I was twenty-four when I wrote the list of my sexual consorts. Okay, fine. When I tried to write the list of my sexual consorts. I can’t remember if it was a particular thought that sparked the precarious trip down memory lane or if it was something someone said that triggered my body count curiosity. I do remember that I was sober. At least I think I was. I wouldn’t swear to it though, because I drank a lot of booze in those days. Okay, fine. I drank a lot more booze in those days. Nevertheless, it was a task I’d assigned myself and I was determined to recall the dirty details of my sexual past.
The memories came easily in the beginning, flooding my brain with sights, sounds, sensations and feelings. It would seem identifying the notable landmarks of my sexual pilgrimage wasn’t the painful undertaking I’d anticipated as I recounted the names of lovers past, the lines on the yellow, legal-sized notepad filling in quickly.
I remembered the cool night air coming in through the open windows of the 300zx as I clung to J.N.’s broad shoulders in the back, his deep voice reassuring me he’d stop if it hurt too much. And I remembered letting K.C. think he was my first because he couldn’t seem to get it in. My vag was super tight that particular night apparently. I giggled when I remembered the tickle of R.S.’s porn stache on my stomach when he licked my belly button for the first time. And I might’ve fanned myself when I thought about the quarterback ditching his prom queen girlfriend to fuck me against the field goal post after homecoming. When I tried to remember details about the bad boy though, my memory failed me.
It had been nearly six years since I’d allowed myself to think about him. Emotionally, I couldn’t afford to. I’d managed to sidestep the psychological aftermath of our volatile relationship by turning the memories off and ignoring the heartache, numbness eventually taking its place. But the wounds were still open and they were bleeding, affecting every decision I made. I was distrustful and saw subsequent partners as playthings. And at times I was cruel, not caring how my words or actions made them feel.
I shook off thoughts of the bad boy and forged ahead with my list, the specifics of my memories continuing to fade. Frustration mounted as I fought to recapture highlights of my sexual interludes, most of whom were men, and the struggle to remember names and locations worsened until eventually, “bartender” and “guy from gym” were the only pieces of information my memory could provide. I wanted to remember every tiny detail, but I couldn’t. I could barely remember faces and it was a bitter pill to swallow.
Why couldn’t I remember? I could remember the smell of the fire when I fucked S.G. at his parent’s lake house when I was fifteen with perfect clarity, but I couldn’t remember the color of the guy’s eyes that I’d fucked days earlier. Irritation finally gave way to anger and I ripped the list to shreds. And like the night the bad boy threw me into the trunk of his camaro for trying to break up with him, I locked the memory of it away.
Three years after I’d failed to complete my list of sex partners, I married a man who had supposedly slept with twelve women before me, all of whom he’d had serious relationships with. When we were still dating, he asked how many men I’d had sex with and I panicked, blurting out “ten” without hesitation. I chose ten because it was a good number. It was less than twelve and easy to remember. When I thought about it, I wondered why it mattered how many partners I’d had. It was a part of my life that had nothing to do with him, but I knew in his eyes that it had everything to do with him. He was closed-minded and superficial and if I had been honest about my numbers, I would have been labeled a slut (again) and deemed unfit for marriage. I realized I could never allow him any insight into the sexual being I really was because if I did, his judgement would be harsh.
When my marriage collapsed, I promised myself I’d never hide who I am again. It’s not fair to anyone, especially me. I no longer wear a mask and I don’t keep secrets. What you see is what you get. And when Mr. K asked how many partners I’ve had, I didn’t falter and I answered honestly.
“I don’t know.”
Are my numbers higher than his? Maybe, but big fucking deal. It’s part of my past, not my present. My numbers don’t matter to him. What does matter is that my “sexy, fuckable body” is his now.
I know now that my memories of sexual partners were sketchy after the bad boy not because of volume, but because regardless of what I did or who I did it with, it was about him in some way. Whether it was a form of retaliation, brattiness or a way of regaining the control he’d taken from me, I was subconsciously giving him the finger. And I know now that numbers are irrelevant. They don’t define who or what I am. Did I make mistakes in the past? Absolutely. Would I change any of it if I could? No fucking way. My history is what’s molded me into the person I am today and I wouldn’t change that for anyone.