During my first year at the University of Virginia, plenty of my peers were banished from their rooms, only to return to stuffy quarters that smell of old hockey pads and Funyuns. Me? I was never sexiled. Maybe it’s because my roommate joined the fencing club and practiced witchcraft.
One thing is for sure—my roomie wouldn’t have slept with a Black man, and he wouldn’t have slept with her. First of all, Black people aren’t into wizardry and cone hats. We don’t need to pull problems out of thin air. We got real issues, nameen? We got slavery. Mules on layaway. Metta World Peace. So we’re all like, Git that magic outa my face!
Second, my roommate was scared of Black folk. All of us except for me. She told me, “You’re the first Black girl I’ve ever met who doesn’t wear large hoop earrings and have an attitude.”
I didn’t put in for a room change even though my Baptist grandma begged me to. “That witchcraft is nothing to play around with,” she said. She was scared I’d wake up one morning as a three-legged cat named Stonewall. I wanted to tell her this was just a White girl with too much time on her hands, but there was no convincing Grandma Betty. It’d be like telling Bobby Boucher’s mom that “foosball” ain’t the devil. Plus, at least I got to sleep in my own bed every night.
In turn, I never sexiled my roommate. I was a virgin from Ohio. People assumed I milked cows for fun, but really I just hadn’t met the right one (man, not cow).
Call me a prude, but I also wanted to be married the first time I did it. I wanted to hold up my wedding ring like a ThunderCats sword. In between soft kisses on his neck, measured pelvic thrusts, and whatever else I read in The Midwest Special Edition of Cosmo, I would gaze upward to find unicorns and fairies dancing around me. They would wear purple, crushed velvet pants (knee-length skirts for the ladies) and sing Marvin Gaye hits. Sword of Omens, I would call out, give me pleasure beyond pleasures!
So that pretty much happened after I graduated. The fairies and all. I mean, not exactly, but on my wedding night, that pretty much happened. Most of it happened. Some of it happened. We had sex.
I had met my husband, Paul, at one of the most prestigious schools in the
Confederacy South. The University of Virginia is a school built by slaves and attended by slave owners. But it’s totally cool because in 1950 some Yankee liberal types decided Blacks could attend classes in between bricklaying and bell ringing.
By the time I came to Thomas Jefferson’s Grounds in 2001, it wasn’t like playing a game of Memory, where there are only two Black people and you have to match them. We were like ten percent of the student population. We were swarming that place. You couldn’t go to class without bumping into one of us. You could drive by the “Black Bus Stop” any time of day without seeing a frat boy in a bow tie and blazer. It was brilliant, the way we rejected that Colonel Sanders get-up but kept the herbs and spices.
I didn’t meet Paul at the bus stop, per se. I met him on the city trolley, which is way classier than meeting a guy on a bus. Imagine me telling my grandkids, “I met your handsome grandfather on a bus.” Now imagine me telling them, “I met your handsome grandfather on a trolley.” Hear the difference?
So I got together with this nice UVA grad student, and yada, yada, yada, he robs the cradle, and we end up married the summer after I graduate.
But here’s the kicker: We’re baaaaack! Paul, a newly-minted professor, and I have moved back to Charlottesville from the D.C. metro area with our toddler, Elie Mae, and newborn, Tophs. And for the next year, we will all live in a college dorm. I will be just like one of those undergraduate hotties, only I have a master’s degree, push a double stroller, and need a boob lift, stat.
The dorm is the same one I stayed in for freshman orientation. You’re wondering, “Why would a grown woman with a husband and kids live in a college dorm?”
I will answer, “Mind ya business!” But then I will take out my hoop earrings, drop the attitude, and, like a drunken girl in a Real World confessional, bare my soul:
I am under thirty, and I drive a minivan. What will I do next year—start a book club? Order Wrangler jeans? Now I roll past that Black Bus Stop in my Honda Odyssey with kiddie Bible tunes blaring. And if I get pulled over by a cop, it will be for a DWP—Driving While Pumping, because Tophs needs his milk. Which reminds me, you know what someone should invent? They should invent a powdered milk you can mix with water and give to babies. One with nutrients so that I don’t have to be hooked to a machine that sounds like a retching dog and my nipples don’t have to be pulled halfway to Pluto just to get an ounce.
My husband teaches in the same building where he studied over a decade ago. Like the hipsters (read: guinea pigs) we are, we chose to live near the students in a living-learning community. So I’m back at my alma mater as a stay-at-home mom with sore nipples and a meal plan. Just kidding, my nipples aren’t always sore. I do get five free meals a week, though. And if the guy with the long ponytail is still swiping cards, make it six! I don’t want it to be totally obvious to the students that I’m not an undergrad hottie, so I will probably carry Tophs in a laptop bag to the dining hall, making sure to position his head above the zipper.
But back to the sex.
I don’t want to hear any of our young neighbors complaining about being sexiled this year. Because when you are a grownup living in an apartment attached to a dorm (a door off our hallway separates us from the common staircase), sexile takes on a whole new meaning.
With just two bedrooms in our exposed brick (read: unpainted cinder block) spot, the fussy newborn sleeps in a bassinet next to our bed. There’s no way we’ll chance him waking up Elie Mae. All relations must take place quietly, between fits of milk-craving rage (the baby’s, not the husband’s). We don’t have to put a sock on the doorknob or leave a note on a dry-erase board. There’s no one to warn but us. And we don’t need to be warned because every time we look on Paul’s side of the bed, there is a baby in a cage (don’t worry, the cage is made by Graco), and we remember: This is how we got here in the first place.
First, there was the trolley. Then the wedding night. Then the unicorns in crushed velvet and glittery TOMS. Eventually, the unicorns brought babies strapped to their backs. Or did they shoot them from their horns? Either way, my OB/GYN caught the babies, and now, if we want to have sex in our college dorm, we have to do it quickly and quietly. We have to have the energy. I have to hope my breasts aren’t leaking or wear a poncho if they are.
Tophs, he is our RA. He is our Dean of Students. If we wake him by hitting the headboard or tinkering with a bra strap, he won’t write us up; worse, he’ll demand a warm bottle, a diaper change, and then a second diaper change once he blows out the first with loose, mustard-colored bowels. If we are still in the mood after all that, then it’s a Christmas miracle. Or magic, according to my roommate. We are not up against two horny teenagers who want to exile us from a room; worse, we are up against a three-month-old who wants to banish us from the act of sex, itself.
Take that, you rookie college kids. I’ll school you on sexiling any day.