“I’m hung like a hamster!” declared the man sitting next to me at a dinner party a few years ago. “My poor wife is a saint for putting up with me all these years.”
Blessedly, this information was not especially for me. It was shared with the entire table during a conversation about Speedos and the pitfalls of wearing them in public. I’m not sure if he was joking because at that point I turned to the person on my other side faster than you can say “thank you for over-sharing”.
It’s not that I’m squeamish when it comes to talking about sex. Working on Cosmo and Cleo for 15 years qualifies me for an honorary doctorate on the subject. But brainstorming ideas for sealed sections is entirely different from real people telling you real details you’d rather not know. When celebrities talk about their sex lives, I’ve always found it particularly bizarre. I mean, why would you?
Actress and comedian, Jenny McCarthy recently opened up about her relationship with new boyfriend Jim Carrey in a TV interview. “It’s very real, very loving, very spiritual,” said McCarthy earnestly. “And the sex is beautiful.” Beautiful? Really? That’s not an adjective you often hear in conversations about sex. But wait. P. Diddy goes one better. “As meticulous as I am with my work, I’m even more meticulous with my lovemaking” he told a journalist who clearly had to concentrate very hard to prevent collapsing into hysterics. Beautiful and meticulous lovemaking? Would it be unromantic to say please pass me a vomit bag at this point?
I recently watched a show where rapper, Ice T, and his huge bosomed wife took a film crew on a tour of their house. “That’s our sex mirror,” he said, gesturing to a full-length number next to the bed. “Get yourself one of those and you’ll stay home.” “Yeah, we just hang in here and watch TV” pipes up Mrs. T. “And use the mirror.”
Of course, with the party season in full swing and everyone half sloshed half the time, many people are feeling like it’s a good idea to share sex stories with strangers, just like Mr and Mrs T. Take this frightening encounter relayed to me by a traumatised girlfriend: “I was at a Christmas party last week chatting to a woman I’ve met maybe three times in my life. Out of the blue she announces that the reason she and her husband were late was because they’d been having crazy sex for two hours before the party. Cue: awkward fake smile from me. Somehow the conversation progressed and she asked me if I’d ever had anal sex. Before I could even stammer, “oh, bottoms aren’t really my thing”, she answered her own question saying “My husband and I have tried it…but only about half a dozen times” I managed to extricate myself from the conversation and head to the bar, only to find myself right beside the husband! He must have wondered why I couldn’t look him in the eye.”
My friend then went on to explain how the husband was really unattractive. She theorises that some people talk about their sex lives to justify their relationship. So the unspoken premise of the sex disclosure is ‘my husband may be ugly but he’s a tiger in the bedroom.” Interesting theory.
Then there’s the idea that people talk about their sex lives in a bid to elicit similar information from others. And then calibrate themselves accordingly. “I always wonder if I’m the only one who isn’t having sex with my wife,” admitted one guy. “So after a few drinks I sometimes broach the subject looking for reassurance.”
The opposite of this is sex bragging, particularly popular among young single blokes. For some insight into this, I asked a 25-year-old friend how sex is discussed in his world. “I’ve noticed many of the guys who talk constantly about their sex life do it because the rest of their lives are dull. They struggle to come up with conversation to impress and sex is the best they can do. But the guys who’d have the wildest stories? You never hear a peep from them. It’s far cooler to have people wondering what you get up to, than actually filling them in on the details. Personally, I never bring up the subject, not because I find it embarrassing but because it’s a bit like your parents sex life…the idea of my friends having sex also turns my stomach!”
And what about love? Does that have a bearing on sex talk? “My boyfriend says he and his mates talk about one-nighters or flings, but never, ever talk about girlfriends,” confirms a friend who goes out with a surfer. “Totally off limits. And when a girl starts off as ‘fun’, the best way to tell she’s become ‘serious’ is when a guy suddenly becomes prudish about the topic of her and sex.
Women are similar when it comes to love, sex and discretion. Gentlemen? Don’t let Sex & The City fool you. Yes, women talk to each other about sex but only as one of an infinite number of discussion topics. And while I’m guessing men don’t spend much time workshopping the relative merits of various forms of contraception, women do. Does this even qualify as sex talk? Probably not.
“I definitely talk about sex with my close, close friends,” one friend admitted, “but it’s restricted to a) am I having it, and b) is it any good. The drunker we are, the more free flowing the conversation. Only my best friend and I talk in depth about positions and so on. But even that took a year or so to happen and I would never have had the confidence to do that when I was younger.”
Now that’s beautiful.