Tuesday, 10 April 2007

The Art of Not Having Sex

I wrote this at University for a thrice-defunct magazine called The Vine. For reference, DRA = David Russell Apartments. These are some very expensive flats on the outskirts of St Andrews. They are no longer the most expensive student accomodations in St Andrews, because they've knocked down the cheapest ones and replaced them with new flats that are even more expensive than DRA. 

For at least fifteen years now babies have been made, not via good intentions and a large bird as you or I were created, but through something altogether more obscenely biological. I am, of course, referring to sex.

Sex. When you were younger it was something they insisted you clarify when you applied to be a Press Packer on Newsround. When you became a more rounded and mature walking hormone fountain it was something that everyone assumed, almost innocently, that one could partake in as easily as hiring a hitman or becoming a Conservative MSP. 

However, some were to find out that not having sex is in fact much easier. For example, I am not having sex right now. This is because I have quite a small room and am quite tired, so lack the space and brain power to write an article and penetrate another human being simultaneously. It's just something I have to live with.

Some people who have sex all the time look down on this group in society, who are made known by the large yellow stars sewn into their blazer and kerchief (the latter amendment was made after many started hanging kerchiefs nonchalantly out of their pockets, thus covering the star). But, why should they? If you prick them, do they not bleed? Well, sometimes they do, and then you should be apologetic and tactful and use your kerchief for the purpose that nature intended.

These people (obviously I am not one of them, I merely posed as one for the purposes of journalistic integrity) are often pitied, ignored and shot. This, it seems fair to say, is not very fair. There is in fact a great deal of skill and artistry involved in not getting laid, something which the serial monkey spankers fail to realise.

For example, have you any idea how subtly someone can hint that they are attracted to you? Subtlety is almost a lost art form in this day and age, such people should be applauded. Some are so subtle as to completely ignore the object of their affection; to stay away from them in all social circumstances and utterly reject any attempt at small talk made at them. This subtlety often leads to the intended fuckée deciding that you are an aloof fool with nothing to say, when nothing could be further from the truth. You are an interesting, idiosyncratic young person. It said so in your last school report card. As a result you then attempt another tactic: talking to them. All the time. About anything. At all.

After a while it occurs to you that perhaps you should ask them what they like and they reel off a list, and you ignore the sound of relief in their voice and instantly decide to go to Fopp or Waterstones the next day and buy all the music, film and books that they like. The next day you wake up with a hangover that feels like someone has planted small landmines across your head and then decided to go jogging. Halfway through some relatively mundane activity (cleaning, dancing, yodelling) you will suddenly remember...nothing. At all. You are left with the impression though, that it may have gone alright, as you don't have that feeling of dread you normally get when you drunkenly decide to show everyone your erogenous zone that resembles a Swedish football manager.

As a result of this you buy one album that they recommended as having 'changed their life', before deciding that you hate it, then that you think it is growing on you, then that you love it, then that it's horrific, and then that you'd better start liking it again or it's back to manhandling the alabaster yak or having an imaginary gunfight with your uterus.

This is the point where you suddenly can't seem to bump into them anywhere. You try to go to parties you think they're going to. You try to bump into them in the library or outside lectures. You even hang around their workplace though your religion forbids it. You start walking around in circles in all the places that they usually appear in, and then start taking long walks past their house, trying to resist the temptation to see in through the window in case anybody's home.

Then, finally, you see them, and have a bit of a chat. It goes alright. You're glowing inside. You start to really get on with them, go to the pub all the time, and manage to pretend you like all their crappy music (while making a mental note to buy a large pair of headphones when you move in with them, the big kind, the kind that makes you look like you're an extra in High Fidelity).

Then, when you're both drunk and happy, you decide that it's time to make your move. This is usually the point when they come in and drag you to another room, where they promptly burst into tears and tell you that the person thatthey fancy doesn't like them or is splitting up with them or whatever. It is a given that this person will be the antithesis of your soul, and will have done absolutely no work to deserve all the not-having-sex the immediate future holds for them. You are told that people feel they can tell you this stuff, because you're such a good listener and because you've listened to that album, you can understand how they're feeling. Above all, you're such a good friend.

It's that last phrase that makes you want to vomit bile over passing old ladies in the street the next day. What happens next depends on how experienced you are at not having sex.

The inexperienced will decide, what the hell, go with it and see if your feelings are reciprocated. These people will spend anything from a month or so to a year repairing a broken friendship.

The more experienced will bottle up their rage and futility and let it out creatively. In other words, they find lots of bottles of interesting green and red stuff and mix them together in attempt to see if they can vomit in all the primary colours.

This, obviously, is the long term plan for not having sex. It can take a few months to go through these phases, it can take several years. The important thing is that it takes a great level of skill and dedication to not having sex that some people simply haven't got. Fortunately, there is a short term method that is just as effective and can be undergone in as little as forty minutes (the world record stands at just over ten). This method involves a complete absence of subtlety. Tactics include:

  • Pretending to flirt with someone of the same sex.
  • Draping yourself over your victim/beloved.
  • Continuously mentioning how close your flat is, despite the fact that you live in DRA.
  • Doing all the things in a sexy way. 
  • Acting coy, nay, coquettish.
This is usually preceded by some desperately inane chat where you manage to make yourself sound incredibly boring and yet somehow deeply disturbed. This is because, let's face it, you are. If through some miracle you are not, it is guaranteed that at some point in the evening you will have said something so deeply unattractive that you may as well have vomited on them and offered to mop it all up with a child's face. At the time it may have seemed like a good idea, but perhaps pretending to be a bit mad was a step too far.

Then, you will attempt to convince people just how far 'in there' you happen to be, in order to convince yourself. Your friends, in an attempt to further the likelihood of your conquest, will then go around making the whole thing far, far worse. Your misplaced confidence now built up, the only thing left to do now is make some kind of colossal mistake until you find yourself in the more typical kind of hole. Having used the weekend to recuperate, you will then spend all week avoiding humanity in general before going out on Friday to do the same thing all over again with someone else.

These skills can take years to perfect, and with some people can be honed to such an extent that even the merest hint of an attractive person talking to them can result in a reset, so their experience of social norms and dignity are immediately jettisoned. 

If we are to thank these people for all the hard work they've put in over the years, then it is only fair we proclaim Not Having Sex an Olympic event, or indeed, give it its own Olympics. This will also mean, for one month every four years, that all the pubs and clubs will be full of young happy people who can go home safe in the knowledge that they will be partaking in a wonderful, glorious event in their lives, that will not in any way lack meaning or later be deemed a mistake. 

So really, rather than mocking them, we should be thanking these people for all the pleasures they give us. Next time you're having sex, why not think about them? It might help you last longer.

April 2007