Because all is pretty quiet on the poly front right now (and because I have a paper glaring at me that I Do Not Want To Work On), I've decided to take a look back to my college days and share one or two of my more memorable Growing and Learning episodes with the Blogosphere. Don't worry, I'm going back to College Town in a couple of weeks for Spring Break...and hopefully I'll return with more current stories of friendly love and water-sharing. But, for now, a bit of a retrospective.
To start...my One Big Mistake.
Second semester, freshman year of college. I was taking my first upper division class (well...I came in with 30 hours of credit...I was a little ahead. All that meant was that I took my sweet time and finished in four years.). The class happened to be an interdisciplinary course called "The Grail in Film and Literature" - as a budding Arthurian nerd, I was stoked. I was the youngest person in the class. The oldest (other than the 60-year-old professor) was a grad student who shall be known as Ares (yes, I know I already have a Mars. Deal with it.). We got to chatting one night after class - he liked mythology, I liked mythology; he was a grad student, I was an impressionable freshman; I was worried about the first paper, he offered to help. No, really. He did help me. And on the way back from the library, he asked what I was doing for Valentine's Day. I told him that all my single friends were going to have a Lonely Hearts Club night (read: copious booze and illicit making out. Mm.), and I'd already promised to be there. "The day after, then?" he inquired.
"Could I take you out, then?"
*grinning stupidly* "Sure!"
He wasn't even that cute. Let's get that straight. He was older and he was a Grad Student. In English. Who was down with Odin and Beowulf. And he was interested in me. Hot damn.
So, Valentine's came and went, with the aforementioned booze and making out. The next night, I dressed myself up prettily, but not scandalously - didn't want him getting the wrong impressions! I was still a Good Girl. He picked me up, presenting me with a white rose and a box of four Godiva (!!) chocolates. Damn. I was sufficiently wooed. He was not, however, quite as smooth with regard to dinner plans. We tried for a Japanese steakhouse (who doesn't make reservations on the day after Valentines? Really?), and ended up at a mid-range chain. I had a tasty steak, which he paid for, and was happy. On our way back to the car, I saw a flier for Rocky Horror Picture Show! Tonight! Midnight! I immediately squee'd. One of our local theaters had done the stage production during my high school years, and I was already something of a devotee (though only bold enough to dress as Janet). So I squee'd, and he asked if I wanted to go. Uh...yeah! And this was Cool Points for him, wanting to go to RHPS.
Being that we still had several hours until midnight, he suggested browsing in The Coolest Indie Bookstore until they closed. More points. Then we got coffee and chatted. Then we kissed in the car. Ooh. I was nervous, but it had all the excitement of doing something Not Quite Proper.
On the way to the theater, we had the Conversation. I had found out by this point in my college career that I needed to be very upfront about my inexperience and boundaries with the boys I fooled around with...otherwise things got awkward and uncomfortable. So I brought it up, saying something along the lines of how I didn't want to disappoint, but I really hadn't done very much and wasn't comfortable doing very much and...
"So...how innocent are you anyway?"
"Well...I've fooled around...never...er...given oral sex, but I've been...umm...manually stimulated..."
"So....you've never had Sex."
"No...and I'm not planning to. I'm just not ready."
"Uh-huh," said in a we'll-see-about-that tone, "Well, when you get to be my age, you'll find that the physical stuff doesn't matter so much."
Cue the uneasy feelings in the tummy.
"So, I guess that brings up the question...How old are you?"
*uneasy laugh* "28"
Wow. Nine years. I'm a mature girl, I think. Age is just a number, I think. He's a Grad Student, I think. We're at the theater. Thank God.
Once inside, we're waiting. The cast is drifting around the theater, calling out dirty banter. One says something about whips and chains. I respond with "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me."
"Do they?" he asks. I blush a deep red.
"Oh...uh...I don't know anything about that. It's just something we say around the dorm."
"....oh...." And the show begins, and I lose myself to transvestites and good, strange sex, and dancing Transylvanians. Afterwards, he drives me home, and we kiss more. I thank him for the night, and he leaves.
A week later, he calls me, asking if I want to come over and watch a movie. He'll pick me up since I don't know where his place is. We visit the Local Indie Video Store, and he vetoes my interest in Fellini's Satyricon (which I still haven't seen) for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (which I had already seen). We go back to his place, and watch about fifteen minutes of the movie before we abandon the pretense. I'm uneasy, but we've had the Conversation, so I'm sure he'll respect my boundaries. I should have stopped him there, but I had not found my No in such situations. We moved to his bed, and he removed my shirt. He told me what amazing "little titties" I had (I hadn't yet progressed to my current full-C-cup), and proceeded to lick, suck and maul them. I enjoyed it. I was uneasy, but I was enjoying it, so it was ok, right? After awhile, he turned me over, stroking my back. I heard him pause, fumbling. Then I felt a gentle strike of his doubled leather belt on my shoulder blade. I had only barely heard of safewords, and though I knew I liked to be bitten, I didn't know what to make of most kink, except that I didn't think it made people perverted or evil. I wasn't sure that I liked him hitting me. After a couple of gentle strokes, I turned over, implying discomfort. He took the hint, and resumed kissing and fondling me, moving to biting my neck and shoulders - this was much better. I began to relax.
Until he went for my pants. I really wasn't sure that I wanted him to do that. Sure, I'd had fingers down there before, even a brief tongue (one of my then-sporadic forays with Apollo)...but I didn't know about him. But my No was elusive, so I let him. He turned on the light as he explored me, admiring my "little pink pussy". I did not know half so much about my vagina as I do now, but even then, she didn't like being called a pussy. But I was enjoying his fingers, enjoying the sensation...so it was ok, right? I came. I always came, in those days. It was even easier than it is now (and it's still pretty damn easy). But when he bent his head, when he leaned in to taste, I shook my head.
"Don't you want me to eat you? Don't you want me to make you feel good?"
"No, not now, no." Finally, that No that had been hiding all night. Finally he pushed me enough to tell him he didn't have that right.
"I have to go home," I said. It was true...I had class in the morning.
"Aww, you can stay here." Uhh...No. No. No. I am NOT staying the night with you. Presumptuous bastard. My No was stronger, more confident now that arousal was fading.
"Um, you don't want to get up to take me to my 9am class."
"You're right, I don't. Ok. I'll take you home in a few minutes."
"I want to ask you something first."
"Ok...sure." He leaned back, and pulled at the waistband of his pants.
"What do you think of this?" I found myself staring at the first cock I had seen in full light, peeking out over his pants. And it had a ring in the tip. Hell, I thought, I don't care what you have done to your cock...but...this wasn't how I imagined getting my first good look at one....
"Uh...I don't care," I fumbled.
"Ok. Just thought you should know about it before you were expected to do anything with it." Expected?!?! Oh, buddy. You've got another think coming. Fuck expectations. Any attention I give to your cock is a Gift, of trust and respect. It's a damn sight easier to give my body to your hands and tongue than it is for me to play with yours. (I know it's a double standard, but it was where I was sexually. I was annoyed with myself for it too.) But all I said was:
"Ok...I really need to go home."
"Ok." So he took me back to the dorm. I thought it through...I felt exposed, vulnerable, and not in a good way. I realized that I didn't trust him enough to have given him as much as I did, and I certainly didn't trust him enough to give him what he wanted of me. I was not angry. After all, I had consented, right? And when I didn't, he didn't force me. He didn't rape me. He just pulled out his dick. So I was embarrassed, sad, and vulnerable...but resigned.
Until I told my guy friends. See, I had this amazing coterie of guys who were my friends/brothers/fucking-around-buddies: Dionysus, Anansi, Lugh, and Eros. You'll hear more about them later, I'm sure. But I told them the story, in the dining hall, and they all asked, "Did you slap him? Did you break it off?"
"C'mon guys, he didn't force me to do anything...it's not a slap-worthy offense."
"Oh yes it damn well is! The guy's an asshole. Do you want us to beat him up for you? We will."
Now, apart from Lugh of the Long [Fiddle] Bow, none of these guys could've stood up to Ares in a fight. But their anger, their righteous outrage that anyone would have presumed to ask more of me than I offered (they, too, picked up on that "expected") - that gave me the strength to be angry about it. The strength to expect my boundaries to be respected, to know that though I failed myself in not speaking up sooner, that he knew my stated boundaries, and I should be able to expect those to be kept.
Ares confronted me a few days later, asking if we could get together again. I said no, that I thought we were rather putting the cart before the horse, that I wasn't comfortable with how things were progressing. He protested that I was being silly, that that's the way relationships worked. That sex wasn't a big deal. I told him pointedly that it was a big deal to me, and walked off.
We pointedly ignored each other for the rest of the semester. I felt smugly pleased when he screwed up his final presentation. I also found out that he was rather in the habit of randomly showing off his genital jewelery at random moments, usually in semi-public environments. I found that very funny, and wondered how many other girls in town knew just how his junk was adorned.
Obviously, I've changed a lot since this happened. Sex isn't as big a deal...but it is a big deal. It's not something that I, personally, can do happily and joyfully without a certain Connection. I'm exploring kink...but consciously, with people I trust and in small, talked-about, negotiated steps, not out of the blue on a second date. I am not clinging to someone's dominance and confidence to give me courage to be in a situation...I will enjoy someone's dominance and confidence because I have the courage to be in that situation on my own terms.
This was my one big screw-up in college. It could've been a lot worse. Fortunately, this can turn into a much shorter, funnier story for those gossipy, worst-dating-story-ever nights. I mainly laugh about it now...but I am still angry sometimes. And glad that I can let myself be so.