Yes, yesterday was my L.A. debut of sitting and spinning. (A.K.A. reading my essay at the Comedy Central Stage’s “Sit n Spin”.) I got to start off the show after a song, which was pretty sweet. I was in my comfort zone, well-buttressed from years of competative high school Oral Interpretation in the New York Catholic Forensics League, and got to enact my very own “Wish I were David Sedaris/wrote regularly for This American Life” moment in some small way. Below is the closest to what I read last night. I’ll put up the “director’s cut” later… I had to hack away a good third of material, which may grow into its own short essay in the future. I am so zoned out right now it’s stunning… nights like these you don’t really beauty rest.
And now, for those of you who missed it, “The 80 Year-Old Virgin.”
Midway through my sophomore year of college, my father died suddenly of a heart attack, which forced me into immediate, advanced adulthood. And it seemed stupid to me that I was still a virgin when I felt like I was 80-years old. I was an 80 year-old virgin. So how did I fall so far behind? And what was I catching up to?
I was never precocious when it came to sex. At sixteen I was a never-kissed honor student, and at 19, sex was something I couldn’t even imagine myself actually doing. It had always been taboo, why would it suddenly be okay? For some reason, I deeply believed in the abstinence myth. I really thought my parents waited until they were engaged and assumed I would too. And after my sister went away to college, I noticed a pronounced change in her behavior, which I wisely concluded to be the traumatic effects of her losing her virginity. She lost all control of her emotions and would get irrationally upset during arguments over something as stupid as what we ate for dinner last Christmas. I now had proof for what I already knew: sex changes people. I would be indelibly altered.
Then I had my eureka moment. One night on fall break while making primavera, Mom revealed to me over sautéed garlic that she’d lost her virginity after some dude’s prom, when she was sixteen. The age I hadn’t even been kissed at, remember. Then it became evident that as far as premarital sex was concerned, my father was exceptionally laissez-faire. And finally my sister mentioned that she’d lost her virginity when she was 17 to her internet boyfriend on their first visit in Ohio, and that it was “special and meaningful”, all youthfully romantic under the stars in some utterly perfect, secluded field on a picnic blanket, and they were totally in love. I remember her after that trip: she was extremely happy and quite balanced. Her irrational mood swings only started in college, turns out, because of psychotropic drugs.
So here I was, waking up to the fact that I was sexually retarded. I was behind. As a sexual being, I was a two-year-old. It was that awful feeling you get when you have some important meeting you’re waiting for: you get there early, sit and wait, peruse People, watch the minutes sloooowly pass, and you think “How on Earth is everyone 45 minutes late?” Then you realize oh fuck, it was on the THIRD floor, and sprint upstairs and try to justify “I swear I was here, I just got the wrong floor”, but all you can do is try and catch up as fast as you can on all the stuff everyone else was learning when you were dicking around, playing Sudoku. This was the rudest awakening since the revelation of the myth of Santa Claus. What’s next, that Jesus Christ isn’t God’s only son who died on the cross for our sins?
Yes, this whole issue was all the more alarming to me by the fact that I was raised a fundamentalist Christian. Fundamentalist means that the Bible is the irrefutable word of God. It’s a very all or nothing, take it or leave it philosophy. So cease to believe one thing and like a game of Jenga it all tumbles down. I was already feeling a bit wobbly in this regard: 85% of my friends were Jewish and basically the rest were gay, and I was having a tough time accepting that they were all going to burn in hell. And now this sex thing had truly thrown me for a loop: other Christians were out there having premarital sex and God didn’t care.
But here was my conundrum. Attending the one evangelical Lutheran church (if that’s not an oxymoron) in suburban New York, my less extreme family was surrounded by what you might call “crazy Christians”. A family friend—whose mom was a former African missionary—duped me into attending the Word of Life Bible camp. For five days we were inculcated with doctrine and guilt and zeal and the love of Jesus and the shame of masturbation. Right at the cusp of this tidal wave of piety came the essential teen sex sermon. Each of us received two little pieces of adhesive paper to stick in the fronts of our Bibles. The first was an affirmation of faith, stating that we’d accepted Jesus Christ as our savior, old hat. This I signed, dated, and had my friend sign as “witness.” The second one was a promise to remain “physically pure until marriage”. This I signed, dated, and promptly neglected to get my friend to be a “witness” to. Somewhere in the eye of the Jesus-storm, I heard the ghost of my future self frantically shouting “DOOOOON’T DOOOOO IT!!!!!!” I suppose I thought, might as well leave an escape route in case this wasn’t such a good idea. It would give me some elbow room or bargaining leverage. But imagine the court scene with you arguing moot point because there was no witness signature, and then God gets up on the stand (defending himself, naturally) and says magnificently, “On the contrary, I WAS THERE.” That whole omniscient, omnipresent thing completely screws your case. Plus, look at the Book of Job: in negotiations, God will always win, no matter what kind of books you cook. So basically, if I were to have premarital sex, going by that stamp alone, I’d have broken a sacred pact I made with God as a somewhat ignorant fifteen-year-old. So there I was, clinging to a relic of a past truth that never existed, knowing I must move forward, but being too afraid to.
I was stuck in this Hamlet-mode of inactivity when maturity sprung on me all at once and much, much too completely. After my father’s death, the decision was pretty much made for me: virginity was a cloud that hung over my head. So I disposed of it as dispassionately as a gynecological exam: clinical, 60-second sex with my horny Indian boyfriend shortly before breaking up. He did love me. It seemed… correct. I didn’t want to fuck a random dude. And yet it seems like such a shame… why couldn’t my first time have been outdoors on a blanket with my first love under an Ohio sky like my sister’s? Why could I only move forward once I was already ten steps behind? And this sad, pragmatic, unromantic view of sex has never fully left me. I think I threw the baby out with the bathwater: I tore off the sacred veil, but what was left appeared to have no value at all. When you remove the only rule you ever knew about sex, it doesn’t leave you with much to go by. I went from superprude to the opposite end of the spectrum: just like fundamentalism, it was either all or nothing. If you’re not waiting until marriage, why not just have sex all the time? How do you even choose who you sleep with? Can you even ever say no once you’ve said yes? If you want to, you do it. And why not do it even if you don’t want to? Because there is no reason not to. No concrete theological reason.
But it still doesn’t feel right to me. At my core, I’m not “that kind of girl”. Somewhere in the confusion, my moral compass still points to a God of compassion, who is sad when his children aren’t happy. And I’m not happy. I hate sex. And if you want to have sex with me, then I hate you a little. I often wish I were entirely asexual so that when I’m having that really great conversation with you you’re not just trying to get into my pants. Because I know I’m way better than just a good lay. (I’m pretty good.) And I am so in touch with my personal awesomeness that anyone who only wants me for my body disgusts me. Ergo since coming to L.A., the majority of people I’ve been involved with I’ve wound up reviling. And that needs to stop. I don’t want the core of my libido to be distain. I want a love life with a little love in it. Or at the very least some like.
I’m fine being single, I don’t want to be married, and I am sick of random creeps “falling in love with me” because of my soulful eyes. You’re an asshole, you don’t even know my last name. It’s Muller. I’m not going to stop having sex, but I also don’t think just because I’m in my twenties and in L.A. that I have to sleep around. So my fucked-up moral compass and I are going to find the balance between former prudery and recent liberalism. We want to be taken to dinner. We want to converse. And most of all, we want real intimacy. I think it’s what everyone in L.A. wants, and they’re frantically fucking each other in front of full-length mirrors as a desperate alternative. I think it’s what I’ve been wanting all along too.
So: who wants a hug?