He came across as really innocent-looking. I looked up from my books at the library, and there was this fairly handsome guy. I say “fairly” handsome because his clothes were untidy, but his face looked good. He asked if the seat opposite me was taken; I said yes, it was reserved for a friend of mine. He said, “Okay, let me sit there until she gets in.” So I said, “Okay.” He opened his book, not sure what it was, read for a few minutes, then said, “Can I ask you a question?” I said yes. He said, “Why don’t you want to date anyone? We have tried to get you fixed up with all kinds of boys, but you turn them down. What do you want? Or is it that you don’t want to go there?” “Go there?” I asked, “What do you mean?” I knew exactly what he meant, but I wasn’t about to get into that conversation with him, no way.

The funny thing, looking back to all those years ago, was that my coping mechanism was not to date. I wanted to keep myself intact, and I knew the only way to do that was not to date. I didn’t know any other way. I didn’t get sex education classes. All I was made to believe was touch a boy and get pregnant. I remember I wasn’t the only one told that. A friend told me recently that one day she came home from school crying her eyes out. She was so distraught her mum called her and asked what the matter was. She broke down and told her mum she was pregnant. Her mum asked what she meant. She said a boy in school hugged her unexpectedly. Her mum looked at her up and down and said, “Don’t worry, you are not pregnant yet. The boy only hugged you for a few seconds. If he hugged you for a few seconds more, you would be pregnant by now.” Oh my gosh! She lived with that fear and belief for a long, long time.

As for me, I was lucky. I had two brothers who were ladies’ men. Stories they sat down and told about women with their friends were enough to knock me right into shape. One day, I heard them and some friends laughing and joking about how each of them had dated the same girl and dumped her because she was rude to another friend of theirs. They had all had their fun before she realized they were all friends and had planned it. That day I vowed no man would ever do that to me. I was going to keep myself until I got married.

Well, what I didn’t realize at the time was that it was going to be a very tough challenge. I was young and naive, very impressionable. I didn’t factor in a lot of things. For starters, feelings…


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