yes mama, after all, the only time I really felt uncertain about a sexual advance was at a college party where my boyfriend took me, drunk for the very first time, to his bedroom, pulled my underwear to my knees & used his fingers to enter—did I mention I was drunk?—& said, I know you don’t want to have sex, but do you want to just touch it? & for a second I closed my eyes & I thought, I guess this is what we’re doing, but he stopped when I asked him to stop & in the morning he apologized & meant it so, really, who could blame him &
a couple months later, on a first date, a different man bought the drinks & made me laugh, so I decided to let him kiss me at my door, a slobbery unalive thing not half as good as I had hoped, so when I stopped, he said, that’s it? & I shrugged, yep, after which he went home & graciously let that be it—did I mention he bought the drinks?—only stopping to ask one more time before he left, you’re sure that’s really it? &
it’s true the first man I had sex with didn’t ask & it’s true I probably would’ve said no if he had but it’s true also he made me cum, so when I talk about losing my virginity, I use the word accident but never assault because, after all, I hadn’t worn my purity ring in years, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to wait anymore &—did I mention he made me cum?—we had sex countless more times in the years after that, so he must have done something right the first time & after all I was in love with him &
online no one has ever sent me a dick pic, only said, would you ever be up for a threesome, maybe with the girl next to you in your profile pic? or if you wanna do it with another guy that would be cool too, & he said I could pick the person, which I suppose was rather gracious &
let’s not forget my guy friends in high school, who wrote B1R on my arms in study hall so I felt special, part of the boner joke, not just the object of it &
you remember my first boyfriend, always so good to me, who preferred on our downtown walks to hold hands only using his left, in case, he said, I need to punch a man with my right for looking at you & once, when I went to a bar without him, he told me he’d be so pissed if a man touches you tonight,but I knew he’d only ever use a fist on a wall, not me, after all, he was the kind of man who wanted to do things right, which is how he ended up, after I originally turned him down, inviting my dad out for breakfast to ask his permission to take me out—did I mention he only hit walls?—so of course, mama, you said he was a good boy & wouldn’t I agree that, truly, I have been very lucky?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: My experiences with men were hard to categorize neatly; I wanted my prose to be similarly blurry, echoing the uncertainty that existed in what I was remembering. I was hoping to capture that feeling of disorientation, which is how I landed on this voice: run-on sentences with minimal punctuation, no periods. This lack of full stops means the sentences and paragraphs blend into each other without pause or rest. I like the way this breathless pacing mimics the runaway feeling that sometimes accompanies a new understanding, when you suddenly see something differently and it’s like a faucet turns on in your head: you start rambling, piling on examples, interrupting yourself with new insights whenever one occurs to you. The repetition of “did I mention,” along with the minimal punctuation that makes it impossible to find the edges of each thought, works to create a voice that feels both earnest and erratic, as if the speaker hasn’t rehearsed what they’re going to say but is instead working it out in real time.