Philadelphia Sex Diaries: I’m Crushing the College Sex Scene

Navigating life in the casual-sex lane.

Start with the bar. Beer and sweat splotching my shirt, seeping through my push-up bra. A plastic cup of vodka-soda I crinkle with my teeth, my boots tapping the beat to Sweet Caroline, BUM BUM BUM. We throw our hands up, a circle of girls I know from class and student groups, crammed into tight black shirts, jeans that leave marks on our thighs, and makeshift chokers (ribbons, shoelaces) that loop around our necks. I check my phone — 1:30 a.m., half an hour until last call. Only 30 minutes to find someone, or the hair-straightening and winged eyeliner and overpriced shots will be wasted. Good times never seemed so good, we sing. I glance around. I look for a guy.

Maybe I’ll meet his eye in line for another drink. Or maybe he’ll come up behind me in the center of the dance floor, palm my hips, thread his fingers through my belt loops. As the clock ticks closer to last call, I’ll search for him in the booths with checkered tablecloths, in the row of international students smoking cigarettes outside. He can be anyone: a frat boy from the Main Line, an English major with poems tattooed on his wrist, an exchange student winking beneath a backwards hat. The details don’t matter. What matters is, he’s there.

We’ll bend our heads together and kiss as “Closing Time” plays. Around us, the crowd pairs off. We’re a collective force: making out, groping, exchanging numbers. The template for these nights never changes. I’ll giggle my name, and when he asks, “Do you want to get out of here?,” I’ll nod and wave ’bye to my friends. The sex will be fervent or fast or awkward or loud — it all blends together. In the morning I’ll leave with his number in my phone (“Kappa Sig boy,” “Guy from Cape Cod”), plus a few details. His major. His favorite song. I’ll pride myself on not thinking about him emotionally — “I don’t catch feelings,” I’ll tell my friends. I’ll see him around, won’t make eye contact but will add him to the list of boys I text when the tequila hits me next weekend. Or the weekend after.

Lather, rinse, repeat. As for so many college kids, sex is an extracurricular activity, baked into my routine like going to the gym or looking over my poli-sci notes. It doesn’t matter who I’m having it with. What matters is that I’m having it at all.

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