Love & Sex

Talking to Strangers: Portland, OR

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Nerve asks deeply personal questions to people we just met.

Jen, 23

What do you do?
I work at McMenamins as a pub staffer, and I'm a Mary Kay consultant.

Does working at Mary Kay help you get dates?
No, but it teaches me how to present myself, and make myself look pretty.

Do you give a lot of dating advice when you're putting makeup on people?
We sometimes do talk about men. I've noticed that the women I meet through Mary Kay, whether I'm giving them a facial or not, always have problems with their sex life. Which is funny, because when you give them a facial and they're feeling hot, they're like, "Ooh, someone's gonna get lucky tonight! My man better like my look!" I find it funny that it's always about a man — they put the makeup on to feel sexy, and it's always for a guy.

Does it really make them look better, or just feel better?

Have you ever hooked up on the job?
Have I? Oh! Yes, I have. I was like thirteen or fourteen and I hooked up with my mom's coworker's son. We were cleaning a warehouse and totally making out on the job. Then we were like decorating houses and we made out in a closet.

Where are you from?

What's the dating scene like there?
Horrible. I'm pretty sure every guy there is a hillbilly, redneck, hunter type. They drink beer and get fat and watch TV, and they don't really have fun. You don't get the Portland nightlife — you don't get to go dancing and try all the different beers. Albany just doesn't have that. And I've yet to meet a guy here who's a hunter with a beer gut.

What do you look for in a guy?
I see if he has a job and some type of plan of what he wants to do in the future, like if he wants to travel or have a career. He has to have some kind of idea. If he's fun and outgoing, and he's into meeting new people, trying new things — dancing, cooking, wine tasting, beer tasting, bungie jumping.

What's the craziest place you've ever had sex?
In a bar. It was one of those one-lock bathrooms.

What constitutes bad sex to you?
Bad sex is like sour grapes. You're excited, and then you bite into it, and it's like, aw no, no good. I've had some moments like that, and then when he wants to keep hanging out after bad sex, it's like… no. That's like this one guy on Facebook who was like, "Why do girls always go out with douchebags?" and I wanted to be like, because douchebags are not fat. Because some of the cool guys we meet are not attractive.

NEXT: "I was out playing at clubs when I was underage…"

Mars, "undisclosed"

What are you doing in Portland?
I am the band leader and artistic director of LoveBomb Go-Go Marching Band.

Is that how you met your wife?
We're not married yet, and no, that's not how we met. We met in a training course. We were both becoming certified yoga teachers.

That must make your sex life fantastic.
It most certainly does, and I could go into great detail, but I wouldn't want to bore your readers. Let's just say there are certain asanas that facilitate interaction, and we're both experts at those asanas.

Who approached whom?
The way I see it, she had an eye on me. I was admiring her, but I was kind of shy. At the end of the workshop, she wouldn't let me leave.

Did she lock the door, or what?
No, we were getting ready to say goodbye, and she said, "I don't want you to leave. I don't want to be apart."
[Mars' girlfriend: "That's not what I said."]
What did you say exactly, then?
["I said 'I don't want to leave.'"]

So I tried to scare her away, by physically pushing the boundaries, and that didn't scare her off! I've just been in trouble ever since.

You started the band afterwards?

Do you tour around a lot?
We've toured in other projects together. This band is pretty new. We've been together about six months and we've done a lot of shows.

Why do musicians always have a reputation for messing around?
Because they're exposed to environments which are conducive to inappropriate behaviors. Ill-advised.

Do you have any crazy hookup stories from before you two got together?
Well, I do have a couple, in my ancient past. The thing is, it's kind of embarrassing to say, but I was kind of a late bloomer, and I was out playing at clubs when I was underage. I was eighteen, and I had never really had a girlfriend. I was playing music one night, and these two girls took me home afterward, and I was pretty experienced after that.

Was that your deflowering story, too?
Yeah, I'm afraid so. To listeners and readers, I would advise it was pretty crappy, because I was still drunk and they were drunk, and it was a mess.

You were just sober enough to remember that part?
Yep. Then they started following me around, at the club after that.

How do you make a relationship work in that same environment?
By constantly reaffirming my feelings. We have conversations about these things and schedule regular counseling sessions.

Have you always done that?
No, maybe for four months.

I've met people who swear by that. How does it help?
Well, we're exposed to a lot of attractive, interesting people, and we have to make sure there are boundaries.

I'm thinking of creative pairs through history, like John and Yoko, or Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. How do you two work together?
Like Simon and Garfunkel… no. We're like Patti Smith and her guitarist. I'm Patti Smith and she's the guitarist.

NEXT: "I was like, 'Whoa, we're not there yet…'"

Ashley, 25

What are you doing in Portland?
I'm a nanny and I go to Portland Community College.

Is that how you met your boyfriend?
No, we're from the same area. He found me on Facebook, and I was like, "What does this guy want? I'm not interested." I hadn't dated anyone for two years before that, and I dated football players before. Kevin's not really a football player. But I gave him a chance. I liked him. I wasn't sure why, but he was pretty determined. He introduced me as his girlfriend right off the bat. I was like, "Whoa, we're not there yet," and he was like, "Soon. She'll be my girlfriend soon." Then it happened. So, I guess it all worked out. We've been together for five years next month.

How would you compare Oregon guys to guys elsewhere?
I always felt like you could be friends with a guy here and have it not be anything more. Living in other states, I felt like it was more I was a piece of ass that you could chase. Here, you can talk to a guy all night, and have him not even ask if you have a boyfriend or for your number. I feel like Oregon guys are genuinely interested in your situation.

Do you have any crazy exes?
I have an ex-boyfriend who was very, very jealous and crazy. He lived an hour away, and I would see him on the weekends. We'd talk a lot on the phone. Once I was in an apartment complex with a bunch of people I knew, guys and girls. I missed a call from him, and when I called back, he was like, "Where were you?" and I said, "I was in a hot tub," and he was like, "Were there guys in there?" and I was like, "Yeah, it's a huge apartment hot tub with a pool, so yeah, there were guys there." He was not having that. He was like, "You cannot be in a bikini in front of other people," and that's how I knew this guy was insane. We broke up, and he got engaged, and called me about it — like he wanted my approval about it. And then when his wife got pregnant, he called me about that too. It was very strange, because every six months, he'd tell me something else, and I was like, "Well, I'm still not… still not in the state, still not your girlfriend, so I'll check you later on that one." I did have another guy not quite break up with me, but tell me that he had found a younger version of me, basically. She was eighteen and her name was also Ashley, and they got married about four months later.

Is that how he broke it off?
Yeah, really. He was like, "Hey, I found someone else named Ashley. She's eighteen and you're twenty-three."

In your single days, how did you reel in the guys?
Well, when they were talking to me, I was always like, "Which of my friends is he trying to hit on?" That was pretty much story of my life, until I met Kevin.