Buzz Kill — a short story

Posted on 2017 July 30


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Nobody can hurt me without my permission. — Gandhi

These days, every time I watch a TV drama where the hero hooks up with a young woman and they retire to a bedroom and start undressing and groping, inevitably — invariably — the guy asks, “Are you sure you want to do this?” 

The young woman always replies, “Yes!” or “Of course I do!” or something similar. Thus the hero has a green light to continue, and the romantic plot line can move forward.

Until recently it was clear, through body language alone, that the woman wanted to do it. But now it’s obligatory for a show to prove its Progressive bona fides by requiring the male to ask permission to have sex.

This puts a damper on the fun, like an airliner seatbelt sign, warning of possible unpleasantness ahead. But there’s no way the legal department will let producers shoot such a scene without that request for permission. After all, lately we hear of morning-after rape accusations in the news, and studios don’t want text campaigns or Tweet storms from angry feminists.

Thus the writers must work diligently to weave a mandatory, awkward moment into an intimate conversation so it doesn’t honk. (One show had fun with the dilemma, giving a woman the breathlessly excited line, “Yes means YES!!”)

Let’s visit an undergraduate dormitory on a weekend evening, where Brandon and Ashley have just met at a party and soon commence necking on a couch. Brandon takes her hand and, somewhat drunkenly, they stumble upstairs to his room.

The young lovebirds continue canoodling and begin to remove clothing until, fully disrobed, they lie together on the bed. Brandon, well-trained by his Freshman course “Male Privilege in Modern Society”, politely asks, “Are you sure you want to do this?”

Ashley, three sheets to the wind and, a moment ago, as overheated as a Saturday Night Special, now looks confused. “It’s not obvious?”

Brandon, trying to make light of the situation, says, “Well, you know we’ve gotta sign all the forms and stuff. Heh-heh.”

“What a buzz kill! I’m not gonna accuse you of anything.”

Brandon jokes, “Well, this way I know I can pass a lie detector test.”

Immediately he regrets his words. 

Ashley stares. “What the hell are you talking about?”

The best way out is through, Brandon decides. “If I don’t ask, and later somebody accuses me of … something … I won’t be able to prove I really had permission.”

Stunned, Ashley sits up. “Oh … my … GAWD! You’re practically blaming me already! I knew this was a bad idea!” She springs out of bed, quickly pulls her clothes on, and heads for the door.

She turns to Brandon. “You … are a douche!” She yanks open the door — which strikes her big toe, causing her to howl in pain — and hops off down the hallway.

Brandon lies there a moment, wondering if Ashley will hold him responsible for the door hitting her foot.

But he can see that she was right about one thing: his request definitely was a buzz kill.