“Where are you going, baby?”
I tell him I will be right back as I slip on my underwear.
I sit on the toilet in his t-shirt, slipped on hastily, no bra. Sometimes just bra. Sometimes my own shirt and skirt, no tights. Sometimes my hair is pulled up in that messy ponytail that says “all-night studying” or “all-night sexathon.” Or it lies loose and free and flipped over to one side. It doesn’t matter.
All that’s the same in this b-roll of scenes is that I am peeing. Taking a tinkle.
On a toilet with a roll of toilet paper that sits on the ground. Or that sits on the sink, or (infuriatingly enough) on the top of the empty roll. Or there is none at all, and I have to kegel-it-out on the porcelain throne. I wash my hands. Sometimes I do not wash my hands. I use the soap if I think the soap smells good. I flush and check for roommates, again. I bolt.
I take only moments. I am like a ninja before and after the fact. Before: I kiss on the cheek, move covers aside, jump off the bed. After: I am back, to rest on his chest and talk about something like dinner, maybe smelling something like peaches or anything but apple.
It is after sexual intercourse, and while I am prepared to eventually be all post-coital curl and goddess glow, I have things to do. The post-sex command from the woman who bore me. Take a pee. I have just had sex, and now I am simply fulfilling my mother’s wishes.
My mother is not one to give me sex tips.
When I was 13 and in the shower, she told me what sexual intercourse entailed. Just the in-and-out facts, and she had to bite her hand because she was laughing so hard. She’s the kind of parent who is a lot of fun to watch the Food Network with. She’s not one of those cool-ish moms (frosty lipstick, pink-y nails) that hint at how to please a man while you are eating a cherry popsicle in junior high. I believe these mothers exist, and I know this because one of the coolest mothers in my 2nd grade class always gave kiddie thongs to us girls as birthday presents. “Teach ‘em early!” she said, and I assume she was referring to the age-old wisdom that having a wedgie would attract somebody and then they would relieve the wedgie by taking the problem off of you with their teeth.
I was told be safe, of course. Talking about sex with your children and not telling them to use condoms is like not answering, “Kill Hitler!” when asked what you would do with a time machine. You have to! In college, I accompanied her to pick up eggrolls at some Grand Sizchuan or another, and I told her I was no longer a virgin. She told me, “I hope you were safe,” and asked “Do you feel okay?” and said, “Another option is never having sex again!” We moved on from the shock of taking Option #1: being a young adult who has moderately interesting safe sex, of course. She’s fine enough with it. I can talk about guys I’m seeing. I can even make a well-placed and appropriate birth control joke. She’s just not the one I’d ask, “Hey, how can I put my legs up over a man’s shoulders without them cramping up?” As far as I know, there’s no answer to my own laziness, but still.
I get my sex tips through ignoring Cosmopolitan, sometimes learning from Cosmopolitan, my buddies, and good old-fashioned experience.
And I got one very prominent, constantly used sex tip from my mother.
I know that I was around 20, because I remember the hideous denim cutoffs I wore throughout the summer of ’08. I know that I was eating dinner and a bomb dropped from her lips. I was chewing chicken and did not choke. “Do not choke on the chicken,” I think, for some sort of Alanis Morisette-y irony definition’s sake. Loosely, I mean. I wasn’t choking on an actual dick or masturbating one.
“You know, you should always pee after sex. That way, you’ll never get a UTI.”
I look at her curiously, the same way I look at animals in the zoo when they retreat from view, back into their cages -- are you done? If I stay very still, will more stuff happen? She said nothing. She changed the subject to something along the lines of Sandra Bullock, and that was the last time my mother told me about something you should do during or after sexual intercourse. And let me tell you, that stu-uh-uckkk with me.
The thing is, she’s almost never wrong. If she says a shirt will shrink in the wash and I protest and slam down my money in weak, flannel-trend-of-the-moment protestation, it will come out from the wash a size 2. And 2 beats my size 4. If she says that the frozen Trader Joe’s meals I buy for sustenance have too much sodium and will dry out my skin, I’ll be damned if I’m not putting moisturizer on mere minutes after I eat my meatless meatballs. Don’t dye your hair too much. Take your vitamins. Do not drag your heels because you will wear out your boots. For gosh sake, pee after you have sex!
And yes, I know. Everybody knows to urinate after sex. We have all seen the products of those who don’t -- drinking unsweetened cranberry juice like it is the very elixir of life, spread-eagled and moaning and chewing antibiotics and wearing no makeup and dreading the moment they have to pee. We all know peeing after intercourse flushes us out.
We all know that taking our birth control at exactly the right time on every day will keep us safe from getting pregnant. And that we shouldn’t have even ONE cigarette if you’re on the pill. And that even if you are in a happy and secure relationship, you shouldn’t practice pulling out because it is stupid and dangerous. We all know we shouldn’t give our numbers out to people we don’t know, or go home with people we don’t know very well or even at all. We all know we should make regular doctor’s appointments and drink in moderation and brush our teeth and wash our faces every single goddamn night.
We know. And I know that some things slip the radar or the mind, purposefully or not. And I have woken up with mascara on my face and rum down my cheeks, months after my scheduled OB/GYN checkup. These are the things we tell ourselves, the things people have stopped telling us because they believe we are old enough to know them.
But there is something about my mother’s one quick quip that sticks with me. Maybe it’s because her sex advice was sparse and I learned the hard way, without her guidance, that licking a human like a popsicle isn’t nearly as taste-pleasing. Maybe it’s because even though this cannot be science, all my shirts are shrunk and I’ve never needed to take AZO in my life. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because the only things my mother has told me about sex is to be safe. Not where to put my legs or anything, just be okay. And sometimes I forget to be safe, be okay -- this I say to myself on way too many occasions as a 24-year-old who just barely knows how to stock her fridge, pay her bills. I don’t know much.
All I do know is that if you are a gentleman having sex with a lady, that lady is a sister and a friend and a daughter. And sometimes that daughter learns she should urinate after sex.
So, if you’ll excuse me for a moment, I’ll be needing to use the bathroom. My mom won’t thank me later, but she won’t need to: this is really just a thank you to her, a thank you for being cool with it all.