I danced on a table at a bar in northern Australia and his face appeared below me, arms outstretched, wanting to make the connection. I was shaking my body in sync with the deep techno house music and he matched my rhythm and had sparkling blue eyes.
We kissed and then bumped our bodies against each other and tried to make ourselves heard over the music. What’s your name? Where are you from? Sorry, what was that? Can I buy you a drink? A rum ‘n coke? What kind of girl are you? I’m sticking with beer.
We playfully swapped drinks, made faces of disgust, and handed them back to their proper owners. He showed me his tattoo. I have a weakness for tattoos, but his didn’t have a story. I wanted it to so desperately, I was looking for depth—but who finds that at a bar?
Somehow he convinced me to go home with him. But outside, without the music, I didn’t like him. He was cute, yes, but so were many of the other men in the bar. That Australian accent is kryptonite to an American girl like me, but he said ‘me’ instead of ‘my’ and blew cigarette smoke in my face. He held my hand on the way to his apartment, which I should have liked, but I’d never held hands with anyone before in my life, and I didn’t want my first time to be with him.
We stopped twice on the street: once for him to piss on a bush, and once for him to stick his fingers between my legs. He was trying to be sexy and daring and playful, but despite the emptiness of the late night streets, I pushed his hands away.
When we reached his apartment, we took another shot. This time it was jäger. I was starting to sober up enough to realize that what I’d done, what this was, was a bad idea. I’d only gone home with a stranger once before in my life, but that boy had taken me for French fries at two in the morning after we’d danced for hours, had watched me stuff my face and listened to me talk and laughed at the jokes that I made before sex.
This boy was different—we’d barely had a real conversation. But he was cute, and my body wanted him, and shouldn’t that be all that mattered?
We made it to his bed and started kissing again, and then our clothes were off, and he was moving down my body with his lips and it all felt so good, and I asked if he had a condom, and he said no, so I told him to stop, that no, I would not have sex without a condom because I was not on birth control, but he didn’t stop. I asked him again. I tried to sound disappointed about the situation but firm about my decision to stop. I didn’t want to upset him. He paused and lifted out of me, and I struggled to get up off the bed, but he began to wheedle me back with his voice and his hands. We did a little dance like that, for a while. I said no, but he felt good inside me, and was it really that risky? Yes, yes, it was. What was I doing there? Why was I being so stupid? I didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t know if I was being raped. I hated that word. Rape. I would have fucked him if he had the goddamn condom, but he didn’t. His arms were strong, and I was suddenly frightened of a boy for the first time in my life; but nothing hurt, and no one was screaming or crying. But hadn’t I asked him to stop? And hadn’t he ignored my request?
I started to babble. I don’t think my panic registered in his alcohol-addled brain, but I somehow convinced him to let me go. I pushed up and off him with some difficulty as he drunkenly clung to my shoulders and I tried to locate my black dress and my black bra and my underwear and my sandals. He stood up and tried to kiss me again, gently, almost apologetically, but I angled my head away so his lips caught my chin and my cheek and the edge of my nose.
“You have a sexy body,” he told me, and for just one moment, instead of hating him, I was thankful for him, because weren’t my insecurities the only reason I was there with a stranger in the first place?
I smiled and said thank you and was soon back in my clothes, heart beating fast, shakily trying to explain to him that I wasn’t trying to escape, wasn’t trying to ditch him, but that I just wanted him to accompany me to a store to buy condoms because ‘then we could continue fucking, I promise!’ (Please let me go. Please unlock your door.)
I don’t think he knew I was spewing bullshit and soon I was outside, speeding through a parking lot, and he was following me, calling my name, and I pretended to talk on the phone, pretended to have a hysterical friend on the other line who needed me to come back to the bar immediately. He eventually stopped trying to keep up with my rapid, panicked strides and fell back.
I’d never been so happy to be alone.