Welcome to The Toast’s inaugural advice column from two disparate and imperfect persons. (We are open to better names for it.) Sometimes Mallory will take one, or Nicole will take one, or we’ll both give it a shot. Like sleep, we will knit up the raveled sleave of care.
All right, look, I read all the advice columns. I’ve read similar stories over and over. But now it’s happening to me, which makes it slightly more important. I’m a 24 (almost 25) year-old virgin. I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal; I’m certain it’ll happen eventually. And there are plenty of other sexy things to do with partners in the meantime. The one really important relationship I’ve had ended with me absolutely heartbroken (and still un-sexed). Since that ended about 2 years ago, I’ve been online dating, but no one has really been worth my time and energy.
I was just about done with OKCupid, when I met an awesome guy. We’ve been dating for just over a month, and we just had our first (amazing and super fun) hookup. Afterwards, I mentioned to him that we’ll need to wait a bit before we have sex, because I haven’t done it before. I feel dishonest if I don’t reveal this fact about my life. He responded sort of weirdly, and started rambling on about how he might not be living here in a while. Frankly, he sounded conflicted about a lot of things in life. What’s the best way to proceed with this? It would be SUCH a shame if he thought I was a marriage-hungry virgin-who-gets-attached, and if he ended things because of that. Yeah, I know: if he can’t handle this fact about me, he’s an asshole and not worth my time. But I do want something meaningful with him, and I just hope this isn’t the thing that ends things between us.
Mallory: Let us gently and carefully set aside definitions of virginity for the nonce, lest we become drawn off-course. I will put it in the corner, here, and we will quarrel about it gleefully another day.
It is of course up to you to weigh the existent pleasure of the super-fun hookups that have already come to pass against the hypothetical pleasure of pursuing a sexual relationship with someone who is sort of weird and rambly and conflicted about a lot of things, including the ravening and savage power of a virgin heart. Sometimes, of course, people say odd things when they are taken by surprise. Sometimes, of course, people say what they want very clearly when they are taken by surprise. It all depends on whether your conversation went like this:
“I am a virgin.”
“Ah. Oh. I see. How nice. I have, I have plans, and also a job, and someday may move, although then again someday I may not, and I do not understand why a person needs to own a hand towel when you can dry your hands on a regular-sized towel, and also some other things about me.” (This followed by eventual calm, and then later some sex.)
Or more like this:
“I am a virgin.”
“The sea calls to me, and I must go.” (Exit hurriedly, pursued by a bear.)
If the sea calls to him, there is little you can do about it. Should he continue to hem and haw and avoid making plans to meet up again in the future, you must take his terrified little hint and return to the sea yourself, on the hunt for larger and more confident prey.
I am of the opinion that it is better to have no sex at all than sex with a mediocre or lukewarm or inconsistent partner, but I am also of the opinion that cutting ties and taking to the sea is always the best option, so there is that. You may feel differently, in which case it may be worth teasing out whether or not he fears you have been saving yourself for his wizard’s scepter and will attempt to merge with him during intercourse. Perhaps a friendly chat will sort all this out and you can have an indefinite amount of time to enjoy casual relations together.
Or you can take to the sea.
How do I maintain my composure and act like a grown-up in the midst of a sea of (okay, three, but they swarm so) screaming toddlers? (How do daycare/preschool workers manage a roomful?) The cacophony of noise becomes unbearable sometimes, and I feel overwhelmed and I’m very sorry to say I often lose my patience with them, and then feel like an asshole because (a) I should be better at managing my emotions than two-and-a-half year olds, and (b) I can’t expect or teach them to be better at it until/unless I am.
Mallory: A story. I moved into a new apartment a couple of weeks ago, and I took my cat with me. Normally my cat is a cheerful indoor/outdoor mix, popping in and out of my house as needed, in an arrangement that suited us both. Something about this new place, however, has set him on edge, and today marked the fourth solid week where he has refused to set foot outside the front door, and it has tested the limits of my love for him. This cat is an idler and a prowler and a bloodsucking non-producer and he sheds all the time (“Buy a rolly thing!” chirps my useless friend Maria, as if I do not roll after him constantly, this cat who trails glory and wiry black hairs in his wake) and he jumps on my head just as I start to fall asleep.
Last night I picked him up and bunged him out the door, shutting it behind him in equal parts relief and guilt. I was overwhelmed by the needs of my small cat, a notoriously need-free animal. He pawed and mewed piteously against the door as if he were Laura in Dr. Zhivago, trapped in a blinding Russian snowstorm, rather than in a warm and spacious hallway. I hate my cat and will not mourn him when he dies. I will dance on his fur-choked grave and I will blot his name out from the written records of mankind.
I let him in after a minute and he is currently perched on the chair right by my bed, waiting to leap onto my pillow at a moment’s notice, but that isn’t the point. Have you read The Call of the Wild? Where the contented California dog ends up in the wilds of the Yukon and realizes he loves living in the woods and fending for himself and never jumping on anyone’s head or needing to be emotionally fulfilled?
It would be great if nobody needed us, is what I’m saying.
Nicole: Oh, shit. Man, you have THREE of those things, what do I know? You are already three times better at this than I, and people really frown on taking tranquilizers now. When people ask me for advice, I generally check first to see if my three stock answers apply:
– Have you talked to her about it?
– Have you considered embracing a really gorgeous, super-butch aesthetic instead of bothering with that?
– Don’t text him.
None of those answers apply here. When I was nine months pregnant, I became terrified that I would become different after I had a baby, because everyone says you do. In the middle of the night, I would clutch the man who put the baby in me and say: I hope I still love you after but maybe I’ll be different and you’ll be like Engywook asking what it was like to pass through the Magic Mirror Gates. Hold me.
And then, in the very late watches of the night: If we hate this, if we genuinely hate this, tell me we’ll find a way to send them to an austere boarding school and just mark it down as a WHOOPS. We swore it to each other.
Which, blessedly, did not come to pass. But the reality of it, the blur of activity and noise you describe, is, coupled with the inexplicable tedium, the real canker in the rose of parenthood. How can one be so busy and yet so bored? How can one be the best version of oneself all day long, and still have a oneself at the end of it? Your dearest friends and your partner are such because you can let them see the worse parts of you sometimes. Do you snap at your parents? My best friend and I were just commiserating over the fact we love our parents more than ANYTHING, but because they are our parents we snap at them sometimes, like teenagers, and then are so conscious of having wounded them and want to hurl ourselves into ponds like the bags of mewling kittens we are inside.
And being short with your kids, or dismissive, is even worse. The horrible motivational email forwards with the picture of an infant that says SHE KNOWS NOTHING OF HATE OR IGNORANCE OR INTOLERANCE EXCEPT WHAT YOU SHOW HER? I mean, take to your BED, that is so much responsibility.
What I would say is to prioritize your own happiness. To embrace the Good Enough Mother. Are you familiar with that concept? It states that if you look after your children adequately and demonstrate love and affection, you are already in the highest percentile of being a parent, and that, honestly, the amount of work you put in beyond that point will only raise their experience a tiny bit. It’s not always even worth the effort! Let them mill around you and be glad that you are there, but don’t worry that every second is being jotted down somewhere. They are under four, right? They won’t remember this. They are accumulating a beautiful subconscious awareness of having loving, slightly harried parents who meet their needs. That’s all! My mom stayed home with us when we were very little, then went back to work, and I don’t remember any of it except that now I love her uncontrollably and painfully and hamfistedly.
What I’m saying, really, is that sometimes we yell because we are too invested in the minutia. Oh, fuck it, you’ll be cold if you don’t put on the hat, but you’ll figure it out. If there are days when you feel like you phoned it in a bit, those are often the days when you didn’t snap, and just stood there like naked Alanis in that video while people milled around her. They’re below your knees and barely noticing. You’re naked Alanis and the Muppet Babies mom to them, except they grab you more. Try to embrace that.
Except, of course, when you have one kid and they’re driving you nuts, whatever, you can zone out, but if you have three and they are trying to injure each other, you can’t exactly be naked Alanis.
tl;dr: Get a border collie. SOLVED. No, you’re amazing, best of luck. All your children will say of you, when grown, is “my mother must have been a SAINT to raise triplets. Sometimes she snapped at us, but I can’t believe she didn’t just drive up to some noisy abortion protesters and say OKAY HERE YOU GO HAVE FUN I’LL BE BACK AT SEVEN.”
I guess maybe I just want everyone to stand up and say “I have chin hairs too!” I have five or six coarse black hairs on my chin. I swear, one day, no hair and then the next they’ve sprouted! Why? How do they get so long so fast? What should I do? I have this whack-a-mole situation going on where I pluck one and two more show up! Am I making it worse? Thanks!
Nicole: No, yeah, I have chin hairs too, but I’m pretty into sitting right now, so know that I am standing in spirit. And literally all my female friends I have asked about this also have chin hairs, and we have an elaborate phone-tree planned for if one of us is in a coma or loses the use of our arms, so we can just show up and get ‘er done for the fallen party. Running through my three answers, I could go with “Have you considered embracing a really gorgeous, super-butch aesthetic instead of bothering with that?” but we’ve already established you are not stoked and want to bother with that. Me neither. I’ve only got, like, six, and if anyone walks in the bathroom while I’m holding tweezers I look like I just got caught licking the butter. There are ABSOLUTELY women who have decided not to care: my aunt’s long-term (now ex-) partner was a happy, bearded lady, and just got on with life, and that worked really well for her. But we’ll proceed with the understanding that happy bearded-lady-ness is not for you.
(Right off the bat, you should read what Logan wrote about this in The Billfold, because I think it’s really good, as are the comments.)
Let me go through your questions one at a time.
Why? Because Eve did bite the apple, at the behest of the snake, and so now you are to bring forth children in pain and suffering, and, whether or not you sign on for that, you may have sharp things poking out of your face. It’s really bad. And it can becomes this huge thing about femininity and womanhood; I mean, it’s rough for cis women who have facial hair they want to get rid of, and it’s often an even rougher situation for trans* women, in terms of time and emotional energy and money and trying not to care but actually caring. So, what I’m saying is, this is reason 5000345 that being woman-identified in a gender-norm-focused society is a colossal pain.
How do they get so long so fast? NO ONE KNOWS. No, that’s not true. You have a lot of blood flow to the region, those things are feisty and resilient and HORMONES and bullshit. They’re so fast! And then you’ve got the day you can feel them but can’t see them, and then the day you can see them but not grab them, and then you’ve got the day you can grab them but accidentally just break them off instead of getting them all the way out, and it’s the worst. Wizards, patriarchy, climate change, something. Someone must be to blame. HALLIBURTON.
What should I do? Look, you’ve got the electrolysis and the lasering, and only you know your price point and capabilities on that one. And, again, it’s hormones, right, and it changes over time, and if you have a kid or choose to get older, if that’s something you want to do one day, you’ll get new ones and old ones will come back. If you’re talking, like, sub-forty hairs, I say just get a Tweezerman and a depressing mirror and pair it with doing calf raises or listening to P!nk. I’m sure she has chin hairs too.
Am I making it worse? You are not! It’s Science. You’re also not addicted to your lip balm. This is the really reassuring part of this. It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. Robin Williams holds you and rocks you to sleep, and Ben Affleck is sad you’re gone but knows it was for the best, and, whatever, Matt Damon gives you a really beautiful, toothy smile and angles the mirror with the light so you can see what you’re doing.
Is your life imperfect? Have you troubles at work, or in your dark and moldering soul? Consider asking us for help at firstname.lastname@example.org. And take it easy on the romance questions, will you? One busted heart per customer.