Illustration by Thomas Pitilli
Female, 17 years old, Lake Tahoe
My parents should have known better than to let me work at camp for the summer. My father must have mumbled something about "making smart choices" as they dropped me off, but it was all white noise as I bounded out of the minivan. Before they rolled out of sight, I was hip deep in an intoxicating new world of cigarettes, beer, and first kisses amid the pine trees.
A high-school dropout, Blake was, at twenty-one, nearly the oldest person on staff, but looked sixteen. He was a beloved fuck-up, dogged by what I then saw as comically bad lack. Having gotten a DUI the week before I arrived, he was constantly asking people for lifts down the highway to get packs of smokes. He scrubbed pots in the kitchen, weaving my name into rap lyrics to get my attention. He kissed me sweetly for the first time as I was assembling buns for the 4th of July barbeque. When he was fired a few days later for drinking cooking sherry on the job, I cried and cried. Then I moved on to kissing someone else.
Blake and I kept in touch, though, with midnight chats that tied up the camp's main phone line, and when summer had ended and I had returned to the auspice of my family, I started borrowing the van after school to go see him in the next town over, where he was staying on someone's couch.
We spent a lot of time driving around, punctuated by making out in the back seat. Despite all the time alone, he didn't try anything past slipping his hand under my bra, so we spent four months in a PG-13 limbo, lying on top of each other and kissing. It was really nice, although according to my friends a normal guy would have been trying to make it happen already, and not being normal worried me a lot then. The next time we were kissing, I decided to let my fingers casually graze the top of his pubic hair in an attempt to speed things along.
Eventually, he got the idea. There was one night of just me prodding at his penis like a science object, and then there was a failed blowjob (too cold). Then another time he tried pushing it up through my underwear in the five minutes I had left before curfew, and after that it was on.
We just needed a place to do it. Blake's parents had briefly relaxed their tough-love stance — they'd been letting him crash on their couch, provided that he helped out around the house and didn't drink himself to oblivion every night. One Saturday night when his younger brother was gone, we snuck into the free bedroom after everyone had gone to bed. We turned on the TV to have some semblance of an excuse if someone were to come in. Unfortunately, Taxi was the only thing playing at two a.m.
I didn't expect it to hurt as much as it did. That was something that my friends left out. He might as well have been trying to push his dick in my nose, because it wasn't going anywhere and it hurt like hell, but he was gentle and patient, suggesting I get on top and use the force of gravity to cram it in.
After much straining, his penis became lodged far enough inside me to count the event as a complete sexual experience, and we quit. (No one was going to come that night, and it was weeks before we were able to successfully fill a condom and months before he connected the dots on how to make me climax.) In the morning, Blake's mother corralled us, in whispers, out of bed and out of the house before his stepfather woke up. She knew exactly what was up and sweetly packed me off into my car while shooting eye daggers at her son.
You read so much about traumatic first times. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I was fine. I was better than fine — I was triumphant, and my friends erupted in squeals when I got in the car with them the next day and flashed them a big I'm-not-a-virgin smile. At no time then or now have I ever regretted how I lost my virginity, though I guess I'd take Danny DeVito out of the picture if I had to do it again.
There weren't many things in life that Blake didn't manage to fuck up. In the rest of our two-year relationship, there were plenty of deep cuts: finding him passed out on the bathroom floor; him crashing his car after mixing rum and antidepressants; him getting drunk and pissing on my dorm-room floor.
After we broke up, he started going to A.A. and sent me a letter apologizing for stealing money from me (I had blamed my roommate). Sobriety didn't hold, and the bad luck that followed him around has never left. I don't know what he's up to now — after hemming and hawing, I rejected his Facebook request. But for all of the terrible shit, he still managed to make the sex part of our relationship decidedly non-traumatizing, and for that I can be kind of grateful.