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I ran from my locker and through the empty hallway to the dim nook housing the television studio. As I pushed through the door, a cackle exploded from Felicity*. She and Dorothy* were sprawled on the green corduroy sofa. This was my cue to immediately take the beaten up armchair and have Dorothy bring me up to speed on the latest story. The gossip had already begun, and this was essential knowledge—even if it made me squirm to think about it later.
If you had asked fifteen-year-old me to name the local master of sex, I would've said Felicity. Despite being a brain when it came to school subjects, I knew nothing about sex. I hadn't even had my first kiss yet. Felicity was just the opposite. Two years older than me, she was in danger of flunking out of high school. Yet she seemed to hold the key to the magical, mystical world of sex. My first semester sophomore year, Felicity was my oracle. That's why I tagged along with Dorothy to listen to Felicity's monologues before the first bell rang. Dorothy, a good friend, was in my grade and had met Felicity in an elective class. Dorothy was equally as clueless as I was. We looked up to Felicity because we could ask her anything without fear of judgement.
Now that I was settled in the sagging armchair, Felicity clapped and bolted up.
“You'll never believe what I did on Saturday.”
Predictably, Dorothy and I leaned in. “What?” we asked in unison.
“I gave a blow job.”
“Yeah,” I said, prematurely bored. “You've done that before. You've told us, like, ten times.”
“Pssh! More than that. But this time I used a flavored condom.”
Dorothy and I glanced at each other and then shot out our questions.
“What did it taste like?”
“Like banana candy or like a real banana?”
“Candy. Kind of like Wonka Runts.”
“Did you get tired of the flavor?”
“No. But my mouth and tongue were exhausted from all they were doing.”
And on and on and on. Naturally, at some point we wanted to know about the boy.
“So, what was the guy like?”
“Oh, I don't know. We were playing laser tag. I was sitting down, just taking a break, when he came out of nowhere. The guys all know to come to me. Anyway, we didn't talk and it was too dark to see him. I called him Banana Boy.”
That was the day I noticed a couple of disturbing trends in Felicity's stories that would stick with me as the school year dragged on. Felicity never talked about liking these boys. Usually she hadn't known them long enough to develop a crush or any stronger attachment. She never mentioned physical pleasure, either. Felicity would often complain about an act hurting and then shrug as if it didn't matter. Occasionally she would slip into prolonged silence afterwards. Regardless of the tale, she certainly never uttered the word “love.” She refused to swoon. The only time Felicity lit up in telling these stories was when she mentioned the boys' compliments:
“He called me cute.”
“He said I have nice hair.”
“He told me I have pretty eyes.”
So if Felicity wasn't forming emotional relationships with these boys and she wasn't deriving physical pleasure from these encounters, what was she getting? Validation.
I didn't think myself better than Felicity, but I did learn from her experiences. In her, I saw the potential of my broken self. While I did and do not have the resilience for casual sex, I did and do have the self-awareness to recognize my boundaries. She lacked that self-awareness. But that was a trait for her to hopefully one day see, not for me to judge. At the start of the school year, I had thought of her as glamorous and adventurous. By the end of the school year, I had witnessed her break down and cry on multiple occasions because of the trials and tribulations of casual sex.
When I am in the position to mentor teen girls, I do not preach abstinence. I preach introspection. Are they emotionally prepared? Do they love and respect themselves? Do they love and respect their partner? Do they trust themselves? Do they trust their partner? How would they handle an unwanted pregnancy? How might sex affect other spheres of their life? Would it change their relationship with their friends, parents, and teachers? Most importantly, would it change their relationship with themselves?
Mankind has shamed enough women for engaging in a natural act. The reality is that the majority of couples have sex before marriage—whether they read the Bible or not, whether they go to church or not, whether they volunteer or not. As far as I know, none of them have been struck down dead because of it. Maybe some regretted the decision, but that regret is a private matter not appropriate for public scrutiny. Sex is personal.
In the best scenarios, it is about love and a desire to unite souls and, yes, enjoy the carnal perks, too. It should not be the basis of evaluating one's self-worth. It should not be about earning someone else's approval. It should be about you and your body and your feelings. May you know that now, Felicity, and may I never forget it.
*Names have been changed to maintain privacy.
#Real #Sex #Love #Dating #Relationships #HighSchool #Memories #Teenagers #Adolescence #LookingBack #Memoir
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