Toronto
3 min

Out with the old

I believe that individuals with whom you’ve engaged in one-night stands should disappear, never to be heard from again. Wouldn’t it just make things so much simpler? Sex is sex; it’s sweaty and animalistic. If you are lucky there’s an orgasm or two involved. But usually it’s over in an hour or so. You both put your clothes back on and never call each other again.

This isn’t lovemaking. You won’t be gently holding each other afterward remarking, “That was nice.” You’re not dating and there’s no pretense that you love each other.

But running into your one-night stand at the club, walking down the street or while waiting for your slice at the local pizza joint can be quite an unsettling experience. Be prepared though because that’s exactly what will happen. Life’s just funny like that.

When the inevitable encounter occurs expect an interesting mix of emotions. This is someone who has been inside of you (or vice versa), literally. This person knows specific things about you, like the beauty mark on your right breast, the sound you make when you’re bitten on the neck, how hard you like it.

Sex is an extremely intimate exchange of knowledge, like entering into a kind of secret pact with a virtual stranger. No matter how casual the encounter there is a kind of giving away of yourself. How can there not be? Sex isn’t exactly a handshake. The minute that you take off your clothes in front of someone else you’re vulnerable; they’ve seen something, been somewhere that the rest of the world hasn’t. Then, weeks later, you run into each other and in one look all of that vulnerability is remembered.

If only one-night stands could be shipped to some wild, untamed, godforsaken island. After all the idea of shipping away undesirable people isn’t new. They would be free to start over and build a new life far away from you. I mean, if one of you has to leave in order to resolve an ongoing discomfort why not let it be them?

It’s not as if I’m suggesting some praying mantis-like murder should occur after sex, though it certainly would make the chances of having to endure an awkward conversation at the club a lot less likely. We are civilized mammals, after all, and just because we may indulge in our baser instincts from time to time does not mean there needs to be post-orgasmic execution.

I admit I’ve had more than one night of casual sex (though not as many as you might think) and I’m not suggesting this banishment of my coconspirators because I have any regrets. I knew what I was doing and enjoyed doing it. No, the motivation is avoiding the uncomfortable experience of trying to pretend that those nights didn’t happen.

I’ve attempted casual conversation at the bar with one-offs and even if I can let it go I’ve always found that the other person can’t. They always slip in a reminder in the form of a joke, innuendo or a knowing look and I walk away wondering why I even bothered.

I understand that sex changes things. It would be ridiculous to say that it doesn’t. But why can’t we just settle into being acquaintances instead of being trapped by that moment for the rest of our social existences? Why can’t we interact with our one-night stands without all the unnecessary tension? How on earth do the gay guys handle it?

Maybe that’s the real problem. There are no common courtesies among the women and the bois; no rules on how to behave afterward and even if there were they probably wouldn’t apply to real life anyway. I wish that it could be that easy but these damn human emotions keep getting in the way. In my mind I could banish these personal encounters as a physical act and nothing more. I don’t need to consider the actual person. Until I see them out one Saturday at the bar.

It’s clich├ęd but true but it is a small world after all. We are all tied to each other and there are less than six degrees of separation. There really isn’t anywhere that people I’ve spent a night or two with can be shipped off to. For all I know someone may wish they wouldn’t have to run into me ever again, too.

What I actually want is for all of us to understand what’s really going when we have one-night stands. We need to be honest with ourselves and with each other because it’s unavoidable and inevitable. Sooner or later there’ll be a run-in with you-know-who from last drunken Saturday and you’d better hope that you’re mature enough to handle it.