“You still virgin, right, Maggie?” Alisa asked. Her broken English coupled with her Korean accent somehow made it sound like she was really saying: “Jesus Christ, Maggie. People in fucking Korea are having sex. Why aren’t you?” My friends looked at me as they sipped on their buckets of rainbow colored alcohol, each one knowing the answer to Alisa’s question, I think secretly hoping that I got boinked somewhere between me going to the bathroom and coming back to the table. “Why yes, closest friends in the world, while you all were ordering another round of Bacardi Buckets I somehow managed to get deflowered by a relatively normal guy who was taller than me and enjoys watching Cheers as much as I do.” For a split second, I hoped one of them messed up their birth control and was pregnant, or that one of their idiot boyfriends gave them HPV or something.
Alisa, with her Asian blush in full force, scratched her upper lip, and I saw a bit of her dry skin flake into her Bay Breeze waiting for an answer she probably already knew. Rachel had just told us that she had sex with someone for the first time that summer. Rachel, my weird, artistic Rachel, who preferred being called Ratch and suffered from the same high expectations I did when it came to choosing sexual partners, finally did the deed, leaving me behind in a world of unsatisfactory heavy petty, while all of my friends cavorted around in sexual Narnia.
It wasn’t that I felt embarrassed or ashamed from not having the wonderful experience of having a barely post-pubescent guy drunkenly stick his dick inside of me. Instead, I felt left out of a conversation that I thought I would be part of by then. When my friends, who were aware of my sexual status, talked about their love and sex lives, I felt comfortable enough to nod my head in casual agreement while inserting feminist catchphrases at the appropriate times. Phrases like: “You go, girl,” “Fuck him for not wanting to eat you out,” or “You’re too good for him,” each one the perfect amount of involved and informed, but nothing too specific.
I could handle my friends, but with groups of people who weren’t aware of my sexual non-practice began talking about sex and their countless collegiate hookups, I would sit there and meticulously peel the label off my beer, praying that no one would ask me about anything at all, feeling like I did when I got my period in ballet class back in the 7th grade – aware of the embarrassment, but too proud to break in front of everyone. I loved my friends, but I hated them for making me the last of the virginal Mohicans. But how dare they leave me behind with the Jesus freaks and uggos? It should have been my turn.
I used to think that virgins in college weren’t as much as an anomaly as popular culture tried to have me believe. I knew multiple people who hadn’t hit a homerun yet. And if multiple people were stuck between third base and home plate, then they’re not weird, right? We unknowingly banded together and silently judged the sexual deviants who had sex with anything that had a set of genitals and a crusty bottle of lube. We were smug assholes, but there was strength in our innocent numbers that comforted us when we saw fuck boys taking fuck girls home. But then, all of my friends started pairing up like if Noah’s Ark was designed for casual, yet committal sexual relationships that are the foundation for collegiate relationships.
My best friend was one of these ark animals. My best friend, who I thought would be the last one to swipe her V-Card, met a guy on Tinder on a Friday and met and bedded him that Sunday. Netflix and chill he said. Classic. She said she was just going to watch Parks and Recreation with her new friend. I knew that Leslie Knope’s overeager personality would be discarded before her bedroom door closed. I was writing a paper about sexual deviances in Elizabethan England (ironic right) when I heard her ‘friend’ scurry out of our apartment. She knocked on my door, and I turned up the Celine Dion in my headphones to quiet her Sheldon like knocks. But like always, she opened my door and sat down on my bed uninvited and told me that ‘it’ happened. I think I felt more changed than she did. I sat there with a supportive smile, asked her the necessary questions, and pretended like I was happy for her. I wasn’t.
She didn’t act different at first, but several weeks later, after sleeping with two more randos, she began to make remarks about her sex life that belittled my nonexistent one. At first she would jokingly say that sex was better than food as we stuffed our faces with Marathon Deli gyros, but saying it almost every time we ate the leftover brownie batter out of the bowl made me feel guilty in some screwed up way, like I should have spent less time licking brownie batter and more time eating a dick-sicle. And sometimes, probably more often then she should, she would say something about her vagina being fucked up (literally) from sex, and look at me as we stood in the feminine health aisle of CVS and say, “You’ll understand one day.” What did she expect me to say? “Oh yeah, that guy’s pre-cum must have been filled with some magical shit because you know everything now. Thank God you had sex with him. Namaste mother-fucker.”
The only way I could cope was to be extra loud in the kitchen when I knew her boy was over, banging pots and pans, running the vacuum, and inviting friends over to disrupt the mood. I could handle her comments passive aggressively because at the heart of my annoyance was envy. I was jealous that she had sex before me. Why? I don’t know, but I was and I think deep down I always will be.
I was the responsible friend, the one who made sure the freezer in our apartment was properly defrosted. The one that made sure she ate more than just a peanut butter sandwich. My screwed up rationale made me believe that I should have been the one to act all high and mighty over her, not the other way around. One day, she came into my room uninvited and began talking about her boy and I just sat there with my typical nods and feminist endearments, when she turned to me and said: “I can’t wait ‘til you become a woman, Maggie.” My thighs got all hot and tingly like they always do when I get nervous and upset. It was like when I found out Sam and Diane don’t end up together. When she finally left my room, I locked my door and watched Taylor Swift music videos as I silently cried hot, fat tears.
Jealousy and gloating I could handle, but unnecessarily belittling me completely undid my beliefs. My Internet search history became filled with questions like: “what do guys think about virgins?” and “which celebrities are still virgins?” I hated how I relied on Google to reassure myself that my ‘innocence’ wouldn’t be interpreted as a new age form of leprosy. I was the one who was supposed to have a boyfriend or a torrid love affair. I was the one who listened to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald and Van Morrison. I was the one who loved beer and football and farting, while also loving theater and a glass of wine that wasn’t Barefoot or Flip-Flop. I was the quiet girl with an effortlessly chic style who could get loud and opinionated in a second. I was the girl with original and thoughtful, yet not too thoughtful, Facebook profile pictures. I was supposed to be the special one. It was supposed to be my turn.
Was she right? Was I not a woman? Did my 75% sexual tryst with a guy I worked with at the newspaper not count for anything? How could my best friend who had already taken several pregnancy tests after only a short time of being sexually active make me feel like I didn’t belong to something that no one really understands? I hated her for saying that. And I still do.
I was more afraid of being normal, average, basic then I was of the actual act of sex itself. The thought of allowing this one guy in my building, who owned a monocle and top hat not ironically, to paw at my naked body made me sneer like I stepped in dog crap. Maybe I was plagued by the scene in Gossip Girl when Blair lost her virginity to Chuck in the backseat of a limo, or when Will and Elizabeth from Pirates of the Caribbean finally got it on at that romantic beach? I had no expectations of a star-crossed moment, but I thought that I if I held out for someone above average then I would win. But what would I have won? The ability to gloat over my best friend and Ratch? I thought I was a better person than that. I mean, I could have easily done it with that newspaper photographer, but I felt it would be a cop out for someone of my caliber to have drunken sex in a bed that wasn’t either of ours, in a room with a bubbling aquarium that didn’t even have any fish in it. I was my own saboteur. I’m the one who idealized sex, but still wanted to beat people to a finish line that I kept moving further and further away.
My friends began to shamelessly throw me at just about every single guy that came across our paths. And I’m not sure if it was out of pity or a sincere desire to help me get initiated in their club. I would just sit there at the bar with them, wondering if anyone could tell that I wasn’t part of the club. It’s not that they didn’t deserve their sexual medals. I just wanted mine first. The Blue Moon in front of me suddenly tasted flat bringing me back to Ratch’s big reveal. My whole body vibrated with anxiety; I knew my face was just as red as Alisa’s Asian blush, but no one seemed to notice. There it was: I was the last virgin out of my friends. The last one to join the club. At least I wouldn’t die first in a horror movie. All of those sluts would get killed off first.
“You guys,” I said in mock nonchalance, “You know that that’s the last thing on my mind.” Another round of drinks came, and I excused myself claiming that I broke the seal or some other excuse; I went and called the photographer.