It was an early, cool spring day. I doubt that the daytime temperatures had even reached sixty degrees that day. For the most part it seemed like a typical Saturday at the fraternity house. We started early that day . . . well . . . we started early most days. Over the course of the evening I must’ve had about twenty-five Busch Lights. Nothing spectacular for an all day drinking fest, but I wouldn’t say I was at the peak of sobriety. I was still a freshman and still living in the dorms, at least nominally. The fraternity house was made to accommodate about 40 guys, but there were only about ten members at the time (that’s another story). So, I had my own room that I stayed in on nights that I obliged in the binge drinking. I stayed there most nights.
Truthfully, the day was rather uneventful. As usual, I was part of the last group still awake and drinking. It was probably about 4am and we had moved the party up from the basement to the couches in the living room. The TV was on, the lights were low, I had a Rolling Rock in my hand that had been stolen from my big brothers room. I was probably half a beer from calling it a night. I certainly didn’t think I’d be getting laid that night.
Pretty soon there was a commotion at the front door. A group of clearly intoxicated girls arrived. And not our usual girls who show up at 4am. Ashley came in and fell onto me, her head landing at my feet one the couch. She started snuggling with my feet and telling how much fun she had earlier that night. I had my shoes off, so essentially she was rubbing her face all over my socks. I have to admit, I was actually a little disgusted. I had athlete’s foot at the time and all I could think was that she was rubbing her face all over that. She was clearly there to see me and was quite aggressive. I remember my phrasing exactly when I drunkenly said, “ I’m going upstairs to get another beer, you can come if you want.” (Now that’s a pick up line). I guess I was a little surprised when she said yes, but I can’t say I wasn’t happy. I got up and she grabbed my hand. I lead her up the stairs and into the bedroom.
Let’s take a step back for a minute and gather some background on some things. First things first, and do I hesitate in admitting this, but I was a virgin at the time. My college friends didn’t know that. Well, they might have suspected, but I never volunteered the information. I wasn’t completely inexperienced, I had done everything but sexual intercourse. Also, Ashley lived exactly one floor above me in the dorms. Her roommate was in my social circle, so I knew her relatively well. Well enough that I had a small crush on her. I had always suspected she had a crush on me too. The week before, while I was drinking at the fraternity house, she slept with my roommate. I’ll have more on that later. But for now, let’s just say that I was a little disheartened that she had slept with him and not me. I wasn’t in love with her, but I knew he didn’t care at all, so there was a little sting.
When we reached the bedroom I shut the door. We started making out immediately. I casually broke her hold and grabbed another Rolling Rock, opened it and took a swig. I was nervous and I needed that moment of regularity, that pattern and feeling of normalcy to calm my nerves. I can’t exactly remember, but I assume I offered her some. I couldn’t have taken two more swigs before I was accosted and thrown on the couch. I didn’t mind. We were making out and doing some heavy petting for a few minutes. Clothes were coming off a piece at a time. Not in a fast and furious way that you see in movies, but steadily we were becoming more and more naked.
At the point that there weren’t anymore clothes blocking the way, she began touching me intimately. I returned the favor. A few minutes later, I went down on her. I was fairly experienced at that and, again, it gave me a sense of normalcy, it let me remain confident. I was building up to the moment I would lose my virginity. I was nervous, I was happy, I was elated.
I was certain that she was more experienced than me. I mean, she had a one night stand with my roommate the weekend before. That added to the pressure that I was experiencing. As I started to fumble my way through the process of losing my virginity, I got as far as resting my penis against her vulva. Was this it? Was this going to be the moment? No, it wasn’t. I was drunk, I was tired, I was limp.
As I knelt against the edge of the couch, looking down Ashley, I realized I didn’t want to do this. At least not at this time, not in this place, and not in this way. In that split second of clarity, I knew that I didn’t want to lose my virginity drunk, half-erect, and on a filthy frat house couch at 4am. As cliché as it sounds, I wanted it all to be more special. Also, I didn’t want to have a quick fling with Ashley. I liked Ashley. I ask her out on a date and see if we could have something more.
She seemed fine with stopping at that point. She was tired and drunk too and it was time for bed. We got half dressed and crawled up onto my mattress in the loft above us. It was a small twin bed in a cold drafty room. She snuggled into my arms and I fell asleep quickly.
About 2 hours later, probably close to 7am, she attempted to wake me. I wasn’t fully cognizant yet and was definitely still drunk. She asked if I would walk her back to the dorms. What I should have said was, “No, It’s 7am and I’m tired and drunk. We’re both minors, we live in a zero tolerance county. I just went to jail last month for a minor consumption charge. Several of my friends have gone to jail for minor consumption charges while walking back to the dorms. It’s cold outside and a terrible idea. I’d like you to stay here with me for a few more hours and I’ll happily walk you back then.” But that’s not what I said. I uttered out, “no, but you can leave if you want.” I rolled over and fell back asleep. Now, I do realize that on the surface that looks a little rude. But, I didn’t mean to be so rough, I was drunk and groggy. I was awoken suddenly from a deep drunken sleep and not ready to answer any questions. I really didn’t think that she would gather her belongings and leave, but apparently she did.
I woke up several hours later and realized Ashley was gone. I felt a little odd about it all, but figured that’d all work out. I was hoping that I could talk to her later and maybe arrange a date, or at least talk. When I went downstairs it seemed like everyone in the house knew I had gotten laid. I was young and dumb, so I let them believe we went all the way. I didn’t tell them that it only ended up going as far as me going down on her. I let them believe we had intercourse. When I got back to the dorms, I told my roommate that I had slept with her too. I chalk that up to being young, stupid, and insecure.
I can’t recall if it was that day or a few days later when her roommate Casey knocked on the door of my room. I do remember being floored when Casey asked if I had raped Ashley. She elaborated that Ashley had told her that I had raped her that night. She told me that Ashley elaborated that not only had I raped her, but I kicked her out afterwards and made her walk home in the cold. Again, I never kicked her out, I phrased an answer to a question very poorly in my incoherent state. I explained the situation Casey in full detail. I told her that not only there not been a single no uttered throughout the night, but that Ashley was the aggressor in all of it. Casey clearly believed me, going as far as hand waiving the entire situation away. Saying, “that’s just the way Ashley gets when she’s drunk.” “She blacks out sometimes when she’s drinking.” But none of that really helped.
I can’t describe the vast amount of emotions and thoughts that ran through my head. “How can this be? I’ve never hurt anyone! How can she think that happened? We didn’t even have sex! Hell, I’m a virgin! I kind of like her, why would I screw that up? This can’t be happening! What the fuck is going on? Shit, am I going to jail? Am I getting kicked out of school?” A million other thoughts in a similar vane passed through my head over the next few weeks. She never approached me directly. No police reports were filed. That didn’t stop her from telling others though. Now I won’t say that she ran around campus telling everyone everything. She didn’t. But she did tell her circle of friends. I knew all of the girls in that circle. I would have casually called them my friends before this incident. They stopped talking to me. They looked at me with disgust when they walked by. They stopped dropping by the frat house on the weekends.
My friends all stayed by my side through the ordeal. A few of them saw her when she showed up at the house that night. They saw her snuggle with my feet. They saw that she was the instigator and aggressor. The ones who didn’t witness the event had no doubts either, they knew that I could never do anything like that. One of them confronted her about it. She straight up told him that she was blackout drunk, but she just knew what I had done.
She sent me an email a few years ago. She apologized. She said that she had been blackout drunk that night and just assumed the worst when she woke up. She told me that she had talked to a mutual friend and my version of events was much more plausible than what she had conjured up in her head. The email seemed sincere, and it did make me feel better, but I never responded.
This all happened in the early aughts at a small college in the midwest. I can’t image what would have happened to me if this had happened in today’s environment, especially on the coasts. I still have a chip on my shoulder about the incident. I still worry that she’ll decide to #metoo me any day. In the current environment and with the way memories can change over time, I can’t help but worry. Even with her email apology on file, it could still completely upend my life. Isn’t it amazing that we live in a time that well over a decade later I’m still scared that she could ruin my life.
As an addendum: In that email she sent. I found out that she lost her virginity to my roommate the in that encounter the week before ours. She wasn’t as experienced as I thought. Apparently, she had a crush on me too. That night she had gotten blackout drunk, went looking for me, couldn’t find me, and fucked my roommate. It looks like under different circumstances we could have had a relationship. It’s probably best that we didn’t.
* names have been changed to protect the privacy of all parties involved.