“Do you have a thing?” my friend Jessica asked me. We were newly spray-tanned, sprawled out on her huge Las Vegas bed, surrounded by bags from different lingerie shops, exhausted after a day of not a whole lot of anything.
“A thing?” I asked her. “What kind of thing?”
“A thing you do with guys,” she replied.
“Like a sexual trademark move?” I smiled. “Of course.”
“No, no–” she said. “After sex. Something you do.”
“Leave?” I asked, half-joking.
“Hmmm,” she said. “That’s so true. You do always leave.”
“I do not always leave!” I exclaimed.
I don’t know what bothered me more, that she thought I was the type to run perpetually, or that I wasn’t creative enough to have “a thing.”
“What’s your thing?” I asked.
She turned over and smiled, looking at me.
“Jewelry,” she said. “I always leave jewelry behind. Not on purpose, I just seem to.”
“What if you never see them again?”
“Like an offering,” I mused. “That’s so… that’s really charming.”
After I left Las Vegas, I obsessed about this for weeks. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Surely I did something. We can’t help it–we’re creatures of habit. Every lover is an intensely different experience, every lover awakens in me a different sexual aspect, yes, but humans are creatures of habit. There is always something we do.
Just as I was beginning to let it go, I ran into an old piece on Hollyscoop about Lady Gaga’s morning-after ritual:
The morning after she has sex, she peels off her long fake eyelashes and leaves them on her lover’s bed as a keepsake.
She said: “Whenever I have a lover I leave them in their apartment on the pillow. Kind of like a keepsake.”
That was it. Even Gaga had “a thing.” Yes, it was a little unsettling, but it was a thing.
My phone rang, it was an ex-fiance from years ago (who left me, by the way. OK, fine, I left him first. Still).
“What did you leave behind?” he asked. “Hair. Everywhere. And cigarette ash. All over the bed.”
“That’s so unattractive.”
“No, really?” he said, laughing. “I can’t believe you’re asking. You write. You write your lovers the most beautiful things.”
Oh, how could I forget that?
Yes, if I sleep with you, I’ll write about you. If I like you, I’ll send you little missives. If I love you, I’ll build you a monument in words.
I call it the Jean Paulhan Club.
Do you have “a thing”? Is “a thing” charming or does it cheapen the experience, reducing a gesture into a meaningless act?