“One year, (at school), I didn’t know. The next year, I just knew. You go from not knowing to knowing. Or if you don’t, you act like you do.” This was the way one of my girlfriend’s learned about sex, and this is totally how I remember it, too. I had been told by my mother about where babies come from when I was young, so young that I don’t remember. But that was just the mechanics, and I was grossed out and that was that. Then, things changed.
In junior high, sex started being everywhere. Like, people were having it or they HAD had it, so they knew. It seemed like everyone else knew about it, more than me. I was in a small Lutheran school that I hated, so it was already uncomfortable and I already felt lesser than everyone around me.
We may have talked about it in class before seventh grade, but that year, the weekend of my birthday, I remember they had my whole class come into the school/church (the same building) for a weekend to learn about sex education. Our youth minister led most of the sessions – a man with a loud voice and dark black beard and referred to God as “Awesome Father.” I remember vague talk about God’s glorious creation and how a man and a woman are perfectly designed for each other when and only when they’re married and in love and intimate and committed, they can be together and it’s beautiful and it’s fun and blessed by God. Like, God will be with us, blessing us.
(The thing is, I knew this guy’s wife. I kept trying to picture them together, and it wasn’t beautiful.)
Somewhere during the weekend he told the story of when his daughters each started their periods, he took them to dinner in a fancy restaurant and gave them a piece of jewelry, like a cross necklace.
Then, to make the weekend even better? My father was supposed to come and pick me up, he didn’t. I didn’t want anyone to know I’d been left behind, so I hid out in the school until mom got off work and I could call her for a ride home.
CLEARLY the adults in my life didn’t have anything to offer, so I depended on snippets from from pop culture and my imagination to fill in the blanks.
How hot was the song “Father Figure” to my 13 year old mind? Or “I’m on fire” by Springsteen. I could hear sex in every lyric I heard, and I scoured the words for more for my imagination of how it would be. I had an incredible imagination off these songs. The reality is somewhat messier.
- Movies and televised media
I know parents hate movies for corrupting children’s minds; I prolly would with my own nino. But sinceI was getting sex education anywhere I could and depending on my imagination to fill in the blanks, I was thankful for scenes from movies such as The Breakfast Club, Say Anything, Pretty Woman, Thelma & Louise, Cocktail, the Lost Boys and Young Guns. Then I’m sure there were televised scenes from 21 Jump Street (I’ve got your number, Peter DeLouise) and Beverly Hills 90210 (the first one. The only one that matters.)