Most of the rest of that summer was spent in a large city that I’d never visited before, across the country from my hometown. During the week, I lived in a dorm and took a full-time language class. My friends were mostly girls, for a change. Evenings were spent on campus or sometimes downtown. On the weekend, I stayed with relatives in the suburbs.
One Friday morning after class, my friends and I returned to the dorm while two guys (one with long blond hair, one with shorter dark hair) were at the front desk looking into renting rooms for the night. We started chatting: they were hitchhiking and living on a shoestring budget, so even though the rooms were inexpensive, they were very hesitant to part with their cash and were considering sleeping in a park. By this time I’d decided that the blond one was cute and there was some potential here. I sensed the subtext behind their plea for assistance, as well as the way my friends were responding, so said with some confidence that I was sure we could find them some crash space for one night.
It promised to be an excellent day. On Fridays, we only had class in the morning; the optional activity that afternoon was horseback riding and I’d signed up; and my favorite indie band was playing at a bar downtown that night. And then these two guys turned up. At some point, it became apparent that the dark-haired guy, Achilles, was more interested in me than his blond friend was. Fine by me: I found Achilles slightly less cute but he seemed smarter, and I wasn’t feeling overly fussy.
I was the only one of my group who had signed up for the afternoon outing, so I arranged to meet them all downtown, outside the bar. Shortly after I arrived, Achilles and I walked a couple blocks to a fast-food joint to get a large 7-Up to be doctored with vodka, and possibly also some food. On the way there, a prostitute in a short skirt and impossibly high heels called out to Achilles, but she apologized when she realized that he was with me. The sun hadn’t set yet.
The gig was a blast, but it had been a very long day: after a couple hours of horseback riding followed by a couple hours of dancing, I was done, and Achilles and I were the first to head back. Back at the dorm, things progressed as you might expect, and eventually I was confronted with the issue of whether I was going to sleep with him or not. I hadn’t expected to, but in the heat of the moment it seemed like a reasonably good idea. The problem was that neither of us had any condoms and getting some would have been pretty much impossible at that hour. So when he suggested that he’d put it in “just a little”, I agreed. As always, I was very tight (or rather, tense) and was going to need at least a couple minutes to relax. And while I tried to relax, my brain re-engaged and I remembered that putting it in, even “a little”, in the absence of a condom or any other birth control was A Very Stupid Idea, and I called a halt. (He was probably really regretting not having any condoms at that point.) He bedded down on the floor for the night. We spent a bit of the next day together and he saw me off when I got on the bus to go to my relatives’.
A few days later, I found out that one of guys in my class was from the same small city as Achilles and knew him, or knew of him. Achilles was apparently very popular at home (funny how it’s hard to gauge popularity without an entourage to give context), which gave my self-image a boost, but I was also a little concerned he might treat the encounter as a conquest. Not that it mattered much — we never saw each other again.