Years ago, encouraged by a friend who was teaching tantric techniques, I started teaching a ridiculously informal and hacked-together course on non-sexual sensuality. ;For almost a year I was winging it, wracking my brains trying to think up sensual activities and ways to encourage people to explore this underrated erotic avenue. Surprisingly, it became popular fairly quickly and was even written up in two or three independent papers. (Los Angeles is rife with them, so this isn’t as big a deal as it seems. That didn’t stop me for clipping the articles, and I have them somewhere around here yet.) A year into it, I started to make a lot of money at my other job, so I dropped the class in favor of partying for days on end. I’ve always regretted that decision, even more so these days with physical sensuality so glaringly absent from my life.
One of the reasons I’d been so indifferent about dumping the course was that I had a sneaking contempt for the attendants. (I cringe to admit that—good thing that the people who took the class probably aren’t going to read this, eh?) They were all so much older than I was. In their thirties for the love of red toads, and I—well, I was nineteen. I’m surprised anyone took me seriously, and of all the graces I can bless, I did at least act serious. I thought anyone who needed to be taught to touch was hopelessly stupid, and I was amused at the effusive thanks I’d get on occasion. Now that I’m older and in my thirties, no less, I realize just how important that class must have been to a number of couples. Sensuality is so important, and in the course of all of our day-to-day mini crises, that fact is soon forgotten. How much easier is it to just grab someone and fuck, or roll over and slide in? And yet…the lack of sensuality, even with less than intimate partners, leaves a blemish, a null in the experience, and for some of us, magnifies a certain type of loneliness. Sure, there are numerous studies on the important of tactile stimulus, from ailing babies to depressed adults.& Do we need them to know that a touch can inspire or break us?
I used to practice my sensuality techniques on others, getting a kick out of the rise I’d sometimes get. If someone would respond, I’d consider that touch a winner. My favorite was always having my hair brushed and played with, and it certainly worked well with other women. I’ve had very long hair for most of my life, and men and women both seemed drawn to it, not just aesthetically I think, but for the feel of it. In high school and college friends would braid it, twirl it, brush it. So I’ve had a lot of experience with non-sexual caresses and the unrequited desire that came along with it. With the advent of my first girlfriend, I also had someone to experiment on. From body painting à la Better Than Chocolate to chopsticks, we tried it all. Many were the times we’d end up in a sweat before ever touching a fingertip to a clit.
I’m guilty. I forget, and I forget it often, that sensuality has more to do with sex than any penis or vagina. Without touch, sex is mere conjecture. As carnal as it is, it’s also cerebral. The very act of touching should be conscious, without it we’re missing something deeply vital.
I know I am.