Losing Your Virginity: A Step-by-Step Guide

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"Everything up to the part where you're on
opposite sides of the bed, sobbing."

Our Bodies Our Junk

The memories that last, the ones that stay with us even when we’re elderly and not sure if the fork we’re holding is real or something in our dead cat’s dream, often involve significant firsts. A lot becomes fuzzy over the years, but nobody who’s old enough will ever forget where they were when they saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moonor what exactly they were doing when President George W. Bush wasn’t shot. Why? Because that first time changes you.

Even if your first time was not among the tens of thousands recorded each year by ABS drone planes, it’s safe to say that if you’re reading this you’re probably no longer a virgin. However, a few of you are holding out for that perfect soul mate or just someone who’s able to endure three or four thrusts’ worth of whatever it is you secrete from your pores when nervous. Or maybe you’re just a bit confused, and, as we’ve all learned, it can be frustrating receiving five different answers to your highly personal virginity questions at five different post-office windows. So let’s start at the beginning.

What is virginity, and what does it mean to lose it? The answer might seem obvious, yet 3 percent of people who think they’re losing their virginity are actually knitting or getting a haircut. So, for the record: Conventionally speaking, to lose one’s virginity is to engage in sexual intercourse for the first time. In cultures where a woman’s virginity is considered a prize, the presence or absence of a membrane over the opening of the vagina is often used as an indicator. It can be misleading, as this thin lining (the hymen) can be perforated by such everyday activities as riding a bicycle or masturbating with a decorative candlestick. The virgin penis, of course, is easy to identify by the hard outer casing that encloses it like an oyster shell and that eventually dissolves. (To see this process up close, please buy or rent the 1964 nudist film But Charlie, I Don’t Play Volleyball.)

Now that you understand the mechanics, let’s talk about getting that initial sex act right. To begin with, please realize that your first partner probably won’t be the person you’ll eventually marry. Rather, he or she might “attend” college in a faraway state or only sleep with you as a test of willpower akin to not pulling one’s hand away from an open fl ame. Also, be sure that the setting is conducive to lovemaking. No matter whom you’re with, you’ll never have fond memories of the event if you’re getting frisky somewhere PETA was gathering clandestine video footage just two hours earlier.

Something to consider: You won’t always know when the magical moment is upon you, so it’s a good idea to carry a blanket, a pillow, sheets, and a box of smelling salts (optional). These items can turn any ten- meter diving platform into an on- the- go honeymoon suite. And be sure the location is at least reasonably private. Look around before you begin. Is there a good chance you’ll be interrupted by passers-by on the beach or by the other Stonehenge tourists? Are there any stowaways on the catamaran you just made off with? There’s more to the first experience, of course. Have you thought about the musical choices? Mood music is extremely important and can be very, very helpful, especially when the music is coming from the stereo and not from blowing trumpet noises into your tightly clenched fist.

Consider the following listening selections above all others:

Songs to pop your cherry to

“This Jesus Must Die,” Jesus Christ Superstar Soundtrack

A Pink Floyd song with sound effects of a World War II plane bursting into flames

Audiobook of Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers

“My Mummy’s Dead,” John Lennon

“Catchin’ Beavers by the Misty Bayou,” Lynyrd Skynyrd

Terry Gross on NPR (gotta be played loud!)

Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the deceased

The opera Mozart wrote about the cuckoo bird

The opera Beethoven wrote about his border collie

“I Felt Like Smashing My Face in a Clear Glass Window,” Yoko Ono

“Theme to Roots,” Doc Severinsen

“Where Is My Home?” Czech Republic national anthem

Anything by Mandy Patinkin (recommended: “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”)

“How’d You Like to Marry a Man with No Feet?” traditional, banjo


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Excerpted from Sex: Our Bodies, Our Junk by the Association for the Betterment of Sex (Scott Jacobson, Todd Levin, Jason Roeder, Mike Sacks, and Ted Travelstead). Copyright  © 2010. Published by Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc. Reprinted with permission.