"I was titillated by the sleaziness of what I was about to do…"
I was already drunk and on my way to maudlin at my ten-year high school reunion in Buffalo, when I decided having sex with David Kay might cheer me up. Because our last names were next to each other in the alphabet, our lockers were adjacent throughout middle school. I'd had a huge crush on him when I was twelve. David was the reason I joined ski club, even though I hate the cold and am terrified of skiing. In seventh grade, he had big jug ears, an endearingly goofy grin, and huge brown eyes. He grew a foot in high school, but otherwise stayed exactly the same. He liked to tease people, but his teasing was more often affectionate than cruel, and he laughed at my jokes. He was smart but lazy, the kind of kid who scores high on his SATs but only works hard enough to maintain a low B average. As far as I could tell from our limited interactions at the reunion, he hadn't changed much in the decade since we'd graduated.
I was in Buffalo for the week. The night before our reunion, I'd run into David at a local bar. I was wearing a low-cut dress, and he walked up to me, stared at my cleavage, shouted "Breasts!" and gestured cartoonish-ly at my chest. Then he suggested I come home with him. Most women would have felt insulted or disgusted or both, but I thought it was funny and even vaguely charming, in a vulgar sort of way. I appreciated how frank and unambiguous his interest was. It contrasted refreshingly with the men I was used to dating in Brooklyn — those masters of hip indirection, unreadably oblique, maddeningly dedicated to revealing nothing about how they felt or what they wanted. David liked beer, and he liked breasts, and he wanted to touch mine, and I'd learned all three things within five minutes of running into him.
At our reunion the following night, I decided to call his bluff. What better time and place? He kept coming over to me and saying dumb, provocative things like, "I hear you really like to fuck" — as if he expected me to turn red, deny it, and burst into tears. As if we were still in middle school.
"Yup. Most people do."
"Whoa! So you must be pretty good at it, then."
"I like to think so."
"I have a really big dick."
I flicked a glance below his belt, then looked away.
"Hard to tell from here."
"You won't be disappointed."
"Why don't we go back to your place and find out?"
I was gratified by his shocked expression. He never expected his childish banter to work; he'd been waiting for me to laugh and tell him to fuck off.
"Wait, for serious?"
"Why not? I'm bored, and you talk a pretty big game. I want to see if you can deliver."
"Oh, I can."
His hands shook a little and his beer sloshed around in its glass.
My old classmates began filtering out of the bar — a quintessentially Rust Belt place called the Steer — around one a.m. I asked David for a ride home. He was parked about ten minutes away from the bar, and he chattered nervously and non-stop as we walked toward his car, quizzing me about my family and my life in Brooklyn.
"How's your dad? Is he still a lawyer? How's your brother Dan? How's your other brother? How's school? Where do you live in New York? Oh yeah? You like Brooklyn? The car's right up here — we're almost there."
I thought he'd relax once we reached his car, but he didn't.
"My ex-girlfriend hated sex, but she did it because she knew how much I like it. Lately she's been trying to get back together with me, so she calls me up and says stuff like, 'I really like sex now,' but I can tell it's not true. She just feels like if she can convince me it's true, I'll want to get back together."
"Jesus, David. Poor her."
"Yeah, it is pretty sad. Poor everyone, you know?"
"Poor everyone," I agreed.
David turned out to live in a complex near the University at Buffalo, where he was studying for a Master's degree in architecture. The units were identical and the building itself appeared to be carved out of gray cinderblock, a hideous example of 1970s institutional architecture. Automatic glass doors slid open, revealing a squint-inducing, fluorescently lit hallway that smelled like stale chicken broth and aging bodies. I made a face.
"I know, I know, it's an old people's home. Literally. I'm the groundskeeper. That's why my rent's so low," said David, grinning twitchily as he unlocked his front door. "Sorry about the mess; I wasn't expecting company."
His apartment was ugly and spacious, with thinning brown wall-to-wall carpeting and piles of clothes, books, CDs, and half-empty energy drinks everywhere. On the kitchen table were a giant, open jar of mustard and an economy-size bottle of muscle-enhancing protein shake. The first thing I noticed when he opened the door was a BowFlex Total Body Workout machine — the kind advertised on television at four a.m. on Wednesdays. I stifled a giggle. "Do you ever actually use that thing?" I asked. It looked untouched.
"I haven't yet," said David, flashing his nervous grin, "but when I do I'm going to be in awesome shape!"
I was titillated by the sleaziness of what I was about to do, but also comforted by its context. I'd known David since we were ten years old; he wasn't some random stranger. I was 98% sure that if I changed my mind at the last second, he would stop. But it still felt weird, and, as I stood there in his gross apartment, mechanically unzipping my black leather boots and peeling off my stockings, waiting for him to return from the bathroom, I was uncomfortably aware of how little sexual desire I felt.
I told myself I was there because I wanted sex and I was old enough to have it without involving a lot of messy, pointless emotions. I wasn't thirteen anymore! I knew how to do this now! But on the verge of getting what I thought I wanted, I felt not lust, but a hollow sort of victory. Here I am, I thought, trying to whip up some enthusiasm, with David Kay! He paid almost no attention to me in middle school, and who could blame him? But look at me now! I'm svelte (by Buffalo standards) and sophisticated and I know how to dress and I can have any one of these mouth-breathing boys who rejected me as a teenager! Just wait until he —
David came out of the bathroom then, chuckling nervously at some silly joke I hadn't even heard him make. "Whoa!" he said, bug-eyed at the sight of my newly bare legs. "So this is really happening?" I felt like Mrs. Robinson. I wondered if he were still a virgin.
He walked over to me, and for an awkward instant I considered bolting. What am I doing here? But it was too late for this thought, and I knew it. We started kissing and my body took over: my mouth opened just enough, my tongue began moving, teeth gently nibbling his neck and the edge of his ear, right hand dropping to his belt, left hand stroking his lower back, pressing my breasts into his chest like I wanted more. I didn't; I wanted to stop, but I couldn't quite muster up the energy. I had already gone this far; it felt easier just to see it through.
"Let's go into the bedroom," I whispered, and David excitedly led the way. I spread myself across his bed and let him climb on top of me. We kissed and groped. I was practiced and robotic, but David was puppyish, his kisses sloppy and lazy, the kind you get from someone who's never enjoyed kissing but knows he has to do it to get to the good part. I unbuckled his belt, yanked down his pants with exaggerated enthusiasm, and stuck his penis in my mouth. At least he hadn't lied about the size. I've always loved grow toys; penises are no exception. Maybe this would be fun after all.
"Hang on," he panted.
He maneuvered me around until he was facing me and began to work his way down my body, kissing and licking at random. I realized he intended to go down on me. I appreciated the gesture, but I knew I wouldn't be able to relax enough to enjoy it. After a couple of minutes and some half-hearted, theatrical moaning, I pulled him back up.
"Do you have a condom?" I asked.
He pulled one out of a drawer and rolled it on.
"Let's fuck," I breathed in his ear.
We started to, but something was wrong; he was already going soft.
"Fuck," said David. "Oh man, I'm so sorry. This never happens to me. Too much beer, I guess."
I started to giggle.
"It's okay," I said, enormously relieved. "Really. It's fine."
"No, honestly, this never, ever happens to me! I'm always good to go. I masturbate like eight times a day! Seriously!"
"You had a lot to drink," I said soothingly. "It happens to everyone. It's fine. Let's just put our clothes back on and go meet whoever's still downtown."
We found our underwear and got dressed. I located and disposed of the condom wrapper. I felt like a mom helping her three-year-old put his toys away.
The next day, I kept thinking about David's unapologetically ugly apartment, and David, and the sex we never had. Sure, it was, er, anti-climactic, but hadn't I owed it to my seventh-grade self to make out with David Kay? How many people get to kiss the man of their twelve-year-old dreams, sixteen years after the fact?
I pretended to a friend that I was ashamed of my behavior. But a few days later, as I flew back to New York, I suddenly realized that I wasn't.