Compendium  Poetry: Ode to the 20-Year Old Virgin

With your birthday rapidly approaching, and your virginity as absolutely intact as a social construct can be, this is for you.

When you turned 16, you were in the throes of your first and only relationship, to a girl. Your days together were numbered, and you were as star-crossed as any two lovers could be, and when you talked about that weird concept, made weirder by the fact that you both only vaguely knew about the logistics of lesbian sex, she said, whatever happens, I’ll still be a virgin when this is done.

Now you scoffed, but she insisted that, by her standards, this, and she waved her hand vaguely between the two of you, would not “count.”

The relationship dissolved one month later, and in your head you said “fuck you,” and to her you said “I’m sorry, I’ll leave that up to someone who’ll actually matter,” and you moved across an ocean and cursed her for weeks on end.

On your wild European adventure there was no shortage of youth hostel beds and eager partners, but when you have to keep quiet because you’re on the top bunk and the Brazilian couple beneath you are light sleepers, sex in this space sort of loses its appeal.

And finally, you go over to a guy’s house that your mutual friend set you up with, but his idea of a fun time is letting his limp tongue sit inside your mouth while Lord of the Rings plays in the background and so you zip up your pants, feign a crisis, and leave before he starts petting your hair again.

You realize two things on your walk of unfulfilled shame. One, you are happy that you did not have sex with someone for the sake of having sex with someone. And two, you forgot your Lord of the Rings DVD at his house, and you’ll have to make up an excuse if ever anyone wants to watch it again, because there’s no way you can return.

And you’ve heard enough stories about your friends who “did it,” but the truth is, if it’s described as something you lose how good could it be?

Your one friend did it in a shower. This guy handed her a bottle of something, and she was so nervous she assumed it was shampoo. It was of course body wash for her to scrub away at that dirty dirty boy, but she dumped it in her hair and started to lather. It dripped into her eyes, until they stung and they had strange and uncomfortable shower sex as her eyes watered.

So now you’re 19, and still a virgin, but you read that Tina Fey was a virgin until 24 so I guess it’s okay? And it’s funny how something can matter to you and everyone else so much and so little. And it’s not something you can feel or touch or see, it’s not some cherry poised to be popped, it’s no tangible and absolute thing that you can surrender or take. It’s just an idea.

And here is a better idea: you are a 20-year-old poet, 20-year old prime minister to be, 20-year-old professional flower picker and 20-year-old pottery enthusiast. And here you are dwelling on being a 20-year-old virgin. What a silly thing, my friend, to think more about what other people can make you, than what you have made yourself.