The First Time

Kat Zahner

The first time I lost my virginity I was barely eighteen and had just begun my senior year of high- school. If you do the math, you’ll find out I was held back a year. My mother told me it was my August birthday and that I had missed the cutoff so that I wouldn’t feel embarrassed about the truth; my delayed ability to potty-train. At eighteen in a single-sex school, sex was the only thing worth discussing; who was having it, where they did it, and how bad was it.

Around the mass exodus of the celibate to the sphere of the sexually active, I heard countless tales of virgins laying siege upon their absent parent’s king-sized beds, backseat exploits from the more spacious SUVs to the restrictive Prius’ limited capacity; and I would have none of that. I wanted a story that I could vividly remember and one that everyone else surely would.

So, when my closeted theater boyfriend who wore more makeup than me, which was to wear any make up at all, was suggestive in his inclinations to experiment, (likely a more detrimental and impactful result than the one he had upon my life) I knew it was only a matter of time before we would consummate our fragile, advantageous relationship, void of entirely heterosexual attractions.

I asked him to compile a list of prospective locations on one balmy summer’s eve and when he informed me of his parent’s Storage Mart unit, I was pretty confident I could exploit its faculties well. He stole the key for the unit’s manual garage door and after a protein filled meal at the nearby Chipotle Mexican restaurant, we were fueled for the pre-meditated act. His parent’s storage unit was everything I could have hoped for in creating a memory that would remain like a corneal flash burn in my own mind and anyone else’s who had the privilege of hearing about it.

The dramatic reveal that took place when we yanked open the rusted garage door, I hoped would instill him with a similar confidence reminiscent to the curtains being parted back during a stage performance. Luckily for our puberty-inflicted bodies, the spot lights were not a feature in this dimly lit space. A single bulb dangling from a frayed wire looked as if a rodent had gnawed on it with dull incisors and was equipped with a single thread that when pulled, turned the flickering bulb on and off as the string in motion clanged against the glass. The walls were covered with carefully curated and expertly hung finger paintings from infancy and other juvenile crafts from a coveted past that it I imagined his mother longed for. When I tried reclining in a seductive position that must have resembled a Greek symposium attendee after engorging themselves with food and drink, I noticed an encrusted puddle of an orange-brown substance. I inquired about its origins and he began to sob about how the vomit belonged to his dead dog. I quickly took my clothes off to get the ball, or balls in this case, rolling before I missed my only chance at a virginity story worth telling.

It took many years for me to appreciate this story for my expert engineering of events because a week later he came out to me over the phone on Prom night. Evidently, I had caused an unrepairable fissure in our relationship and subsequently, his life when I asked him, Sadie Hawkins style, by dividing the four letters of P-R-O-M across my butt cheeks in permanent marker and pulled my pants down to moon him upon his return home from choir practice. It wasn’t the pain of a broken heart that hurt the most but the black Sharpie letters that took many weeks to fade away despite vigorous scrubbing in the shower and bribing the help of my younger sister and a bottle of acetone. Over the course of my virgin pillaging in the year that followed, I pretended that the playing field was level, that I remained pure, and told a tale about my hymen breaking prematurely one summer at girl scout camp while horseback riding. “It could happen to anyone,” I would say as I shrugged, hoping they would still accept my tarnished vector.

Author Bio: Born & raised in the midwest, Kat Zahner (She/her) grew up in Kansas City, Missouri where she attended an all- girls private Catholic high-school under conditional uniformity that went far beyond the regulated clothes she wore. During her four years in there, she wrote for her school newspaper “Le Journal”, as the section editor for the Movie Review Column. Upon, graduation she received an academic scholarship to her only choice & the only school distant & cold enough she was sure no one would follow her: Montana State University. She attended the Yale Writer’s Workshop over the consecutive summers of 2018 & 2019. While in Montana, she worked in the hospitality industry at The Yellowstone Club on the ski mountain as a nanny & a barista at The Club Tavern Bar & Grill. Returning to Kansas City to pursue a career as a Fine Art Conservation Technician, she now spends her days cleaning the nicotine and yellowed varnish off paintings and indulge in writing humorous, self- deprecating non-fiction & short memoir essays in the evenings.  @Z_KATATTACK

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