'Girls' Is My Version Of Mommy Porn — And I'll Be Lonely Without It

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I don’t watch Girls just for the sex, but it may be the thing I appreciate most.

Last night, my favorite mommy porn strikes again. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not Fifty Shades DarkerS&M just isn’t my scene — not that I’m judging. I’m referring to GirlsLena Dunham’s game-changing HBO series that put millennials on the map.  

That’s right: after the kids are asleep I lock the bedroom door so I can properly indulge in the lives of Lena’s four lovely ladies. It’s not just the sex; though it’s always fun to see how many ways a guy can go face deep into Marnie. For me, it’s all about their struggles.

Dunham doesn’t glamorize youth. Whether it’s career, friendship or love, what her characters face is real and it’s painful. I know because I’ve been there.

When I was in my post-college years (in the — gulp — 90s), I dressed like a Jessa, though my love life was more like a Marnie. And my parents would probably have called me a Hannah. I guess that I had a little of all the girls in me. But when it came to my career, I was 100 percent Shoshanna.


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I distinctly remember the day after graduation when I took my boyfriend and my Ivy League diploma and headed for Silicon Valley, where I knew exactly no one. By the end of the summer, the boyfriend was back on the East Coast and I was living with a guy I found on a bulletin board at my engineering job.

He was a six-foot-five coder looking for a roommate. There were moments when it felt like I had moved into a bad sitcom, like the Saturday morning he cornered me while I waited for my coffee to brew. 

“I almost went to the ER last night. It was crazy.”

“What happened?” I made the mistake of asking.

I was having wild sex with my girlfriend and she bent my penis in half.” (insert laugh track)

Only, I wasn’t laughing.

I made plans with my “work friends,” colleagues who happened to be about my age. Like Shoshanna wandering the streets of Tokyo, I drove the streets of San Jose, alone at the end of every night, fighting the constant urge to cry.

To friends and family back home I played up the adventure and the job but in reality, I was lonely all the time.

Which might explain why, three years later, I almost married the wrong guy. While I didn’t have to deal with an abrupt end to a hasty marriage like Marnie and Jessa, I did call off my wedding just two months before the big day.

Heartbroken and homeless, I was forced to move back into my parents’ house, my white dress hanging in the closet next to my prom gown. My parents generously loaned me what I needed to get back on my feet, but my dad tracked every penny in a ledger so I could pay them back.

I would take a bus into New York City for job interviews, carrying a gym bag of clothes between friends’ apartments. I must have looked just like Hannah in the pilot episode: unemployed, cut off from her parents, wandering the streets of Manhattan. At least I had my mother’s credit card.

Wanting to relive these memories does make me sound like a masochist. Except that it isn’t painful to revisit those dark times. Of course, there are moments when Girls makes me cry. How could anyone not lose it when Hannah gave Adam the final “I can’t”?

But most of time, I’m crying with laughter. And through them, I can laugh at myself.


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Not just because it all worked out. (Spoiler alert: I got the job, the guy, the three kids, and the apartment in the nice part of Brooklyn. I even paid off the ledger.) I laugh because what they don’t know, and what I never imagined, was that it could all work out and I could feel just as lonely and life would feel just as hard. There would be times it even felt worse.

When my twins were eight weeks old, I made the decision to stop working. I briefly imagined that the life of a stay-at-home mom was endless coffees while the kids played quietly on the floor.

Then reality set in. Meeting moms, especially ones I liked, was some bizarre form of dating that involved playground pickups and online stalking. And then inevitable sniffles or fevers or temper tantrums (usually mine) made actual dates few and far between.

Desperate for a connection to the adult world, I would read out loud from movie reviews and fashion magazines while breastfeeding, which was funny considering I went to the movies exactly once that first year. And I never had an occasion to get out of my yoga pants.

When my husband came through the door at the end of the day, I would greet him like a spastic puppy, jumping all over him, even though all I wanted was a connection that didn’t involve hair pulling or drool in my ear.

After a few years, I leaned in and I returned to work. I constantly missed my kids. Evenings and weekends were about making up for lost time. Housework and laundry piled up as though we were vying to be contestants on a reality show for hoarders.

Even when I forced myself to make time for friends, I felt judged by the women who worked for wanting to be home and judged by my SAHM friends for working. I wished someone would just have an affair, so we would have something to debate that wasn’t the existential decision: to work or not to work.

I also wished for some good old-fashioned roommate drama. Like when your roommate had sex with your ex even though he was your ex... and gay. (Go, Marnie!) Roommate drama became something hashed out in silence, so the kids couldn’t hear. I swore that if my roommate (read: husband) checked his phone one more time while I was talking, I was going to shove it up an orifice.

I actually cried when he answered a text the second it pinged because it could take him hours to answer mine. It’s hard to laugh at any roommate drama that might end in divorce.

I got the man and the kids and the apartment, but I never worked as hard at anything as I worked to keep it from falling apart and ruining all of our lives.

And then I spent five days in the hospital waiting for my two-month-old to recover from a rare blood disorder. I found myself bargaining with any higher power that was listening, promising to never again complain about anything if my baby could just please get better. (Spoiler alert: he did, and though perspective was gained, I still complain.)

That is why tuning into the troubled lives of these twenty-somethings is like sinking into a hot bubble bath. With a sigh and a giggle, I think, “Remember when life was so complicated, but oh so simple?”

And if the show is the bath, then the sex is like the black, plastic, vibrating duck I keep on the soap shelf.

There was a time when I assumed that once I started having sex on a regular basis it would continue for the rest of my life. I thought that all those early experiences were seeds planted in a garden of sexual delights that I would harvest well into my eighties. Who knew that using sex as intended — to have a baby — might zap all the fun out of it?

I don’t watch Girls just for the sex, but it may be the thing I appreciate most. I mean, there is just so much of it: new boyfriend sex, old boyfriend sex, cheating sex, virgin sex, secret sex, doorman sex, sex with an ex, sex with a friend’s ex, sex with a friend’s gay ex.


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Come on, this is my mommy porn, after all.

My life will be a little lonelier without Girls, but I’m glad it’s ending now before I have to watch Hannah, Jessa, Marnie, and Shoshanna grow up.

I can’t imagine anything worse than them bemoaning their stretch marks as they settle into monogamy. I prefer to imagine them frozen in time, stumbling through, losing one more job, dancing to one last song, smoking one more crack pipe by accident and having one more night of banging good sex.

They will live forever as Girls, for the viewing pleasure of this middle-aged lady.

 

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