My story had all the makings of a Lifetime cautionary tale. Raised Catholic in Texas, by the time I hit college I was still entirely in possession of that greatest of conservative euphemisms: my virginity. My treasure, my precious gift, my stalwart ship. All my life, my virginity had been placed on a pedestal of utmost importance; as such, it was probably doomed to come crashing down in a flurry of booze and sticky pawing by the end of orientation week. That’s the sort of thing that happens when you send an intellectually curious girl equipped with Google, Wikipedia, and handjobadvice.com to school in Los Angeles.
Well, fast forward two years. I lost my virginity to a friend’s recent ex, a blond, blue-eyed, completely studly guy about six years older than I was at the time (20). I’d known him about 72 hours. As if all that weren’t classy enough, when we decided to do the deed, we made the completely sneaky move of telling our assembled group of friends that we were going out to grab a bite to eat—at 5 a.m. Hey, I was just a virgin.
So there I was, in a strange 26-year-old’s apartment, ready to yield him up my person. My greatest treasure. My secret lady-garden. My ridiculous euphemism. And we weren’t even Facebook friends. It is at this time in the sordid narrative that I feel the need to make a few confessions:
1) I was completely sober.
2) I had a lot of fun.
As it turns out, my de-flowerer was a pretty cool guy. We had great pre-coital conversation, we were able to laugh and do a little (but not too much) goofy, mid-action joking around. He loved cunnilingus. He didn’t hesitate to ask me what I wanted or what made me feel good. We made no plans to see each other ever again. And now we’re even Facebook friends.
Since arriving at college, I have hooked up (a term here meaning anything from making out with tongue to sex) with half a dozen guys. I was sober for every encounter. Some of them have arguably not been the best ideas ever, but I wouldn’t take back a single one. How else would I have learned that my ears and neck are my A+ erogenous zone? That maybe you shouldn’t hook up with a guy just because your ex-boyfriend hates him? That sex under a bridge is harder than it looks? That hooking up with a good friend can totally work, because then you get to tease him about it for the rest of your lives?
What this Catholic girl has really learned is that when it comes to sex, you just can’t compromise. If what you want is casual and no-strings-attached, don’t get corralled into a relationship. If what you want is commitment, stay sober at TNC. I know this must be easier said than done, because I know quite well the stories of smart, talented women (and men) who are deeply dissatisfied with their sex lives. And honestly, I’m not any smarter or more talented than any of them. But I do believe the trick is figuring out what you want and refusing to compromise.
I have found that making out, sex, and everything in between can be exactly what I am: joyful, quirky, and totally fun. But I’m not you, and though my story may be zipping along without incident, it’s probably not a roadmap. I can only encourage my friends and other peer-type people to figure out what really, truly makes them happy and to hold out for that.
It may not be pretty. It may not be classy. And it may not get you laid for a year or two. But at the end of the day, it’ll probably be more fun.