Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Monday, Tuesday, Cha-cha-cha...

Well, I let myself sleep in this morning, and boy I feel a lot better. I'll have to try to resume getting up early again tomorrow, though. Just because it is my nature to wake up at 10 am or later doesn't mean I have to wake up at 10 am or later. I really want to get up before 8, do some things around the house, and get to the office by 10...so that I can leave by 4 and have five hours of daylight and retail time in which to revel and frolic (metaphorically, that is...though I often "revel," I never actually "frolic").

So when last I left you, I had just written a terribly fascinating account of my first parental discussion of the Birds & the Bees for the Monday Memory...and then somehow deleted it before I could post. Since then, I went and visited the Tuesday Too, and found that the questions were more-or-less unanswerable, and therefore inconducive to amplifying my text (which is what these memes are supposed to do, I think). Since the Globe of Blogs is currently down for renovations, I couldn't go hunt up a new Tuesday meme, so I just jumped ahead to tomorrow's meme, the Wednesday Whimsy. Katie at Rien d'Importance, the author of the WW, maintains her page as a series of weekly meme surveys, and so from there I was able to access her preferred Tuesday meme, the This-or-That Tuesday. But then, visiting that meme's author, Christine, I was confronted by a barrage of cat snapshots. Have I ever mentioned that I do not like cats? So I guess I don't get a Tuesday Meme!

"But why do you have to have an alliterative survey meme every day?"

What? You think I should create my own content all the time? Geez!

The Monday Memory...on Tuesday...cha-cha-cha...

Share your memory of getting "the talk". Who told you about the birds and the bees? Were they uncomfortable? Were you?

I had to sit down and really think about this question before I could come up with an answer. I had no memory of learning about sex from any of my parents. But after a while, I did manage to tap into that supressed memory. Memory is a mixed blessing...I haven't quite decided if I really wanted to revisit this memory.

When I was six, my mother and stepfather and sister and I lived in Twain Harte, in an apartment over the bakery. Among mother's circle of acquaintance, all of whom were socially equal or inferior to herself (and after Mother's many and quite successful attempts to become white trash, it was sometimes difficult to find socially inferior persons to befriend), she had a friend who I believe was a prostitute and who, in turn, had a daughter my age. Mother was babysitting this little girl in her own rather slapdash and inattentive manner in the afternoons.

I can't remember the little girl's name, but I think it was Melissa or Tiffany or Heather or something equally kittenish and fashionable in my generation...we'll call her Melissa for the sake of the story. One afternoon, my sister was playing at someone else's house, leaving Melissa and I to our own devices; she suggested a "grown-up" game that her mother played quite often, in which two players get undressed, get under the covers together, and then I was to stick my "pee-pee" into her "coochie."

Of course, as everyone knows, such things are not really possible for six-year-olds. I've heard the attempt described as "trying to put a marshmallow into a parking meter," though I think it was more like trying to get a dead catterpillar into an apple. Or, really, it was like trying to insert something that was not capable of insertion into a closed orifice. Since this was my only attempt at genital sex of the hetero variety, I don't have anything else to compare it with.

So eventually my mother came into the room and discovered us in this ridiculous yet compromising position. Little Melissa was sent home forthwith, along with a note instructing Melissa's mother to call my mother at her earliest convenience (I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation!)

I think Mother was rather uncomfortable with the ensuing conversation, as she hadn't expected to have to come up with it for at least another ten years, and would hopefully be able to delegate it to my father. In fact, I think she wished right then that she was still married to my father so she could foist the responsibility elsewhere (she could have tried my stepfather on this, but remember he was a total psychotic...I also think he wasn't around at the time).

Anyway, mother told me that what Melissa and I were doing was a sin outside of marriage (she was in one of her more ascetic born-again phases...Mother has been reborn in Christ so many times that I'm sure God has become tired of hearing about it), and further that we were too young to be married, and that the reason our attempts at insertion had been so unsuccessful is that God didn't want us to play that particular "game" until we were grown up and married. She said a bunch of other stuff I don't remember, but that was the gist.

Later on when I entered the room while she and my stepfather were "in congress," I saw what she meant, and decided that waiting to grow up before I started such untidy wrestling with members of the opposite sex wasn't such a bad thing.

Later still, I discovered considerably more about sex in the pages of Playboy and Penthouse and Hustler, of which my father owned many volumes of issues. I have always been a voracious reader, and so was more attracted to the articles than the pictures (though they had their fascinations as well). I had read Phillip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint when I was eleven, and had been reading my stepmother's bodice-ripper romance novels for years. I was happy, when puberty finally began in earnest, that I was able to learn all about masturbation and a number of other topics from Xaviera Hollander's monthly advice column in Penthouse. I was probably the best-informed little boy in my school.

Then of course, we had a very thorough section of Sex Education in the seventh grade. Having already figured out about erections and ejaculations, sexual intercourse and masturbation, I was quite over the titillation of those topics and therefore prepared to absorb menstruation, hormones, pregnancy, venereal disease, and other such related topics when the time came. It was probably the most interesting part of that year's Science class.

A couple of years later, I had "the talk" with Daddy, but basically I already knew more than he did about the Birds and the Bees (not to mention gonorrhea and condoms), so it became more of a personal discussion about his own discovery of sex and his concomittant Birds-n-Bees talk with Grandpa. Quite fascinating. He wasn't really uncomfortable about it, but then he has always been very frank about his own desires (for example, I know exactly what types of women and pornography turn his crank...not something one necessarily needs to know about one's father).

So these were the things I remembered first when I asked myself about who first gave me the Birds-n-Bees Talk...I learned them from books, expert columnists, and trained professional educators...which strikes me as the best way to learn about anything. Perhaps the choice of reading material was somewhat questionable, it may even have warped my sexuality in some way, but it was certainly better than learning about it from my peers and having to unlearn some of the ridiculous assertions I've heard made by other children.

I wonder what a developmental psychologist would make of these stories? Perhaps I've been wrong all these years, and that in fact my mother did turn me gay? Or maybe I can blame Larry Flynt instead?

Well, whatever...I think it doesn't really matter, how much of Gay (or anything else, for that matter) is nature, and how much is nurture. I mean, I know loads of people with rather more traditional upbringings than what I enjoyed, and who are nevertheless considerably more screwed-up than I am. I also know people who are rather more put together than I, despite their having rather more unpleasant or inappropriate childhoods. So it just goes to show, that you can do everything right and still fail, and do everything wrong and still succeed, and you never know which is going to happen when you set about bringing children into the world. One of many resons, besides my gayness, that I am not part of the baby-making culture.

I guess that's all I have to say on the matter. Have a lovely day!

I'd like to have a "talk" with this one!

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