I lost my flirting virginity exactly 1 year after losing my actual virginity.
The latter was pretty much a non-event. Like most girls I knew in the twilight of their teens or dawn of their 20s, virginity was a constant annoyance in the back of my mind. I was comforted when I heard Tina Fey say on a talk show that she waited until she was 24. I also took heart in Mindy Kaling extolling the virtues of wearing Osh Kosh B’Gosh overalls until the age of 16 and savoring freshman year as the time to figure out who you really are. I wasn’t desperate to lose it à la American Pie or The To Do List.
Rather, I felt the same way about my virginity as I did about my sudden college weight gain: it’d be nice to lose it, but I was pretty content as I was. It was only when people started talking about it (my friends discussing their sexual experiences with conspiratorial gleams in their eyes) that I got a bit anxious.
The actual night when I cashed in my V-card was awkward and impersonal. I liked the guy, but not enough to, say, pick him up from the airport or cook him anything involving more than two condiments. I don’t remember what song was playing or what I was wearing, just that I was kind of feeling like had a flu.
Flirting, on the other hand, had always been a source of concern for me. A great mystery that I was desperate to solve. I would try the coquettish eyelash flutter, but become anecdotally the girl with the eye twitch. I would respond clumsily to compliments about my looks by saying, “Yes. It has been suggested that having parents from disparate ancestries may reduce the chances of inheriting genetic mutations, and perceptions of attractiveness are shaped to favour health cues.” I would occasionally attempt playful banter: “My, what a fulsome beard you have/dapper suit you’re wearing/mellifluous voice you have. . .” and be rebuffed as too weird. I now realize that these lines were more wolf-dressed-as-grandmother than flirty girl-you’d-like-to-get-to-know-better.
This spiralled into self-doubt, and I began to hedge my bets with really cheesy pick-up lines, like, “You remind me of a parking ticket.” If the guy looked intrigued, I’d gingerly mumble, “. . .you’ve got fine written all over you”. More often than not, they’d look at me with faint distaste. I’d mutter, “. . .I wish you’d get written off”, and scuttle off, awkwardly.
But true to Miss Kaling’s words, college was a time when I learned to become more comfortable with myself. Slowly and surely; by expanding my social circles, interests and experiences; I learned to back myself.
One year after my first time, I spied a handsome guy at a bar, telling a joke with languid ease in a European accent. I straightened my spine, threw back my shoulders, and strutted over. “Wow, you sure know how to roll your R’s. Where is that incredible accent from?” I realized, it wasn’t so much about having the perfect line (hey, nobody’s perfect), but rather embracing my own confidence and not getting too hung up on the fear of rejection.
While my sexual deflowering was not as big of a deal to me as I expected it to be, my flirting deflowering was. It epitomized an awakening of self-conviction and self-esteem. It was the first time in my life when I started to think, “This person should want to get to know me. And if not, that’s their loss, not mine.”
Elodie is a law student and aspiring screenwriter who recently traded Australia’s beaches for Oxford’s dreaming spires. She enjoys recreational sleuthing and eating undignified quantities of oatmeal. ’80s rom-coms are her catnip. She blogs at http://www.elodiedoesoxford.com.