25-Apr, 00:07

11:28, March 30 115 0

2018-03-30 11:28:02
Modern Love: For a 30-Year-Old Virgin, It’s Now or Never

The candles were lit. The gin and tonic was chugged. His pants were down. I hesitated for a moment before saying, “I’ve never actually done this before.”

I was talking about sex.

“Oh, really?” he said, sounding more titillated than concerned.

“Are you still going to respect me in the morning?” I said, half-joking.

“Of course. We can do whatever you want. I’ll respect you either way.”

Several thoughts flashed through my head: My heart is failing. This guy may not stick around long. I’m 30. Thirty!

“O.K., let’s do it,” I said.

And that’s how I ended up losing my virginity on a fourth date with a middle-school teacher that I didn’t even particularly like. Because I thought I was dying.

Born with congenital heart disease, I had five major heart operations before I was 10 and have had five minor heart operations since. I have several metal devices in my chest that my heart depends on, including an implanted defibrillator and a mechanical aortic valve. My condition is so severe that as I age, my heart continues to have problems leading to more operations and other procedures.

As dire as that sounds, I am usually able to function like a normal human being. I even practice yoga and lift weights and do a little cardio, although I have to stop after a minute or two. But 18 months ago I realized I was becoming winded from just walking down the street. I actually had to stop and catch my breath from walking. Climbing stairs, even a few, became incredibly difficult.

As the months wore on, my energy continued to deplete. I would go to work and come home and rest most nights. Although I was tired all of the time, I forced myself to go out on weekends because I refused to believe I was sick.

My doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with my heart. They thought it was excess fluid, so they kept increasing my diuretics. The increase in medication would help initially, but after six weeks or so my energy level would plummet again. In six months, they had quadrupled my dose. Even though I had completely stopped exercising, I had lost 12 pounds. My face was so gaunt that I was starting to resemble a Disney villain.

I looked awful. But the guy I was dating didn’t think so. He thought I looked thin and hot. And I liked that. I had never had a boyfriend and was hoping he would be the first.

Whenever I mention that I have never had a boyfriend, I am always asked why, as if finding someone to connect with emotionally and physically should be so easy. It’s not as if I’ve had all these wonderful options and I just refuse to be tied down. The simple answer is that I have never met someone I wanted to be with who also wanted to be with me. In fact, I’m the girl who likes the guy who likes someone else.

In high school, my crush was the popular guy that I never had a chance with, but we danced to Missy Elliott’s “Work It” at the spring dance sophomore year, which as a non-popular late bloomer is clearly a teenage highlight I’m still holding on to 15 years later. (To be fair, I was dancing behind him while the cheerleader he was actually hooking up with danced with him face to face.)

In college, I directed my attention toward my best guy friend from high school who transferred to my university after freshman year. Even though we hung out every other day, he somehow failed to mention that he was secretly dating my high school rival. By graduation, she had cut off contact with most of our friend group and he followed suit shortly after.

And in my 20s, I fell for my boss at my first job, a man who was quietly dating his boss’s executive assistant. After almost a year together, he dumped the assistant and a month later married his on-again-off-again college girlfriend. So what I’m saying is I have impeccable taste in men. With my track record, I seemed doomed to wander this earth alone, pining for someone else’s boyfriend.

But in May of last year, I uncharacteristically found myself talking to someone on OkCupid who appeared to be single. He was a teacher at the same middle school he had attended, which I found adorable. We lived on opposite sides of Los Angeles, which made it a long-distance relationship. I saw him once a week.

Our first date was brunch at a place halfway between us in Culver City. As we looked over the menu, he mentioned that he didn’t know what a poached egg was. After I explained how you poach an egg, he still was unsure what it looked like, so I ordered an avocado toast with a poached egg so he could see it. It was weirdly endearing.

He was kind of sweet, but after a few dates, I knew on some level that it wasn’t going to last long. There were red flags — or maybe just things I didn’t like about him. He never complimented me, for example, except in the one email where he said I was “hot.” He never said I looked nice or pretty to my face.

Isn’t that Dating 101? You see your date and say, “You look great” or simply, “You look nice.” He didn’t do that.

But here was my situation. After almost nine months of feeling weak and seeing cardiologists who were unable to offer much in the way of solutions, I was starting to believe that, for me, this was the beginning of the end.

Sometimes people with complex congenital heart disease get to the point where medicine has done all it can to delay the inevitable, and since my doctors were so stumped, I believed my time was almost up. And I didn’t want to die a virgin. So I thought, “I should have sex with this guy.”

For our fourth (and penultimate) date, he came over to my apartment and I made him dinner.

For a starter, I made guacamole. “Let me know if it needs anything,” I said, but I didn’t actually want to know if it needed anything. I just wanted him to say, “It’s delicious,” and eat it.

Instead, he added a ton of salt.

I thought: “What are you doing? I have a heart condition!”

Later, when I was roasting brussels sprouts, I didn’t ask for his opinion on them because I know how to make brussels sprouts and they’re pretty damn good. But he still came over and insisted that they needed seasoning (other than the salt, pepper and garlic I added), so he put oregano on them. On all of them, not just his portion.

We ate dinner and then moved to the couch, where we briefly entertained the idea of watching something on TV. But we both knew where this was going, so we went into my room and sat on my bed and — you know what happened next.

It was fine. And then, in the morning, he left at 7 “to grade papers.”

Whatever, dude. I saw him the next week, when he made it pretty obvious he wasn’t interested in me as a person. After that, we ghosted each other.

Two months later, when it was clear I was still sick and the medicine wasn’t working, I underwent a procedure so they could see what was going on with my heart. During that process, they found a significant hole between my right ventricle and my aorta called a right ventricular fistula, which they sealed with a metal disc.

Within weeks, my health improved. I had more energy, didn’t get winded walking down the street or climbing stairs, and had gained weight. Now, almost a year later, I’m back to my version of normal and no longer feel the specter of death looming over me.

Given how things turned out, am I upset that I lost my virginity in a rush to a guy who didn’t matter?

Not really. I was going through a lot of things that weren’t normal.

People like to say, “There’s no such thing as normal,” as if that’s supposed to make people who are abnormal feel better. But we all know the truth. Having 10 heart operations before age 30 is not normal. Having your health rapidly decline to the point that you think you’re dying at age 30 is not normal. Being a 30-year-old virgin is not normal.

I saw an opportunity to feel a little more normal and took it. And now I’m just like every other woman who’s had a penis inside her.