The One Night Stand

You wake up on a Sunday morning, looking for what time it is even though you know you’re not going to like the answer. Your eyes feel like they were glued shut, your mouth is dry like a dirty litter box and the feeling in your head resembles an old blender churning ice. You think, “What went on last night? Where am I?” Then, it happens.

“Who is that?”

Ah yes, the One Night Stand: your version of a sexual stand-up act with someone that you didn’t expect to be in the company of 10 hours later. They have been a staple of society ever since the first hot dog got tossed down the hallway and continue to be a captivating pursuit of those in colleges and bars across the world. No matter what your current situation is, the drive toward getting “strange” (sex with someone new) inherently lies in all of us and can switched on or off at the drop of a set of panties or boxers. Some of us (married people, those in committed relationships, A.C. Green) have the fortitude of not flipping the switch, no matter how much they might want to.

The One Night Stand can be exciting, thrilling and scary all in the same act. Hooking up itself is ultimately the goal of most single people that are sociable and being able to overcome your own self-doubt can be a tremendous confidence booster. But it can also be intimidating if you feel a bit, well, overmatched. Maybe the person in the bed/car/roller coaster is “out of your league” and you feel a little inadequate. Perhaps you’re not sure what you’re getting into and you lose all of that steely resolve you mustered up just hours previous. Like a pro athlete, the keys are confidence and concentration. If you can lock it up and focus on the task at hand, you’ll be saying “Victory!” in no time.

So why write a column on this? Why not? It’s a big part of being single these days and something that all of us have experienced at one time or another. I don’t write any of these to demean anyone or be insulting, but rather to present some honesty in a society that prefers to mask the truth. Please note this is coming from a straight guy’s point of view, but that doesn’t mean these don’t apply to everyone else. And while this is partially compiled from own experiences and others I know of, this isn’t directed at anyone in particular. (How’s that for a disclaimer?)

ONS: The Four Stages

Stage One: The Pursuit

Pretty self-explanatory. The easiest environments to pursue are always in college or high school. You’re around other sexually charged people your same age that are going through the same issues you are. Being at parties and enjoying the side benefits of alcohol (call it “fitting yourself for beer goggles”) provide an ample environment for sampling from the sexual buffet. There can certainly be consequences in college if you deal in the Greek world or within small social circles. Nothing can kill off the potential of a ONS than a bad reputation, offset by the potential rewards of a good one. The best/worst tag can be the “player,” especially when it comes up against you. Like a starting hand of 2/7 off suit in poker, this is a tough one to overcome.

But for those that are past their college years, the opportunities start to quickly dwindle. With each passing year and a desire to start changing up social activities come complications with corralling a solo night score. There is always the bar scene, but there’s a lot more work involved unless you’re a celebrity, athlete or someone that looks like a celebrity or athlete. You have to rely more on your entire skillset rather than just turning your white fraternity hat backward as you adjust your black fleece vest. For guys like myself that have up-and-down confidence, this can prove difficult unless you find yourself in the right situation. The best chances at ONS are friends of people within your entourage, co-workers (’tis the holiday season) and the traditional person you meet out one night that you hit it off with. All desirable? In their own ways, yes. A lot more difficult and (gasp) grown-up? Absolutely.

Stage Two: The Close

Having sex is a lot like sales: there’s a process. You find a prospect, do some analyzing and exchange some pleasantries. If there’s a chance to do business, one side is usually eager to close the deal, while the other may need more time. Eventually, things progress and you have the opportunity to make a formal proposal. You bring whatever you have to the table. learn more about the other party and then, the negotiating begins. As most back-and-forths go, there are some bumps along the road, but you’re mainly looking to move the process along until that moment of truth. It’s the question salesmen love and also secretly fear: you ask for the sale. With a ‘yes,’ you cheer and fill out the paperwork to close the deal. With a ‘no,’ you try to work another angle before moving on, deciding whether there’s a better door to knock on somewhere close by.

It’s that process that really will tell you a lot, especially in the environment you’re in. Everyone feels more comfortable when the action is on their home field but sometimes you have to go on the road. Much like opposing players, you deal with the slight nuances along the way (dirty bathroom, roommates, super-hot bedroom), but the pros get it done when the chips are down. What happens next can really be explained in football terms. Once you get in the red zone, you’re in four-down territory.

First down: heavy petting (classic old-school term, similar to necking), making out and some feeling around. Other than a jacket and shoes, no clothes are coming off. Otherwise known as the Rex Grossman, because it’s better than nothing but not much to write home about. (Yes, I’m using current NFL quarterbacks here. I watch too much ESPN, I know.)

Second down: There is action below the border as hands and fingers are flying everywhere. For guys, this is where the ‘token bad hand job’ will come in. Ladies, we can’t say this enough – be gentle. I’ve been in a few situations where it feels like the girl is trying to de-bark a tree. (Yep, I cringed just writing that.) We’ll call this the Matt Hasselbeck, good at times but mostly frustrating because it could have led to so much more.

Third down: One word: oral. This is your perfect accelerator to fourth down as the hurry-up offense can take this to another level. Women may complain that the play you’ve written up isn’t be ing executed properly, but c’mon: you’re the one running the high-risk play. For a guy, there is no such thing as a bad blow job, unless you’re like a buddy of mine who once told a girl to stop because she was being too loud. (I swear, I’m not making this up. He was soon put on Man Club probation for five Super Bowls). I liken this down to Ben Roethlisberger, someone you’d love to have on your team if Brady or Manning wasn’t available. Most times, you get to experience the full potential. Other times? Not so much.

Fourth down: make or break, it’s time to cross that yellow line and go for glory. What happens now is based on your past and your ability to overcome all. Quite simply, this is Tom Brady, the ultimate player. (Side note: everything I wrote about Brady sounded gay – “the guy you want in there,” “the ultimate position player,” etc., so I just went with ‘the ultimate player.’ It’s not easy to write sometimes.) At the end of the night, you want to score a touchdown and there’s no one else I’d want than Brady with the ball….and I just sounded gay again.

Stage Three: The Escape/Departure

So, it’s the next morning and either one of two instincts kick in: stay or stray. Most people have the ‘stray’ mentality, either wanting to head home to recollect themselves or simply to put the events of the last few hours behind them. For those that stay, there’s obviously been a connection that they want to hold onto. The other person has done something right to make you feel good and you don’t want that to end. But the escape is what’s more fun to talk about, so let’s skip all that emotional crap for now. Save it for Dr. Phil, ace.

What really adds to the difficulty of the escape is the distance you have to travel to return home. I personally hate to ask for the ride home, so I try to get out early without detection. I have walked miles in both hot and cold weather through horrendous neighborhoods to get back to my destination, often bridging the edge of irrationality. (I hang with klassy chicks, yo.) Known to most as “the walk of shame,” it’s a most-telling look: disheveled, smelly and downright rotten. You can see it coming from a mile away, especially at such early morning hours. I often dream of owning a home and first-hand witnessing my son coming back from an ONS. I’d hand him a cup of coffee, pat him on the back and say, “Son…go wash your balls. You reek like you had sex in a zoo.”

I don’t have any MacGyver-esque escape stories, but my favorite happened about a year ago. It was the dead of winter and I went home with a girl that a friend of mine introduced me to. After some Rex Grossman on the couch, she passed out, mumbling something about meeting her parents and how she missed me. I’ll point out here this was the first night I met her and I had no intention of ever meeting even her neighbor, much less her parents. I wanted to get the hell out of dodge. The only complication was that I had to do an evasive maneuver to get off the couch without waking her up. Had that happened, I was prepared to do a stuntman fall through a window to avoid staying over.

I made the move and drats! She awoke. As she groggily asked where I was going, I said I was going to the bathroom and she passed out again. God love Bud Light.

I creeped around her house like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, trying not to creak, squeak or do anything to awake her again. I realized, however, I was starving and needed some sustenance before heading out into the unknown. I found a bag of Goldfish and had a few handfuls before preparing to exit. As I slowly opened the door though, I looked back and questioned my decision. Am I wrong here? Should I just leave it all behind? I must go back. So, I walked back, reached out and….grabbed the bag of Goldfish and brought them with me. I made it outside the door, closed it quickly and then booked it like I was on Prison Break. After clearing the potential view of the warden, I made a call for a cab, narrowly avoiding my dying battery screwing me completely. 20 minutes and a bag of lil’ fish-shaped crackers later, I was headed home.

Stage Four: The Follow-Up/Evaluation

Finally, there’s the follow-up which really depends on the situation. A classic ONS requires no follow-up, especially if done in a hotel near an airport, while on vacation or in a ditch. If it’s a more localized deal and you do talk to the person again, that first few seconds will tell you everything you need to know. Whether they’re interested, embarrassed or not sure what to think, 10 seconds is all you need. Hopefully, both people will understand the situation for what it is and be “professional” about it. Unfortunately, that sometimes doesn’t happen and that’s when feelings get hurt. Awww. Poor you. Occasionally, you’ll get crossed signals and think it’s something more but that’ll get resolved when her ex-boyfriend walks in and immediately you’re an afterthought like Zubaz pants.

If you get the drive home, there’s always the awkward conversation to look forward to. Sitting in dead silence to avoid spewing out more dragon breath is not a way I like to spend a morning, nor that awkward good-bye that resembles something out of the dark corner of a junior high dance. There is also the case of where you have the person drop you off. I have friends that don’t like hook-ups to know where they live, so they’ll ask to be dropped off blocks away from their place. Ahhh, the things we do to avoid the pure potential of seeing certain people.

Side note: how about when you really want someone to leave? Who of us hasn’t made up a story to get someone along their way? The truly cold-hearted will say, “Do you need a ride home?” at which point your fun ticket is revoked.

Finally, you can really gauge how great a ONS was by the speed it takes you to contact your immediate friends, that group that will gladly revel in whatever you’re about to tell them.

*If you text that night, it’s a 10.

*If you give a call the next day and recount the details, it’s probably a 7 depending on how you tell the story. If there’s cringing or head-shaking, drop it to a 5.

*If you wait weeks and casually bring it up in conversation, that’s a 4.

*If you never bring it up at all, yikes. Even for guys, this is bad. We’ll tell a dog if it’ll listen.

Ladies and gents, those are the Four Stages of ONS as I see them. Your experiences may be different and your value systems may be a bit different than mine, but generally, you gotta admit this is pretty dead-on. Again, this is from a male perspective and I’m sure a few women have read this and thought, “Wow, what a pig.” That’s life, I guess.

If you’ll excuse me, I have to order some Sex Panther cologne and new sneakers in preparation for the weekend. I’ve got some walking to do.