My first experience with sexting (before it was even known as sexting) was at the then-precocious age of seventeen. I say then-precocious because it doesn’t surprise me that today children much younger than seventeen are sexting (and filming and tweeting) much naughtier things than I was a decade ago. But when I was seventeen you were lucky if your cell phone had T9, let alone a camera or video or internet.
It was the summer after I lost my virginity, and I was spending a month in Italy with a childhood friend. We were young and beautiful and bursting with energy in that way that only careless teenagers can be, and Rome was full of handsome boys. With two notches on my bedpost already I was ready for a third, and I was in the right place.
My friend, Martina*, had an entourage of childhood friends that I’d known forever, who all happened to be boys. Hot boys. I’d been crushing on one of them over the last few summers (we’d even gone as far as cuddling on the beach one year, oh my) but this summer one of the others came back a new man. Alessandro* was nineteen or twenty—already practically a grown up—and he was some exotic combination of South American and Northern European raised in Rome. Plus he had his own car. Swoon. Even if it was only a tiny two door Fiat hatchback.
After a few evenings out with the boys it became clear that the smitten feelings were mutual, and so one night Alessandro and I broke off from the main group and left to go furiously make out in his car. The making out turned into some heavy petting which before long segued into my first time fucking in a car (which given the size of the car was more an act of acrobatics than intercourse).
Alessandro and I saw each other a few more times that month (and perfected our Back Seat Tango) before he flew off to Amsterdam or Buenos Aires for the rest of the summer.
I was devastated. My summer romance had blossomed breathlessly hot and fast yet had been cut short right at the peak of its adolescent passion.
Thankfully my parents had insisted that I get a pre-paid cell with a local number so they could keep in touch with me while I was abroad. Little did they know that the object of their parental responsibility was actually being used to maintain an intercontinental love affair between two horny teenagers who thought they were a lot in love but were only a little bit in lust.
Every day over the next three weeks Alessandro and I exchanged flurries of text messages. At the beginning were the message of a new romance: “I wish you were here,” “I miss you stellina” (his nickname for me, which means “little star” in Italian), “I’m out with friends for the night but I’ll text you good night when I go to bed. Kisses.”
After a few days of sending essentially just variations on the same fifteen or so lovey dovey messages, we were getting a bit bored. Sure, these verbal expressions of young love were important too, but it had been a lot more fun when we were expressing our love in the back seat of the car.
So we upped the ante and started talking about what we would do if we were together. “Stellina, I’m heading into the shower, I wish you could come in with me so that I could soap you all up,” or “Amore, I’m in bed all my myself and it’s lonely here. What would you do to me if you were here now?” (a message that always guaranteed a timely and very enthusiastic response).
Before I even knew what I was doing—and before even knowing that what I was doing was called sexting (although perhaps sexting of a slightly more PG 13 nature than by today’s standards)—I was deep into a new cultural phenomenon that was just wetting its feet and getting ready to sprint into the lives of future teenagers and young adults.
And then I went back to the US and our romance fizzled as quickly as it had taken flame. Texting between two Italian cellphones from North to South America would have been economically unsound, not to mention technologically impossible (it was 2002, after all, and my parents hadn’t sprung for an expensive triband phone). I got caught up with my senior year, applying to colleges, and dating boys that were a little more local.
The next summer I went back to Rome to visit Martina and I saw Alessandro again. We half-heartedly tried to renew our former passion with a Backseat Redux, but after a year spent incommunicado, the spark just wasn’t there.
Although I never really rekindled things with Alessandro, I had popped my sexting cherry and discovered the fun. Since that fateful summer nearly ten years ago (I say fateful because for better or for worse, my digital relationship with Alessandro certainly opened a door in my sexual development), I’ve sexted with countless guys, but never with so much bated breath and thumping heart as with my first Italian lover.
What was your first experience with sexting?
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*You know I don’t use anyone’s real name.