Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

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Talking to Strangers: New York, NY

Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

BY Daniela Cervetti

Jihanne, 22

You look like an artist of some kind. What do you do?
Right now I'm working on movie sets as a freelance makeup artist, and I do wardrobe styling too. But to make money, I'm a bartender.

What's the craziest way you've been hit on?
Usually, I find men are very polite to me. They'll say things like, "You're really pretty," or — this always gets me — they're like, "I hope whoever you're with understands how lucky he is," and then they'll just walk away. That may be kind of cheesy, but it's still sweet. The sweeter ones are usually the ones who catch me off-guard, because as a woman, you know, you expect the "Hey, shorty…"

"What up, ma?"
Yeah, "What up, ma?" or some comment on your butt. But I haven't had any scary situations. You know what, though? This one time, I did something really stupid. This guy asked me for directions. He was like, "You're really pretty, and I'm kind of lost." Then he asked me where I was going, and he offered me a ride. And I never do this, but I was running late, so I thought, "What's the worst that could happen?" He didn't seem crazy and I didn't get a bad vibe. And he wasn't crazy. He was just weird. So I got into his car, and he was like, "I'm an exhibitionist. Can I show off for you? I did it once before with this other girl who allowed me to do it. I just masturbated in front of her, and that was it." And I was just like, "Wow! Interesting. More power to you." You know, men have these weird sexual things, and it doesn't mean that they're necessarily creepy, even though it may seem creepy because I'm not into it. So, he pulls up right in front of where he was dropping me off, and he proceeds to drop his pants and jerk off. Mind you, my male friend was waiting for me right there, in front of the car. It was like, the worst two seconds of my life. It was so quick.

Wait, had you agreed to watch him?
I was just like, "You know what, man? Do what you need to do." Because at that point, I was like, "If he is crazy, I need to be calm." So he did it, but it was the quickest — I literally looked down, then looked up, and it was done, and I was just like, "Okay!" So, that was a weird way to get hit on.

Did your guy friend see it?
He didn't see it, but I got out of the car and I was like, "Do you know what just happened to me?" And after that, it happened to me again, on the bus. I was reading a book, and then I looked down to see a guy masturbating. It's traumatizing, but I wasn't like, "Oh my God. I'm a victim," because the men who do ask, they're not creepy. They're not forceful. The guy who dropped me off was very polite. Even when he was ready to come, he asked. I don't know if I should be flattered, or just extremely creeped out.

Or start asking yourself some questions.
Yeah, like, "Hmm, I'm too nice." The guy on the bus, when he got up and left, he said bye to the bus driver, like he knew the bus driver. I was like, "What is going on in the world? Is this, like, a normal thing?" I mean, everyone masturbates, but usually they're not that comfortable.

On that general topic, has anyone ever offended you in bed?
When it comes to sex, I'm pretty open. I'll try anything at least once, you know, and if I'm just not comfortable with it, I'll just say, "This is not for me." But I haven't gotten anything super-strange, like, "Let me… stuff you with… jalapeños." [laughs] I don't know.

Have you offended anyone?
There was one guy who was younger, and he was like, "I don't go down there. " And I was just like, "Pssshhh." That probably made him uncomfortable, because he didn't want to do it, but that's just a dealbreaker for me. You have to do that. Come on. [laughs] The thing is, before me, he was in a serious relationship, and I asked him, "You didn't do it for her, either? Maybe she didn't tell you, but that's why you guys broke up." It really is part of the whole experience. I can't even imagine sex without it. I'd be so unhappy!

Did you put him on the spot, and say, "Well, don't you expect it, too?"
Yeah, I did, and he was like, "Yeah, if that's what she wants to do," and I was like, "No, you want her to. Don't kid yourself."

And you were with him only once?
I was with him once, and I just ignored his phone calls after that, but… you know, men do it to us. And I've learned — I want to have fun, okay? I'm human. I'm from an extremely religious background, and I was ashamed of my sexuality. Now, I don't wear it on my sleeve, I don't walk around half-dressed, but when a person gets to observe that side of me, I enjoy it and have fun with it.

Did your parents want you to save yourself for marriage?
Yeah, my mom probably still thinks I'm a virgin, and that's fine with me. She can think that until I have babies. My mom is really religious, but she's pretty cool. She doesn't ask. I think she knows it but she won't ask. It was interesting growing up, in that kind of background, and being immersed in a culture where sexuality is everything. When I was younger I was really ashamed about it. I think that was a big part of why my last relationship didn't work, because I just felt so guilty being with him. It affected the relationship, to the point where we both shut down.

Where's the craziest place you've ever had sex?
Well, this one time [laughs]it was just in a guy's house, and he told me it was his sister's room, but it was full of woman shit, like his mother's church hats. It was the most uncomfortable sex that I've ever had. I was like, "I can't do this! Your mother's church hat is falling on me!" And there was one time this guy I was dating asked me to have sex on a train.

Risky Business style.
I'm just like, "Oh my God, you're being ridiculous!" It was a PATH train, and he was so loud. He was like, "Let me eat you." I was just like, "I'm not that bold." Maybe one day. Honestly, I told you, I'm pretty free-spirited when it comes to sex. I'll try anything at least once, but within my comfort zone.

Are you ever the sexually dominant one?
It usually depends on how many shots I've had.

NEXT: "I found out in the most awkward way possible…"

Brendan, 26

I see you work for a non-profit. Do you meet a lot of women out here?
[laughs] I don't need to. I'm already married.

How long have you been married?
Two years, yesterday.

And how did you meet your wife?
There was this hookah bar that my friends and I used to go to, and she was working there, so I got her number, and then next thing you know, I'm married to her [laughs]. After six months of dating, we were already engaged. We just clicked, I guess. We got along really well, I'm a fun person and she's a lot of fun to be around, so…

What else would you say about her?
She's beautiful, she's kind, and she completes me.

Tell me about some of the women before her.
I've dated girls who were very different from one another. Some were very nice all the time, and some were just… what's a nice word for "bitches?" [laughs]

You can say "bitches."
From Asian to black, white, Hispanic, whatever. I always got along with everybody. So what else?

You said that your wife completes you. Can you elaborate on that?
You know, when you wake up in the morning and the first person you see is the one you love, it's just… it really makes you feel happy, you know? You can't wake up on the wrong side of the bed. At least I can't.

So, every day of marriage has been a great one?
Well, every relationship has fights, but it's been a great relationship. I encourage marrying. You should do it, too [laughs].

Before marriage, did living here ever make it difficult to stay faithful in your relationships?
No, I never really had a problem. I think faithfulness is something that you have to have in your head and in your heart. Some people cheat and say, "Oh, It was a mistake, I made a mistake," but I think at the bottom of it, someone really has to want to do it. Maybe they don't want to admit it, maybe they never wanted to say it, but I think if they do cheat, they really had to want to, at some point.

Has a woman ever been unfaithful to you?
Yes. It's never fun. I'll never forget the first time something like that happened to me. I was in high school, I had a girlfriend, and I found out she was cheating on me. It hurt so badly to think that I had to share the person I was with with someone else. It was really painful.

How did you find out?
I… it was the most awkward way possible [laughs]. She didn't want me calling — you know, because it was high school and she didn't want her parents to know for some reason — but I was like, "Fuck it, I have her number. I'll call her." Her mom answered the phone, and her mom was like, "Why don't you come over?" So I went over there, and the girl's mom basically told me right there that she was cheating on me. And my girlfriend was there too, and she felt horrible.

Did the mom have your girlfriend there against her will?
I don't know. I just remember her sitting there really upset, and I didn't know why. They probably had a talk before I got there, or something.

What are some dating dealbreakers?
There are a lot. I'm very picky, actually. One of the dealbreakers is infidelity, of course — I mentioned that. STDs, I don't like them. I guess I have a limit to how much bitchiness I can take. If it goes over that limit, then I'm just like, all right, it's time to find someone else. What else? She has to be able to get along with my friends. I don't want to change my friends just because she doesn't like them. There are a lot of things [laughs]. But after being married for two years, I really haven't had to think about this. You know, a lot of girls have this picture in their head, where they have to change the guy who they're with. If you don't like the guy who you're with to begin with, then don't be in the relationship, you know?

NEXT: "I remember I was trying to do the alphabet with my tongue…"

Nancy, 28

What do you do for a living?
I'm a personal assistant for a photographer in Chelsea.

Do you meet any men through your job?
Not really. They're all gay. I'm sure that if I worked in an environment with more heterosexual males, I would meet more men. But I don't have any problem meeting guys. The problem is meeting good guys. That's a different story.

How about women?
I mean, I've been down that avenue, and messed with girls before — never in a serious relationship, but I've had relations with females. I haven't met any girls lately, though.

Tell me about your first time with a girl.
I worked in a clothing store in Brooklyn, and I guess I was really open, and my coworkers knew that I was bicurious. I think I was twenty and she was like, eighteen? One day the manager was like, "Oh, are you still into girls?" and I was like, "Yeah, I guess so." And then this girl gave me a strange look, and later when no one else was around, told me, "I think I'm curious, too." So that same night, I went to her house and we made out in her basement, and I think she squeezed my boobs. And then we watched TV. It was very PG-13.

After her, did you have actual sex with any girls?
Yeah, a few times. My first time wasn't all that special. Funny enough, three years later when I didn't even work at that job anymore, it was with another girl who I used to work with. Apparently that place is full of experimental girls. This girl I had worked with came to my house once, for old times' sake — like, we rehashed old stories and stuff — and then we were drinking wine, and she was like, "Oh, I meant to tell you… I kind of like girls. Let me just eat you out. Let's sixty-nine," and I was like, "What? Really? Okay, what the hell." I just kind of wanted to get it over with, to see if I liked it. Honestly, I think she used me. I think she just wanted to have a quick orgasm. She never called me again, or anything. Oh my God, I got used by a girl! [laughs]

Were you turned on, at any point?
I guess a little bit. But… she's not really a sexy girl. I wasn't really turned on by her, per se. There are girls who would probably turn me on, but she wasn't one. I remember I was trying to do the alphabet with my tongue, or whatever. I was like, "Wow, this is how guys feel." It felt like I was in a parallel universe. But after that, I wanted another encounter with a really beautiful girl even more than I did before, because I thought it would be better . I also really wanted to have a threesome, and I still really haven't ever had one.

Okay, on to men.
Oh, boy. New York is crazy, because you can meet, say, twelve guys in a week, and only one of them will have follow-through.

Have you been on any dates lately?
There was a guy who wanted to go on a date with me. I didn't flake on him, I just said that I was busy, or something, and he kind of cursed me out. I was surprised. Because New Yorkers flake all the time, but I was pretty considerate — I didn't completely flake. I let him know probably four hours in advance. And he was like, "It's girls like you that give girls a bad name," and I was like, "Wow! Drama queen!" Maybe I'm meant to be a lesbian, because even the guys I meet are like girls [laughs].

If you could give advice to the next guy in your life, what would it be?
I definitely want people to be themselves, even if it's crazy, you know? I would hate to think of you one way and then you're, like, a whole other story. If you're crazy, at least present it in the beginning so I'll know what I'm getting myself into. Oh — I'm also tired of paying for an ex's mistakes! If you have baggage — and everyone does — please take time to explore what went wrong. And yes, to a certain extent, we're always going to bring our old relationships into new ones. But if your ex-girlfriend cheated on you, don't make me an untrustworthy whore, just because she was. I didn't do it to you. We're two different people [laughs], you know? You can't have a future if you're always thinking about your past.