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June 10, 2004

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That First Hitch: Virginity Lost  (Perspective)

Posted on January 1, 2001 by Bernd Wechner

Driving & Road Tripping That First Hitch: Virginity Lost

That First Hitch: Virginity Lost

Author: Bernd Wechner
Published on: January 1, 2001

There is a first time for everything; the saying goes, and hitch-hiking is no exception. When that comes, if it comes, most of us will already have been exposed to some of the imagery that is associated with hitch-hiking. It will have coloured our expectations and our approach. Very few of us will begin to hitch in complete naivety.

As often as not there is a certain insecurity that accompanies the first-time hitch-hiker standing beside the road, waiting for that first ride. It finds its roots in uncertainty, in a lack of experience to draw on. Much less a concern for the type of ride to follow perhaps, as for whether a ride will follow at all!

Will someone stop? When? Why? Who? How?

It would after all be a little embarrasing to approach the road for the first time in one's life, having heard so many stories of success, fully confident of a ride, only to face dismal failure.

How long should I wait? Am I standing in the right spot? Is this going to work?

All the while on public display, under public scrutiny. People from all walks of life, eyeing the hitcher over, judging the thumber, deciding in that single second of "driving by" whether or not to stop; to relieve this beginner's stress. The whole world looking at you, down at you, like some lowly beggar!

Have I waited long enough? Maybe this isn't worth the trouble? Maybe I should go? Will I lose face if I go?

I wonder how many give up on that first thumb? There seems a sort of self-imposed pressure to perform, as if it were a measure of the viability of hitch-hiking in toto, or the quality of the hitch-hiker perhaps.

Whatever the outcome, it might always be remembered as "that first time". Like that first kiss, many may remember that first hitch, and like that first kiss (and some other firsts I can think of) it will probably have been a little clumsy and insecure.

Imagine the relief when someone stops! The hitch-hiker is born.

Then again, to be perfectly honest, there are many kinds of hitch-hiker, and there's a kind of hitch-hiker, who sets out on short trips as a head strong youth, impervious to most of these emotions. What I'm describing here is simply my own recollection as an adult beginner in 1991.

Needless to say, the uncertainty and discomfort evaporated in as much time as it took for that first ride to show up, and never really resurfaced. It was a taxi driver, in a brand new taxi, who assured me he was off duty and heading my way (to Vienna, from Bratislava). We kept in touch, I came by to visit a year later ... And so, as the new year opens today, a new phase openned in my life.

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