It was never clear to me what losing my virginity would be like - and I never did find out. Neither Playboy magazine nor A House Is Not a Home (Polly Adler's memoirs of her life as a New York madam) nor my own modest high school consciousness-raising group had given me much information. Pain of some kind, not like a bee sting, not like a broken arm; necessary, primitive blood, a round blot on a white sheet; and then, a new level of something in me and between us.
I loved my boyfriend's kisses, his beard (dark, virile stubble on a square, handsome chin, which was utterly different from his thin sweet body, concave chest and furry buttocks) scraping my cheeks, leaving bright red skid marks across my torso. I loved subverting his narrow, Lutheran upper lip, tussling with the soft pink lower one, full and illicit.
And he had, as I remember, thick wavy blond hair. My sudden memory of plastic bottles of Selsun Blue following us from shower to shower doesn't change my recalled pleasure in his gorgeous, goyische curls, although now it explains why they were always so dry and fluffy.
He was living in Massachusetts, studying the life of halibut or kelp, something that had taken him to Wood's Hole for part of a semester and now to Boston. I wasn't driving yet and he certainly didn't have a car (he had a sleeping bag, a Kelty backpack and three tins of Brewer's yeast), but a family I baby-sat for offered to drive me to Boston for the weekend.
We tried all weekend. We snuck up on it through sweet kisses, nose to nose, through spiky kisses that raked my face, through my own wet kisses that turned his ears scarlet and his knuckles white, and through clutching and writhing so long that sparks flew off our zippers. There were things that we did not do (did not know how to do) that might have been easier, but he didn't seem to know anything about anything except kissing and clutching, and I had been horrified by the drawings in The Joy of Sex, which showed an inexplicably cheerful woman smiling while a giant male salami was stuffed down her throat. It seems to me now that our mutual, unspoken understanding of this event (his from his advanced bio classes, mine from the above sources and reading Our Bodies, Ourselves all the way to Boston) was that our passion and naked, full-body contact would somehow create a moment of sublime, silken fusion, his penis slipping strongly and smoothly into me as I opened, warmly pink and spicy like a tropical flower.
That would have been nice.
For the first few hours, it was still pleasure, and the flat, obdurate presence of my hymen was nothing to either of us. Later, I began to laugh, which is, on one hand, not really a good idea when in bed with a frustrated young man hoping to lose his virginity and, on the other, an excellent way to gauge the kind of life you might have with him. He didn't laugh once and as we moved from dawn to dusk (with occasional cups of sludgy tea), my mind left my body. I saw him balanced above me, his narrow body disappearing into the horizon of mine, our twin dark patches of pubic hair making a wide, unhappy figure eight that seemed to seep down from my stomach and up onto his. The cracks in the ceiling leered at me. I yawned and felt black-and-blue marks forming on the insides of my thighs and above my pubic bone.