Courting Disaster

The Italian Job: How I Lost My Virginity While Studying Abroad

Courting Disaster is Jackalope Ranch's weekly column of dating horror stories, observations, how-tos, and more by Katie Johnson. Names of ex-boyfriends, past hookups, and bad blind dates have been changed to protect the guilty.

I lost my virginity to an Italian man named Romeo.

Okay, fine. His name wasn't Romeo. It was worse. But to save him some embarrassment, and acknowledge the possibility that he's learned to read English, I've changed his name.

While part of me wishes I was making that up, the rest of me is thankful I didn't endure my sub-par experience with a guy named Steve or Mike. When I tell people -- dinner guests, the doctor, the check-out girl at Circle K -- that I lost my virginity to a man named "Romeo," it makes my first time sound interesting, comical, and, on more than one level, foreign.

See also: My First Kiss Was with a Porn Star

We met at some flat party while studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. Contrary to what my admissions essay said, I had come to Scotland not so much for my interest in U.K. nationalism but for my undying pursuit of a Gerard Butler doppelganger. Little did I know that most of my time studying abroad in Scotland would be spent drinking not with locals, but rather with other exchange students -- Belgian, French, German, and whatever the hell part of Italy Romeo was from.

It was my first party abroad and, while I spent a good part of the evening trying to get the attention of French guy who wouldn't give me the time of day, there was Romeo, a bushy-haired Italian whose less-than-stellar English skills made it nearly impossible to tell me the time, but he tried nonetheless.

Despite the language barrier, he managed to ask me out. Our romance was hardly a story for the ages, but it had its high notes. My knowledge of Italian pre-Romeo consisted mainly of menu items. So we consumed copious amounts of pasta, communicated through angry hand gestures, and lost each other in the translation of idioms.

I'll give you an example.

Once we were chatting online and he asked me what I wanted to eat for dinner. I asked if we could just play it by ear.

Then the phone rang.

"Katie, it's Romeo. You say you want to play with your ears, so I call."

To be sure, our language barrier provided a fair amount of comic relief, and in truth, it was probably the reason we stayed together as long as we did.

Eventually, I felt comfortable having sex. Not because Romeo was the one. Not because I was in love. I was just . . . ready.

Sadly, he wasn't. He had had sex before. Lots of sex, as he would have me believe. But with me it was different. It turns out that telling a guy you're a virgin isn't always the best idea; especially when you find out said guy suffers from extreme hemophobia.

It took many attempts and many drinks to overcome the fear that repeatedly got the best of him and me. And even after we did seal the deal, one of us still walked away feeling like we had gotten short end of things. Pun definitely intended.

Sadly, our bad sex was merely the precursor to a bad relationship, the amuse douche, if you will.

But I'll save those dirty details for next week.

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Katie Johnson
Contact: Katie Johnson