At age thirty-three, I finally learned how to live like a teenager.
by Sonia Aurora
"Do you hear that?"
I didn't hear anything, and I tell him so. Right now, I'm maneuvering my way on top of him, my pants at my ankles, moving my thong aside, working at pulling his boxers to where his pants are, at his knees.
We're in my car at the very back of the mall parking lot, right by the movie theater where we have tickets to some movie I'm sure I don't want to see. We have an hour to kill, and I want to have my way with him. His name is Nic, but I refer to him as "Sexboy" to all my friends. I want to feel bad about objectifying him that way, but I don't. This relationship isn't built on a lasting foundation — it began in flirty texts and lusty IMs and hasn't blossomed into anything past rushed dinners and car sex.
Nic jerks his head back again, convinced he hears something. I want him to concentrate on me, so I shift and he gasps. This makes me feel powerful, and sordid. I own him; I own this moment. I am a goddess.
And then, the metal rap on the window — a flashlight. At the far end of this flashlight is a cop. Hello, officer.
I jump off and fall over into the driver's seat. We both scramble for composure and clothes. Nic opens his window while I shimmy my underwear up. I only have time to drape my pants over my lap when the policeman asks Nic to step out of the car. Suffice to say, I've been exiled from Olympus.
The first thing I think is that I'm too old for this to happen to. No, that's not true. The very first thought is, My dad is gonna kill me. I'm living at home, too old to be doing that too, which probably connects the two back-to-back thoughts. In the time that Nic and the officer talk, I think about what got me here, thirty-three and pantless.
Five months before, I'd broken up with someone I had convinced myself I would marry. The convincing had come the four years before when we first kissed. I'd been single for too long then, waiting for the metamorphosis from awkward caterpillar to stunning butterfly. M had come along and wanted me, but I had pushed him away repeatedly. I knew that to open that door would mean a commitment I wasn't sure I wanted. And then, I decided I did want it, and turned the knob to let him in, always suspecting in the back of my head that I would break his heart.
I did, and he broke mine too, with little lies I discovered in the aftermath. I fixated on the randomest, shallowest details after the breakup, trying to establish my worth, somehow. How M was the runt of his litter of friends, always being picked on, and I had started to join in. His deep-seated anger burst in the most innocuous moments, like leaving behind a bottle of water at the store register. His car, his job, his complaints.
But what still nagged me was that his list of sex partners was triple my own. That fact needled me whenever friends told me that I had been too hot for him. I was, wasn't I? My piddly one-digit number taunted me. I was prettier, hotter, sexier, than him, somewhere inside of me. What was wrong with me that I couldn't bed more — or as many — men as he had women?
I was raised a good girl, shy, closed off. I'd always approached sex with the caution of approaching a sleeping lion. As things with M wound down, I began to see myself as someone capable, strong, and, finally, sexy. On a work trip, I was pursued by coworkers, propositioned, and stunned that I could muster that kind of attention. The temptation grew, and I felt the transition, and so did M; I was becoming the lion. Once I was single, I decided I wanted to capitalize on it. But I lacked the tools, and once I was single, I didn't feel as confident as I had when partnered with M. I felt myself slipping backwards into timidity.
And then twenty-six-year-old Nic came slithering by to fix my computer, and now I was going to get arrested for it.
The police officer comes to my window, now open. He asks me for identification. I feel small as I hand it over. I'm sure he's shocked to see my age, because in the course of questions and statements I swear he mumbles, "Aren't you a little old for this?" I give him my name; I give him Nic's. (His real one, not "Sexboy.") The cop asks me establishing questions, but the one that stands out is "Do you want to be here?" I stumble on my answer, because it seems absurd. Does he mean being questioned by a cop? Then no. Does he mean with Nic, fooling around? Then yes. I answer in the affirmative. He hands back my driver's license and advises that we should find a better place for… this.
Nic gets back in the car, and once the coast is clear, the headlights have flashed and turned, we giggle awkwardly. We exchange our stories, and he's also puzzled by the cop's last questions, until the light bulb sparks on and we realize that the cop was making sure I wasn't being raped. I have an immediate feeling of affection for that officer, trying to save me, and then the disappointment he must have felt that I was just a (newly minted) tramp. We dress and decide it's time to get our seats and popcorn.
I don't last much longer with Nic — once he starts playing games, I realize he's more invested in this than I am. I take the next year to have my fun, until I grow tired of my sex-as-validation routine — it requires work and a callousness that isn't who I inherently am or want to be.
I don't have car sex after him either; I find the fear of getting caught again isn't exciting so much as humiliating, like a twelve-year old getting caught jerking off to his dad's Playboy. I fought the law and won, but I don't want to press my luck.
What I did learn that night was more valuable than a night spent in jail would have been (I'd like to think). Before Nic, I was awkward, nervous, and insecure about my body and my lack of experience. With him and after, I realized that sex wasn't about shame but about adventure and fun. I learned I could have sex "like a man," a phrase I never understood until I could depersonalize like a gigolo. It may not be what I want, but I could be that. I did have power, manifesting from something sexual but really being about being able to command and dictate what I wanted and who I was.
My number remains in a single digits, but I'm no longer ashamed of that. Without learning that — in the way I did — I'm not sure I could feel as beguiling in sweatpants as stilettos. My current boyfriend is often surprised and teasing about my prowess, reserved for him. He reaps the benefits of my car sex, and the bolder version of me that emerged.
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