Santa’s secret

Pub date December 12, 2006

Dear Andrea:
I’m a guy with a single, straight, platonic female friend in her mid-20s who could really use a first sex toy, but doesn’t seem comfortable enough with her sexuality to buy one on her own. The holidays seem like the perfect excuse to give a gift that keeps on giving. I was going to get her a gift certificate or gift from a woman-friendly online store, since she may be uncomfortable going into an adult store, and a vibrating gift under the Christmas tree might make Christmas morning a little embarrassing.
She’s the first girl I’ve ever met who doesn’t have at least one toy. I don’t think it’s occurred to her female friends to get her a toy or gift certificate, and I imagine she might be uncomfortable with me telling them she could really use a sex toy. But it’s been years since the girl’s had sex. I can see how giving a toy as a gift can be awkward because it can become associated with the visual image of the gifter. But among friends without a great deal of cash, it could also be uncomfortable for her to receive a gift certificate for $50 or $100. Is there a way around this that results in a more sexually fulfilled and less tense friend?
Secret Santa
Dear Santa:
She might be uncomfortable with you telling her friends she needs a good buzz-off? Do you think? Please, please, put down the gift certificate and back away slowly. There is no way for this to go well, and too many possible bad endings to count.
I mean, let’s say you’re right and she really has been utterly abstemious all these years, as opposed to uninterested in detailing the contents of her bedside drawer for you, her straight male friend. Even so, what could be more mortifying than a gift that says she’s hard up and in danger of drying out — and all her friends know it?
I suppose for maximum mortification you could save the gift presentation for whatever party she and all your mutual friends will be attending and let her do the stammering and blushing in public, but I’m confident that the moment would suck for her whether in public or alone with you, the friend who suddenly seems to know too much and be thinking too deeply about what does or doesn’t go on between her sheets. You’re very well meaning, and it’s nice that you care and all, but just don’t.
I see one way you could ensure that she has access to what you’ve determined she needs, but it’s both expensive and rather ridiculous: on the Romper Roomish principle that you shouldn’t bring any if you don’t have enough for everyone, pass out the gift certificates to your whole circle, whomever you’d normally be buying presents for, boys and girls alike. Then you’ll just be thought of as generous, if slightly pervy, instead of creepily overinvolved in the sex life of someone with whom you are not and will not be having sex. Unless you actually do want to have sex with her, in which case I still wouldn’t recommend buying her a vibrator.
Oy. This is very complicated. It makes me glad I’m Jewish and don’t have to buy Christmas presents for anyone, let alone receive any. It’s a minefield! Who knew?
Dear Andrea:
We are trying to have a baby. After we have sex, the semen doesn’t stay in but trickles out of the vagina. Why does it happen, and what should we do to keep it in, so I can conceive?
Dear Drip:
The only connection between your letter and the one preceding it is the way they produced an involuntary and audible “Don’t do that!” from me as I read them. Don’t have a baby!
Oh, relax. You can have a baby, but you should already know the answer to this, and I can’t help wondering what else you don’t know. The semen trickles out because it’s already done its job. Only a very small part of the ejaculate is made up of sperm; the rest is what would be called “inactive ingredients” if your partner were ejacuutf8g, say, toothpaste instead of semen. The carrier fluid coagulates briefly, just so it won’t run down your leg before the sperm have made their escape. Once the sperm that are going anywhere have gone, the leftover gunk liquefies and runs down your aforementioned leg to form the “wet spot” of lore. If it didn’t, you’d be carrying the leftover goo from a lifetime of sexual encounters around with you until you scrubbed it out with a bottle brush, and that’s not a pretty picture.
You’re fine. However, if your question really does reflect your general state of knowledge about these things, please get a book. Get several. Get a library card. This baby-having business is not simple, and while there is such a thing as too much information, too little information is worse.
Andrea Nemerson has spent the last 14 years as a sex educator and an instructor of sex educators. In her previous life she was a prop designer. And she just gave birth to twins, so she’s one bad mother of a sex adviser. Visit to view her previous columns.