Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Sex Education for young girls is a little more extensive than it used to be. Schools taught no Sex Education classes. If we learned anything at all about Sex in school, it was in the hallway, not the classroom. My mother never mentioned Sex to me, except to comment once that "Men are like bears!". In fact, she was so chaste and so prudish that I never knew she had legs until I was thirty. Then, when she was hospitalized, I saw my mother's body for the first time.

I think she did approach the subject of Sex once when she sat me down in a chair in our kitchen and told me to "be careful of your Birthright". This happened after my sister had informed her that a boy in her class had commented that I was "right down his alley". I solemnly promised my mother that I would be careful of my Birthright, would guard it with my life, if necessary, and would definitely ward off any attempts to take it from me. But, truthfully, I had no idea what she was talking about.

Movies didn't help at all. Betty Grable looked lovingly at Dick Haymes, then broke into song. Dick Haymes gazed into Betty's eyes, and began crooning. They held hands or exchanged a chaste kiss. It was so romantic a young girl's heart pounded fiercely, but she had no idea what came after.

You would think that, growing up on a farm, I would have had first hand knowledge of procreation and sexual activity, at least among animals. Well, I didn't. First, our two old plowhorses were too old to give a damn, and our cows were all female. As for the mules, I don't think they were capable of having a thought for the opposite sex, or that they even had a sex. I don't know. And the chicken peeps arrived in a big box each Spring. To me, the animal world was filled with virgin births.

My Sex education came from an assortment of my young companions, who were as ignorant as I was, if not more so. For days after viewing a picture of the statue of King David with Sissy, my neice, we were under the impression that men were leaf-shaped.

I grew up with seven brothers, but we were taught to be private about our bodies. All of them were older than me, and most were married. And the younger ones would never have undressed in front of a young girl like myself. So, my knowledge of anatomy and the differences in the sexes was really vague.

All this changed one day when I was standing in front of an empty store on a village side street. It was one of those dumpy, vacant village streets where there might be a tire shop on the corner, and a few tumbledown houses rimming the road, but not much human activity at all. I had just left the library and was contemplating the long walk home.

I stood there, then noticed an old fellow, white scraggly beard, ragged clothing, long grey hair covered by an old baseball cap, standing outside the tire shop. I remember feeling a stab of pity, as compassionate as any eleven-year-old could be, for he looked truly pathetic, perhaps even hungry.

Suddenly, as I watched him, his hand fluttered at his crotch, and suddenly his fly was unzipped and this tubular apparatus popped forth, held in his hand like a farmer wielding a hoe.

As I stared, trying to figure out what he was doing, he pointed this appendage at me and waved it around, like a cowboy twirling a lariat, nor would I have been surprised had it formed a noose and leapt across the street to settle over my head and around my neck. And the huge toothless smile on his face let me know how much he was enjoying my reaction to this spectacle.

Did I scream? No, I was in a state of shock, mesmerized by this performance. My eyes must have been like giant blue saucers as he gyrated and thrust this member in my direction. My fascination spurred him to even greater activity and his huge smile displayed his pleasure at his performance!

Then, finally spurred to action, I ran. I ran to Main Street, sped onto the street leading to the Farm and ran two miles without stopping, only halting, gasping for breath, when I had reached the sanctity of our porch. There I slumped, unable to speak at first, as Mom appeared at the screen door and asked what was wrong. Breathless, heart pounding, I told my mother what I had seen. This is when she made her "Men are like bears" statement that has remained with me throughout the years.

It took me years to qualify that statement and learn that only "some men" are like bears, that others are gentle and good and understanding. This is the hardest lesson to learn and one that all mothers should teach their daughters. But I guess you couldn't expect this from a woman from another day and age, when speaking of Sex was taboo and the world was painted in Black and White, with no shades of gray.