It almost happened in Glendale.
I was visiting colleges in California in the fall of my senior year of high school. My tour included a stop at Occidental College, where my boyfriend Steve was a freshman pothead.
It was 1966 and I was at that time of life when it was essential to experiment with forbidden things like sex and drugs, and the Sixties (and Steve) provided a cornucopia of opportunities to do so.
Apparently what was commonly mistaken for smog hovering over the Occidental campus was actually smoke: Pot was everywhere. I was as yet uninitiated, and I had the itch to be introduced to the wonders of weed. But it wasn't just getting me high that Steve had in mind. While he proved a fine educator in the art of getting stoned, his goal was to reap the rewards for his efforts in the form of sex.
We had not yet enjoyed carnal relations. Steve had begged for it on a regular basis, but losing one's virginity before college wasn't common in my backward high school. One lone girlfriend of mine slept with someone before graduation and gave off slut vibes afterwards. Also, I felt that losing it and then facing my parents over Cheerios the next morning was out of the question. I needed to do the deed as far away from home as possible.
I was indeed nowhere near Illinois on this, Steve's night of great expectations. He was smooth, teaching me how to roll a joint expertly and to inhale gracefully. He also gently informed me that it was not cool to give a running commentary on my experience, as in, "Wow! You've got a halo! I can see the music—it's blue! Those are the best Cheetos I've ever had!"
But Steve's calculations backfired that night. While he argued vociferously that his dorm was a comfortable distance from my parents' breakfast table, my stoned rebuttal was that I would still have to fly home without enough time to process my deflowering and thus face my parents with equanimity. Plus, I had busted the weed barrier, which left me too incapacitated to cope with a second milestone, especially one of arguably greater magnitude.
I kept my polka-dot Villager skirt tightly zipped. I believe I did not even remove my panty-girdle (which was the last century's version of Spanx and a most effective chastity protector) and, much to Steve's frustration, I went to the airport in the morning with my virginity intact.
But when I got to Sarah Lawrence College the following year, I had a whole new outlook. It was 1967 and sex was busting out all over. I was away from home at last and I'd left my midwestern timidity behind. It was time to get the thing done.
Steve got the smoke signals.
He and I were still romantically entangled, and he was at NYU now, a short train ride away. The day of my arrival at school, even before I'd unpacked that Sixties-appropriate Indian blanket cover with the Tree of Life on it, Steve showed up.
He took me outside into the warm September evening and sat me down on the grass outside my homely, brick, ivy-covered dorm. While other students came and went with cardboard boxes, lamps and steamer trunks, settling in, getting acquainted, Steve made a compelling speech on the subject of our mutual need to have sex as soon as possible—preferably within the hour.
I can't remember exactly what he said in our pre-sex chat, but I'm pretty sure it didn't matter. I was ready; he had me at, "So, I've been thinking …" But it's likely he took an approach that was popular at the time, saying something like, "Our generation is having a sexual revolution. Are you in or are you out?" (It wasn't the last time a guy would pull that card.)
Forty minutes later, my first post-coital thoughts were "OK, got that over with."
Another thing I got over with was Steve: I dumped him shortly thereafter. (Old boyfriends lose their appeal fast when you're on new turf.) I was thus unencumbered but also unprotected when, solo, I faced a world that was in a state of sexual upheaval, thanks to my own horny cohort. Walking softly and carrying a big stick, began life after virginity.