The First Time: O.P.

Posting this again, original poster and post (O.P.), urging you to write for the project, or spread the good word and get your friends to do so in your stead… with my deepest gratitude. 

The First Time – A letter, brief (?) tale, and request to a few of my dearest female friends and acquaintances, and theirs!

Everyone remembers their first time, right? Loving, traumatic, quick, painful, joyous, funny, violent, drunken, stone cold sober, silly, too young, too old, overdue, in a truck, a car, a field, a motel room, the marriage bed ~ all of this and more makes up a slice of our, women’s, first experiences of sex. If you’re experience was anything even remotely like mine, growing up in rural America during the 60s and 70s, ‘the bases’ were attained slowly or quickly over time, and there was constant discussion regarding who had ‘done it’ or not, beginning – as I recall – in middle school. And, by the time I’d ‘done it’, at the ripe old age of 19, I’d certainly visited first, second and third base and also fought off not one but two of my ancient seeming, gross, married with children male teachers, so maybe it was time to hit a home run. And, for the record, I hate sports metaphors, but until we feminist language, here we are – playing fucking baseball, and given one of those two men was my former high school softball coach…but I digress. 

So, there I was on Nantucket Island, chambermaiding at a bed and breakfast, sharing a sloped, cramped attic room with my best friend from college, my twentieth birthday looming on the horizon (I could not, not, not still be a virgin at twenty!!), when along comes sweet, horny, handsome Raoul, which was his actual nickname. We’d met near the end of my 1st semester sophomore year at Syracuse University, and the attraction between us was powerful, but – and it was a big but – he was leaving for law school in California in 5 weeks, cramming in as much partying and academic wrap up as was humanly possible, with no time left over to court a skittish nineteen-year-old. But, big surprise to me, he kept in touch. His letters, as I recall, were long and funny, full of looping curvy words written in thick blue or black ink on page after page of white paper. Raoul was lonely in California, was having trouble settling in, making friends. He visited over Christmas, driving to the Catskills from northern New Jersey for a night. What a champ! Dinner with my family?! Jesus Effing Christ he was brave. He tried to get me into bed that night, but I was so terrified of ‘doing it’ – of my mother, and the roof of our house blowing off if I were to do something so transgressive (thanks Catholic purity culture, which gives evangelical purity culture a damn good run for its fucked-up money) – I shook, literally shook with fear, and it didn’t happen.    

Fast forward to a warm June, on gorgeous Nantucket Island, and a house literally full of available beds for romping and humping, and here he – my hero(?) – is! We finally – I finally – did it. But not in one of the many rooms available, nope. We did it in that cramped, sloped ceilinged attic room, in my twin bed with – at my insistence – my best friend in the other twin bed, pretending to be asleep. More on that later.


It was great. I absolutely loved it. I still do. Sex. Yummy. So much fun. Best thing you can do with your clothes on or off, in my opinion, with someone, or alone. Where-ever the fuck you want to do it, with whomever you can convince to do it, within reason! Consent is everything. Everything. And please for-fucks-sake don’t be fucking animals or anyone under 18 unless you are also 18 or less, again, within reason. But I digress. Sex. So much fun. Co-ed wrestling, more fucking sports metaphors, was my new favorite sport – with a lovely big bang along the way, if your sparring partner knows what-the-fuck he is doing or if, though not always, like some lucky females, you’re just naturally orgasmic. 

So, of course, the very next day glowing with triumph (the girl who lived!) I called the boy I actually loved back in the Catskills, to tell him I had had sex, finally, that it was so much fun, and that all I wanted to do now was to have sex with him, and that I loved him, whatever I had said, and lied about, months before, but his wicked step-mother picked up, bit my head off as per usual, saying he wasn’t home (liar!), and I hung up the phone never to try again. And, yes, I was actually going to tell this sweet young man I had already injured that I’d had sex with another man, that it was so much funso great, which would have gone over like a lead balloon, right, so she did me a favor even if she was a total, nasty, cock-blocking bitch who’d hated me for a decade by then for who knows what reason other than women, women my mother’s age, including my mother – although not all of ‘em! – seemed to hate me in general. But I digress. 

I write this, and share it with you because I wonder if any of my friends were brought up, as I certainly was not, to think about sex positively? To love, really and truly, love their bodies? To celebrate their curves and planes, their hairy legs, or clean shaven ‘pins’, their impending or current cycles of menstruation (‘you know this doesn’t make you a woman’, my mother said, when I got mine), and the power and profundity of menopause, as well as the hot flashes, which – for many of my friends – continue for years and years? I wonder if any of my friends or friends of friends, were raised to be curious, in a good way, about sex, or cautious on a logical, sensible sliding scale, curious too about their own sexuality? And I wonder if my friends and theirs were able to examine ubiquitous images and representations of female sexuality, and if, additionally, anyone was able to see female sexuality as partly or wholly positive, or at least not as negative or necessarily, inherently manipulative, vulnerable, weak? In my family, female sexuality was the unspoken white elephant in the room, a virgin elephant who was also, somehow, required to be eminently desirable, sexy without being sexual, gorgeous without being too gorgeous or threatening, a sexy-nice-not-too-sexy girl objectified into unattainably attainable by marriage alone status. I’m exhausted just by writing that, my own experience in this area was so fucked up, and complicated. My father openly admired women’s bodies, loved them, and he loved, loved, loved porn, but – he was married to a morbidly obese woman who clearly hated her own body, hated it. They, don’tcha know, were both virgins when they married at twenty-seven. And, the story went on, their wedding night was glorious! Amazing! Perfect! As was their marriage, only – well, there’s always more to the story, ain’t there? Among numerous other crazy-ass role models and complicating factors.

Tell me. Tell me, if you will. Tell me what happened, to you. How it happened. Where. When. Write it out and send it to me; write about your first time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it’s meant to be ‘Post Secret’ ( but for women only, for the purpose of telling our stories in a safe, 100% anonymous (or not) space for eventual publication, yes, publication – initially on line, via wordpress – to demystify, clarify and expose what women and girls actually experience via anonymous (or not) true tales of how, where, and when we experienced our first time. From our perspective, sans romance novel bullshit, and with a truckload, boatload, stadium full of compassion for the vast messy panoply of what women and girls’ actual lived experiences are, and were, and very probably always will be.  

Because. Ignorance is not bliss. I know this. So, think about it. Or, toss this in the garbage those who are receiving by snail mail, ignore it, fuhgeddaboudit, or – pass it along to a friend who you think might want to participate, or delete it, burn it, forget it, leave it in a drawer or unopened email for years and then respond, or not. Up to you. Your choice; consent and willing participation are essential. Send me whatever you write and however you choose to write it via snail mail to PO Box 331, New Kingston, N.Y 12459, or better yet for transmission and reprinting purposes, via email at, and I will treat your tale of joy, woe, or some combination of the above with the respect and generosity you deserve. When and where and with whom did you have sex for the first time. Or the first time with loving intent? Or the first time sober? How was it? Did you enjoy it, or was your own enjoyment not a part of the equation? Was it great, embarrassing, hilarious, ridiculous, awful, terrible, or none of the above? What else – context, family, culture, religion, history – made it as impactful, or not, as it was?   


The truth is, I asked my best friend to stay in the room while Raoul and I ‘did it’ in the summer of 1979 on that gorgeous island in the Atlantic Ocean, an island that was as far as I had ever been from my family in my entire life, because I thought I was going to die. Not that I could tell her that, explain myself, not at the time, and not for many, many years to come. I thought I was going to die because I wasn’t a virgin at all, even if I had to believe I was, because my mother and my church told me I had no value unless I was a virgin up to the moment I was ‘deflowered’ by a man, the man: my eventual husband. And, if you’re not one of my friends, but rather a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend reading this, I still ain’t married to that flower-picking, plucking, inherently heroic and entirely mythical creature. Oops.   

My actual ‘first time’ was as an eight-year-old child, when my cousin – who was sixteen – had sex on me and at me; he raped me, in a field on the farm where my dad and his concurrently, and he and I sequentially, grew up. Endless View farm. A part of me, a former version of myself, died that day because he, my cousin, chose to kill me, to kill my child self, kill my trust, murder my faith in family and in love, by forcing his fucking selfish fucking desires on me. I kept and buried that secret for decades, only – I couldn’t quite keep the corpse of that little dead girl underground. It was she who shook with literal fear the night Raoul visited over Christmas break; it was she who lied and told the boy I loved I didn’t love him; it was she who put herself in danger time and time again for years thereafter hoping to die for real, big time death, or to somehow breakthrough, back to life in full. She remains with me today, and it is for her and the thousands of girls and women like her, living and dead, including my poor fucked up mother, that I initiate this project, this experiment, this attempt at leveling the playing field of fucking, of sex, of fuckery, and of love, and love, and love, which field has been, for most of history, limited to, dominated and defined by, narrated, mythologized, had its lines drawn by, and ruled – – by men. 

Perhaps you have a similar story. Perhaps your first time was magical, amazing, glorious like it was for my virginal mom and dad*, and in the telling, and living, that is enviable, and worth letting your daughters and granddaughters and anyone out there in this increasingly connected world who is wondering how it – the first time, or any time for that matter – can be. Perhaps your first time is best captured by poetry, Haiku, or limerick, a text chain, a short song, a fable, a novel, or a quick confession on the back of a postcard – just be aware that I will be editing for length, and clarity, while doing my utmost to respect every nuance, word and syllable of your lived experiences. Women and girls, including trans-women and non-binary folks, are all invited, are all intrinsically a part in and of this experiment, this quest of mine, including our lesbian sisters, mothers and daughters, because we know that men’s gazes, and dicks, aren’t so important they define all sexual experiences by virtue of being present, even if they’re omnipresent in our lives because – well, because the patriarchy.

Thank you for reading this, and thank you for considering participating. I believe there is immense power in story, and story-telling, in sharing our tales, and I hope you will take part. Deadline? I send this out at the beginning of 2023. If you’re interested in participating, see if you can get your contribution back to me at PO Box 331 New Kingston, NY 12459 or by January 2024 or – if it gets to you late – June of 2024! With my thanks. Or, burn this, and forget about it, also with my best wishes and good cheer. 


* My dad was not a virgin when he married my mom; he visited several prostitutes in NYC before being shipped overseas to France during the Korean War. I found this out when I was in my mid-forties, when I put my increasingly demented mother in a nursing home, and my dad came clean. 


If you decide want to share your name, your age – or any other information that you deem pertinent – as a part of this experiment, that also works for me, in fact it adds to what I hope will be the collective power of the project. If you don’t mind sharing via email, do so – as well as send along any questions – to but those who wish to submit anonymously should do so via snail mail. And if you want to tell me, literally tell me your story, while I listen and listen, and make notes, email me and we’ll work it out. Thank you.   

– Moj 

The First Time: Lost

*Submitted by anonymous 

I casually say, “Who in your friend group has had sex?”

“Lost their virginity? Oh. I’m not sure? I don’t think very many, if not any.”

I say, “You know the first time hurts.”

My niece, “Right, you said that your first time guy hurt.”

I said, “No, it physically hurt and yes, good memory. I was sad because he left after he got me to have sex for the first time.” 

Yes. It was Mark-O West (*this name has been changed ). I was a cook for a family one summer vacation; he was living in the town. I don’t remember how we met, but he seemed to be able to sniff out virgins. He was that guy. I know now that he was that guy because as it turns out, he did it to someone else that summer. He was charming and attentive to me, to someone who didn’t know anyone else. He would visit after work. I was flattered that he would arrive, unannounced at my bedroom door. This was way before texting, cell phones, all of it. 

I was somewhere where I knew no one but the people I was cooking diet cakes and fresh veggies, swordfish for…

The family loaned me a silver blue soft top Mustang 1962 coupe with the large steering wheel worthy of a necker’s knob. It – the car – was part of a collection from the seven-car garage that the boss’s husband proudly showed me on my first day. He was really into his cars. He was really into his cars and talking about people, conversations that always included something about their penis or masturbation or popping a cherry, or something I didn’t want to hear about, but that he would say to me. Yes, he was that guy, the creepy boss husband. 

Was that comment for me? Was he interested in me? I never got that feeling. It always sounded more like it was for a boy, not me. I didn’t have the hair on the back of my neck go up with him, but Mark-O, oh yes. He made me nervous. He would say, “No one who goes to college is a virgin,” or, “they shouldn’t be.” He knew because he was in college. I was the eldest of my siblings. My sisters were much younger. Who could I ask? I didn’t dare. I didn’t know. I had only heard about sex up close. I heard heavy breathing at a house where a pile of us spent the night after the prom. I was on the floor in a room feigning sleep, I was done with the stupid inane conversation downstairs, and all of a sudden two people burst in the room looking for a place, I hadn’t even taken the bed. I was on the floor, head away from the door. I was a good pretender. Yet the whole thing: movement, squeaking of the bed back and forth, laughing, talking, grunting, sleeping, snoring – I heard the whole thing. Ugh. And here I was now being pestered by this guy that seemed so excited by me. I was being courted. I liked the attention. I was sixteen. This might be the one, the new one, the BOYFRIEND. He was Mark-O West. Everyone knew him in town. I even think my boss introduced us when she took me into town the first day to look around, and “learn the ropes”. There he was at the supermarket somewhere in town. I think she even offered to have him go on a sail or motorboat ride. 

And so it began. He would come over as I was washing the last dish, the last pot, and then we would walk? Or something that led to kissing that led to doing everything you do but kiss. Which led Mark-O to ask every day about my virginity, to remind me about college, that no one there is a virgin, that now was the time. He had less than 2 months, maybe a month, to succeed, maybe. He didn’t even arrive when I was doing dishes, but when I was already in the servants’ cabin behind the house, in my own room and bathroom disconnected from the house – did he knock on the door? Was I in bed reading? Is that how it started? 

Was I in bed reading and he knocked, and came and sat in the room? Ugh. I think that’s where it started. 

It ended on a bedspread in the garden under a full moon, which was supposed to be romantic but there were so many bugs and the moonlight was so bright that it didn’t really feel romantic. It was more like a spotlight. We pressed on but the mosquitos were fierce. His penis was way too big, it hurt. It hurt so much and then there was 

Goo everywhere in the dark on the bedspread under the moonlight. It was supposed to be so romantic and yet when I finally went to bed, Mark-O long gone – the between my legs hurt.

I shoved the bedspread into the washing machine, only for it to be found by the boss’s kid, younger than me, who cried out, “Eewwwww, blood on a bedspread? What happened here?” And then I was really embarrassed. I didn’t realize the blood had seeped out and onto the bedspread or maybe I did and I stuffed it into the washing machine hoping to get it to disappear not realizing I needed to wash it. So much embarrassment. 

And he was gone. After that night in early August, he wouldn’t return my calls. I even went to where he lived and he wasn’t there or he was nonchalant, non-committal. It was over. The conquest done. 

When I got to college for the first time and bumped into a girl/woman – someone I sort of knew who also had been in that town, and I got to talking to her about my summer and I mentioned and this guy and what a dick he was for leaving and she looked at me incredulously, “What? Me too!” The whole story.  He did the same thing to her at the same time. What the hell. She and I plotted to go back to that town and spray paint his name and ‘Is A Rapist’ on the wall near the supermarket. We talked about it every time I saw her on campus but we never did it, dammit! 

The First Time: The 1st Big Oh-oh-ooooh!!

*happy hump day!!

The first time I had an orgasm I was twenty-three, and while I may have had other orgasms previously, I suppose, I hadn’t really had all that much sex, let alone great sex, by that point in my life, so who knows? In other words, I wasn’t sure. This one, however, was so big, so much the mythic Holy Fuck, that I couldn’t not mistake it for anything other than what it was. Unfortunately, it came at the hands of a lying sack of shite, but I didn’t know that then, although it would be made clear not long after the Big Oh, when he finally, finally invited me back to his swanky, rent controlled apartment on 86th street between the park and Columbus Avenue, which apartment he shared with an ex-girlfriend, now just a non-sexual pal. You understand, right? Yes, sir, absolutely, sir (subtext: can you do that thing with your tongue again?!!)! The arrangement with his ex was made clear soon after he and I met and started frisking around one another. The apartment was a three bedroom, you see, and they paid very little in rent; both he and ex/pal were visual artists, and neither was willing to give the place up even though they were no longer a couple, and so it goes. In any age in any large, crowded city, and certainly in New York City, real estate can collide with love, thus this ‘situation’ was completely within the realm of credulity. My realm, for sure, as I was both young and dumb. And, he was very, very sexy. That orgasm, JHFC, life forms on Mars might’ve seen or felt its vibrations.

However, it turned out this story of his was absolutely, no question, a load of horseshit, total fucking fiction. Non-sexual roomies? Living together as exes and good friends? Sure, pal. We’d finished playing tennis on that fateful day (*not the day of the Big Oh), on the courts in Central Park, (*tennis is a great game for meeting and frisking if you’re into or looking for that), and Mr. Big Oh/Lying shack of shite said he wanted to show me his place. Okeedoke! Thought bubble: tennis then sex? What could be better? Not much. Yay.  

Great space, nice building, impressive – I’ll give you a tour. Sure! One of the bedrooms was his sculpture studio, the other was her painting – wait. The other was her painting studio?! But. Suddenly, I was walking in fog, brain fog, my stomach down around my feet, slightly nauseous. Stunned. I kept walking, to the third bedroom, which was huge and flooded with light, facing the street, and nicely furnished with a king-sized bed, the only bed I’d seen so far. Harumph. Full length mirror in the corner, check, and dresser, check – complete with a bit of feminine mess, as well as a framed photo of the schmuck standing next to me embracing a woman not me (obviously) on its surface. There he proposed – y’know, that we engage in more co-ed wrestling. I thought you were friends, that she was your ex, you said she was just a friend. He laughed, shrugging his shoulders. Well, then, fuck no, asshole. I actually did that, although I didn’t say asshole or fuck no, I mumbled and bumbled and got out of there PDQ. I was young and dumb, but I wasn’t a total dope, although he sure made me feel like one, in that moment, in their bedroom. Their bedroom. Ugh.   

Look, he was a sculptor who did odd jobs – one of which was maintenance of a cemetery in the Bronx, fixing gravestones and time worn statuary, and another of which was teaching tennis. I didn’t know this then, how could I, but common wisdom says that tennis teachers, especially at the casual play level, y’know, just for fun and exercise, are generally rabbits, as in they’ll fuck everything that moves, so yes, find your frisk there with another player/student, but don’t fuck the instructor unless it’s purely to burn more calories, no strings attached. 

We met playing tennis in Central Park; I was twenty-three, looking for friends, real friends, in NYC for the first time, having left the east village for greener pastures, or so I hoped. I was working at a bar a bunch of tennis types frequented, Hanratty’s on Amsterdam and 96th. I’d played tennis in high school, not too seriously, but was pretty good, so, sure, I’ll play! Hanratty’s, by the way, had great food, and was always busy, yet I was consistently the only waiter who made money there, which confused me. It took me several years to figure out that this was because everyone else who worked there was spending their tips on cocaine. Young, and dumb. And, for three years at that point, not drinking, or doing drugs. Nope. Sober as a judge, yet none the wiser for it. So, basically, I was missing a lot of signs, all over the place. (psssssst: if they don’t take you to their apartment, rather insisting on meeting elsewhere, they def be married or attached, GF!!)     

Mr. Big Oh/Lying Sack of Shit was good looking in an untypical way, in great shape, with lots of hair, and he was funny, smart, interesting, different. He pursued me in a way that was pointed but subtle, if that makes sense. He was also good friends with a couple I was trying to befriend, two classically trained, college educated pianists who had apartments in the neighborhood. She worked at Hanratty’s with me, and gave music lessons, while her boyfriend taught both tennis and piano. They were several years older than I was, and Matt, Mr. Big Oh, was in his thirties. Surely, if he was lying to me about his relationship, one or the other of my brand-new forever friends would say something? Surely, they would? Ah, no. Nope. That’s on you, new kid in town. And maybe they didn’t know? They knew. She did say something, when I questioned her, afterwards. FEH.

But, let’s get to the first time certified Big Oh, and put his lies aside for now (mostly). He pursued, we frisked and flirted, played tennis, and drank with his friends (he’d known the couple for at least five years to my three or four months) at the bar at Hanratty’s, him drinking booze and me drinking seltzer, or water. And, he lied, he lied like a dog, no one challenged him or warned me, and I didn’t, ever, question or challenge him because – naïve. And so, one hot afternoon in July, my birthday month (he was a Pisces, another water sign, compatible! and of course I remember that, along with his full name), we had sex in my apartment, dragging one another gleefully up five flights of stairs to my futon covered captain’s bed. 

What happened next? Oh, the usual. Shorts, tee shirts, undies flung hither and yon, saliva swapping, hands everywhere, breath all breathy, and the absolute pure joy and fun of skin on skin contact with another human being. My. Favorite. Sport. Sex. So great. And at one point, Mr. Big Oh was eating our heroine out, and here it is, the Big Oh, like a train boom appearing in a tunnel and I am right smack dab (legs spread!) in the middle of the tracks. Run. Me. Over. 

How did I know it was an actual, real orgasm? Well, lemme tell you – the blood rushed through my body so intensely, so bigly, so overwhelmingly, I was at first, whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa, shaking and quaking and then, well then I was alluvasudden unable to move. What the what is this?!! Paralyzed. I could not move. For several very long moments, I was immobile, and, because nothing is ever uncomplicated – I went right to the lane of, ‘Oh fuck, this is how I die, or I remain forever paralyzed, and my parents find me, naked, spread eagle on my bed in this shit hole apartment?!! The little – literal – death, or disability, from orgasm, from pleasure!?!! Waaaaaah!!’ He didn’t notice (he was busy), but, and, however, after a few very long, long beats, movement returned, as did my sense that that, why that sure was something special! Was it ever. 

Since then, I have to admit, I have never had such a booming orgasm, one that paralyzed me again, and that’s okay by me. I have had many other orgasms, big and small, and all points in-between. I’ve also slept with men who could not find my clitoris or make me cum for love or money or anything else. And that’s okay, too. Even mediocre or bad sex is sex, right? Maybe. Sometimes it’s just a kind of bandaid. One fellow I was involved with while my dad was dying was so frustrated by my lack of orgasm after the first night we spent together – when I’d had several – I knew I was withholding, but his style in bed sucked, and truth he was a bandaid, a tourniquet, merely, a night out, a sex break while I watched my dad fade away. Not my best moment, although I had had high hopes when we met and started seeing one another. Ultimately, though, I just didn’t like him, so his frustration was fine by me. He wasn’t a nice guy, too controlling, and much too angry, especially at his soon-to-be ex-wife, and the way he operated in the world was how he was in bed: a dull, one note, buzz saw of a battering ram. Foreplay, fun, connection – all of these – are essential, imo, to having great sex.  

Fifteen years after my revelatory afternoon in the three-bedroom apartment on 86th street, I ran into Mr. Matthew Big Oh in the post office on Columbus and 90th street, a long narrow space where it is impossible to avoid anyone, regardless of who they are, or were, to you. Oh. Matt. Although at first, I thought, wait, no, this cannot be him?! He was being led, almost as if on a leash, by a woman who was probably my age, possibly younger, and he looked old, and worn out. His expression was the most perfect representation of hang-dog (Miriam-Webster: sad, dejected, sheepish) I’ve ever seen – it was almost as if he couldn’t raise his head above the level of his girlfriend’s nose, and she was short, people. Oh Matt. Karma Baby. Not my problem, and thank goodness for that. I was just another score for him, I think, one of many; who knows how many tennis students and their friends, how many women, period, he picked up in Central Park during his prime years, long gone. Good for him. Whatever. I’m simply sorry I fell for his line, but sure, you do you, Matt. 

At the time I saw him again, I was working for a writer in my neighborhood, another one of those part-time jobs I took while trying to figure my shit out, contemplating leaving NYC to write my own stories, instead of helping a dilettante with hers. Running into him was a little like watching an old journal go up in smoke: satisfying, a cause for reflection, a letting go, grateful to put a pin in it, done, over. This is not mine, not me, not anymore; this represents another life, another world, another brick in the wall of life’s experiences. 

The First Time: In the Crosshairs

I am one of those young women who, at the age of sixteen, began to feel that virginity was a burden that needed to be shed. I was tired of reading about sex in all those great paperbacks of the seventies while simultaneously diddling around with my boyfriend while he diddled with me. When were we going to DO IT? 

Honestly, I think I was pretty happy with all that deep kissing and sweet caressing. It did go on for hours, after all, and I never remember feeling all that deprived. But all that changed pretty quickly after my boyfriend left mid-winter to do a three-month service project, and I was left alone with that pulsing libido. 

But leave me he did, however well-intended we were on reuniting in the late spring, and meanwhile, a new fella slipped onstage. Literally. He was my co-star on the big stage of our high school musical, my Dolly Levi’s Horace Vandergelder. How terribly convenient. A real Broadway cliché. 

This guy knew I had a serious boyfriend of nearly two years, but he moved in anyway. And he was cool – ran with a group of seniors (I was a junior) that smoked a lot of pot and had deep philosophical discussions that I could barely grab onto. There was Andy and his girlfriend Shelly, and Leslie, who had the longest hair I’d ever seen and was the daughter of the assistant headmaster (this was a New Jersey private school, after all), and a handful of other hippie intellectuals, mostly males. They were definitely the freaks and not the geeks (which the school had plenty of). Lots of talk about the band “Little Feat” and weird movies that I’d never watched. And after a month plus of absence, my boyfriend still hadn’t written to me. At all. I was pissed and horny. So, when this guy started to pursue me in earnest, I figured, why not? And he was cute, with his long hair that was cut to his shoulders with precision. 

We’d lie on the couch making out, and I remember him whispering in my ear, “We really should sleep together.” His words didn’t so much excite me as challenge me: could I? Should I? Would I? And I knew what he meant by “sleep”! At least that didn’t confuse me. 

He let this question worm its way through my head for a few weeks, repeating it maybe twice. Meanwhile, the idea was forming. Why not? Why the heck not? (I was and still am a pretty good Presbyterian.)

So, I thought about it. For a little while, though not too long. The opportunity soon presented itself. My seducer actually lived within walking distance to the school, and this was long before things like security guards and other forces that keep students within the walls of school if they don’t want to be there, so all I had to do was skip (!) over to his house during my study hall. How long would it take, for real? It was time! I was done with this virginity thing! LET’S DO THIS!

So we did. He knew I was a virgin, and he used a condom. He wasn’t unkind, but it was mostly underwhelming, as I believe it is for a lot of young women basically brought up on the idea that sex was going to be the most sky-rocketing, mind-blowing, transformative thing you could do in this lifetime. Meh. Of course, it was my first time, so I imagined I had a lot of road ahead, and who knows what I might learn along the way, right? So, bottom line: did it, done, and moving on! I now had my teenage “lover” and I was interested in where all this might lead. More sex? Better sex? Maybe even, love??

This was not a boy who “gave love to get sex,” but I was probably a girl who believed I could give sex to get love.” It just didn’t actually work out like that. 

After that fateful afternoon, we carried on, only we didn’t have any more sex. I didn’t know why, and I was too awkward to know how to ask. What happened? We still hung out together, mostly with his friends, but sometimes just the two of us (I think?). Nothing had really changed, but something was off, something was different. Did I do something? Did he not like me anymore? Maybe my greatest fear: Was I that bad “a lay”??

I remember his bedroom was in the basement, and one day about a month or so after my “deflowering,” I was down there looking around. I was alone for the moment, and I don’t remember where he was, but I had a moment when I looked over at this large wall calendar he had hung on the back of his door. I noticed he had made some notes on the calendar, some markers of specific dates, so I thought to check out the date we had “done it.” And there it was! Marked on his calendar with my initials. Ah, how sweet! And next to my initials was a symbol: it was a small circle with a perfect X/Y axis through the middle. Basically, the same thing you see when you look through a scope to set aim on your target. A crosshair. Well, I had a pretty good idea what THAT meant, didn’t I? 

Then I zoomed out of that particular date and swept my eyes over the days, weeks, and months both before and after that occasion. And I saw that symbol again, only this time there were different initials. I knew pretty quickly who they stood for: it was Shelly, and it was Leslie. And it was more than once, way more than once, for both of them. 

But wait a minute! Shelly had a boyfriend! Andrew! And Leslie was just a friend, not his girlfriend! What the fuck (now I’m getting upset) is going on? Did I really need it spelled out to me? Shelly was actually a friend of mine by now, or so I thought. So I called her (not him, of course) and asked if we could meet so we could talk. 

To her credit, she didn’t even try to lie. Yes, they were sleeping together. It was just for fun, it didn’t mean anything, and Andrew didn’t know or care, I can’t remember which. And Leslie was just a “free spirit” and they did it when they were bored. It was all very “The Group” or “Peyton Place” – all very enlightened and free and no hang-ups, ya know? No baggage, no expectations, just plain old fun between the sheets. I didn’t need to be upset about it, after all. 

But of course I was. I was devastated. But not just because he had been sleeping with other girls. The part that hurt me the most was that he’d slept with them multiple times, but only done it with me that one time. I took this as an obvious indicator of my bed-worthiness. Clearly, I was subpar, not only not as cool as the other cool girls, but also – clearly – not as sexy. It was a rejection that cut deep. 

It took me a while to finally confront him with what I knew. He wasn’t very apologetic. It was one of those “I’m sorry you are upset” kind of things. Like “it’s no big deal.” But I couldn’t get over it. What was I supposed to think? And what about the crosshairs? But we stopped seeing each other, pretty much by mutual agreement, I guess. 

Later that summer, we actually went on a school trip together, something we’d planned earlier in the spring, but by the time the trip actually happened, he wasn’t speaking to me anymore. In fact, he avoided me completely the entire time. It was the most miserable two weeks in Europe you could imagine. I remember I just ate bags of candy and stared out the window of the tour bus, wondering what in the world it all meant. I’m still not sure I know. 

But I think about those crosshairs. Maybe it was just a mark, not really significant beyond its use as a code for intercourse, but still – I did feel like I had been a target. That he had decided to bed me, and even though I thought I made that decision free and clear, did I really? And how did this experience inform me of what sex meant, or intimacy, or – even – love? Or was I just an idiot? 

I’m still trying to figure it all out.

The First Time: Is That All There Is…

Thank you and major snaps to my first respondent, who sent the following, anonymously re: The First Time: 

My first time having sexual intercourse was a letdown. I remember lying there, in my boyfriend’s dorm bed during freshman year of college, thinking what a bore it was, wondering what all the fuss was about and that I’d stick with the oral or manual variety any day of the week. I felt kinda sad and somewhat puzzled, especially when oral sex was just so divine.

I felt like I missed out on so much because I didn’t understand how orgasm happened during intercourse and until I was in my forties, guys didn’t either.  I thought there was something wrong with me since I didn’t get it right.

I had one or two almost moments with women but it never got beyond the attraction phase.

*This response reminded me of the Peggy Lee song, Is That All There Is. I suspect more women than not are underwhelmed initially by sex, but.