In my 20-year-old mind, romance didn’t involve giving flowers or throwing parties, but rather, making a ridiculous vow of chastity.
Lara and I started dating the summer after she transferred to my college. At the time, my sophomore year, I was considered, definitely by myself and probably by others, to be a bit of a slut. That Lara was a transfer student meant she was not aware of any reputation I might have had. Both in spite of and due to my morally casual attitude towards sex, I decided to offer Lara, throughout the first few weeks we dated, the grandest gesture my immature, vain, selfish mind could imagine: abstinence.
Waiting until the time was just right, I thought, would make our relationship special. It would show Lara how much I cared for her.
In movies, men climb up fire escapes to confess their undying love, a single rose clutched between their teeth. In books, men throw lavish parties every night of the week, hoping their true love across the bay will visit. In my 20-year-old mind, though, grand gestures didn’t involve giving flowers or throwing parties, but rather, making a ridiculous vow of chastity.
The decision not to have sex proved difficult whenever we made out on her bed. So acutely she made me aware of the human body, whether because she was lying on mine or because hers was so damn beautiful, Lara never failed in compelling me to writhe. Often I slept in my jeans when staying over at her dorm room because their heavy fabric blunted the erection whose pressure in her back I worried would keep her awake.
What made my efforts so awkward was that I chose not to tell Lara about my promise to remain celibate. Something told me I wouldn’t be able to find a Hallmark card expressing the sentiment. If she had known about my imaginary chastity belt, kept locked because I cared so much for her, the situation would have been much easier to handle. I had to learn that lesson the hard way.
One night, two weeks after we first met, Lara and I were fooling around, both a tad drunk. Our skin got slippery from the June heat in a dorm without central air. Every little part of Lara was moist, not just her perfect butt, not just her perfect breasts, such that I could only think of fucking her. I had to control myself. I had to keep my pledge. Baseball statistics rushed through my head, but unfortunately, I knew very few baseball statistics. Suddenly it happened.
The first time I came with Lara was in my pants.
Although I tried to hide what had happened, she discovered the truth when, unzipping my fly, she touched the evidence. Lara had caught me sticky-handed. “You should have told me,” she said. “Don’t be so quiet next time.” All I could manage to do in response was offer her a box of tissues sitting next to the bed.
Lara and I eventually stopped seeing each other, though not because of my grand gesture. We broke up because of the reasons behind it. My immaturity, my vanity, my selfishness. Those three characteristics, unfortunately, summarize many young men’s ways of thinking, by and large, during their college years.
Luckily I’m not that same guy anymore. That those traits are often a product of youth means they fade away with each passing year. If only I had grown up before Lara had come and gone—minus the first part—I would have saved myself a lot of embarrassment, heartache, and clean underwear.
(Photo The Welsh Poppy)
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