Minutiæ



Reconciliation1.70

It’s Never Gonna Happen

by

1.

Scott Farmer is an idealist. A roman­tic, even.Which makes this sto­ry hard­er to tell.

Scott and Katie, both seniors at Glen J. Davis High School out­side of Colum­bus, OH, had been going out for three months pri­or to their senior prom. It was one of those deep-seed­ed friend­ships that blos­somed into romance as the end of high school approached. Katie admired every­thing about Scott: his posi­tion as edi­tor of The Dra­con­ian (the school news­pa­per), his star­ring role in the Spring pro­duc­tion of Any­thing Goes, and his calm­ing smile. While the rest of the class was asleep dur­ing the Hon­or Roll Lock-In, the young cou­ple snuck away to make out in a cor­ner of the gym­na­si­um. They were an item every­one in school talked about.

Prom was held in the large ban­quet hall of the down­town Colum­bus Mar­riott. Teach­ers and admin­is­tra­tors ensured that the evening’s fes­tiv­i­ties stayed PG, but six blocks away, the La Quin­ta Inn was booked sol­id for the night, over­flow­ing with senior after-par­ties. The top­ic of get­ting a room had come up between Scott and Katie. Per­haps it was the social pres­sure or the young roman­ti­cism that pushed Scott to make a reser­va­tion using his friend Mitchell’s cred­it card.

“His mom just remar­ried so they gave him a cred­it card”, says Scott. He and Mitchell drove two towns over to buy con­doms, fear­ing they’d be seen. They kept the pro­phy­lac­tics in crum­pled Wendy’s bags in their bed­rooms. Like thou­sands of high school­ers every year, Scott and Katie ful­ly expect­ed to let the excite­ment of senior prom sweep them into los­ing their vir­gin­i­ty.

As the final slow dance end­ed in the base­ment of the Mar­riott, Scott and Katie walked the six blocks to the La Quin­ta Inn and up to their rent­ed room. Almost imme­di­ate­ly, the rav­en­ous teens start­ed mak­ing out, remov­ing their clothes, and lying togeth­er in bed.

Yet, an hour lat­er, they were still lying togeth­er in bed, still a pair of vir­gins.

Through the thin walls, Scott and Katie lis­tened to Mitchell and his date moan. “Do you want to?” asked Scott. Katie said yes. Reach­ing inside the greasy and stale Wendy’s bag, Scott pulled out the con­dom and slid it on.

Scott asked Katie three more times, just to make sure. Each time she said yes: She want­ed to have sex. And then Scott did noth­ing.

He kept on try­ing to form new sen­tences or words as he worked through it all in his head. Is this right? Am I doing this only because it’s prom night? Is she the one? With­out a word, Scott removed the con­dom. The moment was over. They stayed up all night, just talk­ing about the sum­mer and col­lege. After the sun rose, and they got break­fast with their group of friends, Scott took Katie home.

Almost 20 years lat­er, Scott is still a vir­gin.

2.

I first heard about Scott Farmer, the 36-year old vir­gin, eight months ago. My boyfriend the car­i­ca­ture artist had just bro­ken up with me; I was heart­bro­ken and con­fused. We were on The Track. We had met each other’s par­ents, tak­en trips togeth­er, and even moved into a con­do with a shared lease. When it all fell apart, I found myself sleep­ing on the couch of a friend who worked with Scott’s sis­ter. In the midst of a back rub and ”˜things aren’t so bad’ pep talk, Scott was brought up as a prime exam­ple of how much worse things could be.

I was sur­prised that Scott agreed to let me inter­view him, but I soon found out that his vir­gin­i­ty is fair­ly com­mon knowl­edge. “I don’t real­ly tell peo­ple, but any­one who talks to Peter or my sis­ter finds out pret­ty quick­ly. It’s kind of like say­ing I’m HIV pos­i­tive, like ‘keep your eye out,’ but I don’t know if this is worse… I bet peo­ple who are HIV pos­i­tive are hap­pi­er than I am”.

He stares into space for a moment. “I don’t mean that”, he says, uncon­vinc­ing­ly.

Scott works from home as a copy edi­tor for a blog net­work that he didn’t want named. Suf­fice it to say, Scott spends his days cor­rect­ing punc­tu­a­tion and fact check­ing snark-laden posts intend­ed for Brook­lynites, women who like “look books,” geeks, avi­a­tion dweebs and home­school­ing moth­ers. His dream is to pub­lish a series of nov­els about a hard nose detec­tive named Chan­til­ly Rose. A few pages into one draft and its abun­dant­ly clear: Chan­til­ly Rose is the anti-Scott. Despite the name, Chan­til­ly is con­fi­dent, self-assured, even ego­tis­ti­cal. “I used to deny Chan­til­ly had any rela­tion to me, but I mean, it’s so clear. Women throw them­selves at him, and after a while they’re gunned down so he can move on to the next one.”

Scott began writ­ing fic­tion a week after prom. He tried to keep in touch with Katie that sum­mer, but she left for Venice with some friends and returned in no mood to deal with “high school boys.” Just before head­ing off to the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin in the fall, Scott learned that his best friend Mitchell had slept with Katie. Worse, they were going to make it work long dis­tance. He hasn’t spo­ken more than a few cur­so­ry words to either of them since, and declined a mono­grammed invi­ta­tion to their des­ti­na­tion wed­ding when the cowork­er he’d been court­ing backed out. “I kept on jok­ing that we were going as an item, and even­tu­al­ly it weird­ed her out. That’s when i start­ed work­ing from home.”

He arrived in Madi­son in the fall of 1993. Tucked amongst the ses­sions at col­lege ori­en­ta­tion was a frank dis­cus­sion by SASE (Stu­dents And Sex­u­al Equal­i­ty), an on-cam­pus well­ness group that, among oth­er things, ham­mers down the agreed upon def­i­n­i­tion of rape and con­sent. At the end of the talk, con­doms and stern hand­shakes are hand­ed out in abun­dance.

Scott’s response was fear. “I kept on hear­ing things about con­sent, unwant­ed sex­u­al advance­ments. It felt like if I made any ges­ture towards a girl at all, I would be kicked out of school. So, you have to be con­fi­dent, but you can’t be pushy. I still feel trapped.”

Despite his fear of becom­ing a sex­u­al preda­tor, Scott quick­ly fell in with Lau­ra, a coed who shared his dorm floor and a sta­tis­tics class. They gushed over the recent­ly released August and Every­thing After by the Count­ing Crows. They saw A Bronx Tale dur­ing a Sat­ur­day mat­inée and made out a lit­tle in the back row. A week before Thanks­giv­ing break, only one unan­swered ques­tion remained: when were they going to have sex? Reunit­ing in Decem­ber to resume class­es, the ques­tion still hung cold in the Wis­con­sin air. Lau­ra, for her part, was try­ing to answer it: soon.

On nights when Lau­ra would stay over, Scott would feign headaches or tired­ness before rolling onto his side for the night. One night he acci­den­tal­ly knocked Lau­ra off the bed, bruis­ing her butt. As win­ter break neared, Lau­ra assumed Scott’s lack of sex dri­ve more about being unin­ter­est­ed in her, not just emo­tion­al­ly unpre­pared. The night before Lau­ra was to return to Mil­wau­kee for Christ­mas, the unan­swered ques­tion fell out into the open.

“She asked why I didn’t want to have sex with her,” says Scott, “I knew I was going to lose her, so I tried to go for it.” After some over-the-sweater heavy pet­ting, the two land­ed in bed togeth­er, with Scott reach­ing for one his ori­en­ta­tion con­doms. He stared at it the shiny wrap­per, so easy to peel open. Except, to reach the con­dom inside, you’d have to rip the word CONSENT right down the mid­dle. He stared a moment longer, then dropped the con­dom back into the draw­er of his night­stand.

Lau­ra stormed out and the two didn’t speak over the hol­i­days. When win­ter ses­sion resumed, the two avoid­ed each oth­er in the hall­ways. Even­tu­al­ly, Lau­ra trans­ferred to anoth­er dorm.  “I mean, we nev­er offi­cial­ly broke up, so… y’know…” Even now, Scott won­ders aloud if he should “maybe call her again?”

“I was wor­ried we were mov­ing too fast, that I wouldn’t be good at it, that I wasn’t ready, that it wasn’t spe­cial enough,” says Scott. He paus­es, as if he’s had an epiphany. “I guess I’ve always want­ed it to be spe­cial and roman­tic. Not in some dorm room while my room­mate Duane sleeps in the bunk below us.”

Scott spent the remain­der of his col­lege years pri­mar­i­ly alone, aside from his vol­un­teer work with the cam­pus’ SASE Walk pro­gram, where he would spend his Fri­day and Sat­ur­day evenings escort­ing groups of girls safe­ly across cam­pus. “I admit that I thought I’d meet some cute girl who fell in love with how coura­geous I was being.” Most­ly, Scott met much taller, drunk women that he’d lend piz­za mon­ey to.

“I have this phi­los­o­phy that if I am good and stay qui­et, peo­ple will give me things,” says Scott, “But that’s not how life works. It’s why I don’t like video games. At some point you have to be proac­tive and go after the bad guy or the reward, and I’d rather cheat at soli­taire.”

Scott grad­u­at­ed qui­et­ly in four years. He declined to walk dur­ing the final cer­e­mo­ny and left Madi­son short­ly after. He doesn’t speak with any­one from col­lege, which isn’t sur­pris­ing when you see the stack of man­u­scripts on his bed­room floor. Dur­ing the gold­en years of most people’s lives, Scott com­plet­ed three nov­els: “Chan­til­ly Rose: Framed for Regicide”,  “Chan­til­ly Rose: Doomed from the Chart” and “Chan­til­ly Rose: Bul­lets & The May­or.”

3.

Peter Leslie is a bar­tender and Scott Farmer’s clos­est friend. He’s fun­ny, exceed­ing­ly charm­ing and almost defi­ant­ly con­fi­dent, thanks to his hand­some good looks and an over-abun­dance of mus­cles. When I con­tact­ed him, he asked that we talk as he did some gro­cery shop­ping.

“When I see a woman, the only thing I have on my mind is sex. Noth­ing before or after,” Peter tells me as he checks mel­on ripeness. “When Scott sees a woman, he thinks about how to talk to her, their first date, when they’re going to have sex, what hap­pens after­wards, what if they get mar­ried, whose house they go to for the hol­i­days, what brand of laun­dry deter­gent they’ll use. He’s doing too much math when it’s all very car­nal.” Peter holds up a mel­on to com­pare to my breasts. “Nice.”

The unlike­ly pair first hit it off when Scott was in Peter’s bar with a date. Peter noticed Scott’s social fail­ings and tried to throw him a line or two from over the bar. At the end of the night, the date left with Peter; he and Scott have remained close ever since. “I’ve tried to get him laid, ” says Peter, “I have sent the skanki­est girls after him. I’ve per­suad­ed the sweet­est, most inno­cent girls, too. He is inca­pable of clos­ing. I did every­thing short of hav­ing a girl force her­self on him. Hell, if I could get him to leave his apart­ment and go to Vegas, I’d even try that.”

Peter con­fides in me that he’s hope­ful Scott’s detec­tive nov­els become suc­cess­ful and maybe get optioned into a film fran­chise. Of course, Peter him­self would get cast as the star. “I am Chan­til­ly Rose. I’ve got the build and the atti­tude.” Lis­ten to this, he says, before assum­ing a smoky air. “‘Lis­ten, dar­ling, you hear any­thing, you give me a call. My name? Oh, it’s Chan­til­ly Rose.’” He drops the char­ac­ter, clear­ly pleased with his per­for­mance. “See? Nailed it.” Peter may not have the chops to play a lead­ing man, but he is the absolute def­i­n­i­tion of a ladies man. I was almost tak­en in by his offer to ”˜lay it on [me]’ at his bar, but the mys­tique wore off once I began to hear all of his sor­did tales for myself. “I actu­al­ly want­ed to chal­lenge myself,” says Peter, over a late lunch. “I want­ed to see if I could tell you exact­ly how I oper­ate and still have you go home with me. Oh well.” With­in ten min­utes, he’s talked our sin­gle-moth­er wait­ress into a date.

“Peter is amaz­ing. He’s incred­i­ble.” I’m with Scott at Peter’s bar, watch­ing him oper­ate on the female clien­tele while serv­ing drinks. “I wish I could have one moment in my entire life where I wasn’t afraid to propo­si­tion a girl…Like, pro­pose something…Not pro­pose to her, but, like, make an offer for her…I mean… y’know?” Scott exhales and takes a sip of his free vod­ka Coke, cour­tesy of the man behind the bar who just snort­ed a Jell-O shot off of a blonde’s chest. “I wish I had one moment where I wasn’t afraid of women.”

Scott opens his wal­let and pulls out a dry, cracked square of plas­tic. Stamped across the front, in all caps, is the word CONSENT. He tells me that he’s been hold­ing onto the same con­dom since col­lege not only as a reminder, but to use vic­to­ri­ous­ly when the time comes. He’ll be vin­di­cat­ed, he says. When I point out that it’s expired, he crum­ples.

At my tip­sy sug­ges­tion, Scott and I go to Wal­greens to get con­doms, which he has nev­er actu­al­ly pur­chased him­self. Back in high school, it was Mitchell at the reg­is­ter; in col­lege, he nev­er moved past the hand­ful that he was giv­en at ori­en­ta­tion. To Scott, the entire process is over­whelm­ing. It takes four min­utes to enter the con­dom aisle, and anoth­er six to get him in front of the dis­play.

“I hate con­doms. Not like that. I look at them and they’re just star­ing back at me say­ing ‘not for you, you don’t need us.’ It’s like an illit­er­ate per­son brows­ing books. They’re insult­ing me.”

4.

A year and a half ago, Scott was mis­er­able. After a two-week rela­tion­ship with a friend of his sister’s that includ­ed (in order) cof­fee, lunch, din­ner and the movie “For Col­ored Girls”, she had stopped respond­ing to his text mes­sages.

“I know she knew my sit­u­a­tion when she agreed to go out with me, and it didn’t both­er her. I think she could tell that I kept on won­der­ing if she was the girl it was final­ly going to hap­pen with, and the whole thing just turned her off. They can all tell. I’ve been out with six women since col­lege, and it doesn’t mat­ter if they know about my sit­u­a­tion or not, they can all tell that’s what I’m think­ing. Women already know that guys are always walk­ing around, think­ing about sex, but with the added lay­er of being a vir­gin, it’s just too much.”

Feel­ing “reject­ed by the entire world,” Scott didn’t leave his house for two weeks. He resigned him­self to the notion that not only would he nev­er have sex, he would nev­er be with any­one in any roman­tic capac­i­ty. “I’d rather be alone than be with a woman who doesn’t want me. And I don’t think I’ll be able to get a women to want me because I come off as such a los­er.” When Scott final­ly emerged from his emo­tion­al cocoon, he left his house in a choco­late stained pair of Hanes Beefy sweat­pants. Scott believed he had hit rock bot­tom. Yet, for him, there was one more step to go.

After 36 years as a vir­gin, Scott knew that all of his rela­tion­ships had teetered on the notion of sex. All of its ques­tions and pre­sump­tions made every­thing so com­pli­cat­ed. Was it going to hap­pen? When? How? Would he do it right? How long should parts stay wet for? It was too much for him to han­dle, and he decid­ed to seek help from a pro­fes­sion­al.

Across town at the La Quin­ta Inn, Scott arranged for a female escort. In the room, with the mon­ey on the night­stand, Scott dove into the details. “I want­ed to know how many times…‘it’ … could hap­pen, because I fig­ured I would need a few times to fig­ure it out”, he tells me lat­er. He paid up front for two hours, unlim­it­ed “times”. Yet, despite the busi­ness-like nature of the evening, Scott began to shut down. The escort, sens­ing Scott’s strug­gle, took it upon her­self to get things start­ed. She stripped and lay her naked body over the bed. Across the room, Scott sat in the desk chair in his box­ers, look­ing at her, wide-eyed. She sug­gest­ed he have a drink, but didn’t want his first time to be “under the influ­ence”. After ten min­utes of slow, silent gyrat­ing, the escort turned on TNT and began an episode of Law & Order. One hour lat­er and Scott had not so much as swiveled in his chair. Half of his time was gone. Part of him want­ed it all to be over, wish­ing he could just get drunk and fin­ish the ‘solu­tion’ he had paid for. But the oth­er part of him, the big, burn­ing part of him, was scared.

“I wait­ed so long, built it up so much, that it just couldn’t end that way. It was like I drove my vir­gin­i­ty out into the woods and was going to shoot it in the back of the head. I didn’t want to exe­cute my vir­gin­i­ty, I want­ed to set it free.”

Even­tu­al­ly, the escort left. Scott wait­ed around for a few more min­utes, pro­vid­ed his own solu­tion, then head­ed out. A few days lat­er a $45 charge appeared on his cred­it card from the hotel for sheet clean­ing and access­ing one of the ”˜pre­mi­um’ video options. Scott hasn’t been on a date, flirt­ed, or been with a woman since. He has resigned him­self to the notion that he will always be a vir­gin.

5.

Back in the con­dom aisle, I final­ly help Scott pur­chase a 3 pack of name brand con­doms. A lit­tle tip­sy from the vod­ka Coke, he expounds on what a waste of mon­ey it is for him to have con­doms, which only wors­ens his mood. I help Scott back to his apart­ment, and he lazi­ly lets me in. I was curi­ous to see how a 36 year old sin­gle man dec­o­rates, and I was sur­prised. There weren’t super­hero fig­urines or movie posters every­where. Scott explained every­thing is from a sin­gle page in a Crate & Bar­rel cat­a­log. He want­ed the apart­ment to look nice to any girl that may come back, but he nev­er uses any of it, no one ever comes over but Peter. Scott’s bed­room is sparse: A bed in the cor­ner with a sin­gle pil­low. “All I do in there is sleep. What?”

I go through Scott’s DVD col­lec­tion while he stum­bles back and forth. “I can­not imag­ine any sce­nario in the next fifty years of my life where I will be real­ly hap­py,” says Scott. “I have fleet­ing moments of hap­pi­ness, and then I remem­ber this huge hole in my life where I should have someone’s love.”

After some dig­ging, he pulls out a man­u­script and begins to read from ”˜Chan­til­ly Rose: Dames & Doom’. It’s his lat­est draft, where the detec­tive, after a pas­sion­ate night with a wid­ow, implies that they’ll nev­er meet again, despite the fact that he’s insem­i­nat­ed her.

“This guy, he doesn’t care. He doesn’t want a wife and a fam­i­ly, and I want it all. I want to make break­fast for peo­ple who love me. I want to book plane tick­ets for a fam­i­ly and wake up in the mid­dle of the night because some­one had a night­mare. And I’ll nev­er have it because, God fuck­ing damn it, I can’t even make whoop­ie with a hook­er!”

It occurs to me, sit­ting on a couch that was pur­chased for the implic­it illu­sion of matu­ri­ty, that I haven’t had sex in over six months. This liv­ing, breath­ing sto­ry, Scott Farmer, so con­sumed my post-break up life that half a year passed and I hadn’t so much as sat on a work­ing dry­er for the thrills. Lis­ten­ing to Scott say “whoop­ie” grates on me. I’m slight­ly irri­tat­ed, a lit­tle drunk, sud­den­ly horny, and star­ing at a 36 year old intox­i­cat­ed vir­gin ram­bling on about want­i­ng a fam­i­ly. I make a move.

Look­ing back on it now, I guess I want­ed to snuff out the torch that Scott had been hold­ing up to the ideals of romance for near­ly two decades. I thought, if any­thing, I could help him move for­ward. But, most of all, for me, it had been six months.

6.

It’s been three weeks since my night with Scott. In the morn­ing, I woke to a full choco­late chip pan­cake break­fast, with a wedge of grape­fruit and a glass of milk. I wore one of his Oxford shirts, but not because it hap­pened to be lay­ing around. It was fold­ed over the head­rest of the only chair in his bed­room, fresh­ly pressed and with a note pinned to the sleeve that read “for you”. As I made my way into the liv­ing room, it became appar­ent that my detached, jour­nal­is­tic curios­i­ty was no match for my pure desire to not talk about what hap­pened. I dressed, he kissed me on the cheek, and I left. We talked on the phone that night, but we kept paus­ing inter­mit­tent­ly and then falling all over each other’s words to fill the emp­ty space. Even­tu­al­ly, I stopped answer­ing his calls or return­ing his text mes­sages ask­ing to see me again.

Sex is not a test. Rather, it’s an expres­sion of one­self, like danc­ing or paint­ing or draw­ing those big-head­ed car­i­ca­tures on the board­walk. We all have the poten­tial to be great at express­ing our emo­tions, but it takes many fail­ures for that great­ness to show up. The first time you have sex, it’s spe­cial, but not as sat­is­fy­ing or impor­tant as once you fig­ure out how to dance beau­ti­ful­ly or paint like a mas­ter or real­ly nail that del­i­cate fore­head on one of your car­i­ca­ture draw­ings.

Scott wait­ed too long to fail at sex. Like adult braces, it’s some­thing that should’ve been tak­en care of long ago. Even­tu­al­ly, the fear of fail­ure steam­rolled his every roman­tic move. Scott Farmer is a 36 year old for­mer vir­gin, but roman­ti­cal­ly, he’s still 17.

The last com­mu­ni­ca­tion I ever received from Scott came in the form of a Face­book mes­sage:

“I haven’t been able to stop think­ing about our night, and I real­ized that I must’ve done some­thing wrong. Please let me know what I did wrong and I will fix it. What­ev­er you want done dif­fer­ent­ly, I will do it. We nev­er offi­cial­ly split up, so I real­ly think we can make this work. I think we could be some­thing very spe­cial. I can change what­ev­er I did wrong, if you just tell me.”

Two hours lat­er, he asked to add me as his girl­friend on Face­book.

Then I deac­ti­vat­ed my account. ♦