This isn’t a story about the first time I had sex. This isn’t even a story about the second time I had sex. This is the story of the third time I had sex and it isn’t hot.
Bruno was a German exchange student at my high school. The first time I saw him I thought he was some weird vampire hybrid. His skin was transparent. He had super long nails on his right hand and fairly sensible nails on his left. His hair hit his shoulders, but he wore it in a bun. Most days he’d opt for a dark black blazer and white jeans with a small leather fanny pack for his cigarillos. This guy was euro trashed to the max. In my wildest dreams I NEVER EVER thought I would fuck him. He was obnoxious and disgusting, and he always smelled like ham. The day he left to go back to his motherland, I assumed, would be the last time I’d ever lay eyes on him. I was wrong.
Three years later, I was studying with the University of Berkley in Paris. I was nineteen years old, about to be twenty, and in Europe for the first time. Everything about Paris was romantic! I’d sit in cafes and write in my journal for hours about how much I hated my parents and how I held capitalism responsible for my anorexia. During my stay, I made a handful of acquaintances, but for the most part I hated all the “Obnoxious Americans” I found myself surrounded by.
One afternoon, sitting at a park in the sixth arrondissement pretending to be Gertrude Stein, I noticed a phone number on the back of a card in my journal. Having never been in Europe before, I didn’t know until getting there what European phone numbers even looked like. The card was from this tool from high school, Bruno! He was a classical guitarist, hence the long nails and this was some sort of flyer from a performance he thought I would give a shit about. Why this card was in my journal three years later, I still have no fucking idea.
Anyone who’s ever been abroad knows that sense of loneliness that starts to creep in after a month or so. Suddenly, I started to look at this telephone number differently. “Maybe I should reach out. It’s been three years. People change. Who knows, maybe he’s hot now” I thought. Having nothing to lose and becoming more than a little curious, I went to a payphone in my hotel lobby and placed the call.
The phone beeped for three long beats before a woman answered on the other end. She spoke German and at the time my only foreign language was French. I tried to explain who I was, but it was no use. We struggled back and forth for several minutes before she said something and hung up. Then, seconds later the payphone started ringing. Apprehensive, I picked it up.
“Hello” I managed to spit out.
“Jen. It’s Bruno. How are you?” he said.
His accent was thick but not quite as German as I remembered. There was a newfound sophistication to him. The more he spoke, the more I felt the old Bruno fade, giving way to an erudite, worldly young man. He asked if I had plans for the weekend and suggested we meet up in Munich. Overwhelmed by his aggressiveness, I agreed. What the fuck was I doing?
I listened to Bjork and pictured myself in the “State of Emergency” music video the entire nine-hour ride to Munich. It was pitch black when the train pulled into the station. “Ach Ich Ich Ick Ack Euch…” was all I heard blaring on loud speakers through the terminal. I translated this to mean, “ Greetings Jew-spawn! We killed your ancestors and now with the help of Bruno, you too have been lured back to the slaughter! Danke, Bruno!”
As my anxiety mounted, I started to walk faster. Suddenly, a hand reached out and touched the back of my shoulder. I turned around to see a mini Joseph Fiennes smiling at me with a bouquet of daisies in his hand. Bruno was now a man. His hair was cut short and his face was clean shaved save for two thin strips of muttonchops framing his cherubic jaw. His nails were still longer than mine, which I was happy to overlook as long as the white jeans didn’t reappear.
We spent two nights together in Munich and did little more than kiss. He told me about how he was getting a Masters in Economics in Germany while simultaneously getting a Masters in Classical Guitar in Yugoslavia, his parents’ native country. This explained his evolving accent. He went on to tell me about getting stuck in Belgrade when Clinton decided to drop bombs on Milosevic to galvanize his withdrawal from Kosovo. He talked about the German Embassy vanishing and having to escape by boat through Hungary with a fake passport in the middle of the night. Bruno considered Americans arrogant and ignorant of the world outside their, as he put it, “little island.” Hypnotized by his conviction, I never wanted to set foot on American soil again. I wanted to run away with Bruno and right every wrong ever inflicted upon anyone ever! This was intense shit and there was nothing left to do but embrace it fully.
“I’m ashamed of my country and I want to be with you forever!” I cried as he put me on a train bound for Paris.
Seconds later, he jumped on the train, grabbed me again and made out with me until we reached Stuttgart.
“When will I see you?” he screamed from the platform, waving his fanny pack.
“Soon!” I promised.
Back in Paris I looked at all the American college boys and scoffed. I thought about how prosaic their lives were. What war did they ever find themselves stuck in? Bruno and I transcended summer love bullshit. Together we were going to save the world. You’re welcome!
After my studies ended, I took the first train out of Paris to Mannheim, Germany. Bruno, along with his parents, greeted me when I arrived. We went back to Bruno’s house (yes he still lived with his parents) and had cake. Neither of his parents spoke English so the conversation was mainly just a series of head nods and giggles. As the night drew to a close, Bruno’s mother escorted me to Bruno’s bedroom, which she tidied up with new sheets and bedding. She tucked us into bed and turned out the lights as she left. Maybe this isn’t totally fucking weird. Maybe in Europe all twenty- year-old men live with their parents and get tucked into bed at night by their mothers. Oedipal? Maybe, but I didn’t care. I was too caught up in the idea of Bruno, the brooding musician who caused me to forsake my homeland and question everything I ever believed in. I wasn’t going to let a little infantilizing dissuade me.
That night, with his parents mere feet away, Bruno and I made love. It was unique for several reasons.
- He wasn’t circumcised. His penis looked like a normal penis wearing a skin turtleneck.
- He had a tramp stamp tattoo just above his ass of a dolphin jumping into a cluster of stars.
- I was apparently Bruno’s first.
This was the first, and only, virginity I’ve ever stolen. To be honest, I wasn’t experienced enough myself to even notice. It’s what came after that turned me off of virgins forever.
Bruno and I spent the next day walking around Heidelberg with our tongues stuck eight inches down each others’ throat. Like two dancers, we only broke hold for bathroom breaks and refueling. As dusk settled over the city, Bruno seemed to be growing more and more anxious. Dear God, was I right about him all those years ago? Was he going through “the change”? Holy shit! Just like Buffy and Angel, our consummation was morphing him back into the monster! I didn’t know what to do, so I just tried to keep my cool. Sweat was pouring down this guy’s face every time we made eye contact. Later, we met up with some of his friends at a discothèque where he slammed back a couple beers and seemed to relax. As the night drew to a close, we walked out to his car to leave. Just as we were about to pull away, he stopped the car and jumped out. I sat there confused as he bolted back into the club. Through the front entrance I could see him talking frantically to one of his friends. He returned to the car with his friend, Leo. Bruno pulled his seat up and Leo contorted into the micro-backseat. They mumbled back and forth in hushed tones for several minutes before addressing me directly.
“We have to go to the hospital,” Bruno said.
“Wha- Why? For who?” I asked, scared.
“For you.” He stoically replied.
“I’m sorry, what the fuck are you talking about?” I thought. Then I heard Leo say something like “Meine Mutter is eine Krankenschwester komm doch mal vorbei.”
I didn’t speak German. What was happening? Do I have AIDS? Is my boyfriend a succubus? Would I eventually look like a total cougar hanging around an undead with crazy side burns who never ages?
The next fifteen minutes were the most embarrassing of my life.
Leo accompanied us to a small house mere blocks away. He walked in front of us and greeted the woman standing in the doorway, who I eventually gleaned was his mother. More German was exchanged as she appraised me like a piece of meat. The only thing preventing me from having a panic attack was my overinflated ego telling me that I was DEFINITELY the hottest chick this lady had ever seen Bruno with. I took my sweater off to let this bitch see what happens to a waistline deprived of Nutella. Finally, Bruno explained that Leo’s mom was a nurse and they were inquiring where we could find some morning after pills. Excuse me? This lady is only assessing me because she thinks I‘m some irresponsible whore bag?
Apparently, Bruno was concerned that he’d knocked me up! And now, apparently, everyone in his God damned village was becoming concerned that he’d knocked me up.
When you can’t speak a language the impression you make on others is really determined by how your translator presents you. And my translator was presenting me like a fucking asshole.
“But you wore a condom and didn’t even cum inside me!” I explained.
“Jen, women can get pregnant with what happens first, ‘before cum’, you know?” he said, condescendingly.
“You get that I can’t get pregnant through my mouth, yes?” I asked.
Bruno didn’t find my cavalier attitude funny. He insisted we go to a pharmacy the next morning for as he put it, a “baby killing pill.” I don’t know if it was my exhaustion or the fact that this was rapidly becoming one of the best stories of my life, but I obliged him.
The next day, as instructed, we went to the pharmacy and got a pill. I swallowed it and waited for Bruno’s non-existent child to die inside me. Unfortunately, something else died that day too… my infatuation with Bruno. It wasn’t his fault. It was just that I saw through the curtain. I was building this guy up in my mind to be perfect. I was abandoning all of my beliefs to better suit his. The truth was, this guy was as much a kid as I was. He didn’t have all the answers. We were both only twenty years old.
Two weeks later, I told Bruno I had to go home. At first he didn’t take it well, writing me a letter in his own blood imploring me to stay. When the day came, however, he pulled himself together and drove me to the airport. Standing at the gate, he thanked me for a lovely adventure and released me from his Draconian grip. Kissing him and a bit of my idealism goodbye, I boarded the plane and hoped I’d never see another uncircumcised penis again.