Am I in the Mood?
By Dariya Subkhanberdina
It all began when I was but a wee lass: my raging horniness. By third grade, I knew that I’d spend the rest of my life trying to fill a chasm that would never be sated. My favorite flavor has always been the toe-curlingly unavailable kind. Each time a man has told me “I’m sorry I don’t feel the same way,” or “Dariya, you’re simply much too unhinged,” a violent longing has been unleashed. I’d lean in, press my mouth against their ear, nibble their lobe, and beg “Now, Dr. Hot Butt (a term of endearment that is most men’s kryptonite, of course), tell me just how much my social media presence makes you cringe.”
I resent Mother and Big Daddy for enrolling me in an all-girls school from the ages of 8 to 14. Those are prime years for a ripening girl to learn how to quell the heinous cravings of her newly furred body, but with no young men around to condition me into ladyness and force me to sublimate my erotic desires into soy candlemaking or an inordinate affection for labradors, my horniness only grew and grew. Night and day, all I could think about was the forbidden fruit I was cruelly deprived of. My fantasies were wretched, rampant, perverted. Men eating pudding cups; men stapling girthy stacks of A4 paper together; men doing the worm; men applying non-irritating deodorant to their hairy pits; men parkouring. The list goes on. I plastered my walls with posters of lush sex god David Attenborough, terrorized my bidet until it couldn’t take it anymore, and gyrated listening to 50 Cent’s “Candy Shop” until my ears bled. “Somebody, anybody, please help me!” I’d screech into the void. But the void never answered. And so, as I blossomed and bloomed, I matured into a mere vessel for nuclear sexual energy which, if let loose, would hands down lead to Armageddon. Sexy Armageddon, but still.
Illustration by Oonagh Mockler
When I finally rode the mighty love pistol, purging every last trace of my loathsome innocence, it was the most glorious two minutes of my life. “Are you in the mood?” he had asked. Stupid buffoon, of course I was. When am I not in the mood? I’m in the mood in the yogurt aisle at Whole Foods. I’m in the mood when TSA agents frisk me with their dainty hands and try to dodge my daring stare. I’m in the mood when standing in line to pick up my yeast infection medication. My deflowerer’s pale hairy thighs, the empty cans of beer on his sticky desk, and the damp odor of the single towel in his room had all given me an embarrassingly massive boner. I tossed aside my garments and demanded that he pleasure me there and then.
Years pass. Eons go by. I find myself sitting in Elementary Italian II, just as revved up as I was in Elementary Italian I. I feel the air conditioning’s cool gust against the nape of my neck. Lorenzo, that sick Italian stallion, is reciting the conjugations of cercare. Few verbs are as potent of an aphrodisiac. Lorenzo knows not what terrible beast he has woken from its slumber. Something about trilling your R’s in Italian never fails to conjure naughty things in my mind. I must be good and listen in order to master the conjugations, but all I can think about are the men posing with fish in their hands I matched with on Tinder last night. The flaccid trout against the calluses on their palms. Their little cargo shorts. Sweet Neptune, men with fish are always enough to hurl me over the edge. Silence, lady parts! Alas, it is in vain. I am in the mood. But this is Italian class and therefore it is so wrong. Sbagliato, I tell you, sbagliato! My body rages and roars with rabid need. Lorenzo is still reciting. No one else appears to be drenched with sex. I cross my legs. I’m sorry sweet, tender crotch, no one must know that I am a dirty horndog.
By Will Lyman
I just noticed that he’s wearing ripped skinny jeans. It’s over. I should be turned on right now, but I absolutely am not. On top of that, he cracked his knuckles rather distressingly two minutes ago, pulling on his fingers until they snapped. The situation I find myself in is, no doubt, sexually charged. Yet, this boy keeps finding ways of reminding me that he has a body—one that I’m finding increasingly horrifying. I’ll rehearse what to say when I swipe into my building: “I’m on antidepressants,” “It’s not me … it’s you,” or even “I sprained my ankle last week and I think I have vertigo. You should let me rest.” It’s a lame practice, coming up with excuses, looking for some condition to blame my general un-arousal on.
We matched on Tinder a week ago, so there is an unspoken sexuality to our encounters. I normally maintain a strict “no Columbia boys” rule, but lately, I’ve been surprising myself. It felt right in the moment, and I am nothing if not a victim of the vibe. I’m also a victim of the myth of “productive wine nights,” which I keep having with friends even though we all know how the night will end—specifically, with incomplete problem sets and a heavy buzz. I was stumbling home on 114th, turning the corner around Strokos, and there he was.
We spoke about the warm weather, Rick Ross, and how hungry we were. I offered to take him to Morton Williams to steal things. It was exactly what a Thursday night is all about: small talk and making weird decisions. It felt appropriate to end the night with someone, anyone; to share some secret moment with them. That’s where he comes in. Him—because I don’t know his name. When we first met at a party last fall, taking whiskey shots out of plastic cups, he saved his number in my phone as “Jack Daniels.” So I refer to him namelessly, an element I’ve stolen from my recent binges of Dexter and You, which made me deeply invested in curating a vivid personal narrative.
I have a troubled history with intimacy, specifically when it’s campus-related. I’m haunted by the mistakes of my freshman self—I once signed a GS student into John Jay to hump on my twin XL. I look back in horror, but I remember thinking at the time that it was the most glamorous thing I’d ever done. In other moments, my mind goes to my sophomore year, where I ended a promising dinner date by knocking the boy off my bed in the middle of the night. I didn’t even wake up when the twink hit the floor. Apparently, I’m a heavy sleeper.
These memories are as unremarkable as they come, something to be expected in the awkward and messy landscape of early-20s relationships. Everyone is trying to figure out who they are and what they like; our sexual selves are defined by obligation and opportunity. A series of considerations: Could this person be interested in me? Should I be doing stuff like this? It feels nice to get attention.
All this landed me here—in a warm, sweaty room where the duvet cover is sticking to my back. The kissing isn’t great. We seem to be on different rhythms. I want to stop and drink some water but I’m too afraid to ask. Would proposing a mid-hookup “chapstick break” kill the mood? Would it be worse to stop and yell for Alexa to skip through my music library until “Kiss It Better” by Rihanna comes on shuffle, as a form of subliminal messaging? The moment is maddening. The audacity of someone to make me feel uncomfortable in my own home—my own 90-square-foot home.
Kim Cattrall said it best: “I don’t want to be in a situation for even an hour where I am not enjoying myself,” and I am not enjoying myself. I’m growing tired of thinking of excuses, as I’m realizing that no matter what I do with Jack Daniels, it won’t be half as exciting as watching the rest of The Dropout alone on my couch. I’m sure Jack is a great person, regardless of his chapped lips and overall offputting demeanor. I don’t see the act of hooking up as particularly telling of anything meaningful about the other person, and I’ve long since given up on the idea that we are defined by our participation in these intimate moments. Nothing about me will fundamentally change because of a hookup. I am, honestly, the farthest from myself at this moment. Maybe horniness is a trauma response to boredom. What I know for certain? I am, most definitely, not in the mood.