You Can Be Anything, Just Don’t Be “a Prude”

“You are so cute. Call me if you want to hang out”.

I took the piece of hot pink paper and wrote my number on it, hands shaking and stomach in a knot. Note in hand and ready to make my move, I approached the counter. Behind it stood the most gorgeous boy: soft brown eyes, light brown hair that swept across his forehead, lightly tanned skin. I stood there speechless until Katie nudged me forward; she knew that I had little [no] experience with boys and that my ‘prude self’ required some pushing.

His beautiful lips moved and I felt a strange feeling deep in my lower stomach:

“Hey ladies, what can I get for you?”

“…I will have a veggie burger…thanks…please!”

I scurried to the corner of the room behind a table and braced myself for angry lecture I was about to endure from the confident part of my pre-frontal cortex, the part that normally did not make an appearance until it was too late:

“STUPID. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. You messed up everything. He probably wouldn’t have called you anyway”.

Sometimes my self was a real b****.

Three “how-to” articles on “making the first move” and two YouTube videos later, Katie and I went back to the Burger Joint where he worked. I watched, horrified and humiliated as Katie brought that little piece of hot pink paper up to the counter.

“This is from my friend”, Katie said, gracefully pointing back at me as she giggled. “She likes you”.

I was relieved, anxious, excited, and furious. Now that he had my number, I could not use it as an excuse for why he never called.

The next day my enthusiasm peaked as I read a text from an unknown number, introducing themselves as “Kevin”. The Kevin! When I learned he was sixteen, I replied that I was too; after all, three years is not a big deal.

He told Katie and I to meet him in town at ten o’ clock that night. We were spending the week on Cape Cod so buses run until midnight and it is really easy to get around. Luckily, a band named “Cobblestones” playing on the main street was a perfect cover; Katie’s parents did not even question us.

The next 3 hours consisted of facial masks, last minute crunches, and a pile of clothes on the floor that did not look good enough. But it was worth it, because when I left the house that night, I felt sexy. I chose a green AE tank top that was my lowest V-neck. All the boys in school this year talked about how much I “grew” over the summer, that I should show myself off. I guess now was as good a time as ever.

The bus pulled away after dropping us off and we crossed the street to find the beach entrance. A sign warning “No Entry After Dark” made me feel exhilarated; we were meeting there because after the beach closes at dusk it is usually empty.

And there he was. Smiling at us with a movie star face. He wore a blue baseball hat, a navy blue shirt with some guy’s name on the back and a number, and khaki shorts. You could call me smitten. Lined up on a bench, him in the middle and Katie on I on either side, we spent some time talking about our summers, where we lived, the usual. For a moment, I noticed his arm slither around Katie’s back and latch onto her shoulder.  Before I could complete the thought, I felt his fingers graze my bare back as his hand effortlessly crawled up through the bottom of my shirt. I retreated inward at the unfamiliarity of someone else touching my body, like a turtle going back into its shell, but I had read too many articles on dating to quit now. Little blonde hairs rose on my arms and I chill ran through my neck as he whispered into my ear, “You’re beautiful”.

Me? Had he just called me beautiful? My heart fluttered as Katie said that she was going to look at some shops, being a cooperative wing woman and opening up an opportunity for privacy. Not even seconds after, his hand slid lower down my back and past my waistline. Discomfort enveloped me as my mind raced with a million thoughts and questions: What do I do? What is he tries to kiss me? I had been kissed on the lips once this year at the eighth grade dance but I did not have to do anything, I just stood there while a boy quickly kissed me and ran away. I was not even experienced with boys, let alone men.

Sensing my hesitancy, Kevin asked me if I wanted to take a walk.

Thank goodness

            Gratefully getting up and following his lead, his hand found mine and our fingers intertwined. My clammy hands had prevented me from holding hands with boys in the past, but I was so anxious I could hardly move.

Turning to face me, Kevin’s other hand wrapped around and rested again on my backside as if it were his to touch as he wished.

The anxiety was debilitating.

“Please stop”, I said, desperate to leave as he just trailed lower down my back. .

Irritability clouded his eyes as they rolled in annoyance. “I wish I had known you were a prude. I would not have wasted my night”, he replied.

I wanted him to stop. I was not ready. It felt more like spiders in my stomach than butterflies.

But to him I was beautiful.

He noticed me.

So when he Katie appeared and asked if we wanted some more time, Kevin quickly answered “yes”, and I did not protest. Gone were the days of being called a prude one day and a whore the next. A tease and a scaredy cat. The fear of this interaction with a boy had consumed me for too long; after this the hype would be over and the stress would disappear.

Kevin turned and his face came too close to mine. He formed this relaxed smile and pushed me gently down onto the grassy part of the beach. If it were raining, I would have felt exactly like those girls in the romance movies that I had always envied.

But my stomach still hurt. Saliva was building up in my mouth like I was going to throw up. I felt nauseous because I knew it was coming- my first time making out. Just stick your tongue out and make each letter of the alphabet with it…Right? My tongue in another mouth…ugh gross, gag me with a spoon.

Which is worse: to be a prude? Or to be a bad kisser? Knowing my luck, I’m sure I am both.

Laying on my back as he hovered over me; his arms flexed as he had a hand on either side of me to support himself, like a pushup that I was underneath of. He looked down at me. Staring. Smiling. Shielding my face out of uneasiness and embarrassment, I turned my head way and asked, “What!? Why are you staring at me?”

He took command and lowered his face down to mine, my mind racing as I told myself, “This is it! This is what I have been practicing and waiting for”. His lips pressed against mine and I tried to replicate what I was feeling, what he was doing. The tip of his tongue pushed between my sealed lips until I opened them slightly in response. His tongue entered further and so I opened wider; there was no rhythm and it all felt very wrong. In the “how to make-out” videos it looked so natural and matched each other’s movements. But “getting the hang of it” did not make it more enjoyable; his body felt like it weighed a thousand pounds as it locked me to the ground.

My face went to the left as I pulled my mouth away and shut it. I panicked. I tried to wiggle. “I’m nervous. I can’t do this”. Get off. Where is Katie? I can’t see Katie.

“I don’t like it”, I told him.

The eyes looking back at mine were not the same warm ones that charmed every customer he took an order from earlier that day.

Offended, he asked, “Oh. Am I not making you feel good enough?”

It was not feeling good at all. Bad, actually. And gross. And awkward. He let me up and I walked over to a set of stairs going up to a closed building. Kevin following behind me, I desperately told him that I wanted to go home and had to call Katie. The solo light radiating from the old building formed an odd shadow against his face, extenuating his jaw line and that mouth.

His facial features and expressions were captivating but not because of attractiveness. Just distinct. My eyes were still locked on his when he assailed towards me and shoved me down onto the stairs; grabbing on to me, he went down, too. One leg over my lap pinned down both of mine as he seized the end of my belt. A slight “clink” sounded as the silver, rectangular clasp at the end of the belt was torn off. Maybe his body weight or his free hand or the numbing numbness that had conquered my body. Maybe that was what kept me glued to the stairs instead of fighting back. I still do not know.

But I did not yell. I did not cry. I told him to stop. To leave me alone. Words don’t mean anything without actions to support them.

“Don’t you want to feel good?” he asked me.

He gave me a quick tug like a mother does to her child when they are too low on her hip and my new low waisted jeans surrendered obediently at his pull. The cold hands latched onto my side, squeezing as they traveled down my waist and clutched my pelvic bone. Experiencing a stranger touch parts of me that I had not yet been comfortable enough to explore, I inhaled deeply in fright when he reached my thigh, “please don’t”. All feeling besides his intruding hand was gone from my arms and legs, something that I was used to dealing with after I heard a smashing sound or a fire or alarm or a gun shot.

“Still does not feel good enough?”

I should have just called for Katie. Time moved too fast; I was so nervous, so afraid, and he felt so strong. I would attempt to grab for his wrists, or try to pull them away from me, but it was hopeless. I winced as he reached down lower and harshly worked his way in to me, unforgiving. I went for his lower arms to pull his hand out and away from my body, but in response he just pushed down more firmly. I forfeited and relinquished what little control I had had left; his force waned when I admitted defeat.

At any mention of it, Kevin would say that he was done talking to me; I had thought that was what I wanted, until it actually happened and I felt my heart actually ache. He had said that he loved me. I was beautiful. He wanted me. To be with me. I could not lose someone who looked at me and felt love. I loved him, too.

Kevin did not have time to see me before we left Cape Cod, so when I got home I laid on my bed and texted him:

< I miss you already >

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