Let's (Not) Talk About Sex

Betty and I spent Thanskgiving Day at my sister and her husband’s house – a place we frequent on a regular basis. I like to joke that our standard of living is brought up significantly by dinners at her place: good food, plentiful wine, deep sofas & a fireplace. It’s lovely.
She had a ridiculous amount of people over for Thanksgiving Day itself: a couple in from SF, CA with their two small children; a couple from DC with their dog; a friend from Tucson and three of his friends; us; them; her acupuncturist & old friend, and another old friend with his friend. I think it was 16, or 18, all told. Which is lovely: being from a big family it just feels right to me to sit at a very long dinner table. My sister’s husband, who’d taken the foot of the table, actually called my sister at the head of it twice during dinner as she otherwise couldn’t hear what he was asking. Amusing.
At some point when people had had a bit to drink, one of the friends of friends kind of plopped herself next to me and Betty on the couch. I knew what was coming. We’d met her before, at a previous party, and she had asked a lot of questions, then, too. I think I even wrote about that incident, when I just got tired of it & kind of ‘ran away’ on some trumped-up excuse.
“So, when you two make love…” she started. She did add the “if you don’t want to answer that’s okay” caveat, but still: not fun. And I realized tonight what’s not-fun about it to me – and that’s the assumption that 1) because we ‘look different’ from others we have some kind of outlandish sex life, 2) that because we look different people actually have the right to ask us about our sex life, and 3) that it was quite possible that any other couple at the dinner had a far kinkier sex life than we do.
At some point, I just returned her “So when you two have sex…” question with “Well how do you two have sex?” The thing is, these questions never get asked in a kind of ‘I’m curious’ way but in a “I’m so normal and you’re so not” kind of way. The funny thing about it was that her husband and she did not strike me as totally normally gendered: she came off as kind of aggressive, bulldog-ish, and he seemed kind of sweet and passive.
I always find it kind of funny that people are so willing to present themselves – to me, of all people – as somehow “normally gendered.” Because if anyone’s going to see anything genderqueer about anyone, I’m a safe bet. I’ll find the residue of an inkling, if it’s there. I’m thinking sometimes I should come with some kind of warning label: Abandon gender certainty, all ye who converse here.