I get a lot of email from male virgins. In fact, I have built up quite a correspondence with a few of them. I can’t help it. This project has been an eye-opener in so many respects but none more so than when it comes to men. Men are the new women. Life isn’t easy for men. I feel for them.
In the dark old days, we all knew where we stood. Gender roles were clear and we knew what parts we were playing in the game of life, but no more! Women, whether we know it or not, hold the cards. Men have to try and guess the suit. And guess. And guess. And guess.
And this is the rub. This is the hard, indecipherable bit that even we women don’t understand. Women can have sex upside down, standing on their heads whilst road-testing a rabbit and plotting their next career move….but we still want a man to be a man. How much of a man remains a mystery. Should you be macho, strong, confident and assured? Or a great cook, a good listener, a shoulder to cry on? Swing too far in one direction and we don’t like you. Too full of yourself, so arrogant, get with the twenty first century Warren Beatty! Stray too close to the shores of metrosexuality and we'll have you down as 'the little brother I never had’. AKA, the man I love to talk to but wouldn’t deem worthy of a shag in a month of Sundays.
My friend Rob chucked a copy of ‘The Game’ by Neil Strauss, at me a while back. ‘Have a read of that’, he said. ‘It’ll give you an idea of what’s going through a man’s mind, especially when it comes to losing virginity’.
It didn’t look good. The story goes something like this: ‘Rolling Stone’ journalist decides to go undercover in the world of ‘pick up’. This is a bona fide community of men who have developed fail-safe techniques with which to pick up women. Anyone can join in - they have boot camps, training manuals and websites. It is very real and very popular. Rolling Stone journalist then gets a taste for his brief. Just a little toooo much. Time elapses and before long, he has morphed into ‘Style’, one of the worlds best loved pick up artists.
I expected to hate this book. I loved it. Couldn’t put it down in fact.
Strauss is easy to like. He’s honest and emotional. He’s the good guy in a sea of grade-A creepiness. But it was the rollercoaster ride into the minds of men that really got me going. The guts gathered and torn to shreds on a daily basis and the crushing disappointment, as each sad and lonely character picks himself up, dusts himself down and throws his tattered ego back into the game. And it is a game. Confidence and chat are everything. Good looks and physique count for very little.
Now, far be it from me to shed light on the negative, but some of your dating disasters are funny. And some of you like to share them. Welcome to the world of Travis, a man on a mission to lose his virginity. This wasn’t technically a ‘date’, but it could be deemed a disaster.
‘I'd like to say that dating has gotten easier and less dramatic. But in reality only the locations, details and type of drama have changed.
An afternoon doctor appointment resulted in a pre-diagnosis of testicular cancer. Fortunately, I was invited to a crawfish boil that evening, so I could decompress with my hosts. I wound up chatting up a woman - which is rare for me if I know nothing about her, to which her friends responded with a ‘distract and extract.’ This is where one friend gets you to turn around by asking a question like, ‘so how do you know, [the hosts]?’ and the woman you were chatting up is quickly swept away…
I was working in the airline industry after 9/11, so we were short-staffed and stressed. As I drove to the clinic for my appointment the next day, I had a mid-term in Organic Chemistry that night that I knew I was going to bomb. Take a guess who was behind the counter when I got there?
Would she remember me? Would she see me? And does the receptionist need to yell ‘testicular ultrasound’ loud enough that the Inuit-natives in northern Alaska can hear?
Little did I know that she would be the one taking me out back to the room. Little did I know that she was the radiology tech. And as she walked me to the room, she had this look on her face like she knew me...but couldn’t quite place me.
Considering that all I would be wearing were socks, a gown to my mid-chest, and a strategically placed towel...this was not good. Imagine me playing out the combinations of things that I could do to not look like ‘me from the night before’. Why not keep my baseball cap on? Didn't have it last night. Take off my glasses? Perfect!
Like a squinting, mostly naked guy with a cap over his face isn't going to attract attention. I went with just the glasses.
Now, given the right situation, if we knew each other better...had gone out a bit...and I knew minor details like her last name, I might not have minded her hand being an inch from my genitals. Or the fact that she was using a vibrating wand of sorts. But we didn't know each other better. And I was praying that I could get out of there with a shred of my pride intact.
It was a race against the clock. She kept glancing over at my face, to the point where I wanted to say, ‘shouldn't you be keeping an eye on the screen?’ About two minutes before she was gone, I saw the flash of recognition and a smirk across her face.
I'm sure her and her friends had a good laugh over it. I can laugh about it now, but it didn't happen overnight. It's one of those stories that sounds made up. I wouldn't believe it.
The cancer, at least, had the decency to turn out negative.