Love & Sex

True Stories: March Madness

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I went to Spring Break a virgin. . .

I am eighteen and just lost my virginity to a guy I met two hours ago. We are on the beach lying on a blanket the size of a pillowcase and I am curled up on my side with my back to him. It's two a.m. and the wind is blowing sand and dried crispy pieces of seaweed in my face. I can't believe that I'm here, that it's over. I'm sad and excited, but mostly I feel relieved. Still, this is not how I wanted the first time to be. I wanted to be in love. But I have never had a boyfriend. What if I turned twenty, thirty, forty and still didn't have one? I didn't want to have to keep waiting to be wanted. So when he pulled down my pants, I let him. I kept my arms at my side and never spoke a word.

I'm on the east coast of Florida and it is spring break and as I look out at the silvery dunes, I realize I have just become a clichŽ. When I return home to Youngstown, Ohio, I will put an "I GOT LAID ON SPRING BREAK" bumper sticker on the beater car I share with my mother. I deserve to drive around and have people point and snicker. They ought to know I'm no better than the other stupid kids who come down here and leap off hotel balconies or choke on their own vomit.

This guy is in a fraternity. I worry, was I a bet? Ever since the seventh grade, I've been saying no to sex. Now, after holding out for someone special, someone who talked to me and not to my boobs, a guy who didn't stare at my full mouth and think, she has perfect DSLs, I go ahead and give the green light to a frat boy?

What have I done?

"Are you okay?" he asks. "Are you cold?"

I transpose the words "yes" and "no." I want to race back to the Sea Missile Motel, where my friends are probably wondering if I've been abducted by a transient with a lazy eye.

What if I end up with genital warts — or pregnant?

We did not use a condom. Right when his mouth opened wide and his eyelids began to flutter he pulled his penis out of me. Now a gob of semen is matted in my pubic hair.
I curl up tighter into myself. No, I am not okay. And yes, I am cold. Does he even have to ask?

But he does ask. And he is still here beside me. For this I am grateful.

If I don't end up pregnant or with a sexually transmitted disease, I should consider myself lucky. By all rights, he should have rolled off of me, grabbed his puny blanket, and disappeared down the beach in search of a keg party or wet-t-shirt contest. He is a frat boy, and it is spring break.

Our post-sex huddle feels awkward, as if I am lying too close to one of my brother's friends. What's supposed to happen next? I've seen enough movies to know that if it is love you made, you linger. You rest your head on his chest and smile up at him. He brushes a strand of hair away from your face and kisses your forehead. You have afterplay.

I have also seen enough movies to know that if all you did was fuck, your attention wanes soon after the deed is done. He channels his energy into lighting a cigarette and turning on the TV or zipping up his pants and walking out the door. You act just as indifferent, or you feel the sting that screwing leaves when what you really wanted to do was make love. You pull the bed sheet up around your shoulders and look forlorn, trying not to stare at him.

To feel better about giving myself to a stranger, I think of worst-case scenarios. This guy could have strangled me with the lanyard on his Vuarnet sunglasses. Or he could have used his good looks to lure me here and then beat me to death with a charred log from a beach bonfire. I am twenty-five pounds overweight and out of shape. I cannot even run a quarter-mile on the high-school track, let alone sprint on sand. Had he flipped out, I wouldn't have been able to escape. The surf is loud. It would have deafened my screams. My parents would never have recovered.

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The man lying next to me is named Steve. He is from Connecticut. I don't know if he has a girlfriend. Or if he regularly lunches at Hooters. Or if there is a crusty sore on the end of his penis that keeps disappearing and reappearing. I do know that he is five years older than me (an older man!). He is also staying at the Sea Missile Motel in Cocoa Beach. He is here for a one-year reunion with his fraternity.

Fraternity: chicken wings, beef nachos, pepperoni pizza, alcohol, alcohol poisoning, kegs, khakis, backwards baseball caps, the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, date rape, gang rape, the word "dude," and initialed names like T.J. and A.J.

Really, am I retarded?

The manager of the Sea Missile looks like a porn star. He is tall and lean with dark brown hair and a thick mustache. I imagine his room at the motel has plush royal-blue carpeting, a waterbed with a mirrored headboard, and assorted bottles of aftershave. His name is also Steve and on the morning we checked in, I thought about what it would be like to have sex with him. Probably due to my poring over my father's vast pornography collection during puberty, my sexual fantasies involve macho men, strapping men who wear thick gold necklaces and have Playboy air fresheners dangling from the rearview mirrors in their beloved Monte Carlo SSs. Guys whom, in truth, I'd rather shoot myself in the face than part my legs for. I'm smart enough to know that if I were ever to let one of them inside of me, they would look past me, talk to my tits, stomp on my feelings. I keep these men safely in my head.

The Steve lying next to me is not macho. He looks like a boy.

I do not want to be here when my frat lover wakes up.

He has long, dark eyelashes, no facial hair and a soft, round chin. His shoulders are narrow and his chest is somewhat concave, as if he has scoliosis. He is curled up behind me and I can feel his deep restful breath on my neck. His knees are poking into the backs of my legs and his toenail is planted into my right foot. He has let himself go, pressing his weight against my body as if I am a bookend.

I lie still for hours, anxious to see light on the horizon. I am looking forward to the morning, but at the same time I am dreading it. It feels like I have been awake all night. I am very much here in the moment. I can hear and smell and feel everything. I think my foot is bleeding.

When the sky turns from bluish-black to muted yellow, I decide to return to the Sea Missile. I do not want to be here when my frat lover wakes up. I'm too afraid to see how this situation will play out. Will he size me up and decide I'm a fat chick? Or will he thank me and then tell his fraternity brothers about the tight fuck he had?

I figure it is best to get up and leave him before he leaves me.

I walk back to the motel room and knock on the door, and my friend Leah, who still has her hymen intact, laughs when she sees me. Apparently she wasn't worried that I'd been abducted.

"Where were you?" she asks. Her eyes are wide and lively as if she's just snorted crushed SweetTarts.

I tell her I spent the night on the beach. And that I lost my virginity.

"No, sir!" she says, swatting me on the shoulder.

I push her into the bathroom, close the door, and sob into a thin, grayish washcloth.

"My God," says Leah, her eyes suddenly watering. "Did you get raped?"

"No," I say. My face is red and wet. A small snot bubble forms out of my left nostril and pops. Leah laughs and slaps me on the shoulder again.

She wants to know everything. What was it like? How did it feel? Did it hurt? Did I like it? Am I sore? Was there blood? What all did I do? Did I give him a blowjob? Did he finger me? Did he eat me out? Where is he?

When I tell her I left him asleep on the beach, she hits me again and howls.

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Hours later Steve the frat boy appears at the door to my motel room. He is disheveled, greasy, hung over.

And looks exactly like Charlie Sheen!

"Why did you leave?" he asks tentatively, as if my answer might hurt him.

"I was cold," I say, trying to read his face.

Does he think I'm pretty? Suddenly I am hyper-aware of my appearance. The morning sun is unforgiving. It will show every cellulite dent, every scab, every hairy mole. I'm barefoot, too. If he looks down he will notice how my two smallest toes resemble embryonic mice.

"You should have said something," he says, keeping his eyes on my face. "I would have given you my sweatshirt."

That afternoon, Steve and I stay in my motel room. The order of everything is backward. He knows what I feel like inside, wet and smooth like the back of a throat, yet he doesn't know my last name, that I'm a Pisces, that my first goldfish was named Stacey. I want to fill in the missing pieces. I tell him things he should already know:

• My father weighs four-hundred pounds and picks his nose at the kitchen table. If my mom says, "Oh, Bill, use a tissue!" he booms, "Well, then go get me one!"

• My mother has a high-pitched voice. She scurries nervously around our house, tying my father's shoes and slopping his plate with seconds. I call her Edith Bunker.

• My brother has pale skin and lives only for the Dallas Cowboys; he is a vanilla-colored ape.

• My sister complains incessantly about her thighs; she says they look like baby camel humps and that one day, she's going to take my dad's electric carving knife and slice them clean off. We joke that our father will eat them.

This is how it is.

Steve laughs and tells me I look like Tatum O'Neal. He says he's had a thing for her ever since Paper Moon.

"Why did you leave?" he asks tentatively, as if my answer might hurt him.

This makes me feel good because I think Tatum O'Neal is pretty. I ask him if he told his friends about us, about me being a virgin. He says no, and I believe him. Then he asks if I want to do it again — this time in a bed.

For a moment I feel in control. I have something he wants. That part of me that wants to fall in love thinks that by saying yes he will recognize that I am generous. It will make him want to give me something back, something I desperately want.

The second time is as physically unfulfilling as the first, but less uncomfortable. There are no broken seashells or dismembered crab claws poking my butt, no sand fleas traversing in my pubic hair. We are on top of the slippery polyester bedspread with only our shirts on. He kisses me briefly on the mouth and then moves to my neck, where he stays, nuzzling me. He does not once touch my breasts or ask if I like what he is doing. I just lie there and make moaning sounds because that is what I think I'm supposed to do.

Before he climaxes he pulls his penis out of me, lifts my Knott's Berry Farm t-shirt, and ejaculates on my stomach. My white, doughy stomach. My whole life I've kept it hidden beneath oversized shirts and black one-piece bathing suits that squeeze my guts like a corset. Now it is the bull's eye of a comeshot. I suck in my belly and quickly pull my shirt back down.

The turquoise drapes in the room are closed, but I can still make out his features. His eyes are shut and he looks exhausted, as if the minute and a half he just spent thrusting in and out of me took everything out of him. As he sleeps, I stare up at the ceiling. I want to get up and leave. Instead I just wait.

Two weeks later Steve the frat boy drives from Connecticut to visit me in Ohio. I am convinced that he is only coming for sex, but my friends say, "He wouldn't drive eight hours just for sex! Women do live in Connecticut, after all!"

One week after high-school graduation I move to Connecticut to be with him. It is improbable, unbelievable, but we have fallen in love. He still tends to wear his frat sweatshirt, but my first-lover-turned-first-love is a good man. He is kind. He respects his mother. He always tells me how he feels, he looks me in the eye, he squeezes my hand three times when we're out in public to tell me that he loves me.

He surprises me. And I surprise myself. 


Jen Matlack was raised in beautiful Youngstown, Ohio, and is currently writing a memoir. Her work regularly appears in Glamour, Redbook, and Penthouse. She lives in Connecticut where she gardens and swims–weather permitting.

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