I have a lot of “rules” that I follow, not because I have to or because they improve my quality of life, but simply because I’m stubborn. Senior year of high school, a couple friends got so frustrated by the things I did or wouldn’t do, they made a list. It started as a half page of things I needed to accomplish by graduation: eat fish, use a tampon, first kiss, lose my virginity, swallow pills. There was a nice range. If all tasks were completed on time, I would be rewarded with an expensive gift from each list-maker. Challenge: Accepted.
I went to class that afternoon and when I got back, the list was being passed around our senior living room, people adding things to where it now filled up the entire front page and was leaking onto the back. Things like “eating pizza without feeling fat” were now scribbled in the margins. I went with it, never before realizing quite how many things I did were worthy of making The List.
Growing concerned with how specific (and ridiculous) the list was becoming, I put it into the front of a binder and began working my way through. Obviously, I did not finish in time to receive my gifts, but by graduation the main things that remained were using a tampon, swallowing pills, and losing the V-Card.
Most people's "firsts" were not incited by a To-Do list, a dare of sorts. Most people can, however, describe their first kiss in such detail as though it were happening at that very moment. Usually in elementary school, maybe a game of spin the bottle, definitely some kind of orthodontia. Being the late bloomer that I am, I never even managed a peck, even during games of Spin the Bottle. As if the bottle knew nobody wanted to be anywhere near my metal-mouth, it never landed on me. The one game of Spin the Bottle I can remember, two boys felt so sorry for me that I never got a turn, they kissed me on the cheek at the end of the game. Because that didn’t make me feel more pathetic than I already did.
Spring break, senior year in high school, my parents had a lapse in judgment when they brought two of my girlfriends and me to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. To this day, my mother has trouble believing she brought three teenaged girls to Mexico for Spring Break. At the time, much to the successful sheltering my parents did, I never even made the connection. We were allowed out but had a curfew and were not allowed to leave each other for one second. In fact, the one night we broke curfew, even though we were at the hotel, we received a stern lecture in the morning; it was somewhere along the lines of being in a foreign country and my mother not wanting us to end up on the news as missing persons in a murder case. Jewish mothers have that whole guilt-tripping, scaring-the-shit-out-of-you-by-concluding-every-situation-with-rape-and-murder thing down. (What's even scarier is that now I assume if someone doesn't call when they're supposed to, it's because they're lying in a ditch somewhere dying. I apologize to my kids in advance.)
I was anti-alcohol, so while my friends ordered drink after drink, celebrating the legality of it all, I ordered bottled water after bottled water. Raging. Our bartender the first night was a Costa-Rican slice, living the life in Mexico. I drank water that night as if I had just finished the Saltine Challenge and I'd never quench my thirst again. He and I flirted all night, though if I could see video footage now, I'm not sure what I was doing would qualify as flirting. He hung out with us every day and we went to see him every night. My own ten-day Dirty Dancing Havana Nights fantasy. I don't remember exactly when it happened or exactly where it happened, all I know is that this 25-year old man was my very first kiss. Sparks flew and birds sang.
Tico, as he was nicknamed by his peers, spent the last two days of our time together getting wasted and whining to my friends that he "luhbed me." It got so uncomfortable the last night, my friends had to take him home in a cab and physically tuck him into bed while I waited at the bar with a group of Chicago-born boys who were on an early spring break. My parents would have loved this part.
Sophomore year in college, I lived in a quad in my sorority with three other girls all at different sexual stages. One was a make out slut freshman year who was settling into a relationship, one was in the process of coming out (though I'd known for ages), and one once said to me, "If I had a choice between giving head and a plate of cheese fries, I'd choose giving head." And then there was me.
Of all the things I hadn't done that they had, I was strangely jealous that I'd never had a hickey. I know it comes with embarrassment and judgment but it's a right of passage. Plus, if we can turn "walk of shame" into "stride of pride" then a hickey shouldn't be the mark of a slut, it should be the regal symbol of a conqueror. My roommate (the reformed make out slut) offered to give me my first hickey so I would stop complaining. I accepted and in front of my roommates and a friend who was visiting, she joined me on Ruton, our futon, and made it happen. Thankfully, the hickey’s appearance was brief so I wouldn't have to explain its origins. As if the hickey passed on her powers, I became a make out slut. I would seek out to conquer those that caught my eye, make out, then lose interest. A solid make out session was followed by leaving the bar or spooning. Never anything more.
October of junior year of college, I turned 21. An oh-so glorious milestone every child dreams of once they realize frat parties are overrated and fake IDs are less than reliable. I was the first of my friends to turn 21 so they threw me a surprise party. I had never had a surprise party before, and always wanted one, which made my legal alcohol intake that much sweeter. An extremely attractive man greeted me at the door, shot in hand, and I was told he would be my personal bartender for the evening. He had been informed that I couldn't (and still can't) take full shots so he vowed to refill my shot glass after every sip until I took one full shot. I never did.
The result was complete intoxication with no way of keeping track just how much I had to drink. Somewhere between a picture with my new bartender boyfriend and switching from shots of SoCo to Jungle Juice, a chair was placed in the center of our living room. As soon as I sat down, my bartender appeared, dancing and removing his clothes. A clever rouse. There was spanking and screaming and male thongs. There was a moment he disappeared into a bedroom where I discovered a friend with her arms around him to which I shouted, "Let go! He's my stripper!"
He laid me down on the floor and ate dollar bills out of my clothes with his teeth. He stood up and flipped me onto his face, holding me up by my ass cheeks. Did I mention I was wearing a dress and a thong? Oh, and that I had my period? All I could think about was the string of the tampon I finally learned to use poking him in the eye.
And then, the real surprise. He pulled me into a bedroom, pushed me into a desk chair, and locked the door. Apparently, my friends had paid extra for a private show so I could finally see my first penis. He stripped down to his birthday suit in honor of my birthday. I sat in my chair, giggling, staring up at his face and the wall, refusing to look at what he was paid to show me. It started to get weird. He continued dancing and shaking on my lap and I continued to avoid looking down.
"I'm sorry. I just don't want you to be uncomfortable.”
"This is my job. It's ok.”
"I can't. What am I supposed to do? Just stare at it?”
"If this is making you uncomfortable, we can stop. I don't want you to be upset."
We walked out of the room to screams and laughter.
"I hurt the stripper’s feelings. I wouldn't look at it."
At least all of my firsts have one thing in common: class.