I was riding in the car w/ Patent, Penelope, and Pimpin one night during the summer. Penelope had just recounted a story of love and loss and while I did my girl-friend sympathizing duty, Patent took another approach.
”Learn to swallow,” he told Penelope. ”No man will leave a woman who swallows.”
The phrase ‘learn to swallow’ became sort of a running joke amongst my summer crew. Everytime a woman complained about heartbreak or a cheating fool of a boyfriend or a decent man who just wasn’t showing any act right, this was the laughed out advice we started to give. (Note: for women simply looking for a man, we did not advise this. Concensus holds that swallowing can help a woman keep a man she’s got, but will not help her get a man she doesn’t have.)
I took the phrase for the joke that it was until one night I realized Patent was dead serious. I was walking to the car for a ride home to BK with Patent and several of his friends after a long night of Tuesday partying at Guest House (Shot out to bottle-buying Stan!) Somehow the subject of swallowing came upon us (no pun intended.) I broke the fourth wall and voiced my real feelings on the matter (blame the liquor), which in a word were ”ugh!!”
It was like I’d skipped the record at an old school house party. Avery, who claims he was not drunk at the time of this conversation, became visibly upset. ”Not swallow?!” he bellowed. It was as though I’d cursed his mother. ”What do you mean not swallow?!”
‘Shit’s disgusting,” I shoot back with equal venom. (Damn Belve!) Avery’s a big dude. I will not be intimidated by his size or demeanor.
”Disgusting?!!” Another bellow. ”My seeds are disgusting?”
I kiss my teeth like the go-hard West Indians on my Brooklyn block for good emphasis (shout out to Crown Heights!!) ”In someone’s mouth or throat it is. Yah.”
The look on his face is pure comedy. He is appalled that I cannot fathom a woman loving his man juice. ”Dudes swallow women’s juices all the time. You think we spit it out when we’re down there? You think we like to swallow when a woman cums in our faces?! We commit to the act. A woman has got to commit to the act!!”
His boys seem to co-sign and I realize it’s me, an army of one, against five. Me and Avery yelling is going nowhere. I grab his hand, hold it, and intertwine our fingers. I encourage him to speak to me softly as we walk, separating ourselves from the group. I ask him to tell me why swallowing is so important.
He takes a deep breath. ”For a woman to spit me out… It’s just rejection in the worst way. It’s awful. It’s like she doesn’t accept all parts of me,” he confesses. ”It’s not about the feeling and it’s not about submission either. It’s the rejection I feel.”
I’ve never heard a man speak so passionately about a subject. It’s like he’s arguing for his freedom before the parole board. ”You just don’t know what it feels like.” He squeezes my hand a little tighter as if looking for support. I wonder if his heartfelt reaction is a crock of shit, but the woman in me makes me squeeze back anyway to comfort him. We agree to disagree. (My stance on the matter: just be happy a woman’s in the area, dammit. Fuck a swallow.)
Later that month, I broach the Learn to Swallow subject Sunday night at CafÃ© Habana. The Who’s Who of Brooklyn (& Harlem) are gathered on the outdoor benches discussing– what else?– relationships.
”What’s the obsession with all this swallowing business?” I inquire of a fresh group of men, unofficially known as The Pretty Boy Crew.
”That shit just feels right!!” is the general consensus. Dap and laughter all around. Apparently, they’re not as deep as Avery & his crew. (God bless them, they are also younger.)
From 24, the youngest member of The PBC, comes a bit more explanation: Don’t think about it terms of what it can do for him, think about what it means in terms of the greater good for you. You swallow you can get anything you want.” (For brevity’s sake, I won’t relay the whole conversation, but he wasn’t speaking of material goods. More like romance, affection, and attention.)
”Does swallowing feel better than sex?” I think about this article I read awhile back. It was based on a study that said men who had a steady sex diet with their SOs were better in relationships. The magazine asked 4 real women to say ”yes” to sex for a month and report on the changes, if any, in their relationships.
24 is in deep thought, trying to come up with the right answer. It’s like I can see the wheels turning as he recounts all his sexual experiences. Finally he reaches a verdict: ”Depends on the skills of the woman,” he determines.
Many months later, I’m cuddled up with my SSO (somewhat significant other) watching a flick. It’s Italia Blue, a new favorite actress of mine. She does the deed, he reaches joy without her jerking her head out the way, and then she spits his contents back on his penis. I’m amused.
I look up at SSO. ”That’s a happy alternative to swallowing, no? At least she took the mouth shot.”
He looks at me crazy? ”NO! … Ugh! She’s gonna spit on me?!”
Now it’s my turn. ”Yeah… What’s the problem?” I sit up so that were eye to eye and physically separated.
”Hell no. Shit’s disgusting, D.”
”But its not disgusting for a woman to swallow it?”
He shakes his head. ”No,” he blurts.
”It’s just not” is the definitive answer.
”What is it about swallowing that is so important,” I ask, still unsatisfied with all the previous answers I’ve been given. ”Why does a woman have to swallow? You really feel rejected like Avery said?”
He takes a moment. ”Really? I don’t care what she does with it as long as she doesn’t spit it on me. At that point, I’ve cum so I’m good…”
”So why do men like it so much then?”
He sighs like I’ve exasperated him and pulls me back into him. ”As long as a woman’s down there, I’m not complaining. If she doesn’t use teeth or spit my shit back on me, she can do whatever she wants other than that and I’m happy, okay?”
I nod into the chiseled man breasts, barely paying attention to what he’s saying anymore. My mind’s gone other places. ”Um, whatever. Okay.”
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