A lesson I’ve learned about “sexy”

Maid of Honor. I’ve only had the chance to do it once.

The night Natalie called me to ask, I was pacing back and forth outside on the porch, trying way too hard to be relaxed; my roommate smirked at my intensity from inside.

I was so nervous, just hoping I’d get to play a part. Natalie has been such a beautiful presence in my life. We went to college together, and our friendship has only grown since we both graduated. She’s brilliant, funny, warm, passionate and completely settled in herself…more than once in my life I’ve thought, “what would Natalie do?” (it’s kind of like “What would Jesus do?” but a little more accessible and a little less judgey).

I wanted to get the chance to stand with her on her special day and say, “I’m here for you and believe in your story with Garrett.”

Then the moment came—“Katy,” she said, “I’d like you to be my Maid of Honor.”

My thoughts spun: Whoa. I mean, WHOA! I get to toast her?! And throw her a party?! I get to make some sort of show-tunes wedding playlist for getting ready?! For whatever reason, these were the key aspects of the role that jumped out to me first. And what came out of my mouth was, “Oh my goodness, YES!!!!!!”

It felt like an incredible privilege, and I was incredibly excited.

The months counting down her wedding ticked by. We conferred on the phone about her dress, her guesses regarding the honeymoon location, her thoughts on the flowers and the bridesmaid dresses. Then came August, and we started discussing her hopes for the lingerie party:

Dinner and gifts some place fun, and maybe the rest of the night at the piano bar downtown.

Perfect,” I thought. “I can do that.

“Oh, and about dessert,” Natalie said, “I’ve got some friends at work who have it covered. FYI: they will probably bring a penis cake. I don’t think they’ll be able to help themselves.”

Uhhhh, whaaaattttt?” I thought.

She was so calm about it. I tried to match her cool, “Haha, oh yeah? Great, that sounds like fun.”

Because what exactly does one say about a penis cake?

We hung up and panic ensued.

Honestly, my nerves weren’t about the shape of the dessert. It was a cake; we would eat it and laugh. But the presence of a penis cake highlighted something I’d been nervous about before I’d even talked to Natalie—

“Am I doing this lingerie party right?”

I’d never thrown one; never even been to one. And what I had learned with my married friends is the way you feel about your lingerie can be just as personal as the way you feel about sex.

All of my friends requested different things, enjoyed different things and felt comfortable with varying levels of candidness about sex before their weddings.

As I thought about Natalie’s night and making it feel special, I started to doubt that I knew enough to throw her a party like this.

My worries whirled me right into an evening of sitting with my mom and a friend and trying to find words for the anxiety that had replaced my excitement for the party—

“I don’t want to screw this up for her. I want the right amount of sweetness, innuendo, laughter, meaning and sexy. It feels like a tall order! I want her to feel beautiful and enjoyed and confident at the end of the night…and not embarrassed at all.”

“Katy,” my mom said, “Natalie picked you to be her maid of honor because of how you see her. You’ve got to trust your gut here. It’s not about knowing everything; it’s about celebrating what you do know in risky and inviting ways.”

What a fascinating truth. I almost missed what makes Natalie so sexy and what I imagine she would most love about sex because I got worried about what other people might think “sex” and “sexy” mean.

The truth is, we all feel sexy a little differently.

But I don’t know if we all believe that is ok.

I have certainly wondered if what most excites me about sex and what makes me feel most sexy is ok. I sit here now and think about how personal both those things are. They’re tied to my soul, not a universal standard. So, of course they are unique to me. That isn’t something to doubt about myself; it’s something to love about myself.

That night with Natalie, each of us saw her a little differently…still each of our gifts fit an aspect of her unique sexy. After the party was over, the bridesmaids gathered together and helped her wrap all of her new lingerie up so she could surprise Garrett each night of the honeymoon. Because Natalie loves literature, we tagged each parcel with a famous line or title from Shakespeare. The game was designed to add a little intrigue for Garrett as he picked things for her to wear.

Personally, my favorite item was “Much ado about nothing.” The surprise for Garrett that night? Actually, I really can’t say. That secret lies with Natalie.

DSC_0429Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world.  She’s a 26 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart.  Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day.  For now, she shares her thoughts here.