“Virginity is like a balloon; one prick and it is gone.” Those were the first words I woke up to every morning my first year in tertiary institution. The words were on a poster stuck on my hostel room wall. I loved it so much I steamed the poster off the wall at the end of the session. I thought it was really funny – especially when you think of it as it concerns a guy losing his virginity.
I attended a polytechnic and after my ND, I had to go for the requisite one year Industrial Training program before continuing. And this, was where it happened.
See, I read a lot growing up and having four older siblings meant I also read a lot of age inappropriate books. At age ten, I knew a lot of things I should not know. I remember wondering why in primary 5 my teacher was uncomfortable talking about puberty when I already knew about sex from reading Harold Robbins and Jackie Collins.
For my attachment, I went to Warri and was fortunate to be accepted by a company contracted to cater to Shell Petroleum DC. I had barely worked six weeks when the company won an offshore catering contract and I got drafted onto the team. I was so excited, I could not sleep for days.
I have only travelled on land, and by road at that, so the opportunity to travel over water was exciting. We would be stationed in Bayelsa, and having heard ribald stories of ‘Rig Life’, I could hardly wait!. Was I going to be sea sick? Would I throw up violently? Would we encounter rough seas? How was life at sea sef? Too many questions… And the women. Were there going to be women? Ooohhh, excitement leaking out of every pore!
The day came and we were taken to the shipyard where we were shown a houseboat. As soon as I crossed from the jetty to the houseboat, I forgot I was on water. The trip to the Rig was three days long by tugboat, but it didn’t feel like it. There were too many new sites to take in. From children paddling canoes, women laying their nets, men hauling in the catch, whole villages on stilts, and in a place called Burutu, the divide between salt water and fresh water – one word: Simplyamazinglybreathtaking!
Just before we got to the Rig we were met by the welcoming committee, a regular flotila of canoes. By the time the Rig came into view, we looked like a Spanish Armada invading Newfoundland. Less than five hours after arriving on the Rig, the small piece of land nearby had been cleared, and stick and sack tents were going up – a community populated by women and children.
Life offshore consisted of waking up, serving breakfast, clearing up, napping, serving lunch, lounging on the barge, getting some exercise in or games, dinner, a movie, and on some days, a trip into town.
Those were the days to look forward to, the trips into town. Especially considering everyone on the houseboat, and the Rig, were male. The trips into town afforded everyone the opportunity to indulge – whatever your vice. I was about the women but, for all my mouthing off, I am too liverless to just step up to a girl.
On our fourth trip into town, one of the men noticed how I kept stealing glances at this girl he was with. The girl in question was petite but well endowed where it mattered to me. She was really courageous. Her reason was not bad to look at either, but her courage was right in front of us. So this man called me to the side and asked if I liked what I saw. Not caring if it was a trick question or not, I nodded. He left me sitting there and went back to the girl. He whispered something to her, she giggled, looked at me knowingly and walked away.
I just got up and followed her like a zombie. My feet felt wooden, and I could feel the eyes boring into my back. After a few steps, I set my shoulders in my ‘warreva’ mode and ducked into her apartment. The lighting was poor, ventilation was non existent, but I was not there for the aesthetics was I?
As if reading my thoughts, she brushed against me and it was electric. Then she pulled out a cigarette and lit up. I was mildly disappointed that she smoked, but when she pulled me close all that soft flesh made me forget about cigarette smoke until she kissed me. Then she stepped out of her clothes. Then we were on the bed with me still fully clothed. I was still trying to play love when she pushed me unto my back, worked my belt faster and more expertly than I and straddled me. I reached up to grab something and had my hand unceremoniously slapped away. It was over before it began for me, and she jumped off, picked up her cigarette where she had left it and resumed smoking.
What?! This could not be what was so beautifully written about in those books I read all those years ago.
I was quiet on the boat ride home. I went straight to my room, searched in my bag for the dog-eared copy of ‘Seven Minutes’ by Irvin Wallace which I carried everywhere. I flipped the pages till I found the folded paper I was looking for. It was creased and yellowed with age, but the words were still legible. I took out my pen and wrote in one word so that now it read: “Virginity is like a balloon; one prick and it is gone. Forever.“