Virginity loss is not always a pretty subject. Unless of course you are my ex-boss, a short, cheerful Jewish man of fifty-four who loved the idea of my book when I first told him about it. 'What a great concept' he said....'a collection of virginity loss stories'. He thought it was genius. He couldn't wait to read it. Jump forward a couple of years and his face changed somewhat when he read a couple of them in a magazine article. Nick is a charming man who once admitted to me that he had never, in his entire life, stayed up and watched a night turn into a day. He had never lost the plot or done the walk of shame. He had, by his own admission, led a relatively sheltered existence and my stories shocked him.
Virginity loss can be a joyous experience, for all sorts of unexpected reasons. When I lost my own, I couldn't have given two hoots about the moment itself. It was emotionally flat and physically uncomfortable, or, as I remember thinking quite clearly at the time, 'this feels like two Tampax instead of one'. My joy had very little to do with physical sensation or the pleasure of genuine intimacy. It was the step into adulthood that thrilled me. But some people don't even have that. I get sent all sorts of cold, sad or downright shocking stories about the loss of virginity. The surprise for me is that people are able to write about these experiences with such clarity and style.
Today's story is a case in point. It is short. But 209 words are all it takes for Naomi to paint a picture of cinematic quality. The economy of her prose doesn't prevent her from taking us straight to the heart of a life changing experience in her life. Once again, it is not 'the moment' that is note-worthy. It is the aftermath that does the talking. As Naomi stands in the warm morning light, just outside the back packer's hotel where she has parked her virginity, she finds the intimacy that she was looking for. Ironically, this doesn't involve her first lover but instead, her best friend, the girl with whom she chose to make the all-important journey into adulthood with. We require very few words with which to make a big statement.
Naomi, 23yrs old.
'My best friend and I were the funny, likable, frumpy girls in high school. Popular but not sexy like the dancers, we made friends of boys rather than lovers. We lived in a small town about an hour away from the city. When we were 16, we jumped on the bus one Monday night and headed to the city. We had to do something for ourselves.
It turned into a sad night. I think we thought it would be exciting and full of passionate embraces but by the time we found ourselves out the front of a hostel in the dawn, my friend drugged by the man she just shared a bunk with, and me with the taste of someone foreign and ugly in my mouth, it lost its charm. He was French, looked ok on the dance-floor of a back-packers pub. He did me briefly in the bathtub.
There was a moment on that curb when the morning birds were waking, when I noticed I was bleeding slightly, that it was the first time. My friend held me tenderly in her groggy arms and the ride home was strange and silent. We are still close to this day. And I still haven't had a proper first time yet.'