It was a spontaneous mutual decision that was completely unexpected.
The next morning, the two wake up before they need to. Ariane has a bit of a hangover from her honor bar binge the night before.
Rachel takes a shower first, then realizes she brought no makeup of her own, goes without.
They are both dressed and packed an hour before they have to leave for the airport and go to the hotel lounge for the continental breakfast where they enjoy the novelty of reading an actual paper copy of the New York Times.
It is during the quiet drive to the airport that they both realize that are not really talking to each other beyond polite niceties.
Once the plane was in the air, they had nothing to do but talk.
“So, about last night,” starts Ariane who decides to break the silence. “Did you find it, uh, weird?”
“Oh My God Yes!” says Rachel happy to hear Ariane was thinking the same thing.
“We were having such a great week as ‘just friends’, and then last night happened,” says Rachel airing all of her concerns at once.
“I am having similar thoughts,” says Ariane. “Can we let what happened in New York, stay in New York?”
“I’m game if you are,” answers Rachel.
“Agreed!,” answers Ariane, “but I do not know how easy this is going to be.”
“You are concerned it is going to keep coming up, that it is going to change our feelings if we see other people.”
Ariane simply nods. It is not exactly what she is thinking, but it’s close enough.
“Yes, me too. Maybe we need to talk to someone, get some advice?” suggest Rachel.
“I’d like that,” says Ariane,”but who?”
Rachel thinks for a minute. “Wasn’t there someone who wanted to advise you about female relationships?”
“I’m NOT talking to my mom about this!” objects Ariane.
“No, not her, the other, the bass player, Lydia!” says a relieved Rachel when the name finally comes to her.
“Oh yes, good idea, she gave me her number, let me call her up.”
Ariane takes her phone out of airplane mode and finds Lydia’s number.
“Bueno?” answers Lydia sounding a bit groggy.
Hey Lydia, it’s Ariane, sorry did I wake you?”
“Kind of, but it’s OK, I didn’t get to bed until 4, is it really noon?… I need to get up anyways… Hey where were you last night?”
“I was in New York City with Rachel. Sorry we missed your concert. We’re flying back right now, how about we make it up to you over dinner tonight?”
“No, you don’t have to do that, I didn’t miss you amigas that much.”
“Well, that’s not the only reason we want to take you out,” says Ariane.
Lydia listens intently as Ariane explains her other reason for asking her to dinner. “OK I’ll help, and as it happens I’m free this afternoon. Pizza Mia’s around 5?”
Ariane and Rachel agree to meet.
The three of them meet in the same corner booth as last time. It is a little noisy there as the Rose Bowl plays on the big screen on the other side of the restaurant.
Lydia listens intently to their story as both Rachel and Ariane lay out the last couple of weeks…
“So we are wondering what we should do, keep doing it until we get it right? or put it behind us and go back to being friends?” finishes Ariane.
Lydia sits quiet thinking, finishing up her bite of pizza, Rachel and Ariane quietly anticipating what she is about to say.
“So let me get this straight,” starts Lydia breaking her silence finally. “There is a sex club at the top of Ellison Tower, and my hairdresser works there and gives hand jobs?”
Rachel bursts out laughing, and Ariane smiles, “Yes it is true, though that’s besides the point.”
“OK, if you want my advice here it is: I don’t think, you two amigas will have any problem going back to ‘just friends’ once you figure out that the two of you are sexually incompatible with each other.”
“Ariane you are a bi-curious heterosexual,” says Lydia. “I figured that out months ago the night we, well you know.”
She turns her head to Rachel, “and as far as I can tell Rachel, you are an asexual.”
“What? I’m not an asexual,” objects Rachel. “Asexuals hate sex, and I’m not like that!”
“Some asexuals are ‘sex averse’, and that is not the type you are,” answers Lydia, “some asexuals also avoid romance, content to being alone, and that is not your type either.”
“And some asexuals have a vivid sexual fantasy life that they enjoy way more than actually having sex,” says Lydia, “and I think that’s the type you are.”
“Really?” says a surprised Rachel, “that is actually a thing?”
“I’m not going to tell you for sure that you are asexual, I believe that all people have a right to identify themselves with what sexual orientation they are,” says Lydia.
“But the fact that you need to fantasize a scenario or pretend to be someone else to get sexually aroused, and that you describe every sexual encounter you’ve had as ‘awkward’, I think it fits.”
“I can hook you up with some asexual friends if you want to know more,” offers Lydia, “or you can continue your online research that you are obviously doing right now.”
“Thanks, maybe later,” says a distracted Rachel engrossed on reading the AVEN website that was the first search result under ‘asexual’.
“So your answer is that Rachel and I are not sexually compatible,” says Ariane returning to the original question.
“And somehow the two of you have fallen in love.” suggests Lydia.
“Whoa! No one is saying the ‘L’ word here!” says Ariane a little defensively.
“Fair enough,” says Lydia, “my point is that romantic relationships, which is what the two of you have found yourselves in, do not necessarily have to be sexual.”
Ariane looks confused.
“I’m blowing your mind aren’t I. The two of you are honest about your needs, you found sexual satisfaction with others without messing up your relationship. In fact you made it stronger.”
“The idea that every relationship is ultimately about sex is just a social construct, probably invented by horny men. Sex is an optional component, it’s nice, but it’s really not a foundation for a relationship.”
“Yes everyone has needs, even asexuals masturbate,” says Lydia which got a reaction out of Rachel who looks up from her phone.
“Hey, even I like to straddle my bass amp and play the low notes every once in a while.”
The imagery got a smile out of both of them.
“Once the two of you get over your sexual hangups, I think you will be fine,” finishes Lydia adding, “Ariane, you should look up the word ‘Queerplatonic‘.”
Lydia finishes up her slice of pizza while she watches Rachel and Ariane stare at their phones. She then stands up to leave.
“I better be going, I suddenly have a lot to write in my idea journal,” she says. “Maybe the two of you will turn into a song.”
“Thanks, I’d love to hear it if it does,” says Ariane. “Hey yeah thanks a lot, Lydia,” says Rachel finally looking up from her phone.
After dinner they return to Ariane’s place to talk some more.
“Autochorissexual, that’s what I am,” announces Rachel still studying web info on Ariane’s tablet.
“Really?, ten minutes ago you were a demisexual,” points out Ariane. “Not to rain on your new found asexual awakening, and I’m sure the psychology of sex is very appealing to your science nerd brain, but I have to ask: How do YOU feel?”
“Well,” Rachel starts, thinking a little bit, “I think there is something to this. Did you know that because asexuals are not sexually attracted to others, but often still enjoy romantic relationships, they developed a whole vocabulary for it.”
“Like I think I’m a panromantic asexual, meaning I like romantic relationships with all genders,” explains Rachel. “Maybe you are a panromantic heterosexual?”
“I’m not that romantic really,” answers Ariane. “I think I’m just Rachel-romantic,” she suggests.
“Sorry, I’m still trying to get my head around the whole concept,” says a skeptical Ariane. “I’m probably the exact opposite of asexual…”
“An Allosexual,” says Rachel interrupting.
“Yeah OK, that,” continues Ariane, “and as someone who is interested in sex on a regular basis, the idea that someone doesn’t seems odd to me. But that’s a hangup I’ll learn to adjust to for your sake.”
“It’s going to be an adjustment for us both,” says Rachel. “I’ve been down this road before when I lost my religion, once I got over the initial shock, it felt liberating as I rediscovered myself. I am sensing that figuring out my true sexuality will also be liberating.”
“I get it,” answers Ariane, “I get why finding a label that you fit in is important, you want to find others like yourself. I’m just worried that once you find a label, that you’ll want to live by that label. Are you thinking about giving up on sex all together?”
“Honestly, I’m not sure. The truth is the only reason I started getting into sex in the first place is because that’s what ‘normal’ people do, and it is a bit of a rebellion against my conservative Mormon upbringing. I just figured that my lack of feeling during sex might have been lingering religious guilt. Now I know it is not, its just in my nature to not want or need sex.”
“Will I give sex up entirely? I don’t know,” continues Rachel, “I need more than a couple of hours to make a decision like that. It may interest you to know that romantic asexuals like making out, cuddling, and other comforting non-sexual acts.”
“Wow, it’s nice to know we are not the only ‘friends’ that occasionally make out and cuddle,” says Ariane, “that has worked for us so far.”
“It has, and I enjoy our intimate moments as much as you,” says Rachel. “I definitely want to keep our unconventional relationship going, I’m just worried about the long term. Do we keep the relationship open? Do we move in together? …”
“I really don’t know Rach,” starts Ariane, “Unconventional relationships are by definition never going to be perfect, but if we are honest about our feelings and wants, I think it’ll work out.”
Rachel smiles again. “When did you get so wise about relationships?” asks Rachel.
“I learned it from you Rachel, this is the best relationship I’ve ever been in, and I’m not going to give up on it over a trivial thing like sexual incompatibility.”
Rachel stands up, grabs Ariane’s hand and pulls her up from her chair and kisses her.
“Want to go to bed?” she asks Ariane.
“More than anything,” she answers.
The two of them start taking off their clothes
Then they start taking off each other’s clothes,
They get into bed together. No sex, just the two of them enjoying the passion of the moment.
“As nice as this feels,” interrupts Rachel, “I’m starting to get cold.”
“Yes this room can get drafty,” admits Ariane, “Why don’t we get under the covers.”
“Yes, much more cozy,” says Rachel.
“I agree, but I really need to play the low notes right now.” says Ariane referencing a line Lydia said earlier.
“Go ahead, I don’t mind,” says Rachel.
“Umm, I’m not used to doing it in front of an audience,” responds Ariane.
“Hey, I did it in front of you last night.”
“Oh, all right.”
Ariane hesitates, but then forgets about it as soon as she starts. She quickly comes having a lot of stored up energy from all that foreplay.
Ariane turns to Rachel after finishing, Rachel liked watching her. “Is it your turn?” asks Ariane.
“Maybe later,” said Rachel.
“I’m just thinking,” says Rachel, “I have not once had any thought of pretending to be someone else tonight.”
“Well congratulations,” says Ariane who still does not get Rachel’s fetish for role playing in sexual encounters.
“Actually you deserve the congratulations Ariane,” says Rachel, “you’re the first person I’ve shared my real self with, not some façade, the real Rachel.”
Ariane has no words, just tears of happiness.
They kiss one last time before falling asleep in each others arms.