A college-student contributor friend of ours, who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:
“I thought you said you were going to pull out.”
In the dark, I could still see his expression, startled yet a little defiant, as if the fact that he had just come inside me without the safety barrier of a condom was somehow my fault.
I see now that in part it was. I shouldn’t have been blinded by hormones and newly devirginized excitement to give up after a few minutes of looking for a condom that I knew I had lying around my room somewhere from one of those “Safer Sex” campaigns on campus. I should have taken his hands off my breasts as I half-heartedly opened drawers and boxes in my bedroom and found it. But I didn’t. All I wanted to do was to start having sex. Sex is fun; opening drawers, not so much. So I muttered a quick prayer under my breath and hoped he’d actually follow through with his promise of pulling-out so we could just do it already.
A few minutes later (and that’s being generous) we were staring at each other, realizing that, at that very moment, one 20-year-old girl who wasn’t on birth control might have just sealed her fate for the next few days, or the next nine months, maybe even the next 18 years!
“It’s okay. We’ll just go get you the morning-after pill tomorrow. I’ve done this before. I thought I got some other girl pregnant once, too, when I forgot to pull out one time.”
This was the moment when I realized forgetting the condom wasn’t the only mistake I’d made that night.
I didn’t sleep at all, in part because of his thunderous snoring but mostly because I was in shock and terrified. Hardly removed from my own virginity and I was already having a pregnancy scare? I always thought I would be too smart to get myself into this situation. I’m obsessively careful and in early sex-education classes considered forcing partners to wear two condoms, just in case. (And yes, for the record, I do realize now that two is less safe than one.) What the hell would I do if I got pregnant? What would happen to all of my plans, the things I wanted to accomplish, the college life I wanted to keep on living? At the time, pregnancy was all I could think about — worries of STDs weren’t even close to the forefront of my mind. Despite the fact that I had just hooked up with a tool who had obviously gone condomless before, I thought (wrongly) that the only real negative consequence I could face would be a pregnancy. I could hide an STD, I thought; I couldn’t hide a baby bump.
He told me the next morning that he had to run an errand but then he’d come pick me up to get the pill. One errand turned into two, two turned into the entire morning, some of the afternoon and a series of crappy excuses. So I decided not to wait.
As I walked to Target alone, my mind raced and I started tearing up. I was faced for the first time with one of the realities of being sexually active: you have to be responsible for your decisions, no matter how horny you were when you made them. I am the idealizing type; I always assumed that once I finally had sex with someone, everything would be magically awesome. But here I was, crying on the way to Target to get the morning-after pill alone to use after having sex with a guy who had proven himself to be a huge tool.
Fifty dollars later, I was back home, pill box in my hand, staring at my reflection in the mirror. I popped the first pill, swallowing it quickly as I made a silent vow to myself and my body to never be that irresponsible again.
I’ve made good on that promise (though unfortunately it took me far longer than I’d like to admit to get over the toolish guy). Now there’s always a condom in a zippered pocket in my purse, you know, just in case. (Yep, just double-checked. Still there.) I take my birth control religiously each morning. Most of all, I know now that if I want to be sexually active, I can’t rely on the guy to make sure we’re safe. I’m a part of the partnership too. And I’ll never listen to another stupid guy who promises to pull out. Sex can wait a few minutes. I’ve got a life to live.