The first time (aka SIHT - 3)
I don't remember my first time. I mean, I sort of do, I have a few vague flashes if I stop and think about it. Which I rarely do, because the strongest memory is the sense of shame and hopelessness that I felt.
How's that for a suitably melodramatic opener? I don't know, though, it's a bit too intense. It feels like the lead-in to a tale of something incestuous or traumatizing, instead of simply one of many moments in my life I'd kind of like to forget, and have done a decent job of half-erasing already. I think maybe I should go for something a little more drab. Say, focus on the setting.
It was a pretty average room for our dorm. A single room, not all that small, ancient radiator sputtering and hissing under the scuffed wood of the windowsill. The standard-issue scratched wooden desk, chair and chest of drawers. Stereo in the corner next to a huge stack of records, more of which were scattered over various other surfaces in the room, heavily weighted towards the Beatles as were the posters on the walls. Like many students he'd ditched the standard single bed with its metal frame, and opted for a double mattress resting directly on the floor. The rumpled sheets were pale beige, and I was mostly sure they were that color by design and not neglect. Assorted books and papers and sports equipment and clothes, probably sorted into some arrangement of clean and dirty according to a system understood only by the room's occupant.
Well, okay, I think there's a point at which excess detail really becomes superfluous. Does any of that information contribute significantly to the story? (It goes without saying that, time-wise, the setting was long past the heyday of the Beatles, right? I mean, I'm not that old--no offense to anyone reading this who is, of course.) I suppose it does add a little in terms of characterization. But what does it convey about the atmosphere of the moment?
Part of why it doesn't say much, of course, is the fact that I honestly don't remember the specifics. I'm pretty certain we hadn't just returned from a date, since we only went on one of those (and I'm working on deleting some of the details of that experience from memory as well), and I think it was after the fact. I can't recall exactly how we got to the point where I was surreptitiously checking the state of his sheets, or even whether he knew beforehand that it was my first time. Probably not. Considering the circumstances, I doubt I would have wanted to share that little detail.
The circumstances, now, those I remember all too clearly. Using the term a bit loosely, I guess, to refer to the why of the situation rather than the how.
I was one of those girls who wanted her first time to be special, meaningful, memorable. Who attached probably a little too much importance to the act, in a romantic teenage sort of way.
This trait did not set me apart from my high school peers. What did set me apart from them was the fact that my reasoning had nothing to do with religion or morality, but was all about personal significance. Most of the girls I knew--and the guys, too, for that matter--would have firmly stated that sex before marriage, or at least in high school, was wrong wrong wrong. Even the ones who weren't overtly religious (and several of my closest friends weren't) still felt this way, or said they did. It was the predominant moral code among the people I associated with; if anyone was having sex, they sure weren't talking about it. The fact that I didn't entirely buy into this philosophy gave me a vague but permanent sense of guilt.
Then I got a boyfriend. And I loved, loved, loved him the way perhaps only a 15-year-old girl can, and I thought he was the sexiest thing that had ever walked the earth. And I thought my life would be just perfect if he were my first, because what better circumstances could I possibly want?
Unfortunately for me, and defying all clichés about libidinous teenage boys, he was having none of it. Well, okay, some of it, quite a lot more of it than he originally counted on or thought he would, but not that. Never that. Sometimes, in the heat of a moment I would plead and cajole, whisper shamelessly wanton promises in his ear and generally behave without the slightest regard for modesty or restraint. I was quite the hussy. Who ever would have guessed?
My underdeveloped feminine wiles were no match for his iron will, alas. He held firm, and a part of me was secretly glad about that, because if left to my own devices I probably would have ended up a teenage mother. (Well, okay, not my own devices, strictly speaking, but... you get the idea.) I was easily carried away, and it was sort of good to know that at least one of us had a bit of self-control.
In hindsight, though, I wish he'd been a bit less virtuous. Virtue does not make for very interesting stories, I've discovered.
So, eventually we broke up, as I knew we would even when I was starry-eyed and overdosing on hormones. I was romantically inclined, but not entirely stupid; I knew we could never last forever. (For the record, he married the next girl he dated. I'd be surprised if this event were entirely unrelated to his views on premarital sex.)
See, there I go again, indulging in lots of extraneous detail. The problem
with seeing things in a complex way, as I tend to do, is that it's hard to
tag bits and pieces as irrelevant and cut them from the narrative. All of
the above took place years before the dorm room moment, so why bother to fill
in so much background? This isn't a historical novel, here. Who could possibly
The closest I can come to answering that is to say that, well, it feels like it matters. I think it has some bearing on what was to come. (Plus, you know, I kind of get a kick out of remembering just how eager I was. I can guarantee you that most of my classmates would have been shocked had they known. This kind of behavior would not have fit into their impression of me, at all.)
I wasn't thinking about any of the above at the time of the dorm room incident, of course. I had some pretty clear goals in mind then, although I was only consciously aware of one of them. Well, two, if I want to be painfully honest. I didn't realize until much later that I'd also had a third goal, and it was the one I was most successful at achieving.
After the high school boyfriend, there was a long dry spell. I've never exactly been a guy magnet, and my late teens also marked a low point in my own self-esteem and confidence, so I was sending out the kind of warning vibes that men of all ages can subconsciously pick up on and know to steer away from. During this period I also had a couple of unpleasant experiences, so by the time my drought came to an end I was no longer the innocent, trusting creature I'd been at fifteen.
The object of my affections was a member of my close circle of friends, a circle that had already proved itself to be fairly incestuous, as maybe all small groups are at that age. I had been nursing a crush on him for a year, something he was just as aware of as the rest of the universe, me being an embarrassingly heart-on-both-sleeves sort of person. He finally gave in and took pity on me, and made his move. I was thrilled to pieces, as you can imagine.
Unlike the previous boy, this one had no religious or moral qualms about any act whatsoever. You name it, he'd already tried it (or at least read enough about it to be able to pretend). No, this time the tables were turned, and I was the one holding back. I wasn't quite ready to give up my idea of the perfect first time, and I wanted us to develop a special relationship in this new realm beyond friendship before we got to that point. Which we never did, because our... affair, for want of a better word, was short-lived.
It's hard for me to filter out my present understanding of the real dynamics of the situation from how I experienced them at the time. Those lines of overwrought sentiment at the beginning of this entry give a pretty good idea of what I felt. I may have been at my nadir in terms of self-image, but I was at the peak of my career as drama queen. I was starring in the movie of my own life, and what I'd previously thought was going to be a tale of romance and adventure and success was taking a tragic downturn. And there I was, ready to milk it for all it was worth, no matter what the price.
I wasn't sure exactly what had gone wrong. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out something had gone wrong, as a matter of fact, because I didn't want to listen to the alarming twisty feeling in my gut that said things weren't proceeding the way I'd hoped. When I was finally forced to recognize the truth, I immediately started looking for the why, and where else could I look but in the mirror?
Literally, even. I felt fat and ugly and undesirable, and was sure that at least part of the problem was physical. Once he'd seen me naked, I imagined, he'd immediately started wondering what on earth he'd got himself into, and started backing out. Clearly the combination of pity and horniness could only take a guy so far, and I was well beyond that point. That girl who had been so certain of her allure she could play the part of the evil temptress trying to seduce an innocent boy away from the straight and narrow path? Long gone. And that tactic hadn't even worked at the time, come to think of it, so maybe I'd just been deluded all along.
And then there was the whole virginity thing. It was high time for me to get over it, grow up, recognize it for the non-issue it was. Although I'd shown myself to be all too willing to experiment, I'd drawn a line that I now realized was arbitrary, artificial, nonsensical. For such an experienced person, I knew it must be stifling to be with someone unwilling to part with such a childish illusion.
The obvious solution was to get rid of it, preferably as soon as possible.
Here again I run into the roadblock of my memory, which is probably something to be grateful for. How on earth did I hook up with dorm room boy? I had known him distantly for a while, he was friendly acquaintances with friends, always waved hello when he walked past with that loping gait of his. I remember being surprised to discover that a friend found him cute, because the thought had never occurred to me. What took place between this memory of not finding him at all attractive and deciding he was going to be the first is a complete and utter blank inside my mind.
It's small favors like this that make me reconsider whether there is, in fact, a benevolent god.
However it happened, I knew he would serve all three of my aims. First, to dispose of the unwieldy baggage of my virginity so it would never get in my way again. Second, to make sure the previous boy knew I had moved on, wasn't beating myself up over him, had no intention of sitting around pining over his skinny ass. Dorm room boy lived conveniently across the hall from him, so I didn't even have to go out of my way to let him know. (As to why I thought this was important, or that he would care... well, that's all part of the drama queen gig.) Third--the third aim is the one I didn't realize I had until much later. Years later. Not all that long ago, really.
Of the act itself, I recall precious little. Did I see him naked? I must have, but it's not an image I can reproduce in my mind's eye today. I know I tried my best not to let him see me, not all at once anyway. I doubt we spent much time on preliminaries, since I know I was primarily focused on my final objective and I suspect he was, too. Same goal, different reasons.
There was some conversation, I'm sure, although not a lot. We never had much to say to each other. He did try to pay me a compliment at one point, but I was so self-conscious I didn't realize at first that's what it was, and my answer convinced him that talking was probably best left for another time. He concentrated on the task at hand, so to speak.
Eventually it was over, and he rolled to the side and said something that he must have found amusing, because I remember him laughing at his own words and feeling mildly annoyed. I wasn't really listening, too caught up in trying to work out how I felt about what had just taken place, whether I felt different or unburdened or guilty. I decided I didn't feel much of anything.
Well, that's done, I thought to myself. Now how do I get out of here?
I have no idea why I felt the urge to write about this today, or why I'm posting it, but I did and I am. This entry may not make it to the permanent archives when I pare down post-Holidailies... or maybe it will. We'll see. Maybe I'll surprise myself.