When I was 16 and still a virgin, I was chomping at the bit to get some sex. My own hormones were out of control. I thought only guys got this thirsty! But no, I was 16 and teased by my female friends for being a prude, and my guy friends who called me frigid. If only they knew!
Just to give you an idea of what I was like, let’s imagine teenaged Ozanne back in the late 1980s/early 90s. My friends nicknamed me “Kelly” for Kelly Bundy. Leather jacket, blonde hair, tight jeans...just lose the dumb-girl personality and call her a virgin, and that was me.
The guys I went to highschool with avoided me, and because of that – I developed a plan to just lose my virginity by trying to get a guy outside my school. The guys at my own highschool were dating my friends who were not very pretty and not even all that nice. But they were easy, and guys preferred that. Me? I was terrified about losing my virginity!
At my school, one guy caught my eye and I kept my feelings to myself. He was painfully shy and all we ever did was exchange looks. We shared no common classes together, so nothing happened. I just thought he didn’t like me at all. Turned out he thought I was not serious, and didn’t even try.
Another guy was my long-time crush who knew I was wrapped around his finger. Time and time again he broke my heart, choosing other girls to be with over me. Even his friends would criticize, asking him why he was doing that when he could have me, but it was clear he just had no interest. In-between his girlfriends, I'd try again, but I was so embarrassed after so many of his rejections, I gave up.
These rejections and never-get-off-the-grounds shaped my attitude about dating. I became closed off and at 16, shrugged off highschool thinking that was my problem. So I finally dated and lost my virginity to a friend’s older brother. He hadn’t been influenced by my friends, and were together for two years.
So what did I think of you highschool guys?
I thought you were choosing willingness over someone wanting love. I thought you were playing it safe, choosing the girl who will always say yes to sex, over risking rejection by asking a girl out who might say no. Little did you know I would have said yes if I was attracted to you (which were half the guys at school). I thought you were using fear as an excuse “not to wreck our friendship” when there was no friendship at all! – there was attraction, and I was biding my time until you saw how much I wanted you.
And you, Lonely Guy, who had the gorgeous brown eyes and didn’t have many friends: I loved sitting next to you in class and joking with you. Your dimples made me melt, and I hoped you would just say something to make me think you liked me. I thought just the mere effort of my smiling and talking to you would give you green lights, but you didn’t meet me halfway. So I gave up. I guess you, just like the others, gave up on me.
Ozanne Goes to College
With two “sort-of-long-terms” under my belt, I go to college and develop crushes on the following: a pot head, a hot head, a married man, and class clown. The pot head made it clear he liked natural-looking women (no makeup) and since I was always made-up, he had nothing for me. The hot head made it clear he had zero interest in relationships and made it clear he wanted to be left alone. The married guy wanted to play with me while alone, but treated me like shit in front of other people. The class clown was fun, but showed me in private he was the "crying clown" and had a lot of issues and wasn’t ready. Too bad.
So what did I think of you guys in college?
I thought you were becoming selective, and that’s fine. You knew exactly what you wanted. We might have not been a match, but you also taught me that it’s okay to raise my own bar. Why was I settling on you, when I could also make some better choices for me? Was my desire to just be in a relationship keeping me from actually seeing the big picture? Apparently so. You taught me about real rejection - not just the highschool avoidance game, and I needed that to teach myself that it was okay to start deciding on my own what is a good fit for me. So, I too, became selective.
Ozanne is On Her Own, Working, Living As a Bachelorette
In my mid-twenties, the men were now taking things full-speed-ahead. I’m getting hit on at nightclubs, pubs, comedy clubs, work, sporting events, you name it. The problem is, though I wanted the attention (because you never know who you might attract), I didn’t like the suggestion for sex right away, nor did I like the smell of desperation. I also didn’t like the smell of stale smoke, drink, bad breath, and worst of all - hair gel. I was still a rock chick, these were preppy dudes – couldn’t they see that they weren’t my type? It’s the mid-90s and I’m actually looking for love, sex, the whole package – if the guy is right. I want to start nesting. This meant seeing what our futures would look like. If they didn’t seem to mesh, I didn’t even give them a first date.
So what did I think of you guys out in the Real World?
I thought you were being unrealistic with me. As if I can’t tell the difference between noticing that you’re out for sex compared to looking for friendship/love first. I thought some of you were transparent, and the attempts you made to impress were contrived. I thought that cool guy sitting in the corner having a beer who looked like he was still grubby from a hard day’s work was the sexiest man in the room. I thought you were playing games, having wives and girlfriends but still leaving your options open to see if there might be something better. Nice guys, quit telling me you’re nice. Let me decide that. Reminding me how nice you are and how all you want is a girl to rub her feet every night and cherish every day is oozing with desperation. I don’t exactly want you to be an easy catch. Part of the fun is finding out what I’m in for and calling each other ten times a day. It’s the flirting and teasing that will drive me nuts. Giving yourself away with all this talk about being a great husband one day bores the shit out of me. Not that I don’t want that – but can we not dance the proverbial mating dance first?
(Google Images: someone's profile, random old FB format, effects used to protect.)
Ozanne & Facebook, 2007
I get a friend request and message from an old highschool guy friend. “You were my unicorn. I liked you so much and wished I had asked you out.” Pity. This, a confession eighteen years later with the protection of being behind a computer and 500km between us can finally tell me what I wished I heard at 15 years-old. He says this, knowing his wife doesn’t know his FB password and won’t know he wrote this to me: “I was too scared to talk to you.”
Funny, I thought. “Scared” wouldn’t have been the description I remember. I remember being passed over for another girl time and time again, teased about being a virgin, not invited to parties because I wouldn’t get drunk, or made fun of because I had hit puberty earlier than other girls. I’m not angry about this, I just wish that things had been handled differently. But hey, protecting one’s self from being hurt was always the priority, right?
What I Want To Tell Guys I Used to Know, 25 Years Later
I wished I could have told you that I’m sorry if I seemed unapproachable. I saw other girls getting the things I wanted, and I felt like what I was wasn’t good enough, so I shut down. This attitude made me seem like I didn't want any of you, but that wasn't true. I wanted to tell you that I was worth a few dates before having sex, which is why I said no. To the guys in college and who I knew in my twenties: If you had been all I ever wanted, I gave you sex hoping you would want to see me more. Now I see that was a mistake too. We all just had to figure ourselves out, and in the end, things were meant to be. I spent some years alone, traveled, went to school, got work. Broke some hearts, and had mine broken. I had a life.
Now with a more clearer outlook: Our time back then wasn’t wasted. It may feel like regret that we couldn’t have acted on what we felt at the time, but it was necessary to experience in order to keep on learning in order to find the happiness we eventually found in other people.