Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Amelia, 23

What do you do for a living?
I'm a translator.

What other language do you speak?
French. I was born in Seattle, but I grew up in France.

So, how are French guys different than American guys?
They're a lot more direct. If they sleep with you, they consider you their girlfriend. Here, you can have casual sex and it doesn't mean anything.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
I don't have a crazy story. But in New York, you meet people from everywhere. I dated an Egyptian boxer.

What was he like?
I actually found out later he was married and had two kids.

How did you find out?
He said he didn't want to have sex because he was a very religious Muslim. So we didn't, but then later on he went back to Egypt for his boxing, and his friend told me, "Yeah, he's married and has two kids." I'm glad we didn't have sex.

That's crazy. There was no indication the whole time?
I was very surprised that he would still be a virgin at thirty, but he kind of looked like a virgin.

What do you mean?
When he talked about sex, he was so shy. He was blushing and looking away like a fourteen-year-old boy. I thought because he was so religious, maybe he really was waiting.



Gabriel, 30

What do you do for a living?
I own a travel company. We bring high-school students to different countries to do home stays and community service.

So, that's how you met your girlfriend?
Yeah, we traveled together for a month and were buddies before everything else. We didn't know it was going to develop into a relationship, so I told her all kinds of things I wouldn't usually disclose. She once asked me, "Have you ever had experience with premature ejaculation?" I thought about playing it cool and being like, "No, what in the world are you talking about?" But we were being super-honest.

Do you have any crazy ex-girlfriends?
I really don't. I kind of bloomed late, sexually. I kissed a girl for the first time when I was seventeen.

Well, do you have a favorite hook-up story?
It was my sophomore year in college, and I just didn't know the dynamics of a random hook-up. There was a senior who was pretty hot. I thought she was way out of my league, but she kept being really flirtatious. Finally one day she asked if I wanted to come back to her place with her. I was really nervous, and I told her, "Yeah, I do. I just have to run back to my dorm room and grab my toiletry kit." I was such a nerd that I didn't realize that you're not supposed to bring your toothbrush and your deodorant. It's not that kind of sleepover.

Right, right.
We were in bed afterwards, talking, and I totally spaced on her name. She realized pretty quickly, and she stormed into the bathroom and shut the door. That's where my toiletry kit was! And I wasn't going to leave without my nerdy mechanical toothbrush. I was freaking out. Finally, I looked around and found a stack of her mail with her name on it. I knocked on the bathroom door and apologized, and we ended up kind of dating for the rest of the semester. 


Chris, 25

Where's the craziest place you've had sex?
Either at work, or at a rest stop.

Where at work?
On my desk.

Are you serious?
It was crazy. This job was basically at a call center in Midtown. I was the last person in the office, and the missus and I were going to go out for a night on the town. She was downstairs waiting for me, but I asked her to come up for a few minutes. I was actually on the phone with a client while we were getting it on.

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
In college, I and a few of my friends were hanging out at this gas station, where they also served food. This girl was looking at us and mouthing something; it looked like she was saying, "Do you want to have a gang-bang?" I was like, "What? I'm really drunk right now!" She came over and was like, "Hey! What are you doing? You guys want to have a gang-bang?" Long story short, it was a great night.

Yeah, man. College is awesome. But it's weird now that I look back on it. Jesus, that's someone's daughter.

I'm trying to think what she could have been thinking.
She friended me on Facebook a couple months ago. She's married now, and she has a daughter.


Vanessa, 27

What do you do for a living?
I'm a teacher. 

Do you have a favorite hook-up story?
I have two good stories. The first one: there was this guy I went gone to college with, this hot football player. He had really big muscles and was very attractive. He had a girlfriend throughout all of college, but we always had this flirtation. After college, he was in New York one weekend, and we met up and went back to my place to hook up. It was unusual for both of us because we had both gotten out of serious relationships. But he couldn't get it up.

Oh no!
He just couldn't. He was drunk, and it was also his first time hooking up with somebody after being in a relationship for eight years. Eight years!

The only thing missing is the anti-depressants. 
So, fast-forward two years. I had a four-hour layover in Miami, where this guy lives, so I called him and we went out to lunch. Then we went back to his place and he just came toward me and was like, "I really want to try again." And he leaned in and gave me a really passionate kiss. I was like, "Are you kidding?" And he ripped off his shirt and was like, "Do I look like I'm kidding?" So we had a very intense lovemaking scene. I haven't seen him since. He calls when he's in New York, but you know, now I'm in a relationship.

Nice. Okay, I want to hear the other story.
It's about another guy from college. He was my friend, and very attractive — he was my typical f-buddy. Between relationships, I'd always come to him and he'd always be available and willing. The last time that I called him, I had been in a long-term relationship, so I hadn't seen him in about two years. We were both in our twenties at this point, and he came back to my place. I had just moved into a new apartment. And he had completely changed. He was all over the place, like a jackrabbit. We stopped, we talked, we tried it again. It was awful.

Oh my God. 
The next day, I went to Ikea with my parents to get some furniture, and we came back and started assembling it. My apartment was right above the super's apartment. The super and his wife were very Christian — they had a Jesus fish outside their door and everything. We were hammering things, and the wife knocked on the door. She said, "What is all this noise?" And we were like, "Oh, we're hammering, sorry." And she goes, "But what was all the noise last night?" In front of my parents. We didn't have the greatest relationship after that, the super's wife and I. 



Steve, 33

What do you do for a living?
I'm a director of HR for a nonprofit.

Does that get you dates?
No. I used to DJ. That got me a lot of dates.

Do you have any crazy hook-up stories from DJing?
Let's just say they actually paid me money to play music, and girls would hit on me all night.

They would slip you their numbers and stuff?
I used to have a book where I wrote down song requests, and it's full of names and numbers.

What kind of girl do you go for?
Outgoing, social, and very smart. I like someone who is strong and independent. I like a girl who can make her own decisions, who can be spontaneous and grounded at the same time. It's hard to find.

That's a tall order, yeah.
And of course, because of my hobby, I love a girl who can dance. It's more important than cooking.

Do you have any crazy exes?
I went out with this girl once, and we'd been drinking for awhile when she told me that she wasn't supposed to drink, because she was a recovering alcoholic. So then I had to drive this drunk girl home. She lived at her parents' place out in bumfuck New Jersey, and it was late, so I slept over. I guess her parents smelled the alcohol, because they were like, "How could you do this? And there's a guy here?" So I literally left out the window, and ran to the train station. I thought the dad was going to kill me. I was just trying to be a nice guy!

So, how many times have you had men threatening you?
Like three or four. Maybe five.

What's the craziest place you've had sex?
On a ski lift.

Wait, how did that happen?
It's not as smooth as you think.

It doesn't sound smooth at all!
We were on it for a long time, and it was enclosed. So I was just like, "We have to." It's like the mile-high club.

So it was like a tram? I was imagining one of those benches.
Don't do it. Just don't do it. I didn't say it was successful.



Lola, 35

What do you do for a living?
I'm a doctor.

Does that get you dates?
No. Not at all.

Have you ever been offended in the bedroom?
I dated someone who didn't really enjoy going down on women, and I found that offensive. 

Did you talk to him about it?
Yes. He said it was his issue about intimacy, and it wasn't about me. He assured me that he just needed to get over it. And then he never really got over it.

That's such a line, "I just have intimacy problems." 
I made it clear that I was not pleased. 

Do you have any favorite hook-up stories?
Yes! I went to my ten-year high-school reunion, and at one point, I was standing next to this guy who I had a huge crush on in seventh grade. I told him I used to have a crush on him, and he definitely seemed happy to hear it. Later, I got up to go to the bathroom and when I came out he was standing right there. I was like, "What are you doing?" And he was like, "I was hoping I might kiss you." He kissed me and, like, it was instantaneously amazing. After everyone had left we kept making out in the lobby — the reunion was at a hotel. I was like, "We can't keep making out here." So we decided to just get a room. Once we were up there, we started going at it, but we realized neither of us had a condom.

What? Oh no!
And I was like, "Shit, what are we going to do?" So I called the front desk and asked if they had vending machines with condoms down there. And the guy on the phone was like, "No, but there's a 7-Eleven down the road, I can call you a taxi if you want to come down." We went down, got in a taxi and rode half a mile to the 7-Eleven, where we got condoms and Gatorade and cookies and all sorts of shit. The taxi cost us, like, twenty-five dollars. And then we went back to the hotel and I had the best sex of my life. All night. With my seventh-grade crush. 

That's like some crazy fantasy.
I was impressed with myself. I had some good instincts as a seventh grader.

Interviews by Meghan Pleticha. Photography by Sean McGurn.