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Episode 17: What's on the plate tonight?


So in search of material for a new monologue to practice, I delved into Sex and the City because… well, they say portraying characters that are near you appeals to casting directors. And if I’m not Carrie, then who am I? (Ruxi, obviously, but beside the point.)

My friend suggested the naked dress episode when Carrie goes on that first date with Mr. Big. Long story short for non-Sex and the City fans, they have sex before dinner. Days go by and Mr. Big still doesn’t reach out to her. So, of course, her friends debate the question: what does it mean to have sex on the first date? Should you have sex on the first date if you want a relationship with the specific person? In what way does sex, and at which point in the course of the relationship you decide to have sex, define the relationship?

I’m sitting at my desk, watching this and taking notes for monologues when flashbacks of very -very- recent conversations with girlfriends come to my mind.

Sex and the City was published in 1997. The first episode was broadcast on HBO in 1998. 20 years later, my friends and I are debating the same questions over our own drinks in another bustling metropolitan city.

One of my girlfriends completely embodies Samantha’s opinion on the question:

“I mean isn’t it better to find out if sex is good right off the bat before anybody’s feelings get hurt?”

Truth be told, out of all of my friends, I think only one could be likened to Charlotte – whose views are a tad more conservative: you have to wait a certain number of dates before sleeping with the other person if you want a relationship with them.

CHARLOTTE: Oh, but this is your bus party. Oh…I told you you shouldn’t have, well never mind. CARRIE: What, he’s not here because I slept with him on the first date?

CHARLOTTE: Basically yes. When you sleep with a man on the first date otherwise it won ’t be anything more than just sex.

And the kicker is Carrie’s next line:

CARRIE: Uh-huh. Cheers (toasted champagne) (V.O.) I didn’t want to admit that she was right.

Here’s my issue with this: from personal experiences and my friends’, it’s pretty much happened this way. There’s no sleeping with the partner on the first date if you want a relationship with them – even though we think, and say, it’s a free world, and "if you want to do it, do it, and there’s no judging." There’s absolutely no judging – except our own. But as Carrie points out, have any great love stories started out from sleeping on the first date?

My friends pointed this out after reading my blog: sex will paint the other person in a certain way. And, honestly speaking, sex for the first time with anyone is not great. You don't know what they like; they don't know what you like; you're too shy (or too drunk to care) to tell them what you like. Unless you've agreed ahead of time that it's truly a one-time thing and you're never seeing each other again (aka One Night in Ibiza), you're very unlikely to tell your partner the kinky stuff you like. It's promising to be a fairly conservative session of mating.

If we go by Sex and the City, Big calls up Carrie. They meet again and he tells her that they could definitely be a thing. Ambiguous.

Episode 7 rolls in, I’m watching Carrie, sporting a silk dress like the one I’ve been shopping around for, waltz into this party, hanging on Big’s arm – days after she finds out he has been seeing other people.

And I’m like, “gurl in that silk dress, with your boobs and nipples looking fabulous, this is way too close to home right now.” (Not that my boobs would ever look that fabulous in a silk dress.)

Carrie loses her shit when Mr. Big mentions that they’re dating.

Carrie: Are we dating? I thought we were just sleeping together.

Which one is it, bruh? Are you dating her or sleeping with her? What qualifies as dating? Dinner and sex, after n dates? Or is that exclusive dating? Is non-exclusive dating the constant dinner (or other non-romantic activity) and sex? Or is that just sleeping together?

(Related question: if you’re just having sex with someone, is cooking dinner for them too romantic and a no-no? My friend and I think so – we cook for people we care about. But my other friend said that it wasn’t a big deal and she’s done it for her f-buddies a couple of times. Is it purely a matter of your and their perception, or do such acts potentially feed the romantic link? Help settle our debate!)

And if you have sex on the first date, does this automatically mean that the other person only sees it as a sexual relationship? Because if it’s just sex, it’s just that. You’re not going to bother going to fancy dinners and walks in the park, drinking mulled wine during the first snowfall of the season to get to know them better. You just want to rip their clothes off and that’s that. Thank you, no, I won’t sleep over, my Uber is already here.

See, you do you – you want to have sex with the person on the first date, go for it. As long as the other person knows what you’re looking for, then there’s no harm in enjoying any type of activity.

Clearly this is a case of miscommunication. All of these situations can dissipate in a matter of minutes if you sit down and say: “I’m just looking for sex,” or “I’m looking for a relationship,” or “I want to see where this goes, can we not be exclusive just yet?”

BUT

Here’s the “but”: why is it that we still, low-key, have that “no sex on the first date if you want a relationship” rule? And we do. That idea of being "easy" is still engrained in our society, whether we cry against it or not. I’m deeply questioning myself and my morals. I thought I was progressive. I'm a millennial. Aren't we supposed to be programmed to not care about sexual double standards and any kind of sexual standard? We're abolishing gender pronouns!

(Also a lot of people don't know what they want or what they like. And even if they do, they might not want to have that talk during the first date. Here's a thought: send this post to your ambiguous person and use it to fuel a (hypothetical) discussion. Hope it helps!)

Counter-argument again, contribution of friends: if you really don't like the sex, or if something weird happens in the heat of the moment, one of you might cross the other person out for good, even if we've established the awkwardness of the first sexual encounter. I think we all need to agree and approve on the Sanctity of the Prequel -- because it's not even an introduction to the other person, it's a one-page introduction to the most intimate part of them - that chapter buried deep within and beneath all the other chapters.

In effect, you might pass on an otherwise interesting person because of fumbles and stumbles that occur when exploring unknown territory. Or, you might decide to explore just those sexy and lustful fumbles and stumbles without discovering the rest of the chapters.

And all your friends will say, “pfft, whatever. You do you. You’re having fun. Who cares? Whenever you want to have sex, with whomever, you just do it.”

That’s hypocritical though and we all know it. Because you’re all wondering the same thing.

Late at night, when you’re Carrie waiting for Mr. Big to call you, you truly wonder – what would have happened if I hadn’t slept with him? What if I hadn't put my hand there (where did (or didn't!) you put your hand)? And don’t lie to yourself boo, you’d totally do the same. You’d sip your effing tea, look at your phone and say, “goddamn it. What if –”

But, you know, as Carrie says, just put your head in the sand. Okay, I paraphrased.

“When life gets this confusing, sometimes there’s only one thing to do… Attend a fabulous party.”

I’m good with that too.

P.S.: It took Carrie 10 years to marry Mr. Big (not that marriage is the end-goal). And I still don’t believe he was the right one for her because he did not treat her properly at all. It took years for a settled, mature relationship – which is an end-goal.

P.P.S.: ON THE LOOK-OUT FOR SILK DRESSES THAT WILL MAKE ME LOOK EXTRA FABULOUS. TIPS APPRECIATED.

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