I can still remember the day I discovered what sex was. I was sitting on my living room floor, cradling my new Cabbage Patch Kid (remember those?), when suddenly I looked up at my mother and asked, “Mommy, where do babies come from?”
My mother was obviously shell-shocked from the bomb I suddenly dropped in her lap, but she handled the moment with integrity and grace.
“Sweetheart … when a mommy and daddy love each other very much, the man puts his penis in the mommy’s vagina.”
She then ceremoniously patted me on the head and returned to Days of Our Lives.
The genius behind this explanation was that I was not yet familiar with the clinical terms for the male and female genitalia, being only 4 years old at the time. My mother had successfully perplexed me into submission with her fancy vocabulary footwork, and she knew further questions on the subject were not to be expected since I lost interest in subjects quite quickly once we rose above words like “cat.”
However, the one thing I did take away from this conversation was that a mommy and a daddy were in love. The actual act of sex I figured out for myself one day after school with the help of the Internet.
My first encounter with the “baby-making machine” (another one of my mother’s gems) was very soon after moving into college. I met this guy who I quickly developed a serious crush on. He was charming and very cute. We participated in some serious flirting that ensued for the next month, followed by some serious heavy petting — but no penetration … at the moment. At the time, I was a virgin.
I remember him telling me on multiple occasions that he wasn’t looking for a relationship. I told him I wasn’t either. It’s college, man. It’s casual.
Anyway, the moment of truth finally came. We were in his room on his bed, one by one my clothes came off until I was lying there, totally vulnerable to the elements and exposed. Suddenly I felt myself seize up. He didn’t know I was a virgin, and I made the executive decision right then and there not to let him know he’d be popping my cherry. Why? I felt that it would put too much pressure on the situation. And I was already naked. It’d be a waste if I dropped the V-Bomb now and freak him out.
He had no idea. At one point I thought the jig was up when he whispered in my ear, “God you’re so tight.”
“Uh … yeah,” I said. “Thanks?”
We’ve since gone our separate sexual paths, but I kept thinking, “Why did I feel the need to keep my virginity a secret?” It was because I didn’t want him feeling that I was going to get attached. And I didn’t. Not really.
But is this emphasis our generation has on emotional detachment regarding sex a good thing? Yes, it prevents things from getting ugly if something doesn’t work out, but it can also desensitize us to healthy sexual relationships. Casual flings can only satisfy up to a point. The human condition needs emotional connections to survive, and this ever-present “no strings attached” idea could be causing more damage than prevention. Maybe it’s those “strings” that keep us from emotionally free-falling.