by: Caitlin Bergh
When I was a sophomore in college, I was sitting in my room doing homework one afternoon when I overheard some friends in the hallway talking about sex. People were always talking about sex, but for some reason, their conversation this time caused me to spiral into a deep, heavy panic. I was an English major with a specialty in depressing Victorian novels, so I was pretty much always in a deep, heavy panic about something. But this was different; this was personal. Why didn’t I ever think about sex? Was I the only person my age who was still a virgin? I ran through the list of everyone I knew in my mind. Oh shit, I realized, I was. All I had ever done, romantically, with another human being was kiss a guy once as a senior in high school. The reason I kissed a guy as a senior in high school was that I didn’t want to have my first kiss in college. I deliberately sought him out for that reason. I didn’t like it, but it wasn’t his fault. I didn’t like people, period, so why would I like kissing one?
I suddenly realized that my senior year kiss wasn’t enough anymore on my record. People were going to start getting suspicious about me; maybe thinking I was a loser or that I was undesirable. I had to do more with guys or I would be a total outcast. In reality, of course, only about ten people at my college actually knew who I was and I am sure that no one cared about what I did or didn’t do with guys. But in the moment, I suddenly felt like such an idiot for being a virgin. The panic was sudden and overwhelming. I was frustrated, bullying myself from the inside. “Caitlin, is there something wrong with you? Is that why you haven’t had sex? What, does no one want you? Is that it?” No, I thought to myself. That’s not it. I just haven’t put any effort in. I could put some effort in. Don’t worry, someone will want me. I’ll lose my virginity. And then I can just have sex anytime I want. It will be fine. I’ll be just like everyone else.
The girl in the room next door to me is a lesbian. She is slowly becoming my best friend. I want her to be my best friend. I’m in love with her. In a friend way. But she never seems to notice me. Not in the way I notice her. When I talk to her, it seems like she knows the answer to everything. How does she do that? She seems to have lived much longer than the rest of us. She is the first gay person I’ve ever met.
It was time to not be a virgin. I went out the next night with a guy from one of my classes who was older than me. We had a drink or two and went to his apartment. Then his dick was on me. I don’t know how that happened so fast. He was grabbing my breasts, but for some reason I couldn’t feel anything. I had no sense of my own body. It was more than just feeling awkward in my body. I literally couldn’t feel. I was like a gangly duckling that had been tranquilized. I didn’t have any sense of him touching me. I wasn’t even drunk. Why couldn’t I feel anything? It was like I was watching the whole thing on a movie screen. Maybe if I kissed him, it would feel more like it was happening? I tried to kiss him and he said, “I don’t kiss on the mouth.” When he said that, I finally felt something. Something overwhelming. I felt fucking cheap.
“I’m a virgin,” I blurted out. “What, really?” he was genuinely shocked. “Yeah…is it a problem?” “No,” he said. His dick was getting closer again. “Wait,” I said. “Do you think…do you think maybe I should lose my virginity to someone I know? Like, my boyfriend?” “Yeah,” he said, “I guess you probably should.” “Well,” I asked, “who did you lose it to?” “I lost it to my girlfriend,” he said. We stopped in our tracks. We put our body parts away. He told me I could still sleep there, and I thought that was cool of him. It was a hot August night in New York City and the cars seemed louder than usual. He didn’t have air conditioning. I couldn’t fall asleep. My arm was on him. He said, “Hey, it’s really hot in here.” “Oh,” I said, “sorry.” I moved my arm. A few minutes passed. “I hate to be a dick,” he said, “but, do you mind going home? It’s just really hot with no AC.” “Oh, yeah, not at all” I said, and I meant it. I didn’t mind. I grabbed my chapstick off his desk and I left.
The next night my friend, the lesbian, the one who I want to be my best friend, invites us over to her room to watch Grey’s Anatomy. She looks really cute. She is wearing a t-shirt on top of a long-sleeve shirt. The utter pointlessness of that is cute to me. Everyone is sitting on the floor except my lesbian, double-t-shirt friend and her girlfriend. They are sitting on the bed. They are teasing each other, hugging, pushing, grabbing, being silly. Everyone is watching Grey’s Anatomy, but I am watching them. I’m watching them on her bed like it’s the first time I’ve ever seen anything interesting in my life. I’ve never seen anything like this and it makes my back tingle. What are they doing? That is what I want. I want that. I want what they are doing. I don’t even know what they are doing. What are they doing?
Two nights later, my dorm was having a party and my resolve to have sex with someone was newly strengthened by my awkward encounter with the no Air Conditioning guy. It’s frustrating. If I hadn’t been a virgin, I could have just fucked that guy. I could just fuck anyone, whether they kiss me on the mouth or not. I sent a flirty AIM message to a guy who I knew was coming to our party that night anyway. I guess my idea was to flirt with him before he got there so he would know what I was up to. Because I couldn’t flirt with him in person. I’m not a trained actress. I guess he knew what I was getting at from my message, because as soon as he got to our party, he handed me a double shot of tequila, then another and another. We had never said more than two words to each other, but all of a sudden we were acting like we needed something from each other. Like we needed to work together professionally to achieve a goal. I don’t know how all of this was communicated through my AIM message. I think maybe rumors were also involved. But it was like we both knew. I needed to lose my virginity in order to be normal. He didn’t need anything, but I mean, why not?
He asked if I wanted to get out of there. “Yeah,” I said, “sure.” We left the dorm and got out into the fresh but dirty New York City night air. I was wondering to myself if I was attracted to him. I didn’t think so. He started walking fast toward his dorm. I guessed I was supposed to join him. We talked about the sports we played in high school. We had both run track. That was probably the only thing we had in common. The conversation was painfully awkward and his gait was faster and faster toward his building. When I slowed down he encouraged me to keep up. I could feel the tequila setting in. I wanted a black hole to swallow me. Either that or every other human being in New York City to vanish. I wanted to be alone.
In his room he gave me some red wine and I sat on his bed, wondering if I looked ugly. He sat in a chair across from me drinking wine. We were talking. I have no idea what we talked about. I took my last sip of wine and put my glass down. “Should I go?” I asked. He said, “Caitlin, I’ve been waiting for you to finish that wine.” He walked over to the bed and started kissing me. Again, I didn’t feel anything. His hands were moving all over me, and I opened my eyes to see what was happening. There was his hand on my breast. I couldn’t feel it. Oh my god, I was thinking to myself, I’m so fucked up. Something about me is broken. He unbuttoned his pants. I guess we are doing this, I thought. “You want to,” he asked, “right?” “Yeah.” I took my pants off. We were on the 12th floor and I think I was more interested in the cars passing by outside than what he was doing to me. I couldn’t wait to be reading alone in my room again. But this was something I had to do. I didn’t feel anything. I wasn’t aware of anything happening. I was thinking about the cars outside. Where were they going this late? I woke up at 3am and there was blood all over my inner thighs and on his comforter. I guess I had done it. Cool. Now I could move on with my life. “Sorry about your comforter,” I said, when I left at 4am. He was sleeping. He didn’t hear me.
When I was seven-years-old, my mom took me to Club Med on an island in the Carribean and I loved it. I made a lot of friends my age. Everyone loved me because I was so outgoing and cute. I laughed and smiled a lot. I loved all of the activities. I loved the way the sunshine hit the water and the fish swam by my feet. I loved macaroni and cheese. I loved hugging my mom.
One day my friends were gathered in a circle and I went over to see what was going on. They were sitting on the ground, very focused, tapping gently at a coconut they had found with a stick. “What are you guys doing?” I asked. “Caitlin!” they were glad to see me. “We are trying to get this coconut open. We are SO close.” My mind filled with delight. I knew how to fix this! Everyone was going to be so happy with me. “Silly friends,” I said, grabbing the coconut. “Here!” I heaved it over my head and threw it on the ground. The coconut split into a million pieces. For some reason no one looked happy. “I opened it for you!” I said, “How come you didn’t think of that?” Their faces were hanging in disappointment. “Caitlin,” they said, “we were trying to drink the juice.”
I remember the first time I saw her—my friend, the lesbian, who I wanted to be my best friend. It was on my first day of college. I was standing in the hallway, holding a chair that I was moving into my new room. When I looked up, there she was, standing in the doorway of her room talking to someone. Something was different about her. Different from anyone I had ever seen. She was holding hands with someone, and I craned my head to see who it was. It was a girl. I felt the world around me stop. Everything zoomed out except for their hands, holding each other. I felt frozen, watching. I’d never felt anything like that before. “Who is that?” I asked the guy next to me. “That’s Cait,” he said. “She’s gay Cait, you’re straight Cait,” he laughed. “Get it?” he said, “you guys have the same name.” “Yeah,” I said, watching her, “I guess we do.” But no one had ever asked me if I was straight Cait. No one had ever asked me. I hadn’t even asked myself.
Caitlin Bergh is a Chicago comic. She is the producer & host of The Funny Story Show at LooseLeaf Lounge and co-producer & co-host of Performance Anxiety Chicago at The Pleasure Chest and #LadyBros Comedy at Cole’s Bar. She is a winner of the Moth StorySLAM & has performed at Mayne Stage, The Comedy Bar, Zanies, Berlin Nightclub, Chicago Underground Comedy, as well as in NYC and LA.