Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Bad Dave, and Why Every Woman Needs One. Maybe.

Readers over at The Frisky were recently all up in arms about an article 12 Kinds of Sex Every Woman Has To Have Before She Settles Down, calling it "inane," "slutty"and "stupid." (Among the 12, if you are planning to take it as serious life advice, were sex with a girl, with a way older/way younger guy, with an artist, etc...)

I don't mind things that are inane, slutty, etc... and in fact, would submit that the article missed one very important type of pre-settling down sex--sex with a mean guy (aka, that asshole, what a dick!, etc...) Hooking up with a mean guy offers many Important Life Lessons. Plus when you're not busy sobbing over him or in the corner scrawling forlorn poetry, the Mean Guy is kind of fun, in a weird, unhealthy masochistic way.

My own mean guy--who I will call Bad Dave, because that is his name, well, the Dave part at least--was a friend of a friend who ended up being one of my housemates in college. Six of us lived in a big Band-Aid colored house in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Bad Dave was not horribly attractive, made unflattering clothing choices and was slightly plump, but he bore a passing resemblance to Bono and was a philosophy major. He was big on late night discussions of topics such as "What is Art?" which, to my college self, was so fucking deep. (And, to be perfectly honest, I would still probably still be sucker for such talk.) But what made it all work for us is that he had a mousy girlfriend away at Harvard, and I was slutty and generally drunk.

Our relationship--embarrassingly, probably my most long-lasting one of the year--was sort of an extended series of booty calls, all the more convenient because his room was right next door to mine. This could have easily become tedious--get drunk, go knock on Dave's door, blah blah blah--but what made it interesting was that there was always a weird power struggle going on, with me always on the losing end. It was psychological S&M, kind of like that movie "Secretary," except with poorer-quality cinematography and I didn't sit in a chair peeing on myself.  Bad Dave would give me instructions like
telling me not to wear underwear the next time I saw him. I'd obey, wearing a short skirt so we could duck into a room for an afternoon quickie. One time he told me to shave between my legs for him. At the time, that was the kind of thing that was Simply Not Done, which just made it all the more thrilling.

Other times Bad Dave was just mean. The first time he laid eyes upon my bosom, he remarked accusingly, "Did you get a boob job?" (Thanks, sweet talker, but no.) One time he told me to go out and buy some condoms. To me, then, buying condoms was sort of risque, and after successfully acquiring them, I eagerly brought them back to the house that night. Bad Dave expressed a sudden disinterest in sex and went to bed early. (Cue "Wah, wah, waaaah" tuba sound.) Bad Dave would routinely express his desire to shtup my best friend. Other times, he would just show up in the morning next to my bed, his "desire," as they say in romance novels, fully exposed and pointing at my face. (Actually that one was kind of hot.) Another time, after a tepid session of sex, he commented "That was lame."

I know, I know, why did I put up with it? Because, gentle reader, I was so into it.  Some horribly unhealthy part of me liked being bossed around and left constantly uncertain. And there were good things thrown into the mix--insanely hot sex or the occasional semi-compliment ("God, you're irresistible,""You give incredible head," ad nauseum.) In a famous B.F. Skinner experiment, rats were given food every time they pushed a button. Push button, get food. The rats would push the button a few times, get their pellets, then go about their business. Another group of rats had a machine that only sporatically gave them the food. They might get food three pushes in a row, then nothing for four pushes.  This group of rats went crazy pushing the hell out of that button. The takeaway: Uncertain rewards make rats (and people) all the more desperate for that reward.

Eventually--after the "That was lame" comment, actually--I had enough of Bad Dave's dickish behavior and summarily ditched him. (And yes, it was quite pleasing.) I'd enough of his crap and was ready for a healthy relationship. But in a weird way, Bad Dave had helped me get there. It took having my self-esteem plummet to sub-zero levels to give me the wherewithal to be able to sort of hit bottom and yank myself back up.

Maybe I'm not really prescribing a relationship with a Bad Dave--I'm guessing more than a few battered wives are with their own Really Bad Daves--but in my case it helped me realize what I was willing to put up with in a relationship. And all these years later, I have to admit that I'm still intrigued by the idea of erotic instructions. Maybe I should talk to my husband about that... Though if I tell him to boss me around, it sort of ruins it, huh?

But now that I have vomited my psychological trauma upon you, let's talk about you. Did you have a Bad Dave in your life? Was it Great Learning, just Bad or what? Spill it.


Jill Hamilton said...

Simcha "Cupcake" Whitehall, btw, is the author of the Frisky article who, woefully, I neglected to mention above. She is also an excellent judge of sweet fucking imagery.

Ilyse Kazar said...

of course, another answer might be in the form of this question: "Why is settling down seen as a given?"

Ilyse Kazar said...

I'd love to know the source of the beautiful photo, attribution please? thanks

Jill Hamilton said...

a. word.
b. thanks for noticing. The photo is by Rudolf Koppitz, a Czech photographer. This piece is "Nude Study," from 1927. I adore his photos--the one that runs in the blog's header is his--and incredibly, they are in the public domain. (read more here:

Anonymous said...

Telling someone to boss you around is called "bottoming from the top," I think. The idea is that you enjoy playing the role of submissive, but you need things to go exactly as you've pictured them in your fantasy. In other words, your partner is playing the part of the dominant, but you're the director.

Asha said...

Oh, Bono...*eyes glaze over, Homer Simpson drool*
I'm all for role-play. You can be the biggest dick you want in the bedroom but you had better have an "off" switch. Also, you got to be prepared to reverse and let me take the reins.

Anonymous said...

I had one of these. My rebound from my first love and i met him when i went to college. He was rough, rugged, and could talk his way into panties. He came at a time in my life where it was good. He showed me the ropes and transitioned me into womanhood if you will. I eventually ended it because he had too many issues but, at that time in my life, he fit perfectly. I still talk to him to this day but there is no way i could ever be with him again although there was a large thrill factor when i did.

Hills said...

Um... just one?

Bad Daves have MADE me, Jill, and I'm ever so grateful.

The best was reacquainting myself with a former BD apres Barreness "makeover" - five years later and infinitely hotter (confidence will do that for you) - and promptly using him for sex.

And then stopping because, "Sorry Dave, it was just a bit...average and, well, I'm awful busy."

Beautiful. dream.

- B x

Jill Hamilton said...

Anonymous, I have been thinking about your analysis of being a bossy submissive. It seems a little Island of Misfit Toys-ish. "I'm a train with square wheels. I'm submissive, but bossy. We're all misfits!"

Asha, I like your style, girl.

Kelp10, thanks for admitting to the Bad Daveness in your life. I was feeling a little lonely out there spilling it for y'all.

And, oh, dear Barreness, someday you shall tell the story of the grand makeover.

Dusky said...

Found this as I needed to read about emotional masochism today. My bad-Dave (aka my "london lover") always makes me think of that experiment with the rats. Sadly, I'm STILL pushing that damn button, long after settling down. So I don't know how good for one having a mean bloke is... but certainly thoroughly addictive.