It’s been seventeen months since I misplaced my virginity, and somehow, between then and now, I’ve managed to bed nine more people.
The other night I made my mental list, rattling off the names in chronological order of the men and women with whom I’ve rolled in the hay. And there it was: ten. A person, a place, and a bed for each finger on my tiny little hands. How terribly insignificant. Initially I assumed there was a miscalculation, and proceeded to go over the names in my head a few times more, absolutely certain that I could not have really been with that many people. But each time I counted, the same result came out. Ten.
How has this happened? Where have all these random genital couplings found the time to squeeze into my daily schedule? Haven’t I been going to college? Haven’t I been a good, a very, very good student? I tried to figure out how I, of all people, managed to turn into such a dripping slut. I’ve always been a reserved person. I’m quite possibly the least aggressive girl I know when it comes to men. Well, booze helped. But also time.
Granted, I began with a bumpy start. My first nauseatingly awkward experience was followed by several other nauseatingly awkward experiences. I had always assumed I was a confident, comfortable, sexually aware young woman with over eighty-eight hours of sex education training under my belt and an extensive knowledge of intimate matters. However, when push came to shove and I found myself pinned spread-eagle under some huge, sweaty mastodon of a partner, I realized that though I may be well versed in the symptoms and treatments of various STDs, I knew nothing about creating even the semblance of an enjoyable romp.
That, and I was mortified by penises. Due to some rather unsavory events earlier in my life, I had unconsciously begun to equate the male reproductive organ with dominance, pain, humiliation and filth. (Now, of course, dominance, pain, humiliation and filth are the ingredients for a fun Saturday night, but that comes later.) So during the first few times I ventured under the sheets with a member of the opposite sex, I could not bring myself to so much as glance at their naughty bits without feeling a surge of anxiety. This, needless to say, put a bit of a damper on the evening.
I managed to work my way through two “relationships” without ever giving a blow job. And it wasn’t that I didn’t want to please these unfortunate creatures who so unwisely chose to spend their time with me. It was just that I couldn’t. I had only the best intentions. Down I’d go, kissing, kissing, kissing from neck to chest, to navel to the blindingly arousing stripe of skin right beneath the elastic waistband of their underwear until...nothing. The poor boys would lift their hips, encouraging me to pull down their drawers and continue my quest, but instead I would fly back to the top of the bed and smash their faces against mine -- hoping that if I kissed them hard enough that giant, throbbing, pointing finger of accusation in their shorts would disappear.
Drugs helped. A few months later, after one of the aforementioned males dumped me “for some unknown reason”, I got myself a fuckbuddy. Well, two, actually. One fuckbuddy was a buddy with the other fuckbuddy and the two buddies made the democratic decision to both fuck me and not let some sexually inadequate teenager come between their friendship. So we had a threesome. I, of course, was delighted. They were both clean, respectable, nice young men, the type my mother would be happy for me to invite home for dinner. Together we went to sex shops and purchased my first vibrator, went back to bed and watched German porn, listened to New Wave music and swallowed large amounts of painkillers with gulps of gas station wine. It is to these boys I credit with my discovery of real, fantastic sex. Not only did I learn all the ways and places I could derive pleasure, but also how to return the favor.
My first blow job was as close to a religious experience as anything in my atheist-since-birth existence. Maybe it was the drugs, maybe it was wine, maybe it was the sheet-twisting, sob-inducing, mother-awakening orgasm I’d just recovered from, but whatever it was, it represented for me the first time I ever felt totally in control of myself and my sexuality, as if by submitting myself to someone else I was able to realize this huge turbine of power I never knew I had. Since childhood, the men in my life had been unabashedly violent characters who could force their control on me at any moment. Now though, through the acceptance of this odd little act, I learned that I could control them, too.
And then there were more drugs.
In a cruel cosmic joke by the gods of psychopharmecuticals, only weeks after I’d reached the brink of sexual nirvana, I was put on a high dose of a new antidepressant that had proven to reach in and pull nutcases out of the depths of depression by their asses, but was notorious for not just decreasing patients’ sex drive, but draw-and-quartering it, hacking its entrails with a dull axe and throwing the remains into a fire. Before Escitalopram I masturbated, even at my lowest points, two or three times a day, bringing myself to a lonesome little orgasms while watching “Nightline” or talking to distant relatives on the phone. After the meds, though, it was like everything below my navel had been amputated and my once-favorite anatomical region was left a ghost town.
As odd as it felt to be so utterly sexless for the first time since puberty certainly was odd, but a world devoid of intercourse proved to be, if even for a little while, really, really enlightening. The doctors were right, the pills worked phenomenally. In a matter of weeks, I was happier than I’d been in years, able to enjoy people, places, and activities once unfathomable. Birds chirped, strangers smiled. The sun came out.
I moved back to New York City and began my new life. I flourished academically: making the best grades ever, completing assignments well before they were due, choosing the most challenging course load available. Astonishingly, without masturbation and fueling my obsession with sex, there was so much time in the day! Time to do things I really enjoyed, like get shitfaced in a bar and go home with a Danish guy from some band I saw on MTV2.
Enter numbers 5 through 10.
How did this happen? Somehow, my complete lack of sexual appetite has become the ultimate aphrodisiac within the realm of self-obsessed, Manhattanite hipsterdom. Apparently, the less you show you want someone, the more irresistible you become. So now that my ladyparts are dead and gone, I’m having to beat guys off with a stick. What a revelation! What a discovery! All my life I’ve been this awkward, bookish, unattractive waif until, with the assistance of my favorite little pill, men swarm around me like flies. Huzzah! ...Too bad I have no desire to do anything with them.
Of course, I still sleep with them. The boys and girls are pretty and soft. Even if the volume on my clitoris has been turned down to nil, I still love the feel of smooth sheets against naked skin and naked skin against naked skin and naked skin against my mouth and mouths against my mouth and all the delicious accouterments that accompany the still thoroughly unappetizing main course. No matter how great the beauty or talent of various people I’ve been with, there are still times when I find myself listing off the assignments I need to complete before my next class period. Sex as a process will never fail to amaze me. Sex as an act, on the other hand, has become yawn-inducing.
Lately, though, there have been improvements. I’ve taken it upon myself to, well, take it upon myself more often. Now, even though the once multiple daily orgasms have stretched to few and far between, I do feel as though I am getting back into -- Jesus Christ the puns! -- touch. While the initial euphoria of my mental state has slowly worn off and I’ve begun to dip back into the soulless vacuum of reality, tiny fragments of my former self have started to peek over the surface.
Recently, I’ve even started to feel horny again, a sensation strangely alien after it’s been absent for long stretches of time. One morning, not too long ago, I awoke to a kind of strange, buzzing hollowness in my belly and had to take a considerable amount of time and internal investigation before I realized what exactly it was that my body wanted. So my life balances upon a fulcrum, one side weighed by psychological stability and the other weighed by my libido. It is a case of either or, but never both in healthy moderation. Between happiness and great sex sits me on the breaking point, grasping for both and attaining neither.
And then there was 10. Some were one night stands, some just never called back. Some were friendly, noncommittal fucks. Some were leisurely midday sessions with people I liked to look at and touch and talk to. A few had the potential to break my heart, but I’ve gotten better about that. One was absolutely horrible, but even then it was never awkward afterward. In a little over a year I have learned more about myself and about the basic, primal interactions between humans than ever before.
Of course there are taboos, and social customs, and stigmas and etiquette, but all of that is irrelevant when two (or three) people have made themselves temporarily vulnerable to one another. Sex is one thing, love is another. I don’t think I’ve yet to be in a situation where the two have met amicably, but that is probably a long way off and I’ve never been a fan of waiting. Right now, I’m in love with being “in like”. I like people and I like all the things their bodies do. Before I ever slept with my first man, I was spent hours in sex ed learning how to put on condoms and avoid the clap. I thought I knew sex, but I had no idea how lovely and painful and funny and sad and messy and absolutely mindboggilingly complex it can be. I’ve made mistakes and, slowly but surely, I’m beginning to learn.
Despite it all, I regret nothing.