I clock in at two thirty am, well two thirty army—I mean European—time. Eight hours before it’s ten thirty and I have rise and shine to check out of my hotel room in Amsterdam—three stories above from where I could have jumped to when I was on mushrooms and unsteady. Half an hour after Banenenbar and its attached strip club have closed for the evening. So it’s sort of an oh shit, I couldn’t accomplish everything I planned on this trip, I don’t quite qualify as Jonathan Ames. But mostly an oh well, getting to touch real live penis trumps spending monies to watch fake-titted women shimmy, shake and tease. And my orgasm was immaculately orchestrated—the crescendo to my week of lucid lunacy, followed by a gentle fade out to next destination Germany. Anyway tomorrow after lunch I have my sensory deprivation tank Jonathan Ames literary excursion scheduled. Need to rest up my mind and asshole. Remember to Vaseline it. Them. My brain begs for balm.
As I sum up my gains and loses, take inventory of the stay and recalibrate, I stuff my clothes into my suitcase, mentally and physically preparing for the next leg of my drug, sex, and fine artwork jaunt. I finger the crevice between my Ernie and Bert side-by-side not-so-platonic single beds and when nothing surfaces, I separate them. Parting the white sea, I make way for Moses: a bra is wedged in the cleavage and a condom is tangled in the sheets—stuck to them, flailing. So I wrangle the bra and toss it in my suitcase, folding one cup into the other to reinforce the underwire and maximize space. And I unpeel the condom, which I’m sure is a common thing cleaning staff have to contend with. A simple courtesy for me to remove it, a gesture. And.
PANIC. Strikes my face. Then settles, freezing it in place. Like when you are kid and your parents tell you if you keep stretching your skin it will stay that way. Which is true, wrinkles considered. All things considered, whatever is happening is likely to age me considerably.
Is this the real life, is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide no escape from reality…
The slate grey sky opens up and the seedy memories come rushing in. My fluorescent-lit life flashes before my eyes, those two fucking terrible months when I had to deal with Allister and his willful denial. When it got complicated. When I became Lena Dunham, an OCD investigator. What about the stuff that gets up around the side of the condom? Orange semen. Blood in semen. Bloody semen…
Allister and I had been fucking casually on-again off-again for a few years by the time of my landmark investigation—which generated data so remarkable it was immediately inducted into the annals of semen science. The sex was mediocre but consistently so: it always got the job done. Most importantly, we got along swimmingly: never had I ever left his place thinking, I had a bad time, or the more somber cousin, I regret this. I admired his reliability. He was always down to fuck. I knew what to expect.
Except for that one time when I got more than I bargained for. An orgasm with a bonus gift! Look, we were both huge whores. Even though I made him use protection each and every time, I guess somewhere not-so-deep down I figured WE would get a minor communicable disease, eventually. The herps, hopefully. And then we’d spread ointment on each other and have a good giggle and make a mock Valtrex commercial and fuck some more. Because herps is mostly a laughing matter and ointment makes good lube so I’ve heard. Plus I’ve always aspired to be the Bob Dole of mock Valtrex. We had gotten our money’s worth and you know how Jews feel about a good deal. It behooved both of us to maintain the façade of friendship. Friends we were, and still are.
Ultimately sex is a numbers game, and our combined number: extraordinary. By that time, fiveish years ago, I’d say we had sixtyish partners among us, buried and intermittently surfacing in our joint graveyard of sexual partners past. If you are only counting penis-in-vagina sex. At this point, it’s probably more like one hundredish. Hey, we’re friendly peoples! We’re sexual socialists. We get around. Allister has the glib superficial charm and cheesy handsomeness of a door-to-door salesman. He’s brilliant, not indiscriminate. He knows how to pitch it, how to make you want it and keep wanting it. So I wasn’t surprised that it happened; I was just surprised HOW it happened. I suppose these things always materialize after-the-fact, the incubation period. Once you’ve long since forgotten. Because the sex itself is inconsequential. Which isn’t synonymous with consequence-free. Blrlrgh (shakes head side-to-side), I get the heebie jeebies even thinking about it.
Once upon a time Allister came over and we fucked and I forgot about it. Because move along, there’s nothing to see here! Nothing out of the ordinary. Anyway, I never got off to him. Prior to not having seen a penis in SIX MONTHS (a sight that cannot be unseen). So let’s say I wasn’t running through the series of events, combing my mind for clues—wank-worthy hair flippings or whatever the male equivalent.
Until I planned on inviting another gentleman over for a gentle fucking. An old friend was in town for the weekend and I presumed we would end up back at my place. We had consummated our friendship on his previous trip to the city. Like a sexy Girl Scout I vowed to be prepared and wipe dry all traces of testosterone; no man should ever be subjected to a non-consensual encounter with another man’s semen. I am a woman of principle, after all. So I took special care that there was no evidence that another penis had sputtered in my presence, penetrating my virginal aura and rendering me no longer a nun.
Out of the swarming goodness of my smarmy heart, I reached down into my garbage can. The one in my bedroom which is perennially empty due to lack of trash produced in my bedroom. A 3ish-week old condom lay alone, a nostalgic reminder of Allister and my routine. GONE HORRIBY WRONG. WHAT THE FUCKITTY FUCK!?! 3ish weeks later and the semen was tinted ORANGE. Because I believe in semen, not magic, I believed that what was in the condom three weeks earlier lingered and festered there still. Unless evaporation. Due to the condom’s isolation, the likelihood of contamination was slim-to-none. How had this fate befallen me? I mean, I had mentally prepared for the spread of herpes. Now, instead of arranging a spread of rosé and brie for my forthcoming date, I was Lady Macbething my biohazard bin. But like, I figured it was on Allister’s side of the condom. So I went ahead with the bougie planned fucking of my out-of-town friend (who eventually raped me, talk about a blemish on a relationship that cannot be smoothed over with ointment).
I pull a Lena Dunham, before Lena Dunham is a thing, and google ALL THE THINGS: orange semen, bloody semen. I speculate about how if left long enough a tiny drop of blood might infuse into a load of cum causing orangeness, the quality of being orange. Like that demo you are given in Intro Bio about diffusion, specifically osmosis, where the teacher puts of drop of dye into a tank of water. My mind is simultaneously buzzing with thoughts and empty. All I am left with is Allister (we are the sexual cockroaches of the nuclear apocalypse) and the realization that I must go to the source.
I invite myself over and we have a strained, stunted conversation where he denies having orange semen, he sees it almost every day. Fair point, but do you think I’m making this up, how could I possibly benefit from that? And he says he doesn’t think I’m lying, but I must be mistaken about what I saw. There must be some other explanation. Uhh, divine intervention? I assure him that I had looked at it in many lights, literal. That it was the only thing in my garbage, untouched. An uncontaminated sample! I tell him I’m sorry, I can’t touch his penis again until he gets tested. It was on his side of the condom. I am confident about the physical separation. Sex, a separatist act. I leave defeated. On my way out, he tells me the girl he is about to bone is making her way up the stairwell. He had warned me in advance that he had limited time but wanted to see me. Had another engagement booked. Am I going to bump into her on my way down? He asks if it matters, will it be weird for me? Umm, on a scale from what to what—touching all your friends’ penises to orange semen?! A five, I give it.
A couple weeks later I’m having brunch with my friend Ian, who is an environmental-friendly biologist, and he’s drinking a bloody Mary. That’s not some symbolic detail I’m slipping in to paint the story; for real, that’s what he’s drinking. And I’m like, Not to ruin your brunch, but I had this really fucked up thing happened to me and I’m kinda concerned. So I tell him my story, play-by-play, and he’s like, Genie it’s the condom. And I’m like, I know it’s the condom. And he’s like, No, I mean the material. You told me you used some new kinda condom. There was a chemical reaction.
Oh shit, that was a detail I had glossed over. Mid-play Allister was like, Wanna try something new. And I was like, Sure, I guess. Didn’t know what he had in mind but we had been hooking up for long enough that I trusted him to do whatever. As long as it didn’t involve an undue amount of pain, or any amount of piss, shit, or vomit. That’s where I draw the line. And I didn’t think he was into werid shit anyway. Because if he were, he woulda told me, proudly. He’s a stand-up comic. A self-sabotager like I am. Self-satirist? Same difference. His idea of something new and exciting was a new brand of condoms, Skin condoms, made out of polisoprene. His “friend” swears by them.
A couple weeks after my brunch with Ian, I get my hands on my next victim, I mean partner. And the next day when I’m recounting the sordid deets to my best friend, I’m like, Oh shit, I have a used condom in my bedroom garbage. A fresh sample. So I excuse myself to Duane Reade where I buy a box of Skin condoms. I remove the specimen from my garbage can and pour half of the semen from the regular latex condom to the weird and wild polyisoprene condom. I lay them side-by-side in my otherwise empty garbage can, approximating the conditions of the Allister fiasco. A very scientific experiment! A few weeks later when I fetch them, the semen in the latex condom looks the same and the semen in the polyisoprene condom is tinted orange. Eureka!, I exclaim.
I text Allister. He is pleased with my findings and wants to know when we can fuck again. That one, he doesn’t skip a beat. Our relationship: unblemished.
Here’s a new one: Blood but no semen.
On mushrooms I thought I was the ugliest ever. If only. THIS is the grittiest. The most sidewalk trash. Yuppiecrustpunkscum. Not even a fashion statement. Give. Up. Now.
I vacillate from despondent to scientific. There has to be some other explanation, I repeat to make it true. What would Allister do? I can’t believe I’m culling wisdom from that situation. Letting him guide me. But surely, there is something I’m missing. Some chemical equation. Some sleight of hand.
First hypothesis: non-menstrual bleeding. That would have been a welcome visitor according to my emergency management rubric. More slow burn than bloodbath. Wouldn’t be the first time in recent history, either! It always feels good while it’s happening, when you’re teeming with endorphins and oriented toward excess. Theoretical line of investigation: I flashback to my bathroom wank a few hours earlier, The Most Bourgeois Wank. In an elite, well-lit, high-ceilinged location. But I was fast and neat, wiped my fingers and vagina thoroughly with toilet paper afterwards. Even washed my hands before I fondled food! Class act. No way I wouldn’t have noticed blood. Empirical line of investigation: I reach into my vagina, hold two fingers up like I’m hailing a cab and fresh lady cum glistens in the harsh light. No dice. In my vagina. I eliminate myself as the culprit.
WHAT THE FUCK HAVE I MADE OF MY LIFE? HOW IS THIS REAL!?!
He is such a sophisticated, pristine Dutch man.
I feel filthy, hygienically speaking. Contaminated.
I thought I managed to escape my life of medical misery to Amsterdam to do mushrooms in my hotel room alone, spectate a live sex show in a traditional theater, have a few decent fucks with one righteous dude, and visit fine art museums and a science museum for redemption. I thought I struck the perfect balance between absurdity and adulthood. Revelry and responsibility. Frivolity and significance. Becoming Jonathan Ames has a pricetag, I suppose. In broken epidermii. Shattered dreams!
In the flash mob of current events, I assess what should be in the condom v. what is in it. And here is a fun fact for you: I came first. Finished him with my mouth/hand. It should be EMPTY. Except for maybe a tiny trace of precum.
Here is where it becomes technical, a physical examination. I place the condom on the white-washed surface of the wooden bedside table which serves as a neutral background, if we are going to privilege white as neutrality. If nothing else, it is a baseline. Visually sterile. Pure. I try to line it up with waves in the wood, like height marks in a police line up. Because, really, this whole ordeal is beginning to feel like a criminal matter. Unrolling and smoothing it down like a tube of toothpaste holding on to the last drop, it hits me: the peculiar pattern. The smudge isn’t concentrated at the tip; it’s smeared across the middle portion. When I pinch it between my fingertips, it doesn’t move much; it’s affixed to the latex. I realize it’s on the interior. The condom must have reversed when I removed it, like a sock turned inside out. The dirty parts are now in the interior.
I flip the condom inside out, which is how my mind feels. Inverted one too many times.
And it hits me again: the smudge isn’t floating around with the spit bubbles. Or precum. Or whatever the viscous, runny fluid. It doesn’t budge.
Someone text Cat Marnell, innovator of beauty product reviews for the snorting, smoking, and sexing lifestyle. Modernizing the makeup game for women who want to look put together as they get sloppy. She conceived of the imaginative and humorous “Lipstick That Won’t Come Off on a Dick.” My inadvertent foray into lipstick that won’t come off of a condom is eerily reminiscent of her ploy. And that rainbow party hysteria that permeated middle school PTAs in the mid-90s, leading clueless helicopter moms to offer, “If you are ever at a party and you feel uncomfortable…” Made gullible by the concern-trolling trope of The Secret Lives of Teenage Girls—popularized in books such as Reviving Ophelia and School Girls as well as daytime TV—mothers bought into an urban legend that their impressionable daughters were being invited to parties where they and their friends would be expected to apply various shades of lipstick and line up to wrap their adorned lips around a tiny prick, leaving behind a rainbow trail. If only. Rainbows and penises are two things I like a lot. One could only imagine how this one lucky pubescent boy got chosen as the canvas. One could only imagine because I doubt such a party has ever occurred.
Vice Magazine, hire me for a blow job expose! Does Revlon’s ColorStay lipstick live up to its trademark? Or must one splurge for Laura Mercier’s Healthy Lips Sheer Lip Colour, the culprit of my crime scene, if she aims to paint the town red?! Obviously I should be paid to perform this important cultural duty—product tester, dick sucker, secret tweeker. Not that men care if lipstick stays affixed or becomes askew mid-bj. With tears dripping from my eyes, snot dripping from my nose, and drool rolling down my face, seldom has a man pulled back my bj ponytail and cooed, Mmm, baby, your pouty lips look positively radiant wrapped around my bulging cock.
Flipping through mental frames, I’m left wondering: how is it possible that my lipstick remained on the condom throughout a vigorous fucking? Granted I didn’t last long—but still. For sure I rolled the condom on with my mouth. I couldn’t have also removed it with my mouth, could I have? Even then it is remarkable that lipstick remained on my lips for so long, through so much! Durable. That’s how I’d like to be viewed by men. I’m that kind of girl.
Laura Mercier, I applaud you: brava! If I could smooch your geeky chemists for elevating the art of blow jobs, they would be marked with my enduring praise.
Happy Halloween, kids. And, as goes Cat Marnell’s motto: LET IT BLEED!