The Etiquette of Sexile: A Survival Guide to Sexual Siberia

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On my fifth day of college, I found myself, wild-haired and barefoot, roaming the halls of the freshman dorms, with a bruise in the shape of the complete works of Plato on my back, and someone else’s condom wrapper stuck to my forehead, a modern-day mark of a bewildered and guiltless Cain.

Sure, I had woken up at four o’clock in the morning on move-in day to ensure I got the bottom bunk. Sure, I had eaten some of her Chewy bars—OK, all of her Chewy bars except for the gross, chocolate-less ones. But it still seemed unjust that suddenly, as soon as I started drifting off to sleep, she, the monster from the top bunk, growling and groaning and skulking and creaking, would tickle my face with a dangling belt, recently ripped from her boyfriend’s chinos. Tickle, tickle, whack, whack. “I think J is going to stay over tonight,” she would mutter, while amorously rocking the rickety bunk. “You don’t mind sleeping…”

And where exactly did she expect me to sleep? It would have been one thing if we owned that most glorious Eden for sexilees: the futon. Instead, I would blearily stumble toward the mirage of a sofa, only to collapse in a heap on the floor, next to the empty Chewy bar box, which, in my sleepless state would begin to talk to me.

“Hello, Emma. I’ll be your friend. Come sleep at my house. I’ll braid your hair, and luckily we won’t have to make s’mores, because I contain a tasty sweet already composed of their ingredients. Eat me! Love me!”

Few of us, however, are solely the victims in this situation (the situation being sexile, not snack food tête-à-têtes). By around the seventh day of college, I too had a steady honey, selected from the crowd of co-eds for his shiny hair, his winning smile, and the fact that I could wander up two flights of stairs to his dorm room in my underpants when the monster, without warning, drove me out of her lair.

I the victim had become the offender. My boy buddy’s roommate began to feel the anxiety of homelessness, began wandering the halls wailing a song he had composed about his plight, the chorus of which went, with increasing sorrow upon each repetition
: It’s my room too.
Oh yes, I say, it’s my room toooo.

One day, at a bar, I noticed that a woman was glaring at me with absolute scorn. ‘Hello, stranger,’ I thought. ‘I don’t remember killing your puppy, but clearly I owe you an apology.’ As she wandered out, she hissed at me, “Sexiler.”

Now, William Safire would no doubt jump for joy at this new and mangled portmanteau, but I was distraught. This belligerent bar-lady was my boyfriend’s roommate’s freshman counselor, with whom for weeks the poor boy had been lamenting his itinerant nightlife. Clearly, it was time for someone to figure out a way for late teenagers, with their equal parts lust for sex and sleep, to exist in sexy, sleepy harmony.

So, as sexiler and sexilee, I present a series of scenarios that may help everyone negotiate the terms of their particular treaty of sexile. Don’t ask me how to successfully share a box of Chewy bars, though. Some mysteries are simply unsolvable.

Hit the Ground Running: When your roommate has already started having sex in your immediate proximity and the only thing to do is flee, and confront him/her at a less hot and less heavy moment.
You: Ehem.
The Offender: Oh baby. Oh yeah. Oh yeah, baby. Baby, yeah, yeah.
You: Are you feeling sleepy? I’d really like to go to sleep now. You know, shut-eye, yeah?
The Offender: But Donald and I are sleeping. Aren’t we, Donald? Hehehehe. Stop it. Don’t stop it
. You: I just realized that I haven’t done my laundry since last night.
The Offender: That’s so dirty. You: Actually, I don’t need to find clothes to wash. I’m just going to go watch the drier for a while.

Sightseeing in Elba: When you are out on that long and lonesome road to nowhere, how to forage for food and find shelter.
You: [knocking on neighbor’s door] Hiya, pal. Remember me? I held the door for you at that mandatory STD lecture? I just felt like we bonded, you know? Well, I brought these crackers, and I thought you might have something to put on them? Did that sound dirty? I’m really tired. Hahahahahaha! Oh, damn. I don’t actually have crackers. Or pants on, I know, I know. It’s just I don’t have anywhere to sleep… I’m really homesick… If only you would let me curl up in a pile of your laundry. You just did laundry last night, you say? Funny, I didn’t see you in the laundry room. I’m there a lot. Ok, then. Never mind. Do you know if Mindy is home? Mindy? I think she lives next door to you? Mandy. That’s right. Thanks! See you at Ultimate tryouts!

Intervention: When you’ve forgotten what your pillow feels like.
You: Let us be mature here.
The Offender: Why do you hate sex? Puritan! Prude!
You: [After an attempted Hester Prynne joke]… I am just so tired.
The Offender: I think Donald has a friend. Maybe you could start sleeping with Donald’s friend!
You: Does Donald have a bed? Because maybe you could visit it sometimes.
The Offender: I had never thought of that! Thank you for expanding my mind. I am going to buy you a snack later. Sleep well!

Revenge: You’ll know when it’s time. You reenact that scene from the remake of the Parent Trap. Or that scene from Fatal Attraction. Carrie. Gaslight. Home Alone. Choose your own revenge movie ending! And then move off campus!


About The Author

Emma Allen, who was born and raised in Manhattan, NYC, is a senior at Yale University majoring in English and Studio Art (with a concentration in photography). She is a former editor of the Arts & Living ("scene") section of the Yale Daily News, for which she has also served as a staff writer and columnist. She has contributed to ARTnews magazine, as well as the New York Press. When she's describing her goofy side, she often mentions her love of plants purchased at IKEA (they survive without sunlight!), browsing the Oxford English Dictionary and swimming in the dark. But in all seriousness, she enjoys eating pork belly.