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MIT is full of numbers, from buildings to classes. We’re surrounded by them. Who doesn’t associate with some form of numbers? There are the ones that we always remember: our course numbers, our phone numbers, and our student ID numbers. And then, there are numbers that we choose to forget, like our “count.”

“What’s your number?” is a question that I’ve been asked quite a bit these days. And, they’re never referring to the friendly seven-digit phone-number. Generally, I respond with, “What counts?”

First-base? Second-base? Third-base? There are men that always count, but what about the ones that didn’t make it full circle? Is he worth half a point if he didn’t cum from sex? Like, you went dry, and he went soft simultaneously, thanks to whatever liquor you had. What if you can’t remember thanks to one too many shots of 151? Do you add him in as a precaution, or do you call it “rape?” Then, what about oral sex? What if he didn’t cum again? And I always wonder how anal-sex and other out-of-the-ordinary acts, like threesomes, are weighted.

I’ve read so many reports of teens engaging in anal sex to preserve their virginity. Personally, while I respect decisions regarding sex, I fully believe virginity is overrated. Going to such an extreme length to “keep” it baffles me.

Numbers are misleading. People decide for themselves what “counts.” For a while, I kept an Excel spreadsheet of past hookups, but whenever I admitted the fact, people always assumed the worst. I just wanted to keep a record of my intimate life, noting trends, like my predilection for Course 15s. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t afflicted with what my friend Milena calls “fratskank” syndrome at some point in my MIT career. But my spreadsheet isn’t even a full page ­­­— then again, I guess that’s a loaded statement, because I can easily change the font. Really, though, my count is no one’s business. It’s unimportant — what matters more is that I’m clean and healthy.

Out of the twenty sexually active MIT friends of mine that I asked, half guys, half girls, only one admitted to getting regular STD tests. The others either insisted that they used a condom every time, or they somehow knew their partners were “clean.” Regardless, that’s a disturbing statistic, especially given the fact that STD tests are confidential and free from MIT Medical. If you’re going to promiscuous, you should at least be safe about it. A number is not indicative of a responsible sexual partner.

Of course, it’s only natural to be curious about a partner’s history, particularly in the context of a relationship. However, when a relationship gains that level of trust, there’s always a story behind every number. The numbers become people, and then they might seem more daunting. It’s key to remember that everyone has a past, and the person you like in the present wouldn’t be the same without that past.

Some numbers are important at MIT — particularly on certain tests — but then there are numbers that are just that — numbers. It seems to me that most people believe that men “overcount” and women “undercount.” If you’re going based off just a number, you should assume some manipulation. The story behind the count — especially what people learned from it — is much more important to who we are sexually.