All you can do in February is try to stay warm. There is no other motivation during this dreaded month. All actions, like staying inside for the entire 28 days and watching Homeland and Downton Abbey back to back, are taken because it’s cold outside. It also means sex is on the rise. People think summer is so steamy and sexy and everyone is half naked and boning in the park, but I grew up in Michigan and know the fine art of giving a hand job in a snow bank. You may feel disconnected from everything below your neck in the winter; I disagree. I think there is a despair and recklessness in the winter that drives people together, in the most inappropriate and exciting ways.
There’s a pressure cooker building inside you, and all the tension and drive you feel pulsating inside you makes you think you might explode. Each night you stay inside and pay for another Amazon Instant View is another night you end up masturbating, thinking of the large hairy man or pleasantly plump lady that will cover you like a duvet.
I love winter sex. I love the feeling of someone ripping off their gloves and putting their freezing hands underneath my chunky knitwear, simultaneously trying to get blood flow in their fingers and to cop a feel. It’s a little painful, a little uncomfortable and it makes me feel alive. When I was a teenager in the mid-west, I discovered what it was like to do it in the snow because their was nowhere else to go. We’d fondle each other underneath the bleachers, or in the woods because our parents’ houses were off limits. I’d walk home several degrees colder because I lost my long johns along the way.
The older me still loves walking into a bar and going blind because my glasses have steamed up. I order a hot whiskey drink and slowly peeling off all my layers. There goes my coat, my scarf, vest, sweater, and turtle neck, right down to the first and thinnest thermal. It all comes off in a methodical way, like I’m playing a one person strip poker game. I love not knowing what any body looks like underneath all the North Face and Woolrich jackets. We look like we all have the same body type, and the surprise of individualism is overwhelming.
I love getting you home and into my bed where you seem so much smaller and fragile without all the wrapping. I love being freezing with you for the first few hours, clinging to each other underneath my electric blanket, contemplating putting a hot water bottle between us. My hands are in your armpits and in your crotch—any spot that gives off heat to keep my fingers warm, never putting my hands above the covers. Then, in the middle of the night the heat comes on in the way it only does in New York. The radiator is so powerful my wrought iron bed sweats, turning my room into Indiana Jones’ Temple of Doom. The steam practically shakes the apartment. We scramble to open the windows and throw off the Pendelton blanket (appropriately titled “The Beaver Print.”) Finally, in the morning it’s a perfect middle ground, toasty but not suffocating, and we do it all over again.
Everything about winter sex is a surprise: the bodies underneath the jackets and sweaters, the hot pink long underwear I’ve been wearing for days on end, the desperate attempts for human contact after I’ve spent far too much time hibernating alone. There is a cabin fever that drives me out of the house, into a bar, and into John’s arms, my friend from a million years ago. I need to ignite a a fire in my crotch. I need to light a fire, one that’ll warm the rest of my body, keep me hot for the next few months.