It seemed like it was just yesterday when I first set foot on the campus. Now, I had my master’s degree and my plan was continuing along nicely. The plan was, is, to get my PhD, become a professor of psychology, right here at the university, get married, and spend the rest of my life happily researching and teaching psychology and raising a family.
The plan was nearly derailed by Sylvie.
So, upon graduating, my parents let me know there was no more money. After all, they weren’t wealthy. Far from it. I supplemented what they provided with a student loan, which was already huge. No more dorm living, either, for reasons I won’t go into. Let’s just say that although I love this university, they do have some fucked up policies.
I was able to find work as a professor’s assistant, paying $17/hour, but you know California. One can’t make ends meet on that, especially when it’s part-time.
I found a little hovel. Well, some people would call it an apartment, but for two bedrooms it was small. It was what I could afford. The price was low enough that I could charge 3/4 of the rent for the second bedroom, so it would be low-cost for me, which was exactly what I needed.
So I put an ad on Craigslist, expecting to get swamped with applicants. Nothing. I was shocked. I thought everyone was struggling for housing in California. I lowered the price to half of my rent. Finally, one applicant phoned me. A woman. I wasn’t expecting that.
In the dorm days, my roommate, a sweet guy, Ron, was cool, and I knew how to room with guys. Early on, we learned to respect each others privacy, while also becoming the best of friends. For instance, we were totally cool with wanking in each other’s company. You know, when you get horned up, it is much nicer to be able to just do something about it, rather than trying to sneak off somewhere. I think it was helpful that we were both studying psychology. We knew how to communicate, and specifically to ask for what we wanted. And he wanted to wank, so he just came right out and asked whether it would be OK if he did so while I was studying, or whatever. Of course, I said ‘yes,’ even though it weirded me out at first.
The first few times, he did it after dark, under the covers. I think he was sort of embarrassed by the need. I didn’t do it at all in the beginning. Or, I mean, sure I masturbated, but it was in the shower or when Ron was out, so no one could see me. But as time went on, we got bolder and bolder, until he might be studying, and I’d be looking at porn on my laptop and rubbing one out in plain daylight right there at my little desk.
I was already missing rooming with Ron.
When Sylvie called, my first inclination was to say ‘no,’ that I was expecting a man. But I was becoming desperate. It’s not like I could pay for this whole apartment month after month. Figuring it was a mistake, I talked with her on the phone a bit. She sounded alright. Nothing special. She, too, was going for a PhD in psychology, so we might have something fun to talk about.
I invited her over to continue the interview in person. She was a fucking knockout. Very small, like 5’1,” with curly blond hair, a skinny neck, and so far as I could tell under her sweater, very appealing breasts. But I shouldn’t think that way. One doesn’t let one’s thoughts just run amok after all.
There was nothing wrong with her. I had hoped she’d say she was a drug-user or something, so I could avoid the complication. On the other hand, I needed the money, so I decided a female roommate would be OK.
The next day, she was moved in. She didn’t own very much stuff. I helped her carry it in from her father’s borrowed pickup truck.
I figured it would take a few days to get settled in, used to each other. I’d make it a point not to think of her as sexy. I could imagine that would be disastrous.
We prepared and ate a few meals together. It was nice. We talked about psychology. I didn’t notice at first how she was bending the conversation. First, she was talking about family relationships. Then siblings. Then adolescents. Then masturbation – a common topic in psychology discussions. But then back to masturbation. Then to the complexities of sibling sexuality. Society’s taboos. How the world needs to be enlightened sexually.
Pretty soon I started to get downright frightened. This girl had sex more on her mind than a guy, and she was my roommate. What would she end up doing? Having orgies in our apartment?
I kept remembering how Ron and I jerked off in front of each other. Thank God this place had separate bedrooms with doors.
All was going well until I came back from the library one late afternoon, and she was watching Score, on her large computer monitor. It was a movie from the 1970s that has a lot of sexual scenes. Evidently two couples try splitting into the opposite formation. The two girls got together and the two guys got together. I have to admit, the scenes I happened to see were hot. I would definitely choke the chicken later. In the meantime, it struck me as entirely weird that a girl would watch something like that.
I have to admit, that in my four years of study, and in high school before that, I hadn’t had a girlfriend, so other than having an older sister, I didn’t really know much about girls. Funny that a psychologist wouldn’t know about a whole half of the world population, isn’t it?
I went about my business mostly in the kitchen until her movie was over. It took longer than it should, because she kept rewinding parts, especially this one section where the two guys are experimenting with blowjobs.
Afterward, Sylvie came into the kitchen and started in with a bunch of questions. She prefaced it by saying, “As a student of psychology…” which I totally fell for, at first.
“Do you like porn?”
“Do you find it interesting?”
“Does it make you horny?”
“What do you suppose ‘horny’ means, exactly?”
“Have you had any girlfriends?”
“Have you ever done anything with a guy?”
I tried to answer as truthfully as I could.
“Yes, I like porn and find it interesting, Yes, I suppose it does make me horny. I think horny means, well… horny. No girlfriends. I decided to focus on studying for now. But I do want to get married and have a family someday.”
The one about doing anything with a guy stopped me in my tracks. After a painfully long hesitation, in which I felt some unexpected shame, I told her about Ron. That we jerked off together in the dorm, but never touched each other or anything like that.
“So you never kissed a guy?”
“Fuck no,” I said, somewhat offended for some reason.
“And you never kissed a girl?”
“No, sorry, I’m just not an expert in that field.”
We both laughed.
I had started making an organic lasagne, which I thought she’d appreciate. One of the reasons that I did end up accepting her as a roommate is that she, like me, preferred organic, low-sugar meals.
She fell silent and helped me prepare the dinner, but oddly, she kept standing really close to me. I almost told her to step aside a couple of times when she got between me and the refrigerator, but I’m a tolerant guy. Plus, I didn’t realize what was going on.
As we ate, she announced something that floored me: She was going to focus her psychology studies on sexology. Her thesis would be in that field. Then, she said she wanted to learn all she could about it. Well, that made sense.
Then she said she wanted to have as much personal experience as she could. I nodded my head in agreement, then did a sort of double-take. What was she implying?
I pretended I didn’t suddenly understand. It was just too weird. I remembered a line from an old movie when Meg Ryan, who looks a lot like Sylvie, said when asked something way too personally sexual, “I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She said a few more things, but I couldn’t hear them. My head was swirling.
Seemingly out of nowhere, she raised her voice. Admittedly I hadn’t known her for long, but her almost-shouting shockingly brought me out of the swirl.
“Jake, are you listening?”
“Oh, um, sorry. You set my head in a spin.”
“So, do you want to?”
I probably didn’t have to ask, but I was so unclear at that point. “Tell me exactly what you’d like.”
“Well, when you put it that way…” and she gave me a little fake pout. It was kind of cute. “OK, so look. I’d like to get some sexual experience. You’re a guy, so I’m guessing you would also. So let’s experiment with sex.”
It had been a long time since I felt an effect like that had on me. Like a punch to the stomach. One that knocks the wind out of you, combined with a light-headed dizziness. I couldn’t have expressed it at that moment, but in retrospect, I felt a whole pile of emotions at once. Part of me said, “Yes!” Part of me was in absolute terror. And part of me was saying, “The script isn’t supposed to go like this. I’m supposed to meet a girl, fall in love, then we have sex. This is all wrong.”
You may think I’m an idiot, but I politely declined. I’m pretty sure it was the terror part that won out.
To Sylvie’s credit, she didn’t get mad, didn’t express disappointment, or anything of the sort. After a brief pause, she simply said, “I understand,” and then went on talking about something of little consequence in a study group she was leading. I couldn’t hear it. My mind was a mess again.
The next afternoon, she burst in around 3pm with a bag of vegetables, and dumped them on the kitchen counter about three feet from where I was washing dishes. “Hi,” she said, stood on her tiptoes, and kissed me on the cheek.
It wasn’t the first time I had been kissed by a girl, but it was the first that it wasn’t a cousin, or my mother. It had a surprising effect on me. I felt ‘wanted’ for lack of a better word. We all have egos, and that really did something nice for my ego. Another thing I couldn’t have explained at the time, but can now, is that I suddenly saw Sylvie in a new light. For just a split second, I glimpsed her as someone who was interested in me. That, therefore, made her interesting to me. Oh, I decided right from the start that she was sexually attractive, but until that very moment, I thought it was a hands-off relationship.