I think I’m a normal person, equal parts immaturity, insecurity and desperately trying to pretend I’m neither. So when I saw an ad in the paper: “Free sex classes Sunday at 6:30,” I first pictured a circle of desperate women sitting around putting condoms on bananas and one lonely dude just staring. And then I wondered, could it really be that bad?
I put on my most confident grown-up voice and called the Fallen Angel to confirm that this was real and that real people would be there. The man on the phone assured me it was real, and free, and every first and third Sunday of every month. He didn’t even sound creepy.
I chickened out the first Sunday, coming up with the usual excuses: It’ll be weird. And I already know how to put a condom on a banana.
Another first Sunday came around and if ever I might talk myself out of something, this would be the day, hungry, unshowered and having ridden my bike in the cold all day. But by then I had worked up a healthy heaping of what’s this sex class thing all about?
At 6:31 Sunday evening, I parked in the dark, put my head down and scurried for the door. It was warm inside. I was surrounded by pretty, lacy things and was greeted with warm smiles. Nothing creepy so far, just a handful of super-friendly people standing around in a store full of panties and lube, no bananas in sight. I took a deep breath. It would only be an hour.
We all sat down in a circle of chairs. I looked at the nine other faces and wondered if they were as terrified as I was. My stomach growled, hungry enough to eat a handful of bananas.
As we went around the circle introducing ourselves, I relaxed a little. We were all just normal people, there to learn. The topic was “Salon of the Senses.” It was a brief introduction into using all five senses to figure out what you really like and thereby increasing pleasure in all aspects of your life. I did not giggle at the word “pleasure.”
I was torn between a sense of terror at the prospect of an interactive class and relief, as it became increasingly apparent that no one would be forcing any unwanted fruit into my hands. I forced myself to stay in my chair.
Not running away became easier as I realized we would mostly have our eyes closed. Close your eyes and listen to this song. Pick out the sounds you like. Close your eyes and touch your hand or face with this feather. Close your eyes and smell these oils. Which ones make you happy?
I peeked a few times. I always do. Everyone else had their eyes closed though, figuring out what they liked. I tried to focus.
Now, slowly open your eyes and look around the room. What attracts you?
My eyes went straight for a pair of red underwear on the wall in front of me, and I definitely blushed a little. I glanced around the circle. Was anyone watching me stare at the undies? Nope. They were all scanning the walls behind me for their own favorite bras or costumes or toys whose uses I have yet to determine. I nonchalantly looked back at the red undies.
The next and final step in this sensual journey would be taste. I briefly imagined licking lollipops or even worse, bananas.
The teacher pulled out a plate of strawberries and passed it around, telling us to take our time. Pick out the one that looks the best. Smell it. Touch it to your lips. Listen as you bite into it. Then taste it.
The whole scene, a room full of people biting slowly into strawberries, felt a little like a shampoo commercial or something entirely unrelated to strawberries, if you know what I mean. When I bit into that bright red berry though, all of my insecurity melted away for a moment. We all laughed because, damn, that was the best strawberry any of us had ever tasted.
I left that night, the same person. Still immature, still insecure and still glad it was dark outside. But I did learn that those classes are not creepy and they are not desperate. They are fun and a little exciting, and who knows, maybe next time we’ll get to play with bananas.