Drunk Sex, How I Miss You (Sometimes, Anyway)

bar kiss for drinking diariesBy Rachel Kramer Bussel

I stopped drinking, pretty much for good, over two years ago. I don’t tend to stare longingly at people drinking in bars, or feel too wistful, but the times when I’m overwhelmed with temptation for alcohol are usually times when I’m consumed by the desire for…desire–for getting fucked, along with getting fucked up.

To put it simply, I miss drunk sex. Well, one kind of drunk sex. I certainly don’t miss the “I’m going to drink so I get up the courage to put the moves on someone.” I tried that last year and while I got my much-fantasized-about makeout session, it was so not worth it, and was also just a one-time thing (as opposed to the let’s-move-in-together relationship I’d pictured). So now every time I see the person, I feel like an idiot. I also don’t miss waking up in someone’s bed and not knowing their name, or getting drunk just so I could get in the spirit of sex. Nor do I miss drinking in the hopes that it would make me look more attractive to someone I wanted to get with.

But I am a bit nostalgic for the sweet, swoony buzz from a good drink or two–the kind that used to make me feel warm and liquid and a little light-headed. The kind of buzz that made me both ferociously horny and oblivious to who saw me making out (or more) in taxis, restaurants, wherever. I miss the bliss of getting lost in both the alcohol and the person I’m with so that it feels like there is no tomorrow.

It’s hard to get to that place of utter focus on sex and just sex, for me, anyway, with the umpteen thoughts, doubts and uncertainties racing through my head. When I am able to reach that place of body over mind, of sensation over stress, though, sex provides both pleasure and relief, along with a way to feel closer to my partner.

The whole reason I stopped drinking is that it didn’t obliterate my thoughts, doubts and uncertainties; at least, not permanently (if it did, well, maybe I’d return to vodka). As soon as the buzz wore off, my feelings would just return with a vengeance, and no amount of hot sex or even being in love could make them go away.

I remember exactly when I stopped drinking, pretty much for good. I was buying fifteen of my closest friends dinner and martinis to celebrate a book deal (ah, hubris!) and getting increasingly wasted. I told everyone I had to leave at 9 for a podcast interview. About sex, my primary beat. Well, 9 rolled around, and went, and I was getting perilously close to the appointed time. I wound up calling in from my taxi home, then blathering away about orgasms from my bed while the room spun around me.

Some things are fun to do drunk, and maybe it’s just me, but trying to act serious and professionally knowledgeable isn’t one of them. I later became good friends with the host of the show, who said she had no idea, but still. I knew.

(Listen here if you want to determine for yourself whether I sound smashed: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/datingroadkill/2007/02/13/a-surprise-valentines-day-show).

I was never one of those savoring-the-fine-wine types of drinkers. I was more like, “Which drink will get me out of my head fastest?” The drunken podcast was the culmination of one too many mornings waking up feeling like I’d made a fool of myself the night before. That, plus coming from a family of alcoholics, made me decide that the best course of action was to quit cold turkey. I allowed myself the occasional (once or twice a year) drink, but even that–I’ve recently decided–is a bit too much for me to handle.

I don’t know if not drinking makes me a better lover or not. I think it probably makes me a boring date. The other night a really hot girl asked in a way that could only be called overtly flirty what I wanted to drink. “A seltzer?” I said in the hesitant way I still have, knowing that’s about as big a buzzkill of an answer as one can provide, since I’ve also sworn off Diet Coke. “I’m a cheap date,” I tried to joke.

“A seltzer with…” She looked at me so intensely, I truly wished I could add something boozy, if only to let her know that I thought she was hot and that I was potentially interested. I think some people take my non-drinking as an automatic sign that I’m not interested in them, which just isn’t true. I hate that drinking is so often the way we define our sexual interests, as if those of us who don’t booze it up are also celibate.

That being said, the kind of sex I’m most likely to be having right now is with my boyfriend, and it is, with rare exceptions, wild, kinky, rough. There’s spanking and choking and bondage and dirty talk and blowjobs and it all happens really fast and furious. There’s no way I could relax enough to submit sexually to him if I were wasted, and I wouldn’t want to be anything other than fully present. I need to be alert to make sure that what we’re doing is safe, to fully process and enjoy it. If I were drunk (or if he were), I’d fear that we might go too far and do things we might regret. With my thinking faculties intact, I can exult in the enjoyment of pushing boundaries.

Perhaps for some people, being drunk gives them permission to “go wild” in a sexual way, but if I’m with someone I want to be with, I don’t have those qualms at all. I like kinky sex, I like pushing my own personal erotic envelope. I get off on the occasional moments of fear or uncertainty that come with trusting someone else to set the tone, rules, and course of the sexual action. If my senses were dulled by drinking, I’d miss out on all the nuances of our play. I trust my instincts more when I’m sober.

That doesn’t mean every time I have sex it’s perfect and magical. But when it’s not, I deal with it; I figure out a way to either make it better or pause and restart another time. When I drank, I rarely checked in with myself like that. I thought I needed sex, and the feeling of being attractive, to “make” me feel better. Now I know that even the hottest sex isn’t a panacea.

Still, sometimes when my boyfriend orders a drink, I’m tempted to have one of my own. It looks fun, easy, comforting. In some ways, it’s not so much about sex as wanting to fit in, because not drinking makes you stand out in most any bar, and for someone who craves others’ approval, that’s not always easy. It’s not that I’d spiral into nightly drunkenness if I had one drink, but it’s infinitely healthier for my psyche, not to mention my body, if I abstain.

Maybe simply remembering my days of drunken sex, as hazy as they are, is enough, but even if it’s not, it’s the choice I’m making. I’ll leave the hot, drunk sex to someone else. May they enjoy it!

Rachel Kramer Bussel (rachelkramerbussel.com) is a New York-based author, editor and blogger. She’s edited over 25 anthologies, including The Mile High Club, Do Not Disturb, and Best Sex Writing 2009, and is host of the monthly In The Flesh Reading Series (inthefleshreadingseries.com). In her PG life, she blogs at Cupcakes Take the Cake (http://cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com), for which she’s appeared on The Martha Stewart Show.

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An Excerpt from Rosie Schaap’s Memoir, “Drinking With Men”

DrinkingWithMenToday we present to you an excerpt from Rosie Schaap’s fantastic memoir, Drinking With Men. In it, she turns everything you think you know about “drinking” books on its head. This is not a memoir of euphoria followed by the inevitable despair and then repair. No—this is a celebration of the joys of a hearty and healthy drinking life. She’s in it for the long run.

Part of our mission at Drinking Diaries is to give our readers a glimpse into other drinking lives, other families, other worlds. So even if you don’t share Rosie Schaap’s love of drinking and bars, you can’t help but be drawn in by her stories.

For someone like me, who grew up in a home where alcohol was loaded with shame and who developed an ambivalent relationship to booze, this book is a revelation. She highlights an important side of drinking–drinking as social glue and community-builder rather than as something you use to self-medicate or retreat from your own feelings or world.

Rosie Schaap writes the monthly “Drink” column for The New York Times Magazine. She has also contributed to This American Life and npr.org. You can read our drinking interview with Rosie here.

From Drinking With Men:

“But my attraction to bars is less governed by the laws of physics than it is by the rules of romance: I prefer one bar at a time. When it comes to where I drink, I’m a serial monogamist. Still, although loyalty is upheld as a virtue, bar regularhood—the practice of drinking in a particular establishment so often that you become known by, and bond with, both the bartenders and your fellow patrons—is often looked down upon in a culture obsessed with health and work. But despite what we are often told, being a regular isn’t synonymous with being a drunk; regularhood is much more about the camaraderie than the alcohol. Sharing the joys of drink and conversation with friends old and new, in a comfortable and familiar setting, is one of life’s most unheralded pleasures.

And yes, that goes for women, too. Or it should, anyway. If regularhood is considered suspect behavior, then female regularhood is doubly so. In many parts of the world, women just don’t go into bars alone. Even in comparatively less patriarchal societies, such as our own, a solitary woman at a bar is a curiosity, a wonderment to be puzzled over. And even in New York, where all things seem possible, as a bar regular who happens to be female, I am something of an anomaly. Regularhood is still predominantly the province of men.

I’ve been going into bars since the age of fifteen. Certainly in my youth I knew that patronizing bars was unusual behavior—but I figured that was due to my age, not my gender. There was the excitement of getting one over and getting served, of trying to fit in, unquestioned, with grown-ups in their natural habitat. But as I got older and that thrill abated, what I discovered in bars was much richer. As a regular, I have found friendship, comfort, and community. Mostly, I’ve found that fellowship in the company of men. Relations between the sexes at bars are often perceived as predatory and dangerous. But I did not look to bars for a place to hook up; I looked to bars for a place to belong.rosie schaap

In 1936, Vogue editor Marjorie Hillis counseled readers of her single-girl guide Live Alone and Like It. “It is not incorrect for a woman to go alone into any bar she can get into,” she wrote, “but we don’t advise it . . . if you must have your drink, you can have it in a lounge or restaurant, where you won’t look forlorn or conspicuous.” I find it remarkable— and a little depressing—that nearly eighty years later, ideas identical to hers still seem deeply internalized by many women. “I just don’t feel comfortable walking into a bar alone,” a friend once told me. “Like everyone’s looking at me and feeling sorry for me. Like there’s something wrong with girls who go drinking by themselves.”

For better or worse, I’ve seldom worried about who’s looking at me or not looking at me, or about what they might or might not be thinking. But I have noticed a pattern: Every time I’ve fallen hard for a bar, I’ve invited my best girlfriends to join me there for a drink, meet my fellow regulars, soak up the ambience that I found so appealing. Invariably, they like it. They have a good time. But, unlike me, they have no particular interest in returning the next night, or the next, or the ones that follow. Not only does the idea of becoming a regular at a bar hold no allure for them, they are also often puzzled by my enduring bar-love. But they have come to admire my ability to integrate, to talk to anyone, to be one of the guys.

In his very funny 1935 tract Her Foot Is on the Brass Rail, the humorist and newspaperman Don Marquis laments the post-Prohibition presence of women in bars. For men, there was “no longer any escape, no harbor or refuge . . . where the hounded male may seek his fellow and strut his stuff, safe from the atmosphere and presence of femininity.” In my experience these concerns have been beside the point; if anything, my chronic regularhood has made me assimilate into a largely male culture, not change it—except by the fact that I am part of it.

Regardless of my gender, a bar is my safe haven, my breathing space. Knowing how to read a bar helps. My favorites have never been big, rowdy sports bars teeming with testosterone or trendy spots featuring cutting-edge cocktails, but intimate, friendly neighborhood places where relationships with other regulars—and bartenders—have the right conditions to take hold, and where my instincts tell me it’s a safe space to be a woman in a bar.”

Reprinted by arrangement with Riverhead, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from DRINKING WITH MEN by Rosie Schaap Copyright (c) 2013 by Rosie Schaap

 

 

 

 

 

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Is the College Bar Scene Dying?

I wrote about my favorite bar, The Royal Palms, in an essay for Drinking Diaries. When I heard it had closed, I was incredulous—how could they do that to all the fans, past, present and future? But here’s Lenny Leonardo, the former owner of The Palms, quoted in “Last Call for College Bars,” Courtney Rubin’s piece that ran in the New York Times:

“These kids today won’t pay even $2 for a drink…They buy a bottle of Southern Comfort and show up in time to try to get laid. But they just end up throwing up in my men’s room, and I get reprimanded because it looks like I’m the one who let them get this drunk.”

Now I understand that I’m stuck in a romantic vision of collegetown that no longer applies.

In explaining the decline of the college bar, Rubin writes: “These days text messaging, Facebook and Foursquare make it possible to see if a bar is worth the trip (translation: who is there) without leaving the dorm. Meanwhile, location-based mobile apps like Grindr, which point to the nearest available candidates looking for sex or not-quite-sex, are helping dethrone college bars from their place as meat markets.”

I found myself pining for the days when my friends and I would wander around collegetown, heading from bar to bar in search of a crush. We never knew who we would run into, though each bar had its own distinct personality and fan-base. Now, much of that sense of mystery is gone.

Also, the slowness of those nights. Sometimes, we’d hang out for hours at The Palms, sitting in the wooden booths, drinking beer and carving our names. We drank a lot of beer. But now, apparently, hard liquor rules. One senior at Cornell is quoted as saying, “I drink liquor because it takes too long to drink beer.”

Sigh. Here’s the generation gap, rearing its bewildered head.

Readers:  College students: Do you go to bars? Do you think the bar scene is dying? Graduates: Do you have a favorite bar from your college days? When’s the last time you visited? Is it still open?

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Yoga Plus a Pint of Beer

These days, yoga is being paired with just about everything–from wine tasting and Grateful Dead music to dance parties and artisanal tasting dinners. The latest incarnation comes at the Cobra Club, opened last month by yoga teachers and hospitality industry vets Nikki Koch, Julia Huffman, and Dana Bushman. It’s not typical to have a yoga studio in the midst of a fully licensed bar, but these three friends were looking for something a little more social than the typical yoga experience. “Every time we take a great class, afterward we want to go have a drink and relax and have a conversation,” Koch told New York magazine.

Located in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, the studio serves Counter Culture coffee from 6:30 am and then morphs into a full bar in the afternoon. Organic Red Hook hot dogs and Frito pies (including a vegetarian version) are also available until 4 am on Friday and Saturday. And lest anyone attempt a headstand after a couple of drinks, the booze remains a post-practice activity at the Cobra Club. In case anyone’s had to much to drink the night before, the studio also offers a Hangover Yoga class on Saturday and Sunday.

The Cobra Club philosophy is stated clearly and best on their website:

We reject the idea that in order to live full and happy lives we must abstain from all vices, detach from the world and become saint-like. We believe that if there is a secret to life, it lies in experiencing all sides of existence – the bad and the good, sadness and joy, darkness and light. We embrace our vices for the value they bring to our lives.

Welcome to The Cobra Club. Yoga for your dark side, spirits for your soul.

Personally, I can’t wait to check it out…

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Teen Nights At Your Local Bar!: Harmless Fun or Gateway to a Liquory Life?

Here’s a Scenario for you: A bar in downtown Bloomington, Illinois hosted two liquor free teen nights on Tuesdays. The bar, Daddio’s, charged $6 and drew 185 people in its first week. To keep the crowd in check, local police officers hired two officers, in addition to the regular bar security. No problems were reported.

By week two, the crowd was cut in half, after the Bloomington Police, parents and other members of the community expressed concern about teens hanging out in a bar. That’s when the liquor commission stepped in, rejecting the bar’s plan to host four more teen nights, according to a local radio station, WJBC. Interestingly enough, the vote was tied, with 2 members saying yes to teen nights and 2 saying no, but a tie means the bar cannot move ahead.

Butch Thompson, the owner of Daddio’s, said he would remove all the liquor bottles and beer taps for teen nights, as well as most alcohol display advertising, but the powers-that-be on the liquor commission still felt uncomfortable with the teens-in-bar situation.

Thompson didn’t understand why his bar was being singled out, telling the radio station: “When Chuck E. Cheese’s can serve beer and wine, putting any of the blame on Daddio’s is pretty far-fetched.”

Still, the liquor commission held firm in their belief that a bar isn’t the best atmosphere in which to host teens. Mayor and Liquor Control Commissioner Steve Stockton, also mentioned the possibility of setting a precedent, with other bars wanting to hold their own teen nights if they approved Daddios’ request.

I have to say I would have voted no to the teen nights. Something about the whole thing makes me feel uncomfortable, too, like we’re training teens for a life spent in bars.

Even if you take away the liquor bottles and the advertising, it’s obvious that the kids are hanging out in a bar. And with all the underage-drinking problems, do teens really need to associate bars with fun and socializing? You could argue that it’s great for teens to be in a bar atmosphere with no drinking, that maybe one day they’ll go to a bar and not feel the need to drink, but that may be wishful thinking.

What do you think, readers? Teen nights in bars: Yay! Or no way?

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