My First Time

My First Time: Male, 15, France

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We’re looking for stories about the first time you had sex. Email firsttime@nerve.com with 500-1000 words. (Don’t worry, we won’t print your name — but please do make sure to include your gender, where you were, and how old you were.) Submissions may be edited.

It started with a bet. I had promised myself that after a couple of years of messing around, this particular summer (the one before I turned 16) I’d finally have sex. A few female friends at school were convinced this was bravado that I’d never live up to and, to be honest, I was pretty sure it was nothing more than that myself.

In August, my family and I went off on a camping holiday to France, away from my humdrum provincial English town. Predictably, this involved swimming in the lake, playing ping-pong with older and more sophisticated French kids, and arguing with my siblings. But, it also involved freedom from home, drinking illicit “stubbies” of cheap French lager, and spending a lot of time thinking about the sex I was not yet going to have.

Sadly, the day before we were due to drive the god-knows how many hours back home had arrived, but, as if by magic, around lunchtime there she was in her swimsuit, ingratiating herself with our crowd. We smiled at each other and talked for a while, but there was no way I’d show too much interest in a girl introduced to me by my sister — I was way too self-assured for that.

Then came the night. I parted my hair perfectly down the middle, put on my baggy check shirt and a tad too much CK One (it was the late 1990s…) and stepped out to see “what was going on.” I strutted around the campsite like it was the sticky floored nightclub I’d longed to frequent, armed with a small bottle of vodka, and a three pack of condoms that the French store owner kindly sold me without asking questions. And then she appeared again, sans sister, looking like the girl of my dreams. She’d obviously been preparing for the night with as much anticipation as I had.

She laughed at my jokes and I felt a sense of calm that I’d never experienced before. I knew what I was doing and how to move things forward. I remember thinking: this must be what it’s like to be a man. We held hands, we kissed, and we walked among the rolling French countryside as the sunlight disappeared; it felt like a perfect night. It struck us that we could sneak into one of the “show” tents that were empty in order to have some privacy. We lay on the camp bed, we took off each other’s clothes and I still remember the feeling of excitement I felt at being naked with her. We fooled around and, then, somehow it became apparent that we were going to do it. I fumbled with the condom and I tried to penetrate her. It took a lot of effort and patience, but then, there it was, I was finally inside her. We kissed and rocked gently and, while enjoyable, it was not as easy or “natural” as I’d imagined it would be.

But then…the shock, someone walks past the window of the tent and seems to be peering in. We jumped up, grabbed our clothes and, struggling to put them on, fled the tent laughing, feeling embarrassed about our predicament. It quickly became obvious that the mood had changed, that the night was over, and that all that was left was the walk back to her tent. We kissed goodnight as we stood in the trees, just away from where her parents were drinking under their awning. It was a truncated night and experience, and we must have known we’d never see each other again, but she has always been in my memory and I wouldn’t change a thing. Except, perhaps, picking a more secluded tent.