ANNA SALE: Hey, I want to tell you up top that this episode is about one night stands. So, it’s a little sexier than usual—the kind of thing you want to wait to listen to until there are only adults around.
LISTENER: It was Valentine’s Day 2020.
This is Death, Sex & Money.
LISTENER: We kind of hit it off and started kind of canoodling by the fire…
The show from WNYC about the things we think about a lot.
LISTENER: We, ya know, just kinda went for it.
And need to talk about more.
LISTENER: Next day, he was off!
I’m Anna Sale.
We just got through Valentine’s Day, our annual celebration of romance. Usually of the long-term sort, or if not long, at least, the sort where you’ve committed to be someone’s sweetheart.
This week, we want to celebrate another really important kind of romance...the very short term: the one night stand. Those moments in your life, when someone appeared in a flash, you connected, you enjoyed each other, and then, you went your separate ways.
For me, I think of the British guy that I met out in San Francisco one night when I was in college. It was a time when I was feeling out of sorts, not sure where I fit. And we started talking. I can’t remember about what, and it was easy banter. Then he paused, looked me straight in the eye, and said: “Well, you are charming aren’t you?”
We never saw each other after that next morning. I lived off the fumes of that fun, unexpected night for a long time.
The possibility of a one night stand feels so remote for so many people right now. Maybe because of your life phase, or because chance meetings aren’t really happening much. But the memories...they’re potent, as you told us when we asked for your stories about one night stands.
TRUDI: Well, I actually have many one night stand stories.
This is Trudi. She sent this in from New York City.
TRUDI: I’m married now, but in the 80s, in my 20s, I used to go to this bar on the Lower East Side called The Village Idiot. And it's where I would get drunk... and act like a village idiot, lemme tell ya. But, I met this guy. He stood out to me because he was on top of the bar, stripping to that strip song, you know, "Dun nuh duh, dun nuh duh, dun nuh duh, da na duh duh." Of course, I was immediately excited by this. This was someone who was an adventurer, who could stand on top of a bar and strip. So I started to talk to him, I went home with him, fortunately it was within stumbling distance. I mean, I believe his apartment was two blocks away from The Village Idiot. And in the morning, I - he was tall, he was handsome, but I discovered he was lacking any motivation, um, or... uh... it was a point in my life when I had very low self-esteem. So every week or so, I would go to The Village Idiot, and he would be there, and we would have our experience. But after the third experience, I decided nah, I’m over it.
SARAH: I used to work at a private airport. And a Marine helicopter landed at our airport to get fuel and then had mechanical issues and couldn't get out, so they ended up staying the night. And I ended up staying the night with one of the pilots. And it was awesome. And he left, and we never spoke again. And it was so perfect, and something I still look back on so fondly. It was great and I’m glad I did it.
ANONYMOUS: I had broken up with a long term boyfriend earlier that year, and met this man through a work softball league. I had been in a period of lost confidence, sexually, but one particular night, it was raining all day. He flipped on Norah Jones and went down on me. And let’s just say “Come Away With Me” will always hit different. [Laughs]
JEREMY: Okay. Um. My best one night stand - well, my best one night stand story is actually like three nights. Three days and nights. But it all started in, um, Santiago, Chile. I'm a musician. I was down there on tour and I was playing a festival. And I matched with somebody on Tinder and started chatting and she seemed really cool. And she was looked like she was really cute. So I put her on the guest list to come to the festival, which she did. And then when we met, um, I realized that she didn't speak English at all and I didn't speak Spanish at all. Um, and it was kind of this awkward moment where, how do we communicate with each other? 'Cause she had been using Google Translate to write me on Tinder. So we just started going back and forth on Google Translate and it kind of was like fun in a weird way too. And felt like this, like experimental communication kind of thing. We both, even though we couldn't talk, definitely like liked each other. There was some little spark. So we ended up spending the night together. And like back at my hotel, I had, um, I had a bottle of whiskey and the laptop computer open, and we were just like talking to each other through that. It was really fun, and the thing that happened was it was my last night on tour. And I had like booked myself back a few days later and I didn't know what I was going to do. But she had, uh, ended up inviting me to her family's house. And I met like her brother and her dad. And she like helped me get around. And it was this beautiful, confusing few days. Um, and we never really talked again, but it was just this magical, strange thing. And it really felt like it could have never happened a few years ago. You know, it was like this very modern thing, that was experimental and fun and profound. In some way.
ANONYMOUS: These days I've been feeling utterly unsexy as a wife and a stay at home mom. So remembering this story has been a real treat. This wasn't my first one night stand, but this was my first with a woman. It had taken me the better part of 10 years to accept that I actually wanted sexual experiences with women. Despite kissing a lot of women at college cast parties, it wasn't until years later that I realized it was because I was genuinely attracted to them. It's honestly still hard for me to claim the identity "bisexual" because I married a man. But there she was after months of flirtation at the improv theater and the bar, we were actually going to have sex on my bed. I can't remember if she asked or if I offered, but we both smoked some pot out of a little glass bowl to relax and take the edge off. This woman was a bit of a heartthrob at the theater. Absolutely gorgeous, experienced with men and women and so confident in her sexuality. She had told me that she wasn't interested in a relationship with a woman. She only wanted sex. I told her that was okay with me and it really was. I wanted this adventure. We started kissing. I wanted to ask what the standard girl sex moves were, but I just kept kissing her. I was completely unsure of myself, but I was genuinely excited to explore in this new way, because I had waited years for this. We caressed, fumbled and exchanged moments of pleasure. I wish I had asked more about what she wanted, rather than basing my technique on pop culture and a few conversations at the bar. I also wish I had been more confident about letting her know exactly what I wanted. She liked to tug on my hair, which I didn't really enjoy, but I didn't want to spoil the mood, so I pretended I was into it. But I do remember happy moaning sounds from both of us. I think we checked in with each other about whether or not things were feeling good. After we finished, watching her wear my blue silk robe when she left the bedroom made me feel really proud. I felt like I had finally been true to a part of myself I had kept quiet for a really long time. She stayed the night and we went back to being friends in the morning.
ZOE: You asked people to send in their one night stand stories. And I had to think of this little phase in my life that I had, um, at the beginning of university. I became very, very, very intense friends with this other girl from my year. We would do this thing where we would go to bars or clubs or any place really, and find people to have sex with. And we would send each other, like, our location on the phone so we could see what the other person was doing. Um, and we would meet up the next morning and then talk through all of our experiences and everything that had happened and that we had done, and we would laugh and trade stories and it was very fun. And, um, one time we went to a bar and we found these guys and sat down next to them. And, um, how these things go, um, one of them started talking to her. The other one was, uh, started talking to me and, uh, we decided to go home with them. And it turns out that they were really good friends and that one of them was visiting the other. And so we went home to the same, to the same flat. And she was having sex with one of the guys in his bedroom. And I was in the living room. Um, and we could hear, we could hear the other person having sex in the other room. And at some point I could hear the noises stop and I only very shortly wondered what was going on until she, completely naked of course, burst into the living room was like, "I have my period!" and went into the bathroom. Um, and the person that I was sleeping with was incredibly shocked how, um, yeah, how little she cared about being naked in front of strangers. And so her and I were just having a conversation completely naked, with this guy trying to get dressed as quickly as he could. Um, and, uh, yeah, and then the next morning, um, we stayed over and we slept on the sofa and the other two guys slept in the bed. So, um, yeah. And the next morning, we went to a flea market and talked about the experience and laughed a lot. And when I think of one night stands, I often think of lots of fun experiences, but I also often think of, um, how important it was to me to, or how much I looked forward to, telling her about everything that had happened and how much I looked forward to laughing with her about all of the stories and all of, all of the things that we had experienced. And as if that was almost more important than the actual one night stand itself.
MORGAN: Hi Anna, this is Morgan. I'm 26 and I live in New England.
One more story from our listener Morgan, who a few years back decided to take a solo trip to Italy. Right before she was set to leave, her boyfriend broke up with her.
MORGAN: I just cried for the next 35 hours, um, all the way to this restaurant where I ordered some gnocchi and just salted it with my tears. Um, and as I was eating it, I was like, whoa, I can really do whatever I want here. Like, there are no rules, there's no judgment. Nobody knows what I'm going to do. Like I can do whatever I want.
So Morgan decided to sign up for a Vespa lesson. And when she got there, she met her instructor.
MORGAN: He was hot. He, he was tall, beautiful olive skinned, had these mirrored sunglasses had an earring. Oh, he had his tongue pierced. You had a necklace of like a fishbone on. And he had a leather jacket, like he was smoking a cigarette. These are all things where I was just like, wow, bad boy alert. Um, I do not qualify for this. And so he eventually said that I was one of his best students and he took me on this like special route for more advanced, uh, people. So he offers to give me a ride home on his motorcycle. Um, and he drops me off and he says that we should get dinner later. And I was like, yes, yes, we should get dinner later. And. I just like look myself in the mirror and I'm like, you're going to have sex with your Vespa guide. [Laughs] And I just knew that it was going to happen. I just knew it. And, um, but later he picks me up. Um, we go to dinner, we go to a bar, uh, he buys me a lot of drinks. Um, and he suggests that we go back to the vineyard where we were earlier that day, and then we get there and, I don't know, the ground was really uneven. So the alignment was off. So I switched over to trying to be on top, to like help with that. And after he came, like one - there's like nothing in it for me. Like no - nothing happened for, for, for my pleasure. And then two, his immediate response afterwards was like, "That was not very good for me." [Laughs] Like he said something like I could have done, I could have done better or something like he was feeling emasculated. I don't know. Anyway, that felt really bad to have sex with someone and then immediately hear like, that wasn't very good for me. But yeah, it was, it was an interesting time. It was a story that like, it felt very cinematic, but only if I left out a bunch of details. And so this version that I'm telling you right now, I don't tell everybody all of these facts. Like I often just leave it up to like, "The sun, the wine, the, the motorcycle," like, "Ah, ah, ah." But I don't often say like, yeah, and I was drunk as all hell. And the sex was horrid. But you know, would I do it again? I'd at least ride the motorcycle. 'Cause that was really fun. [Laughs]
Thanks to all of you who shared your one night stand stories. Stories often more about what you learned about yourself and what you want...than the person you did the one night-standing with.
Death, Sex & Money is a listener-supported production of WNYC Studios in New York. This episode was produced by Katie Bishop. The rest of our team includes Afi Yellow-Duke, Emily Botein, Andrew Dunn, and Yasmeen Khan, who's with us while Anabel Bacon is on a special assignment. Our intern is Emily Tafur.
The Reverend John Delore and Steve Lewis wrote our theme music. And thanks to Hannis Brown for his rendition of our theme music at the top of this week’s episode.
Eventually… the pandemic will end… and having one night stands will become more possible again. And when you do, let us recommend, that you be clear and direct in the aftermath...like Lauren.
LAUREN: And he’s like, oh, let me give you my number... and I was like, hey, have you ever had a one night stand? And he was like, no, why? And I was like, well now you have! And I drove off.
I’m Anna Sale, and this is Death, Sex & Money from WNYC.