Had lunch the other day with an old friend from high school, actually an old girlfriend.
We never dated in high school but hooked up in the late sixties when I worked as a reporter for the The Roanoke Times in Southwestern Virginia and she attended an area college.
In the sixties, “hooking up” just meant dating. Later it became a reference to having casual sex.
Like most young men in those days, I tried a few things but she would push my hand away from a sexual region of her body and say “no” and I stopped.
During our lunch, our discussion drifted into observations of the “MeeToo” movement that has damaged or destroyed the careers of sexually harassing politicians, celebrities, business leaders and sports figures.
“Our relationship never reached that point,” I said.
“No, it didn’t,” she agreed. “You usually gave up too easily.”
“There was a point when we could have had sex but if I said ‘no’ you accepted it on the first try and didn’t pursue,” she said.
“I tried to honor your request,” I said.
“Bullshit,” she said with a smile. “You gave in. In those days, a woman had to say “no” for a few times before saying ‘yes.’ I broke up with you because I didn’t feel like you were that attracted to me.”
I had lost my virginity to an older woman several years earlier and I was sleeping with others when she and I dated. She surrendered her virginity to the next man she began dating, not long after she stopped seeing me.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was very attracted to you. In fact, I may have been falling in love with you and did not want to force your hand.”
“Well, my hand and the rest of me wanted to be forced. You blew it. It probably would have been good.”
I had what could have been called an “active social life” during the time when I lost my virginity at 15 and married at age 21 but I also was shy around women, an odd trait for a young, brash newspaperman who was outgoing in many other ways.
After moving to Roanoke in 1965 at age 17 to accept a full-time reporting gig at that city’s morning daily newspaper, I had an apartment in a complex where some of Piedmont Airlines stewardesses lived when they weren’t flying to and staying at various locations. Striking up discussions with a “stew” in a bikini at the apartment pool seemed easy. So did times later on when the bikini ended up on the floor by my couch or the bed of my apartment.
My dalliances ended with most of the airline’s stewardesses ended when one 23 year old flight attendant discovered she was having sex with a 17-year-old “boy” — and act that could land her in jail for statutory rape since I was under the “age of consent.”
She spread the word among the others and I was suddenly off limits, except for one who didn’t care about my age or the illegality of our actions. We had too much fun to care.
But the 60s were still a time when virginity was a status many women claimed they wanted to possess when they got married. More often than not, a desired young lady said she had to have a wedding ring on her finger before any part of my body invaded certain spots on hers.
Others didn’t care. Neither did I. My first wife was not a virgin when we met.
When my first marriage ended in divorce in 1973, I reentered the dating lifestyle and found the rules had changed…a lot. It was the “swinging 70s” when birth control pills made women free and sex became part of dates.
I took the first woman I asked out on a date to a fancy restaurant in the Illinois city where I reported for my second daily newspaper. Halfway through the dinner, she smiled and said “I suppose you this grand dinner will get me into bed with you on a first date.”
Actually, I didn’t. I came from a single period where sex wasn’t on the menu on a first date.
She didn’t believe me when I said that notion had been on my mind when I chose the restaurant for our first time together.
“If you did, you wasted money,” she said. “i knew we were going to have sex right away when you asked me out.”
And we did. on that date and several others that followed. She never said “no,” even once. Then again, she never said “yes” either. It just happened…and happened…and happened.
Now, more than half a decade later, when the topic came up over lunch with a former girlfriend, I asked if I would have been guilty of sexual harassment if I had ignored her utterances of “no” and kept pushing.
“Not in our case,” she said. “I would have considered it foreplay.”