“So, how many guys have you slept with?” my date asked over his fourth pint (bottle of rose for me instead, please). I was so taken aback that I forgot to be offended by the heteronormative assumption. “Why do you ask?” I mumbled, unsure where this was coming from.
Thoughts flash through my mind, none of them good. Does he want me to go through them one by one, like suddenly we’re in Four Weddings and a Funeral? You’re cute babe, but not Hugh Grant cute. Or does he think I have herpes? Or he’s scared that I’m a virgin? Or he’s just simply curious, because somehow our previous conversation about essay marks turned him on so much all he can think about are my pants? And their various past visitors? I’m an open kinda girl, but if you want my detailed sexual history and you’re not a GP, you better have a good reason for it. “I don’t know. You seem like a very confident, sexy person. I was just curious.” The guy gave me a flirty wink and changed the subject, like a good boy that he definitely wasn’t.
But by then my attention was hooked. You want numbers? Let’s talk numbers. And the conversation suddenly became very informative. I’m not going to disclose the figures here, just like I didn’t disclose them to my nosy admirer. Partly it’s because I don’t think numbers matter a fuck, unless you have a habit of entertaining a large proportion of the populace down below without condoms. The other reason is that, well … I could do a count up if I really tried (and you never know, maybe one day I will), but I’m not a mathematician; I get lost in the particulars.
When I was a teenager only discovering my sexuality, and then a newly single young woman with all of Oxford open to me, numbers mattered a great deal. Part of me was proud of every ‘notch on my lipstick case’ and danced to Promiscuous when getting ready for a night out. The other part wanted to stuff a rosary down my throat each time the list grew by yet another name. Or vague memory of a name. Or just college, subject, and shirt colour. I’m not even sure how I feel about it myself, why would I share with him? The point is, I have had sex with many people, don’t have any STIs, and God has not sent any thunderbolts in my direction yet.
Unfortunately, it didn’t look like my date shared this sentiment. I’m not even angered by the double standard anymore; it just bores me. But when a man says, in an apologetic tone, that he finds it a bit weird if a girl had more than ten partners, I’m not gonna stick around the pub for much longer. No new name on the list that night.