Misadventures With a Professor

By: Sierra Simone



I forgot the umbrella.

I remembered a backup battery charger, lipstick, condoms, my passport, a disposable toothbrush, and an appropriate amount of petty cash in case of emergency. I spent hours perfecting my hair and makeup into a look that proclaimed the perfect blend of sexual and social experience. I researched my route and destination and reviewed my notes for the plan.

I was prepared for every single contingency—except the most obvious one, which is that it rains in England sometimes.

Okay, a lot of times. It rains in England a lot of times.

And I forgot the damn umbrella in my hotel room.

I squint up at the street sign on the building next to me and then back down to my phone, trying to get my bearings. Unfortunately, the rain has made it nearly impossible to view the app on my screen, and even more unfortunately, I’m certain I’ve never come across this street in all my planning and preparation, which means I’m definitely lost—although it’s hard to tell, given how London streets rename themselves at bafflingly random intervals.

And it’s while I’m standing there trying to rub my rain-spattered screen on my equally rain-spattered dress that the silver drizzle decides to become a downpour, darkening the already dim evening and soaking through my dress and hair in a matter of seconds.

“Shit!” I mutter, cupping a hand over my eyes, trying to peer through the chilling curtain of rain. I can’t even see across the street, much less try to get my bearings.

“Shit, shit, shit.”

A black cab hisses by, sending a wave of water up and over my only pair of high heels—bought specially for tonight and the plan—and it’s the last straw. Screw getting my bearings. I want to get dry. I start walking, heels squelch-squelching as I go, and in a fit of pique, I yank them off my feet and start jogging barefoot down the slick sidewalk, wondering how my perfectly orchestrated agenda got so off-kilter.

When my father arranged for me to spend the summer with an old friend of his as a research assistant, I was beyond excited. An entire summer in the English countryside cataloging old books and annotating metadata? Basically paradise for me.

But my real excitement came when I realized I’d have a night alone in London before I went to Professor Graeme’s house. A single night in one of the best cities in the world to fix a very serious problem of mine:

I, Zandy Lynch, twenty-two years old and soon-to-be-graduate student, am a virgin. And that is no longer acceptable.

I’m tired of ending my nights with a skinny margarita and a vibrator. I’m tired of dates that go nowhere, tired of coming home alone, tired of lying in bed with a hollow ache that no amount of battery power can massage away. And it was as I was poring over my acceptance letter for library school that I realized I’ve become that silly old stereotype: the spinster librarian. The virgin nerd.


It’s not fair. I never asked to be a virgin at twenty-two! I never asked to be a spinster! All I ever asked for was a cute guy with a willing penis.

Okay, well, and a college education—preferably graduate level or higher.

And a good job—preferably in academia or a related field.

And an extensive shared list of common interests—including, but not limited to, modern literature, premodern literature, postmodern literature, Tolkien marginalia, crossword puzzles, animals, coffee, travel to places where druids sacrificed virgins, and variations of fruit pie.

So maybe my standards were a little high.

I started the plan the way I start everything—with a trip to the library. I outlined my objectives, decided on my research methodology, and created a timeline. I devoured books, articles, studies, and anecdotal data about how to get over my hymen-hurdle, and after all that, I came to a very certain conclusion.

I’d been going about this all wrong.

Sex is supposed to be spontaneous, unforced, mutually initiated. I can’t plan my way into someone’s pants…but I can plan the perfect environment to facilitate depantsing. So when Dad surprised me with the research vacation, I knew this night in London was my chance to find the perfect depantsing environment.

Except now it’s raining and I’m lost and barefoot and the plan has quickly unraveled into a wet, chilly disaster.