TW: Mention of Sexual Assault/Rape
[Non-Fiction] First Comes Sex, Then Comes Pancakes
I thought sex was something that only happened once in your life. I thought that’s why everyone made it such a big deal to lose your virginity. Growing up, I really wasn’t too concerned with boys anyway. I focused on sports and reading and doing well in school. I’m sure I had a sex talk somewhere in there, but I think I blacked it out.
When a boy did show interest in me, I knew to take a long time to get to know them. I wasn’t going to just throw away the first and only time I was ever going to have sex, was I? No. My best friend and I talked about how I wanted pancakes after because they reminded me of perfect mornings and tasted like home. That was the one thing I was sure about. Celebratory pancakes.
It was a good thing that I didn’t have to worry about that too much, because there were few boys that ever showed any affection in my direction. I was fine with that. I loved school and could now focus on my writing.
When I graduated from high school, one of the intern teachers friended me on Facebook. He would message me at night and build up a trust that led him down the road of asking me if I had any interest in porn. He was talking to someone who had their computer taken away because they went on too many porn sites and Comcast emailed their parents. So, I inquired further, what do you mean by interest?
He told me that he did porn videos, to help pay off his college loans. He knew the guy and said he trusted him and asked if I would be into sending a few pictures of my breasts to sell to him. He talked about how big my boobs were and if my nipples were really large, that those types of pictures went for more money. He asked to see them. So, me being freshly 18 and ready to dive into the world of men, said okay. But just this one time. Don’t show or tell anybody.
He complimented them immensely. Said that they could really make me a lot of money. Talked to me about sex. Offered his dick pic as a prize for being naive. Told me my virginity was worth $10,000 if I was willing to lose it on camera. Well damn, if the one and only time I’m going to do it is going to make me $10,000…
I didn’t do that of course. I sent more pictures, waiting to cash in on the burden of these breasts. It never came. So I withdrew from speaking to him. He would still message me all of the time, but I was in college now and too busy to deal with the porn drama. I was moving onto bigger and better things.
Two years later when I ran out of financial options for school, I revisited the porn option but knew I couldn’t fathom telling everyone the story of how I lost my virginity. So, I did what every other 19-year-old would do in my situation, I had a self-destructive meltdown. I got drunk every night, refused to face the reality of going home and not coming back to school in New York, went on dates that I didn’t want to go on.
One night, a guy who I had written a paper for, for money, asked me to hang out. I said sure, why not? He texted me saying he was outside waiting, so I went to his car and we talked for a little bit in the front seat. I told him twice I was a virgin and didn’t plan on giving it up any time soon. I said that we could do other things. So, he led me to the back seat.
The leather was sticky, the blue lights from the dashboard illuminated his shoulders, his stupid beanie on top of his head, his pants on the floorboards. The music in the background trying to soothe me to keep laying down. How he tore that condom wide open, didn’t listen when I said no. Promised to just rub. Only listened to his own moans. Didn’t feel my pushing, my plea to just stop. All he had to do was stop.
I walked back to my dorm as a different person. He drove off saying thanks for a great time.
There were no pancakes. Nothing felt like home.
My first girlfriend was a married woman. I met her through one of my best friends. She told me she was bi, but I don’t remember her telling me she was married. Or that she had two children. She came with us to my first gay bar up in Portland, Maine. I was freshly out at 22, and ready to see what I was missing in the gay community.
I have loved dancing ever since I can remember, so when the neon lights flooded the outside of my body, I knew what to do. My hair free in the mess of the night, tangled in with the limbs of strangers. My hands wild in the air then surfaced on the hips of my friends. It felt like a great night to be alive.
Towards the end of the night, I felt someone wrap their arms around me from behind, so I spun around. It was the girl who my friend invited. We swayed for a moment and then I held her face and kissed her.
She gave me her number and added me on Facebook that night. Then the next day I found out about the husband, the children, the whole nine yards. At first, I thought, no way can I get involved in this. I felt guilty, but she assured me that it was okay, and her husband knew, and he was fine. Of course, we couldn’t be exclusive. So, we dated, and I still went on dates with other people and she kept on being married.
One night, mid-summer, I went on a date with another woman. We met online and decided to meet up at the art walk in Portland. We had a great time and ended up in a tattoo parlor, drinking free PBRs, listening to a 90s cover band. Later that night we went out to the gay club and played beer pong. She asked if I wanted to stay over because I lived 45 minutes away, so I said yes.
Nothing happened, romantically, but it was still one of the best dates I ever went on. She ended up sleeping in her roommate’s bed and I slept in hers. We went to breakfast the next morning and then I made my way home. We texted almost every day and I eventually invited her to my 23rd birthday party that my friends were throwing me at our place.
When she arrived, I led her to the tower of Jell-O shots, a pile in each color of the rainbow, because I am super gay and I love showing it. There were 121 of them, and we made it our mission to taste the rainbow that night. The beer games were taking place in the dining room, and there were a group of people standing outside. I couldn’t find my friend, so I went out there to look for her. When I got out there, it was raining and some of the boys at our party decided to take off their shirts and so did my friend. I was wearing a dress, so when they all wanted me to join in, I was standing in my bra and underwear. The Jell-O made me do it.
Mere moments passed by until I found myself making out with my friend. Dressless, shirtless, and pantless, on the wet ground. The rest of the party retreated inside, leaving us to roll around the yard in peace. That was the first time after the first time. Right there in front of the stop sign on the corner of our road.
In the morning, I made pancakes. M&M pancakes, to be exact. I was still feeling a little hungover and not ready to eat, so I put the rest in the fridge to save for later. After she ate them, she left to go home, and I thanked her for a great birthday.
What a good sport she was. When I went to eat the pancakes later, after the first bite, I knew the batter had gone bad and they tasted awful. As someone who prides themselves on their ability to make tasty pancakes, I was so embarrassed. I texted her later and asked why she didn’t say anything. She told me she didn’t want to be rude and make me feel bad. She was someone I was glad to have in my life, someone I trusted.
When I told my married girlfriend what happened, she got jealous. I guess jealousy is a natural reaction for someone you care about, but I didn’t think it was fair because I had to hide my jealousy of her husband. It went on like that for a while, until I couldn’t think about anybody else except her. I spent all my free time at her apartment, hanging out with her children, falling in love with all of them.
One night, as her husband watched the kids, we went to my apartment to spend time together. I think we drank gin margaritas that I had made a pitcher of. Either that or wine. We were always drinking wine. We were always mixing in vodka. We finally had a conversation about what was happening in our relationship, how we were falling in love, how I wanted more. She just kept saying she already made her choice and she couldn’t go back on it now, and she couldn’t tear it all down. She told me things had to stay how they were, giving me 50%. Then she told me she wanted more too, and I asked her what she wanted to do, and she told me everything.
That was the first time I understood the term “making love”. I felt the high of creating, of sculpting a feeling out the air that held both of our breaths. I felt heavy and light and my hands kept floating like I was trying to guide an orchestra to play the most delicate symphony. It felt like finishing a masterpiece. How I wanted to hang the moment on my wall and stare at it forever, always searching for the hidden meaning.
She left shortly after, to get home to her family. I laid in bed, trying to pretend we weren’t getting ourselves into a situation we couldn’t recover from. My heart was an open target, and I knew all the arrows were pointing at me. I pretend I wasn’t the one who said, “shoot”.
A couple of months after, she told me she couldn’t remember most of the night. She said she had wanted it to happen but didn’t remember what happened. I don’t know if my heart had ever been broken in such a way. One of the moments that meant everything to me, couldn’t mean anything to her. I was beginning to understand that this is the way it would be, forever, if I didn’t leave. So eventually, many months after, I left and told myself not to look back.
A few years have passed since those times, and I’m married now. My wife is someone who knows all my secrets and loves me anyway. She knows all my trauma and insists I take care of myself and promises to save me from my mind when I’ve gone too far into the darkness. She knows how to soothe me. She gives me soil and waters me.
After we got married, we got ourselves a new strap-on. Cheers to the occasion. It was larger and more lifelike than the others I had experience with. The first time she used it on me, I asked her to be gentle, not knowing how I would respond after I had had a meltdown in the shop because the skin colored one looked too real and gave me anxiety. So we got the one that was tie-dyed. She asked me if I was okay, if it felt good, if what she was doing was all right.
It felt like it was the first time I was ever having sex. I soaked in every movement, every moment that her eyes washed over me like I was the sun rising over the horizon. I felt so safe and seen. I felt like I was melting into her. When we were done, I cried. I couldn’t stop the tears from flowing, and she just held me and kissed my forehead until I fell asleep.
The next morning, she said she was craving pancakes. So we drove to a diner a few towns over, on our way to the Yankee Candle Factory. I got chocolate chip and she got plain. I sat in the booth staring at her, taking in the smell of my pancakes, never been one to say grace, but I had so much to be thankful for. I took the first bites and it tasted like a wound closing, a new foundation for home, a sweet, salty taste that lingered on my tongue.
I wiped a few sneaky tears away and focused on us. Came out of my body to take a mental snapshot. How this was the only moment that mattered. Her, here, this, me.
Healing. Healing. Healing.
Dakota Britton-Barrows is a trans-masculine genderqueer writer who resides in New Hampshire. They are passionate about pens, stationary, educating folks on gender, and dismantling the patriarchy with their precious fingertips. They have self-published a zine called, “Term”, and run a blog, D’s Junk Drawer, on WordPress.