Study Guide

Here We Are Sex

By Dorothy Parker

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"The nights are going to be pretty long from now on. I mean. I mean—well, it starts getting dark early." (18)

Obviously, this is a reference to sex—he clearly doesn't mean that the nights are going to get long because it "starts getting dark early." That would be pointlessly redundant. He means they are going to be up longer, "making the beast with two backs" (to quote Othello).

"Goodness, I don't see how people do it every day."

"Do what?" he said.

"Get married," she said. "When you think of all the people, all over the world, getting married just as if it was nothing. Chinese people and everybody. Just as if it wasn't anything."

"Well, let's not worry about people all over the world," he said. "Let's don't think about a lot of Chinese. We've got something better to think about. I mean. I mean—well, what do we care about them?" (19-22)

The blushing bride is essentially mind-blown by the fact that everyone does it. What she's talking about is sex, of course, but she uses the genteel shorthand of "getting married." This is kind of like the Cole Porter song that states "Let's do it… let's fall in love." Falling in love is not what that song is about, btw.

"I know," she said. "But I just sort of got to thinking of them, all of them, all over everywhere, doing it all the time. At least, I mean—getting married, you know. And it's well, it's sort of such a big thing to do, it makes you feel queer. You think of them, all of them, all doing it just like it wasn't anything. And how does anybody know what's going to happen next?" (23)

The fact that the wife says "I mean" shows that—like the husband—she's thinking about sex as well as marriage. The phrase "I mean" has the same symbolism in this story as a sock on a dorm room door… it means sexytimes (or at least the thought of sexytimes) is happening.

"We know darn well what's going to happen next. I mean. I mean—well, we know it's going to be great. Well, we know we're going to be happy. Don't we?"

"Oh, of course," she said. "Only you think of all the people, and you have to sort of keep thinking. It makes you feel funny. An awful lot of people that get married, it doesn't turn out so well. And I guess they all must have thought it was going to be great." (24-25)

The wife's marital/sexual anxieties don't go away—they'll continue bugging her for the rest of the story. Also, it's hard to disentangle to what extent she's worried about the specifically sexual part and to what extent she's worried about continuing to fight and bicker.

"You know, lots of times," he said, "they say that girls get kind of nervous and yippy on account of thinking about—I mean. I mean—well, it's like you said, things are all sort of mixed up and everything, right now. But, afterwards, it'll be all right. I mean. I mean—well, look honey, you don't look any too comfortable." (42)

The husband seems to guess what's going on—though he doesn't seem preoccupied with his wife's larger concerns about marriage. He's just hoping that finally having sex will help put his wife's mind to rest about these things.

"And when you've finished writing your letters," he said, "maybe I could get you a magazine or a bag of peanuts."

"What?" she said.

"I mean," he said, "I wouldn't want you to be bored."

"As if I could be bored with you!" she said. "Silly! Aren't we married? Bored!" (84-87)

Even though the wife is talking about writing letters, and that's ostensibly what the husband says he wouldn't want her to be "bored" doing, it's pretty obvious—given the greater context of these comments—that they're still talking about sex.

"I thought when we got in, we could go right up to the Biltmore and anyway leave your bags, and maybe have a little dinner in the room, kind of quiet, and then do whatever we wanted. I mean. I mean—well, let's go right up there from the station." (88)

This is yet another example of "I mean—" code for talking about sex.

"I always sleep so well there. I go right off to sleep the minute I put my head on the pillow."

"Oh, you do?" he said.

"At least, I mean," she said. "Way up high it's so quiet." (89-90)

Like the boredom comments, this is another joke about how the wife won't actually be going to sleep instantly (the husband hopes), since they won't be sleeping right away. They'll getting to "know" one another… in the Biblical sense.

"Ah, baby. Baby lamb. We're not going to have any bad starts. Look at us—we're on your honeymoon. Pretty soon we'll be regular old married people. I mean. I mean, in a few minutes we'll be getting in to New York, and then we'll be going to the hotel, and then everything will be all right. I mean—we'll, look at us! Here we are married! Here we are!" (112)

The husband seems to think that they really are "here"—meaning, in a marriage that's going to be pretty good and satisfying for all involved. But, as the story ends, the wife still isn't sure. Or maybe she's just crazy-nervous.

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