One night my Sophomore year of college, the roommates and I were having a conversation about love and dating and other aspects of college living. I was at Utah State University. I had five roommates. They were all active LDS women. All but one was from Utah. Even having lived in Utah my entire life, living with five of them was culture shock. I’m sure they were equally in culture shock having to live with me.
One roommate – the subject of this post – was particularly Molly. I think she had gone on fewer than a half a dozen dates in her whole life. She certainly had not “dated” anyone exclusively. And come to think of it, I believe it was her cousin who took her to prom. Let’s be clear here. Her cousin took her to prom because she didn’t have a date. She didn’t have a date because she wasn’t popular. She wasn’t popular for myriad reasons one of which was probably because she made it clear that she wasn’t “easy.”
So we were all sitting around the common room visiting about life and love and Molly piously announces that she is a virgin and she cherishes it. A proud virgin. No. I believe she said a “rare proud virgin.” A couple of the other Mollies chimed in that they too were proud virgins and quickly the eyes shifted to me, waiting for me to disclose my sexual history, but I simply informed them that they shouldn’t be proud of something that has never been at risk. Virginity is not to be treated as some sacred commodity when one has never been tempted to lose it.
My theory at the time was this:
It isn’t until you’re in the back seat of a car, someone’s hands are up your shirt, and your heart is beating rapidly that you really know how important your virginity is to you. Only when you have known temptation and refused to give in can you proclaim yourself to be a Proud Virgin.
The Mollies were not going to find themselves in the back seat of a car in the first place so they weren’t going to get themselves in a position to ever really have a reason to be too proud of their rare feat of maintaining their virginity. At the time I didn’t understand the value of Not Getting Into The Car In The First Place.
I have since come to appreciate that the best way to stay a virgin is, in fact, to simply do exactly what Molly had done. Go to prom with her cousin. Avoid lewd and lascivious locales like bars, bring a chaperone, make it clear that nobody’s getting nothing from this body, and NEVER EVER get in the back seat of a car.
All this to say that I’m figuratively in the back seat, someone’s hands are up my shirt, my heart is beating rapidly, I am being tempted. Oh, and I am loving every moment of this temptation while simultaneously trying to hold on to my virginity.
I came to law school, at least I told myself that I came to law school, to change the world, to make social change, to make the world a better place for the marginalized and unfortunate. I wasn’t Dis-interested in working at BigLaw, I seriously just had no idea about it.
So while I said I was going to go into public interest law, I did well my first semester. I realized that I had opportunities beyond those that I had considered. I am enticed by the thought of paying our bills, getting the boys off CHIP and MEDICAID, maybe even starting a college fund, going on vacation. Buying a latte without feeling guilty. Then, at the very first chance I got, I started applying to paid (and I mean well paid) summer opportunities with firms. I didn’t admit to anyone, and certainly not to myself, that I was starting to seriously consider the possibility of a firm. A back-up plan I said. Or, the career office recommends everyone to apply.
And they are seductive.
Their smooth skin and polished image is arousing.
And suddenly I don’t remember why I was so intent on refusing to take off my clothes in the first place. Virginity? Ahhh, overrated.
If I valued this figurative virginity so much then would I have applied for these jobs in the first place? My entire argument with my roommates was fundamentally flawed and I just now – 20 years later – see it. Nobody should have to make a decision about virginity, partially disrobed in the backseat of a car. At that point temptation is too much. The really smart ones do exactly what Molly did. I just didn’t see it at the time.
And here I am, in the back seat of a car with a dozen or so other people, we’re all taking off layers of clothes, hoping, just hoping they will see something in me that sets me apart. I’m begging the seducer to pick me while simultaneously preparing my speech to my roommates if they don’t. If they don’t pick me, I’ll simply proclaim myself to be a rare proud virgin.