My girlfriend, Sienna, told me she was thinking about restoring her virginity. We’d just fucked, of course, unreasonably. Now we were in a glazed after-trance, laying in the half light and trying to figure where we were again, whose apartment and all.
“If we did decide to get serious,” she said softly. “I’d want to restore my virginity.”
“What?” I said. “What did you just say?”
Sienna went up on her elbow. One tit fell against the other and formed a channel where (it seemed reasonable to hope, given a half-hour) my cock might go.
“My virginity,” she said. “My natural state of innocence.”
“It’s a little late for that,” I said. “I mean, isn’t the horse sort out of the barn on that one?”
“It’s something I’m thinking about,” she said seriously.
“What are we taking about here, some kind of surgery?”
Sienna got up with a sweet little groan and staggered to the kitchen. Her ass was big and shapely. I could have lived between those cheeks, happily.
“Because I saw a show about that,” I yelled. “It’s fucking medieval. They sew these little gelcaps in there with fake blood — honey, are you listening?”
“No,” Sienna yelled back.
“They stitch these gelcaps inside. All so these psychotic Arab grooms don’t have to live with the horrible disgrace of marrying a woman with some actual joie de vulva.”
Sienna appeared with a little plastic thingy full of chicken korma from Kash & Kurry. She sat on the edge of the bed, speared a chunk of chicken and popped it into her little red mouth.
“It’s called hymenoplasty,” I said. “A nosejob for your cooch.”
“Don’t use that word, you pig. I’m talking about the purity given to me by God.”
“You don’t believe in God,” I said. “You told me you didn’t believe in God.”
Sienna handed me the korma and reached for her painted toes. It was one of these things she did now and then, to let me know who was in charge. “I don’t believe in God as defined as some old man in the sky who tells people what to do or not do. That doesn’t mean I don’t believe in a larger guiding force.”
“Who have you been talking to?” I said. “Having you been talking to Minky again?”
Minky was a friend of hers, one of these post Young Life morons who gets knocked up by the married youth minister and becomes a single mom and all of a sudden she’s Jesus Christ’s number one fag hag.
“This is something I’m deciding for me,” Sienna said. “For us.”
“Well, okay,” I said. “If I can speak for the me part of us, I’d just like to point out that spiritual purity isn’t about the body. It’s about how you move through your life.”
Sienna poked my thigh with her fork. “Listen to you,” she said. “You’re such a sad transparent little lech.”
“What’s transparent? That I desire you? That I find our sex life awesome? If I can be honest — ” I said. And here, I have to admit making several mistakes, the first being using that phrase at all (which implies that everything else one says is dishonest), the second being the tone of my voice (which Sienna would characterize in subsequent discussions, not necessarily inaccurately, as smug), the third being my decision to reach for her ass, and the fourth being the actual statement that followed (which was offered under the misguided assumption that an earnest declaration would work better than some calculated lie or, for instance, keeping my big fat piehole shut). “We were just starting to cook, baby.”
Sienna removed my hand from her ass. She had these hazel eyes that faded to yellow in the middle, and they went flat. “I just made up my mind,” she said. “Thanks for the help.”
But, see, we had just started to cook. We’d been together six months, seven if you count the month that Sienna had been “breaking things off” with Kyle, her super-needy Pilates trainer. We met at the office. She worked in the fifth-floor lab, pumping rats full of bad lipids. I was on the third floor, quietly torturing good old drosophila melanegaster. Your standard biotech coffee slaves.
Sienna was from Wyoming, a fact that made her seem exotic. I’d seen pictures of her at a junior rodeo, beaming with cowgirl know-how. She fancied herself the alpha slut of her high school. But she was still using material from back then, the smoldering glance, the bitten lower lip. The first time we did it, she threw her legs up in the air and grabbed her ankles, so as to reveal her downy loins. Her loins were downy. That was the problem. You want gushy in a loin, sopping, engorged. Even her whispers came straight out of the porn box.
As for me, I was my own museum of sexual horrors: slightly overweight, bumbling, prematurely ejaculatory, full of contempt for my own pleasure. I was stunned to have landed a dish like Sienna, slobbering, obsequious. Oh those first weeks of polite coitus! Mother, may I? It makes my dick noodly to think of it.
And then one night I was down south when Sienna let out a snort of impatience. I remembered thinking: So that’s the end of that. Sienna yanked me up by the hair and showed me with her fingers, a precise arpeggio across the intimates. Then she slammed my head back down. “No. Not like a fucking butterfly. Like a human being. Right. Now open the hood. Both hands.”
It wasn’t her style, but she’d apparently grown tired of the endless varieties of male sexual ineptitude. And what risk did I pose? She was about to dump me. So I gave it my best, the slow swirl, the full labial frenchkiss, the coiling, split-slick fingerkick, which led (eventually) to the warm seep, the happy internal clench, and Sienna going all yuh-yuh-yuh while her palm ground into the back of my head.
This was the end of our dumb silence, the sandpapery blowjobs and sad, nudging insertions. No, it was a matter of confessing what we wanted, and how to get there. We gave ourselves over to a dazzling candor. This, with some slow coaxing, is how my eager thumb found its way inside her delicious ass. A month later, gently employing a device called The Back Door Elf, Sienna caressed some magical gland inside me. The ensuing ejaculation sent my eyeballs skittering from their sockets.
In July, I went away for a week and came back to find her shaved down and loopy. I pinned her knees back and marveled at the unshadowed beauty. I wanted everything all at once and took a long, slow run with my tongue. Up and back and back and up, over the soft pebbled flesh and the soaped-over dirty parts, which were not dirty at all, but sweetly bacterial.
Later, she took hold of me and teased me for a long minute with her mouth, then slid me deeper than I’d gone before and got hold of my balls (I watched all this from above, teary with gratitude). She drew me out dripping and rasped, “Here, here!” and together we followed the ecstatic, ribboned path, across her brazen lips, her blazing cheeks. “Lick it off,” she said, and with her help I did.
Like I said, cooking.
So — how bad could this get? Penetration was ideal, but not necessary. There were other means at our disposal.
“I don’t think you get it,” Sienna said, the next time she came over. “No oral, no handjobs.”
“Be reasonable,” I said, reaching for her haunch. “Even virgins get to suck.”
“Not this one.” Sienna flung herself off my couch. “I’m serious, Dinkins.”
“Okay,” I said, “we’ll watch the movie. No problem.”
“I knew this was a bad idea.” Sienna was toying with the doorknob. “David told me to give it a week.”
“Who the hell is David?” I said.
“My spiritual advisor. Don’t fucking laugh, Dinkins. You laugh again, I’m out of here.”
Bramble laughed, too. “Oh man,” he said. “She’s got the Godhead up her ass. You are truly fucked, Dink. Unfucked, I guess.”
“You’re funny,” I said. “You should go to Vegas.”
Bramble killed another beer. “You know what this means,” he said. “You’re gonna have to break up with her.”
“That’s what she wants,” I said.
“Probably. Shit, she makes more money than you.”
“She’s better looking than me.”
“Way better looking.” Bramble belched.
“I don’t want to break up with her,” I said. “That’s bullshit. I just want her to be reasonable.”
Bramble puffed his cheeks, so as to suggest the cosmic futility of that wish. He’d been a lady’s man once, way back in grad school. Now he was a Rogaine refugee with a faintly blue scalp. “Your other choice is to propose to her.”
I broke up with her. I invited her over to my place and told her in a very solemn tone that she was disrespecting the thing we had built together and trying to turn something holy into something dirty and letting shame conquer pleasure and that I was sorry, but it felt like a giant manipulation to me, and I wasn’t going to take it.
Sienna started laughing. She was wearing these powder-blue velour sweatpants, real butt-huggers.
“I’m not kidding,” I said.
“Right,” she said.
“Because it’s really not that funny.”
“I know,” she said. “It’s just that David warned me this might happen.”
“Oh did he?” I said.
“He said you’d assume this was just some way of trying to control the relationship and you’d get all pissed and ‘break up’ because that’s the masculine way of dealing with your own angry dependence.”
“Very interesting,” I said, as calmly as I could. “What else did David Christ Superstar have to say?”
“He said if the breakup thing didn’t work, you’d propose to me.”
“That is so fucking lame,” I said. “Who is this guy? Does he charge a fee for his invaluable insight into the character of someone he doesn’t even fucking know? Does he ask you to pray with your shirt on or off? Or maybe he has you sit on his face to gauge your spiritual equilibrium?”
“You’re shouting,” Sienna pointed out. “There’s no need to shout.”
“I’m speaking emphatically,” I said quietly. She looked so hot I wanted to punch her in the tit.
“I didn’t come over to argue,” Sienna said. “I just want time to step away from the corporeal and re-establish who I am as something other than a body.” Sienna walked towards me and took one of my hands in hers. “Don’t get all bitchy, Dink.”
“I’m not,” I said.
“Good, then let’s go eat somewhere. Leaving the house helps. It eliminates unnecessary temptation.”
So this was our life for the next few weeks, all very sweet, very low-grade romantic comedy. We held hands and laughed together and ate nachos and got happily bothered at goodnight kiss time. I started whacking off again.
I’d never stopped, obviously. (We never stop, ladies). Only now, it was constant. I belonged in a Rocky montage, courageously spanking on a mountaintop, a deserted beach, the gym shower, my cubicle, the stoop outside Sienna’s apartment, while a cheese-rock anthem pounded in the background, emphasizing the heroism of my super-pumped forearm and cock veins. It was my way of trying to drain libidinal excess.
But it didn’t work. The more I spanked, the more I needed to spank. There were chafing issues, disposal issues, what-if-I-simply-run-out-of-juice-and-injure-my-vas-deferens issues. And yes, co-workers were starting to say things. Things such as “Stop milking the bull at work, Dinkins.”
And then Sienna herself, looking as she did, smelling as she did, and me knowing what was under her clothes and not being able to get at it. The sight of her bare armpit would send me scurrying for my junk.
“Disco bowling!” she’d say.
“Yeah,” I’d say, all cool and relaxed, having ejaculated two minutes before her arrival.
Then we’d get to the disco-bowling place and she’d be wearing these white corduroy pants and I’d lay eyes on der shelfbutt and she’d step forward through the strobe lights, displaying each soft, rippling curve, and I’d start to imagine that thing bare and hoisted high in the air, the symmetry, the crease, the sweet stink, and before I knew it I was on my feet screaming: Oh please, Si! Don’t put me through this! I want to lick that blessed asshole! Which, in a public setting, caused some embarrassment.
Sienna urged me to meet David. This was two months, three weeks, and four days into our lives as revirgins. The minimum period of purification was eight months, she’d just announced casually, over fancy pasta, in a restaurant setting.
I told her I didn’t want to meet David, he sounded like kind of an asshole, and not the kind I wanted to lick.
“Ha ha,” she said. “You’ll like him, Dinks. Don’t be a baby.”
“Let me see a tit.”
“You heard me.”
Sienna did this disappointed lip licking thing that she’d recently added to her repertoire of pain.
“Just a fucking peek,” I said. “I promise not to get you pregnant.”
Sienna leaned forward over the table and flicked her collar down. I’d forgotten how lovely they were, the pale swell of them, even just the tops were enough.
“Excuse me,” I said calmly.
“Where’re you going?”
I stood and grabbed the culprit. Sienna could see the dimensions of the situation. “I find myself in a state of yearning,” I said, ignoring the college-aged greeter and her horrified mouth. “Ergo, I’m going to softly chop at this here hardwood, using slow, rhythmic strokes, until the white sap releases. Then we can finish our yummies. Yes?”
Sienna wanted to be there when I met David, but I told her no way. If she wanted that sort of pleasure, she could end this absurd embargo.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll be very nice.”
“Good,” Sienna said. “Because he’s very sensitive.”
I took this to mean that he was gay.
But no, that was just me being an asshole again.
“So this is the famous Dinkins,” David said. “You’re a pretty big fucker, aren’t you? Yeah,
Sienna mentioned that. Good to meet you, man.”
I’m not that big, but David was little, almost freakishly so. He talked fast and loud, like he was from one of the outer boroughs and had cousins who could jack you up. We were meeting at a Starfucks near the drug clinic where he worked as a counselor.
“Right,” David said, “Just so you know, Dinkins, I don’t do white chicks. No offense, but they’re not my thing. So you can relax about that.”
“Okay,” I said.
“Hey,” he said. “Before we get all heavy, let’s do a bev. I hate this place, but their new raspberry mocha shit has me all torn up, you know?”
I said I did and David strutted over and bought us each a humongo size.
“You didn’t have to do that,” I said.
“No sweat, bro. So look, the main thing is that you’re probably confused by this revirginization shit. Am I right? It cuts against where we’re at right now as a culture, what with all the tits and asses and cocks exploding into your face at all hours. It’s subversive to turn away from the flesh these days. But people reach a place where that sort of discourse starts to feel empty. It’s like junk food. Feels good going down, but there’s no nourishment there. So along came this idea of voluntary abstinence, of trying to restore a posture of holiness toward the act, reverence. People fix on the word virgin – that’s the porn talking, again – but it’s a mind/body balance thing.” David paused to chug half his drink. “That’s where Sienna is, bro. She got herself out of whack. I’m sure it feels just the opposite to you, because you were getting into that freaky stuff. But that was her body. Her spirit was languishing. I know about this stuff. Back in my twenties I was getting so much pussy I needed a snorkel. I was putting women in wheelchairs. No lie, bro.”
I listened to the guy’s rap – he’d clearly delivered it a thousand times – and tried not to imagine him naked.
“Unless Sienna goes through this now, she’s never going to get any clarity. She’s not trying to break up. If she wanted to do that, you’d have been cold product months ago. It’s a pilgrimage for her…”
On and on he went, in his Christian hipster slang. The only other thing he said that didn’t make me want to retch lightly was that I’d reach the point where my sex drive shut down. “Just happens, bro. You wake up one day with the stone dick.”
He finished the rest of my drink and gave me a crushing handshake. “Stay strong,” he said. “Peace.”
Did I get the stone dick? No. I got a lot of exercise, though. It was one thing I could do, so as not to chafe my cock out of existence. I also cleaned up my apartment and got rid of my old clothes and bought some new used clothes, stuff without holes. I had all this time and energy and bitterness to work off. I’d been suckered into self-improvement, like some Oprah hubby. That wasn’t what I wanted, to worm my way back into her heart like that. I wanted her broken by her own lust.
Bramble counseled a despicable affair, with someone ugly, perhaps disfigured. “I’m talking a beast, a gruesome specimen. The upside is, you get laid. The other upside is you get to see Sienna freak.”
“You’re a pal,” I said.
“There’s a third upside,” Bramble said. “You probably feel enough shame to shut your fuck drive down for a while.”
But I could feel that diminishing on its own. Spring arrived and the women of our city unveiled themselves, calves and shoulders, the shy dimpled backs of knees. I should have felt a grateful surge of desire. But I looked at them only because I knew it was expected of me. When I closed my eyes at night, it was Sienna I saw: joyfully plunging giant hypodermics into her fat white captives. I waved goodbye to the morning chub — farewell my dear friend! — and took up spinning.
Sienna behaved more and more like a shy bride. She stared off into space and said dreamy things about the life she wanted. She kept a calendar over her desk, marking the time until what she called V-Day. She would grab me in an embrace and stage whisper how she couldn’t wait to give herself to me.
At night, I’d cruise the porn sites for old time’s sake (Dickslave, Booty Camp, Pussified) but the images seemed savage and pointless, all that colliding meat, a kind of frantic opera of depression. My mind wandered. My loyal staff lay atop its hairy sac, unmoved by the moaning.
I called David and demanded to know what was happening. “You know what I did this weekend? I read the fucking Bell Jar, and I thought about my soul.”
“This is your journey,” he said.
I could hear David take a slug of his coffee. “Listen,” he said. “I’ve got a group coming in like five minutes. Can we talk later?”
“No,” I screamed. “I haven’t had a hard-on for five weeks. She’s put a spell on me. That’s what she’s done. And you’re her fucking Svengali. So now I’m telling you, I want out.”
“Calm down,” he said. “This is all perfectly natural, man. Your spirit is in ascendance. Don’t fight it. Climb off the lust carousel. Look at the world around you, man. Expand.”
“I don’t want to expand,” I said.
David sighed. “How do you feel deep inside,” he said. “Just give me one word.”
I thought hard for a minute.
“Chaste,” I said finally, and hung up with a lump in my throat.
Sienna was not feeling chaste. The closer we got to V-Day, the more leering her manner grew. It was summer now and she barely wore any clothing. Her colleagues were talking. Every day, she dropped by my cubicle and told me about her kegel regimen and her health drinks and her vulgar needs, which I had so cherished once. She stroked my back and gave me big dewy looks. I felt besieged, but my ego kept me from turning her away.
Then the big day had arrived, August 19, a Sunday. Sienna had a ceremony with Minky and David and the rest of the revirgin crew. They gave testimonials. They talked about purity and renewal and drank large quantities of sangria. Then Sienna tore over to my place and told me the rest of the story. She’d gone into the bathroom at the tapas place and told this girl she had great hair and the girl had said she had a great ass and given her ass a little love slap and Sienna had mentioned that she was a virgin and the girl and went ooh and ahh and said, I’ve never fingered a virgin before! And Sienna said, There’s always a first time.
I couldn’t tell if she was bullshitting me or what. But I could see how hard she was trying. The sun was shining behind her, casting her body in a nimbus, and for a moment I felt that old flicker. Then a cloud passed over and her face looked too eager. I told her I admired what she’d done, even if I hadn’t always been supportive, and that I was sorry to have missed the ceremony and I was sorry, also, that I’d been out to lunch these past few months. I wasn’t sure if I believed she was really a virgin again, but it was her belief that mattered, and her happiness.
She said, “That’s all I’ve ever wanted to hear from you, Dink!” Then she began taking her clothes off.
I said, “Don’t do that. Seriously. All this hard work and sacrifice. You achieved something and now you’re going to throw it away?”
Sienna was naked to the waist and running her fingers over her breasts. She reached back and unzipped her skirt. “It’s my virginity,” she said. “Not yours. I can do with it what I like.”
“Nobody’s saying you can’t,” I said.
She wiggled out of her skirt and there was her glorious pubic sash. “You’ve been so good and patient, Dink,” she said. “You didn’t fuck some other slut, did you?”
I shook my head.
She smiled. “I would have known anyway.” She walked over and kneeled and slid my shorts down. I was back from an afternoon spin class, so I had sneakers on. There was no way to make the situation graceful, so she went for slapstick and pushed me onto the couch and flung my shoes and socks over her shoulder.
“I need to shower,” I said.
She shook her head. “Later. Now we get the reward. It’s going to be so tight, Dink. Have you been thinking about that? You have.”
I wanted to tell her I hadn’t really, but she was doing her best porno drool now, licking the salt from the ticklish skin of my groin and all like that. I could feel her becoming more insistent, her cheeks hollowed out, her nose huffing over my limpish little manhood.
I set my hand on her shoulder. “Please,” I said.
Sienna climbed my body and leaned back to show me just how crazy drippy she was. The more theatrical she got, the more pity I felt. Whatever magic force had joined us — maybe it was nothing more than hormonal yearning — was broken. The purity of the thought appealed to me.
But Sienna was absolutely furious, as if her dowry had been returned untouched. “What is this?” she said, slapping at my cock. “Have you gone faggot on us, Dink?”
I looked up at her boobs, hanging there. Nothing.
“I always figured you liked it up the ass too much.” She spit on her fingers. “Is this what you want?” She nudged back, so as to pin my legs.
“Relax,” I said.
“You relax.” Sienna burrowed between my legs and jabbed her fingers inside.
I let out a cry.
“I said relax.”
Every man has his limit. For me, it was a sudden finger raping by my psycho former fucktoy. I sat up and landed a soft shot on Sienna’s chin. She went down clean and I held her by the cheeks.
“Please don’t touch me without my permission,” I pleaded. “You asked for this. You were the one. Everything was going so well.”
Sienna laughed. She reached down and felt me stiffening. “You gonna choke me out, Dink? Is that what turns you on now? Or maybe you want a shot at my ass?”
“Stop,” I said. “Just stop.”
“Come on,” she said. “It’s happening.” She gave my balls a nostalgic little squeeze. I thought of the old times, what I’d felt for Sienna, that golden fever. That was what she wanted back. It was heartbreaking to look into her eyes.
My cock, though, had obeyed her wishes. It was snarling with blood. “You’re right,” I said. “Turn over. Get on your knees. Get that ass in the air. Higher. I want to be able to see everything.” And there was her pussy with its familiar shape and scent. I pressed myself against her and moved in slowly and I knew it was the last time we’d touch one another, that her warmth would envelope me, but I couldn’t feel the necessary regret. Sienna, belting out her fraudulent noises of lust, reached back and brought my hand to her clit. She was still pretending we could rescue each other.
And when at last I released a slow racking sob, Sienna turned and smiled in profile. “Don’t cry, baby,” she whispered. “The first time is always the hardest.”
Steve Almond‘s new essay collection is (Not that You Asked). It is, like much of his work, filthy.