1.1 "Come To the Meetup on Female Orgasm"
Stage 1, Chapter 1
Everything in this world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.
~ Oscar Wilde
Stage 1: Climax
Involuntary contractions followed by explosive release.
The postcard read “Come to The Meetup on Female Orgasm.”
I double-checked the address on the back. The meetup was held at a second story event space south of Union Square. I was early. I considered doing a lap around the block to kill time, but did that last week and ended up chickening out.
“Hi, are you here for TurnON?” a melodic voice said.
There was a young woman standing next to table at the top of the stairs. She was wearing a bright pink dress and a smile that was all eyes and teeth.
My dating coach said I needed to stop fake laughing after I spoke. He said I did that because I couldn’t handle tension. My calves clenched in my sweatpants.
“Great, just sign your name here,” she said.
She had emerald green eyes that sparkled even in the fluorescent light. She said her name was Abby Shakti.
“Nice to meet you, Ruwan. That will be ten dollars,” Abby said.
“Oh I paid online. For two tickets actually.”
My chest sunk in. It was stupid for me to buy two tickets.
“Oh that was you. Okay go right on in,” she said. “You can put your rollerblades in the cubby.”
The event room was some sort of dance studio. The walls were mirrored but had dark curtains over them. The floor was padded. The lighting was clinical. There were ten chairs in a circle, eight black and two white. There was only one person here, an old Indian guy in a starched white shirt. He resembled my dad. I didn’t want to be here anymore.
I sat in the seat next to him anyway. Normally I would have sat as far away as possible, but my normal behavior hadn’t been working for me lately.
“Um, hey so have you been to this thing before?” I asked.
He looked at me over his nose. “Yes, last week I attended,” he said in a slight accent. “It is very interesting what they do here. I want to learn the Orgasmic Meditation.”
“Cool. Me too.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“Do you have a woman that you make love to?”
“Well, kind of, yeah…”
My voice trailed off. My stomach was knotted. I had felt winded all week. Lisa hadn’t returned my texts for six days. I had been holding on to hope that she was just sick or hit by a car or something. But it is harder to believe your own lie when spoken out loud. I knew she was about to dump me.
“When I was a young man I had many girlfriends,” the old Indian man said. “I made love to many women.”
“I am sixty-six years old now. But I still have the energy of a much younger man. I can still satisfy many women.”
“That’s cool I guess.”
My calves clenched again. I didn’t like that I always did that, but it was better than balling up my fists. At least people couldn’t see it.
More people came in and filled the seats. Some seemed to know each other already. There was a young woman wearing leg warmers and her hair in a bun. An Asian guy walked in wearing a cowboy hat. A lanky bearded hipster sat down next to me and rolled up the sleeves of his green flannel shirt. Everyone began small-talking. I wanted to go home.
“Okay everyone,” said Abby Shakti while entering the room. “We’re going to get started now.”
She sat in one of the white chairs. A Latino man with deep set eyes sat in the other one.
“My name is Abby,” she said.
“And I’m Sergio,” he said.
“And welcome to TurnON New York,” they said together.
“We’re from OneTaste,” Abby continued. “OneTaste is an organization that teaches about female orgasm through a practice called Orgasmic Meditation.”
I already knew about OneTaste. They were a wellness company based in San Francisco. I discovered them five years ago through their founder’s TED Talk titled, “Orgasm: The Cure to the Hunger in the Western Woman.”
Lisa and I were supposed to learn this OM thing together. Sex was the only thing that kept her attention more than drugs. And I liked that it had something to do with spirituality. My favorite self-help author Tim Ferriss featured it in his latest fitness book, calling it ‘The Fifteen Minute Orgasm.’ I tried following the technique with the book open but Lisa didn’t come for one minute let alone fifteen. We were saving up to fly out to San Francisco to take a class on it. I had to find out what I was doing wrong.
“So tonight,” Sergio said, “we’re going to play three communication games to give you the feeling of Orgasm in your bodies.”
“The first game is called Inside Outs,” Abby said. “I will say a prompt, and you will fill in the blank with whatever pops into your head. The first one is easy: My name is…”
Starting from Abby’s left we went around saying our names.
“This feels like AA,” the bearded hipster said under his breath.
“Okay, now the first real prompt,” Abby said. “This is why I’m here tonight…”
The event wasn’t what I expected.
Most of the evening was spent on the second game called ‘Hot Seats’. One person was the focus of attention and everyone could ask them any question about anything. Someone asked the leg warmers girl if she would scream at the top of her lungs and she did so without hesitation. People asked the Indian man why he was trying to hide his loneliness. The bearded hipster was asked about his lack of purpose and need for father’s approval. He broke down and cried. I had never seen a man with a beard cry before. I was embarrassed for him.
I didn’t understand how the question-askers could know to ask the exact question that would get an emotional response. And I didn’t understand what any of this had to do with women’s orgasms.
In the third and final game, we were supposed to pick someone and say something we wouldn’t normally share out loud. Many people commended the bearded hipster for his vulnerability. I shared with Abby that I didn’t believe her smile could possibly be real. Sergio shared with me that he was disappointed that I declined to participate in the HotSeat game.
Abby closed with a sales pitch for the next Orgasmic Meditation class that was happening in December. I still had no idea what this event and clitoris-stroking had to do with each other.
This was weird. I felt weird. But I did learn something. I had always thought of truth as binary— Either something was true or it wasn’t. But I could see now how there were degrees of truth. I had never seen people, let alone strangers, be so emotionally open.
For all the I love you’s we exchanged, Lisa and I never were that truthful. We didn’t lie to each other outright, but we were never really vulnerable with each other. She never knew how I felt and I had never had a clue of what was going on inside her. Today I witnessed a greater magnitude of truth with this group of strangers than in all the nights she and I spent in each others’ arms.
Abby Shakti caught up with me at the cubby.
“Hey I appreciated your communication to me,” she said. “I didn’t realize I was smiling so hard. I guess that’s how I deal with tumescence.”
“It’s any kind of overwhelming sensation. Some people deal with it by becoming dramatic. Others deal with it by shutting down. Some people try to control it by…”
“Clenching their muscles?”
“Yeah that could be one way.”
The Indian man walked up and spoke to Abby as if I wasn’t there.
“Hello Abigail Shakti,” he said. “I find you to be a beautiful goddess.”
“Oh, well thank you, Kumar.”
“I would like to give you manual pleasure. I would like to give you the Orgasmic Meditation.”
“Um, Kumar, that’s not how you ask. And you really should receive training before you…”
“I saw Nicole’s TED Talk and I have read the The Four Hour Body. I know how it’s done. You only undress from the waist, I keep my clothes on. You butterfly your legs, and I…”
“Kumar, you need to take the class first,” Abby said through a smile full of tumescence.
I sidled away. Near the exit, Sergio had just finished enrolling the bearded guy to the OM class. I had been afraid to speak up the entire event. Now was my chance.
“Hey, um, Sergio, can I ask you a question?”
“Yes?” His voice was deep yet gentle.
“I had a question about OM… I heard you say something about how it makes men more sensitive…”
“Um, well, would it help a guy, you know hypothetically, if he has, like, erectile… um, you know, a problem getting it up?”
Sergio had soft grey eyes that hid under thick brows. For some reason it wasn’t hard to make eye contact with him. It was actually hard not to.
“Yes it can, Ruwan.”
“How does that work exactly?”
“You see, the pleasure she feels, that’s her orgasm… But OM teaches a man to stroke for his pleasure. That’s your orgasm… But then there’s also a third orgasm that is created between the two of you.”
I had no idea what he was talking about.
“So do you want to take the How To OM class?” he said.
“Um, I’m not sure yet. A hundred-fifty dollars seems like a lot.”
“Hey, what are we talking about here?” Abby said. It seemed like she was following me.
“I was just telling this gentleman about the Third,” Sergio said.
“There’s no third Orgasm, Sergio,” she said.
“Yes there is. Yours, mine, and ours.”
“No. There’s only one Orgasm and it’s between us.”
“No. Nicole said…”
“Nicole said that the Third is just an alchemical concept…”
I slinked away as the orgasm people argued. If they were confused, then there really was no hope for me. This was a dead end just like everything else.
Lisa dumped me, as expected.
She said she realized that “we were different people”. I knew what that really meant. But by then I had adjusted my expectations so I didn’t feel any pain. I didn’t really feel anything at all. She cried and cried and cried. She wanted to do it one more time. Of course. I had to double up on dick pills to get it up. It made my face flush and my lips swell. Bad side effect, I guess.
In five months of dating, I had sex with Lisa almost never without pharmaceutical aid. I could only go natural if we did it first thing in the morning before my anxiety kicked in.
I had started taking Viagra shortly before meeting Lisa. Following my dating coach’s early guidance, I brought a few women home a few weekends in a row, but each time I had trouble getting it up. My dating coach said this was because I had lost my virginity kind of late— therefore my self-concept still hadn’t caught up to my reality. He suggested I take Viagra till I had enough experience. But before then I fell in love with Lisa.
Luckily, my roommates were already taking the blue pill. Roger had a prescription for Viagra. Brad had found a way to order them in bulk from India. Actually most of the guys we partied with took sildenafil citrate for those nights when we drank too hard.
“They lead to comical erections,” Brad often said.
I told Lisa that I took them to counteract all the cocaine we were doing. But the truth was, I really did coke so I’d have an excuse to take Viagra.
She had her own blue pills. A month into our relationship she confessed that she was addicted to Percocets, blues, as the kids called them. But we got her off that. Since then we stuck to softer stuff, like cocaine.
Viagra does as advertised. It turns your member into a tool. It rises regardless of your emotional state. No more humiliation. No more performance anxiety. But it also takes away the range of sensations. You can only feel pleasure when you go hard and fast. For our breakup sex, Lisa wanted it tender and slow. So I didn’t feel any pleasure. I didn’t feel anything at all.
“So, I guess I’ll see you around then,” I said as she dressed up in my room for the last time.
“You don’t want to be friends?”
“No, Ruwan. I’m going to rehab.”
“Oh. But you stopped taking blues months ago. And we had the coke under control…”
Lisa sighed. “How are you so smart but such an idiot at the same time?”
I sent a letter to the address she left me, but never got a response. As the months passed, I returned to my old way of life. I went to the gym with Roger. I went on dates. I attended free Meetup events. But I almost didn’t care if they happened or not. I hated to admit it, but Lisa had become my source of direction. With her there was always a crisis to fix, a problem to solve. It always felt important. I always felt important. Without her I wasn’t sure why I did anything at all.
Hurricane Sandy was the most exciting thing to happen that fall. The Category Three storm wiped out all the power south of Fortieth Street. The roommates and I stayed up the first night smoking pot and philosophizing by candlelight.
Roger and I went outside to watch the storm. The rain was flying horizontally down 7th Street. It matched the rage in my soul. I wanted to tell Roger how I had been feeling but wasn’t sure how to put it into words.
“You know what we should do?” he said. “Lets sell all our things and live in an RV. All we really need to live is a laptop and a couple clothes. We can shower at the gym, and park in a different neighborhood every day…”
“Yes! We’ll be completely off grid!”
“That was the problem with Occupy,” he said. “You can’t change a system while still inside it. You need to unplug first…. Buckminster Fuller said that. You can’t change things by fighting the existing reality. But you can make a new one that makes the old one obsolete.”
I thought that was a brilliant idea. Once the storm passed I began downsizing my belongings. I brought up the van idea to Roger a few weeks later.
“Oh dude, that was just a high thought,” he said.
“You actually thought I wanted to live with you in a van on the street? It’s fucking cold out. Winter is coming.”
It was almost December. The Mayan calendar said the world was supposed to end in a few weeks. I didn’t really mind if it did.
So one afternoon, when I got a random call from Abby Shakti, the bright smiling girl from OneTaste, I picked up. When she asked me to buy the How To OM class, I said “yes”. When she told me they had a sale where it was fifty bucks off, I said “cool”. And it was being held in Alphabet City, just a few blocks away from my apartment.
I still didn’t get what OneTaste or their clitoris-stroking thing was about, but it was something to do, I guessed.
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All the events of this book are true, as I experienced them; albeit filtered through an imperfect memory and quickly scribbled notes.
Most characters are fictionalized— Names and descriptions have been changed, and many characters have been composited, both to protect identities and make the story more readable.
If you think you recognize someone in the book, think again.
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