Memoirs of a Slut

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My slutty past came back to visit me last weekend. An old friend introduced me to another woman. We each thought the other looked familiar and commenced to play the “where do I know you from?” game: a common pastime in my little country where we are said to have only two degrees of separation.

She was the kind of woman who inspires equal measures of envy and bafflement in me. Beautiful and beautifully presented, she had perfect clothes paired with perfect accessories, perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect shoes and (as I checked when she removed those perfect shoes) perfectly pedicured perfect feet. She has three small children and she wears white pants without any snot or tomato sauce on them. How? How does she do it? When, for crying out loud? Is she grooming for an hour before her kids get up in the morning? Maybe that’s it. Ok, it’s never going to happen. Moving on.

We raked each other’s pasts and discovered that we grew up in neighbouring suburbs. We almost certainly went to the same primary school discos when we were ten or eleven years old, we probably had inter-school sports competitions together, we might have gone to the same church on occasion. Nothing quite explained our feelings of knowing each other.

We went to the same university. Getting closer. We frequently frequented the same student pub. This might be it. Then I knew.

“Did you ever-?”

She collapses with mirth “YES!”

“You were-” I can’t complete the sentence, I am laughing so hard.

“And you-“

We are both incoherent, laughing, tears streaming down our faces (why isn’t her makeup smudging? Sorceress!). Our mutual friend can get no sense out of us for a good five minutes.

At this point all three of our husbands enter the room and ask what’s going on.

“We just figured out that we have met before!”

And one of the husbands, who went to the same university as us, sharply inhales – “Oh! Was it something to do with bananas?”

“YES!” All three of us are laughing now.

Eventually, eventually, we are able to explain.

One night, half a lifetime ago at age 18, I was drunk at the university pub because… you know, it was the university pub and it was a Thursday. And there was a Coruba party. You know the sort of thing? A dude with a fake Jamaican accent runs a bunch of party games (limbo et cetera) while scantily-clad “Coruba girls” sell drinks to young men who sexually harass them.

The Jafakean man was going from table to table recruiting participants for the games, and for one of them he only required young women. He was cagey about the details, but there was a free drink in it, so obviously I was up for it.

I lined up on the stage with about 7 other drunk young women and we were each offered a banana and told we had entered a banana eating competition. Errrr. I guess he was counting on the fact that none of us would want to be seen as the prude who was going to publicly back down. He was right. We each took our banana.

I was second-last in the queue and I watched while all the more obvious sexy banana-eating options were taken. Bananas were licked salaciously and deep throated. Women licked each other’s bananas. Two women ate a banana from either end and then kissed each other. Then it was my turn.

I turned to the beautiful girl behind me in the queue and asked if she wanted to do it together. “No, I’m good thanks” she replied confidently.

So I peeled my banana. Then I asked myself what Molly Ringwald would do. I took a deep breath and shoved that banana between my breasts and commenced to eat it. I invited the Jafakean to have a bite, which he greedily accepted. I had a couple more sucks and bites. And then I was done. Next, please.

The beautiful girl behind me skipped into the middle of the stage and peeled the top off the banana. She took a little nibble. She danced up to a man in the crowd and offered him a bite, whipping it away just before he bit down and biting it herself. She dropped to the ground and slowly rose up, buttocks first, dragging the banana up along her body and taking another confident, almost vicious bite. She was glorious. The crowd was going… well, bananas.

When she was done, the Jafakean invited the crowd to vote by cheering. The last performer got the loudest cheer by far, but I had a respectable response owing to my having a large group of friends in the audience. Some of those friends chanted “Two winners! Two winners!” and the host, ever the crowd pleaser, acquiesced. We got our free bottles of Coruba and cola, went back to our friends and, I suppose, drank them.

I woke the next day fully clothed, with a hangover and cleavage full of banana. When my friends, at whose place I had crashed, offered me bananas for breakfast I laughed. When they did it again at lunchtime I laughed. When one of them continued to do it every time he saw me for the following week I eventually said “for fucks’ sake dude, it’s getting old”.

Back to present day.

The immaculately-presented, 35 year-old mother of three with whom I was sharing a nice bottle of Pinot Gris, was, of course, my co-champion (the real champion) at sexy banana eating. We laughed and laughed. Everyone else laughed. And when we had finished laughing we both said that of all the drunken, stupid things we did as teenagers, that was the one thing that stuck. That could still make us really cringe, half a lifetime later.

Why did it still bother us so much? It was embarrassing, of course. I have no doubt that my performance wasn’t sexy, but that it also wasn’t so silly that I could pretend I had been mocking the event.

I think it bothers me that this sort of event happened at all. The whole night was engineered for the male titillation and female objectification and we participated in it willingly.

This was just the most obvious event in my teenage years where I used my sexy teenage body to try to win the attention of men. But it was far from the only time I did it. I craved male attention and I thought the best way – the only way – to get it was to give the impression that I might be sexually available to just about any young man who crossed my path.

And I don’t get it. Why did I want it so much? Why didn’t I think that it was enough that I was smart and fun and kind? I knew I had those qualities, but for some reason I didn’t think they counted for much.

I suppose it’s for the usual boring reasons. That’s what young women are raised on. Pretty girls, sexy girls get male attention and that’s what we are meant to want. Is that it? Why didn’t most of my female friends seem to rely on their sexuality as much as I did? I don’t know. I want to know though. Maybe then I can help my daughters to have better self esteem than I did.

To be clear, I don’t think that all or any or even many young women who wear sexy clothes and flirt and tease are necessarily doing it for the reasons I was. I wear sexy clothes now sometimes and it’s certainly not to make myself sexy to men. I have sex now because I want to, not because I think it will make boys like me. I eat bananas now because they are delicious, not because they are phallic.

I don’t think there is a damned thing wrong with wearing sexy clothes or having sex with people one doesn’t love or even with fellating bananas. I just think the reasons I had for doing it weren’t good for me.

And that Coruba party was bullshit.

 

 

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