“No! You’ll make me laugh!”
Cole gave me a look of impatience. “It’s a room full of strangers! It would be awkward to do it with anyone else.”
I sighed and looked around the room at the people there. Several dozen people stood, gazing around the room for a potential partner. Most of them were couples all ready, and mostly heterosexual ones at that. This was actually a very cool crowd of people, sort of an older group of hippies. Older women with flame-red hair and fur-lined boots, horn-rim glasses and purple scarves, tassels on coats and sequins on gloves.
I’m always looking for new adventures in town, and my best friend Cole is generally willing to accompany me. Amateur comedy nights, independent film screenings, live musicians. And tonight, a mutual friend was hosting an education event called the 7 Secrets of Spiritual Sex. And I thought, why not?
In preparation for the evening, I looked up a bit about Tantric sex, something I’ve heard of many times but never looked into. The word Tantric itself is beautiful, Sanskrit word meaning ‘woven together.’ The concept is rather simple, the idea of using methods of connecting to a partner, unifying and sharing on a deeper level.
We had just listened to a surprisingly entertaining evening, spent discussing deeper emotional connections, full body orgasms, and the prolonging of pleasure for both men and women, topics that had been addressed in a mature, fun, and professional way. The crowd had been all smiles and insight, mature learners on a topic that would have made me blush five years ago. (It took me until my mid-30s to realize that sex is actually quite fun).
And now, at the close of the evening, we had been asked to find a partner to face and maintain eye contact with for several minutes, forming a spiritual connection and bond while hands were held. I know Cole, and how easily he makes me laugh, and I knew this was a terrible idea.
“Cole, it would seriously be easier with a stranger.”
“No, please, come on. You’re the only person I know here.”
I sighed and nodded my consent. I looked over to see a cute older couple join hands and face each other. Another woman, who had revealed she was a “famous porn star” (“Hi, I’m a famous porn star,” she had said. “I want out of the industry because there is no emotional connection anymore.”) partnered with a woman next to her. An older couple of gay men joined hands nearby. I felt safe in this room, all these different kinds of people just accepting of one another.
The evening had started with some sort of tuning fork cleansing, vibrations moved around the body. A woman had been seated within three circles of individuals joining hands, then we had all directed “blue energy” toward her struggling thyroid. A woman had prayed in Hawaiian and the energy in the room had been intense. (It had strangely reminded me of my experiences in the Mormon temple, the ritual and joined energy of strangers). We had even practiced an intense body breathing exercise that left my heart pounding like I had just run a mile, just before a sustained meditation.
Now we were instructed to hold our hands out in front of us, left palm facing up and right palm facing down, and then to touch palms with our partner. We were told to focus our attention to the left eye of the person in front of us (easier to make eye contact with one eye than both, especially for a sustained period). And then the music had begun.
Flutes and trills and bells in the song, mixed with my eyeballs locked on Cole’s, had me fighting off laughter even before the woman began to sing. The song, Divine Lover by Leraine Horstmanshoff, is absolutely lovely, but my adolescent 12 year old brain kicked in, the one that used to laugh in fourth grade whenever the teacher would say ‘do it’ or the ‘plug it in, plug it in’ commercials would come on.
The woman sings the phrase Divine Lover over and over and my face contorts up, cheekbones rising, nostrils flaring, lips pursing, as I fight off laughter. She sings of nectar and breezes and trees and a guttural laugh escapes my throat. And when I start laughing, Cole starts laughing, and the energy feeds and every time I try to stop laughing he starts, and every time he tries to stop, I start. The song goes on and on and we have six full minutes of silent giggles, all nose breath and furrowed foreheads, and when it finally, blissfully ends, I’m exhausted.
I look around the room and see all the couples hugging, tears streaming down faces, muttering about how special that was, how wonderful the energy felt, and I elbow Cole. “I told you! I told you that was a bad idea!”
We shake a few hands, offer a few hugs, and step out into the cold January air. A friend texts me: How was the symposium?
I think briefly and laugh as I respond.