It’s funny how nicknames evolve. From my husband, my name has evolved from Sarah to Soup to Wiffles and all manner of things in between, with reasons ranging from the simple phonetic evolution of one sound into another to an inside joke becoming a moniker that sticks.
However, starting shortly after I turned 19, my nicknames seemed to be following a more consistent pattern: Sad Sarah, Weepy-Eyed Lady of the Wetlands, or simply That Girl Who Doesn’t Come to Class Anymore. In the span of two years, my first college roommate and former best friend committed suicide, my mother died, I spent a period of time in the hospital with a life-threatening illness, my close friend was murdered, and my father was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
People on my tiny college campus who hadn’t known my name or face in the years I’d spent sharing classrooms and sexual partners with them somehow suddenly became well acquainted with the ins and outs of my personal life and my continuing bouts with earth-shattering grief.
And then a funny thing happened: people started coming out of the woodwork to tell me their stories. In my mind, Our Lady of Perpetual Agony was a far superior title to hold than “Sarah who’s not really pulling off those culottes,” so I was happy to oblige those who wanted me to anoint their heads with my tears.
People whose names I hardly knew were hugging me in hallways, acquaintances were leaving me cookies, and even professors were crying in front of me and revealing intimate details of their lives. I once found my face buried in the abundant, mole-covered bosom of a particularly icy professor as she described the death of her close college friend. I found myself feeling sorry for her and wondering how soon I could remove my head from her chest.
And then an even stranger thing started happening: some of the sad people didn’t just want me to hold them with my arms. They wanted me to hold them with my vagina too.
The first incident occurred shortly after I came back from a short stay in the hospital and a very nice boy I was vaguely aware of decided that I was the right person to confess his sins to. The day I returned to campus, he asked me to take a walk with him and started to unload his past battles with substance abuse and his conflicted with relationship with a sick family member. As the tears began to stream down his face, his hand moved to my knee, and his mouth moved toward mine. I politely declined his offer, giving him a good shoulder squeeze and suggesting we make the move back inside.
Had he checked my MySpace, as folks were wont to do in those days, he could have found out my list of turn-ons were pretty much the same as any teenager: people old enough to buy me Boone’s Farm, guys who owned copies of Jeff Buckley’s “Grace,” and car crashes. That list still hasn’t been amended to include “sad stories about the triumph of the human spirit.”
Since then, I’ve had others crawl out of the woodwork who’ve tried the same old sad-to-sex routine on me, to no avail. Next there was the filmmaker, who parlayed his stories about his father’s cancer into offers of money, cross-country trips, and the promise of leaving his fiancé for sexual encounters with his newfound confidante. There was the former high school acquaintance who tried to turn his tearful stories of awkwardness into a make-out session, and then, the exes and one-n
ight stands crawling out of the woodwork with drunken texts and Gchats as soon as I announced my engagement, trying to convince me of our MFEO status.
Now, I understand the impulse to fuck when sad. I’ve had more than my fair share of depressed sex. I once turned a hard cry in a bathtub over my feral cat’s death into a full-blown shower sex session, but we were already going to have sex in that tub. That’s why we were in the tub. That was my sex tub. A few months after my mother’s death, I almost told a former teenage hookup that I was in love with him at the Gay Pride Parade until I was mercifully interrupted by a girl returning with cans of Sparks. He later brought Sparks Girl to a party and ended up leaving her on a boat. Needless to say, it wouldn’t have worked out.
Seriously, dudes, I’m all for romantic gestures, and I am no way opposed to male crying. Give me roses, presents, maybe even a well-timed cover of “Lover, You Should Have Come Over” with a misty eye, but please, don’t try to use your tears as lube. Let’s do some emotionally-stable fucking in a bed or a car or all those places Ludacris likes to bang, but if my snotty, mascara-covered face and obviously troubled state isn’t getting you there, please be assured that while your waterlogged beard looks sweet, we’d be better off waiting.
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahGCrow.