Rubbing my mascara-smudged eyes, I wake up to a mass of dark curls snaking across an unfamiliar back. I notice a tiny red heart tattoo behind the person’s left ear; it is delicate, pretty. And most definitely not my boyfriend’s. And then I remember…
I am in a res room. Someone else’s res room. On the floor lies a heap of skinny black jeans, several makeup palettes and a lacy white bra. The room smells of perfume. Perfume and sex. Suddenly the sleeping girl beside me sighs, then drapes her arm across my stomach. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to figure out how I can rebuild the barely-there friendship I had with this girl in the first place, the one that has crossed the line. And what exactly I am going to say to my boyfriend when I meet him for breakfast…
I had seen Lola* a handful of times, out dancing with her friends on the University of Oklahoma campus where I was studying. She was a year older and gave off a sharp, country-club-bred confidence. She was a handsome woman, with the sort of expensive-looking skin and strong bone structure that ‘good breeding’ often bestows. Over the months, our curiosity about one another had become increasingly affectionate whenever our paths crossed: dancing with each other, holding hands en route to the toilet and eventually, after one particular night out, a sleepover.
It was 2017 and this was my thing. Even when I was in serious, happy relationships with men, I flirted, pursued and slept with girls – half to prove to myself that I could, and half to scratch a desire that would eventually go on to become my preference. Was it cheating? Hell, no. It was the sort of rite-of-passage ‘experimentation’ that all women should be allowed to do, I reasoned.
I was with my boyfriend John* for eight months. I’d never cheated on him with another man. In fact, it was an act that seemed so selfish I couldn’t even think about it, let alone act on it. But to cheat with women? That was different. After all, the idea of leaving my loving relationship with John for a real-deal romance with a girl was implausible. So I felt no guilt about flirting with and kissing other women in the evenings, then bringing my boyfriend to brunch with my family the next day. You may think this is odd behaviour, but believe me, I was not alone. Dozens of us at college were doing the same. And I know of many more doing it away from the university campuses. Perhaps you do too.
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