Talking to Strangers: Bonnaroo Edition
Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we've just met.
By Ruth Tam
Where are you from?
Asheville, NC. I was an anthropology and environmental-policy major.
What do you do?
I just graduated from college, so... nothing!
What's your relationship status?
I'm in a fairly open, long-term relationship of three years. We have a long-distance thing, so if we're together, we're together, but if we're separate, we're allowed to do whatever we want with our own judgment, as long as it's a lust thing and not a love thing. But neither of us are really keen on really intense, jealous relationships. They just cause arguments.
Outside of your long-term partner, how many partners have you had?
I had a really cool one last night! In the past three years, probably ten. But not as continual things, just a one-time kind of deal, for kicks.
What do you normally look for?
I don't care if you have money, I don't care if you're cute, but if you have your shit together and are nice to other people, you're good.
How do you go about impressing love interests?
Depends. It's easier to seduce people at parties. You've got to give them the sex eyes. It's a universal thing. People know when they're getting checked out. If you look away awkwardly, then you can move on, but if you keep looking, then it's like, "Hey! I'm checking you the fuck out!" It's easier to walk up to them later because it's like you've got an in. You don't even need to have the conversation. Straight from sex eyes to make out. No drama.
Any good hookup stories?
I made my long-term partner do it with me in public for Valentine's Day. When we were living in Australia together, I picked a playground during full daylight next to a road just to see if he would. He's a little more straight-laced than I am. And it was great! It was classy. Did a little pull-up on the monkey bars.
Were there kids around?
Oh, no. I would never do it around kids. I teach kids, so that'd be like, "Whoa."
Where else have you had public sex?
On the front lawn of a fancy cocktail dinner-dance for a post-graduation schmooze.
Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
Guys think that getting head is a right, not a privilege. You know the ones who just push your head down? Nobody wants that! That is my mouth! Get your dick out of there.
Do you not like giving at all then?
No, not my thing. Girls are funner.
What's hooking up with a girl like?
Great. The first time I ever hooked up with a girl, it was actually with two girls. College is so fantastic.
What the difference between hooking up with girls and hooking up with guys?
Girls get you off better, that's for sure. It's easier. You know exactly what they want, because you want it too. Everyone's still different, but it's easier to figure out. Girls don't fall asleep after; they want to keep going. Way cooler. That's the best part of having a threesome with a girl and a guy. The guy will pass out, but the girl will keep on going.
Craziest thing you've done to get laid?
I don't really chase people who aren't easy.
One thing you wish you could change about the opposite sex?
The getting-off-too-early factor. Personality things can be trained a little, but if I could make every guy read the book She Comes First, the world would be a much happier place. It's about how to give a woman an orgasm, because guys have no idea. They just think we want to fuck really hard, and that's not how it works at all.
Is there one person out there for everyone?
I think there's like five people out there for everyone.
Neil, 31, and Tessa, 23
Where are you from?
T: I'm from Atlanta and he's from Michigan.
How did you meet?
T: At Terrapin Brewery in Athens, Georgia. We were in love in a week and I moved to North Carolina for grad school in week two. We did long distance for four months. He found a job to North Carolina and we moved in together. He proposed a week or two later. We were engaged for about a year and a half and we just got married! This is our honeymoon.
What did you do to impress each other?
T: He spoke Latin to my friend, because she was a classics major. But I think what impressed me in the beginning was the honesty. I was honest about moving and I wasn't sure if I wanted to be in a relationship.
How did you feel at the beginning of the relationship?
N: I was really intimidated, because she's pretty beautiful, you know. That makes it hard for guys. And she was moving.
T: He was aggressive in the beginning. We had those conversations up front, though. I said that there was a forty-percent chance that it would work.
N: The odds were not in my favor.
T: In the beginning, you don't think that a guy will commit to long-distance, but he proved that wrong. After three or four days, there was a lot of good teamwork. We saw each other every day even though we lived an hour apart, and then we said "I love you" after four or five days, and we went to a rugby tournament. I was asleep in the backseat, and he turned to his friend and said "I think I'm going to marry this girl."
N: I didn't start talking marriage until a month later, though.
Tessa, did that freak you out?
T: Well, I had just graduated from college, and I was moving to a new place, and it was a lot of new things at once. I was fine with the love bit, but talking about "forever" kind of freaked me out for three months. But then we started looking for engagement rings.
Do you guys believe in soulmates?
T: I do. Although he would go into some philosophical diatribe over whether or not the soul exists.
N: I think I have to believe now.
T: Before I met him, I was like Swiss cheese. There were holes in my life that I never knew were there. And now I'm like a block of cheddar.
N: Sharp cheddar. It seems like there's gotta be a match for everyone. But it probably takes some people a lot more searching. There's some chance involved.
Yeah, a lot of people die single. You guys won't have to.
N: In fact, that's the subject of our wedding logo. We had a reading done at our wedding. The myth of Baucis and Philemon.
T: By Ovid.
N: It's a Greek myth about Zeus and Hermes going to find hospitality disguised as beggars. They're turned away by everyone except a couple in a really humble home, who give them their last food and wine. When the wine keeps refilling itself, the couple realizes the beggars were really gods.
T: Zeus grants them one wish. They say, "We don't ever want to live a day without the other." And so, eighty years later when they're dying, they turn to each other and embrace. As they embrace, they look at each other's faces and they begin to sprout branches and their skin turns to bark. They become two trees so that they never have to exist without the other. The two trees were our symbol. Neil translated it and my stepdad read it at our wedding.
Bonnaroo can get very grimy. How do you keep it romantic?
T: The fan.
N: There are showers. They're almost too cold to have sex in, though.
N: The fan, though, is the key to getting frisky.
What will you tell your kids about this honeymoon?
T: We'll tell them to bring them handy wipes if they ever do this.
Where are you from?
Who are you here to see?
Arcade Fire, who were awesome. Lil Wayne — he is, like, my boyfriend. I was in the front; I'm so obsessed.
What's your relationship status now?
What do you do?
I just graduated from Princeton. I studied political science.
What do you look for in a guy?
He has to be funny, chill, and fun. And down to do whatever. I usually have crushes on really awkward, nerdy guys. Those are the ones I get all flustered with. I don't know why.
How do you impress guys?
Sometimes I'm really awkward about it and creep from afar. But sometimes people will start talking, and then I get in their face.
Got any good hookup stories?
I have a lot of gay friends who wanted to go to this sketchy bar in Trenton, and it was the most ridiculous thing. My friend was looking for a girl to hook up with. We thought it was college night, but it ended up being karaoke night, and it was really awkward, so we just got really drunk to deal with it. We were talking to this guy, and I thought he was gay. So I was trying to get him to talk to my gay friend, but it turned out he was straight. I ended up going home with him and I was the only one to hook up with anybody that night. At a gay bar.
Most daring place you've had sex?
I tried at Myrtle Beach on the sand. It's not as romantic or cute as it seems to be. It's not comfortable. There are shells and rocks.
I don't like dating people who don't smoke weed. It makes it awkward for me. Sex when you're high is a lot better, so both parties should do it.
Have you hooked up at Bonnaroo?
No, there have been many opportunities, but no. It usually happens late at night when I'm really drunk or really tired, and here I'm just sweaty and gross. Regardless of how fun it might be, I don't want to rub my sweat into your sweat. I can't really sexile my tentmates either.