A Never-Been-Kissed 23-Year-Old
A few years ago I used to commute to work across the street from a strip mall in eastern Atlanta. There was a sweet little flower shop in the strip mall, and I would often drop by.
“I don’t know, man,” she would say. “I don’t really know about people you meet at the Garden of Eden. I don’t know if they’re gonna be 15 or 60 or 10 or whatever.”
“I mean,” I’d say, “I think of girls like, 28. And they’re more likely to be married.”
“Well,” she’d say, “I think they’re going to be good for you.”
That’s when I thought, There must be something more to her than that, right? What if I could see it? The basic idea came to me: “What if I became her boyfriend, and she was a 23-year-old virgin?”
And it just came into my head.
I should probably say I did a lot of talking about being single before I decided to pursue this. I think it was because of the general theory of caveat emptor: You should always ask your peers about dating. Even if the person you’re talking to says they have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you shouldn’t assume that’s the way everyone else has been for the past four years. You have to go to those dates and see what really happens.
In some ways it’s a silly theory. Sometimes going out with a full-on, leap-of-faith adult can be a pretty great idea. I met one guy who had a great time with me, who I really liked very much and who very kindly let me stay the night at his place. I was so surprised when he showed up at the airport the next day. I didn’t really notice how many girlfriends he’d been with, but what’s the sense in being surprised?
But I wouldn’t have gone on the dates I did and the date I did without the idea that there could be something more. Maybe she’d be worth investing time and effort. Maybe she could be my girlfriend.
I would have to do some serious soul-searching. I had to break out the dude tape and talk it out with myself. It has to be like this: If I’m taking her out and she’s a virgin and I don’t believe I have any shot at making it last, then I shouldn’t do it. That’s a pretty big cheat, don’t you think?
I talked to a lot of friends, mostly my friends who were in college or soon to graduate, and I put some of my most confident and confident people on the team of volunteers: my brother, and my best friend’s girlfriend, and my good friend Richard’s ex-girlfriend. I started asking about a lot of things, things I could use to test out my ideas. What would my eventual girlfriend think about calling my father? Would she love to see me go to Stanford? My roommate noticed that instead of getting fired from his job, he went back to one he had in college. After the third date I asked her how she would react if we went to see some midget playing gymnastics. She didn’t laugh; she just paused a little. Maybe something would be wrong, I thought. I went on a hundred dates with six people I didn’t want to be my girlfriend. I asked a hundred people about being a rookie. I found that more or less everyone liked my idea, except me.
Still, it wasn’t something I gave up. I continued to train, until one day I met another woman in the strip mall who was 22 and a virgin. We exchanged phone numbers and he seemed more like a friend than a sex partner.
I don’t think this experience is the same for everyone. There are lots of ways in which being a virgin can be a really fun and exciting thing. There’s the thrill of that terrifying maiden coming up from behind and pressing your hand against hers to enter. There’s the thrill of discovering your object of affection through the miraculous magic of your mobile phone. And there’s also the thrill of watching a guy stumble about for hours, a virgin locked out of his special lap.
If I could have him do just one thing, then that’s all the fun