By: Radhika Sanghani

She pressed the packet into my hands with a knowing look. I stood up, clutching it. I could barely see past the bright green letters flashing in my head so I walked in an undiscerning daze back out through the waiting room. My throat felt parched and scratchy from mortification so I stopped off at the water cooler. As I poured myself a plastic cup of water, I felt something fall behind me.

I turned around in surprise and saw an upturned cardboard box lying in the middle of the room surrounded by small silver packets scattered all across the waiting room floor and under the waiting patients’ seats. Oh God. My satchel must have knocked the box off the shelf behind me.

I closed my eyes briefly in shame before forcing myself to bend down and pick it up. The waiting patients in the room were staring so I pulled my jeans up, hoping my faded knickers weren’t on show. Crouching on my knees and trying to pull my jumper down to hide my VPL, I started picking up the packets. I was half-finished shoving them carelessly back into the open box when it suddenly hit me. These weren’t just shiny silver packets that I was picking up from under people’s feet. They were condoms.

The irony was not lost on me as I fled the doctor’s office, my eyes swimming in hot tears. I ran out into the street and chucked the brown envelope straight into the first bin I saw. My face burned red-hot as I watched it sink in with the empty McDonald’s paper bags, taking my dignity down with it.

I was nothing but a twenty-one-year-old VIRGIN.

  Life as an adult virgin is more complicated than you might think. Obviously it is normal, there are thousands of us, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. Choosing when to have sex is a completely individual decision, and everyone is different. Some people choose to wait till marriage, and some just want to wait for the right person. Others are religious, and others are just too busy being successful in every other area of their lives to worry about something as minor as intercourse.

At least, that’s what the Internet said when I Googled it the second I got home from the doctor’s office.

I knew Dr. E. Bowers hadn’t even believed I was a virgin to begin with, because clearly no average-looking third-year university student who had seven-plus drinks a week could still be a virgin. Except me.

I buried my head in the duck-feather pillow I’d spent a week’s food budget on. I pulled my duvet over myself to try to block out the six letters blinking over and over in my head: V I R G I N V I R G I N V I R G I N.

I hated the word. I hated it just as much as I hated the fact that I was one. It wasn’t fair—why did I have to be the only non-deformed, non-religious girl stuck with an untouched inner lotus at the age of twenty-one?

I sighed loudly and let my mind go over the familiar responses to the “Why am I still a v*****?” question that visited me as regularly as my period.

1. It was my parents’ fault. They were education-obsessed immigrants who had moved from Greece to Surrey and sent me to an all-girls school. Their plan was for me never to meet any boys so I wouldn’t be distracted from their one and only goal for me: Oxford University. Result? I didn’t get into Oxford and I didn’t meet any boys either.

2. I was a very unfortunate-looking teenager. By the time I figured out how to make myself look passable and wear a bra that gave me enough support to show off my 36D assets, it was too late. All the boys from the school next door already had girlfriends, and to them I would always be the slightly unattractive and quiet girl with big boobs hidden behind massive jumpers, and long dark curly hair that was more horizontal than vertical. It didn’t help that all the other girls had figured out how to pluck their eyebrows and flirt while I was locked up in my bathroom with a bottle of bleach, battling my moustache. By the time I got to uni, I realized I had missed out on learning how to talk to boys. After a few minutes of my blunt humor and self-deprecation, they usually moved on to talk to real girls. Girls with minimal body hair, button noses and socially appropriate senses of humor.

3. My dysfunctional family. I was an only child, which meant most people assumed I had spent a spoiled, lavish upbringing pleading with my parents never to have another child so I could have all their attention. The reality was that I spent my whole childhood avoiding my mum and dad whenever they were in the same room, which meant most of my formative years were spent on the swing in the back of the garden with my imaginary older brother, or reading books under my duvet. Consequently, I moved up to the top reading set at school, developed an overactive imagination and became obsessed with my friends’ functional families. I couldn’t figure out how all this linked to the “why am I still a virgin?” question, but it must have had some kind of psychological impact on me. My latest theory was that it gave me a pathological fear of men.

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