Driving out of town to buy condoms? Check. Getting mocked by the pharmacist? Check…
Fact: any nerd you meet spends his childhood being completely sex-obsessed. It doesn’t matter whether he’s a comic-book nerd or a Dungeons and Dragons nerd or a fantasy baseball nerd or some terribly pitiful combination of all the different kinds of nerd-dom. A nerd is a nerd and he will have thought about sex for hours each day starting at the age of thirteen. Why? Because there’s no visible light at the end of the tunnel assuring a nerd that one day he actually will have sex.
Like all humans, nerds want what they can’t have. And they are obsessive people by nature. So my recommendation to any ladies, if you wind up dating a nerd virgin as my high-school girlfriend Veronica once did, is to let the first time sweep over both of you spontaneously. Allow it to be of the moment, to be a surprise.
Certainly don’t pull your boyfriend aside and whisper “I’ve decided I want to lose my virginity to you. Let’s do it in a week.”
Because then you will have just made sure that nerd is going to have the worst week of his life.
You will have sentenced him to spend the next seven days — the next 168 hours — obsessing over the idea that it’s finally going to happen.
As a result, he is also going to spend those seven days reading up on cunnilingus and sex positions and ejaculation etiquette. About how he’s going to… maybe get a girl pregnant. He is going to research every STD over and over again, because he’s a nerd, and that means he loves gathering information and minutia, even if it’s about the many different types of warts that can grow on the underside of a penis head.
That is how I spent my last week as a virgin. Nervous, skittish, obsessed. Wondering and worrying about how it was going to go.
In the middle of that week, I decided it was time to face the reality of the situation and that I needed to get prepared.
I need to buy condoms.
I borrowed my mom’s car and drove around town. Every time I got to a pharmacy, I pulled into the parking lot and convinced myself that I absolutely could not buy condoms there. Some of my justifications were very rational.
“This is Veronica’s neighborhood,” I thought to myself. “What if her dad sees me buying condoms?”
The first time I met Veronica’s father, he explained to me that he had served in World War II. He then went on to tell me he worked at a VCR company.
“I find it funny,” he said, combining the two thoughts. “I used to kill those people. Now I work for them.”
When your girlfriend’s father has taken human life, I contend it’s okay to avoid purchasing condoms in his neighborhood. Unfortunately, some of my other reasons for dodging the transaction weren’t so logical.
“Mom went to high school with the ex-husband of a lady who lives on the other side of that mountain there,” I remember thinking while sitting in my car behind the CVS drugstore on Eagle Rock Avenue. “If she sees me, reunites with her ex-husband after seven years of divorce, and he randomly contacts my mother for the first time in twenty-eight years, I’m so dead!”
My only option, as I saw it, was to buy my condoms far from where any family, friends, or associates could find me. I knew of a Pathmark located in the basement of an old converted train station in a nearby town. I figured that Pathmark would have a pharmacy and that the odds were good no one I had ever met in my entire life would have a reason to be hanging out inside a faraway subterranean Pathmark.
I got out of my car and headed to the entrance, only to turn around and walk right back to my car. I sat down in the driver’s seat.
“No,” I said to myself, out loud. “You have got to do this.”
Despite my best efforts to mentally overcome my embarrassment, my body did not respond to my words. I remained sitting.
“If you can’t do this,” I said, “then you can’t do it.”
Begrudgingly, my body finally cooperated and I walked back toward the front entrance. This time I made it inside, and headed straight to the pharmacy.
Then, I panicked. I walked around the border of the pharmacy, orbiting the condoms, for ten full minutes. I didn’t look at any other items, and only managed to examine the condoms by turning my head and reading the packages as I speed-walked past them. Otherwise, I kept my head down and continued my loop around the edge of the pharmacy.
The workers behind the counter, two heavyset black women, were eyeing me, confused. They must have thought that I was out of my mind, or that I found supermarket pharmacies a great place to run laps.
After I tired out, and not coincidentally after every other customer had left the pharmacy, I buckled down and made my way back toward the condoms. The choice was overwhelming, but I’d done my research and came knowing what I wanted: regular condoms with one simple frill, spermicidal lubricant. Without thinking about what I was doing, I saw my hand reach for them. I picked them up, nervously walked to the checkout, and looked at the ground as the woman behind the counter rang up my purchase.
She continued making small talk with her co-worker. Neither seemed to even notice me, and I liked that. I was doing my best to avoid eye contact and remain as nondescript as possible. I just wanted to get done with my purchase and be on my way. Remarkably, at first it seemed as simple as any other transaction I’d partaken in before that extremely terrifying one. I pushed my money across the counter, and she pushed back my change, along with a crinkly white paper bag that held a box containing my first three prophylactics. Simple as that. In and out.
Burt I was wrong. The woman behind the counter did in fact take notice of me.
As I walked out of the pharmacy, when she assumed I was out of earshot (she clearly hadn’t taken into account my adrenaline-fueled hyper-senses), she made a simple statement that tore me to pieces.
“He ain’t ready.”
She declared it to her friend, off-handedly. “He ain’t ready.”
I heard it, and I bolted.
Outside, I sat in my car and cried because I knew she was right.
In the remaining days before the big night, I did my best to get damn well get ready. In my little blue box, I had three condoms. I would need one for the act. I’d need a second one in case the first one broke.
This left me with one condom to practice with.
Late that night, when my parents had gone to sleep, I sat on the couch in our basement trembling with fear. I removed one of the condoms from the box. I opened it, looked at it, and unrolled it. It wasn’t as difficult to put on as I thought it would be.
Now, to practice something like this isn’t what weird. In fact, it’s sort of responsible. But it’s hard to decided if what I did next was more gross or bizarre.
I took the condom off and held it in my palm. In my panic-fueled obsession, I’d decided that I needed to practice putting it on as many times as possible. So instead of tossing it I rolled it back onto my dick and pulled it back off three or four times.
Then I decided I should practice more tomorrow.
I went into our basement bathroom, which no one really used, and wrapped it in toilet paper. I opened the cabinet under the sink and placed it in the far back corner.
For the next three nights, I retrieved the that condom and placed it back on my dick close to three dozen times.
I have since realized how bizarre these practice runs were, but when you’re as stressed as I was, you’ll do funny things. Or unsanitary, gross things, as was the case with that rehearsal rubber. Gross or not, though, it did the trick. By the time Saturday night came, I was mentally prepared to get a condom on when it counted.
Veronica came over to my house late that night. She looked beautiful. We went swimming in the above-ground pool next to the garage in my backyard.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I asked her as we floated quietly on the surface of the water.
“Of course I do,” she answered. She took my hand in hers. “It’s you.”
When she said that, for the first time in a week I stopped feeling nervous. She was right. I pulled her toward me and we made out.
There, in what was basically a big backyard bucket, where any of my neighbors could have looked out of their windows and seen, I received a delicate half of a handjob and I dispensed my very fumbly, awkward fingers to her genital regions as well. Veronica was aggressive, and I was going with it. I could tell that she’d spent the week mulling over this decision as well. And we’d both come to the same conclusion: tonight was the night our mutual virginity would be lost. We were nervous, we were turned on, and we were going for it.
We got out of the pool. I dried her off and then toweled myself down. We climbed up the wooden steps of my back porch, and I held open the aluminum door for her. Inside, we quickly went downstairs to the basement.
There, on a grey checker-patterned couch, set against the fake-pine paneling of the wall and enveloped in the glow of my basement’s aquarium, we lost our virginity to each other in perhaps the most suburban way possible.
Practice paid off. The condom went on without incident.
When we were done, we lay next to one another for a while. I thought about speaking, but there was nothing to say. We remained still, our two naked bodies crammed awkwardly next to each other on the thin couch. I listened to Veronica breathing. I tried to take a moment to think about what had just happened, but I couldn’t. In a good way. For possibly the first time in my life, my mind was totally clear.
Eventually, I got up and went to bathroom in the corner of the basement. When I headed back to the couch I knelt down next to Veronica.
“Are you okay?” she asked me.
“Yeah,” I said. “Are you?”
She nodded at me and smiled. Then, with my trademark wisdom and great timing, I blurted out, “You’re bleeding.”
“Oh,” she said, her smile fading.
“Did you know that?” I asked. “You’re bleeding. I can tell, because when I took off the condom, there was blood, and — ”
“Chris,” she interrupted me, sternly. “Stop talking. I’ll take care of it.” She shook her head and then laughed. It was the first time I realized that in order to date me, you have to find social awkwardness funny. To this day, I have never had a relationship work if that rule wasn’t quickly realized and understood.
When she got up and went to the bathroom to check on herself, I sat down on the couch. I was still holding the used condom in my hand. I picked up the wrapper it came in. I balled up the condom and its foil sheath, and walked over the garbage can. I shoved all of the evidence of my entrance into manhood into the hole of a discarded can of Diet Dr. Pepper.
There, I knew, my mother would never find it.
From the book A BAD IDEA I’M ABOUT TO DO: True Tales of Seriously Poor Judgment and Stunningly Awkward Adventures by Chris Gethard. Excerpted by arrangement with Da Capo Press, a member of the Perseus Books Group. Copyright © 2012.
Looking for someone to have bad ideas of your own with? Try Nerve Dating.