My name is Valentina Perotti, but you can call me Val. I am twenty years old, a first-generation Italian-American and in the process of being the first in my family to graduate college this next year.
My mission; work hard throughout high school, get into a college like Berkeley with a full scholarship and land an amazing job. As is, I am on track to graduate summa cum laude and already have a few amazing companies trying to recruit me. Once I start working, I can help my parents, who have given up so much for my baby sister, Stella, and I.
My parents, Nonna and Phil, met at a bar in San Francisco. My dad was the bartender there and my mother was the lead singer in a band that regularly performed during the bar’s Open Mic on Monday nights. After dating for almost a year, they got married. First, they had me, and almost five years later my sister, Stella.
Nonna and Phil saved up and opened their own bar just after I was born. My aunts would watch me whenever my mother’s band performed. My dad worked the bar every day and night, except for Sundays. Mornings were my time with my dad. We would make breakfast for momma, who often needed to sleep in because she was performing too late or having to drive home from gigs in other cities.
I still remember the feeling of pride when I cracked my very first egg without getting any of the shells in the bowl. Or when I flipped my first pancake without it falling apart. We would make waffles, french toast, and frittatas of all sorts. My predilection for the kitchen started early on, choosing to cook over any other chores any day. Although I always ended up doing all chores in the end.
Once Stella entered the picture, everything changed. From day one, I have had a large role in her care, and by the time I was seven, the bar’s business boomed and so did my responsibilities. I knew how to feed and care for Stella, completely. At first, watching her in dad’s office above the bar until business slowed and mom could take us home. By the age of twelve, I was able to stay home with Stella and she became my full-time responsibility.
At night I after I put my sister in bed, I would lock myself in the bathroom for privacy. Our small two-bedroom house didn't allow for much personal space, so I found my most reflective moments in front of the bathroom mirror. This is when and where I first discovered myself and masturbation.
I was twelve, standing naked in front of the mirror, trying to see myself clearer. Exploring the parts and pieces of me even though I knew it was forbidden. I was so nervous and afraid of getting caught because masturbation was not okay according to Sunday school. They used the story of Onan, who spilled his semen on the ground and was slain by God for this sinful transgression and condemned as “self-abuse” to scare us.
Making sure the door was locked, I would strip as fast as I could, as if I were unwrapping a ticking bomb. The excitement was more than I could contain. As I stared at my reflection, the nervousness and fear turned to curiosity.
Over the years I have marveled at my body, not in an arrogant way, scientifically we are impressive. The years give evidence to my aging; breasts growing firmer and how I curve as I lengthen. I begin to understand how my breasts could be objectified, how my nipples could be seen as yummy and tantalizing. Remembering that as I looked at them then, they responded rigidly, tempting play. With my blouse hanging at my waist, my hands explored with great haste. In that moment of guilt and pleasure, I eased to the view of my girly nether, witness to my early puberty, covered in dark as the hair on my head.
“How could something so natural be forced to hide in shame?” I remember asking myself; strapped into bras, shirts buttoned to our neck, skirts past our knees, better yet, pants or stockings to hide it all.
Only to my imagination, I confided, in the nakedness, I saw in front of me, a treasure chest filled with secrecy. Even then, I felt a river eager to fill and flow and witnessed as my hairs shimmered and glowed. Quickly I covered up the evidence and erased all of the erotic intentions that filled my thoughts. Racing steadily through my virgin mind, ashamed of loving all that my eyes and hand enjoyed.
As much as I tried to stop, I became used to surveying myself; the softness of my skin, the way my body reacts to touch. So many people are unaware of their bodies and the ways it could feel pleasure, I was like Louis and Clarke, exploration was something of my nature.
Some nights, after putting Stella, to bed, I ventured as far as to sneak into my parent’s room and either watch from the selection of adult channels or my father’s porn that I found. Although my mind often did a great job of filling my hands with inspiration, I am a very visual person, and the addition of watching sex helped at times. Intellectually, I knew that porn was wrong and that most of these movies are made to degrade women. But I really had no other options.
I originally fought the urge to turn to porn by reading. My classmates in high school relied on Playboy and Penthouse or weekends of spin-the-bottle to learn about the body and sex.
I preferred the poetic, written words that allowed me to become a part of the experience I was reading. Starting with Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, then onto Tiger Eyes and Forever. These then led to a summer of contemporary romance novels. When I stumbled onto the Vampire Chronicles, that’s when I found Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty Quartet. These books opened an amazing door for me to literary erotica.
Books did help me to envision a sensual feeling, yet often those moments are short and then filled with thought processes that then distracted me. Plus, conceptualizing a penis is not easily done, when you don’t know what one actually looks like. The ones we saw in the textbooks were drawings and didn’t look like the real thing.
Six years later, I still stand before the mirror, this time in John Quincy's bathroom, with the same curiosity for the girl standing before me. I have grown quite a bit taller and somewhat curvier. Because I ran track and studied ballet since I was five, you can say that I am very fit. Compared to other girls my age, I have big breasts, tiny compared to those I have seen on the screen.
Self-conscious I often wear baggy clothes that hide my body. Or maybe that’s because my aunts give me shit if I even dare wear anything revealing. Shorts underneath my dress is not exactly considered sexy, but a must in my house. And forget leaving the house without a bra on, even in a tight tank top. At this age, it wasn’t like my boobs sagged, they stood up just fine on their own.
I untied my hair, allowing my long, dark strands to fall onto my shoulders. Silky caresses swayed across my back as I looked around the bathroom for a towel or robe. Predictably, I see the toilet seat up, cap off the twisted tube of toothpaste and a bottle of Axe body spray. My God, I hope he hadn't used too much of that, or else I will sneeze the entire time. Still unsure of how long all of this would take, I breathed courage into me and walked out naked, hoping the lights were off.
"Wow! Why have you been hiding that amazing body?"
Suddenly doubting my decision, I looked away from John's eyes, down to his penis. Definitely not what I was expecting at all, in the most positive of ways. I wonder if he is called his cock Ralph, like Margaret's boyfriend named his in Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.
Thanks to my dad's porn collection, I have seen many and know that no two are the same. As John walked closer, I couldn’t help but explore. His penis was what I would have classified as pretty. The color was equal throughout and it hung rather straight. I know that some of them can curve more to the left or right. Not sure what John’s full ethnic blend is, but he is all white, no doubt.
John had a lean, naturally fit body. I know he was one of the stars of the track team, but I witnessed that he didn’t work too hard at it. Like everything else in his life, he was just born with it. He had pretty, dark blond preppy hair and hazel eyes. A bad boy persona, but from having had so many AP classes with him, I knew he was smart as well. Too popular for me to ever bother with until I decided it was him that I wanted to lose my virginity to. With the reputation of a player, I figured he would gladly oblige.
I caressed his penis as I was analyzing it, it grew to an average size. I know that most women talk about wanting a huge penis, there isn’t that much space down there. The ones in porn movies always scared me. John’s is perfect for the first time.
"Oh, okay. So you have done this before."
I kissed John to shut him up. The scent of Axe tickling my nose, I breath rapid and shallow, trying not to sneeze. My “panting” causes John to harden even more. What an odd sensation it was, to feel the texture of him changing to my touch.
Eyes wide open, I catch a glimpse of us in a mirror, predictably placed to be a witness to our play. That must be written in some handbook. I half expect a mirror above his bed.
Pulling slightly on his cock, I guide him to his bed. Once on the bed, John slides down until his face is between my thighs. I guess this was his version of oral sex, I wonder if he too learned his techniques from porn. They really need to do some sort of instructional video for teenagers. Trial and error is really an unfair way to introduce such an important skill set to the world.
I know from watching movies that in the good old days, boys became men through the experience of brothels, but this isn’t the wild wild west. I don’t think getting your son a hooker is legal or “right” in any way. It’s also unfair that what we ladies learn depends on what our partners are able to teach.
He had a water stain on the left corner of his ceiling above his shelf of trophies, I wonder what room is above his. We entered through his basement door and I had not seen the rest of the house, nor did I plan to. I counted the trophies, more than two dozen, at least he can say he's good at something.
After letting him eat me for a bit, I lead John's mouth to my breast. This allowed my fingers to work the magic John lacked.
"That's so sexy," John commented, attempting to join my fingers in motion.
I guided that hand to my other breast, holding them there so I could orgasm faster. John took my orgasm as a green light and rolled onto me. Grateful for my self-lubrication against the rough and fast loss of my virginity. John panted and grunted, moving his hips rapidly, maneuvering his cock in and out of me. Screaming as he came.
At that moment, I recalled watching rabbits doing it once on the National Geographic channel. It was so fast, and kind of cute, but ewe. That was losing my virginity?
John rolled over and passed out. Grateful that using a tampon broke my hymen so that John didn’t know that he, “broke my cherry”, more secrets. Most girls would have wanted to spoon. I got dressed and out of there as fast as possible. I needed to shower it all away. At least I was not going to college a virgin.
Showered and naked, after losing my virginity to John Quincey, I stood and stared at my reflection for a long time, trying to figure out what losing my virginity changed in me.
After that night, I decided to return to relying on literature and the bar to be my teachers. The main event proved sloppy, fast, and uneventful. I can say that being the most popular didn’t make John the best at sex. In short, the experience neither taught me anything new nor inspired a second attempt. To John’s defense, I am sure all boys that age was just as mediocre.
Looking back, I wish I had tried harder to work my way through the awkwardness of dating and sex. I remember dumping Steve Laskey because he couldn’t kiss. Somehow I developed a very low tolerance for the imperfect as it pertained to relationships.
My friends described in great detail their sexual mishaps which we all can laugh about now. I don't really have those stories, I am such a perfectionist that if the opportunity didn’t seem perfect, I walked away. I didn’t realize that I was creating this character in myself that not only put a lot of pressure on my development but on my expectations of others as well, first sexually then eventually in every other aspect of their part in my life.
I learned most of life's lessons as I watched my parents and others enlighten me from their successes and mistakes. My parents worked so much and although I could talk to them about anything, I couldn't get my self to talk to them about sex. I had too much guilt about even the thoughts I already had and the ways in which I educated myself on the matter that I didn’t dare ask my parents. I didn’t want them to think that there was something wrong with me, to be asking about such adult matters at such a young age.
“Wait until you are married.” My aunts, uncles, and Sunday school drilled into my head.
“You want it to be special.” I would hear the girls at school advising one another.
Then all those romance novels, epic love stories, and chic flicks. I wanted my story to be like that of Romeo and Juliet. I wanted that feeling of love at first sight. Especially after hearing about how my parents met, my favorite story of all.
“Tell me again the story of how you met mom,” I would ask dad when he and I had our moments alone.
I was such a good baby that often my parents watched me down at the bar. Stella was a handful, she is still horrible, whenever she had to help out at the bar she would make more of a mess than she would clean. I liked the challenge of raising her and made a game of it.
At times, I saw the sadness in my mother's eyes and wondered if it was because she had to quit the band to be with us more and help dad at the bar. She didn’t regret her decision, this she reminded us of often, but there were those moments where she would reveal, unconsciously, her loss.
“Well, I was working at this bar, not too far from here. We did open mic nights on Mondays. Usually, the talent was eh, so I rarely paid attention.”
“Until you heard an Angel sing,” I added, who knew I was such a romantic.
“Her voice was that of an Angel, but the rest of her was trouble.” Dad laughs at his dig without mom there to defend herself, or punch him. “It took weeks for me to get the courage to ask her out. I switched shifts with everyone to make sure I was there every Monday.
“But if she was trouble, why did you love her?”
“Because she was the best kind of trouble. The kind that made all your worries go away. The kind that made you want to live every moment, feel every pain, count every breathless moment. The kind of trouble that made you and Stella. How can I not love her and all that?”
I like to think I avoided boys because I was waiting for the kind of love that my parents had. I know better now. Socially I just grew up different from most of my peers so relating to a lot of the boys at school was just tough. I am always too busy working at everything else, I didn’t have the time to work at love.
Let’s not forget how confusing things can be after years of Sunday school. Don’t have sex until you are married, I know for a fact my parents had sex before they got married. Let's not forget how that the church no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action, which I don’t get because it feels amazing.
Sundays my parents got the morning to themselves while Stella and I went to church with our Aunts and our Uncles opened the bar and fed the homeless, like I said, doing right is in my DNA.
“Why do I have to go if you don’t have to go?” I argue every Sunday. “All they do is tell me all the things I shouldn’t do.”
“Your father and I went when we were your age, it’s not the dogma you should focus on, it’s the feel of God and the knowledge of something greater all around us.” Stella could do this. I couldn’t. The infusion of right and wrong into my brain was real, the effects, long-lasting. I didn’t know how to focus on the feel of the gospel, only the message of the gospel. The message often making me feel bad for everything that feels natural to me. Even now, at the age of twenty, I still find myself passing judgment on my behaviors. I did learn not to judge others, mainly because I find so much hypocrisy in life.