Joe Newton
In addition to purchasing the cover, the comics, and the right to be the subject of many of the columns in this week's issue of The Stranger, Ben Exworthy also purchased the right to seize control of Savage Love for a week. While those of us who write advice columns like to think we're in some way uniquely qualified to give advice in a public format, the sad fact of the matter is that this job is so easy that pretty much anyone can do it--and do it relatively well. So without further ado, I relinquish my role as the Stranger's sex-advice columnist, and hand my column over to renowned relationship experts, local power couple, and $12K poorer Ben Exworthy and Brit Belisle.

To get them started in the sex-advice game, I e-mailed Ben and Brit several thousands questions that I couldn't handle--questions I just couldn't answer on my own--and their response arrived in my office a week later, via an unlabeled audiocassette sent by bike courier. --Dan Savage

I am a woman in my mid-30s with what I believe is a fairly average history of relationships. On at least two occasions in the past few years when I was making out with a new partner, that person slapped me sharply on the ass in mid-make-out. While one such incident with one person might be an aberration, two incidents make me think that I might be missing a well-known signal of some kind. Was I asleep in my sexual etiquette class that day? Is my partner just acting out in the moment or is he asking me if I am into spanking? And if so, what is the appropriate response? How does one signal, "yea," "nay," or "maybe later once we're in this a bit further" in an equally nonverbal manner? Thank you much for any feedback.

Somewhat Muddled Although Curiously Kinky

BEN: Wow! You've really been living in a closet. As has been discussed, ad nauseam, in this very column and is generally common knowledge, a pre-coital smack on the ass is a request to shotgun heroin smoke anally. Hence the word "smack." Clearly you have…

BRIT: Wait, wait, wait! This is only true if you or your mate own the set of insulated rubber gloves required for such activities. Besides, SMACK hasn't even specified which cheek said action occurred on. As you and I both know, a left cheek tap is a request for "plogging," while a right cheek tap with a smooth caress afterward is a demand for a "total nair."

BEN: Honey, this topic was addressed in last month's issue of Buttocks Bimonthly. Remember? Anything occurring on the right cheek is a red-state activity. We both know that receiving a "nair" is totally blue state. I think what you're referring to is a "thwack," and those are forehead games.

BRIT: Cum Bunny, my darling, you'd forget to wipe your own ass if I didn't remind you. If you'll recall, forehead games went out of style along with fondue in the '70s. Let's stay on track, please. And as a sidebar, I know you only read BBM for the fur-on-fur pictorials and NOT, as you say, for the articles. What kind of…

BEN: GAWDAMMIT, woman, stop interrupting me! If you know so much, why were you signaling with the double smack on Friday? What, you didn't want a "pink sock"?

BRIT: Christ, Ben, is it up to me to preserve your dignity? What was I supposed to do? You were flailing your arms like a schoolgirl and kept yelling, "Think pink! Think pink!" I wasn't even wearing the hat! I let you run with it because you looked so proud. Believe me, next time I'll let you know when you're barking up the wrong tree. You know, Jesse and I were discussing this just the other day, and he said…

BEN: WHOA! What? You were talking about that with my coworkers!? Look, I know I'm not exactly a private guy or anything, but use SOME discretion at the office. Who else do you discuss our love life with, my mother?!

BRIT: Well, Pat is a wise woman. Besides, she thinks it was "the procedure" that…

BEN: LALALALALALALALALALALA LALALALALALALALALALALA LALALALALALALALALALALA LALALALALALALALALALALA LALALALALALALALALALALA LALALALALALALALALALALA!

BRIT: Oh, grow up Benjamin. You're a fine lover, despite your forgetfulness when it comes to the signals. And I think you've come a long way since I've reined you in.

BEN: Well… okay. That's all I really wanted to hear. I'm sort of sensitive. I mean, I really do try…

BRIT: Yes, I know. As for SMACK and her confusion involving the ass and its significant role in foreplay, I have just this to say: If you're a woman in your mid 30s and you still haven't figured this out, then I say you probably never will. In closing, I feel sorry for you. I predict that your sexual life will be vapid and unpleasant. What do you think, honey?

BEN: Well, Puppy Nubs, that may be unduly harsh. Anyone can change, and some people can learn. Okay, some people can change, and others can afford special "treatment." I recommend looking for a seminar I once attended called "Posterior Palpations and Social Signaling," as it was quite elucidating. Meanwhile, you might follow these simple guidelines:

#1: If he's cute and you like him, give a little squeal and turn around to see what will happen next…

BRIT: And #2: If he's creepy, be shocked with his ambiguous posterior affrontery and send him packing.

BRIT and BEN: Good luck!

Do you see what I mean? Even though Ben and Brit have never written a sex-advice column before, they nailed the form their first time out. They rambled, they changed the subject, they made it all about them, and they managed to go on and on and on without ever really answering SMACK's question--which is precisely what I do every week in Savage Love! And while it took me years to master this genre, Ben and Brit did it their first time out! Well done, B&B. --Dan Savage

mail@savagelove.net

Hey, Everybody:

First, be sure and get your free valentine into The Stranger! See page 9 to learn how.

And mark your calendars: The Stranger's annual Valentine's Day Bash takes place on Monday, February 14. The single, broken-hearted, and bitter will gather this year at Chop Suey at 8:00 p.m. Single folks are invited to bring a memento from a failed relationship--a memento that we will then destroy live onstage in an awesome ritual with astounding healing powers. Over the years we've destroyed everything from heirloom china to wedding rings to teddy bears to mix tapes. The Bash is always a blast and I wanted to give a little advance notice to people who might need to get a wedding dress out of storage. Oh, and the Bash is, of course, packed with single folks on Valentine's Day! Come one, come all! Watch The Stranger for more info.