Sexual Disabilities

JvA
7 min readJul 6, 2023

I’m in Las Vegas for a wedding. I’m with my family; it’s a family wedding. We’re all staying at some hotel outside the strip. There is a pool, which is fantastic because it is over one-hundred degrees, and just existing in the world means developing a very clingy relationship with your sweat. Like you are binging X-Files and Halo Top ice cream in your nighties, and then it all just evaporates.

The family is hanging out at the pool when the pizza arrives. Now this is Las Vegas, or somewhere nearby, I don’t really know where the hell I am, I just went wherever I was told, so I’m not expecting good pizza. If you want good pizza in Vegas, you’ve got one option and that’s Secret Pizza in the Cosmopolitan. It’s great, I highly recommend it, and they don’t deliver to Podunk Nevada. So I’ve resigned myself to terrible pizza, which is fine because I’m hungry.

As we’re all heading inside to convene around this disgusting display of bread and cheese, my little cousin Josh stops me. Now Josh isn’t that little; he’s sixteen at this point. But he also has a developmental disability, and normally I wouldn’t point that out, but it is important here. Because talking to Josh is more like talking to a nine or ten-year-old. I’ve known Josh most of his life, and I’d come to see him as this younger version because it’s easier to have more patience with younger children.

So Josh pulls me aside and asks if he can talk to me about something. Now I — am the cool cousin. I am. Hard to believe, but I am the cool one. Back then I was in my mid-thirties, I was and am single, and I didn’t and don’t have children. I also lived in Atlanta. The city! I don’t anymore. Current me is not as cool as past me.

Now I’m reclining on a plastic chaise lounger and Josh is sitting at the foot. And as the cool cousin, I let him know I’m happy to talk about anything. But I don’t expect anything. I genuinely believe we are about to engage in a very heated discussion about Pokémon. As you might imagine, that is not the conversation he wants to have. As you might imagine, he wants to talk about S — E — X.

Let me sidetrack a moment to explain that people are afraid to teach children with developmental disabilities about S — E — X. The problem often comes down to the difference between their physical age and their emotional age. Josh is sixteen, with a sixteen-year-old body, but people don’t really know what he’s capable of understanding, so they just assume he can’t. If you explain S — E — X to Josh, will he run off and try to have S — E — X in a completely inappropriate way? I don’t know. I’m not an expert in this field. I’m just the cool cousin.

Josh tells me he has a girlfriend. He does not. There is an actual girl, and they are friends, but she moved away to South Carolina. And Josh informs me that he is going to visit her. On his own. With his parents’ permission. This visit will never happen. This is a child’s fantasy. And yes, I am brilliantly interrupting my own story to tell you that there are absolutely no stakes. Nothing Josh and I talk about will ever come to pass.

Apparently, they had been texting, and while texting about this visit, which will never happen, they agree to have sex. Josh’s word, not mine. And Josh wants to know how to do that. So he knows about the concept of S — E — X, which surprises me, but he doesn’t know about the specifics, which does not surprise me.

I begin with an introduction to consent, which is how S — E — X should always begin. I tell Josh both parties need to agree, they can cancel any time, and I am the coolest cousin! Josh looks at me like I’m having a medical event, but I continue. I ask Josh if he knows what a condom is. He is sixteen, and he does not. I try to explain what a condom is. It’s like a balloon, but with a hard edged ring at one side, and you roll it down your penis before inserting said penis into a vagina — and Josh is looking at me like I am insane. Like I have lost my fucking mind!

I stop. I leave space for Josh to catch up. I ask him if he has any questions. He does. He has one question. And he looks me square in the eye as the sun drops behind the hotel privacy wall and the faintest of cool winds blows through our sweat, and Josh asks me perhaps the most sincere question I have ever been asked; he asks me, “Have you ever even had sex?”

Spoiler alert: I have! Several times even. Allow me to sidetrack again. I am asexual. That means many things to many different people. For me, it means I’m not sexually attracted to anyone. Especially you. I’d rather bake a cake. I’d rather watch television. I’d rather get cornered into teaching my cousin the birds and the bees while he questions whether I actually know what I am talking about.

Following Josh’s question, I am pushed so hard outside of my own body that I travel back in time. I am an adolescent, curious as to why my friends, and my older brother, and my cousins who are my age, suddenly all prefer watching pornos to Back to The Future or The Princess Bride. I didn’t get the memo, and I suddenly felt very left back.

I was surrounded by S — E — X. It was everywhere. All of the TV shows and movies had men and women waking up next to each other in bed. It seemed lovely with the nice fresh white linens in the morning rays, until I realized what they did the night before, which definitely involved changing the sheets, because there’s no way they were still that clean. And I hate changing sheets, but not as much as sleeping in dirty sheets. Dirty, dirty sheets.

My friends only talked about dating now. Kissing seemed nice, but then there was talk of blow jobs and whether people can get pregnant from anal. And I’m like, “Gentlemen, can we not take a second to discuss the Daredevil cameo on the Spider-Man cartoon?” Apparently, no.

I could not escape an education in S — E — X. When I was ten, there was an evening assembly. My parents brought me because, despite listening to conservative talk radio all the time, they did hold some forward-thinking ideas. Now I had no issues with S — E — X education. I looked at it methodically, scientifically. I was never ashamed or embarrassed by S — E — X. I was just disinterested in it. It’s a waste of time that people enjoy for some reason. But it’s also a little bit gross, like vomiting or diarrhea.

At the assembly, the teacher would ask questions, such as, “What is the scientific name for the male genitals?” And because I felt absolutely no shame in talking about S — E — X — and I’d like to pause for a moment and ponder where a child who felt no shame in talking about S — E — X might end up one day — anyway, I raised my tiny ten-year-old hand, and answered the teacher with, “It’s called a cock!” The audience burst into laughter. Taking another pause, I’d also like to ponder what happens to a child who makes a banger dick joke at the age of ten. It might involve a comedy theater.

I am shocked back to poolside after suffering a brief moment of questioning everything I have ever known up to this point. An existential crisis from which I emerge through the other side confident that yes, of the many ways to have S — E — X, one is, in fact: The penis goes in the vagina.

Josh is not convinced. It is clear I assumed too much. I ask Josh what he thinks is S — E — X, and he tells me. And I am dead from his answer. I am still, to this day, dead from his answer. I will never not be dead from his answer. He tells me that “sex,” his word, not mine, “is when a boy kisses a girl.” That’s it. He just wanted to know how to kiss a girl, and I explained the entirety of human reproduction.

As it happens, I love kissing. I’m asexual, but I’m very romantic. Kissing is my S — E — X, and I can go all night long. I revisit consent, because that is still important, and I wind it all up by telling Josh, “You’ll figure it the fuck out because that’s how we all do it. Now let’s go eat some fucking pizza! I’m starving!” Cool cousin.

If only it were that easy. Josh stops me again. He has one more question. I sit back on the chaise. This time, I am confident I can handle anything he throws my way. Even Pokémon. Josh sits across from me. And he looks me square in the eye as the sun continues to drop behind the hotel privacy wall, because it hasn’t really been that long, and Josh asks me perhaps the second most sincere question I have ever been asked; he asks, “But when do I tie her to a chair and bring out the whips?”

I die a second time. It turns out, when you don’t teach a child about S — E — X, they go to Google and they type in, “S — E — X”. And apparently, the only result one can find that is not behind a paywall is softcore BDSM.

So I beg you, for the sake of asexuals everywhere, please teach all of your children about S — E — X, because I don’t want to anymore.

Oh, and the pizza was cold and terrible.

--

--

JvA

(they/them) Trans-Jewish Orchestra. Comedy writer and software engineer. Sometimes comedy engineer and software writer.