A few years ago, I was going down on my lover and he really wasn't into it. I had just come off a lover who exploded at my every touch, and my newfound incompetence was seriously hard on my ego. I started to cry, which is one of the least sexy things one can do while attempting a blow job.
The man I was with started asking questions. As uncomfortable as that made me, I realized a few things. First, I enjoyed blow jobs because I liked being good at them. A lover early on had trained me to deliver them exactly the way he liked, and when I was going down on someone, my brain buzzed with his remembered instructions (Keep your hands moving! Keep your tongue moving! Twist like this!). I was skilled, but I was performing and accomplishing something with a man's cock rather than enjoying the sensations I received inside my mouth. I was goal-oriented—focused on "making him come."
My new lover suggested I try something completely different. He was going to lie back, he said, and I should relax. Put on some nice music and do whatever I felt like doing. He told me not to worry about whether he got hard or whether he came or was close to coming. I put on The xx's self-titled album (which is one slow, sexy duet after another) and listened to the entire thing while I played with his cock with my lips and tongue. For the first time I could recall, I thought about what that felt like to me. I had never before given a blow job without worrying about how long my neck could handle the prolonged up and down motion or whether my jaw would get too sore to continue.*
That afternoon, I learned the pleasures of patience. Patience is about gentleness, about making space for not knowing the outcomes of actions and releasing the pressure to produce particular results. There is something infinitely loving and sensual about introducing that sort of patience to the bedroom, which is all too often poisoned with performance anxiety and insecurity.
There is no more certain way to render me unable to have an orgasm than to order me to have one. "Come for me, baby," has always elicited a sinking sensation in my chest, and I am bemused by the orgasms on demand that so often populate BDSM fiction, as well as by the orgasms that are held back until permission has been granted. If I want to come, I have to be patient in exactly the way I just described.
For so long, an orgasm was something I tried to grab quickly, before my lover came. Then one day, I started to wonder about this. There I was, as an adult, behaving as if my parents were about to walk in on me in the family room. I was treating my lovers like a stopwatch, trying to have an orgasm before the buzzer rang, and giving up dejectedly if I failed.**
I am a woman of many goals, but I think they might represent the antithesis of the pleasures of patience. Goals accomplished provide a sense of fierce, sharp victory, but they also spur me to race and struggle. Patience is often required in order to meet a goal, but it also requires that I accept the possibility of never reaching my destination. It is hard to be where I am, feeling good, feeling bad, or not feeling much of anything at all, and yet that is exactly what "having patience" asks me to do.
Being an erotica writer has made me able to talk about sex as I never could before. Now, words like "cock" and "cunt" roll easily off my tongue, and I am much more likely to come to bed with a glimmer in my eye and say, "There's something I want to try tonight." At the bottom of all my voracious desire, however, there's a foundation of patience making it possible. That afternoon curled at the foot of the bed with The xx and my lover's soft cock has made its mark. I can say there's something I want to try because I can, at least a little, be patient and set aside worries about whether anyone's going to come or how "well" I'm doing at whatever I'm trying to do. I can close my eyes and pay attention to how something actually feels to me. I can treat my own pleasure as important, even if it takes longer to emerge than I might like it to.
* This experience was the root of "Getting Something Out of It," which appeared in Rachel Kramer Bussel's Going Down: Oral Sex Stories.
** This idea became "What's Not to Come," one of my first published erotic stories. It appeared in the dearly departed Oysters and Chocolate, and one of these days I'll reprint it somewhere.