In Her Words
The 34-Year-Old Virgin
Preparing for her first time is a study in…well, studying
By: Dana Scarton
Three weeks after meeting Tim, I scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist.
“I met someone,” I blurted as Dr. Ruby entered the room. “We’re talking about sleeping together.” My 34-year-old heart felt as though it might burst through my paper gown.
“That’s nice,” the doctor said, smiling.
“I’d like to talk about birth control.”
Dr. Ruby nodded and made a note. I imagined what it might say: Patient about to lose virginity. Patient about to become sexually active. Patient about to get laid. Finally. Hooray. Yippee. Yahoo. She looked up. There was not the slightest trace of amusement in her eyes.
I opted for barrier methods. I didn’t want to take the Pill, because doing so would seem to imply that I was embracing sex, that I was making it a permanent part of my life. All I wanted was to try sex once. All I wanted was to go for a test-drive.
Dr. Ruby asked whether there was anything else I wanted to know.
I shook my head, and then stopped abruptly and asked, “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
She headed for the door. “No. But if you have any questions, call.”
I did have questions, but I consulted the bookstore instead. I browsed books on intimacy. When I had tried this in the past, I worried that someone from work would spot me, and I dashed out, empty-handed. This time, I marched straight to the Magic of Sex, with its cover photo of nude couples kissing. I placed it faceup on the counter.
“Is this all?” the handsome clerk asked.
“Yes. Yes, it is.”
I memorized positions as though I was cramming for an exam, and then I slipped the book into a file cabinet. A moment later, I retrieved it and slid it onto a bookshelf, beside a short-story collection. Then I stared at the binding until my urge to hide it in my underwear drawer diminished.
Dana Scarton is a writer and a journalist living in Washington, D.C. This is an excerpt from a memoir in progress.