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The Reluctant Adventurer: Adventures in Intimacy

Friday, April 10, 2015


I’ve been seeing the same person romantically since December, and for that, I’d like to apologize.

Because due to that strange and unusual fact, those of you who follow this column may have missed my dating adventures for the past few months.

There hasn’t been any speed dating, or polyamorous married people with kids’ toys on the “guest bed” to shove away, and, sadly, there’s been significantly less naked people dangling from ropes in sex clubs. (Zero. That’s how many naked people I’ve seen dangling from ropes since December. That’s a 100% decrease in dangling naked people from last October!)

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been exploring new territory.

Of late, I’ve grabbed my wrench, strapped on my waders and began plumbing the depths of emotional intimacy.

According to the Internet, there are five, seven, eight, or twelve levels of intimacy in a relationship.

Let’s look at the "five levels" model:

1. Sharing clichés and superficialities

2. Sharing information

3. Sharing ideas and opinions

4. Sharing values and feelings

5. Sharing intimacy and confession

Again, if you’re a regular reader of this column, you can imagine that in my current relationship, I leapt from “sharing clichés and superficialities” to “sharing intimacy and confession” during the first date.

On our third date, I don’t remember the specific story I was telling, but at one point I thought, then said out loud, “I have no idea why I’m telling you this story. This is the kind of story someone would tell if they never wanted to see someone again. I am the worst at this.”

Someone could make a lot of money selling shock collars to daters. You could program in certain phrases, like, “heroin overdose,” “short prison stay” or “mashed potato co-dependency,” and as soon as the first syllable came out of your mouth, you’d get a shock.

Get on it, science!

I perused many of the “stages of intimacy” pages on the web and lots of different levels came up: infatuation, physical intimacy, hopes and dreams, “faults, fears and failures,” legitimate needs…these are all great levels, but weirdly, pants-peeing never came up on the lists.

It should have.

Let me back up.

The other night I was making dinner at the aforementioned romantic partner’s place. It was what turned into a rather delicious Thai red curry stir fry. (Thanks, Cooking Light!)

As I was chopping, I was gnawing on the baby carrots, as a girl will do, and he said something funny.

I proceeded to inhale a relatively large chunk of chewed carrot, which caused me to start coughing. And not just small, lady-like coughing, but the kind of full-body coughing that happens when your esophagus believes it’s in a life-or-death struggle with a carrot.

And that’s when it happened.

I pretty much peed my pants. Not one, long pants-peeing, but a series of smaller cough-induced pants-peeings that further escaped the bounds of the previously peed pants until it wasn’t just a pant-peeing anymore, it was a shoe-peeing.

One would think that in a situation like this, I’d be with my esophagus: just straight-up putting all my energy into surviving this carrot battle, but all my brain could do was think, “DID I JUST FUCKING PEE ON MY BOYFRIEND’S FLORAL KITCHEN MAT? DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?”

He asked me if I was okay and could he help and did I need anything and I kept shaking my head no. 

Don't come near me! I'm A MONSTER.

Finally, the coughing fit ended.

I stood there with pee in my shoes and wished for a teleportation device that never came.

“Do you need anything?,” he asked.

A Silkwood shower? Adult diapers? A time machine so I can go back and tell four-years-ago-me to do more kegels?

“Um. Underwear?,” I responded. “Pretty sure I just peed my pants.”

Ah, intimacy.

Those memorable thresholds we cross, like the first kiss, the first time we cry in front of our partner, and the first root-vegetable-induced-pants-peeing.

Not one for the scrapbook, for sure, but certainly a defining moment.

So, here it is. Here’s the first moment that I can’t hide my humanity from you, no matter how hard I try.

How does one recover from this?

I thought back to the reasonably well-dressed and well-spoken bon vivant I presented myself as on the second date. The social butterfly I became when he met all my friends on Valentine’s Day. The decent cook who enjoyed a good laugh that he knew just three minutes before.

DEAD. They were all dead.

Or, not dead exactly, but definitely flailing around on the wet kitchen floor and now in need of being woven into a new version of me that apparently has little or no bladder control.

He ran upstairs and brought me a pair of his boxer briefs, which I turned down in favor of going commando for the rest of the evening.

I cleaned up the floor and myself while he was up there, all the while wondering how one brings sexy back after an incident like this. I mean, what am I, 80? Or, rather, what is my vagina, 80? (“I’m not 80, but my vagina is!” ~worst pickup line ever.)

Weirdly, sexy came back.

We finished cooking and had a lovely meal, then retired to the couch, where we chatted, made a couple of hilarious incontinence jokes, then made out.

Maybe he has terrible taste, but the only way I can explain it is that I’m dating someone who likes humans.

I’m not planning on testing the boundaries of his affection for me, but I know I will, again and again, against my will.

Why do I know this?

I once put a tiny candy bar down my pants so I wouldn’t eat it.

I cry when I get angry, which makes me angrier.

I like John Denver.

These are bombs that are just waiting to go off someday. And they will go off.

Relationships are all fun and games until someone pees her pants or likes John Denver.

And this is where the real intimacy begins—when you realize the other person can forgive, disinfect his kitchen and move on with his affection for you largely intact.

And when that happens, your affection for him grows because of his ability to do so.

So let’s all just buy a family size can of Lysol and hope for the best.

Courtenay Hameister is the Head Writer and Co-Producer of Live Wire Radio, a syndicated radio variety show distributed by Public Radio International. She is currently working on a book that will be released through Audible.com in 2015. Follow Courtenay on Twitter at @wisenheimer


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