The Worst Things That Can Pop Into Your Head During Sex

My parents raised me with a certain set of values: 1) The sunny side of the street causes headaches, 2) Lateness is rude and disrespectful, 3) No one wants to see photos of another person’s vacation. Not, like, genuinely. Not, like, ever. Society pitched in and taught me a handful of others including the all-important: All men want sex all the time.

I absorbed this message and, under its guidance, I threw myself at my high school friend Bob. I was 17 when this happened and I’d had a crush on Bob for ages. We’d gone to see a movie, and when we were about to say goodbye, I said, “Hey. Bob. What if I kissed you goodnight?”

And Bob said, “Oh. Gosh. Um, I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I think of us as being just, you know, like, friends.”

Now, in fairness to Bob, were you to see a photo of me in 1996, you’d understand his position. You’d be, like, “Wow. Well, I bet that you were pretty on the inside.” Regardless, the rejection was traumatic. 

It’s something I’ve never been able to shake entirely. As such, I’ve grown into a woman for whom sex feels atypically anxiety-provoking. Every time I do it, I’m like, “I just bet that was the last time! I just know it won’t happen again!” And because it’s the curse of everything on a pedestal to be consistently knocked down, I’ve had a lot sex that’s quickly ruined by my own beautiful mind. Meaning, I tend to suffer from bizarre distractions during the act.

Included below is a list of the worst and weirdest things that have popped into my head at the most inopportune sexual moments. A survey, if you will, of 13 years of spoiled sexual activity.

Your Parents:

Your parents having sex. I’ve never seen it. But one time, in 1992, I’m pretty sure I heard it. And this was worse in a way, because over the years it’s forced a million awful visuals that must be more … adventurous, I guess, than what actual sex between my parents would’ve looked like. I mean, they’d been together 20 years by then. It couldn’t have been much. But still, my brain tries to solve the puzzle … during the act. But why?

Your parents as the figures in “American Gothic.” This popped up during a certain sexual interlude in 2000. One minute I was getting it on, and the next, my parents were an austere farmer couple watching me get it on. I was forced to make some lame excuse about why I wasn’t in the mood.  I was finishing up an Art History degree at the time. I imagine that had something to do with it …

Your parents as Billy Joel and Christie Brinkley as they appeared in the ‘83 video for “Uptown Girl.” I have no idea how or why this happened, but it rattled me enough to shut my vagina down for business. I will say that my mom was a sort of “uptown girl”, and my dad was a sort of “downtown man.” And that my brother was born in 1983? Is that relevant. I remain forever unsure, but know that I never want to think about it during sex again.

Movie Moments:

Christian Bale in “American Psycho.” I’m referring to that threesome scene with the two prostitutes wherein he watches himself in the mirror, and he’s all like, “Well: Aren’t I the sexy king?” and then within an hour he’s bashing the prostitutes’ heads in with some radiator part! I’ve had many a casual encounter in my day – many a partner who I didn’t know that well – and this scene haunts me every single time. Every. Single. Time.

The “Sunrise, Sunset” reprise in “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tevye sings this reprise before ostensibly losing his middle daughter to the outer reaches of Russia. She’s fallen in love with a solider and she plans to follow him there. This one popped into my head during a hookup in ’99. I’d just moved to Dublin for my junior year abroad. I guess I was dealing with “leaving home” issues. But I couldn’t explain that to the guy. Or why I was humming a show tune.

The second “Sex and the City” movie. Look. I love “Sex and the City,” but that second movie was just truly heinous. Anyway, I went to see the movie on my own, and then I went over to my quasi-boyfriend’s apartment and he and I had sex. We were at the tail-end of a six-month relationship, and the sex was not engaging, and all I could think of while it was happening was that awful, awful film and how I had to break up with him.


Other, hotter people you’ve had sex with. I had some very good times with a very handsome Columbian Colombian back in 2005. He’s been popping up in my mind during sex ever since. Which is lovely when I’m not otherwise engaged, but when I am, it’s just depressing and awkward.

What bizarre thoughts have ruined the moment for you? Please do share.

Sara Barron is the author of People Are Unappealing and the forthcoming book Eating While Peeing (And Other Adventures) For more info, visit her website.