The title's a lyric from one of my favorite Tom Waits songs.
But he's right, you know. For most of us (with key exceptions, of course), after a certain amount of time, the loss of our virginity was inevitable.
The whole discussion surrounding the post last week about the term "defloration," particularly the comments about whether loss of virginity is appropriately celebrated and revered in the modern era, got me thinking more about my first time, and about others' experiences that I've heard about.
If there is no formal ritual or celebration for loss of virginity anymore, are most people substituting their own ritual and celebration? I wonder.
For myself, my entree into non-virginity was most certainly planned. But not, I suspect, the way most such planned instances probably are. Though I could be wrong. I always picture the "normal" girl planning it in a very hearts-and-flowers kind of way, like they always show on soap operas and those dreadful WB teenage dramas. Candles, rose petals, lots of declarations of love by your young boyfriend/girlfriend.
I had sex for the first time later than some people did. Strangely, none of my boyfriends in high school ever pushed even slightly to have sex, and though I liked physical contact, I didn't feel any urge at the time to have sex with any of them. As an aside: I wonder sometimes if the widely held belief of both teens and adults that most teenagers are sexually active (or want to be) is actually true. It certainly wasn't my experience. Maybe it's more of a myth than a reality.
I also had (and still have) a stubborn, independent streak. Even as a young teen, nothing disgusted me more than people who just did things because everyone else thought they should--whether those things were mainstream or counter-culture. And I was determined that before I did or tried anything, I would be certain I was doing it because I wanted to, not because someone else thought I should, or because someone else was trying to manipulate me by trying to make me feel bad, guilty, "uncool," or "slutty," or whatever their M.O. was.
Sex fell under this rule, too. I thought it was stupid how people made such a big issue about whether you were a virgin or not. I didn't think virginity OR non-virginity was such a big deal. I fully expected to enjoy sex when I wanted to have it. But I sure as hell wasn't going to do it until I was damn well ready--and no one else was going to convince me I was ready because they thought it was something that "should be done." I wanted someone else like me, for whom it was no big deal, either way.
Obviously, that left pretty much most college guys out. At that stage of the game, whether they could bed you or not was a VERY big deal to them. The vast majority of guys at that age aren't looking for anything more than the ability to improve the stats on their scorecard, so they can wave it around in front of their buddies. There were a lot of guys who wanted to sleep with me when I first started college, but it always felt too much like I was just going to be a notch on their belt. Plus, despite my own inexperience, I could tell based on the other things I was doing with them, that their technique was certainly not polished. Most of them were pretty fumbly and clueless. In short, I sensed they didn't really know what they were doing, or how to proficiently maneuver a woman's body to full arousal, and hence I felt fairly certain that a first time with any of them wouldn't be any too great. So I turned them all down.
I think most women my age didn't really think about that. And I wonder if as a result a lot of them had disappointing first times with their college boyfriends. Don't get me wrong, I understand that it's only natural most guys at that age are somewhat clueless and clumsy, and it's not their fault--they have to start learning somewhere, after all. My hat is off to all those women who were cool with assisting the boys during their practice runs and scorecard years. I just personally wasn't cool with that. (Sorry, college guys.)
Anyway, because I couldn't find my guy with the "no big deal" attitude I wanted, I set off on an alternate course. I was working in New York City in the summer, and through my job I met a now well-known journalist/writer who at that time wrote for a music magazine. He was cool. He was much older than me (12 years). He was funny and smart and smart-arse-ish and a talented writer to boot--a deadly combination for me. I liked him. I didn't ever feel for one minute that I loved him, and I knew I wouldn't ever feel that way. But I really liked him and I was highly attracted to him. We started hanging out together.
And, obviously, unlike the college and high school boys, he knew how to touch a woman. He'd done it a lot, and he made no secret of that. He was a horny bugger. And when we were seeing each other, I knew I wasn't the only woman he was seeing.
The fact that I was a virgin was, of course, endlessly intriguing to him. He'd slept with a lot of women, but never with a virgin. So yes, there was a scorecard element involved with him, too. But the difference for me was, he didn't lie and pretend the scorecard motivation didn't exist. As with all the people I like most in my life, and unlike all the other guys I was dating at that time, he laid it all out on the table for me, unapologetically, and let me decide if that worked for me or not:
1) I want to sleep with you because I think you're hot.
2) I also want to sleep with you because you're virgin, and the thought of teaching you and being someone's first lover turns me on, and I want to see what that will be like.
3) If you want to have sex with me, I'm going to be right on it. But you don't have to sleep with me if you don't want to. I won't be angry at you if you don't, I won't stop talking to you if you don't. I have a lot of other people in my life I can get sex from, if I need or want it. If you don't want to, no big deal. We'll hang out, make out, whatever you want, and I can get sex somewhere else. What happens with us is totally your choice.
So there it was. No big deal. My choice.
I found the fact that he wasn't trying to hide anything from me very appealing. And though many people I've told the story to think that #3 above sounds manipulative, I can tell you it really wasn't. He wasn't threatening, "If you don't give me sex, I'll go somewhere else." I was clear he had other lovers, and I was fine with that--they weren't a threat to me. And I was clear that even if I did have sex with him, he'd still have other lovers besides me. He wasn't a monogamy guy, and I didn't want him to be. At that time and in those particular circumstances, it actually made me far more comfortable to know he could offer me the no pressure option by going elsewhere, rather than me being his only sex option and having him to be totally focused on getting me to go to bed with him. That he could say, "no big deal for me either way," was really what I needed, and knowing that there was absolutely no pressure or hidden motivations (or hidden lovers) was an incredible relief.
It may not sound romantic to many, but I recognized this was the perfect scenario I personally had been waiting for. I wasn't being pushed, it was all my decision, and there would be no whining or resentment if the decision was no. But if I said yes, I would get to have sex with an experienced man who liked women, who could really initiate me knowledgeably into things I wanted to know more about, and who I found sexually and intellectually appealing.
So I said yes. And one night while I was staying over at his place I had sex for the first time. And it was good. I don't think I came that night (I almost never do the very first time I'm with anyone), but it was very pleasurable, and I learned a lot.
There were no rose petals, or mood lighting (unless you count his cigarettes as mood lighting). There were no false (or true) declarations of love. But there was moonlight coming in through the large windows of his East Village studio, and we were surrounded on every side by books and music, and there was no pretense. And best of all, there was no fumbling.
And for me, that was perfect.
In the morning when we woke up, I don't remember much of what was said, but I do remember there was no embarrassment, shame, or immaturity, just friendly, adult affection and camaraderie. I had no regrets. I'd had a good time. But it still didn't seem like people should make such a big deal about the transition. I was perfectly happy I'd had sex, and it had been good sex. But I didn't feel any better or worse than I had the day before, when I was still a virgin.
As the more experienced person (and seeing as he was a music writer), you'd think an extensive review would have taken place. I'm sure I asked for feedback about what he'd enjoyed and any pointers he had, because I'm like that. But it's all rather hazy. My memory only clearly holds two comments of his that morning after my first time: 1) he called me a sex kitten, and 2) he remarked how incredibly pragmatic I seemed to be about the whole thing, which he hadn't expected, given it was all new to me. I remember feeling pleased with both reviews.
So, in the end, not much ritual or celebration. But in a way, there was a certain approach to the event I wanted to create, and I waited until I could make that happen. So maybe in a strange sort of way, it was a little ritualistic (in my weird mind, anyway). In any case, I felt good about the way it (and he, heh heh) went down. I think a more formalized celebration or too many flowers and hearts would have killed my enthusiasm for the event, not enhanced it.
And that, my friends, is all she wrote. For tonight.
So, how about your first time? (And by "first time," I mean the first time you had sex by your choice). Ritual? Celebration? Humiliation? Planned? Spontaneous? One of those classic rose petal moments? A bleah time in the back seat of a car? Someone you liked? Loved? Someone who "would do?" Good, mediocre, just plain awful? Were you pragmatic or romantic, or both? And if you planned/prepared it ahead of time, did it turn out as you'd imagined it would? Gimme the goods.
And as always, remember you can post anonymously if you want to.
(Photo credit: The Morning After by stepha1202.)