Katelyn and I just met three days ago and I’m tearing off the wrapper of the condom already. Preventive measures are important, seeing as we barely know each other, which is why once the condom is on I have one more question to ask her before we get down to business.
“How many people have you slept with?”
Katelyn, completely naked, looks at me for a moment, puzzled, and says, “Two. You?”
“Four,” I say. Then I kiss her, and the fun begins.
I wasn’t lying. After all, I was still only in my first semester at college. I had no reason to think Katelyn was lying either. She was a freshman too. So as far as I was concerned, Katelyn — easily the finest girl I’ve ever dug, who’s dug me in return — and I had a deep connection.
That was the feeling I left her dorm room with. I wanted this to get serious quickly and I think she did too.
Back at my dorm, I told a few of my boys about what just happened. I explained to them what went down with Katelyn and broke down how in just three days we were probably going to end up together.
Katelyn felt my energy.
Katelyn understood me.
Katelyn is special.
Damn that college freshman naiveté.
Back when we were freshman at Howard, my boys didn’t know much more than me about the opposite sex. We were like the blind leading the blind. Even when we weren’t asking each other for any advice, my boys and I wasted no time doling out our takes on the opposite sex. I think it was because we wanted an excuse to talk about our individual experiences. Limited as they were, we looked for any reason to rehash a story about a woman from our small pasts, but cloaked our boasts in faux-pearls of wisdom. So naturally one of my boys responded to my Katelyn story with skepticism, and because I saw it coming, I knew exactly how to reply.
“Oh man, you’re just a hater,” I told Jake. “Besides, you all don’t even know her. She doesn’t go to school here.”
“I’m just sayin’ homie, how do you know,” Jake asked. “I mean, how do you know you’re the only one she’s done that with? One time, I was with this one girl and I thought I was the only one. Turns out mad dudes had been up in it!”
“Dude, I just know,” I said, continuing to plead my case. “She ain’t like that! She said she only been with two people before me!”
“You catchin feelings,” Jake asked.
“Naw,” I said. “I’m just sayin, what we had was on a different level.”
My other boy Rob chimed in, “Hey, if you feel that way. Do you. I was with you the other night. She’s fine.”
“Tell him that,” I said, pointing back to Jake.
“Fine or not,” Jake said. “You never know. These girls…”
“I know, these girls, whatever,” I interrupted. “I’m going back to my room. I’ll catch you all later.”
Back in my dorm room, I picked up my phone and gave Katelyn a call. She picked up on the first ring.
“Hey,” I said.
“Who’s this,” she asked.
For a moment, I looked at my phone. Did I have the right number? What is this who’s this business?
“Umm, it’s Jozen,” I said.
“Oh, hey, how are you,” Katelyn asked. Her skeptical tone melted away to the familiar, sweet sound I heard a few hours ago when we were in her room.
“I’m good,” I said. “I was calling to see if you wanted to get together on Saturday.”
“Umm, yeah,” she said. “We can do that”
“Dope,” I said. “So how are you?”
“I’m good, but umm, there’s something I wanted to ask you.” Katelyn’s voice slipped back into a more serious tone.
“Okay,” I said. “What is it?”
“Why did you ask me how many people I slept with before we had sex?”
“I know, that was stupid, I shouldn’t have done that,” I said.
“Well, when you said four, were you telling the truth,” she asked.
“Yeah. I was,” I said. “Were you?”
“You were? Four people? That’s it,” Katelyn was now pressing, for what, I didn’t know.
“Yeah, four,” I said. “Four. Why do you ask?”
“Well, when I said two, I wasn’t being completely honest.”
“Oh, okay,” I said, thinking this lie isn’t so bad. After all, she felt my energy. She understood me. She was special. “So how many is it, like four too or five?”
“Umm, I don’t think I want to tell you,” she said.
“I mean, it can’t be that bad,” I said. “You can tell me. I want to know. Is it five?”
“Umm, no, it’s more,” she said.
More! I thought. Right as she said this, I could hear Jake laughing in the other room, and even though he was laughing with the rest of my boys about something completely unrelated and couldn’t hear the conversation Katelyn and I were having, he might as well have been in the conversation on 3-way. Katelyn already had to use her second hand to count the number of sexual partners she had. How could that be? I was being lied to and emasculated at the same time. Emasculated because in my immature mind, a man was always supposed to have more sexual partners than a woman.
“Umm, okay,” I said, my voice reeking with suspicion. “Well, just tell me. I promise, I can handle it. Is it like 10?”
“More.” She whispered.
“More!” I yelled.
“Why are you yelling,” she asked.
“I’m yelling because I can’t believe you lied to me and said two when it’s been more than 10! Even if you weren’t telling the truth, you can’t lie by more than like five people.”
“Well,” she yelled back. “Who asks how many people you sleep with before you’re about to sleep with them?”
She had a point. I don’t know who ever did such a thing, but I wasn’t about to let her get off the hook by shifting the argument towards me.
“Okay, but still, now you have to tell me how many,” I said. My voice was now calm, but my heart was anything but. “I mean, I thought we had something special here. I still kind of do, I just need to know how many people you’ve been with.”
“Well, okay, I’m going to tell you, but promise you won’t judge me,” Katelyn said.
“No judgement,” I said. “Just keep it real.”
“Okay,” she said. Then after a deep breath, she hit me with it.
I slammed my cordless phone back down on the base, and with my arm, swept it off my desk, the battery casing sprawling out from the phone in slow motion. I couldn’t believe this.
Katelyn felt my energy.
Katelyn understood me.
Katelyn is special.
Special indeed. 32! 3! 2! TOGETHER!
For the next two weeks, Katelyn called every day at least once a day, but I screened all my calls just so I wouldn’t have to speak her again.
Turns out, Jake was right. You never really know. But what I learned the hard way is I don’t really want to know anyway. The girl might be lying to me. Like Katelyn did. But if she tells me the truth, there’s a chance she could prove Jake right again. Like Katelyn did.