Sex on Tuesday: Morning-After Manners

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Pity, you flip to your guilty pleasure: reading raunchy sexploits during an otherwise painful chemistry lecture and you get this-a treatise on manners. Bummer. But many readers did have questions about dealing with Welcome Week backlash and how to conserve dignity while nude, sober and soaked with natural light creeping in from the curtains. Thus, I offer yet another topic absentmindedly excluded from your finishing school curriculum: a.m. etiquette.

I hung out at a choice spot for hung-over breakfasters to ask locals sporting bedroom hair the dos and don'ts of the morning after. It turns out socialized post-sex behavior is just as fascinating as, say, anal bead usage.

For example, there seems to exist a mysterious loaded language whereby the literate can actually convey whether last night was a drunken mistake or a fantasy incarnate using impressively neutral wording.

If the former is unfortunately more accurate and you find yourself in a strange bed, pull the "half-night stand" and sneak out before the bed owner wakes. When you find a stranger in your bed, a few carefully chosen words can politely carry your "this never happened" subtext. One fourth year-who describes herself as "a Samantha"-swears by the line "I have so much to do today!" accompanied by a loud sigh and exaggerated look at the clock.

When you are not exactly sure how you feel about the snoring body next to you, take the cop-out route: Opt for a mixed message like sneak out at 5 a.m. but leave your number. This buys you time to think while providing some mutual ego damage control.

If, on the other hand, you were lucky enough to get lucky with someone you won't soon forget, there's a hidden language for that too. At their place: "Accidentally" leave behind your lace panties or satin boxers. Or yours: Be a good host and offer a cup of coffee and some aspirin. If you really like this person, the code is to take them out to breakfast. At the very least, insist on walking or driving them home.

Which brings us to the walk of shame (stride of pride to you freshmen)-the dreaded (or victorious) a.m. trek from last night's conquest back to your room-you pass families walking to church, reek of stale beer and are wearing some ridiculous hybrid outfit like stilettos and evening bag with borrowed boxers and oversized T-shirt.

Alas, not all college sex is meaningless and not all mornings after are embarrassing. A "Charlotte" explains, "when you're in a committed relationship, there is nothing more intimate than that half asleep, heavy eyelid early-morning loving." This may be true, but to everyone else interviewed, sunrise seemed more anxiety-inducing than festival o' bliss.

Morning-after tact is especially crucial if you met last night's conquest at one of Southside's three bars-or worse, a party-because you likely share an orbit of satellite friends. Pro: two degrees of separation-someone you know knows someone your hook-up knows. A background check of sorts is useful to constrain shadiness to a healthy level. Con: When you least suspect it, you will bump into each other again. Guaranteed.

Make any morning more pleasant by coming prepared with a "sleepover bag" that contains such essentials as hotel samples of mouthwash, Q-tips soaked in make-up remover, emergency cab fare and (duh!) condoms.

If in the course of your imperfect human life it becomes necessary, you should know that emergency contraception is available at the Tang Center, and also available at California pharmacies without a prescription. Since this is most effective in preventing pregnancy if taken within 24 hours of unprotected sex, it is a good idea to have some around, just in case.

A fact that may prove useful: Some birth control pills can be taken in high doses to duplicate the effects of emergency contraception. Warning: While emergency contraception reduces the chance of pregnancy it does not protect against STDs, so it is an excellent idea to schedule an STD screening appointment two weeks after the day "your condom broke."

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