When I was a teenager, my mother gave me some great advice. Following an intense make-out session with an attractive male athlete on our front porch, she grabbed me and took me inside, justifiably horrified by my uncouth youthful indiscretions. "August," she said after a thoughtful silence, "You're very special...I just don't want you being special with everyone." That's right, mom, I shouldn't be special with just anyone, but I sure do like to jump into bed with people pretty quickly. Here are three quick things I'd like to know about someone before I give them my Monica Geller Special Flower.
You've heard it before and I wish we'd all be so responsible in the heat of passion; when was the last time you were tested? Condoms can't protect you against zombification! I mean crabs...or whatever else is out there.
Here's my first bomb; Pro Life or Pro Choice? If you don't respect my right to choose what I do with my body, then you don't respect me. Nowhere is this more important than with someone that may be involved in a future decision, and despite the enlightenment of your social peers, not everyone subscribes to the same values.
Please reference one dalliance I regretted after the fact that was totally avoidable by simply asking up front. A young man I'd been out with a few times was fun, seemingly transparent, and pretty accomplished. Although I should have been warned by his pasted-down hair and cheesy overall style (I try to keep an open mind, and hey, I was lonely), we made dispassionate, quiet love for about 3 minutes and then lay there. During post-coital small talk (does it count if I didn't enjoy it?), I discovered that he was Catholic. "But you're pro-choice, right?," I asked, assured by previous Catholic lovers that they were respected a woman's right to choose that he would agree. When he answered to the negative, I felt dirtier than the New Kids On The Block's tour bus. His answer was so detached and unfettered by guilt that I realised hey, I'd just let some two-dimensional, self-important wannabe cool douche get up in my quality business. The Pro Life and Pro Choice question reveals a lot more than you might think; the way someone answers that question can tell you about both their value structure and their respect for you.
Over cocktails in the Sky Loft lounge in the MGM Las Vegas, a Silver Fox told me the story of how he finally convinced the object of his affections to marry him. Fancy dinners, amazing shoulder rubs, sincere listening, and flattery will take you a long way, but most of your conquests have a couple of tests lined up to measure your character. Hers was introducing him to her gay friends and seeing how well he got along with them. Upon his charming all of them and expressing his happiness for an upcoming union, she finally acquiesced and took him on for good (in case you care, they are still in love and have three beautiful children 20 years later).
At first, I thought it was pretty obvious that all of my friends are supportive of the right to love whom you choose and be who you are, but upon further reflection, my sample group probably doesn't accurately represent general opinion. My last question is about same-sex loving. Asking about same-sex marriage is a more complicated thing, but it's certainly telltale. To avoid the intricacies of that debate, I'd stick to asking how someone feels about homosexual couplings. My feeling on this one is that if you can't respect other people's right to be with one another in the way that feels right for them, I sure as fuck am not going to help you feel as good as I would have (and yes, it would have been good).
Defining these boundaries would have saved me some awkwardness and embarrassment in the past, so I highly recommend deciding upon yours in advance of "being special" with someone else, regardless of how categorically unspecial your hookup may be. I'd like to add that it feels simply awful to find out that someone you've shared some "special" time with is intolerant, bigoted, inexperienced, unenlightened, narrow minded, and other adjectives that are light versions of the worst care scenarios.
To quote and totally misappropriate Shakespeare's Nurse in Romeo & Juliet:
"So shall you share all that he doth possess
By having him, making yourself no less."
Don't make yourself less by being with someone who is. Get the deets on diagnoses Down There, bring uteral politics into the bedroom, and ascertain that the person you want to freak on supports the Siegfrieds & Roys, Ellens & Portias, and Bowies & Imans of the world to do the same. There are no guarantees that you're not sleeping with crazy, but based on my experiences, asking these top three questions can save you at least $100 on post-craycray martinis.