One day, when I was in 11th grade, my health teacher asked us to make a list of fun things we could do that weren't sexual intercourse. (Another day, he also put on a windbreaker suit and demonstrated how to fight off gang members. He was pretty great!) I have since lost the list, but I'm pretty sure it included things like, "Smoke clove cigarettes" and "Wear a pewter zodiac pendant on a black satin necklace," so it was time to update anyway.
Decided you're off sex for the summer? Well, hey. Me too! Good job. I'm proud of us. As a reward, here's my list of fun, non-intercoursey things, which you can feel free to tweak or update as you see fit. For instance, I don't have a dog, and you might have one you'd like to brush. For hours. Everybody's list will be different.
But here are a couple of things to get you started.
1.) Go to a used book store. Buy anything that the New York Review of books blurbs as "Stunningly erotic." Read it on Saturday night. Snap at your mother when she texts "You're at home? why you aren't out?" en route to a box at the orchestra, which is surely full of people who are having lots of sex.
2.) Buy a plane ticket to visit your father. Buy a plane ticket to visit your friend from high school. Suggest a fun (!) weekend (!!) in Pittsburgh (!!!) with your friend Davey from college. Look into working at a cattle ranch. You're not Not Having Sex, you are onnnnn vacationnnnn!
3.) Remember when you were little and you pretended to advertise every product you used? Get excited, because you'll be doing that again. "Crest White Strips," you'll say into the mirror as the inside of your upper lip numbs, "Because someone will love you again someday."
4.) Aim your browser of choice to a custom T-shirt web site like Zazzle or CafePress. Start a war with a friend where you make mean custom goods about each other and g-mail them back and forth. For instance, he can make you a spaghetti strap tank that says, "I <3 PENIS" and you can make a travel mug that says "NO I <3 PENIS AND I DRANK TOO MUCH AT BRUNCH LAST WEEK AND HIT ON THE WAITER AND NOW WE CAN'T GO BACK THERE EVER."
5.) Tell yourself that Marianne Dashwood seemed like she was getting all the action, but that she ended up settling, and that it was Elinor who got true love in the end. Realize you are kidding yourself, Alan Rickman is settling? Alan Rickman is fucking great!
6.) Did you know NPR has archives? They do!
7.) Look at the Facebook pages of the people who you are NOT HAVING SEX WITH. Remember: You are nobody's nuclear option. Particularly not somebody who "likes" "The Tudors." I mean, what?
8.) Stop braiding things!!!! Braiding is not sex! Leave that area rug alone!!!!
9.) Congratulate yourself every time you don't have an HPV scare after using one of those moisture-bead body washes.
10.) Every once in a while, recalibrate by asking your friends if people you think are hot are actually hot, as you are in a euphoric, natural state of beer goggle.
11.) Treat yourself and buy the fancy tampons. Remember when you used to be relieved to get your period? Ha ha, those were funny days, before you started signing wedding guestbooks "Julieanne & her plus one, panty moths."
12.) Continue to Not Vlog.
13.) Cultivate a series of entirely text- and email- based flirtations. Begin to substitute news about your e-nonlationships when your mom asks about your love life, until she remarks that you are beginning to sound like the woman from her old church who wrote Jon Bon Jovi letters because she thought he was secretly in love with her.
14.) Drunk and house-sitting one night, watch the first 10 minutes of a series of excruciatingly bad romantic comedies on Netflix instant. Be sure to yell out, "Who writes this shit" at regular intervals while slurping at a beautiful little Anthropologie juice glass full of Valpolicella. Cover your face with your hands during sex scenes and go "NO!" Make a mental note to go to Anthropologie to buy juice glasses.
15.) Occasionally touch the skin on your eyelids. Feel that? That's what balls used to feel like.
16.) Throw yourself into your art. Drunk on the street, throw yourself into fresh graffiti by accident. Get paint on your tube top. Tell yourself it was a Banksy. Tell that to people who ask why there is paint on your tube top.
17) Drunk at a bar with friends of a friend, be sure to talk about sex a bunch so people know how much sexy sex you had, once. When she tells you you are talking about sex a lot, apologize. Hungover the next day, hold up your breakfast Gatorade in front of the mirror and say, "Gatorade, the performance beverage for assholes."
18.) When reading the paperbacks you bought, lick your thumb before turning the page. You are stunningly erotic yourself!