This particular part of our love story is rated R and not intended for either of our mothers. Moms, we were both prefect all the time, I swear. Now stop reading. I’m serious. And don’t let any teenagers read this either.
Mom, if you are still reading, gouge out your eyeballs. You have been sufficiently warned.
It was August 2001 and I was at cheerleading camp. The sessions were over for the day and we were sitting in the stifling dorms, which did not have air conditioning. Every night we would pull our pillowcases out of the mini-frig in our room and settle in for girl talk.
“You’ve been with Eddie for how long now?”
“That has to be, like, the longest relationship in the history of high school. I can’t believe you haven’t slept with him yet.”
“Hand stuff under a blanket while you are watching tv doesn’t count. He’s a guy. They have needs. He’s not going to wait around forever. You always said you wanted to wait a year before you slept with a boyfriend. It’s been longer than that. Plus you love him.”
And that was the crux of the problem. Eddie was always respectful of my boundaries and never pushed me to do anything more than kiss, but we had been dating for a very long time and we were seniors now. We were among of the last of our peers still holding on to our virginity. Ironic, seeing as how we were two of the few in a committed, long-term relationship. Virginity loss was a very hot topic of conversation and everybody’s was everybody else’s business.
I knew that according to the rules, we were supposed to get married first, but it seemed like a guideline that no one followed, like how people say you should to go to church every Sunday but magically all the pews are empty when it’s time for the Super Bowl.
I spent a great deal of time rationalizing the idea of sex. “When they wrote the Bible people got married at like age 13, we’d have already been married 3 years by now.” Or “In some cultures in other countries they don’t even have to go through a legal marriage, they just vow a commitment to each other and we’ve already done that. So, technically, we are totally already married in some remote African village somewhere.“ Or “I already know we are getting married eventually. So that means that our marriage will be still be ‘undefiled’ or whatever, no matter when we get started.” Or “Penguins don’t get married and God lets them have sex.” <—Deep thoughts from the hormone-driven brain of a teenage girl, right there.
We weren’t afraid of STDs because we were both virgins. As terrible as it sounds, I wasn’t scared at all to get pregnant at 17. I already knew Eddie would be an amazing father one day. It was one of the things that made want to stay with him forever. I knew I was going to marry him and I knew that one day he wanted kids and he wanted them with me. I knew it in my gut like it was an indisputable fact. We were both smart enough to know that we wanted to get through college before we got married and started having babies and we thought knew enough to be able to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. We talked about the possibility of an accidental pregnancy at length and we decided we both had enough skill sets to be able to find jobs and raise a baby together, although we realized it would be harder to do it as teenagers.
Really, the only deterrent was our religion. Hence, all the time I spent rationalizing. Eventually my 17-year-old self decided that God made me a sinner and that was His own fault. Sex was a lot different than murder. Why should I sit around pre-meditating this kind of sin? It’s easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, especially from God. (Quite a thought process, no? Did I mention that I was a teenager?)
It wasn’t long before an opportunity presented itself. It was August 25th. A good friend was house sitting and decided to throw a small party. I got permission to stay with her under the excuse that I wanted to keep her company so that she wouldn’t be lonely in an unfamiliar place or by herself overnight. I omitted the bit about the party, naturally. I had never given my parents any reason not to trust me, so they let me go.
I finished my shift at my part-time job waitressing at IHOP and drove half an hour to the house.
Half of the senior class was already there drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice. I was never a big drinker, but I thought I might need one that night. I accepted the bottle that someone handed to me and took tiny sips. The music was turned up too loud and our friends were starting to get rowdy. I hate crowded spaces and I was getting desperate to get somewhere quiet.
Eddie appeared out of nowhere. He started over to meet me in the kitchen and as he walked through the room someone catcalled and waved a string of condoms in front of him, mockingly. He arched an eyebrow and accepted them. The roars of applause coming from our peers were thunderous.
“Holy s—! They’re finally going to do it!”
Ground, please swallow me now.
“Who wants to play strip air hockey?” Someone called up from the basement.
“I do,” I heard my own voice volunteering. Just get me out of this room. I’ll take my chances with the air hockey table.
I am normally a more than decent air hockey player, but not that night. Every time I lost a piece of clothing I got more flustered and played worse. Eventually I found myself topless in a basement, surrounded by several of my drunk classmates. Not my proudest moment. At least I can rest in the knowledge that before I had children I was blessed with truly spectacular boobs and, thanks to that night, there are a few more people in this world who can attest to that fact.
I was confident about my body. Between cheerleading, dance, tumbling lessons, and tennis I took really good care of it at the time. But I was embarrassed that so many people had already seen so much of it that evening.
I put my clothes back on feeling like I should have had more to drink when I had the chance.
“Do you want to go upstairs?” I turned to Eddie, willing him to get me out of the extremely awkward situation I had put myself in.
Of course, that meant the catcalls from our peers started up again immediately.
He tried to lead me away from the chaos by heading upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Like a scene from a less funny version of American Pie, several of our so-called friends followed us and waited impatiently outside the door, banging and sticking their fingers through the crack between the door and the floor. They made idle threats to break in and take pictures. It was the epitome of class, obviously. Everything I had always imagined it would be. Hearts and flowers all the way.
None of it mattered when he looked in my eyes.
“Are you ok? We don’t have to do this. We can just make some grunting noises for a few minutes and make them think we did so they will shut up.”
“I don’t want tonight to be about them.”
“Ok. I love you.”
“I love you too.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“I really think I am.”
“You didn’t drink too much?”
“No, I only had one and I didn’t finish it.”
“You can always tell me to stop.”
And then I was on my back and looking up at him in wonder, kissing him and hearing him whisper “I love you.” Over and over again like a record stuck on the most soothing sound imaginable.
“What is it, baby?”