I present for your reading pleasure a book review from the NY Times. It's of this book called the Hook-Up Handbook.
I haven't read the book because it has only been out for a month or so and because it's written by someone who works at Cosmo, and I don't read Cosmo because I find it to be a touch on the overkill side.
I'm sorry, I don't need diagrams of sexual positions and tips on how to make myself look beautiful after sleeping over at a boy's house. (Seriously, one article recommended things you should pack in a baggie to bring with you if you plan to spend the night out. Come on. We're singles, not boy scouts!)
Also, those lists of "52 ways to make him scream"? Always the same. (However, from what I hear, "You won't believe number 23!")
Also, in this day of independent single women, why are we obsessed with these silly lists of how to move your hips while positioning your hands, while arching your back to the correct angle with the right kind of hair and artfully applied eyeliner? Seriously, not that you shouldn't work at these things, but my experience has been that men are less picky than Cosmo's lists would have you believe. Showing up is much more than half the battle to most men, who are just excited to get to see a naked lady. I'm sure guys like Cosmo's cute little tricks, but I'm also sure that you can not read Cosmo and still have a satisfied man around the house.
But maybe that's just me. (Plus, I get jealous of all of the models because they get to wear uncomfortable $300 shoes in pictures. I want uncomfortable $300 shoes!)
Also, any book that claims to be "The Single Girl's Guide to Living It Up" is for people who can't figure out how to "live it up" on their own. While it is nice to have some discussion of social-life-related issues and get some advice and share stories and such, if you have to read a book that discusses strategies for "living in up," then you might be beyond help. Forget what books and magazines and bloggers say and do. Just live it up on your own.
But then again, I haven't read the book yet.
The book review, however, starts out with the topic of The Magic Number. (Not the number of shoes in your closet. Not the number of dates before you put out. Not your phone number.) The Magic Number, as we all know, is the number of people you've been with. A sexual odometer of sorts.
Now, most people don't go around broadcasting their number for the whole world to know, because the range of acceptable numbers is entirely subjective. With one group of people, your number is normal, whereas with another it makes you a total slut. It's best to keep these things close to you to avoid needless judgment, in most of our minds.
When I was in college, we played a bit of drunken truth or dare after late nights of drinking. The Magic Number question always came up and it was pretty common knowledge that you had to do a little math to get to someone's ACTUAL number. Generally, for women we'd joke that you needed to double the number they claim, whereas for men you should half it. That's just what we did.
There was also this idea a hooking up with a guy because you'd hooked up before. Being with him again wouldn't add to your Magic Number, so you didn't mind. An old roomie of mine coined the term, "Repeat Offender" for these men. It's a convenience and saving face kind of thing. Convenient because you know he's willing, saving face because you won't add to the number and also won't end up with a one-night stand on your record. (Some women have a HUGE issue with one-night stands. I look at it like this -- if you hook up with someone and regret having casual sex with them because you're worried about your reputation, does sleeping with them again just to make it not a one-night stand make your reputation any better? I think not.)
From my personal experience, there's a double standard for men and women when you're talking about Magic Numbers. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see that. (Although, I have run into some guys who try to downplay their experience because they don't like being known for their conquests. Or so they say. I always think, "Methinks thou doth protest too much ...")
There's always the question of how many is too many. My opinions on this have changed with time, and I'm at the place in my life where I think that these things are best left to the individual to decide. It's fun to joke and play and guess, but in the long run, I say that if you can look at yourself in the mirror every morning and smile and feel good about yourself, then party on. (Also, come sit by me.)