The Sex That Changed My Life

Though mostly I regret sex that I failed to have (because I was too shy, not come-hither enough, etc.), I’ve always been very glad that I turned it down in one instance. I was 18 or 19, moderately drunk, in the apartment of a guy well into his twenties that I’d met at a bar (this was Milwaukee; we all had fake IDs).

I’d found him dashing because he was a bit dangerous seeming and reputedly a rich heir who already owned his own house. In this house (which wasn’t all that impressive, actually), on his bed, I looked down at my best, lacy pink bra and noticed that my beloved everyday necklace—a Liberty dime strung on a silver chain—had fallen off into the crack between my breasts.

I was superstitious back then. And with sudden clarity, I thought, Lou, you gotta get out of here. The message I took from the dropped Liberty dime necklace was: If you want your own liberty—and you know you do—you can’t let yourself be dazzled by a man simply because of some superficial appeal or generic sexual interest in you.

Considering the guy far more soberly, I could see no charm of any note; as for his attitude toward me, I could have been anybody, literally. I put on my shirt, carefully tucked my necklace into my pocket, and said good night.

I consider this moment a benchmark of true inner growth: It reminded me how much I value being independent and, to the extent possible, dignified in my desires, dignified in how and with whom I go about pursuing them.

Adapted from Elle

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