Great Sexpectations: “Can I Take This Off?”

By Maddie Orcutt

I had met him at the beginning of the summer and could tell very quickly that he was different. Since then, we’d worked alongside one another, hiked together and browsed western art galleries together, discovering our mutual love of the great Rocky Mountains and being in the moment. So one night a few weeks into summer, when, after an evening at the local bar, we found ourselves kissing on the couch in our dorm, I wasn’t surprised.

A week later, we were lying on a queen bed made only with a fitted sheet in a room barely big enough to fit it. The bed was located off an industrial kitchen and the main common room for the program we were working for. It was the only place we could shut the door on our students and other co-workers at night. The only room with a lock, it was appropriately nicknamed the “Personal Time” room.

We moved in closer to each other, his hands gently under the base of my shirt. They went no higher. He paused, looked me in the eyes and asked, “Can I take this off?” I’d never been asked so genuinely before by a guy to take my shirt off when clearly I wanted him to. I blushed, a little taken aback. It continued.

Every item of clothing, “Can I take this off?” Soon we were both naked and even then he asked. “Do you want to have sex?” and the line every girl wants to hear, “I have a condom.” I said yes. For the next several times after that, and even often now, almost a year later, he asks. And every time, it is still sexy. ​

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I am lucky to say that my sexual encounters at Middlebury have been overall positive, fun experiences. Though like many things at Middlebury, my sexploits on our secluded idyllic campus haven’t prepared me for what I would encounter in the “real world.”

Case in point: my current semester abroad in Istanbul. While living in another country, I’ve realized that the customs surrounding dating, relationships and sex (not to mention the overall treatment of and outlook on women) differ greatly from what I’ve ever previously experienced.

During my first few weeks here, some American girls and I started hanging out with three Turkish guys that were friends with Middlebury students from past semesters. One night while out at a particularly expansive club, I ventured to my own area of the dance floor without my friends. Suddenly one of our Turkish acquaintances was there, and we started dancing. There wasn’t much of a discussion; he initiated, and I didn’t object. We danced and made out for a bit, but I wasn’t really into it. I also knew I wouldn’t be taking things further so early in the semester, so I slipped away to regroup with my friends.

Fast forward to the following weekend: we went to another club with the same guys. As soon as I stepped onto the dance floor, my dance partner moved into position, about a foot behind me. I wasn’t interested, so I scooted a few feet to the left; so did he. I danced my way to the other side of the circle; he followed. With that, I went to claim a spot on a narrow tabletop across the club.

After a few similar experiences, a girlfriend of mine and I took Oaths of Celibacy for the remainder of the semester. I have since mastered my line for nights of clubbing in Istanbul: “No thanks, I’m dancing with myself tonight.”

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