Love & Sex

My First Time

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Male • 18 years old • A national park

I was working at a national park during the summer after my first year of college. I was still a virgin. My first kiss had been at age eleven, my next at seventeen; I was brutally passed over during the wave of puberty that swept over my friends and the girls we liked during high school. Leaving that first year of college, I was at least seven inches taller than I'd been in the fall.

Illustration by Thomas Pitilli

The park job was my mother's idea, a great way to earn a shitty wage at a shit restaurant in one of our nation's natural treasures before sophomore year. What I don't think she realized was that two-hundred people aged eighteen-to-thirty would inevitably end up fucking each other for the whole summer.

I was a runner, bringing food from the kitchen. She was a chef. She was older. We immediately had a jokey chemistry. One day our string of jokes ended with one of us saying, "Maybe we should just sleep with each other." Whatever had been a joke wasn't once we made eye contact. I took my break and bought a pack of condoms at the only convenience store within a sixty-mile radius.

Time? Location? Big questions. We decided to have sex in the walk-in freezer. There was no outside lock, so we drafted my friend John to keep watch. We went inside, nipples immediately erect from fifteen-degree temperatures. I was hard and it was too cold for foreplay. Right before she guided me into her, I told her I was a virgin. Despite her concern, we proceeded, and before I knew it, it was over. The wave of euphoria crashing over me along with the hypothermia blurred the details. I signed out, ensuring that I'd be paid for my last fifteen minutes at "work," and went to smoke my first cigarette. The after-effects were less than flattering: I had frostbite on the underside of both legs, and she was worse — her leg had been leaning against a metal rack, and within a day she had a four-inch black mark of freezer-burned skin on her shin.