Strange Bed Etiquette: 5 Rules of Engagement

AS SPRING ARRIVES, MANY OF US DITCH THE FUCK BUDDIES HASTILY SECURED for the winter to fight depression, inflated heating bills, and family-filled holidays. But spring, whatever anyone says, does not encourage the birth of new relationships. Not with March Break hanging around.

But what of the rules of waking up in a strange bed? Many a virile young single has gotten accidentally married due to morning mismanagement. Here are The Smoking Jacket’s 5 standard tenets of strange bed etiquette for smoothing your spring mornings and keeping you free for the summer months of singledom.

1. PRE-GAME PREP

NO SOLDIER GOES INTO BATTLE without a loaded weapon and a change of socks, and heading out to the bar in search of a new lady is no different. Never set out for a night in search of tainted love without a penlight, $50 hidden in your shoe, 4 condoms, and a piece of paper with the lyrics to Prince’s “When Doves Cry” written on it. If you plan on telling a bunch of lies about your name, occupation, and that time you got drunk with the cast from Gossip Girl, go over them before you drink too much so they’re believable. Remember, lies are only lies when you’re sober.

2. GET YOUR STORIES STRAIGHT

YOU DON’T WANT TO END THE NIGHT IN YOUR BED, alone or with a new partner. A one night stand plus your address can equal a relationship, and why risk some stranger knowing your address? There’s absolutely no advantage to letting a one-night paramour know where you live. Simple excuses like “my parents are in town” or “my kitchen is under construction” are preferable to lies about fumigation or unpaid water bills or how your fiancée doesn’t like visitors. Remember, lies are only lies if they don’t believe you.

“Never set out for a night in search of tainted love without a penlight, $50 hidden in your shoe, 4 condoms, and a piece of paper with the lyrics to Prince “When Doves Cry” written on it.”

3. ADVANCE SCOUTING

ONCE YOU’VE MADE YOUR WAY to some girl/guy/undecided’s home, you’re going to want to get a feel for the physical outlay of the place. Where’s the washroom? Are there any pets? What kind of prescription drugs do they have on their cabinets? Is there a roommate and is that roommate hotter and is it possible to have sex or even some light petting with the roommate instead/additionally/as well and, “Hey, what’s up with your roommate?”

Where are the exits? How do the doors lock and unlock? Plan your exit strategy within the first five minutes, and be sure to mention the brunch you have with your mom the next morning so as to expedite a guilt-free exit. Remember, lies are only lies if they don’t involve your mother.

4. CLOTHING ACCESS & BED POSITIONING

THOUGH THE ACT OF LOVE ITSELF MAY BE SLOPPY, that’s no reason for a post-coital mess. Whenever possible, organize your clothing and possessions into a compact and easily located spot.

When morning comes, you’re going to want to know where your iPhone and glasses, as well as your pants–the most common misplaced items in the instance of liaisons–are. Also, get a feel for your one night partner’s bed preferences. Do they like the right side or left? What kind of duvet-to-sheet-to-you ratio do they prefer? What kind of pillow control are they willing to cede?

You want them to be comfortable so they don’t wake up when you leave. Remember, lies are only lies if you’re there to tell them.

5. RESPECT THE AFFAIR

JOHN STEINBECK ONCE WROTE of love that it “is an outpouring of everything good in you—of kindness and consideration and respect—not only the social respect of manners but the greater respect which is recognition of another person as unique and valuable.” Of course, Steinbeck was married 3 times and thought the FBI was following him, but it still rings true.

Don’t steal anything. Souvenirs and keepsakes are for assholes and frat boys. If you spill something while making your exit, clean it up. If the dog looks hungry, give it some kibble. If your affair wakes up, engage in adult conversation. If their roommate is watching TV in the living room, make some small talk, and maybe ask for their phone number, because you never know, right? For godsakes you’re single, you’re not an animal. Remember, lies are only lies if they disrespect civility.

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Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).

Illustration by Lasse Mathiesen Køhlert. Check out his work here and here.

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