A few weeks ago I locked myself in my room. I wasn't hiding an acne outbreak or moaning from a bout of diarrhea. It wasn't because I had developed an odd aversion to doorknobs. The reason was much more personal and embarrassing.
I am of a rare breed, one you will not find on the back page of NOW divulging my sexual deviance (god love those who do) to Dan Savage. One you will not find confessing her sexual foibles to Sue Johansen on the W network.
I stand apart from the crowd of 20-something sexually adventurous carnal aficionados. I am a 24-year-old virgin.
On the night in question, when I'd sought the privacy of my room, it was for reasons not readily understood by my peers who freely explore sex as some explore mountain ranges (with vigour and fearlessness or at least I assume so).
My roommate had sat down to Sex And The City while I had been hoping to catch an Intervention rerun on A&E. Watching Samantha, Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda trade secrets, I couldn't help but be overcome by the pain in my heart caused by the lack of that initial pain between my legs.
I felt 12 again, painfully unpopular, perpetually on the outside of some inside joke. My breath condensed on the TV screen as I gazed at the sexually experienced and satisfied, wondering where I stood, my 24-year-old vagina having nothing to show for itself. In short, I felt left out.
I muttered an excuse to my roommate about an upset stomach and lumbered up to my room, where I spent the rest of the evening alternating between Nick Drake and Barbra Streisand, ashamed that I was nearing my mid-20s with nary a sexual tale to share over a midweek cosmopolitan.
Now, please do not mistake me for someone who externalizes the blame for my particular difference. I'm well aware that the common denominator in my background of sexual inexperience is me. Perhaps I should accept my uniqueness. Perhaps this is the journey my life is meant to take.
However, in our increasingly media-saturated and sexually exploratory society, I can't help but feel that most would view me the same way they would a headless individual. I can't help but wonder if I'm the only one not having sex.
Could there be other attractive, intelligent, self-possessed, independent, hygienic, kind and compassionate individuals with overworked hands and vibrators?
Is there a rite of passage at 20 that introduces you to a world of doggy-style, missionary and a million other positions my virginal brain can't fathom because I missed the moment, only to be left floating in an abyss of sexual frustration?
I'm not completely isolated from the notion of sex. My friends, all experienced in one way or another, share their tales with me. I listen, somewhat sheepishly aware of my shortcomings. Sure, I, too, had my share of anonymous (but fully clothed) trysts in my early years at university.
But otherwise, my slate - as well as my Pap smear results - is clean. And while I mentally flog myself for my lack of experience and wake up in a cold sweat fearing that first time with the guy I'm still not convinced I'll meet, I still can't abandon the hope that I'm not the only one who's remained a virgin for reasons that can't quite be defined.
But the world wants sexy. It wants stories of sex, tales of threesomes, twosomes, fivesomes. It craves stories of fisting, rimming, sucking and fucking. Those on the fringes are left curiously scratching their heads simply because their bits and pieces have remained untouched.
So the question remains, is everyone but me having sex? Or is it simply that the popular kids (those having sex) are moaning too loud for the unpopular kids (those not) to be heard?
I'm calling for celibacy, whether self-imposed or otherwise, to be considered a viable sexual alternative.
I'd like not to feel like an anomaly for a change. Who's with me? Virgins unite!