The Ins and Outs of the Orgy That Wasn't
Our friend Robert was in town from Halifax so A. & I invited him to the orgy. His play, My Sex Rays Will Cover the World, made him seem like he’d be a good orgy guest. We’d invited two other friends, but they’d tacitly ignored our invitation. Perhaps I’d not done a good enough job explaining that we weren’t really inviting them to get naked with us. I just wanted friends along for cover.
I learned about the come one, come all orgy at Trinity Bellwoods Park from The Toronto Star, in which the anonymous Trinity Bellwoods Orgy Committee say that “the contemporary reality of city life is that we have never been so alone despite be [sic] surrounded by so many people.”
In a Macleans’s article, Emma Teitel observed that “there are so many of these vague bacchanals advertised on the Internet that people have begun parodying them.” So she contacted the TBOC to ask if the event was for real.
“As mentioned elsewhere, it is for real,” said the TBOC. “It is also a reaction to the multiple insidious corporate events that have been popping up all over Facebook and the city. As to whether an orgy will take place that day/night is not within our control. It is up to the people that [sic] are there.”
Perhaps because of all the media attention (or just its inherent prudishness), Facebook took the event invitation down. I wrote to the TBOC to see if the sex feast was still on and if it was okay just to watch. I received an earnest reply saying yes to both. I also asked if costumes were allowed, just for fun (note: I actually dislike any kind of costume party), to which the TBOC replied, “People are free to dress however they like. Some might be wearing police costumes.”
When I sent Sex Ray Robert a message saying we’d be wearing buttless chaps, he wrote back, “But aren’t you worried about being overdressed?”
In truth, we wore our everyday clothes and met Sex Ray (which I think I'll call him from now on) by the park gates on Queen Street West. It’d been over a year since we’d seen him so we had lots to talk about. We walked through the park, chatting, but casting our eyes about—not really for an orgy, but for some kind of orgiastic performance art. The park was as it usually is on the weekends in the summer: dogs, kids, people hanging out on picnic blankets, ice cream, Frisbees, covert beers.
At the north end of the park where it is most wooded, we heard some kind of electronic moaning noise coming from behind the washrooms. Hot on the trail, we followed the noise, ending up in the park’s “bowl” area where a semi-organized music thing was going on. An audience—whether they intended to be audience or not, were sprawled out on the sloping sides of the bowl.
By this point, we’d pretty much covered the park, so we walked up the side of the bowl and sat at the top on the bamboo mats that I’d brought and continued to gab, though I kept scanning the park for pervs. I had a hopeful moment when I saw one woman in her lacy bra, but then realized it was just part of a weird Toronto-phenomena in which people hang out in their underwear in parks and on beaches. It’s like there’s a dearth of bathing suit stores. Once, when we met a friend of ours in the same park he was lying on his stomach sunning himself in turquoise ginch. When we greeted him, he got up, put his shorts on, hugged us, then took his shorts off again and laid back down. But I digress.
The three of us are of an age—A. the oldest, me the youngest, Sex Ray in the middle. We chatted about our health and health scares, our states of mind, our writing, our careers, where we want to live, and what we long for. Every once in a while, we were distracted by applause. Where we were sitting we couldn’t see what people were applauding, as whatever performance was happening was taking place at the bottom of the bowl, so A. would make something up. So, like, he’d say, “They just did the Eiffel Tower.”
The Eiffel Tower is a sex act a friend of ours had told us about, but we couldn’t actually remember what it was. We tried to re-enact it nonetheless. “We go like this,” A. said and we went palm to palm, our arms forming a peak.
“Then what does Robert do? Does he just sit there?” I said.
“Maybe it’s like sex Tai Chi,” Sex Ray said. “It goes very slow and no one gets too aroused.”
Eventually, sitting on the ground was making us all feel stiff (in a non-sexual manner), so we got up to have one more walk around the park. We passed one group of guys that looked like they might be particularly horny—in the way that men looking to meet girls often do—but they didn’t look like they were waiting for group gymnastics to begin.
“I guess it’s so high-concept that this is all we get,” said Sex Ray.
Then A. offered us saltwater taffy from his pocket. It was warm and the whole thing felt rather dirty old man of him, so at least there was that.
THERE, THERE // The Good Ol' Bad Girl Days
In my former life I was a bad girl. Nothing major—I wouldn't have been featured on Girls Gone Wild or anything, but I had fun (my life was also going nowhere). Now, a dozen or so years on, I’m an upstanding citizen with a regular pay cheque and guest towels. I still have fun, but sometimes I fantasize about letting off a little bad girl steam and I have no outlet. I don't even want to do most of the things I used to do, nor do I want to regress, but I would like to feel that old rebel feeling again. Am I just being silly? Please reassure me.
~ Former Bad Girl
Dear Former Bad Girl,
I know this feeling. A few weeks ago I wanted to be “bad” and the best I could come up with was having a verboten cup of coffee. It had been over two years since I’d gone off the stuff, so I nearly quivered when the barista handed it to me. I expected it to feel like returning to a long lost, dark lover.
Really, it felt like I’d drunk a mild, but bitter laxative.
As I’ve approached middle-age, I’ve occasionally done other things to try and get down with my old bad girl self. I’ve walked behind strangers in the wake of their second-hand smoke, huffing what I could. I’ve taken an Ibuprofen on an empty stomach...with a glass of wine. Sad attempts from someone who used to pride herself on not being the girl from next door, but the girl from two doors over.
I can only guess what it means to you to be a “bad girl”. Maybe you used to stuff magazines in your purse at check-out counters—even at Mom & Pop stores—when no one was looking. Or you pursued men with pregnant wives and sent them home with hickeys and their shirts on inside out. Maybe you made a point of exercising your middle finger and told people to “sit on it and rotate” whenever you didn’t get your way.
But, I don’t think you’re talking about being that not-givin’-a-shit-about-others kind of bad girl. I think you mean—especially because you use the word “fun” in your letter—being a “bad girl” in the slang way that means going against society’s construct of being a “good girl”. For instance, things like enjoying sex.
In my good ol’ “bad girl” days, I kept a decanter of whiskey on my bedside table and had a sign over my bedroom door that read: “One at a time boys, one at a time.” Friday nights after the boxing gym, I’d have meatloaf and a can of Lucky for dinner, then host a poker game in my living room. Or, with my ladyfriends, I’d roam the streets late at night, swigging cheap champagne from the bottle and plucking—okay, stealing—flowers from peoples’ yards to wear in our hair and decorate our boudoirs. Many a day, I played hooky from work with the same ladyfriends. We’d lounge in silk slips, sip wine out of fine goblets, smoke cigarettes, and generally behave like we were in a Collette novel. And that’s just the tame stuff—the good parts that didn’t have a lot of consequences.
Man, I miss the sweet chaos of those days sometimes.
I hope you feel my commiseration here. That’s one of the main points of this column—to sympathize with feelings we might all share in one way or another. It’s not an advice column per se, but I still want to gently lead you through this and okay, I have a bit of advice—a suggestion, you might call it. I can’t help myself.
So, I think we have to talk about the guest towels. You must have wanted guest towels at one point. You got them and you must’ve been excited. They were probably some marker of adulthood you were craving; a sign of how far you’d come. The guest towels might’ve even felt radical to you (I had a similar rush when I laid out matching placemats for the first time). Now you’ve forgotten. Now you feel like everyone else. Because the guest towels have gone from exciting to somehow expected.
You talk about how as a bad girl you weren’t going anywhere and how venting some bad girl steam might lead to regression. Risk and security are naturally in opposition to each other. Yet, isn’t it interesting that when you were taking risks, doing exciting things, you weren’t going anywhere, but when you committed to a path you started to move forward. That forward momentum led to pay cheques and guest towels. You want to rebel—but against what, the guest towels?
So, maybe it’s a hunger you’re feeling. And what is this hunger, I wonder? What is missing from your plate right now? Is it the same hunger you felt when you were young and “bad”? Are you not having good enough sex and letting loose sometimes? Or is it different and deeper than that?
I think the key is that we have to find excitement in the things we do and if they’re not exciting us, we need to question why. Is it possible, FBG, that you’re just a little bored at the soul-level? Is there something you need to change in your life to get excited again?
Is it silly of you to feel these things? Absolutely not. In fact, when you look at what the core issue might be—the need to be excited again (momentum comes from excitement) in an evermore mature and wise way, it’s actually very important. You’re onto something, FBG—a feeling that actually could end up being transformative.
You talked about not having an outlet. An outlet is something that people use to express their emotions or talents. It’s also the thing you plug something into to make it light up. So here's what I suggest: plug yourself into something new that disrupts the status quo and the idea of being a "good girl" in some sort of meaningful-to-you way, FBG. Light yourself up.
To submit a question, confession, or concern to There, There all you have to do is visit this link.
THREE THINGS // Library Books I've Been Waiting Over a Month For
I finally got a library card in February, after getting over my fear of finding bedbugs in the books. I still like to give the covers a little wipe though. You just never know where peoples' mitts have been before they pick up a book. Having access to more books has enriched my life tremendously. I go online to the Toronto Public Library site, find the ones I want, put them on hold, and request that they be delivered to my local branch. It's amazing really. The trick is to keep enough in the pipeline at a time because you have to wait your turn. I've been waiting for these three for over a month, which means they’re hot titles!
- 1 -
The Folded Clock (Doubleday, 2015) by Heidi Julavits
This book by Julavits, novelist and co-editor of both The Believer magazine and the anthology Women In Clothes, looks beautiful enough for display. It’s a chronicle of Julavits’ daily life as a forty-something woman, wife, mother, and writer—though it refuses chronological order. Read The New York Times review here.
- 2 -
Ongoingness: The End of a Diary (Graywolf, 2015) by Sarah Manguso
This is a memoir, in which the accomplished Manguso confronts a meticulous diary that she has kept for twenty-five years without ever quoting the diary itself. The publisher says that it “continues to define the contours of the contemporary essay.” Read the article in The New Yorker about the book here.
- 3 -
The Argonauts (Graywolf, 2015) by Maggie Nelson
This is the nonfiction book that everyone and their hamster seems to be reading. Nelson’s writing (she’s published nine previous books) defies definition, but the book has been described as a love story between her and her transgender lover, artist Harry Dodge. Read about the book in The Guardian here.