I’ll never forget my first introduction to the wonderful world of sex. My parents neglected to give me the chat on the birds and the bees so, like any resourceful, curious child, I was forced to peruse the pages of my best friend’s Cosmopolitan magazine. It was years before I bought an issue for myself, but the few I did end up splurging on at Barnes and Noble were cleverly hidden between the mattress and box spring of my twin bed. I was well on my way to acquiring the necessary knowledge of blow jobs and sultry make-up tips fit for a sex columnist in the making when I was discovered. A post-it note stuck to the front cover of my Jessica Simpson issue read: “Preacher’s Daughter — we need to talk.” And so began a discussion with my mother regarding my morality and the disappointment she felt knowing that I was reading such trashy smut.
I temporarily abandoned my Cosmo addiction soon after my awkward mom talk, not because I lacked interest, but because my veil of secrecy had been torn off. What my mother didn’t realize was that, had it not been for years of covert reading, I would have never known how to use grapes when I was going down on my man! I wouldn’t even know how to decode the body language of a dude groping me at the bar. How humiliating. Good thing I amassed such a solid base of information early on.
While I do give Cosmo props for making women more comfortable with the fun factory between their legs and serving as a non-judgmental forum for questions regarding all things sex, the tips usually amount to little more than jaw dropping female degradation. For example: how is writing a guy’s name on my boobs and flashing him a peak while donning one of his button-downs supposed to add up to a fun, sexy time for me? I mean, unless the assumption is that I find suggesting that he owns my tits supremely erotic. I don’t.
But as time went on, my outrage at such blatant expressions of female objectivity grew into a Cosmo fascination. I craved the redundant tips on how to achieve your greatest orgasm yet (thanks a lot, Cosmo. You’ve really helped me out there. Not.) and the endless lists of oral sex tips that’ll make his head spin.
But the truth is that we aren’t born knowing how to titty fuck — we have to get our how-to’s from somewhere. It’s safe to say that the majority of our collegiate dating tips and tricks come from outside sources — movies, magazines, T.V. shows (Glee). It’s nearly impossible to be entirely original when trying to pick up that cute girl at the bar or seducing (unsuccessfully) that smoldering baseball player. Personally, I like to learn my flirting skills with a close watching of the relationship between Buffy and Angel. To each his own.
So I got to thinking: what would happen if I actually put these tips to the test? Would my (fictional) man be down to try “The Octopus”? Would he really love it if I gave him a blow job with water in my mouth? How about when I accidentally spit that water all over his crotch? Is that a turn on? There has to be a sexy way to give the Heimlich, but I guess Cosmo has just been too swamped to include survival tips. Sure, Cosmo has assured me that if I simply adhere to their helpful advice I’ll be an unforgettable hook-up — but unforgettable in a good way?
Case in point: my very first real rebound. Having just gotten out of a two-year relationship, I decided to ease myself back into the dating world with what I assumed would be an emotionally distant hookup. I honed in on my target days after my ex and I broke ties. My choice: a lifelong neighbor from home, also a then-senior at Ithaca College. We’d been steadily seeing each other for a few weeks and, all in all, things were mediocre at best. He was hardly my type: an acting major and far from meeting my standards in meathead qualities (I like my men with a good 1:1 head to neck ratio). The hook ups were fine, but littered with eccentricities that I tried desperately to write off as quirky and charming. One night we were gearing up and I was still fully clothed — sweater and all (screams sex). All of a sudden, he stopped. You know the impatient on-table finger tap? The three-to-four finger drumming hand motion? He did that on my boob. The strangest thing about it was that he didn’t think it was strange at all. Granted, I sincerely doubt he was putting in action a tip from Cosmo, but he had to learn it from somewhere. Where does someone pick up a move like that? Has he boob drummed in the past and gotten a genuinely ecstatic response? And if past boob drummed girls weren’t thrilled, did they just not acknowledge how weird it was?
That got me to thinking. Do I do things that seem so incredibly bizarre to the guy I’m hooking up with? Is this the problem? The reason I’m currently single? Is it a bad move to take a break and look deeply into his eyes while giving head to tell him I was a bridal productions intern this summer? I guess I always just assumed that it was okay to discuss marriage after three McDonald’s dates. Maybe it’s a turn off to discuss the next steps of our promising courtship and the perfect color scheme and location of our wedding. There’s really just no way of knowing. Cosmo doesn’t focus on that.
The Preacher’s Daughter is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Decent Exposure appears alternate Thursdays this semester.