The Shame: How I Forgot the Guy who Popped my Cherry

The Shame: How I Forgot the Guy who Popped my Cherry

I don’t know how I forgot him. I just did.

A few weeks ago I read or saw something about whether sharing your “number” with a significant other is a good idea. I think it depends, and then I thought to myself, what is my number these days?
Before this year I thought I could count them on one hand, but no. I scoured my memory and a couple of guys I had forgotten entirely popped up.  Including, to my utter astonishment, my FIRST. I had forgotten all about him. My first was not at age 23 with the dysfunctional S., as I had thought believed for so many years (talk about repression). My cherry was unceremoniously popped at 18 by S. J. F. That’s the way he introduced himself — all three names, and that’s the way I think of him. It was during my first semester of college in Boston. Ooops. I forgot.
How can this happen?
Obviously it wasn’t a great romance, but it wasn’t a drunken dorm debacle either.
My selective amnesia is usually about men who I wasn’t emotionally involved with — we hooked up once or twice and that was it. They slipped from my memory as if it never happened. But forgetting the first man who got between me and my panties is slightly disturbing. And I didn’t just forget him for a while, I forgot him for years. Decades. That is some baaaaaad sex, people.
Worse than bad: unremarkable.
The real cause of my amnesia was shame. Deep-rooted Catholicism and American misogyny taught me that sex is fascinating but bad. Good girls keep their legs crossed. Above all, I wanted to be a good girl. My sex life suffered terribly because of this. Thirty years later I’m finally over that shit.
I was so ashamed and uncomfortable about my sexuality that I blocked out how I lost my virginity. Truly. I wanted to have sex, but I was so unsettled by my sexuality and unequipped to deal with it, that after it happened (see that? Not I did it, but “it happened“) I didn’t want to see him or think about it ever again.  If he had been more experienced and if I had been less…repressed, we could have had a great time together for a while. The missed opportunity saddens me.
Fall 1982

I’ve been living in Boston for almost three months. It’s my first time away from home and everything is exciting and new. I’m busy with classes and making new friends, discovering the city and trying like hell to meet guys because the ones in my school are mostly gay. My school is known mostly for its theater and communication programs — lots of creative types, and straight guys were at a premium. Luckily, my dorm was on the same block with frat houses and dorms from M.I.T., Boston College, Berklee and Northeastern U. Lots to choose from. It’s a beautiful fall day and one of my friends and I decide to hit a local cafe for lunch after class so we can gossip over pictures of some parties that I was picking up from the photo developer that day (remember those?).

We’re at the table talking eating looking at pics having a great time when two guys are seated at the next table. The tables were close together and it was hard not to notice them checking us out when they sat down. E.S.D. was tall, lanky and classy-looking, and was wearing a suit, tie and horn-rimmed glasses.
Before our meals were done we were chatting, names, majors and school info had been exchanged. He was E.S.D. and he was a Senior communications major concentrating on radio. He had his own show already on his college station and had kind of a following.
Next thing you know we’re all at his apartment, drinking wine, listening to music, talking and making out. I felt all grown-up and sophisticated being in some guy’s apartment, but I had no intention of sleeping with him that day. I don’t remember how the afternoon ended, but my friend and I left. E.S.D and I had loose plans to see each other again.
I remember him coming to pick me up at the dining hall at my school after dinner because we were going someplace or something…I forget exactly, but I remember the impression he made walking into the place in his suit and tie, and sitting next to me (no I recall he surprised me. we didn’t have plans that night). One of my girlfriends was like, “holy shit,” it’s E.! and he swaggered in and sat at the table and planted a kiss on me and sat down. I remember us hanging out in my room with some friends but I’m not sure if that was the same day.

The only thing I remember about the night at his apartment is actually being in bed with him, and enjoying cuddling with him and being held. We went to sleep without doing anything. Sometime in the middle of the night we started making out or something. I know that I wanted to do it, but I was too nervous to be aroused and he had no skills to get me there. Also, I never told him that I was a virgin. I was ashamed of that too. Jesus. At some point he penetrated, but I can’t recall what it felt like or if it hurt, or what. Then we went to sleep. I remember the next morning he was fixing the bed and there are bloodstains on the white sheets. I am mortified. “This is you?” he says horrified.  “Um, yeah,” I say. Did I tell him I was a virgin? I think I did, I must have. I don’t recall a discussion about it. I don’t remember the details. I was so ashamed. The sex, the blood, everything. I just wanted to disappear. I went to take a shower, and when I came out, he said we would go out to breakfast. When he went to the bathroom I got dressed and ran out of his apartment like a bat out of hell. That is how much I didn’t want to deal with my own sexuality.

Image: Ismenia by John William Godward via Tuttart 


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