You know, it’s not really a man’s world anymore. In most things, that is. I can do pretty much as I please as a woman—perhaps even enjoy some advantages over the other gender. The one area, however, where we women are lagging behind is sex. Now, I know there are new-age men everywhere, men who like to ask about a bazillion questions before they lay a finger on you—“Does this feel good?” “How about that?” “Is this turning you on?”—until you’re really ready to go to sleep. But how comfortable does a woman—even if she is a powerful, 21st century creature—feel about being promiscuous? When words like ‘slut’ are bandied about freely, is it any wonder that I (and my sisters in “sin”) feel very much like we’re being guilt-tripped by society into feeling something for someone before we can sleep with them?
I discovered how very liberating this whole sex-without-emotion schtick can be about two years ago. He was sexy, and I had harboured a crush on him for four months, bumping into him at bars, giving him my classic eyelash lowered come-on, until finally my grand plan of seduction swung into place. (It’s really simple. Lots of booze, some dancing, some leaning in to whisper, and voila, seduction done. Most men are quite easy like that.)
We wound up back at his place, him murmuring French endearments into my ear (of course he wasn’t Indian, I am enough of my country’s daughter to only associate promiscuous “doing it” with the big bad West), me trying very hard not to giggle (what? It tickled!) and also restraining myself from reaching for my cellphone as we got intimate-r, to text everyone I knew about my great triumph. I had broadcast my crush to all my friends, and I knew they’d be thrilled at this development.
At this point, he paused and looked at me, mid-endearment. “You know I’m an a**hole, right? I won’t call you in the morning.” I looked back at him, wondering what the correct response was. Should I slap him and flee? Should I say, “Oh, all right then, thanks for clearing that up”, re-button my shirt and then leave? Should I cry and plead and say, “Oh, but you kissed me! And a kiss is a promise! And now you have to call me!”?
I chose none of the above. I had had a crush on this boy for four months, goddammit, and I wasn’t going to let all my seduction go to waste. At that point, I could hardly understand what he was saying anyway because of his thick accent, and I didn’t really think this would be a relationship for the long run. So I chose to shrug, and raise my eyebrows at him. “I don’t want you to call me in the morning.” He looked a bit taken aback, maybe I was supposed to protest more or something, but nevertheless, the night progressed the way I’d wanted it to.
The next morning, I skipped out of his bed and prepared to equally blithely skip out of his apartment and his life. “Wait, you’re leaving?” he asked, lying there. Probably no woman had ever left so summarily before. I smiled cheerfully at him, said, “Errands!” and gave him a kiss on the cheek as I left. It was a perfect morning, I sang as I walked down the street swinging my bag. I felt free, I felt light, best of all, I felt absolutely no need to check my cellphone. He said he wouldn’t call, I didn’t want to call him. Win-win.
Okay, so maybe one-night stands are soulless. And I’m hardly an expert, this was my one and only experience in that department. But that bright sunny day, that sense of accomplishment, the fact that the man was thereafter unfailingly polite and attentive whenever we ran into each other, said something to me. When your sexual destiny is in your own hands, not tied up in any way to messy emotions, that’s saying something too. It’s not what you want in the long run—a series of one-night affairs—but for a short-term fix, you could do a lot worse.
Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan is the author of You Are Here and has contributed to two short story collections, including Electric Feather: The Tranquebar Book Of Erotica.