I Fucked Around Like Donna in Mamma Mia, but All I Got Was This Damn UTI
Like many young women who’ve watched the Abba-inspired Mamma Mia! films, I was recently struck by the urge to relocate to Europe and have unprotected sex with three strapping lads before settling down on a Grecian island to raise a daughter with questionable patrilineage.
As I mark two notches in my Spanish belt, the correlations between Donna’s experiences and my own have become apparent in the most simplistic of ways – we are both young women abroad who happen to have slept with multiple men in Europe. The differences between our experiences, however, stand in stark contrast: though adequate, my sex-capades were ultimately mediocre, and I now have the authority to call bullshit on this romanticised travel hook-up culture.
Notch number one was a result of bottomless cider and big expensive fishbowls of some vodka mix. As a naturally flirty drunk, it’s no surprise things took a turn the way they did. There’s a sizeable gap in my head between taking off my shoes on the walk home and somehow being in a top bunk in the hostel room next to mine, with 12 beds for 12 Lads on Tour. The room wasn’t full, but it didn’t sound empty, with snickers coming from behind the curtain we had pulled. Perpetuating myths of privacy, Donna always manages to get it on in private, whether it be a hotel room, the cabin of a sailing boat or a quaint abandoned farmhouse.
I was nearly lucky enough to get away with not remembering who the guy I was on top of was, had I not started sobering up.
“What’s your name again?” I asked, feigning remembering ever exchanging names in the first place.
“Adam, from Hamilton.”
Did I just fly halfway around the world to hook up with a dude who lives basically next door?
“Hamilton, New Zealand?” I probed, hoping I was wrong.
“Yeah, and you’re from Dunedin, right?”
Fuck. Disappointed in my lack of cultural divergence, and insistent on waking up in my own bed, I nabbed a t-shirt of his, my own clothes being scattered god knows where. I looked out from behind the curtain of the bed to realise that the sun was already rising.
In my haste, I neglected the most essential step of the post-coital routine – always pee after sex! Having been burned before – literally by fiery piss – I’m surprised at my lack of competence in this arena. It slipped my mind until the consequences reared their head a few days later. In the words of Donna, “I’ve brought this all on myself because I was a stupid, reckless little slut!”
If Adam hadn’t identified himself to me when I bumped into him the following night at a gig, I probably wouldn’t be able to point him out in a crowd. Asides from that, we had no follow-up interactions. I returned his shirt to him by dumping it outside of his room – a smooth transaction – and his friends gave my clothes back to one of my friends. I found his Instagram later and confirmed what I feared once I found out he was from Hamilton – he’s a top-of-the-line, douche-baggy motorhead. Donna didn’t have to deal with this shit.
Notch number two came once again as a result of too many bevvies. In a campsite reeking of sexual depravity, this dude was as tame as they come.
“I haven’t fucked anyone in the three weeks I’ve been here,” he confessed to me.
What do you say to that?
“Ha, nice,” I replied, then shut him the fuck up by putting my mouth back on his.
He was my height or shorter, definitely not taller. I was first introduced to him as “Coke Guy” a week earlier. When we re-introduced ourselves a day earlier, amidst the hecticness of San Fermin in Pamplona, I found out his real name is Tom. He has Spanish family, was born in Australia, but grew up in America – a bit more exotic than Hamilton. His birthday is International Women’s Day, and he’s totally okay with spending the day marching for her rights every year.
We headed to his tent at the campsite in Mendigorria, just out from the main city, where a small-scale music festival was happening. He had a two-person tent all to himself, a reward for his hard work setting up the festival, and because his Spanish language skills had been so helpful.
Donna always managed to end up in a bed, even when she was on a boat in the middle of the ocean, but my toes were nearly piercing the back of the tent, and the six sleeping mats he had bragged about obtaining slipped out to the side, leaving me technically on the ground.
Rather than being scored by ABBA, it was the distant commotion of Aussie punk band, Dune Rats, that was the soundtrack of my sex-capades. As their set wrapped up, I lay next to Tom as the next act took the stage. A wave of regret hit me as a cover of ‘Bliss’ by Th’ Dudes came on, taking me back to a small flat in North Dunedin where everyone was screaming, “Driiiiink yourself more bliss, forget about the last one, get yourself another.”
What I would give to be amidst a crowd that manic again, I thought. It’d probably be more exciting than what I just experienced.
Anxious to get back to the party, I bolted, leaving behind my bikini bottoms with no plans of ever retrieving them – my second regret of the night. My butt looked so good in them. I stopped to pee behind a van this time, having learned my lesson.
We never quite got to notch number three. There was potential, sure. A lovely Aussie, Ollie, kept on showing up over a week as we went from the wine fights of San Vino in Haro to a gig in San Sebastian, and finally at the campsite in Mendigorria.
I described him to my friend, who clicked, “Oh, the dude that wears those ironic caps and glasses!”
“Yeah!” I said for simplicity’s sake, but I don’t think they were meant to be ironic.
The memories of our chats are fogged by beer, but I know there were many. We had the same taste in music and I was weirdly into the way he wore his shirts with so few buttons done up. Outside of a gig in San Sebastian – more Dune Rats – we exchanged songs on Spotify, singing along together. In fairness, Ollie didn’t deserve to be just a notch on my belt. He was the Pierce Brosnan to my Meryl Streep.
When we returned to the venue, we stood shoulder to shoulder in the comforting holds of the vibrant crowd. Leaning over, he said “When you left Haro, I thought I’ll never see this cool chick again. It sucked, I wanted to kiss you.”
I could only smile, as tipsy me is a bitch for some validation. I gave him a kiss, then another, some more, and that was it.
Closing off my time with Ollie in a tent in Mendigorria sounded appealing, but a storm saw the planned party go from lit to low-key, and required a 15-minute walk. This and my fiery piss was enough for me to believe the universe was telling me to calm the fuck down. Although being an ultimately pragmatic decision, it was probably best things were left as they were, so no red flags came to fruition.
The truth is, I am not Donna from Mamma Mia. I would not be bagging a third dude abroad. Instead of another tent romp, I stayed in and watched Pretty Woman, marvelling at Julia Roberts’ self-control as she tells Richard Gere, “No kissing.”
It was a thrilling experience to even remotely parallel my second-favourite Meryl Streep character. Despite lacking whimsy and allure, I remain thankful that my sex-capades resulted in only a UTI and a sore throat, not a baby. Although one fantasy is clearly idealised through a heart-warming mother-daughter story, an idyllic Grecian aesthetic and bopping soundtrack, there is also a clear winner.
Next time though, I’m just gonna pack my vibrator.