I think that red velvet cupcakes are like sex. See, I can say that now because I had sex last week for the first time. I am 20 years old and I used to wear a platinum purity ring, but then I lost my virginity to a frat boy. A frat boy I wasn’t dating, and never planned on dating. When I met him, I doubted his vocabulary expanded beyond “ah dude” and “sup.” Maybe the fact that he was president of the fraternity counts for something? I don’t know. But I do know that I regret nothing. This is all very astonishing to me — I thought that sex was supposed to be terrifying.
I grew up in Alabama, and the majority of the stereotypes about the sex education down there are true (or at least they were for me). I was given myriad metaphors that were supposed to deter me from having sex. A few of my personal favorites: I am a present and no husband wants a banged up present; I am a piece of duct tape and if I stick myself to too many people I will never be able to stick to someone permanently; I am a cow and if I give away my milk for free no one will ever buy me.
Anyway, back to the frat boy. I met frat boy at a “Southern” themed birthday party about a month after my boyfriend of three years dumped me. I arrived ready to be culturally offended, and I was not wrong in that assumption. In that sweaty party full of biddies in daisy dukes, our eyes met from across the room. There I was: “the red-lipped cowgirl with a fireball flask in her back pocket.” There he was: “the guy that no one told there was a theme to this party and is now wearing an argyle sweater in a sea of flannel.” We hit it off with witty banter — or at least the whiskey told us it was witty.
In middle school, we were given these plastic cards that represented our virginity. Physical v-cards. In middle school, we were asked to sign the back. It was supposed to solidify an abstinence contract. So, seventh-grade Becky who had never even kissed a boy, pledged her abstinence on the back of a piece of plastic — at the urging of an abstinence educator. Incidentally, kids in middle school would also bring in enough cupcakes to share with the whole class on their birthdays. We should consider doing this in college.
After that party, I went home with frat boy (I mean, c’mon, he was wearing argyle). When clothing started to disappear, I knew I had to lay my sexlessness out there. After all, a bro like him must have sex all the time. I didn’t know what he was expecting from me. I told him and he just shrugged and said, “Good thing foreplay is fun!” We continued our sexless hookups weekly. After returning from my second sexless hookup with frat boy, my semi-clairvoyant roommate looked at me and said, “You’re going to lose your virginity to him. I’m calling it now.” I scoffed. Yeah, right. If I didn’t have sex in my three-year-long relationship, I certainly wouldn’t have sex with a frat boy who wears argyle to house parties. Side-note: my roommate can’t handle chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing because she thinks it has too much chocolate, but honestly I don’t believe in too much chocolate, you know?
High school health class continued my abstinence education. When I wasn’t daydreaming about the scene kid in front of me (his butt looked good enough in those skinny jeans to ignore the muffin top), I was soaking up a semester of scare tactics. Here are some of the things I learned: birth control doesn’t work, the pill can kill you, there is no protection from STDs, you will always be in love with the person you lose your virginity to, losing your virginity is bloody and painful, and abstinence is the only way to be safe. And honestly, what is the difference between muffins and cupcakes? The concept is really the same.
When I was a junior in high school, I got my first boyfriend. He is a certified genius. He also wanted to have sex a lot because he, like me, was a virgin (which is way more taboo for men than it is for women, for some reason). NASA Genius was my first foray into anything sexual — besides sex. However, NASA Genius didn’t really have bed manners. He was selfish and coercive, but, I didn’t know any better. Because I didn’t receive adequate sex education, I didn’t understand what consent meant. Or that I shouldn’t be crying after every sexual experience. He blamed my reactions on the combination of my religious roots and my, as he called them, “histrionic” tendencies — and so did I. On Valentine’s Day, he told me to never tell him that I love him because love was also physical and if I didn’t have sex with him I didn’t love him. Some people turn cupcakes into sandwiches by pulling the bottoms off and putting them on top of the icing, but I find that a little disrespectful.
Frat boy was quite the foil to NASA Genius. On the outside, frat boy was Fratty McFratterson with his fratty friends, fratty terminology, and fratty collection of paddles. But, behind that anchorman smile, was quite the clever head. See, I got to know frat boy quite well during our semi-weekly sessions. He might have a rainbow assortment of frat tanks, but he was honestly the most respectful guy I had ever been involved with. Frat boy was generous and considerate. As I said, quite the foil to NASA Genius. Two years into our relationship, NASA Genius said, completely seriously, “The only reason I do sexual things to you is so that you will do them back to me.” I don’t understand how some people don’t eat all of the icing on their cupcakes; it’s so wasteful, you know?
Months of rather dense pillow talk later, I had developed feelings for frat boy. And he had developed feelings for me. I had also come to realize that I wanted to have sex with frat boy. I was confused; I had never actually wanted to have sex with anyone before. He picked up on this inclination. One night, I was lying on his chest and he blurted, “Are you trying to have sex with me, dude?”
And I responded, “I haven’t decided yet, but maybe, yeah.” His reaction surprised me. I had been taught that all men wanted sex from everyone all the time.
But he responded with hesitance, saying, “Maybe that’s not a good idea. I don’t want to be anyone’s regret.” See, frat boy had been taught that a girl losing her virginity was a traumatic experience and that the girl would be forever attached to who she lost it to. Given that a relationship wasn’t in our cards and that he actually cared about me, he was scared to have sex with me. He was trying to protect me. It’s not that he didn’t want to have sex with me; he just didn’t want to traumatize me because, apparently, sex is supposed to hurt.
A few more conversations with frat boy about the possibility of sex later, I decided it was high time for me to go on birth control (the stuff that I was taught didn’t work and might kill me). So, I marched to my school’s health center and told the doctor, “No, I’m not dating anyone. Yes, I have someone in mind to have sex with but there is no guarantee. I just want to be safe.” I got my prescription, went to CVS, and set my birth control alarm to say, “Thanks Margaret Sanger.” A few weeks later, I went back to CVS and bought condoms. I also bought a Tupperware container shaped like a cupcake. I put the condoms in the cupcake container.
One fateful summer night, six months after meeting frat boy, we had sex. I was tired of thinking it over; I was ready. I dramatically grabbed a condom and handed it to him purposefully. He said, “That’s great and all but I need a verbal yes.” I gave him a verbal yes. I gave him a verbal yes three times. And then it happened. It pinched for a hot second — and then it made all the sense in the world. He was gentle and careful and told me to tell him if he was hurting me. When the deed was done, he asked, “How we feelin’?”
How was I feeling? After a minute of pondering this, I started laughing. I started laughing because I wasn’t crying. I started laughing because the world wasn’t ending and I wasn’t a different person just because a penis had been inside of me. I think the laughing may have freaked him out a little bit, but no matter. I had just had sex and I was pretty damn pleased with myself.
So, there it is. I defeated years of sexual misinformation and unhealthy sexual experiences. And here’s the thing: I didn’t lose anything. There is not a piece of me missing. Frat boy and I gave each other an experience, and for that he will always have a special place in my heart. But, I’m not forever devoted to him.
Honestly, all I want now is to know when seconds are served. That is applicable to both sex and cupcakes.