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I did a boudoir photo shoot

*This is not a sponsored post. I was not asked to write this post. I received zero discounts or perks.*

I’ve wanted to do a boudoir photo shoot for a long time now. As an amateur photographer I’m fascinated by sexual photography–naked or nearly so bodies, fetish photography, the whole nine yards. I longed to be a model in one of those photos, but the voices in my head that said I’m not pretty enough or thin enough drowned that desire in a bog of self doubt. I generally hate how I look in photos, with the exception of my wedding photos (which the voices remind me was twenty-five pounds ago). But beneath all of that was a sense of inevitability.

Several months ago I was introduced to Groupon (remember, I just moved back to the US–I’d heard of it but it wasn’t as big a deal as it is now when we left in 2010). One day I was idly scrolling through offers in my area and stumbled across a discount for a boudoir photography shoot with two photos for a steep discount.

My partner turned forty last year and I turn forty next year. No matter what the voices in my head said, he has always found me beautiful.  decided to push my boundaries and do this shoot for him. Or at least I told myself it was for him.

I booked my date and because of childcare and travel issues had several months to dread and second/third/hundredth guess my decision. Initially I made up a bogus appointment to explain why he needed to take the kids one day while I went into San Francisco. I’m a terrible liar and my excuse fell apart, so I told him what was up. He was incredibly supportive and together we crafted the four looks I would shoot with.

The price of the shoot was just the beginning. I hadn’t thought about all the details.

In the months before the shoot…

I’ve had back surgery, and was told heels were off limits for me. But I wasn’t about to wear flats in a sexy shoot. I bought three pairs of heels and a pair of dominatrix boots.

I bought a new piece of lingerie.

I bought new lacy panties.

I bought a man’s white shirt as mine didn’t look so fresh, and I wanted a better fit.

Celebrate Your Sexy sent me an email to ask me questions, including how do I feel about photos of myself and what are my concerns. (Top concern–I’d hate the photos and it would wreck my fragile self esteem).

The week of the shoot….

I got my eyebrows, lower arms, under arms, and full legs waxed.

I got a pedicure and acrylic nails.

On the day of the photo shoot…

I couldn’t find one of my outfits and had to rethink an entire look. This totally freaked me out. (It was on top of my bureau so I wouldn’t lose it–which I discovered that night.)

I had my hair and makeup done.

When my stylist asked what I wanted done with my hair I said “make it look like I just had really good sex.” My straight hair was curled and teased. Since I was (mostly) going to keep my glasses on, we added fake lashes and just did some liner on my eyes. I did a blood red lip (fiery liquid lipstick from Stila–it is my go-to and the only red I’ve ever tried that didn’t look pink-y or orange-y).

All of this added up to way more than the photo shoot cost. A more secure/more cost conscious person could probably do without these extras, but this is my journey.

The experience…

I was ready about an hour before my shoot, and I sat in my car so as not to sweat my make-up off in the insane heat wave that gripped the Bay Area a few weeks ago. This gave me plenty of time to contemplate if I wanted to take anxiety medication.

I drove to the location of the photo shoot with a carry-on suitcase full of clothes/shoes/props and texted the photographer that I was downstairs.

The photographer immediately put me at ease. We talked through my outfits and shoes. She let me plug my phone in and put on a playlist (regret–should’ve had a better playlist as it wasn’t something I’d really thought about or planned for). We talked about my props and which outfit they went with, etc.

We set up my four outfits, and I changed into the first one–a sexy red dress with red heels with a matching black lace bra and panty under it. The photographer started me off on the bed, moving the lights and herself around me. She walked me through poses, and told me to tell her when something was just not okay for my back or any other reason. Some poses were indeed uncomfortable, and I gained a small appreciation for what it must take to create ads and layouts in magazines (apart from photoshop).

My second outfit was a turquoise bra and panty under a white men’s shirt and black heels. I posed with a copy of Capturing the Moment. I wished I’d brought my own laptop, but the photographer lent me hers. I’m hoping I like one of these photos so I can use it here on the site.

My third leaned hard into kink. A nightie with a vinyl/pleather breast bra top, black lacy panties, and dominatrix boots that on my five foot two/three inch frame went nearly into my vagina. I posed with a riding crop with a sparkly handle and one with a heart-shaped surface.

My fourth? Mesh with nothing under it and black heels. I should have felt self conscious or uncomfortable, but by that point I felt comfortable with the photographer, with my body, and most shockingly–with the camera.

The photos…

I’m seeing them on Friday. I wanted to write about the experience before I saw them, and then I’ll write another entry about that experience.

Final thoughts…

I had such a positive experience that I volunteered to model in a plus sized lingerie show next month. It was a safe space.

After the shoot they give you a pamphlet with next steps and it’s not until you reach that point that you learn the ridiculous per photo costs. However, this seems to be a standard thing in the world of boudoir photography. So the selection process will be brutal, or at least I hope I like enough of the photos for it to be a difficult decision.

I’d definitely recommend Celebrate Your Sexy if you go into it knowing the photos are really expensive. They shoot all over the US.

Here’s hoping that I’ll have an excellent Friday morning.

On moving, and writing

I moved back to the US in February. It’s now nearly August–nearly six months of being “home.” Except it’s not home. Not my coast. Not my state. Not my city–definitely not this as I live in the burbs. My neighbors tell me it’s a city and that there are over 100k people, to which I reply that my last home crammed nearly 7m people into the same geography of 1/4 the size of Rhode Island. In fact, it’s a lot like moving to Singapore, only I like the food more and there’s Target.

Six months.

Six months of my children begging to move back to Singapore, their unhappiness mingling with my own until even retail therapy is no form of therapy at all. Six months of scolding myself for not adjusting better, even as I know that re-entry is often as or more painful than leaving. Six months of having my youngest home all the time because here she’s too little for Kindergarten and the pre-schools all have waiting lists. Six months of trying and failing to find a place in my house where I could write but be away from my children (especially the one who can read over my shoulder and who doesn’t need this thorough a sex education at her age) when my bedroom is half the size it was and can no longer fit my office. Six months of getting lost every time I leave the house (thank Google for Android Auto and Google Maps).

Plunder was supposed to be done nearly three months ago. After all, I rationalized to myself–it’s not like I’ll have friends there, I can just write. And write. And write. Hell, I might even finish it in the two weeks my kids are with my in-laws.  I’ve barely begun to write the second draft.

When this entry publishes, I’ll be back in Boston for the first time in nearly four years. I’m frightened it will also be too unfamiliar, too alien and that nothing will feel like home again. I’m scared that I’ll forever be in-between. Not Boston. Not Singapore. Not the West Coast. Not at home anywhere.

That melancholy, right there. That’s where I’ve been for the past six months. Depressed. Frightened. Trying to reassure my children when I’m just as unhappy as they are. Looking for doctors, orthodontists, the good Target, the good grocery store, buying a car, talking to teachers, looking for a Chinese tutor, and sometimes just too depressed to even get out of bed.

I took the first really hard steps–I told my partner that I thought I was far past the normal amount of grieving. I’d even shut out my therapist (whom I have a skype relationship of 2+ years with). I got my mental health meds adjusted to help drag me out of the darkest parts of the depression.

I’ve started writing again. Who knows if any of it is any good, but I’m at least doing it. I’m sharing here because in writing erotica we lay ourselves bare–we share fantasies, we share desire, we share romance and sex and relationships. Sometimes, a relationship is difficult, even when it’s with ourselves.

Hold me accountable to write here again. Poke me on Twitter, leave a comment on the blog, email me at delilahnight at gmail dot com and say “hey, where are you?” Writing for me = mental health.

 

Questions about Singapore

singapore flag

Here are the top 5 questions I get about Singapore in no particular order

 

1-What language do they speak?

Short answer–English

Longer answer–There are four official languages—English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil, but English is the language of government and it the primary language taught in the schools.

Singapore was a British colony for hundreds of years. It only became an independent country after World War II. The elites classes all spoke English, and the first Prime Minister and Father of the Country, Lee Kuan Yew was educated at the London School of Economics and studied law at the University of Cambridge. He didn’t speak Mandarin until his adulthood. His son, the current Prime Minister, went to University of Cambridge and Harvard.

That said, Singaporeans speak English with a distinct accent. There is also a local patois called Singlish.

singlish

The only Singlish I use is can/cannot because it is efficient. As for the rest, white people sound like asses when we try to use it and inevitably fuck it up. That said, my older daughter, who has lived here her whole life and goes to local schools, is fully fluent in Singlish. However, she code-switches–with her friends and at school she sounds like a true-blue Singaporean, but at home her accent lightens dramatically and she sounds American. This is totally unconscious on her part, and fascinating to watch in action.

gum

2-Is chewing gum really banned?

Short answer—yes

Longer answer–it’s banned for sale, but you can bring it in for personal use, you can get the stop-smoking gum by prescription, and my dentist office will sell you some kind of gum. We generally bring back gum when we go on vacation to the US.

So here’s the true story of why gum is banned in Singapore.

The trains here have sensors that tell them if anything is blocking the doors. They won’t close the doors/run the trains until whatever is blocking them is moved. The government is really into the trains running on time. People kept sticking gum on the doors and it messed with the sensors so the trains weren’t running on time so the government banned gum.

 

DSC_1808

 

3-Do they cane people?

Yes, they do. The picture above is from my daughter’s school handbook. You’ll notice that Caning is the 8th level of punishment. However, caning is reserved for boys/men only.

Caning children as a disciplinary technique is very common, and very controversial. Within my local friends, there’s a mixture of caners and not. Some of my friends were caned and think it was fine, others think it was awful. It seems pretty analagous to the spanking debate in the US. It’s frightening how normal it seems after being immersed in the culture for six years. I’m told at the secondary school level, the caning is carried out during an assembly in front of the entire school.

Caning is also used as a government punishment. That cane, though,can strip away skin and cause bleeding. This is no joke.

 

singapore

4–Where in China is Singapore?

It’s not. Singapore is a country at the extreme southern tip of Continental Asia. While many Singaporeans have Chinese heritage, it is not, nor has it ever been part of China.

 

5—Now it’s your turn. What questions do you want to ask me about Singapore?

Wicked Wednesday: Milestones

1997

 I enter college, terrified of failing. I will not go back to managing a sub shop or working at JC Pennys. I am not the first person in my family to take a college class, but I am determined to succeed. I balance a fulltime job, a fulltime courseload, and manage to pick up a boy by asking him if he’s taken his girlfriend to Titanic yet.

1999

I am shaking as I board the very first plane I’ve ever flown on. I’m leaving Boston for the south of France for a study-abroad. The French professors have a bet as to whether I’ll get on the plane or not. I do. I have my wallet stolen in Arles, and learn how you report an atm credit card stolen. I hope they enjoyed my Tower Records video rental card and the five dollars in cash I had. I fall in love with a terrible boyfriend, and am dumped in favor of his ex-girlfriend right before New Year’s Eve. But we’ll still be friends. Sure. This is my first New Year’s Eve as a twenty-one year old, and I get plastered. I end up making out with a drunk Northeastern hockey player in a porta-potty (I know, I know) and take him home. This is also the year I start to come to terms with my queerness and seek therapy because I’ve bought into all the toxic stereotypes about bisexuals.

2000

I call my “friend” who dumped me to ask how his New Year’s Eve went. He tells me he hung out with a friend, played video games and drank beer. He asks me what I did. I reply “A hockey player.” Mic drop. The porta-porty make-out was worth it.

2001

I am a college senior, writing an honors thesis for the history degree I’ve realized qualifies me for exactly nothing. My boyfriend introduces me to Literotica and I start writing. I write the infamous Wesley Crusher fanfic. I am now hooked on writing erotica. I graduate from college and become the first person to do so in my family. I become a manager of a retail store because I have a degree in History.

2002

I move to New York to pursue an MA/PhD in History. This is a terrible idea, and I flame out. New York is a cruel city and I have never been more alone and unhappy than I was there. But I saw a ton of Broadway, made new friends, and wrote like crazy. I have no regrets when I leave.

2004

After realizing how much I hated the PhD program, I get a Master’s in Teaching and get my first classroom.

2005

I meet my husband and after our first date, I tell him I want to be “just friends.” When I realize I’m an idiot several weeks later, he gives me a second chance.

2006

We get married. I write the ceremony. The West Wing is mentioned. My husband slips a Babylon 5 reference into his vows. I herniate a disc in my back and spend several months high as hell and unable to walk properly until I get surgery. This is not the best start to a marriage, but my husband is awesome. Serious props to him.

2007

I lose a baby in a miscarriage. I was only 10/11 weeks along but I am devastated. I do not move from my bed for almost a month.

2008

My eldest is born, and we almost lose her at a week of age due to an infection. She spends a month in the hospital. When she gets out I suffer from intense post-partum depression. I consider suicide a lot.

2009

My bipolar disorder is finally correctly diagnosed. I have a mild form that is often misdiagnosed as depression. I finally get useful mental health medication. My daughter, while highly medical, much to everyone’s surprise and joy does not have developmental delays or serious complications.

2010

We move to Singapore. All I really knew about Singapore before we moved here was that gum was banned and they caned some American kid named Michael Fay when I was in high school. We visit and it is hot as hell. But what the heck–we always said we wanted to live abroad, so we jump in.

2011

Kid number two is born and I sell my first story.

2014

I go to Cambodia, alone. It is the first time I’ve been outside the US on my own. I am so proud that I have a wonderful vacation all on my own.

2015

I write and sell my first novella. I nearly die from a kidney infection and deal with the medical and emotional fallout from that. Around a third of my hair falls out and I cope by dyeing it bright blue. Because why not.

2016

We are still in Singapore, despite our initial assumptions that we’d be here only a few years. My children study Chinese as a second language. I am getting a baptism by fire as my eldest progresses through local schools. We are going to celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary. I just finished the first draft of my novel.

What’s Next?

wicked wednesday

Wicked Wednesday–Things Get Better With Age

I am thirty-seven years old, and will turn thirty-eight this fall. Despite the fact that my breasts are no longer perky, nor am I up for having sex twelve times in a weekend, I would argue that my sex life has improved dramatically with age.

I had sex for the first time at eighteen. My motivations were a mixture of fear of being left behind (I’m the last virgin in the world), being newly single, general horniness, and no small amount of let’s get this over with. My partner was someone I’d only gone out with once or twice, and when he invited me back to his parents’ house to “watch anime,” I was still naive enough to think he actually meant we would watch anime. When we started making out, it was fine. Then he wanted more, and I decided fuck it, why not. He got angry because I’d gotten blood on his sheets and his mom would be suspicious. He was in his twenties.

evangelionThanks for ruining anime for me, bro

I spent eighteen to twenty-five having a lot of sex with a lot of people. While not every choice was a smart one, nor was every experience a safe one, I ultimately have no regrets. Lots of indiscriminate sex allowed me to explore my sexuality. I came to terms with my bisexuality, although it wasn’t as simple as that statement might imply. Through AOL chat rooms (a/s/l?) I played around with identities and talked to people of all ages and kinks, which allowed me to explore things I never could have before the internet.

Although not universally true, the biggest theme of my first decade of sexual experience, though, was validation. I had experienced a lot of rejection growing up, and the appeal of acceptance–particularly from men, was a way to see myself as worthy. This was especially true after I graduated from college, and after my first attempt at grad school blew up in my face. I was no longer receiving grades for my academic scholarship, so I needed a new way to rate my own worthiness.

please clapSort of, but not as sad as Jeb!

Around the age of twenty-six, though, I hit a breaking point. I had spent so much time trying to mold myself into the person my boy/girlfriend of the moment wanted me to be that I was losing myself. Why did I pretend to like sports/cars/nature? Why did I hide my geeky side with some partners, and my girly side with others? Did I want to keep fucking partners indiscriminately (which is a totally a valid choice) or did I want something more long term and monogamous-y? I stayed single for about a year, which at that point felt like forever. In that time I began to come to terms with who I was and what I wanted out life.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after that year(ish) I met Mr. Night. He was the first partner with whom I was truly myself, and with whom I didn’t play mind games. I said this is who I am and what I want, take it or leave it. To his credit, he was approaching our relationship the same way, which cut through all of the typical early relationship bullshit.

In short, we both came to our relationship with the same mindset.

im-getting-too-old-for-this-shit-quote-2You tell ’em, Detective Murtaugh

This is not to say that our relationship has been all rainbows and unicorn stickers. Marriage is hard, and adding kids to the mix is like inviting a nuclear explosion into your life. There have been times when we have more frequent sex, and we have also had droughts, sometimes long ones.

So what makes sex better at thirty-seven than eighteen? Not because my husband has the biggest penis or the tightest body of all the men I’ve been with, nor is he better at oral than most of the women I’ve been with. No, sex is better today because of confidence and self-knowledge.

I know what I like, what I want, and I’m direct in asking for it. I’m not going to expect my partner to be a mind reader, nor does he expect me to be one.  I don’t play I don’t fake orgasms.relationship games.

This isn’t just true inside the bedroom. I think I’m a happier person overall at thirty-seven because I’m just not interested in pretending to be something I’m not.

I am what I amLa Cage Aux Folles said it best

I’m looking forward to growing older. While I’m not excited about the hormonal insanity of menopause, I do look forward to the spike in sex drive and the loss of my fertility and period.

I’m looking forward to my daughters growing up and moving out.

I’m looking forward to retiring with my husband.

I’m looking forward to continuing to grow as a sexual person until the day I die. Preferably of a massive orgasm.

wicked wednesday

Giving Back Blog Hop

Strange Shifters

In the spirit of this week’s holiday of American Thanksgiving, Lisabet Sarai has organized a blog hop for authors who have participated in Coming Together anthologies called the “Giving Back Blog Hop”

I’ve taken part in three Coming Together anthologies thus far (Among the Stars, For the Holidays, and Strange Shifters) and I plan to continue submitting to them in the future.

Over the course of my life, I have benefited from many forms of help. The largest was government assistance in the form of money and food stamps as a child. I received college scholarships, without which college would have remained just a dream. Teachers sometimes covered field trip fees so that I wouldn’t be left behind. And when my daughter was in the pediatric intensive care unit at only a week of age, she was gifted with a hat and a blanket that someone had knitted and donated to Project Linus in the hopes of providing comfort to a child in crisis. So now, whenever I have the chance, I give back. I love that one of the ways I can give back is through my stories.

Young woman takes off bikini to swiming in the sea.

The first charity anthology I participated in was Summer Loving, edited by Alison Tyler, with proceeds going to help Sommer Marsden’s family during a time of medical crisis. As someone whose family has dealt with medical trauma, and a fan of Sommer’s,  I was eager to participate. This was the first time I had heard of a charity anthology, or considered the idea that the stories we tell could help people in real, tangible ways. I was so glad when “Baby it’s Hot Outside” was selected to be part of the anthology.

coming together for the holidays

I first heard about Coming Together when they put out a call for Coming Together: For the Holidays, edited by Alessia Brio. I had a Christmas-themed story, “New on the Naughty List” (which you can still read for free here until Dec 1), so I sent it in. I not only was interested in the theme of the anthology, but the charity it supported as well–Stand Up for Kids.  Being part of that anthology–as well as gifting copies of it–was the opportunity to share a story I loved and help homeless kids at the same time.

Strange Shifters

My most recent Coming Together anthology is Strange Shifters, which is also my second Coming Together anthology with Lynn Townsend. This anthology, feature sexy shapeshifters, donated all proceeds to Bat World Sanctuary. This was the first story I wrote (well, rewrote) after being critically ill this year. In a year where I am most thankful to still be alive and able to write this blog post, it is fitting that my only publication of 2015 be part of a charity collection.  My story, “A Reindeer by Any Other Name” chronicles what Blitzen was up to during the events of “New on the Naughty List” from Coming Together:For the Holidays.

 

Among the Stars

As a Sci-Fi fan, I leapt at the chance to participate in Coming Together:Among the Stars. While a fan of Lynn Townsend’s prior to participating in this anthology, I credit it as the catalyst to our friendship. If you read my story “Love is a Virus,” you won’t be surprised to know that I’m a huge Trekkie. (For the story of that one time Wil Wheaton saw my horrible TNG fanfic, go here).

As “New on the Naughty List” is currently free, and I’ve recently excerpted “A Reindeer by Any Other Name,” I decided to share a snippet from “Love is a Virus.”

When Lily turned to carry the plates to her table, the ensign was standing next to it. “You can be casual. This isn’t Central Command, and I’m too damn tired to be formal,” she said as she put the plates on the table and dropped into a seat.

“Yes, ma’am.

Oh for fuck’s sake. “Lily.” She pointed at herself. “Saanvi.” She indicated the other woman. Maybe that will calm her down.

“Yes, ma’—.” She closed her mouth abruptly. Taking a deep breath, she began again, “In that case, should I—? Can I—?” Saanvi’s voice trailed off as she indicated her uniform jacket.

“Sure, if you want to.”

Ensign Patel removed her jacket and carefully hung it on the back of the chair. Beneath the jacket, she was wearing a regulation black t-shirt.

Maybe this isn’t the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Lily glanced out at the stars, drinking deeply from her wine glass, but it was too late. The image of Saanvi’s breasts straining against the fabric of the shirt had already burned itself into her brain.

“Lily?” Saanvi seemed to be testing the word on her tongue.

“Yes?”

“I like your hair down.”

“Thanks.” Feeling a bit flustered, Lily focused on her salmon. When she regained her composure, Lily began again. “So, tell me how things have been going. I heard you really stepped up this week. Still healthy?”

“I was happy to help.”

“Personally, I was hoping for the flu. Then I’d have an excuse to go back to bed,” Lily joked, trying to put the ensign at ease.

Saanvi glanced across the room at the Captain’s large bed and sighed wistfully. “If I had a bed that big, I’d never want to leave it.”

If you were in my bed I wouldn’t let you leave it. Shit. Stop it, Dawes. She saluted the bed with her wine glass. “Rank does have its privileges.”

 

Share the name and link of your favorite charity and tell me why you support them in the comments below between now and November 30, 2015. 

On Dec 1, 2015 I’ll randomly select a comment, and I’ll donate 25 USD to your charity (I’ll send a screenshot to you via email to prove it.).

 

ETA—Thanks-Giving Back Hop Links
Sunday 22 November
Monday 23 November
Tuesday 24 November
Wednesday 25 November
Thursday 26 November
Friday 27 November
Saturday 28 November

The most (potentially) dangerous thing I’ve ever done

When the time comes to talk to the girls about sex in more detail, and about making good choices there is a story I am going to have share that I’m not looking forward to.

When I was 20, I went did a short term abroad in France.  We were based in the South of France, about an hour north of Marseilles.  The school kept us busy between classes and outings, so there wasn’t much time for unsupervised travel, with one exception.  We had one three day weekend, and while going to Paris (my dream) was beyond my reach both in terms of time and money, I decided to go to Cannes.

Cannes was too expensive for me to stay the night, so I picked a smaller town along the coast to spend the night, Juan-Les-Pins.

It must be said that this trip to France was huge for me.  It marked my first time out of the Northeast of the US, the US itself, and my first time on a plane.

I hadn’t traveled solo previously.  What I had done, was filled my head with the idea of a fling with a sexy Frenchman.  I had done some hanging out in bars during my first few weeks (the drinking age in France is 18), but beyond a conversation or two, had made no progress in this area.  However, this was an opportunity I wouldn’t be able to repeat-I had a hotel room all to myself and no one to answer to.  So my mission that night was to hook up.

It was mid afternoon, so I decided to go for a walk before taking a nap and hitting the bar and dance scene.  I was enjoying the gorgeous architecture and snapping photos (pre-digital camera so I have nothing to show, sorry) when I heard someone call down to me.  I looked up and saw three men on a balcony.

From the vantage point of 14 years and a great deal of travel later, I can tell you that I was ripe for the picking.  It was blindingly obvious that I was a tourist–not only did I have the camera, but I was dressed in shorts, a tank top and sneakers.  No French woman would be caught dead in such boring/casual/rumpled clothes.  American women have a reputation as being easy (which, granted, yes in my case, very true).

They called down to me and invited me up.  I decided that this was my chance to get laid and told my better instincts to go to hell.  I was going to have some fun with a cute French boy.  So I climbed the stairs and entered an apartment where I was alone with three men.

Again, looking back, I’m pretty sure that they were a mix of stoned and drunk.  I was a bit too naive to know what pot smoked like (I’ve grown up a LOT since then), but there was ample alcohol around.  One of the guys began playing a video game and barely seemed to register that I was even there-I sometimes wonder if he knew what the other guys were thinking and just didn’t want to participate, or what.  Of the remaining two guys, one was geeky cute and I was hoping he’d like me in return and the other was over-muscled (past the point of being attractive) and over-tanned.

I spoke some French-enough that I could stumble along, but not so well that I understood much slang or every word spoken to me.  So there wasn’t a lot of talking.

Over muscled blonde guy asked me to go with him to the bedroom.  In the US I would never have been interested, but this was my one shot at a fling, so I needed to bite the bullet.  My fear of going home without having fucked a French guy was greater than my lack of interest, and I followed him.  There was a mattress on the floor with some sheets.  He pulled me down and we kissed.  It wasn’t bad at first.  We made out, and clothes came off.  Then he began pushing me to give him a blowjob.  I tried to say I wanted sex instead.  He pushed my head back toward his crotch.

It was at that moment my brain finally started to kick in.  I was alone in an apartment with three men.  I was alone in a city I’d never been in before.  No one knew where I was.  I didn’t have a cell phone and the internet was still fairly new, so there was no Facebook update or tweets about Juan-les-pins.

I’m not sure why I didn’t just say no and pull on my clothes.  I don’t think I was scared of getting raped, exactly.  I think I decided that a blow job was the path of least resistance to getting out of there.  So I gave him a blow job.  After he came in mouth he got up and went to the bathroom.  Part of me was still phenomenally stupid and I just lay there, trying to figure out what would happen next.

The guy I’d actually considered cute came into the room, and grabbed his crotch raising an eyebrow at me.  I was stupid enough to be shocked at the idea that they might take turns with me.  That shock was the moment I realized that they were going to take turns with me.  That they could rape me without consequence.

I said NO and pulled on my clothes. I ran out the door and down the stairs.  Once out on the street, I heard their laughter as they watched me run away, having resumed their positions on the balcony.

Back in my hotel I realized how phenomenally lucky I was that I didn’t get raped.  I stayed in that night.  The next morning I took the trip to Cannes, determined not to let those assholes ruin my weekend.  Then I took the train home.  I didn’t try to flirt or pick up another guy on that trip.

My biggest mistake was that I did things I would NEVER have done in the US.  I didn’t stop and think about what was safe.  I was stupid, and I was lucky that things didn’t turn out so much worse than they did.  Fourteen years later, many of the things I did at 20 have faded into memory, but that memory is still sharp.  I’m horrified by my poor choices that day.  Yes, the guys were assholes.  But I’m the one who chose to put myself into that situation.  And while they might have been assholes, I’m deeply grateful that they weren’t inclined to take my presence for blanket consent.

You might wonder why I’d tell my daughters about this story.  I don’t want them to be afraid of sex.  I do want them to know the difference between being adventurous and being stupid.  Hopefully they’ll never be as stupid as I was that day.