The potential for spectacular success and cataclysmic failure are both forged in the first 45 seconds of a 69.
This is where you and your partner transition from making out or hand stuff or whatever to smoothly flipping around in an Olympian display of athleticism and grace to land with your faces perfectly positioned in each other’s junk while a choir of cherubs dance and sing above you, showering you in gilt confetti when you both instantly and inevitably and simultaneously orgasm into each other’s adoring mouths.
Or – and this is much more likely – there’s verbal and physical fumbling, first about whether you actually want to do it, communicated with tentative eyebrow wiggles and shrugs, then painfully polite or offensively presumptuous settling about who goes where, then some awkward recalibration of mouths over erogenous zones, before a steady descent into emotional and mental disengagement as your world view dissolves entirely into genitalia, culminating in a dizzying spiral into sexual ennui as you wonder what even is the point of anything at all ever.
It’s such a bummer. How can something as patently wonderful as having two sets of sexy bits stimulated at the same time be so fraught? I can’t remember how old I was when I first heard of 69ing, but I can assure you my mind was blown. BOTH? AT THE SAME TIME?
I have only a dim recollection of my first time, but I remember being too overwhelmed to enjoy it. I had only just come to terms with the notion that someone was even vaguely interested in my penis and had read enough Cosmos to have a foggy grasp of yonic topography, but being suddenly faced with navigating the crucible of my own insecurities and the bewildering array of sensations was too much for my stupid young little brain.
As I became more comfortable with my body and others’, 69ing became just another part of sex, and, what with it being sex and all, was pretty great. I mitigated the most pressing insecurities and anxieties and learned to enjoy mutual oral pleasure.
Now that I’m old as fuck, I’ve processed most of my hang-ups and am comfortable with my relationship to sex. I know what I like, and I know how to ask others about what they like, and find a way of accommodating it all with kindness and joy. And through my talking with lovers over the years, I learned to feel okay with my ambivalence to 69ing. Like me, they weren’t too fussed about it, and we welcomed it when it occurred as part of the spontaneous flow of sex, but weren’t bothered about making it a distinct, itemised event in our lovemaking.
I spoke to a bunch of my friends with an assortment of genitalia and inclinations when I was preparing to write this, and was surprised to find that most of them had lukewarm feelings too. Some said it made them feel self-conscious about their vulva because they couldn’t read their partner’s reactions; others said they felt uncomfortable because they couldn’t control how deep the dick went; some said it changes depending on the gender or physiology of their partner and a couple said they can disassociate from the experience because of the lack of eye contact and sense of connection. Most just kind of shrugged and said, “Meh.” The presiding sentiment was that there are more efficient, rewarding and intimate ways to enjoy each other.
I think that’s where I’ve landed too. If a 69 happens spontaneously, then yay. But I’m not going to be chasing cherubs and confetti.