Grilled Cheese Fantasy
Years ago, I rediscovered a story I wrote during my junior year of high school entitled “Give Me Love”, after an Ed Sheeran song. The story followed a teenager as she lost her virginity on a basement couch, a fantastical exaggeration of my own experience.
The characters are very much in love on the way to his cabin. He drives; she sits next to him, eager to sleep with him as soon as possible. He smells like Old Spice, cigarettes, and flour, and wears mismatched socks. The narrator can feel the heat from his body as they climb from the car, over the autumn leaves, to his basement. Her boyfriend lives with his friends in a cabin in the woods; there are no parents. By the time they make it to the room, they are linked as one. They are both ready as soon as they kiss. They make passionate love.
This is not my virginity story.
I did lose my virginity to Zach, the boy who smelled of Old Spice, cigarettes, and flour, who wore broken glasses and unmatching socks. He did live in a cabin in the woods, during the fall at seventeen, with no parents and two friends. We had sex on the basement couch he used as a bed. The descriptions of the cabin in my fictional sex story are accurate. A worn-out fireplace took up a full wall, and dishes piled high in the kitchen. In the bathroom, three razors and small pieces of hair outlined the sink. Muddy footsteps caked the floors in each room, and the couches lived in the loft where the three boys sat with guitars, bongs, and beer at night, believing themselves to be New Age philosophers.
But Zach did not drive us to his house; I did. He didn’t have his driver’s license and wouldn’t be able to get one until he turned 18. During our sophomore year of high school, he dropped out to start working, and Georgia law required school attendance in order to take the driving test as a minor.
No intense build up led to the moment. We didn’t fall into passionate love making upon walking through the front door. Zach lost his virginity to a girl I did not know years before. So as the virgin of the couple, we determined I would set the pace. Two months into our relationship, while sitting on his couch-bed listening to Johnny Cash, I decided.
“Let’s have sex,” I said.
“Now?” he asked.
“Yeah. I’m ready. Let’s do it.”
I pulled him in for a kiss, and he climbed on top of me. I’m not sure why I thought this was the right moment to lose my virginity. Younger me would probably say something about how Zach’s eyes captured me that day, how I needed a new way of expressing my love for him. But I think a part of me just wanted to get the first time out of the way. I wanted to know what made sex so great and magical, how it impacted love. My friends and I didn’t talk about sex in our small town. The Bible said it shouldn’t happen before marriage, and the conversation ended there. But I read about it often in books and on the internet. I knew I wanted Zach to be my first.
We had been making out for ten minutes, fumbling and struggling with how our bodies fit together. Both of our shirts were off when Zach stopped us.
“I can’t do this,” he said.
He still wasn’t ready.
“What’s wrong?” I crossed my arms and covered my naked chest.
“I just need to make a grilled cheese,” he said.
The moment ended.
“I just need a grilled cheese, and then I’ll be able to have sex; I promise.” He started putting his shirt back on.
I stared at him.
“Am I missing something?”
He handed me my shirt.
“I’m too hungry and nervous. Just c’mon.”
With our shirts back on, we walked up the stairs towards his kitchen. Zach held my hand, but I stayed a step behind him. Upstairs, I sat on the stained floor by the fireplace. I watched as he prepared his sandwich in the kitchen.
“This will make everything better, I promise.”
He placed the grilled cheese on the pan and came over to me. I sat with my legs pulled to my chest, realizing a grilled cheese forever spoiled my passion-filled virginity story. I thought about waiting for another moment instead.
Zach put his hand on my cheek and kissed me. I could hear the sandwich sizzling.
I ended up having a bite of Zach’s pre-sex grilled cheese minutes later and remember thinking it tasted good but not understanding how its gooeyness justified stopping us mid make out. But sure enough, as he promised, he ate the grilled cheese and perked up.
We walked back down the stairs, and I lost my virginity.
So why did I fictionalize my virginity story? Why couldn’t I, years before, admit grilled cheese, not hot passion, led to my virginity loss?
I grew up absorbing the unrealistic expectations of love and relationships I saw in the media. I wanted to be all of the whirlwind love stories, enchanting love lyrics, and dramatic destined-for-each-other characters. In those stories and movies, I saw no grilled cheese fantasies; so when I documented my own experience, I didn’t want to see one either. I wanted the unrealistic. So instead, I wrote what my college roommate later labeled a teen erotica about aching for my first love, how I was fated to fall into his body for eternity, how we experienced a love no one had before. Zach and I were more than the lyrics and stories; our youth didn’t matter. We were better. We were stronger. We were closer. We were destined.
We broke up seven months later, a fate even a grilled cheese couldn’t change.
Soph lives in the mountains, where she writes whenever she can. Her recent work can be found or is forthcoming in WOW-Women on Writing, where she placed 3rd in the Q3 2021 Essay Contest, Sledgehammer, Anti-Heroin Chic, Entropy Magazine, and Phoebe Journal. Her favorite life lessons often come from queer cartoons, and one day, she hopes to run her own tea shop.
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Art (cropped): Pierre-Auguste Renoir Public Domain, via Wiki Commons