I know what you’re thinking. What does a column-writing, grandma-sweater-wearing kid who looks like the offspring of Woody Allen in "Annie Hall" and a cold bowl of clam chowder know about sex?
Long answer: Not very much, but I have drive and charisma and maybe an OK personality so that should make up for something.
Short answer: jack shit.
But what I do know is the road to sexual discovery (as if I’ve reached it yet) is paved with the most awkward experiences known to humankind. If I had to guess, I’d say the neanderthals would have appreciated the condom-on-the-banana lesson as much as I did if it was offered to them.
Very few big-budget blockbusters paint sex as I experienced it the first go-arounds. In movies, sex is passionate. It’s intense. It’s got “Take my Breath Away” by Berlin in the background like in “Top Gun.” Sex never includes your inner monologue of “Should this be doing that? Why am I hungry all of a sudden? Did I leave the kitchen sink running after washing dishes today?” in movies.
But we’re here to explore that side of the beautiful and painstaking experience that is learning about and living through losing your virginity. If I have to recount every moment leading up to that climax (or lack thereof), so be it. That is a sacrifice I am willing to make. I did this for you. Please don’t make me regret this.
Just to be clear, I am not recommending you get down and dirty to the early-’90s drum beats of Salt-N-Pepa (unless that’s your thing — don’t knock it till you’ve tried it, I guess).
Where to start? In the very poignant and calculated words of Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music,” “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”
The year is 2010. I’m in seventh grade and I think I know more about thermonuclear dynamics than I do about sex. I had just started dating my middle school girlfriend, whom I had asked out by sending her a green carnation for St. Patrick’s Day through a school fundraiser. On the note attached to the carnation written in my second-grader-esque handwriting: “I’d be so LUCKY if you went out with me.”
Yeah, I was a hopeless romantic. How the hell did I not know what sex was? I should have been the Wilt Chamberlain of my school district.
Well, in the classiest fashion, I took my new girlfriend to a middle school dance called Teen Night. It was held the first Friday of every month in the auditorium of the local community education center. There was a DJ, disco balls and pizza. Our parents dropped us off separately and we met at the door. We walked into the dance floor and I heard a song. To this day, I still believe it is the most beautiful song I have ever heard. A ballad of passion and romance with the lyrics rivaling the greatest works of Walt Whitman and Shakespeare.
“My room is the G-spot, call me Mr. Flintstone, I can make your bed rock.”
But what does it mean? I get the Flintstone thing. I watched a lot of Boomerang as a kid. But what in the wide, wide world of sports is a G-spot and why is his bed rocking? Is he having a nightmare or something? Sorry you aren’t sleeping well!
That was my thought process.
Flash forward to junior year of high school. My previous seventh grade flame and I had since broken up. The end of an era, honestly. A power couple that rivals rivaled Kimye’s star status.
By junior year, I had stopped wearing two different plaid patterns at once, but I wasn’t (and still am not) a stunner by any means. You could tell by the way I walked that I hadn’t had sex yet. In high school, sex is like a participation trophy. No one ever says the title means anything or if you actually did anything well. We just assume it was amazing because you got a trophy. As messed up as it sounds, high school is full of the worst gremlins you can imagine.
“You haven’t had sex yet? You’ll get there someday.”
I looked and felt like a dweebier Ken doll. Nothing below the belt.
It was time to pull myself up by my bootstraps. I’ve always been an OK student. Whatever I need to learn, I study and study until my confidence rockets through the roof. Eventually, I come back down to reality once I realize how screwed I am when the exam comes but the confidence keeps me going. The same goes for learning about sex. Movies were no help. I only had one hope.
I’ll just say it.
There’s a Google search saved somewhere from my first time searching “porn” on my computer.
Porn was my Mr. Miyagi. Whacks on, whacks off. (No more, I swear.)
I’ll spare you the long and arduous details but after emerging from my studies, I was ready to take on the world. I knew everything. The secrets of the world were open to me. I looked like Rocky entering the ring, overconfident and jumping around like an idiot.
A few months later, I was driving around in my 2004 Chevy Malibu with a girl I had been talking to. She goes to a different school, you wouldn’t know her. I knew she didn’t want to date but she was still talking to me which was definitely new so I thought something might happen. We didn’t have a destination. I didn’t know what she wanted and wasn’t about to try and guess. I’d rather drive to Ohio and back than make a wrong move.
My hands were starting to get clammy. My foot was tapping incessantly. My months of training didn’t leave me with a very good amount of control over my hormones and I was wearing skinny jeans so I basically wanted to end my life at that exact moment.
I wasted about three-quarters of a tank of gas driving around until I worked up the nerves to find some abandoned parking lot to stop in. My phone was at 6 percent from shuffling through every playlist I had ever created. I turned down the music a little bit and looked over to her. Then she leaped forward, grabbed my face and kissed me.
My entire face turned red. What is going on? This is new. This isn’t like my first kiss at the roller rink with that aforementioned seventh-grade girlfriend. I was incredibly sweaty.
Not just because I had been waiting for this since I started my training regimen, but because the air conditioning in my car was busted and we turned the engine off so no one knew we were here. It was basically a sauna.
In movies, when characters are having sex in a steamy place like a car or shower or anything of that sorts and one character puts their hand against the glass, leaving a lustful handprint, you always assume it’s because the sex is so amazing, you need to hold on to something. You never assume it’s because it’s 120 DEGREES IN THIS HELLHOLE AND YOU’RE LIKE A DOG TRYING TO BREAK OUT OF THE BACKSEAT ON A SCORCHING SUMMER DAY.
I basically looked like I just got out of the pool in the least sexy way possible. But nonetheless, I was in no way complaining. She was leading every step of the way, which was kind of a dent to the large amounts of confidence I had built up over the course of my sexual awakening, but it would do.
I knew exactly what to do and how to sound and what noises to make from my dialogue studies. I had all the moves memorized. Nothing could go wrong.
Except everything. Everything can go wrong.
Avenue Q lied to me. When you’re almost touching your toes, cramped and uncomfortable in the backseat of a 2004 Chevy Malibu, you can most definitely cannot be as loud as the hell you want.
At the same time, nothing felt like I assumed it would from the hours (yeah I’m man enough to say hours) of porn I had watched in preparation. I kept thinking it should be different and eventually, my mind started to wander. I kept thinking about how we say the last word in some acronyms twice (like how we say PIN number when the N already stands for number) and how Jaden Smith in the Karate Kid remake wore a Detroit Lions shirt in China. This is not what everyone at school said sex was like. I was getting a participation trophy but batting .000 for the season.
It was much more like a thunderstorm than a hurricane: inconvenient for everyone involved if you had other plans but not a complete waste of time if you need something to do.
I dropped her off back home and eventually just didn’t talk anymore. It’s not like we had “The Notebook” level of sexual intimacy and I am 99 percent confident neither of us would be writing home about our time together (I know it’s an expression but please don’t write home about your sexual encounters; I know I’m kind of doing it here, but I am far from a role model).
Though I’m not a perfect example, I’d make a bet that everyone’s first time was not some magical explosion of hormones and rainbows. If it was, lucky you — but also, does it really matter? Everyone figures it out eventually. No pressure.