I was hanging at a dude friend’s place last week with a few other friends, mostly dudes. As it usually does, the topic eventually turned to sex, and one of my friends started telling this story about a girl he slept with a few years ago. Midway through the story, another (male) friend turned and said “oh is this about Turkey Sandwich?”
Then everybody laughed. Except me, because I didn’t know what the hell that meant.
Let me preface this with the fact that these male friends of mine are not douchey beer can crushing frat boys. They are nice and genuine, and until this exact moment I had never witnessed anything appalling about the way they treat, speak to or speak about women. Nothing they had ever said or done before had ever fired off my misogynistic flare gun.
Back to the story.
“Turkey sandwich? Why do you call her turkey sandwich?” I asked.
I was hoping for some tale about how every time they would have have sex, she would make him a really great turkey sandwich after. Or maybe they met while he was working at a Blimpie and he always knew her order was a turkey sandwich? Extra olives?
My friend, let’s call him Jim Bob, went to explain that this girl had hooked up with one of his friends years before the two of them one-night-standed. “Okay, and…” I pressed.
Jim Bob responded, “well what do you do with leftover turkey after thanksgiving?”
“I don’t fucking know, I’m vegan,” I said. Just kidding, I didn’t say that. I stared at him blankly.
“You make a turkey sandwich,” he punch-lined.
Me and the one other girl in the room proceeded to projectile vomit on Jim Bob’s head. Just kidding, but I wish we did.
“Wait wait, let me get this straight,” I said. “This girl did nothing wrong other than deem you worthy of having sex with, but because she also had sex with one of your friends you’re labeling her a left-over?”
I was all kinds of horrified, because this was a 28-year-old male, who up until that point had always showcased logic, reason, compassion, decent judgement and good taste in whiskey. This wasn’t some punk-ass college frat boy or anyone with an unmanageable ego. Jim Bob had always seemed like a sweet guy!
Worse, the other guys in the room didn’t seem to be disturbed by this. They went on to discuss other nicknames given to girls they have slept with – Closet Monster, because they had sex in a closet, was one of the more memorable ones. Not Closet Girl, or girl-I-fucked-in-a-closet, both which would have been much much more respectable and less derogatory. Closet Monster. Monster!?! The names Jim Bob and Co. were choosing placed all of this undeserved shame on the girls they slept with, like they were some dirty, dishonorable creatures for choosing to have sex with the people now talking shit…I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Now let me clear the record: in college, my roommates and I came up with nicknames for the guys we slept with or wanted to sleep with. We did it because we went to a tiny, tiny college and if we wanted to talk about the guys we were crushing on without everyone on campus finding out, we had to do it in code. (Much like how I just changed my friend’s name to Jim Bob so I could bitch about him on the Internet.) So we had names like Roman God, for the dude who was so painfully beautiful he appeared to be from another time. Or Niney, because of his blessed endowment. Or Shakespeare Lit, because we met in—you guessed it—Shakespeare Lit. If a guy became a steady hook-up or a boyfriend, the nick names fell away and they simply became “Pete.”
In college, we never meant anything derogatory by nicknaming the guys, but after my half heart attack at Jim Bob, I could see how it could come off that way. While most of our nicknames were positive (Niney was a legend), and we never ever tacked on a word like “Monster” or referred to them as cold lunch meat jammed between two slices of bread, we were boiling down a human being into a nickname that barely begins to encompass their entire person. So I would like to take a moment to apologize to them all. Sorry Roman, Niney, Shakespeare, Snake Wrangler and Geometry Todd. I never meant to offend you, I just wanted to talk about you at brunch without being overheard by the entire Lacrosse team.
So, I lectured Jim Bob good and hard that day. The other female in the room did as well. Later, I grilled my boyfriend to see if he had derogatory nicknames for his former conquests. He swore no, but I was already drumming up nightmares of him sitting around with his old college roomies, hitting the bong and telling stories about Areola Alice. Okay that one isn’t very good, but I just can’t think of any more shameful names right now…
Do you make up nicknames for the people you’ve slept with? Did you used to? Do you think it’s okay as long as they aren’t shaming, belittling nicknames? Would you have been horrified if you overheard your friends talking like this?
Let’s all grow up and start calling the people we sleep with by their names. Like Beatrice. That’s a nice name, isn’t it?