What do you do when you’re nervous in front of the person you love the most? When you’ve spent weeks having awkward, painful arguments in which neither of you really knows the right words to say to fix things? Some people might go out for dinner or to a movie – something traditional and date-y, to remind each other that they can still have fun. Others might share a bottle of wine and have a deep and meaningful chat – re-establishing your shared goals and reminding each other how much love there is between you. We play Magic: The Gathering.
Lying on the floor of the living room, sipping homemade cocktails and being gentle with each other’s feelings, we do battle with plastic-covered cards. He’s armed with dragons and fire spells, me with angels and enchantments. He wins more often than I do, because I don’t take enough risks. I get so attached to my creatures that I’m afraid to actually use them, and he knows this is my weakness.
Him: Good game.
Me: I still lost though.
Him: [Picking up cards, shuffling] But you built my deck in the first place. So I only won because you’d done all the preparation.
Me: [Shuffling] Ha! Thanks. That’s a nice way to spin it.
I can’t remember the last time I sat in a room with him and wasn’t worried that I’d say the wrong thing. We’re being careful with each other: keeping the chatter light and friendly. I’m doing my best to suppress the side of me that’s a bad loser, and he’s trying not to gloat too much after burning my precious angels to a crisp.
Two games into the evening and we’re one-all so far. We’re playing best of three so this is the decider. And as we play, we negotiate.
Him: [Plays] How about we make this interesting? If I win this set, you put on the special pants that I bought you last week?
Me: [Draws, plays] Hmm…
Him: [Sips cocktail, looks at cards] It’s OK, you don’t have to if you don’t want to. I just thought it might be fun.
The ‘special’ pants aren’t really pants – they’re shorts. Red silk short-shorts that ride right the way up into my butt crack. The fabric stretches tight over my arse, and the hem of the shorts sits partway up my buttocks – displaying the neat, curved line where my bottom meets the top of my thighs.
I’m not turned on by the shorts themselves, I’m turned on by the knowledge that he really wants me to wear them. He bought them a few weeks ago, when we were happy. When we’re happy he likes to buy knickers and short shorts that he thinks might show off my arse. I wear them because – when we’re happy – I can’t resist the look on his face when he sees I’ve complied with his wish. He fucks me harder when I’m wearing the knickers he buys me, and if I’m lucky I get spanked over his knee.
Me: It might be hot. Let me think on it.
Him: [Draws, plays] I know we’ve had a difficult time lately though, and you might not be horny. Don’t feel like you have to if you don’t want to.
It’s a hot idea though, and we’ve done this before: turned the game into something filthier by offering sexual favours to whoever wins. Usually winning one game gets you something simple and quick: a few minutes of nipple-sucking or the loser stripping topless before we shuffle and re-draw. Winning a set – best of three – gets you more: think head or hand jobs, an orgasm with a specific sex toy, or getting fully tied up, blindfolded, and fucked.
But am I up for this now? In this post-fight phase where we’re both walking on eggshells… when I’m feeling a tiny bit fragile and unloved and still missing him from the time before we fought… Hmm. I think I am. But the fact that I didn’t immediately greet his idea with enthusiasm will already have put him on edge, and if I don’t recover quickly he’ll tell me to forget it – the spark of horniness dying in his eyes as surely as my Griffin died last round when he threw down Chandra’s Outrage.
I put my cards on the floor and say I’ll think on it while I run to fix more drinks.
When I come back, I’ve decided.
Me: OK. Let’s do it. If you win the next round, I’ll wear the good pants.
[His eyes light up]
Me: But you’re not allowed to try and fuck me…
Me: … unless you can show me that you really really want it.
I play land, tap Soulmender to gain a life, then play Pharika’s Chosen for defence. He can’t risk attacking because I can smite whatever he sends, so he’s on the back foot for now.
He looks up, suddenly seeming uncertain.
Him: Can I just clarify something?
Me: It’s a one-one deathtouch. You can kill it but you’ll die too.
Him: Not the game. I know what that bloody snake does. [He draws, plays, kills Pharika’s Chosen. Adds a token to the battlefield: he’s winning] When you said that I can fuck you if I really really want it, do you mean you want me to be aggressive?
He’s nervous, and I understand why. I wanted my comment to be a neat way to tell him I was horny – a sexy overture to counterbalance my initial uncertainty, and give him something a little more enthusiastic than just a simple ‘yes.’ But right now he needs more than just sexy lines and dirty looks. We’re coming out of a sad place, so it’s not enough to assume: he wants to be sure.
Me: [Draws, plays, gains a life] Yes: I want you to be aggressive.
Him: OK. So if you wear the special pants, I get to touch you up and try to fuck you and you want to pretend a little bit like you don’t want it?
Him: OK. [Draws, plays, adds another token to the battlefield] Cool. It’s just that we’ve been having a rough time lately, and we’re having fun tonight. I want to make sure we keep having fun and I don’t fuck it up by misinterpreting what you’re saying.
There are people who say that consent negotiation is boring and unsexy, and I’m meant to respond by telling you that it’s hot. It can be. It can be incredibly sexy – where you riff off each other’s horny ideas, editing each other’s sexy fantasies until you come up with a combined plan that turns both of you on. It can also be a little awkward, like tonight, where one of you wants to hint and the other needs it spelled out. You can do consent negotiation in a whole variety of different ways, depending on the scene you’re planning and the mood you’re both in and how recently it’s been since you both tried to do this. It can be sexy, fun, exciting, scary, awkward, neat, fast or slow. I can’t tell you how to do it perfectly, because it will be different every time.
Me: [Puts down cards] Good point. And good talk. I thought I was being sexy, but I should have been a bit clearer, so here goes: I like the idea of wearing the pants, but I’m also having fun playing the game, and I love distracting you from games by being slutty. If you win, I’d like to keep playing for a bit while you sneak glances at my arse and occasionally try to touch me up. And then I want you to be so horny you can’t wait till we’ve finished, and you just yank down my shorts and fuck me right here on the floor.
Consent negotiation doesn’t only happen once – it’s not a fixed contract which you hammer out in stone and then stick to forever. While the broad strokes can be tackled via big conversations, the daily details need regular edits and updates. So much can change in the wake of a fight or an illness or just a really bad day, that it’s not enough to assume that today will be the same as last week.
Him: Got it. That’s sexy. I just wanted to make sure it was sexy in the way I thought it was. Now pick up your cards – the real sexy comes later, when you put on the pants.
Me: [Draws, plays, gains 8 life] Who says you’re even going to win?
I used to think I enjoyed Magic because it was the right combination of skill and luck. You’re partly relying on drawing good cards, and partly on your own knowledge: of the deck, of the colours, and of your opponents.
But it’s not just skill and luck: it’s preparation. Long before you start to shuffle, you’ve had to build your deck. Carefully selecting the cards that will work best with each other, sometimes tailoring a deck to play well against a specific opponent. During the prep you get to imagine the combinations you can use, and dream up ways you might turn this or that move to your advantage. Then you adjust your strategy in real time, based on what your opponents do, trying to read their facial expressions and body language to get an idea of what they might have up their sleeve.
My prep didn’t stop him from winning, in the end. But he was grateful to me for doing it, because without it we couldn’t have played.
And because he won, I wore the special pants. He smacked me over his knee, rubbed his hands against the silky-smooth fabric of these tiny red shorts until my cunt juice dampened a dark patch near the beating centre of my crotch.
Later, on my knees, I arched my back and begged for more as he yanked the shorts to one side and speared me with his dick.
And I was grateful to him for doing the prep, because without it we couldn’t have played.