BY DEIRDRE COYLE
Editor's Note: A version of this article appeared on our old site.
The truth is, I will always be a virgin. And it’s not because I’m stuck-up or because I give a fuck about morals or anything. It’s because people disgust me.
I hate when people give me that "one day you’ll fall in love" shit. I’ll never be in love. If I am, shoot me.
Sometimes I think about it, though. Sex, not love. I imagine scenarios as graphically as possible in order to see how much I can stand. It’s like a test. When I feel the bile coming up into my throat, that’s when I stop. It usually doesn’t take very long. I stare at the grass, or a garbage can, or anything really normal and asexual, to get those sick images of calloused thumbs and everyday disfigurements out of my head.
Boys on bicycles ride by the pool where I’m sitting on a lawn chair. They look at me, but not that hard, my bikini top and too-big boy’s shorts. I look at them, slowly taking a swig from my glass bottle of root beer, and I think about things: boys’ thin thumbs, bony under the burden of their metabolism, untying the soft string behind my back. I can almost feel their nervous fingers. My stomach tightens. I do not comprehend lust.
The boys tie their bicycles to the chain link fence and walk through the gate. Yeah I stare, but not that hard. One is basically bald; one has brown, lank hair hanging over his ears; and the last is curly and dark. I pay attention to my root beer. I watch kids hitting each other in the pool. I sit up in my lawn chair, uncrossing my legs and hunching down: the way a boy sits. Not that they would mistake me for a boy, considering my orange flower-patterned bikini top. Some people wonder why I dress like this, since I’m so turned off by flesh. But I don’t have a problem with my skin, so why shouldn’t I wear what I want? It’s hot as fucking shit outside; I’m not going to melt in a long-sleeved sweatshirt because I’ve got something to hide (namely, my tits, which aren’t going anywhere). Plus I’ve got boy’s shorts on. I’m not trying to seduce anybody; it’s summer, for Christ’s sake.
The boys smile at each other without kindness, half-naked, fearing for their heterosexuality. When they smack each other on the back, I sense the sting, the warmth of their still-dry skin. The bald one stands sideways, watching me peripherally. I wonder if his head will burn in the sun.
I drink my root beer, and do not care.
Some girls arrive, later. They play with the straps of their pale blue bikinis, trail their fingers in the water. The boys approach, dripping like dogs, pulling up their shorts. How they flirt.
Watching them, I make little pretense at subtlety. My book sits open, but I don’t bother looking down. Real people are more interesting.
One of the girls is goading the curly boy, pointing at his skinny legs and laughing. He pushes her into the water. She shrieks and smiles, and I think I have had enough for now.
Standing, I leave my book and retreat to the locker room. My palms close on the cool sides of the sink; I stare at my reflection—hard. Despite the dim lighting, I count every imperfection on my face. It feels like counting stars.
I feel like a star.
The door swings open soundlessly, introducing someone new to the stale smell of chlorine, the tiny pools of dirt and water on the floor. It’s the bald one.
He nods at me, and comes closer. Girl’s locker room? Of course. My lips twitch upward involuntarily, and I wonder if it is time for a test. Time to try something new.
I lean back against the sink, watching him without anticipation. He is standing in front of me now. I look up, focusing on the feel of my long hair on my back, my knuckles on the porcelain, my legs brushing against each other: the feelings that are me, that are mine, that he will never know, even as he leans in for a kiss.
I open my lips to let him kiss me, but do not exactly kiss back. I’m not sure I could make my lips move in any motion akin to "kissing," but he doesn’t seem to notice. His wide left hand alights on my neck, stroking against my jawbone, thumb tilting downward. His right hand starts at my stomach, moving up against my breast—I feel his fingers through the vinyl swimsuit fabric, the rough pressure of padding pressing against me rather than his hands. Maybe I grimace, but I’m still absorbed in the intricacy of this exchange. I cannot understand people—people for whom this behavior is normal, enjoyable. His left hand moves away from my neck and down my back, pulling me forward. Reluctantly, I let go of the sink, unsure of where to put my hands. I know they should go around his back, on him—somewhere—anywhere—but I can’t do it. I reach forward, but my hands clench in mid-air, flexing out and balling into fists. I remove them stiffly to my sides. Why should I touch him? He’s already touching me.
He holds me on both sides now, left hand on my spine, right inside my bikini. All this I stomach with a fair amount of grace. But then his right hand begins to trace downward. It is too much.
I pull my uncooperative mouth away. "That’s enough," I say. "Stop."
Not that he does.
My stomach turns at the touch of his rough hands, and I vomit on his bare feet. He jumps backward, nearly slipping, a noise of disgust bursting from his mouth. Without looking at me, he walks away, feet slapping through the lukewarm puddles. The door swings shut, and I am left in the chemical-scented darkness. I sidestep backward between two sinks, toe trailing vomit, and I laugh. Thank God, I think. Throwing up washed away the taste of him completely.