People often want to know what inspired this crazy journey. What the monkey nuts got me up off my backside and out into the wide world to ask a whole bunch of people, strangers mostly, about one of the most profound personal moments of our lives...the loss of virginity. It's hardly your common or garden pastime. In fact an allotment would have been a lot easier. Heck, I like to garden as much as the next person, but I just don't think it would have been quite as, lets say, absorbing...
The truth is that I was bored and uninspired. Bored of working for people, and uninspired by earning money and spending it on new shoes and dinner. That kind of lays the groundwork, but there's a little bit more to it than that. Lulled into a sense of torpor I may have been, but I was also something else. I was itchy like an itchy thing for a challenge. I was crouched beneath an invisible starting pistol that I didn't even know existed. I was, basically, gagging for a change.
It's a funny old thing, but when you really have the intention to do something different with your life, even if that hot fire of frustration is subconscious, when you've got the steering wheel of destiny gripped between both hands, the universe does have a strange habit of sticking a cosmic sign post in your path and waiting to see if you read it or not. And so it was, that I found myself lounging on El Matador beach one fine September afternoon and breaking the bread with a very special friend. We soon got down to the afternoon's entertainment - the in's and, ahem, outs, of our early sexual endeavours.
J and I had very different stories. His was a boy's for a start, but that wasn't what got my attention. It was more to do with the precision with which he could tell me the dates, times, names and exact details of every single conquest almost but not quite achieved in the lead up towards the literal climax of his story that got me going.
It was the frustration, the lust and the desire, this boy was horny! Alongside the descriptions of parents who had the complete and utter temerity to move to the countryside just as he came of age, thereby drastically reducing his cherry popping chances that made me laugh. It was the pain and the sheer hormonally driven passion to scratch that sensational itch that seems to afflict so many teenage boys just at the point when puberty strikes that captured my imagination. Most of all, I loved the fact that it was all so box-fresh in his mind, so oven-ready to recall, even now, a straight twenty-five years after the event.
'Everyone's got a story like this', he said. 'You should collect them'
Right then and there, and completely out of the blue, my fate was sealed. I knew without a single shadow of a doubt that I was going to do exactly that. I hadn't missed the signpost. What's more, it made perfect sense. Most people on this planet will lose their virginity. But no two will have the same story.
That last point becomes all the clearer to me now, as I consider the fact that there is often more than one reason why we do any given thing. I could leave you with the story above, or I could tell you more. Not just about my own reasons, but indeed the universal impetus to talk to a complete and utter stranger about our inner worlds.
Many months later, my challenge now well underway, I decided to imitate the interview process. How could I expect to understand how my interviewees felt about telling their virginity loss stories if I wasn't prepared to try it out myself? A friend offered to ask the questions. I was quite astonished at what came out.
Number one. My story was completely and utterly devoid of hormonally driven sexual desire. Number two. It kind of bugged me. There was no itch to scratch here, at least none of the sexy kind. Good lord! There was something hideously wrong with me. Without ever really acknowledging it to myself, my story had bugged the hell out of me for this simple reason - it wasn't sexy. Sound stupid? It is. But the thoughts that we formulate in our teenage minds have a funny habit of remaining just that. Teenage.
Which explains my willingness - and that of my interviewees, to lay ourselves upon the lines of truth, albeit many years later, and re-live some of the biggest moments of our lives. The best way to move forwards, it seems, is often to take a step back.
In my case, to a time when I was quite possessed by the idea of being a grown up. So much so, that I was happy to hand my virginity in a gift-wrapped box to the sexiest French boy that I could find. That was the deal. I forfeited desire, the real deep down and dirty delicious kind, but in return, I got what my heart desired more than anything - to be an adult. The sexy bit came much later, once I'd found myself a boyfriend who could actually speak the same language as me.
And that as they say, is that. Two completely different stories and one great big fat reason why I have never found it difficult to get anyone to talk to me. Face to face that is. The Internet is different. Here I understand the reluctance to part with intimate sexual information - the Internet is not a person. But out here, in the sentient world, people are moving towards the experiences, whatever they may be, that subconsciously they need in order to push forward. We are all doing it. You are probably doing it right now. Because you really never know what is around the corner, or in my case, the beach.