The lights were low. Beyoncé tunes were on the iPod. I was licking whipped cream off my husband’s neck. You know, just another regular night at home, playing some sexy board games.
Let me be clear: I’m not really a “sensual” person. I prefer sex without the frills or dairy products. Even after many years together, my husband and I do it at least three times a week, with no need for candles, kinky food or even all that much foreplay to get me in the mood. I like to do it fast and hard and then watch Modern Family. So why do I have a stack of games with names like Sensuous Exotic Experiences?
Well, a few months ago, I was browsing in an op shop when I came across a game called An Enchanting Evening. On the front of the box was a photo of a table covered with a white tablecloth, a vase of roses, petits fours, two forks and a single die.
When I gave it to my husband, he laughed… and then we actually played it. A sample card: “Play sweet music on your partner’s body. Pretend his body is bongos, a piano or the flute…”
We laughed so hard, we choked on our petits fours. And we totally did wind up having sex even though I was really tired. There are definitely worse things to spend $4 on.
One-upping me, he came home another day with Dr Ruth’s Game of Good Sex, a trivia game that teaches basic sex ed (good to know I can’t get pregnant from oral sex, thanks!) and reassures us that being kinky doesn’t mean you’re going to hell.
One card read: “My husband bought flannel pyjamas for us to wear during foreplay. I’m not sure why, but we get aroused in them.” Dr Ruth’s response: “Enjoy yourselves! Allow your fantasies to suggest more spice.” Like wool slippers?
Soon we discovered eBay is full of cheesy old board games with names such as Seduction, Compatibility and Romantic Sensations. Most are cheaper than a movie, and some come with massage oil or a blindfold. Almost every game involves licking food off each other, sharing fantasies, massages, and searching for erogenous regions (spoiler: if you haven’t found them by now, you’re not looking hard enough). They’re terribly written, with awkward euphemisms (just say “blow him,” OK? I’m an adult, I don’t need to be told to “kiss him all over till you find the place where he moans with delight”).
While absurd, these games do something that not a lot else in life makes you do: spend an hour laughing and talking about sex as an activity; which, as I’ve discovered, usually ends with you actually having sex.
“Oh look, a fight in a box,” my friend Tara said when she saw one of the games. She has a point: if awkward issues arise (“Why aren’t you turned on by me playing a cop who pulls you over?!”), you only have your “romance” playlist to get you through.
Sex therapist Brian Swope points out that 40 years ago, when most of the games were made, “sexuality focused on things you did with your partner, not feeling connected,” he says. “If you can’t feel emotionally intimate, you’re not going to have good sex. People now realise that sex happens in the brain.”
And that probably explains why the hottest thing about playing these games is how much we laugh.