She had known him for two years before asking him the questions she was really curious about.
These questions are not the ones discussed in school; certainly not in the one-semester health-education-knowing-your-body course she and other public school teenagers in her country generally have. What her high school teacher said about s-e-x boiled down to: 1. Don’t do it while you’re young; 2. It’s okay to do it if you’re married; 3. Children are its worthy by-product; all the rest (and maybe that includes orgasms) are after-thoughts.
That was circa 1990s, of course; and her teacher was a 50-year old straight-laced, PhD-holding, tenured university professor, who always wore skirts.
Now she wonders, why do grown-ups never tell you the interesting parts about sex like:
* What is it like to lose one’s virginity?
* Why do people who should know better (being educated and well-informed) claim that they do not want to have children and yet do not use contraception? Is it laziness? Being sucked in the “heat of passion” (a line she learned in a romance novel)?
* What’s the big deal about having children anyway? Does one really need to have one before one dies? For what? To fulfill a biological imperative?
* What do orgasms feel like?
What her skirt-wearing, well-meaning high-school teacher failed to mention; what all those who have had sex fail to mention when they talk about what you are and are not missing when you have sex, is the immense power-play involved among penises and vaginas.
Was it Andrea Dworkin who supposedly said that all heterosexual intercourse is rape? Oh but that was a myth, wasn’t it?
After Alice and Jonas first had sex (oh the word!), the emotions that overwhelmed her were:
1. feeling owned by and bound to this person who may or may not stay in her life for very long (“owned” and “bound” are such loaded words, very un-feminist, but that’s what she felt, no matter what Andrea Dworkin might say),
2. worry that a single sperm managed to pass through an improbable pore in the condom that they used and she will get pregnant,
3. a sense of wonder that sex was not as bad as they said it can be and that it actually exceeded her expectations,
4. curiosity about “where this all might lead to.”
Flash forward to now…
She is holding his hand, or maybe he is holding hers — they are lying down facing each other after you-know-what. And his eyes are closed. And Alice is thinking, his eyelashes look so much more nicer than mine, how can that be.
Alice: So I want to ask you a question.
Jonas: Uhhmm …
Alice: What did it feel like for you the first time you had sex? Were you worried, apprehensive, excited? Did you think it would change your life or change you inside? Did you have performance anxiety or were you just happy you were finally doing it? Were you concerned about getting an STD or getting the girl pregnant? Did you even think about STD or pregnancy at all?
It is a long time before Jonas answers that Alice thinks he has fallen asleep.
“I felt that I was doing something right,” he finally says. “But afterwards, you were crying, so for a moment there I was worried that you will go to the police and report that it was rape.”
Jonas kisses her nose, opens his eyes and smiles.
Alice has her answer.