The first time I had sex was out of guilt.
My boyfriend was a senior in high school when I was a junior. We both went to New Orleans Center for Creative Arts. I was there for theatre, and he was there for visual arts. Ben was different from other kids or from anyone, really. He wore army boots and army pants and sometimes a bullet proof vest even during the humid heat. Ben wanted to be ready when the government attacked. He carried his sketchbook with a man’s head split open from a motorcycle accident. He didn’t know the man. He just really liked the image. So he printed it out and glued the picture onto the front of his notebook. Occasionally he’d dye his hair turquoise blue or jet black. But to me, Ben was sweet. Well, when he wasn’t yelling at strangers to fuck off if they looked at him a certain way. But besides that, he voice was soft. He was awkward and shy. 5’7. Flabby. He wrote me love notes and called me beautiful. He scribbled haikus on tomatoes and gave them to me. He knew I loved tomatoes. But really, I loved the attention.
There were a lot of things I didn’t like about Ben. I didn’t like his taste in unpopular heavy metal music or his obsession with guns and violence. I especially didn’t care for his wardrobe. It didn’t make sense logically or stylistically. I thought his paranoia was ridiculous, but I never voiced my opinions to him. Sure, I’d ask questions.
“Why is there a gas mask in the back seat of your car?”
“It’s better to be safe than sorry. I have a couple more gas masks at home. Remind me to get one for you.”
“Oh, that’s alright…but thank you.”
There was a lot I kept to myself. I’m not sure why. I know he really liked me. He even told me he loved me. It was ingrained in me as a girl to never disappoint. I was afraid to fail him…including sexually.