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The Six-Legged Beast: A Cautionary Tale

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 PERSONAL ESSAYS

The Six-Legged Beast by Lisa Carver      

The Nature of the Beast

There is nothing easier to fail at than a threeway. You have twice as many ways to be rejected. And because swinger sex is so casual, you aren’t even given the kindness of a decent excuse when you’re turned down. I was interested in a woman at a fetish club. She was a submissive, not allowed to talk or hold eye contact with anyone, so I had to go through her keeper. He said I could have brought her (and him) home except that he had just gotten some fangs installed at the dentist’s that day, and they had a date to try them out that night. I was turned down for dental reasons. Is that better or worse than for hair-washing?

    

The casualness of swinger sex can be a horrible, horrible thing. Take, for example, a bathroom incident at a late-night opening party of a new graphic design company: there I was, in the bathroom, along with this cute pig-tailed girl, a woman who looked like that curly-haired nurse on ER, and a looming, leather-panted man from South America. His name was Alejandro or something like that, but I kept calling him Jalapeño by accident. I think I was drunk. He had long hair and wore a purple pirate shirt. His charisma was huge and unavoidable to everyone but me. I was just innocently re-applying lipstick and hanging out with Miss Pigtails. Everyone else was thinking something else, I guess. Because the next thing I knew, Jalapeño was kissing Pigtails and Nurse was grinding against Pigtails’ butt. They were between me and the door, and I was worried that his strange charm would suddenly hit me (like at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, when the heroine’s No-Doz finally wears out and she succumbs to the irresistible allure of the pod people). I said, “Ayiii!” and scurried past the Jalapeño force field before it was too late. I told the other party-goers, and we all rushed back to peer at them through a crack in the door, which bothered the unholy trio not in the least. In fact, Jalapeño released one hand from its sordid activity long enough to beckon at us — and one of my co-peepers responded! She was sucked into that bathroom of really gross sin. The moral of the story? Just don’t have long hair, okay?

    

A threeway (or any aberration thereof) is not a loving relationship. It’s a human relationship with a number in its name. It’s a game — a decadent power struggle with all the lasting artistry and emotional depth of a disco song. It’s a suspension of rules. So enjoy! A great threeway that happened to me at the tender age of eighteen involved being blindfolded and tied to another girl by her boyfriend; he instructed us to describe to each other everything he did (since we couldn’t see or move). Talk about a master of ceremonies.

    

But if it’s so fun, then how come one or more participants so often ends up crying? In the “great” scenario mentioned above, I did it because I was after the girl, the girl did it because she was anxious to hang onto her man and the man did it because he wanted to cheat on his girlfriend and not get in trouble. None of us was really motivated by wanting a threeway, and we all felt kind of bad afterwards. (Still . . . there’s nothing like regret to teach us something and expand our souls a little. And the blindfold was hot stuff!)

    

Group sex remains a stranger, an elusive beast, no matter how many times you temporarily capture it. You never really get “good” or “better” at it. You’re always a novice. It’s a pleasurable accident you hurl yourself in the way of. It’s a cosmic bar mitzvah that doesn’t exist in the real world of mortgages, cancer, children and silver anniversaries; a fantasy of fluidity that isn’t possible on the human plane. But you keep hoping, you keep striving — because the human animal is an optimist, a dreamer. “If we can put a man on the moon,” you think, “I can find the perfect threeway.”

Okay, So It Sucks. Now How Do I Get In?

It seems so daunting a task, organizing a mini-orgy — such a minefield. You wish you could just wake up one night and it would be happening. Where do these potential extras lurk, anyway?

    

Actually, almost everyone wants to do it but doesn’t know how. They’re like cattle just waiting to be rounded up. They’re waiting for a randy rustler like you. Be respectful, of course, but remember — if you’re too respectful, nothing will happen.

    

Signs a friend might be interested: she hangs out too long after the party has died down and talks about “someone she knows” who did it or wanted to. The backrub seems to be the big leader-inner. That and alcohol, of course. But if you’re weird like me and think expectation and doubt are hot, new and nervous threeways are best served sober.

    

If you don’t happen to have half-dressed friends hanging off your top bunk at midnight complaining about puritans, there’s always the group sex club, where, I’m told, monitors walk around making sure everyone has Saran Wrap between anything wet and anything wet at all times. Or of course you could cruise regular clubs. Don’t worry about being a smooth operator. There’s no code language. Other people are equally confused and waiting for someone else to set it up — why not be the setter-upper yourself? Say, “Will you come home with me and my friend?” What’s the worst that could happen? They’ll say, “No way.” But you aren’t going to get anything if you don’t ask.

    

There seem to be plenty of willing perverts in the arts, but the most likely candidates of all are to be found in fetish bazaars (where they sell leather or plastic clothes and apparatus) or fetish bars (where they wear and use them). But be warned: when you finally, finally secure an invitation to one of these places, when you pass through the door saying Abandon hope, all ye who enter here, you will discover not a festival of exotic fiends licking and branding each other, but something akin to a Star Trek convention: overweight people in rubber and bad hairdos who look a little lost and remind you that you feel bad.

Three Swift Roads to Trouble

First off: The guy never makes the arrangements, the woman does. Second: Not with someone from work. Don’t be an idiot! Finally, having a threeway is like having a baby: Doing it to save a faltering relationship will only end up driving a stake of stress into the already fragile remains of your love.

It’s Just Plain Wrong

Some people can do the threeway thing night after night — at least the people on MTV’s Sexy Lifestyles. I just wonder if they have jobs. I mean, all I do is sit around writing about sex, and even with that low-stress occupation, participation in one little threeway is guaranteed to make my assignments for the week late and sloppy — and I’ll probably get a cold too. Group sex is tiring business — at least if you’re a generous soul like me, and have what my birth order book calls a “directing” personality (the type who will try to coordinate orgasms).

    

Threeways are so physically and emotionally exhausting because they do not occur in nature. You never see a gazelle threeway on a National Geographic special. Because they know better. Only man is fool enough to spit in the eye of God. You know that perfect in-sync love rhythm you can get with two people, where it feels like you’re not even moving — motions just happen? Well that’s not what it’s like when there’s more than one other person in the mix. God does not like threeways.

Three’s Company, Until It’s Time for Company To Go Home

You know that Muslim saying — one day to unpack your suitcase, one day to visit, one day to pack up and go? Change each “day” to “hour,” and you’ve got your ideal threeway etiquette. The biggest problem with a ménagè a trois is that when it’s all over and you open your eyes, they’re still there. And you have to say something nice. And you have to wonder if you’re a pervert.

    

Before and during the act, it’s “woo-hoo!”— you’re a crazy-and-wild sex-mama/papa. But now you’ve had your fun and you’re a snuggle-with-your-mate person. Suddenly you’re thinking, Who is this depraved other person still faintly writhing by my side? It’s sobering. Plus, there are twice as many chances that someone’s going to snore.

    

When morning comes, that Danish girl who looked so neat in the club has, you now learn, a pumpkin head and political beliefs. And she wants Chinese food for breakfast. But here’s this guy too, and he smokes. So you’re stuck in the smoking section of a Chinese restaurant at noon on your one day off from work with these two . . . people . . . when all you really want to do is go check your mail and flip through catalogs in the bath.

    

If they’re a couple, and I’m the one from out of town, the morning after is just embarrassing. I slept with this girl’s boyfriend! I slept with a girl! Let me slink away in my dented Geo Metro, back to a place where I have not molested anyone in any manner and I can lead a decent life.

    

“Why not just skip the breakfast and leave right away,” you ask? Hey, didn’t your mother teach you anything? You have to be polite. “Why don’t you just sleep with people you like?” Is that what you’re thinking now? Oh yeah, I’m really going to risk losing a possible friend by performing unnatural sex acts with them. Right.

The Key to Total Happiness

Here’s a tip if you’re in a relationship and bring a third in: Afterward, it’s really helpful to say to your significant other: “Oh baby, thank you — that was wonderful . . . but, god, I couldn’t stop thinking about you the whole time. I sort of felt like she was a drag at the end, that other girl [that other guy]. You’re so much better, baby. And you have a nicer body, too.” It doesn’t have to be true — it just has to be said.

What Now?

Nascent Pervert, watch out: once you start, you might get addicted to ever-increasing numbers. It can get to where you can’t look at anyone without judging their kinky sex potential. You feel shallow and seedy and this makes you all the more horny. You’ve crossed the line of acceptable sex practices and in this new, uncharted terrain, you could turn . . . feral.

    

I don’t know why I’ve never been invited to an outright orgy. Taking part in one is like hang gliding, going to Japan or reading H.G. Wells’ The Outline of History all the way through — something I’ve always wanted to do but never seem to get around to. Anonymous maulings are so intriguing, but so complicated in their procedure! How do you get five or more people in the mood at the same time — or even in the bedroom at the same time? Still, I wouldn’t be the one complaining out of the five. I wouldn’t even care if there was someone gross in the group. There will always be someone gross. Take the next five people you see — one of them is bound to be distasteful in some manner or another. But that’s part of the beauty of it! You’ll be thinking: “Ew . . . the gross one’s touching me. Ew — the gross one’s got me now . . . and there’s nothing I can do! Trapped under the gross one! Anyone can just do whatever they want to me. Oh, wow, it feels the same when the gross guy does it . . . everything is contextual. Oh, harder . . . ”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Lisa Carver is the author of the books Dancing Queen, Rollerderby, The Lisa Diaries and Drugs Are Nice. She’s written for Hustler, Index, Icon, Feed, Newsday and Playboy, among others. She lives in New Hampshire.