To start from the beginning, when I met David, we were picking up trash around campus as one of those lame freshman orientation activities. I knew I liked him immediately after we got through the first section of lawn, when everyone else’s trash pickings numbered in the 70s and he had collected a mere 32 (counting was part of the bonding experience, I guess).
More of a desk guy than an outdoor work guy, David ended up impressing me with his literary knowledge (I’d just matriculated to college -- few guys in high school talked about that kind of stuff) and his love of books.
That love wasn’t the only “innocent” thing about David. He’d also never gotten laid, whereas I’d spent my last year of high school making up for the lack of action from the three years prior. I’d only had sex with one man by that point -- my first somewhat serious boyfriend -- but that doesn’t mean I was jumping up and down at the idea of deflowering someone.
Mostly, taking a person’s virginity seemed like a lot of responsibility. I would be someone this guy remembered forever, whom he would probably tell his sons about when they reached the birds-and-the-bees age.
As David had told me about his (lack of a) prior sex life, I told him that I’d just gotten out of a relationship. Upon leaving high school, I’d felt like it wasn’t the best idea to try and keep dating someone from home, especially since I was going to college multiple states away. It was hard to say goodbye -- my last boyfriend and I had dated for a year. He was my first everything.
David knew all of this, so I assumed (never assume) that he would be the one to make the first move re: his deflowering. I figured he knew it wasn’t a big deal for me, since my hymen was already broken, while his remained proverbially intact. Also, in spite of being both a woman and the more sexually experienced member of the relationship, I was maybe even guilty of thinking a man would (and should?) still ask for sex if he wanted. That’s what men do, right?
Our sex life did progress, but in baby steps. We started hopping into bed at every chance we got -- when our roommates were absent, when the basement of my dorm (or the attic of his) was free, when we caught a warm night and found a park bench in a secluded area of campus (when you and your partner both share rooms, “bed” becomes kind of a loose concept). Still, in all of these places, we never managed that crucial, last step of penetration.
We also got inconveniently interrupted -- a lot. First, campus security guards continued to walk into our preferred, roommate-free spots. Then, after a party in which we’d both been amply drinking, he threw up the moment I put my hand on his penis. A little later in the semester, David actually injured the parts necessary to complete sexual intercourse in a pick-up soccer game. (I won’t go into the details, but the injury was bad enough to put our sex life on hold even longer.)
The pièce de résistance came when we finally did attempt the act…too soon following the soccer injury. Let’s just say it didn’t make it in, he wound up in the school infirmary, and we were too scarred to try again for a while.
Because David was so apparently reticent about giving it another go, I let him take the lead. His body, his choice. He was the one who had suffered the real trauma here, I’d figured, and he was the virgin. In my mind, that made it completely up to him as to when we would first have sex.
So, thanks to my mind and David’s body, we didn’t have sex through the end of our first school year. By this time, I found myself frequently complaining to my friends about my painfully prude boyfriend. Though I chalked our inactive sex life up to a mix of extenuating circumstances and felt genuinely very bad for what the guy had been through genitalia-wise, I wanted to have sex. I wanted to be a “normal” couple.
David and I went back to our (very distant) hometowns over the summer, but when we returned to school in the fall, I was determined.
I brought him back to my new dorm room upon first sight. We were shy with each other initially (it had been a whole summer), but then I straddled him (clothes still on) and said, jokingly, “Trust me, this will hurt a lot less than my first time did.”
David’s face completely changed. He went pale. He almost grimaced. I recoiled.
“What’s the matter, David?”
He looked at me like I was a monster. “You’ve had sex before??” he asked.
“Yeah…I thought I told you that.” But it finally dawned on me. I hadn’t.
I felt like I was in the middle of that scene in “Fight Club” where Ed Norton flashes back to all the moments in which he was “fighting” Brad Pitt and realizes he had been struggling with only himself the whole time. I saw myself having conversations with David in which he’d asked me what I did with my last boyfriend and I, smiling coyly (or so I thought), had replied, “You know, what couples normally do.”
“You lied to me,” he insisted.
I could not respond. I was in total shock. I lied to him?! I’d been praying for us to have sex for the past year! I’d been telling my friends how much I wished David were ready so we could finally meet in carnal bliss!
He shook his head in disbelief. “So your friends think I’m like your chaste, virgin boyfriend who you’ve been waiting to have sex with all this time?! Oh my god.”
I hadn’t said anything aloud. He had just hit the nail on the head.
I still wasn’t able to utter a word before he’d gotten out from under me and slammed the door. David was pissed, and I was…overcome by hilarity. The situation was so absurd you had to laugh! How could we have engaged in such gross miscommunication for such a long time? When I thought I was being a true gentleman (to keep this in strict, gender role terminology), so was he. He thought he was giving me space and the right to choose when it felt good for me to lose my virginity.
Later that night, we talked and decided to make a point to get to his deflowering the next day. When we did end up having sex, finally, it was great -- like, multiple orgasms great. When we were done, David smiled at the condom on the floor between our naked feet. “Wow, we’re finally like a normal couple!” he exclaimed.
Well, we were never like a normal couple. But at least we’d learned something about communicating like one.