Important hints and tips on how to be an Adult.
1. Like literally everything else in your life, base your initial understanding of sex on FRIENDS: Plan to sleep with your best friend’s sister; learn from Joey and keep ten or twenty condoms on you at all times and understand, as Monica and Rachel teach Chandler, that pleasuring a woman is like playing with a big ‘Bop It’: loud and angry, and with complex patterns required for completion.
2. Start out slow. Be anxious and wait until late high-school to begin any serious work, and even then limit it to vanilla early-game business. By this stage you will consider yourself a good kisser, in that you have a mouth with lips on it and a jaw that hinges up and down and, importantly, a tongue that moves. One of your friends will compliment you heavily on this, though try to remember that her previous experience is solely a skinny kid nearly two years younger than her who plays a non-mouth-based instrument in the school band.
3. Your partners in these slow, crucial months, will all be your good friends, so not a lot is going to happen, and you’re not going to try very hard. Kiss, half-asleep and thirsty, until your jaw clicks. Strain your platonic relationships to their breaking point. Your understanding of intimacy will be the image of two slabs of granite being ground together, silently and passionlessly, while one of the slab’s parents are asleep in the next room with the door open. The build-up will mean that when, somehow, your wheel does land on Sex, the nonchalance of it will catch you completely off guard.
4. It will happen when you’re visiting someone you don’t know very well, who is maybe house-sitting for their cousin a few blocks away. They will be one of several beautiful people in your life who seem, bizarrely, to be attracted to Highschool You, and you will learn a little about them, and come to like them very much over a short period of time. If you look older than they do you will be the one who buys the vodka, but either way you should be drunker than either of you have the capacity for.
5. If you’ve done it right then the whole thing will be imperfect: their cousin’s house will be egged by parties unknown, you will leave your condoms at home in your wallet and your partner will be unwilling to break into their cousin’s stash. Most importantly, you will both be too catatonic to actually do anything meaningful or with finesse, falling asleep, you still in your shirt and the satin Cadillac boxer-shorts you’ve owned since you were fourteen years old. Still, they will be sweet to you. They will say you’re a good kisser, and you will still walk home very early the next morning dumb and a little happy, not sure what has happened or if you’re legally an adult now for tax purposes.
6. Idolise this person; don’t see them again for a very long time. Neither should you sleep with anyone else. As a result, come to see this first, teetering action as a something of a misstep, and view the innocence of the granite-nights with rosy nostalgia. There will be more problems: you will learn that a friend of yours has long been in love with this partner, and your being dumb will have caused irreparable damage to a long line of connected friendships. Unlike Ross, who can be convinced easily that Chandler X Monica is a good thing, you won’t be able to fix this, and instead of being even a little brave you will use your leaving for university as an excuse not to make a proper effort.
7. Years later, when you see the person again, have seen several people in between, and have made something of amends with the people you hurt (i.e. they accepted your friend requests) you’ll think about the distance you’ve travelled since you walked home that morning and made an excuse to your parents for arriving back so early. Think about when alternate timeline Rachel, from the ‘what could have been’ episodes, tells alternate timeline Monica that there is no such thing as the perfect person, and that she should just go fuck whoever. This is true, of course, but you’ll also know by this stage that there are people with whom doing it is a bad plan; people whom will only let you touch them in their car, or whom your friends will be in love with, or whose unknown boyfriend will appear very early the next morning, forcing you to hide in the shower. But even at those times chances are you’ll feel dumb and at least a little happy, with your head full of nothing wrong.
Jack Vening is a regular columnist for Stilts.