What it’s like to have an accidental threesome…

Would you? Could you? For Elissa Bassist, sexual enlightenment came in the form of a totally unexpected – and out of character – one night stand.

All I did was say aloud what the three of us had already been thinking: ‘We’re going to have a threesome.’ It wasn’t a question or a demand; it was just a statement. My friend’s ex-boyfriend responded by asking where we were going. ‘Elissa’s apartment is just around the corner,’ my friend offered.

Three hours earlier, I had been wearing my comfy jeans, at home in my Brooklyn apartment, eating nachos and binge-watching a show on Netflix about a vampire. I was mid-break-up, and when I say ‘mid’, I mean my then-boyfriend had said, ‘I love you, but I don’t want to live in New York with you. Goodbye.’ He had moved to Wyoming nine months earlier, which generally meant I should have moved on four months ago, or at least progressed beyond the nachos-and-Netflix phase. But I was still mentally replaying the jangle of his keys as he walked down the stairs and out of the door, the final kiss, and how I ran upstairs to throw away the unused condoms, knowing we would never have sex again. I might have used them one day with someone but those condoms were his and mine, so out they went. Then I tossed the sheets, pulled on my comfy jeans and there I was.

For the past nine months I’d barely left the apartment, so it required heroic contortions of body and mind that night to sit in a basement theatre where my former house mate – an ebullient Chilean actress and musician with porcelain skin – performed in a play about hipsters and wasted youth. Her ex-girlfriend had written it, basing my friend’s character on her: bisexual and bawdy, an open and honest free spirit, wild and without shame. As my friend fake-drank beer onstage, I noticed a man in the audience she’d described to me years ago: a rockabilly who looked and talked like Elvis and had crushed her emotionally. She confronted him later, and he cooed, ‘Baby, I ain’t never been nothing but sweet to you.’

Later at the upstairs bar, when ‘Elvis’ sat down on a stool next to us, bought us beers and whisky shots, and kept his face close to mine, I began to panic: was he flirting with me? Or was he flirting with her? I wondered when he brought up the subject of their sexual history. It would have been inappropriate of me to flirt with him, so instead I flirted with her, gently tickling her thigh as he talked. Of all my friends she was that friend, the one with whom you’d theoretically have a three-way. Alluring, playful, there was a lot of seductive energy – and whisky – swirling amongst us. None of us had any romantic aspirations – the rockabilly had no hold on her heart – so the flirting was all low stakes and high velocity. That’s when I announced: ‘We’re going to have a threesome.’

It had never been on my sex wish list. I’d never had a threesome, nor fantasized about having one, nor stood within ten feet of anyone who’d had multi-tasking sex. Sex with one other person was arduous enough. I hadn’t even kissed a man for longer than ten seconds until I was 20 and, at 26 I hadn’t experimented much sexually. On top of that, I had pressed pause on the whole romantic-emotional-sexual side of myself since the break-up/meltdown. But the alchemy of this night – the wild-and-without-shame friend, the man who looked and acted like Elvis, their libidinous past, my shedding of the comfy jeans, the whisky, the apartment’s proximity – sent me high-tailing it home to hurriedly tidy up while they stopped to buy beer.

Once inside my apartment, I decided to cancel it. I wouldn’t let them in. But I then remembered that my buzzer was broken, the door downstairs was unlocked, and they showed up too fast. My friend sensed my nervousness, so she and I sojourned to the kitchen for a breather. She counselled me on the spot: ‘It’s OK. Inhale. This is just your body learning how sex can break the paralysis inflicted by the past. Exhale.’ We inhaled and exhaled together until we were inflated by courage.

An infinite number of beers later I then suggested we play Truth of Dare, minus the truth part. ‘Kiss her passionately on the mouth,’ my friend dared her ex. We retained an almost theatrical innocence. ‘Pull each other’s hair,’ he now dared us. ‘Take off my underwear,’ I dare myself. She dared all of us to get into my bed. We were like a bunch of excitable teenagers on a bright, unexplored planet.

Before this night, me and my friend often talked about our relationships, menstrual cycles and other personal and awkward things, but what exactly we did during sex was a subject even we, the closest and oldest of friends, couldn’t touch – until now. Seeing the way another woman had sex nudged me in new and unexpected directions. I witnessed her tell him what to do and what she liked. I paid very close attention: was she really enjoying herself? When her ex-boyfriend went down on her, I whispered, ‘are you getting off on this?’ She smiled at me, shook her head and whispered back, ‘Not even close.’ Same!

‘Let me show you how this works,’ she intervened, instructing him. ‘You might like circular motions,’ she recommended to me. ‘Allow me to demo another way,’ she proposed to both of us with authority, before we folded into gymnastic-like positions and even got a little rough, just to see, just to know what it felt like.

Throughout, my friend was my friend, meaning she was kind, encouraging, generous, thoughtful and complimentary. You know when a girlfriend says to you, ‘Nice haircut,’ or ‘I adore that dress on you’? This was just like that, but carnal, like, ‘You have a hot body,’ or ‘Let me turn off the light first so no one sees my scars or your stretch marks, which don’t exist anyway.’ The benefits of friendship transposed on to this night. We felt comfortable and unembarrassed getting naked in front of each other, and when she became tired, she’d motion to me, like a tag-team system, and I’d stimulate or get stimulated as she rested.

Afterwards, as we lay cooling, smelling of three different types of sweat, it was how I envisioned it would be after a sexual revolution: no one jealous or insecure or hurt. For once, I didn’t desire pledges of eternal fidelity or everlasting love. Sex was affirmative, friendly and fun. I’d learned new, illuminating things, which should be the whole point of sex – and I’d learned from a female friend, my inadvertent sex coach, who, within a few hours, had imparted her wisest sex life-skills.

At around 4am, I gave her a look that said I’d like to be alone, and without hesitation, she said, ‘Time to put on your pants,’ to Elvis. ‘I’m calling a cab for us.’ In the darkness, we said goodnight, knowing the three of us would never be the three of us again. But the next day, I knew she would call me, because she’s my friend, and the truly sacred relationship – our relationship – would always survive undamaged. And it did.

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