Sex is crazy. I know. That statement is about as obvious
as a polar bear. But hang on. What I’m about to say might
not be.
I think about sex a lot. I think about it when I wake
up. I think about it in the shower. I think about it while I
whip up my morning smoothie. I think about it on the way
to class, during class and on the way back. I think about it
when I roast my nightly doobie. And I think about it in bed.
Mostly, I think about how to get more of it.
But I also occasionally think about the separation
between the perception and the reality of sex, as I’ve
observed it here in our deliciously decadent ocean community.
Isla Vista clearly has — and embraces — a hypersexualized
party culture. It’s easy to understand why. The sun
shines like each day is its last. The women all look like they
were rejected as models at Vanity Fair because the editors
didn’t want the other models feeling self-conscious. I know
y’all don’t necessarily feel that way, but trust me, that’s how
you look to me.
The men look like they were abandoned at birth, then
adopted and raised by a pack of wild bench presses and rescued
by a traveling supplement salesman who taught them
the rudiments of the English language and the die-hard
philosophy of better living through chemistry. We live on
the beach, for Christ’s sake.
It would be easy to think that life here is just one carnal
pleasure after another. And for some of us, it is. For the rest
of us, we still have the opportunity to enjoy a little casual
sex with strangers now and again. It’s amazing what a half
fifth of Wild Turkey will do to even the most Puritan of
But unless you’re like my freshman year roommate —
the Johnny Appleseed of orgies — the commonly stylized
picture of uninterrupted sexual debauchery might ring a
bit false — to a point. We all have physical and emotional
needs, but I.V. can be a lonely place for love.
You’re out with your friends. Never mind how you met
the girl. Maybe you approached her at a party; maybe she
approached you. Either way, you’re not sure why this is
going so well, ’cause you’ve been out enough times to know
that it doesn’t always go down like that.
But this time it did. You’re dancing. This ain’t swing,
folks. You’re rubbing up on this girl in a way that would
make her daddy break a two-by-four over your wellgroomed
head. She’s loving it. Girls walking by are pinching
your ass to show their approval at how down you’re getting.
She’s turning around and pushing her tongue through
your teeth like it’s the goddamned Germans invading
Poland. You’re so turned on the sweat on her neck smells
like perfume. But then she looks back at you, and reflected
in her eyes you see, not your own charming self, but the
shadow of some past relationship. And you realize that she’s
not actually dancing with you.
Because what you thought — in accordance with the legend
of Isla Vista — was simply a night of casual sex, was in
fact an attempt to fill an emotional void by physical proxy.
And that’s what leads us to the core of the issue. See,
this is a telling moment, because it juxtaposes the need
for carnal release with the need for emotional content. Of
course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive, but it seems that
oftentimes this obsession with casual sex can get in the way
of more personal and genuine contact with the opposite
The legend hangs over all of us, and superimposes itself
on our actions, intentions and impressions. Whether you’re
in a committed relationship, striking up a conversation in
class or meeting someone at a friendly shindig, these expectations
of behavior can really color our interactions — on
both sides of the fence — and, I think, distract from our
attempts to interact with each other in a meaningful way.
Is I.V. a lonely place for love? It can be. But the good
news is that it’s spring, and if there’s a time to find a little
love in Isla Vista, this is surely it.
Daily Nexus drinking columnist Chris Benham gives really
good drunken relationship advice.