There are lots of things I used to enjoy in high school but don’t now. Wine coolers. Sonic Youth. Amusement park rides that spin around in circles.
I recently had a revelation about another former pastime and was surprised at how suddenly, and strongly, it struck me: I never again want to get naked in an automobile.
I was out on a date with my husband — sorry, honey — when the notion hit me. We’d seen a movie, had dinner. But we couldn’t go home yet because one or both of our children might still be awake and as any parent knows, a date that ends in the 437th consecutive reading of Goodnight, Gorilla has no right being called a date at all.
So we sat in our car, wondering what to do next. Bewitched by the urgent amorousness that only the absence of one’s children can conjure, my spontaneous spouse glanced at the back seat, eyebrows raised. And before diplomacy could intervene — before I had fully processed the proposal, even — I heard myself say, “Yeah … I think I’m all done with that.”
The decision, I explained, was not personal but practical. Though I once derived a girlish thrill from the chaos of a mosh pit, or the incongruous texture of beach sand in my bed sheets, such disorder now chafes my grown-up sensibilities.
Besides, hanky-panky in a hatchback requires a flexibility of both mind and body that, frankly, I haven’t been able to claim since the first Lollapalooza. No one looks alluring with her hair caught in a seat belt buckle, and I’m sorry but you can’t call it “sexual freedom” if you’re surrounded on all sides by upholstery. The dimensions give a whole new meaning to tuck and roll.
Car copulation, one of my girlfriends points out, is rarely an act of unbridled lust and more often the desperate act of a couple with literally no place else to go.
“I have not had sex in a car since the first day I had a key to my own dorm room,” says the married mother of two. “The idea just doesn’t appeal to me.”
We haven’t gone frigid, mind you. Meet us in the shower. Lead us to the rooftop. Clear off the kitchen counter, if you dare.
“I opt for hotels, motels, tabletops, heck even a chair,” says another mom I know. “Just don’t make me go back-seating again!”
Because the aversion is philosophical, too. When you’re young and testing out your sexual potency, you want to know your partner will disrobe for you anywhere, at any time. But when your mutual attraction is well established — and you’re seeking sexual satisfaction, not just proof of your hotness — then you want something different from your guy: You want to know he’ll wait until you’re relaxed, reclined and (apologies to the squeamish) within 30 feet of a sink.
“Never say never,” argues a particularly frisky — and, I should mention, newlywed — friend of mine. “And say ‘Cadillac!’ Making love in the back seat of a Cadillac is at least as comfortable as doing it on the couch.”
But if car sex is a rite of passage, then perhaps giving it up is, too. A friend of mine with grown children recalls her own four-wheeled flings with fondness — but is equally happy to trade them in for the luxury of later model.
“As one gets older, one must cultivate a more enchanted fantasy life,” she says. “I’m frequently Ava Gardner on the beach with some young thing — a scene from Night of the Iguana.
“And I don’t have to get the sand off my butt anymore.”