TW: This story depicts a scene that can be interpreted as nonconsent.
The first time I kissed a boy, it wasn’t really a choice. Or, I don’t know, maybe it was, but it didn't feel that way to me.
I was in high school at the time and still very into boys, or at least thought I was, whatever that means. I was at a house party after the worst junior prom ever, where my date ditched me to dance with another girl, and the guy I was actually in love with had gone with my friend. I remember watching everyone I knew dancing and having the night of their dreams, while I sat alone at a table eating cake just to look busy.
I was wearing a sheer off-white dress I’d purchased online from Modcloth, which was where I bought all my quirky feminine clothing because I thought they made me look like Zooey Deschanel. The dress was exactly what I wanted but also a huge pain in the ass, because it required wearing this nude strapless push-up bra from Victoria’s Secret that was super uncomfortable but made my boobs look twice their size, which was actually kind of awesome.
Earlier that afternoon, my mom took me to this fancy hair salon where she usually went to get her perms. I was only allowed to go there on special occasions like my birthday, or when the stylist at Supercuts had really screwed up and my hair required damage control. The salon was completely booked that day, and the only stylist still available was a grouchy middle-aged Asian man, who I knew hated me the second I walked in.
He asked me what hairstyle I wanted, and I handed him a portrait of Elle Fanning that I had carefully torn out and saved from an issue of Teen Vogue. I remember she had these beautiful messy French braids in her hair, which the stylist said he was sure would look terrible on me, insisting that I only liked the photo because the lighting was good. Looking back, he may have been totally right about that, and maybe I did just want to look like Elle Fanning and have messy blonde hair, blue eyes, and a Marc Jacobs campaign. But at the time, I was a stubborn teenage girl who wanted what I saw in the photo, and so I made him do it anyway.
I remember looking over at the chair beside me, where the most popular girl at my school was sitting. Unlike me, who was getting my hair braided by a passive aggressive Asian man (now cursing under his breath), she was getting hers done by the salon’s owner. I watched her, flooded with awe and jealousy, as the owner carefully styled her perfect strawberry blonde hair, making sure it was extra-perfect. He kept telling her over and over how beautiful she looked, but she didn’t say anything. She just smiled, gazing back at her own reflection in the mirror. I wonder if she even noticed me.
I knew I probably should have gone home after the dance or waited for my mom to pick me up like I usually did. But I was with my crush and his date, and I didn't want to seem like a fucking loser, so when they asked me what I was doing later, I said I was going to a party. It didn't seem like such a bad idea. I had already put so much effort into getting ready that night, so I figured I might as well take advantage of it, because it would be a while until I looked this hot again. It wasn’t that I thought I was ugly, but I knew that for someone like me who wasn’t "obviously” pretty by high school standards, it took getting my hair and makeup done for two hours and putting on a dress and Victoria’s Secret push-up bra for any of the guys in my grade to actually notice me — which, for some reason, was what I wanted. Besides, I knew my crush would probably ask me about the party later, and this would give me a chance to come up with something interesting to say that might make him jealous.
I spent most of the party making forgettable small talk and checking my phone. I tried to look busy, hoping I looked less out of place than I actually felt. I pretended to drink beer, even though I hated the taste. By then, it was definitely too late to get a ride home, so I texted my mom and told her I was sleeping over at a friend’s. It wasn’t long before the party died down, and everyone who hadn’t already left or passed out from drinking decided to spend the night. We dispersed to different corners of the living room, and I found an empty space for myself on the couch.
I was just starting to fall asleep when I heard someone say my name. I opened my eyes and saw one of the boys I met earlier from another school laying on the carpet just a few feet away. I looked around. Everyone else was already asleep. He motioned for me to come over, saying he had something he wanted to tell me, so I did.
The next thing I knew, he was kissing me. It took me a moment to realize what was even happening, because I had never been kissed before. It felt wet and sloppy, like kissing a dog, or in this case a drunken teenage boy, though at this point there wasn’t really much of a difference. I went along with it mostly out of curiosity. It was definitely gross, but also kind of fun. I couldn’t believe I was actually kissing someone. At a party! I felt young and cool, like I was in an episode of “The O.C.”
Soon enough, we were on the couch making out. Minutes later, he was taking off my dress. I remember him drunkenly fumbling with my strapless push up bra, which I had to take off for him, feeling embarrassed that he was going to find out how small my boobs actually were — though in reality he was probably too drunk to notice or even care.
He slipped his hand beneath the nude colored boy shorts I’d worn so that my underwear wouldn’t show through my white dress. I probably should have been more concerned about the fact that some dude’s hand was between my legs, but all I could think about was how embarrassing it was that I had these layers of ugly clothing on instead of a cute matching underwear set from American Eagle or Gilly Hicks, like I assumed most of the girls at this party probably had on.
At some point, he tried to finger me, and I didn’t enjoy it. I remember feeling like I was at the dentist the entire time, just sort of waiting for the whole thing to be over. Eventually, I guess he felt like he had done his job, because he asked if I could give him a blowjob. I didn’t really know what to say. Was a “no, thank you” considered impolite? I weighed my options, then after some silence awkwardly responded, “Is it... alright if I don’t?” This was followed by more silence, then a sigh of quiet disappointment. “Sorry,” I said. He didn’t say anything.
The night ended fine. We made out for a bit longer, because he wanted to, and then he fell asleep. I put my dress back on and slept on the couch for a few hours until the sun came up. In the morning, he was gone. One of the popular girls gave me a ride home.
When I got back, my mom was still asleep. I took a shower, made myself breakfast, then went to the park and waited for my crush to text me. It was raining outside, but it felt nice.
About Emily May Jampel
Emily May Jampel is an Asian American writer and script reader based in Brooklyn. She was born and raised on Oahu and attended NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.