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Divining Eros: What, Pray Tell, Is Always Sexy?

Constance A. Sisk, 17
Machipongo, VA

No, seriously, what's sexier than falling so hard for someone who really loves you back that 40 years later, s/he still turns you on?

Coming from a school (and an area) where I'm one of the very few 17-year-old virgins I know, while also one of an even smaller set of queer kids, I sometimes find myself sincerely pondering the possibility of there being something wrong with the way I've chosen to live my life up to this point. Moreover, I feel immature and un-worldly and, well, young.

Fortunately, my dad's Irish blood has made me inordinately stubborn, and I can, as such, hold my ground most of the time. Recently, though, I've wanted to prove myself—to show the world (for all it's worth) that I've learned a thing or two in the few years I've spent here, in spite of my relatively unremarkable sexual history.

So I decided to write an erotic story. It was a personal test of this sexual fledgling's imagination. My desire to share whatever I came up with stemmed from a sort of creative Napoleon complex. You know, when one feels he is perceived as inadequate in one capacity or another and thus is compelled to prove himself, well, …capacitated.

Outside of jokes and dirty puns, I find I often marginalize myself to sexual nonentity-ism. (I suppose because I'm afraid of those frightful "unwelcome advances.") I can't help it; it's the dry intellectual in me. On the flip side, I know I'm as sexual in nature as any kid around. My intention, then, in expressing this in writing was to reassure myself of the presence of a good healthy sense of six-foot seven-inch carnality within my five-foot two-inch pacifistic white-girl frame. Insecure? Maybe. Childish? Certainly. But I believe I've learned enough from the exercise to move on a touch in that lifelong journey that is "Growing Up," and, thus, a bit further away from the ever-proximate doom that is stagnant adulthood.

I began by considering most of the traditional-contemporary erotic practices I could think of, discarding each as too ridiculous, too obscure, too (insert excuse here). Then role playing. My problem with playing "pretend" has historically been that I have trouble totally disconnecting myself from reality. I remember playing "wedding" with my not-quite-cousin at our grandparents' house. (I got to be the groom, of course). We got all dressed up and were proceeding down Papa's 50-foot wheelchair ramp out front when I realized that Cat was a mean kid. And a racist. And what kind of neo-Nazi redneck was I, marrying a racist? So I stopped mid-aisle and told her I didn't love her at all so we couldn't get married (our kids would hate us), and she, bewildered but absolutely correct, told me I was no fun and left me outside contemplating why exactly we had decided to get hitched in the first place. I could never pull something like that off anyway; I'm a horrible actress.

My impulsive solution to an inexplicable "I'm boring" complex was gradually turning into a quest after the true nature of eroticism. My first instincts had led me down the twisted but always entertaining path of "whatever-tickles-your-pickle "kinkiness, a major component in Eros' magical puzzle. "Erotic is when you use a feather," my Step-Dad once mused, "and kinky is when you use the whole chicken." Kinky, methinks, is when something that lights your fire scares everyone else away. (Hot.) It seems that everyone has his own super-individualized ideas about what's sexually attractive. In Latin the other day, we were discussing the resemblance a classmate's hickey bore to the peninsula on which we live (I love that class), when our teacher indignantly interjected, "What's at all erogenous about sucking on that particular region of someone's neck?" I smiled, remembering the quasi-scars I left on a friend of mine this summer, and thought, "What isn't?"

My goal slowly became the figuring out of what united Eroticism as a body—the divination of what exactly about physical attraction was universal and undeniable. So far, all I had were a bunch of corny anecdotes and a collection of bizarre sexual odds and ends. If I could just figure out where they all came together, I was convinced I could write a killer something that would cleanse me eternally of all my sexual neuroticisms. So I stepped back and started again with a simple question: "What, pray tell, is always sexy?"

Love, I concluded, is undeniably sexy. Love, though, is also vulnerable and awkward and often unsteady and imprudent, in spite of all of its good intentions. In short, Love is corny. And combine True Love with the overtly erotic and…You know those horrible yogurt commercials where two average parents of college-aged kids are inspired by cultured milk-fat to pretend they're having an extramarital affair until someone interrupts them and they remember they're married? That's true love and sex. *Shudder* was my initial reaction. But you know, that's beautiful—in its own tried 'n' true, balding, menopausal sort of way. No, seriously, what's sexier than falling so hard for someone who really loves you back that 40 years later, s/he still turns you on? (Other than Janis Joplin, of course?)

And I think I'm ready to write my story now, too. It's going to be the uncensored account of the Yoplait couple's early (less burdened, more vegetarian) years—the calcium-enriched legacy of the almost-idyllic twosome—the one that found a lasting, sort of that Eros-inspired thing we call Love; after all, a little explicit (soy) yogurt never hurt anybody (any more than they asked for it to).

****************************************************************************

April/May 2003 SIECUS Report

Reprinted with permission of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States. 130 West 42nd Street, Suite 350, New York, NY 10036.

Visit Advocates for Youth's Web site to learn more about adolescent sexual behavior and contraceptive use.

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