In high school, I vowed to never have a one-night stand. "I don't do things like that!" I would prudishly show off to all the skater boys I sat with at lunch.
Even though I was a closet lesbian, I still wanted all of them to want me. I was at that age when I needed incessant boy validation to feel pretty (I still enjoy it, even though straight men are entirely irrelevant creatures in my life).
I have a lot of older, very pretty sisters and a gorgeous, blonde-haired, ex-supermodel mother. I grew up in a collective of man slayers. They were the kind of girls who could bring men to their knees with one bitchy smirk and bat of the lash. They broke fragile boy hearts all the time, recklessly played with boy feelings and always made sure they were just out of reach of boy.
"The trick to getting a MAN is to be entirely unavailable," my older sister, Audra, would tell me. I would sit on her pretty pink bedspread mesmerized as I watched her get ready for dates in complete fascination. She would pile on loads of mascara, spray her entire body down with Jean Paul Gaultier fragrance (the coolest fragrance in the late '90s) and pout at her reflection.
"No matter what happens tonight, I'm not going to have sex with him. I MIGHT give him a blowjob, but I'm not going to f*ck him," she would say to herself, repeating it like some sort of yoga mantra.
"Z, you can never have sex with boys until you've got them LOCKED in. Drive them nuts, and then, when they're about to explode, you can have sex with them," she would dutifully lecture me as she sipped on her pre-date "personality drink" of vodka and crystal light ("less calories" she would say, as she mixed coral-colored powder into her cocktail).
"Us Barrie girls don't do one-night stands," my mother would instruct me when I asked her what the rules were about sex, her posh English accent loudly emphasizing "Barrie Girls" for dramatic effect. It's a lot of pressure being a Barrie Girl.
I was taught that a woman's sexuality is the most powerful thing in the world, and you should use it to get what you want. I know, sweet kittens, a twisted and a dated mentality, but I didn't grow up with sex-positive feminism like some girls did.
So naturally, I followed my pretty sisters' and mother's lead. I dressed provocatively my whole life. I kissed boys for hours upon hours upon hours, but I never slept with them. Ever.
I mean in hindsight it was sort of a sneaky lesbian move, I guess. The thought of sex with men repulsed me (Sorry boys, I love you; I just don't want to f*ck you.) -- but it was deeper than that. I wanted to be a girl who was wanted and desired like my sisters. And those bitches held out.
Of course the rules get harder to follow when you leave home and alcohol, and clubs, and bars are suddenly thrown into your life mix. No one ever told me how different life is when you leave your parents house and enter a new world where the good ol' bad decision-making-power of booze plays such a HUGE factor.
And eventually, I had a one-night stand.
It was one of the last men I ever slept with. No, he wasn't creepy, or old, or awful. He was a cute blond boy who had pretty girl eyes, the kind of eyes with endless lashes that tickled his dewy brow bone. (I will spread my legs for anyone with a good set of eyelashes.)
We met at a faceless bar on Santa Monica Boulevard and somehow ended up in a heated discussion about our mutual love of the smashing pumpkins -- I believe I recited all of the lyrics to "Zero," (Emptiness is loneliness, and loneliness is cleanliness, and cleanliness is godliness, and GOD IS EMPTY JUST LIKE ME!) which hugely impressed him.
I drank cosmopolitans because I was too young to know it wasn't cool to drink cosmopolitans.
The next thing I knew, I was in his smelly bedroom at his sh*thole apartment in Venice Beach. There were bongs everywhere, and his bedsheets were bedazzled with inexplicable holes.
"I'm not going to have sex with you -- I came OVER TO CUDDLEEEE," I slurred to him, attempting to be prim and proper. Note to self: When you're wearing nothing but a leopard-print bra, reek of Marlboro Lights and cheap vodka -- it's a little too late to play the prim card.
"That's totally fine. I'm down to cuddle, with you, Zara," this boy creature slurred back at me, a bemused twinkle in his ice blue eyes. I guess this wasn't his first rodeo.
But it was my first rodeo. I didn't yet realize that cuddling with a stranger in a lace thong and leopard-print bra when you're wasted will almost always lead to sex. What can I say? I was green.
Of course we had sex. We had detached sex. He just pounded himself inside me, and BAM, it was over in five minutes.
I woke up at 8 am the sunlight penetrating through his curtain-less windows, his naked back to me. I scanned the room with sore, hungover eyes.
It was full of filthy socks, and dirty weed, and half-drank beer bottles. Is this how boys live? I thought to myself, wishing to the higher power up above that I was in my pretty petal pink West Hollywood apartment.
I searched for my underwear feeling like a Hollywood streetwalker.
I felt cheap, and used, dehydrated and disgusting. I snuck off to the bathroom to call my older sister to pick me up. The bathroom looked how I imagine the bathrooms at Riker's Island look: bare. dirty. piss-stained.
I'm never doing this again, I though to myself. I'm such A WHORE. Why am I SUCH A WHORE? Why do I want to cry?
Of course I did it again, with a man or two, but mainly with women. And the experiences with women weren't nearly as traumatic as that first slut-walk of shame.
"Well that's because you're a lesbian!" you're thinking to yourself, eyes rolling out of your head.
Well, yes, I am a giant, mega lez, but that's NOT why I've been able to have one-night stands with women without feeling like the scum of the earth the morning after.
It's because my sex partners had firmly followed proper one-night stand etiquette. Women are much better at one-night stand etiquette. (For the most part, anyway. There are definitely a few lesbian f*ckgirls who are sh*tty at it too.)
If you're going to have a one-night stand and want to make it a pleasant experience, you need to follow these three simple rules.
1. This is obvious: CLEAN YOUR APARTMENT.
There is nothing worse than going home with a person (guy, girl, whatever!) and waking up in TRASH. You're already going to feel vulnerable after a one-night stand. That's not what you want me to say, but I refuse to lie to you.
Sex is awesome. We love sex, but sex is definitely vulnerable. Someone is inside of you. There is nothing more intimate than that.
You will feel twice as vulnerable the next morning when you wake up in a room that smells like socks and BO. You can't help but feel cheap when there are dirty dishes everywhere.
You want to know a secret? The whole reason my apartment is always looking so fierce and clean is because I want it to look good in case I meet a hot girl and decide to bring her home. I don't want to bring someone home and have her wake up feeling horrible because she's in a wildly disorganized mess. I have too much respect for women to do that.
When she wakes up from a one-night and opens her eyes to a beautiful apartment with fresh flowers that smells like Windex and incense, she'll feel empowered. She'll be like, "Yeah, I HAD A ONE-NIGHT STAND. GOOD FOR ME."
You always want your one-night stand to leave your apartment feeling empowered.
2. You don't have to have breakfast, but SHE/HE GETS TO STAY THE NIGHT.
"So, I f*cked this guy, and afterward, he was like 'You should probably leave because we're just f*cking,'" my friend Marissa* lamented during our mid-week wine/bitch session.
I nearly spit my $18 glass of white wine out of my mouth. (I'm basic. I know.)
LOOK. Just because it's "casual sex" doesn't mean it isn't still SEX. You just participated in a deeply intimate act with another human being. Fluids were exchanged. You can sleep next to each other for Christ's sake.
There is no feeling more demeaning than having raw, naked sex and being told to exit the premises right afterward. Don't have sex with a person if you can't handle him or her spending the night.
If he or she wants to leave -- that's totally fine. But you don't kick people out! It's rude.
However, you're not obligated to have breakfast together. Just lie if they suggest breakfast and you're not feeling it. I fully endorse lying to protect the feelings of a fragile-hearted one-night stand.
Say you have a meeting, you're having lunch with you're oldest friend, you signed up for one of those ClassPass workout things and you're running late, you're on a deadline for one of the 1,500-word articles you pump out every day or you're off to a funeral.
No one questions a funeral.
3. Make sure to use a condom. Please. A CONDOM.
I know I don't have sex with boys, but if I have to purchase "Plan B" for my panicked straight girlfriends ONE MORE TIME, I'M GOING TO JUMP OUT THE WINDOW CLOAKED IN VINTAGE CHANEL AND SPLATTER ACROSS WEST 24Th STREET.
I get it. Condoms SUCK. But look, it's a one-night stand! You don't know this person. No matter how textbook "pretty" she is or how clean cut his dweeby sweater is -- it doesn't mean he or she isn't riddled with a laundry list of STDS.
And there is no morning-after pill for an STD, babes.
*Name has been changed