By Rula Al-Nasrawi
City on a Hill Press Columnist

They say you never forget your first time.

The guy or girl you lose your virginity to will remain imprinted in your mind — and in the case of Natalie Dylan, your bank account — forever.

Dylan, 22 years old, made the shocking decision to auction off her virginity last September at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch in Nevada. The highest bid thus far? $3.8 million.

This brings us to a pressing question: How much is virginity really worth these days? For most college students, not even a Flexi-dollar.

Since the beginning of civilization, long before the days of Natalie Dylan, the virgin was considered a sacred symbol, so pure that they were sexy. Women could save themselves well into their 40s or 50s, because there was nothing hotter than looking good in a chastity belt.

Regardless of the rock stars that virgins once were, the times have definitely changed. Instead of being viewed as a pure and blossoming flower, the virgin is now seen as the prude, the boring, or the inexperienced — sometimes all three. And although many people still stay true to their noble oath of abstinence, it’s time for a reality check: It is no longer cool to be a virgin.

For the standard college student, admitting you’re a virgin is like admitting you still occasionally wet the bed. They say “Oh. Well good for you, don’t be a slut!” as they nod their heads in agreement with a quick but nonetheless noticeable look of sympathy. What they really mean is “I’m so sorry you’re not getting any.”

Being a virgin in college is like waiting in line to get into Disneyland, watching the people in the park happily sing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da” in their Mickey Mouse ears without you. All you want to do is cut the line and join in on the fun, but you know if you wait, it will definitely be worth it.

Of course, we must never forget that Sex Land isn’t always the “happiest place on earth.” In a world full of more waiting than pleasure and disappointing technical difficulties, sometimes it’s good to take your time and take a deep breath before you dive in.

That’s exactly what Dylan did. She took something as abstract as her virginity, and single-handedly managed to capitalize on it, turning her into a millionaire. And just like that, virginity had value again.

Many people make the conscious decision to abstain for their own personal reasons and they have every right to do so. Knowing this, why do their peers continue to label them as an endangered species?

In 2006, according to the Center for Disease Contol and Prevention (CDC), 7 percent of unmarried women aged 25 to 29 said that they were virgins, and 44.4 percent of girls aged 15 to 19 had had sex by age 17.

Besides her highest bid of $3.8 million, Dylan has also recently signed a book deal with David Black Literary Agency, sparking rumors that she may not even go through with the deal at all, instead opting to use the money that has come from her sudden celebrity.

And regardless of the scandalous pictures posted on her Myspace, Dylan is still your average 22-year-old trying to pay her way through grad school.

Most men shudder at the thought of deflowering a woman, let alone paying the woman money to do so. Think of the messy repercussions of the situation; you take a woman’s virginity and she’s yours forever. What once brought a man pride now fills him with fear and an impending sense of doom. By popping her cherry, he signs an invisible contract binding him to her.

Or so he thinks.

The truth is that college virgins are not as complicated as they seem. They either want to have sex with you or they don’t, simple as that. This special breed of Banana Slug spends their college career picking and choosing from afar before getting too heavily involved.

So is selling your virginity for money the best way to find its value? Probably not. But if Dylan’s V-card costs almost $4 million, she must be damn proud of herself for not giving up the goods early on.

These kids might feel like they’re missing out on pure hot sex in the McHenry Library, the woods, or even on the Porter Squiggle. But they, like Natalie Dylan, know something the rest of us don’t; although their “prudish inexperience” won’t be worth a penny to some of us, to them it’s priceless.