Sexual education in my conservative, southern, Christian upbringing was strictly on a need-to-know basis: I needed to know what I should avoid. An entire sexual revolution swirled around me, giving not thought at all to my existence, yet it was I, I, who madly sought it. My curriculum was carefully curated so that I might be informed, but still avoid the rising tide of desire. Too much information would no doubt trigger the awakening of the wanton sexual temptress hell bent on besmirching my family name with gonorrhea and out-of-wedlock children that ignorance had allowed to lay dormant. I dubbed my sexual curiosity my white whale — an obsession that consumed every waking moment I spent away from the Bible or Knight Rider, sure to lead to my undoing. I had to use context clues for everything else. I asked my parents where babies came from when I was six. They gave me a splendidly clinical “a-man’s-sperm-meets-a-woman’s-egg” spiel.
“How? They rub stomachs or something? Does he feed it to her?”
It wasn’t until a year later, when my parents shared what a man had “done” to my piano teacher’s daughter, that I did my own math. “He stuck his penis in her vagina.” It was presented as such a horrific concept. I couldn’t figure out how it was any of my business until months later, when I saw my visibly pregnant friend, that I figured that this must be how the old sperm-egg tango happened.
Sex was something that men enjoyed and women endured. “It” would happen to me; not with me, and definitely not for me. I would offer my virginity to my husband. My offering (and my ability to cook more than just spaghetti) would satisfy my man, and in turn, and he would respond to that with love and support.
But as I got older, this concept was summarily dismissed, as I realized that everyone’s marriage – including my parents’ – sucked.
So, I took matters into my own hands. Literally. I masturbated enough to enjoy, without going over the edge into whatever that building, unknown feeling was. Since masturbation was verboten, the tide that would rise and fall beneath my belly could not be trusted.
I fell in love with a boy, and we played a game I called “almost, but not quite.” This game is known in more common circles as “getting fingered any time you find five spare minutes — and no prying eyes — followed by abysmally clumsy cunnilingus.” I was curious, and he was just happy that a cute girl was letting him touch her. Despite being taught that my enjoyment didn’t matter, I liked his well-intentioned fumbling. It was new and revolutionary. Pleasure by someone else’s hand was the gateway I had been warned about.
Our game unfortunately got old. He still wanted to wait to have actual intercourse until we were married. Meanwhile, my hymen was becoming the sofa that the aunt you don’t really like gives you when you’re moving into your first apartment. It sounds like a gift since you don’t know any better. But after thinking it over, you realize it’s clunky, always in the way, and you could really be doing something much cooler with the space.
In an effort to offload my “sofa,” I developed a close friendship with a guy who had great cocktail conversation and a bent moral compass. I’d grown tired of virginity as a concept, and he seemed up to the task of relieving me of the burden known as my hymen. So I had ten minutes of unceremonious sex.
I reject the notion of “losing my virginity.” I didn’t “lose” anything. I, in fact, got things. I got the dick, got pregnant, got ostracized, got married, got hit, got cheated on, got pregnant again, got separated TWICE, and finally, got a divorce.
In this list of things that I was getting, the one thing I never got was an orgasm. When I would couple with Mr. Bent Moral Compass, I could feel something rising, and then: nothing. Since he was my only sexual partner, I didn’t have a metric by which to compare him. I wasn’t confident enough to just bring the matter up with my girlfriends, and even if I were, how? “Hey girl. Cute boots. Also, how do I know if I’m busting nuts?”
Once again, I took matters into my own hands and used those hands to grab men, in search of my own Moby Dick. There were Ethans, and Raymonds, and so many Chris’s, my secret garden could be nicknamed the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I read Cosmo and erotica and watched porn. I tried direction. Encouragement. Moaning. I tried directive encouraging moans. That building feeling would rise: relaxed toes, weak knees, a promising pelvic crescendo and then disappointment. The men would cum. They would always cum. And then go. One gentleman, after three wildly unnecessary (and I would wager cocaine-induced) hours, left my vagina feeling like a skinned kneecap.
And then he emerged from the sea of horny Black Planet private messages with an easy smile, and eyes like emerald hellfire. He was 5’7 and weighed no more than 145 pounds captured my attention. I will spare you the intimate details, but I believe the words “THERE SHE BLOWS” should suffice. So dickmatized was I by this man, that it wasn’t until my sixth trip to his home, as we lay in repose and post-coital bliss, watching Frazier reruns (as was our custom), that I realized he didn’t have a kitchen sink.
To date, I don’t know if I am more troubled by him managing to find a kitchen with no sink, or that I had been in that kitchen countless times and never realized there was no sink there.
As an aside, I was a good sport about it and acted like it didn’t matter but guys, the bacterial implications of washing your balls and your bowls in the same place were overwhelming, so we developed a strictly take-out relationship. I did not immediately stop seeing him because, as you may recall, he was responsible for my first orgasm. It also garnered him the nickname “Everything But the Kitchen Sink.”
Though that relationship didn’t last, the pursuit of my pleasure endured. What rose within me was to see it as my responsibility to have that orgasm. I owed it to myself to follow that building feeling and see where it carried me. With each year, I become more impenitent about my body, what it enjoys, and with whom. I don’t get shamed into or out of relationships.
Sex happens with me.
Sex happens for me.
My white whale didn’t drag me down into the deep. It sparked the ascension of my complete self. After I had my first orgasm, the church of me said amen and refused to take shorts. I get mine. And if you’re not interested in making sure that I get it, I’ll do it myself until I find someone who is. My ecstasy matters and I only take lovers who share this philosophy. And how do I stack up for them?
They’ll just have to write their own story.
Photo: Stocksy/Chelsea Victoria