the original kStyle blog.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Wednesday Writing Assignment
You take the good, you take the bad, you take 'em both and there you have...

For reasons too sordid to get into here, I found myself thinking yesterday afternoon of that time, some years ago, when my parents sat me down and gave me The Talk. No, not the one where they got divorced--the one where they told me how babies were made, and about the Big Changes that were coming my way. Yes, that talk.

Except that's not really how it went. My parents weren't the candid sort, and my introduction to the facts of life wasn't quite that smooth. I'll tell you about it in a moment, because today's writing assignment is to tell us how you came into this crucial information. Did Mom or Dad sit you down and explain things? Did you pick it up on the street, the way we were warned about? Did your eighth grade health teacher do her duty?

And, if you like, a bonus assignment: share a great misconception or error of fact (under this rubric, of course) to which you fell victim, led astray by some classmate who seemed to know what he or she was talking about.


Blogger Eric said...

I never heard word one from my parents about sex until the evening of that auspicious cinematic event, the Sixth Grade Health Film. (Actually there were two films in two separate rooms, one for boys and one for girls.) My father took me, and I didn't want to go and of course I was embarrassed, more so because we got there late. The movie had already started and we snuck in the back, and I stood there trying to make sense of the thing, which seemed mostly to be about getting your period, and I was baffled for a good few minutes before a girl named Abigail turned around and hissed, "You're in the wrong room."

Ah. Yes. Righto. Off to the cafeteria, then, where I parked myself behind a rather large boy, whose head, thank god, blocked the screen so much that I didn't have to wince at those wiggling spermatazoa, or the scene of that good-natured doctor explaining to the boy that those feelings he was having were perfectly normal.

When I got home, there was a book waiting for me on my bed, and I thought it was interesting that they'd waited until I was out of the house to leave it there, like when you're asked to run an errand as a ruse for setting up your surprise party. The book was called, I believe, "The What's Happening to My Body Book for Boys," and even then, before I was a writer, it occurred that the title was awkwardly phrased. But it was a good book and it taught me a lot, and I liked the chapter on girls the best, because I had no idea what was going on with them, and because it featured a line drawing of a naked woman. Nice.

As far as misconceptions go, the following comes to mind: in her novel "Then Again, Maybe I Won't," which I'd read several times by this point, Judy Blume's protagonist euphemistically refers to his getting an erection as "it came up." Too euphemistically for me at nine years old, and ten, and eleven, because what I thought it meant was that he vomited. I thought he got aroused and then vomited, so I assumed that's what would happen if I ever got excited that way, and well, let's just say that when I realized I was mistaken was I very relieved.

8:16 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

My parents didn't handle the birds and bees very well. To be fair, I hit puberty at age 8 and it probably blindsided them.

I was nine. Nine years old with full-out breasts. My mom decided to talk to me in the bathroom, for some reason. I sat on the toilet lid and she leaned against the counter.

All I remember is this. She told me that I might start bleeding soon, and that it was nothing to worry about. I should just tell her when it happened.

I spent the next year paranoid. When would I start bleeding? From where would I start bleeding? You may recall that sweat glands develop during puberty. For the next year, every time I felt unfamiliar moisture beneath my arms in gym class, I was sure the blood had arrived.

It finally did arrive, right before my 11th birthday. I told my mom. I was outfitted with my first maxi pad.

I learned about the sex part from 6th grade health class. Actually, we moved 3 times during my middle school career (another story entirely), and I heard the sex ed unit at least twice, at different schools. I also got the CPR unit once or twice, but I never got the nutrition and hygiene unit. Good thing I'm pretty clean anyway.

9:13 AM  
Blogger Ann said...

The way I remember it, Mom and I were picking my sister up from a bowling party, and we were sitting in the front seat of the car, and she turned to me and said, "Do you know how babies are made?" and I said, "No," and she explained the process in about twenty-five words and then went to get my sister from the bowling alley.

There wasn't any other Talk that I can recall, although I may have blocked it out. I sort of absorbed everything else by osmosis; one day I didn't know something, and the next I did. I was so oblivious that I barely noticed anything was happening anyway.

Until I got to college I didn't realize that the urinary tract isn't connected to the vagina. I hadn't even heard of the clitoris. Is that sad? It seems kind of sad.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

I knew a girl in high school who went to college and spent a year in a sexually active relationship and when it was over, she still hadn't heard of the clitoris. Her boyfriend musta been one of those real sensitive, enlightened types you hear about.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Emma Goldman said...

I'm half a generation older than you guys, and I got nothin' from nobody on this subject, except about getting my period, and, trust me, that was a damned short conversation (with my mother). I gradually pieced things together with the help of, if i remember correctly, my mother's women's magazines and maybe an encyclopaedia or something.

4:43 PM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Wow. Amazing the difference a half-generation makes.

I've heard lots of stories from women of my mother's generation as follows: Girl has no idea her period was coming, or what it is, and when it does arrive and she tells her mother, her mother slaps her.

Talk about traumatizing.

9:29 AM  
Blogger Larry Jones said...

Wow, sorry I missed this assignment.

Sex is dirty, right? That's what I thought.

My dad was a drunk Catholic, so he didn't want to discuss this with me, the oldest of five. My mom was Irish Catholic, so she had no problem. Her Irish eyes were actually smiling when she told me what the man does with/to the woman, and then that leads to babies. I think she did her best, but she probably didn't really know the biology herself, so the conversation was prettty vague. Vague and embarrassing, because my sister was invited, too.

In the ensuing years I was able to get the straight dope from guys at school, luckily: masturbating causes hair to grow on your palms, red and black on Friday means she's a whore, big tits means she wants it all the time - all the standard stuff.

1:57 AM  
Blogger kStyle said...

Damn, Larry. That's pretty amazing.

Your mom sounds cool.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Larry Jones said...

She was a saint, like Nixon's mom.

1:31 PM  

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