Life is full of first times: the first time you rode a bike; the first time you decided you wanted to be a caterpillar when you grew up; the first time you constructed an elaborate domicile for ants (a home away from home you called it), waited for them to explore its deathly avenues and cul-de-sac, and then washed them all away with a maniacal laugh. We remember these moments with satisfaction, like each one is a little chapter in the complex unknown of life.
This is a story about the first time I had sex. It involves tears, music and a few embellishments (or what some might call ‘factual inaccuracies’). This is used to be an important chapter, but these days it could sit comfortably alongside the caterpillar section of my life.
It’s filed under: where things get a little racy.
My dad didn’t really talk to me much about sex. We never had ‘The Talk’. The Talk’ as I define it here, is that awkward, muffled breath and fists clenched sort of chat, where your dad knocks quietly on your door, clears his throat with a cough and then asks if he can come in. You tense up. Shit. This is it, isn’t it?
A series of mumbled half exchanges; stops and starts. Who the hell teaches anyone how to even approach a situation like this? Where are the books? The instructional 80s styled videos with a sax solo and a man with a mullet? What self-respecting dad is going to casually pop into his son’s room with a banana, a condom, and a rockmelon to demonstrate the complexities of the male and female anatomies? Thankfully, not my dad. But the thing is we didn’t have any sort of chat. That whole embarrassing moment never happened. Did my dad not think I could attract a woman? Did he instead think of me as some sort of effeminate, hairless eunuch? Is that a thing I should even be worrying about?
I had sex for the first time when I was sixteen. Big whoop. Actually, I beat both my brothers to it (the age of losing my virginity that is). It’s the little victories that count. I skipped school for the occasion. It was like some perverted porn: me in my shirt and tie knocking gingerly on the door of my maker, about to be deflowered. Don’t get me wrong, it was her first time as well. My girlfriend of six months.
I remember a lot about that day. Mostly, I remember being mortally afraid that her father would come home at any second, burst through the door, spit flying from his face, contorted in rage, brandishing a cricket bat in one hand, and a Bible in the other to beat the living sin out of my hapless body. Her family were practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses. I celebrated Christmas with them, and my girlfriend got birthday presents, but I didn’t want to test them on their more fundamental spiritual beliefs and practices.
Her father didn’t interrupt. We survived with everything but our virginity intact, and even that was up for debate. We did it; I just didn’t know much about the qualifying rules back then. ‘I Can’t Get Enough of Your Love Baby’ by Barry White was the soundtrack to our first time. I think everyone has a first time sex song of choice. We often live moments by their sound; little melodies and lyrics that come to express how we felt and lived in those particular situations. Ours was the smooth sultry sounds of Barry White. The subtext in that song was clear enough, but our song choice could have gone in a few different directions:
1. Britney Spears, ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time’: Really depends on who insists on this track. Has interesting implications either way, none of them particularly healthy. A vapid, vacuous relationship glossed over with airbrushed exactness.
2. Elton John, ‘Can You Feel the Love Tonight’: A little bit mushy; suitable for star crossed lovers finally succumbing to deeper fancies. Can be fans of both Elton John and The Lion King. Probably sing show tunes to each other in the bathroom, complete with harmonies.
3. Aerosmith, ‘I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing’: For the more melodramatic pairings, the consummation could very well be taking place in a road house bathroom stall, or in the backseat of a 1980’s vintage Corolla.
4. Rammstein, ‘Du Hast’: For the more tempestuous and tortured lovers, those that get a kick out of getting kicked in the head at a heavy metal concert. For couples that enjoy a bit of danger in their love making.
Afterwards, my girlfriend told me she loved me. I think I sweated more in that brief ten-second window than I had during the previous minutes (I forget how long it went for). Love? What was this foreign emotion she was speaking of? To my sixteen-year-old self, love was a heady concept that only existed in the movies and pop songs that you made fun of.
‘Uh. Love is a pretty strong word you know. It’s a—uh— complex word. ’
I actually said something pretty close to that. That was my response, after my girlfriend had kindly partaken in consensual sex with me, something that was a pretty big deal for us both. So after she expresses a real and healthy human emotion, my response pretty much equated to, ‘that’s great. Thanks for opening your soul to me, but I don’t really want to say that back right now. But seriously, thanks.’
I was a bastard. Where was the instructional video for this? I would have given anything for that sax solo and an ocean pan with a slow fade to black. Cue credits.
But I had to say something. Anything.
I burnt red in the face, swallowed a couple of times for good effect, and then managed to squeak back feebly, ‘I love you too.’ She could have chewed it around a little, spat it back up, but she graciously accepted, and our relationship was sealed by something more than just bodily fluids. The value of hindsight doesn’t make me feel better about the situation. Rather, now that I’ve matured slightly (and I leave that as an ambiguous parameter) I know it was the wrong thing to do. She had done something that was brave and courageous, and I hadn’t wanted to ruin that. Confrontation has never been my forte. It makes me feel uncomfortable to say the least. Better to just hope your face doesn’t prickle crimson, and the sweat doesn’t show in the lowlight of the bedside lamp. Better just to lie. What a bastard. What a lying bastard. When we broke up three years later I cried, and I told her that I still loved her. She chewed it round for a little bit, like she was tasting a bit of cheese that might have gone bad. Then she gave me the ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ And that was it.
This time, she got her revenge, and I got what I deserved. Bloody slow-acting Karma, huh?
Words by Piri R. Eddy
Artwork by Hannah Everett