As a minor diversion from my theme-so-far about sleeping with people without having sex with them, I’m writing tonight about having sex with people that you wouldn’t have sex with. More specifically, I’m writing about what it would take to come to feel like having sex with someone that, honestly, you just wouldn’t have sex with.
Now it’s many years ago I first noticed myself having this conversation in my head while I was talking to someone I wouldn’t have sex with. It’s so long ago I can’t remember what really started it off. What I remember is that one day I spotted the repeating pattern – I had become a serial wonderer, and gave it a name – my desert island test. How long would it take, if I was stranded on a desert island with the individual in question, before I had sex with them? Clearly this test does not work when you JUST WOULD, and on no account should it be used with anyone who you would sabotage the boat for.
The test works only with people you wouldn’t remotely consider having sex with.
Do they smell? How old are they? How does your sexual orientation come into it? Are they actually ugly, or just a bit annoying? Would they be so hideously smug that you couldn’t live on the same island afterwards? Could you REALLY, honestly, not ever, ever, get turned on with them, even if it was the only way you would ever get to have sex again, ever, ever, with anyone?
Sexual orientation comes into my tests because I can’t imagine that I would change from generally only having sex with men to suddenly having sex with a woman, on a desert island. Frankly, the whole desert island scenario is useful here from a totally different angle. More honestly – I’ve actually only done this test with men. The test doesn’t even come into my head unless I am confronted with a man I wouldn’t have sex with and I just have to wonder.
The feedback is: I surprised myself – he’s more than double my age, he doesn’t smell too bad but he’s annoying, physically unappealing, maybe hapless, maybe even sexist, vain and insensitive, and I think – probably a few hours. Not because I would have to overcome disgust and self-loathing, or because I would have to be genuinely afraid of starving to death before I would give up on my self-respect so completely, but because I think, what the hell? If no-one else is going to know, if you aren’t going to wake up thinking “*&*!!%$£@%” (because you are going to wake up worrying about starving), and if you are never going to find yourself walking down the street past your ex with him, then why not just enjoy the huge distraction of a totally incongruous companion? The few hours are what it would take to safely establish some kind of understanding that the having of sex does not create a new level of endorsement that was previously absent in your interaction. Some people would need a lot longer to get their heads around this I guess.
Okay, I do also accept that there are a lot of people who fundamentally make masturbation more attractive. But I have a hunch that I wouldn’t pull that off (no pun intended) very easily during this near-death experience. Not so soon anyway. And what I really learnt was how hard it was to find a total NO. I have not plumbed too deeply to do so I admit – Ted Bundy, watch me swim – but the contrast between the tiny pool of people I know that I would choose to have sex with, and the difficulty I have finding anyone who wouldn’t ‘pass’ the desert island test really strikes me.
Are we that fussy? Are we spoilt? Are we extraordinarily sophisticated genetic research devices (my favourite), with such complex requirements that only one in a million can possibly press our buttons? I think we are really, really lucky. Sadly we know a lot of sexual relationships are still arranged by someone with an unhealthy power over the partners. But those of us who can pick for ourselves – as we all should – are getting a very, very good deal.
P.S. Feel free to post your test results here… Colonel Gaddafi anyone?