Neurotica: How Does One Propose A Threesome?

Pamela Druckerman found herself facing down a tall order on for her husband's fortieth birthday bash: arrange a threesome. She shares the whole process in this month's Marie Claire, and the results were hilarious, in a Seinfeld kind of way.

Much of the humor in the piece revolves around Druckerman's quest to find the perfect partner for a one-time, no strings attached tryst. In the beginning, Druckerman tries approaching friends of friends casually, asking them out to lunch and then floating the idea.

I do it under the guise of exchanging girly confidences, saying, "You won't believe what my husband wants for his birthday." I tell her that I've agreed to it in principle but that I haven't yet found the third party.

I think she gets that I'm propositioning her, but instead of taking the bait, she becomes the Cassandra of threesomes. She describes the rogue ex-boyfriend who pressured her to go to bed with him and his other lover, and the friends of hers who swapped partners and never swapped back. She says that I'll be scarred by images of my husband doing unspeakable things to another woman. "And what if it's someone who's incredibly hot? How could you possibly handle that?" she asks, a bit insultingly.

Not only is Emma out of the running, she seems to be morphing into that most dreaded of creatures: the friend. She talks of future lunch dates at other Asian restaurants. I'm suddenly sympathetic to those male "friends" of mine who disappeared when I got engaged. Why stick around?

After running from Emma, Druckerman decides to try her luck through a targeted website, eventually capturing a woman's attention. She then starts to panic, but then receives guidance and coaching from none other than her husband:

As I'm getting ready to go meet her (silk sweaterdress, foundation, mascara), I'm suddenly struck by the strangeness of what I'm about to do. It's real, and I'm nervous. How do I convince a woman to take off her clothes? My husband, who spent years of his life addressing this particular challenge, gives me a little pep talk.

"With women, you have to listen to all the stuff they say," he explains. "They have all these complex emotional issues, and you have to try to figure out what they are. Just keep asking questions. Be pleasant and reassuring but also slightly mysterious." He's probably afraid that I'll back out, because he adds that to keep life interesting, sometimes you have to stick your neck out.

She follows this advice to the letter, feigning interest in her new friend and counting down how long it will before before she can knock some boots:

Everything seems to be settled, but again we part without fixing a date. I send the usual lovely-to-see-you follow-up. She replies that she enjoyed our conversation, too, but that she'd like to meet again to talk more about our plans. Again? I'm beginning to doubt whether she'll go through with this. I'm tired of putting on makeup every time I go to meet her, and I'm running out of dresses.

My husband insists that this is the normal pace of seduction.

Marie Claire has decided to make this a two part series, but since I've already read the article in the print mag, I'll save you some time.

In the end, Druckerman realizes this fabulous threesome she worked so hard on is actually kind of boring, and she would really prefer to sleep with her husband.

After finishing the article, I must admit I was a bit torn. On one hand, as Druckerman mentions in the article "practically every guy I'd ever dated" has been interested in a two girl, one guy threesome. I've also been asked this question and debated the answer with myself, so it was fun to be able to take the voyeurs route on this one. Whatever Druckerman chose would have no consequences for me and all of her increasingly angsty requirements were somewhat relateable. ("I don't want someone creating a wedge in our cozy twosome. I'm envisioning this as a onetime deal.")

On the other hand, the somewhat flaccid finish left me wondering how good can a threesome be if both partners aren't into the act? Druckerman does a little too good of a job detailing her own boredom, allowing her thoughts to flit to "vaguely incestuous" feelings seeing another woman in bed, checking her email, watching the clock, and finally dropping into a back scratching role. And that's cool - you try something new and sometimes it doesn't work out, c'est la vie. Her poor guest star also had a great time, but it appears Druckerman isn't interested in any other encounters. It would all be well and good if it wasn't for the slightly icky feeling left by her husband's comments:

I'll later get a series of heartfelt thank you notes from him, saying it was as good as he hope. "It affirmed for me how much I like the female form. When you have two, it accentuates that," he tells me afterward.

Now, I don't know Druckerman or her husband - for all I know, he could be the type of guy who would happily fulfill his wife's "gay quarterbacks in the locker room" fantasy without a peep. But his comment, in the context of the rest of the piece, did remind me how threesomes are sold. They are often presented as something that nice girls do to specifically to please their partners, something frivolous and light, but really in service of pleasing a man. And the article reinforces this idea - it didn't really matter if Druckerman liked it or not, she was going to push through for her partner.

Relationships are complicated, sex can be easy or complicated, and everyone's relationship is different. I suppose I'm just trying to figure out why an article that was designed to be very fluffy and fun has such a strange aftertaste.

How I Planned a MÉNAGE À TROIS [Marie Claire]