Monday, October 22, 2012

The Hollywood Walk of Shame

We’ve all been there, ladies.  Early Sunday morning, the taste of last night’s vodka cranberries still tickling the back of your throat, wondering if the guy whose apartment you just left will call, and kinda hoping he doesn’t.  Saturday night’s stilettos aren’t quite as fierce when they’re click-clacking over the morning concrete with the Sunday churchgoers gawking at you as they turn the corner.  You’re no streetwalker, but you are kinda walkin’ the streets, and those super cute booty shorts from your uptown Saturday last night feel about 5-inches shorter in the light of day.  We tell ourselves, “no big deal. I’m young.  A modern woman.”  But still, if we see someone we know coming our way, we cross the street quicker than Sarah Silverman crosses the line.  In Los Angeles, not even the Hollywood Walk of Fame gets as much action as the Sunday morning walk of shame.

You could’ve brought Mr. Saturday Night to your place, but you’ve kinda gotten sick of the fresh squeezed judgment your roommate is prone to serve up with the next morning’s orange juice.  And, let’s be honest, don’t we think our 1000 thread-count designer sheets are too classy to be corrupted by some club dude whose biggest claim to fame is mastery of the stanky leg?  What if, after the dirty deed, he tried to clean up with our decorative hand towels?  We may be indiscriminate with our bed buddies, but home d├ęcor is sacred.  So we risk week-old pizza boxes, and more roommates that can fit in a clown car, to spend the night at his place.  We stash the Tory Burch clutch with condoms and hope the night will end up with a Hard Rock instead of at the Heartbreak Hotel, but either way, at morning’s first light we opt for early check-out.  As cosmopolitan as we all may be, why is it that we sexual weekend warriors so often end our missions in dishonorable discharge?

Take, for example, my client Slumber Patty…a girl who was always ready for a sleepover.  Patty came to me six months shy of her 40th birthday, bewitched and bewildered as to how she was ever going to end up walking down the aisle when she kept finding herself doing the Sunday morning walk of shame.  She had always considered herself a sexually liberated, modern woman whose weekend adventures were par for the single-gal-in-the-city course.  But Patty had recently realized she could no longer so easily walk off her sleepover hangovers.  More and more, she was finding herself emotionally drunk off a guy that wouldn’t have even gotten her romantically tipsy ten years ago.  But now, her heart grew heavier and heavier every time Mr. Saturday Night turned out not to be Mr. Right.  She hadn’t even realized it, but some time between lust and breaking dawn, Patty had started looking for love.

Slumber Patty had enjoyed years of orgasms with a plethora of partners.  A part of me was jealous of her record wins, and felt kinda like a big loser in comparison.  But I quickly realized, though Patty had made it to the sexual Superbowl plenty of times and I could barely get out of the regular season on top, she and I had a lot in common.  Both of us had intimacy on a ticking clock.  Patty’s alarm went off when the sun came up, and mine went off after 55-minutes on the couch.  I could get to know my clients more intimately than perhaps anyone in their lives because I knew our time would soon be up and my client would never get to know me.  And though Patty knew plenty of men in the biblical sense, she really knew nothing about them, and they knew even less about her, and the truth was…she liked it that way.  I helped Patty see how her repeated entanglements with emotionally unavailable men were a neon-flashing-red flag that she herself was emotionally unavailable.  We worked on her ability to become emotionally intimate with herself first, and then with her other relationships.  Patty found that even seeing me more than once a week made her want to run for the hills, but she took contrary action and kept coming back.  She worked her way up from staying through breakfast at one of her Mr. Saturday Nights’ place to actually hosting her first sleepover with a guy she’d been dating for 12-consecutive Saturday nights.  Though they aren’t yet walking down the aisle, now, when Patty takes her morning walks, she feels no shame.

Dr. Lainey Toussaint
(I'm not a doctor, but soon to play one on TV)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Relationship Equation

Challenge!  Poll one hundred men and one hundred women and ask, “What’s the best thing about having a mate?”  If my experience as a sex therapist is indicative of a larger truth, a vast majority of men will say, “regular sex partner,” and the women will say simply, “partnership.”

Now, some men may complain that when they say “regular” sex partner, that’s exactly what they mean – regular.  Married men often come to my office lamenting their ho-hum sex lives, demoralized that after “I do”, their wives don’t do them anymore.  Gone are the days of freaky Fridays and sex-filled Saturday afternoon slutfests.  Once you put a ring on it, Friday’s are reserved for Redbox (sadly, no sexual pun intended), and Saturday afternoons are filled with carpools and kids’ soccer games.  For many of my married male clients, the last time they saw their wives on her knees, she was more likely spot-cleaning her hardwoods than about to do anything to his manhood.  And the last time she was bottoms-up bent over the sofa, she was more likely fishing guppy-shaped crackers out of couch cushions crevices than waiting to be pillaged by his Captain Hook.  But still, “regular” sex – be it in quality or quantity – is better than no sex.  At least if you’re a man.

My married female clients are no less concerned with the sexual partnership of their relationships than their husbands.  They just value the overall cooperative aspect of the marriage more than the coital aspect.  To many married women, sex and relations are not mutually exclusive, i.e., the quality of the relationship determines the quality of the sex.  Whereas, for many married men, the quality of the sex determines the quality of the relationship.  The fewer hummers he’s getting, the more ho-hum his relationship input.  Conversely, the more ho-hum the relationship, the fewer hummers she’s likely to give.  In the marriage equation, if relationship input of y = sexual output of x why do so many marriage partnerships feel unequal?

Take my clients – let’s call them Dick and Jane.  Dick is tired of his wife being such a plain Jane, and Jane is tired of…well…Dick being such a dick.  They’ve settled into a sexual rut wherein Dick is so used to paralytic penetration (you know, when the sex is so boring it feels like you’re having intercourse with an invalid) that he just kinda pumps and dumps.  He goes hard, and when he gets off, he literally gets off – of Jane – whether she’s gotten off or not (an it’s usually not).  Dick takes for granted that Jane is just not that into sex, so he’s stopped trying to please her.   What I know that Dick doesn’t, is Jane is a sexual adventurer.  My one-on-one sessions with her have revealed fantasies and desires that could turn Dick out.  Hard.  Rick James style.  Dick doesn’t know this because Jane is sick of telling him.  Every time Jane tells Dick to take out the trash, she’s really telling him how trashy she wants to get with him.  Every time she tells him to help clean up the kitchen after dinner, she’s telling him how dirty she wants to get with him in the bedroom after dessert.   Jane is speaking her own personal love language but Dick can’t translate it.  Nor should he have to.  There’s no Rosetta Stone for this.  The only way to really learn your partner’s love language is by immersion.  It’s clumsy at first, but just like my semester abroad, being relentless about speaking a romance language, instead of falling back on the comfort of your native tongue, can be the difference between PASS and FAIL.

Since Dick started prioritizing their relationship partnership, Jane has become a better language teacher, and traded passive aggression for passion aggression.  Everything Dick does outside of the bedroom to show Jane he’s got her back yields such dividends in the bedroom that Dick is now getting it from the back, the front, sideways – seriously, Jane goes upside down on him on a regular basis.  Dick and Jane have balanced the relationship equation by finding the common denominator; when they both put forth the effort, the ole “in and out” is a lot more fun.  Now, Dick puts in more time working to be a real partner, and Jane is excitedly putting out.  Hard.  Rick James style.

Dr. Lainey Toussaint
(I'm not a doctor, but soon to play one on TV)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Benefits Package

Getting called to the Human Resources office is kinda like getting called to the Principal’s office in grade school; you may not know exactly what you did, but you know you probably did something, and you’re definitely going to get in trouble for it.

True to her name, our HR Manager, Sheila Novenski, was no joke.  She was an alphabet-Nazi.  You know the kind – dot your i’s, cross your t’s, mind your p’s and q’s.  Sheila handed out pink slips like Lady-O hands out new cars…you’re getting fired, you’re getting fired, and you’re getting fired!  So when I got the IM to go to HR, I just knew I was F’d.

The corridor to Sheila’s office seemed a million miles long.  I was certain I heard the warning whispers of co-workers at every water-cooler I passed.  I zoomed through a mental play-by-play of every non-work related telephone call I ever made, every sick day I justified with the belief that a hang-over is a medically recognized illness, and fretted that every angry email I drafted calling the boss a Botox-deadened d-bag may have inexplicably gotten sent to the entire company (because when you draft angry emails calling your boss a Botox-deadened d-bag, you have to cc everybody, right?).  Does this not sound familiar to you?  Does your HR Manager not send chills of nauseating worry down your spine?  If not, chances are you’re not a faker – at least not as big a faker as I am.

I am a relatively successful sex therapist.  I’ve written articles, appeared on a local talk show (just because it airs at 4am doesn’t mean it’s not newsworthy), and even have some celebrity clientele.  But I’m always looking over my shoulder, terrified that someone will find out that I’ve been fakin’ it all these years.  My degree isn’t fake, nor is the great advice I give my patients.  But in therapy, trust and credibility are crucial, so if my secret gets out, chances are HR will boot me out faster than TLC can churn out an exploitative reality show.  And that’s pretty fast.

I knocked on the HR Manager’s door.

“Come in,” the voice on the other side bellowed.  Either Sheila was getting a cold or getting over one of those medically recognized hangovers, because she sounded like Barry White with a frog in his throat.  “Come in!”

I walked in to find a six-foot plus, wavy-haired, chisel-cheeked, macho supreme standing before me.

“Hello, Dr. Toussaint.  I’m…”

I couldn’t even hear what he was saying anymore because as he shook my hand, I swear the earth shook beneath us.  He had an accent, and the way he rolled his r’s made me crrrrraazy.  Macho Supreme made every McMan on Grey’s Anatomy look like an order from the kid’s menu; he was a veritable buffet of brawn.  I immediately wanted to do a lot more than come in.

Turns out, Novenski was no more.  Apparently, Sheila had intentionally sent a company-wide email calling the boss something much worse than a Botox-deadened d-bag, and had promptly given herself the boot, so Macho Supreme had been hired to replace her.  He said he just wanted to introduce himself to all the therapists and go over their employee file.  He sat on the edge of his desk, but certain parts of him seemed to be standing at attention.  He was talking to me about employment anniversaries, and holiday pay, but all I could think about was his benefits package.  I know sexual harassment is a serious matter, but Macho Supreme had me thinking about catching a case.  He smelled like Armani cologne and Sprinkles cupcakes.  What was a girl to do?  I needed an HR ER, stat!  Something was palpitating and it wasn’t my heart.


Okay.  Did he just call me cupcake?

“Have a cupcake.” Oh.  He didn’t actually smell like Sprinkles; he just had a box of them on his desk.  I took one, and thanked him for introducing himself as I headed back to my office.  But before I got out the door…

“I heard about your recent breakup, Dr. Toussaint.”  Great!  He already knows I don’t contribute enough to my 401k.  The rumor mill had to tell him I got dumped too?  Now he thinks I’m a total loser.

“His loss.  A man would be a fool to let a woman like you go.”

Was it the sugar-rush from the cupcake, or a head-rush from trying to run out of the office, or was Macho Supreme flirting with me?

“A man?  Or an HR Manager?” I asked.


I left Macho Supreme to his cupcakes and headed off to my next patient.  I guess this wasn’t like a trip to the Principal’s office after all, because I never left there wanting to get spanked.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fill'er Up

I remember the days when coffee was fifty-cents and gas was a dollar.  Nowadays, you have to take out a major microloan to get either in Los Angeles.

It’s not just high prices that make me hate getting gas.  Ever since I saw that report on the news about people mysteriously blowing up when they opened their gas tanks, I’ve avoided re-fueling until my tank is bone dry.  They say if you tap your keys on the metal of your car before opening the tank, you somehow protect against spontaneous combustion.  Call me crazy, but my fears aren’t sufficiently calmed by the notion that the only thing standing between me and great balls of fire is a game of pattycake with my car and my keys.  So, imagine my surprise when this weekend’s trip to the gas station left me grinning rather than groaning.  Well…there was a bit of groaning too!

Last week, I said goodbye to a patient – we’ll call him the “Yes Man”.  When he first came to me, he really wanted to fall in love, but had fallen flat on his face so many times that he could no longer “get it up”.  He came to me to help him refuel his sexual engine.  I helped him realize that the ghosts of his dating past were scaring off his dating future, and if he wanted to raise his dead wood, he was going to have to exorcise his negative energy.  I encouraged him to cultivate a spirit of openness.  Let love know it was welcomed to come in and stay awhile.  If he wanted to get back his mojo and make a woman scream yes, yes, yes, he’d have to practice saying yes too – energetically, that is.  Any woman he encountered could be a yes, if energetically he was saying yes to every woman he encountered.  That meant, the pudgy policewoman directing rush hour traffic had to be a yes!  The cougar who was too long in the tooth to be wearing a skirt so short?  Had to be a yes! The happy hour hottie that was one shot short of being a hot mess?  Had to be a yes!  All this got me thinking, could I be energetically saying no to my yes, yes, yes?

So, I decided to put my fire-starter fears on the back burner in favor of igniting positive energy with every man I encountered at the gas station.  It didn’t take much to get my juices flowing faster than the fuel into my gas-guzzler.  Just a minor mental shift from, ‘F-this’ to, ‘F-me’, and suddenly the dreaded gas station became my own personal pleasure palace where any man I saw could end my quest for climax, if every man I saw could.  Could the old guy at pump six satisfy my sexual desire?  Yes! Could the socks and sandals square at pump nine make my toes curl?  Yes!  Could the pants-sagging, doo-rag dude on seven make me feel like I was in heaven?  Hell yes!

My tank was full and I had gotten myself a bit overheated with all that positive energy.  I went inside the station to get a drink and when I walked up to the counter to pay, Doo-rag was already in line.  As a rule, I don’t do dudes with doo-rags.  But I had to acknowledge that none of the dudes I had done had yet to do me right.  So…

He must have felt me checking him out as he came up next in the checkout line because he asked for a box of Hot Tamales and a pack of condoms.  XL.  I paid for my soda, and walked outta there as quickly as my quivering loins could.  As much as I want to find the big-O in the next 362 days, I don’t take home strange men from gas stations.

But apparently, I do let them take me.  Behind the gas station.  In the back of their ’67 Chevy.  The adrenaline rush alone might have been enough to finally get me to Graceland.  Doo-rag gave a whole new meaning to the phrase pain at the pump, and though his high-performance vehicle was well worth the price of petrol, did I get my yes, yes, yes?  In the immortal words of Ms. Winehouse – no, no, no.

What would I have said had a patient of mine done what I’d done?  There’s no judgment on my couch.  No rules.  Only experiences.  After all, aren’t they the best teachers?  I took the walk of no-shame back to my SUV, wondering what lesson I had learned?  I was always a straight-A student – even calculus was a cinch.  But this equation wasn’t making sense because, although Doo-rag had definitely filled me up, I drove away from the gas station feeling completely empty.

Dr. Lainey Toussaint
(I'm not a doctor, but soon to play one on TV)