I was moved to write this after reading the new novella, On Chesil Beach, by the unwaveringly brilliant Ian McEwan. The book is set in the 60s and centres around a young, recently married couple who are about to consummate their marriage on their wedding night. How quaint I thought. The fact that there once existed, not quite fifty years ago, an ideal to save oneself until marriage. Nowadays when a girl doesn't give it up after two dates you dismiss her as frigid and go home for a wank. Similarly is there still such a thing as a virgin bride? When was the last time you were at a wedding when someone didn't snort incredulously when the bride walked down the aisle in a white wedding gown? At one wedding I attended recently, one member of the bride's party had to be forcibly ejected after breaking into a fit of convulsive laughter at the sight of the bride in white.
My mind inevitably harks back to when I lost my own virginity and the perilous circumstances that surrounded my decision to go with an older woman (she was 17, I was 15). You see the thing is, as a 15/16 year old boy you are walking, talking phallus with a slightly higher IQ and a time bomb attached to it's head. You are quite liable to explode at any second. At that age you are convinced, well I was anyway, that the whole world is having sex. Everyone, that is, except you. Your mates, even the efikos, are all paragons of sexual conquest. You listen in quiet awe as they describe the most intimate parts of a girl's anatomy, nodding sagely with familiarity whilst silently cursing yourself for your own inadequacies and lack of experience. Thinking back now, it was all just a pack of lies. You know this because you perpetuated the very same lies. You practiced them, you rehearsed them to yourself, you recited them with such conviction that, shyeet, you damn near started believing in your own damn sexual prowess. And it was easy too! That clumsy fumble up Ada’s skirt in the back of your father’s car became a forty minute shagging session in which you made Ada come four times. The twenty second kiss that you stole behind the Form four block with Nike became a blow job in the toilet. And so on.
I marvel now at the creative output of the teenage boy. I playfully wonder how many Booker winners would have emerged in the last decade had that collective tempest of creative imagination been better harnessed. We are barely talking ten years but times have moved on somewhat even from then. You best believe that today’s 15-year-old boy is not only shagging more girls than you ever will, but also he is even down playing the event to avoid the scorn of his mates over the quality of some of his conquests. No such luck for us back in the day. Even if the girl you were describing was a complete munter, she got just as much airtime as the finest girl. Yup that’s right even wor-wor girls need love to. Matter of fact you had a far better chance with the wor-wor ones. Y’all know who you are.
Seriously though, far from being some bitter old dude who didn’t have enough sex in his teens, is there not something to be said for the couple in On Chesil Beach? Is there any value to be had in waiting a bit longer for your first sexual experience? I for one was distinctly under whelmed by the huge anticlimax of my first sexual experience and indeed many since. You soon come to terms with the fact that as pleasurable a pastime as it is, it is perhaps no more or less fulfilling than eating large amounts of chocolate. There happens to be considerably less cleaning up afterwards as well. The emotions, the sensations that sex evoke are very much ephemeral. They are so fleeting and often unsatisfactory, particularly if you are woman.
I have a brother who at last count had slept with roughly 200 different women. This is extreme but I still fail to see the enrichment in his life and indeed would argue that each experience has been a mild case of vampirism as it has sucked away a little bit of his ability to feel. To each his own but I would advise, with humility, that people should place far less emphasis on this most hollow (no pun intended) of leisures. Ladies do it for the right reasons and more importantly with the right men. I promise you if he is worth it he will hang around waiting. Men I have no advice for you. Half of you would not have finished reading this and would have stopped at the word wank because you were reminded you hadn’t danced you daily five finger shuffle. The other half are probably going off for a fuck. And I don’t blame you, that’s where I’m headed too.