective cock-block. We actually had to stop and resume action a few hours later.
- Strategic Timing. I have been guilty of timing my me-time and my us-time in accordance with the schedule of particularly loud construction crews, a neighbor’s drum circle practice, and especially loud weed-whacking (which, incidentally, lent itself nicely to masturbatory euphemism).
- Shower. Water on tile makes a great deal of noise. About the same noise-coverage capabilities as a fan, but with the added benefit of shower sex!
- Loud Television. Similar in use to loud music, with the same caveats. Choice is crucial. Sesame Street and South Park have yielded similar fates as the Mexican Hat Dance. And nothing gets you to a blue-balled state faster than singing puppets or jaded animations.
- Create a Plausible Alternate Explanation. I once wrote a note to my housemates letting them know that I was watching porn for a sociology paper about visual representations of sexuality. I then closed my door, popped in my favorite sex tape, and let the scripted screams of partnered rapture mask my own. This also allowed me to watch porn without headphones on for the first time in months. Thank you, academia.
- A Gag. One of my faves. This sex accessory lets me indulge my kinkier proclivities while I try to be as loud as I want. The struggle is a turn on, there’s something else acting as a muffler, and no one’s any the wiser. Epic win.
- Silent Sex. On occasion, challenging my boyfriend to see who can be most silent during sex has worked out quite well. I can find the requisite motivation only in situations where it’s IMPERATIVE to be quiet (i.e. in the room next door to my parents over Christmas break). But the competitive edge and power play are both quite fun. Having sex in a situation that requires that level of silence implies a level of risk that’s pretty thrilling, too.
- Comforters. Swathing love sounds in cushy bedclothes works quite well. Pitching a tent in bed has meant more to me than waking up to morning wood. Indeed, throwing a pillow over my lap while employing my trusty vibrating friend or ducking under a comforter cocoon to stage-whisper sweet (and not-so-sweet) nothings to my bed buddy have proven helpful in a pinch.
- Just Do It. You know what? Sometimes, you just need to express yourself. Sometimes, quiet sex just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes, you just have to say fuck it and get lost in the moment instead of over-cautious concern. This approach requires some strategic timing and moderation — after all, screaming “Give me more!” while Grandma’s just a thin wall away is ill-advised, and loudly indulging your Rabbit Habit and awakening your slumbering hallmates is just plain douchey. But sometimes, a mid-afternoon romp in a sparsely populated dorm is worthy of Vonnegut-esque acknowledgement.