How to Pick a Lover

By the time you swear you’re shivering and sighing,
and he vows his passion is infinite, undying—lady,
make a note of this: one of you is lying.
—Dorothy Parker

Making love is like a play. It has a script of sorts, partly dictated by the culture, partly created through the continual revisions made by the couple themselves. It is a play with an overture: an apt analogy because, in this case, even the word is the same.

Making love begins with someone making overtures. It has a first act made up of various kinds of foreplay. It reaches a climax in the second act. It has a third act, an afterword. There are intermissions. And as in the theater, there must be a willing suspension of disbelief.

When watching a play, you know at some level that it is not real life. Actors are killed, but not really. It takes place in the eighteenth century, but not really. The scene takes place deep in the forest, which is, really, only painted trees on cardboard. To enjoy the play, you must willingly suspend disbelief: knowing it is not real, you nevertheless agree to go along with whatever the author and the players tell you, as if you did believe.

Pillow Talk (film)


Pillow talk, like a play, needs some suspension of disbelief. When he says, “You are the most beautiful woman in the entire world,” you don’t stop to wonder about his criteria for beauty or what kind of survey he has taken with what kind of international sample. When he says, “I’ve never been this happy before,” you don’t ask, “What about when you were sixteen and your father surprised you with a red Mustang convertible?”

You believe that, at the moment, it is true . . . even if it isn’t true. Pillow talk exists in the realm of feeling, not fact. It is not a time to be too literal.

An exasperated friend of mine told me that he breathed into his girlfriend’s ear, “I love you,” only to have her bolt upright and demand, “What do you mean by ‘love’?” There may well be forty-seven meanings of the verb “to love,”
but this is not the time or place for semantics. The circumstances of pillow talk are not conducive to accuracy. The whispered words and promises, the hyperbole and dreams have to be considered in context.

If you want reality, listen to what your man tells you the next morning while you are sharing coffees and hangovers.

Comments on: "The Role of Pillow Talk in Making Love" (4)

  1. […] The Role of Pillow Talk in Making Love ( […]

  2. The next morning our conversations would probably play out like this:

    “If you were my Husband, I’d poison your coffee.” she says with a sly smile on her face.

    “If you were my Wife I’d still drink it. And I don’t even like coffee.” I reply with a smirk on my face as I walk up to her & kiss her on her forehead.

    You have some valid points about the blocking & scripting of “pillow talk” & seduction. Everyone plays their roles & I really wish that we weren’t putting on this show. I mean who are we doing it for? For each other, for ourselves?

    Pillow talk should be like a pillow fight, playful & spontaneous. Not scripted & well choreographed.

    • Your next morning conversation really made me laugh. I agree with you that pillow talk should be playful and spontaneous. You have me thinking. The word playful suggests to me an activity that is based in reality but isn’t real. Like playing house. Thus, part of being playful means not taking what the other person says with complete seriousness. Thus, in the example in my post, if a man were to say to his wife/girlfriend/lover you’re the “most beautiful woman in the entire world” she doesn’t interpret it literally to mean that she is the most beautiful woman in the entire world, but rather, that she’s beautiful to him even though she’s knows not all men find her beautiful, and that is what really matters. Whatever the situation, it should be spontaneous and not scripted. When I talked about being scripted, I was referring to the overall act of lovemaking being like script with a beginning middle and end, with the end involving pillow talk. However, the bigger questions remains; why is the act of lovemaking, in so many ways, scripted and predictable. I will have to ponder on that.

      • Self-help guides & cosmopolitan wouldn’t exist we didnt need some sort of guidance. Think about it, some people need the rules, actions & lines clearly plotted out (1st time jitters, hopefully). Some people like myself like to improvise, give me the liner notes or the basic scenario & I can wing it instinctually with someone new or make a wonderful spectacle with someone I’m comfortable around. We are creatures of habit.

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