An excerpt from my forthcoming memoirs:
I lost my virginity when I was 12. It wasn’t by choice. It was forced intercourse. When the idea of ‘date rape’ surfaced, I called it ‘date rape,’ but I realise now that’s not quite right. It wasn’t my choice, but it wasn’t violent. Rape to me is different than forced intercourse. Even if it is only a nuance, the difference to me is as vast as the sea.
He had blonde hair and green eyes and he was the most breath-taking boy I’d ever seen. His name was Mark and I still think of him as a kind of mythical being. That he paid any attention to me is still astonishing. That I didn’t believe I deserved attention is the essence of every homely girl’s tragedy and the power of every predatory male’s success.
The week before I was with Mark, my best friend, Debbie, paid the boy who lived next door to her $5 to make out with me. Until then, I had never been kissed. Debbie was a couple of years older than me and she knew I had a crush on Sean. She also knew I was never going to be kissed by someone who wanted to.
I was standing on Debbie’s front lawn not 5 days before losing my virginity, and Sean, the neighbour boy, walked by, swooping my hand in his and led me into Debbie’s house. To this day, I love it when a guy takes my hand and leads me off to any destination. There is something delicious in being over powered by nothing more than a wisp of air – a breath, a smell, a taste – of almost nothing.
He deftly turned me around in front of Debbie’s couch and began making out with me. It was glorious. We made out for about an hour or to be more exact, the length of Scorpions’ Blackout album, which was playing in the background – and still turns me on whenever I hear it.
We got as far as petting, which I had never thought of or knew anything about in the slightest. I just followed Sean’s lead. I had never felt an erection before. It was lovely and strong in my hand. And it made some sort of physical sense. My mind raced trying to comprehend everything and then I would realize that I wasn’t paying attention to what my mouth and my tongue were doing and I’d come back to the wondrous physical reality of his lips.
His lips were big and soft and he knew how to kiss. His tongue filled my mouth which, again, I hadn’t known was a thing. I felt free and exhilarated, oddly powerful and confident. Every nerve in my body was receptive. Every cell came to life. I would have devoured him whole if there had been time.
Sean never kissed me again after that, and he never said a word about what we did. He was in love with Debbie, who was the most stunning girl in town. She could stop traffic – and she often did just because she could. She had terrible taste in men, but I got along with most of them so they would fuck her and talk to me. I enjoyed that arrangement. They were always older than she was by a few years (so they were older than me by more) and I was smart and I loved football and music and books, and we had great conversations.
I was staying with Irene’s brother and his kids in Gilroy when I met Mark. I had gone to Gilroy to work at The Garlic Festival and earn some money. My step-niece, Cindy, was this really cute, talented singer and she had won the Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival or had been a runner up or something. She was in musical with Mark and she took me to a cast party. Mark and Cindy were dating.
Mark spent a lot of time with me at the party. I assumed he felt sorry for me because I didn’t know anyone there. For me it was like talking to the boys who wanted Debbie. I was comfortable and unguarded because, I assumed, like with Debbie’s boys, I was a non-entity. With them I wasn’t an option, I wasn’t desirable, I was neuter. I treated Mark the way I treated them, but he saw me in a way that I never considered.
When Mark handed me my second beer at the party, he said, ‘You’ll be in trouble when I give you a third,’ and it dawned on me that he didn’t need to be paid to kiss me. I left the party before I got a third beer, and I thought I would never see him again.
I spent the rest of that weekend working at the festival helping my step-uncle sell BBQ kebabs. I worked 10 hours on both Saturday and Sunday and on the Monday, he let me go in the afternoon so I could look around. Nothing would have thrilled me less than the prospect of walking around the Gilroy Garlic Festival, but off I went with nothing better to do.
Somewhere on a hillside, Mark found me – not that he was looking for me. I said hello and was about to walk off when he asked me where I was going. I didn’t know so he offered to show me around. It turned out that he was performer at the festival and he told me had a dressing room there.
His dressing room was only a tent behind the stage, probably made to sleep 4 comfortably in the woods, but it was a place where we could be alone in the middle of 15,000 people. That’s where he gave me that third beer.
I don’t know if he knew I was only 13. He was 17. I look at 13-year-olds now and I can’t imagine ever being that young. I had been through so much by then, and I had the body of a 20-year-old. I could have been a bombshell, if I had the face for it, but I didn’t.
He kissed me and put his hand up my shirt. He was on top of me and had his hand down my shorts before I even realized I was on my back. I had only been kissed for the first time a few days before with Sean, who was really lovely and gentle and I must have expected the same from Mark. I was trying to get my bearings when I felt him begin to penetrate me. I never even saw him unzip his pants. This all happened within a minute. I tried to say, 'no,' but his tongue was in my mouth and he thrust into me hard and fast. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening, it was so painful. Why the fuck doesn’t anyone talk about how painful it is? By the time I could catch my breath to say ‘no,’ it was too late.
It was so painful it felt like my torso was being cleaved in two. I thought my hips would rupture from the force. I was impaled and couldn't get away from him or the incredible pain. His thrusting got faster and it felt like my lungs were being pulled down into my pelvis every time he pulled back. I couldn’t breathe from the agony of it. When I got enough breath to say stop, he asked if it hurt. When I said yes, he said he was just trying to make it good for me. I couldn’t comprehend what that meant. I don’t remember him finishing but it seemed to go on beyond what I could endure. I’m not sure if I passed out, but time lapsed or slowed and elongated like a car crash.
I must have been in shock because I couldn’t grasp what had happened. I couldn’t believe that was what sex was. It was nothing like I saw on TV or in movies, but it had to have been sex because that’s what sex is. It couldn’t have been rape because I liked him, but I never wanted to have sex with any one until I was married. Even Debbie and all my stoner friends knew that. All their boyfriends knew too. I was off limits. So what was this? What had just happened to me?
He was quite bloody and offered me something to wipe up the blood on me. I don’t know what it was about the way he offered or the way he spoke but there was no question he didn’t care about what he had just done to me. If it mattered to him that I had been a virgin before, it didn’t matter to him now that it was over. He was cold and distant and he didn’t touch me after that.
When I had composed myself and dressed, he offered to walk me out of the festival. He walked me to within a few blocks of my cousin’s house, he gave me a peck on the cheek and took off. I walked the rest of the way alone, climbed the stairs and crawled on my cousin’s bed.
I slept for 7 hours. I couldn’t move. There was a party going on down stairs. I could hear them but I couldn’t wake up. I felt like I was at the bottom of the ocean with the weight of all that water crushing my whole body and I felt wave after wave of despair. If I hadn’t slept, I would have drowned from sobbing.
At some point, I heard Mark’s voice downstairs and I wanted to go to that sound. I wanted to wrap myself inside the sound of his voice but I couldn’t move. Somehow, I thought if I could go to him, if he could see me, it would be like all those fairy tales that get shoved down our little girl throats and he would realise I was a princess and he would love me. But my body wouldn’t wake up. My arms wouldn’t move. And the harder I tried, the later it was getting, and I knew that the moment had passed and I knew I had missed it. Like missing the last lifeboat on the Titanic, I was left to drown on my own sinking ship.
My dad and my step-mother had come to collect me and someone woke me up. I dragged myself into the back seat of my dad’s car for the long drive back to our house. I was still half asleep but I could hear my step-mother say what a cute couple Mark and Cindy made and how well Mark treated her – he was so charming. The tears on my cheeks were so hot, they felt like they were scalding my face.
Debbie didn’t believe me when I told her I had lost my virginity. She thought I was making it up to try and make it seem like I didn’t care about Sean. When I told her about how much it hurt and a few of the other more gory details, she knew I wasn’t lying. But the mere fact that I had to work so hard to convince her, should have made me realise how wrong it all was.
Three weeks later when I had missed my period, any doubts she might have had went away. I wasn’t pregnant, but I missed my period for a few months. I tried to get Mark’s phone number from my cousin, which got me into a lot of trouble with Irene and her family but they wouldn’t give it to me.
It was 6 weeks before I saw Mark again. I thought I was pregnant and I ran up to him and threw my arms around him. He peeled me off like a disease and he pretended that he didn’t recognize me. It was more humiliating than the sex.
I was not heartbroken about Mark. I did not love him. I was heartbroken about myself because I knew no one could ever love me – including, and especially, me. I knew how easily I was duped because I needed his attention the way a junky needs a heroine fix and I hated myself for feeling so desolate and being so weak.