Posts tagged awkwardness
That Time I…Went to a Vegan Thanksgiving

Last year the holidays were real weird.  So weird that I accepted an invite to go with, E, one of my then-partners to an all vegan Thanksgiving dinner. 

I am 0% vegan but as a person with complicated food issues I support others in finding the food journey that works for them.  And, you know, love occasionally has a way of making us do strange things. Like eating soy curls.  Or enduring a perpetually unclean litter box traversed by three cats in a partner’s bedroom when you’re allergic to the furry little psychopaths.  Or errant kitty litter in the bed *shutter*

So with my adventure pants on I jumped in the car with three vegans to drive many hours into Washington; apparently there were no vegan dinners of note in Portland.  When we finally arrived in the Seattle suburb where we would spend the day, everyone jumped out of the car in a hurry.  The mood was stressed as it often was around E.  He had a need to be right about everything and make everything about himself.  So when he gotten corrected in conversation and hadn’t been able to eat my granola bar due to a non-vegan ingredient--all within 5 minutes of each other--he had one of his awkward mini melt downs. 

It was going to be a long day considering he was no longer talking to me and he was the only person I knew at this dinner. So I was thrilled to walk inside and be greeted by the waggly tail of a very excited three legged dog.  As a board certified crazy dog person I was instantly kneeling to pet and scritch and coo at the pup.

“The dog is invisible!”  I heard from the kitchen. It sounded like a joke.  Clearly I could see the dog, the sweetheart seemed thrilled to be getting attention.

“The dog is invisible. The dog is invisible. The dog is invisible.” I heard on a loop by a disembodied voice who hadn’t yet introduced itself.  Now I was thinking it was one of those weird things dog owners sometimes do where they’re warning you that if you give the dog attention they won’t leave you alone all day.  That would not be a problem for me.

“It’s okay I love dogs, he can love me up all he wants and I won’t mind.”

Finally a petite woman made huge with anger came near to grab the dog’s collar and drag it away.  “We don’t talk to the dog in this house.”  Still no introduction or thanks for joining us or here let me take your coat.

I took off my coat, shoved it in a corner and put my food on the table. By this time E was out of the bathroom, “Oh I forgot to tell you about the dog.  He bites. No one is allowed to pet him. Guess I should have mentioned that.”

“Yeah, maybe you should have.”  He grinned that grin I never understood the meaning of during our relationship and now recognize as him getting off on being an emotional sadist. 

I went in the bathroom and gave myself 5 minutes to cry.  What had I gotten myself into?  I looked around at all the political stickers and posters tacked to every inch of the bathroom.  PETA. Vegans for Communism.  Activists for Trees.  Save the Giraffes.  Boobs not Bombs.  Then I started to laugh.  The rudeness had nothing to do with me.  These people were likely more concerned about causes than people.  

Determined to salvage a good time from this day, I grabbed a cider, some nibbles, and tried to converse with some of the socially uncomfortable people that had gathered.  It became obvious very quickly that everyone in the room was somewhere on the autism spectrum.   This made me the most socially able person in a room for perhaps the only time ever.  

I listened to very awkward conversations and worked to de-escalate the frequent arguments that occurred when the guests would misunderstand one another only to immediately take the ensuing spat straight to 11.  Pretending to be a slightly tipsy cultural anthropologist improved the experience so that the rest of the evening was endurable.

Then “food” started happening and I was once again lost, traumatized and confused.  This, dear readers, is a tofurkey “wishbone” also known as smoke flavored cardboard.  Because of course fake meat needs a fake “bone.” It was also the most edible thing provided for dinner.  Everything else was textured vegetable protein this or soy isolate that or tempeh whatsit and most memorably, vegan mystery meat alternative “shrimp” cocktail.  Meanwhile the naturally vegetarian things I had brought—hazelnut and mushroom wild rice stuffing and pear bourbon cranberries—were entirely ignored. 

I don’t understand vegans of this sort; going to great trouble to avoid meat as a highly political cause only to go ahead and seek out fake and highly processed versions of the animals they want to protect.  All instead of simply eating animal free fruits and vegetables grown from the ground.  You better bet I got the stink eye all around when gently asking about this.  I wouldn’t understand as someone who eats flesh…of course.

The tension grew over a diner serenaded by the worst of Weird Al Yankovich youtube channel.  E still wasn’t talking to me but he was trying to feel me up under the table and making sure to butt into any conversation I had with anyone else that evening.

Don’t worry, I knew what a jerk he was at this point. I broke up with him a little over a month later, only waiting that long because he’d begged me to not leave him alone in his depressive state during the holidays. Ugh...live and learn.

A hairless cat was passed around the table at one point. For petting, not for eating.  It felt like testicles. I've rarely been more disturbed. 

Board games were played.  Anytime my team won against E’s he would throw a hissy fit and stop talking to me all over again.  As the hosts got drunker they were less likely to notice the poor attention starved dog under the table getting pets from people and distinctly not eating anyone’s face. 

Finally at midnight, the long drive back to Portland began.  E still wasn’t speaking to me but wanted to sleep in my lap.  When I said no, the hours long silence began.

At my place, I thanked his friends for driving and being probably the only other sane people at dinner. E tried to manipulate his way into spending the night by grabbing my hand to put it on his crotch and waggling his eyebrows. This was his one and only go to move for supposed seduction.  I know, it’s a wonder we aren’t still together today.

Somehow I resisted his offer, opting instead to eat the remaining homemade peanut butter frosting from an earlier baking project before passing out.  It was by far the more erotically satisfying option.

That Time I…Went to an Swingers Party and No One Got Naked

I go to a lot of kinky parties and see a lot of things.  Casual nudity, public sex, or catching the tail end of a scene where someone gets a dildo rammed into them with a rubber mallet.  None of it really fazes me anymore.  

I remember the first time I went to a play party at what was then called The Wetspot in Seattle and being positively scandalized.  Until then I’d only seen very prim and proper, fully-clothed play in bars which were the only play spaces we had at the time in Madison, WI.

But at the Wetspot there were so many naked people!  They were all touching!  I had no idea what any of the implements people were using on one another were called. Or whether screams were good or calls for help. Some people would get down being strapped to a thing and then lay in a heap; are they dead or sleepy?  I saw bodies do things I things I didn’t previously know were possible.

I was a like a kid in the candy store taking it all in while also wanting to close my eyes and not see this: the newbie kinkster version of watching a horror movie through splayed fingers.  So when I saw this tiny and very happy, very skinny man suspended from a bondage bed being alternately beat and sucked by a bevy of women, I almost lost my shit. My brain couldn’t handle that much flesh or figure out if it was all good or if someone needed to step in. Like I said this was my first time seeing “real” play.  Eventually a friend distracted me with some rope to tamp down my over thinking.

After 10 or so years of seeing such things I’m pretty unflappable now. Oh Bob is 6 women deep and they’re all wearing strap ons? Just another Friday.  Or Betty is suspended by one toe and is reciting the alphabet? Cool yeah sounds about right.

So I wasn’t expecting to feel much of anything out of the ordinary going to a swingers party with a friend and play partner.  It would just be the same ole same ole but with an emphasis on sex instead of spankings. I was so wrong.

It didn’t help that we ended up getting there early (no small feat after having to drive an hour to get there) and so we had to sit in the silent and empty living room being watching by the bouncer like the naughty kids in the principal’s office.  And it felt just that awkward.  Anytime we would try to talk to one another the bouncer would say, “What?!”  And anytime we tried to talk to the bouncer he stared at us like we’d run over his cat.  My girl boner had retreated to another zipcode.  But we drove an hour, we were determined to have fun.

Things got better when people started showing up and we got a tour of the multiple bedrooms, the room with a pool table, the location of the blessed bar area where we got some wine, the porch with the hot tub.  There were a lot of rules.  So many rules.  Some of them good, like don’t touch without permission. Some of them that made me wonder what other people had gotten up to at parties in the past: no drinks (not even water) or smoking in or near the hot tub area, you can close this door but not this one, only two people on the stripper pole at once.

This wasn’t helping either of us feel more at ease or turned on.  It was the sex party equivalent of reading the product-may-be-hot warning on a cup of Starbucks.  I’m happy for everyone to be safe, but who were our fellow party-goers if they needed this level of hand holding?  Soon we found out.

Everyone showed up at the same time; an unexpected mix of college kids in cheap lingerie from the sex toy store and middle age suburbanites in their weekend jeans and sweaters. Quite the contrast, the cliques were like oil and water on opposite sides of the room.  My friend and I kept waiting for someone to start playing or fucking so we could watch and find out what the vibe was like at this party.  We didn’t want our rough and sarcastic BDSM to scare anyone.  Kink hadn’t been covered in the rules.  We were a little lost.

After an hour, everyone was just standing around trying to mingle.  “Fuck it, want to go do some spanky spanky in the room where we can close the door?” my friend asked.

“Oh my god yes!”

We hauled our bags into the private room, closed the door and laughed at the awkwardness. “Is this really happening?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“Can I hit you with things until you make noises that make the swingers wonder what’s going on in here?”

“Please do!”

We hit a snag in discovering there were no tie off points in the entire room so my friend got creative with chains to pin me down to the bed while he did indeed beat me in delightful ways until I was giggling and squealing.  When we left the room laughing and sweaty, the party hadn’t changed. Everyone was still fully clothed and standing around.

“This is a sex party, right?” I whispered to my friend.

“I think so…Oh!  Look!  There’s a couple fucking.”

I looked around until I saw a fully clothed couple humping in one of the rooms and glared at my friend.  “That barely counts.”

He shrugged.  “Hot tub?”

“You read my mind.”  Surely there would be some people in the hot tub.  So far we hadn’t talked to anyone but the bouncer and briefly the party host who was sweet but understandably busy.

No one was in the hot tub.  At the other end of the porch dozens of people were smoking and ignored us when we asked how to use the jets on the tub.

“Okay then. Well now my wrinkly butt is getting naked just to spite these people.” My friend undressed and hopped in, I followed and we had a hot tub meant for an army of sexy cuddling people all to ourselves.  We giggled, we flirted, no one joined us.

Just as we were leaving a group got in.  “You made it look so fun!” They said.  Those were the only naked people we saw in something like 5 hours of the swingers party. 

So the weirdest party I’ve ever been to in my days of sex parties galore was the one where no one played or got naked. I’ll stick with kinksters from now on, their weirdness I understand because it’s my kind of weird.  Swingers confuse me no matter how hard I try to understand their scene.  For all I know the party didn’t get started until after midnight and my friend and I were the weirdos getting naked too soon for their protocol.

Erika Moen went to the same party and saw things go down, so it’s possible we were there on an off night.