After my sister read part two of “Groping in the Dark,” we had a conversation in which we discussed her recollections of that time period and some of her own early experiences with boys. That conversation left me feeling that I needed to give some clarification. Moreover, there were several other things I wanted to say anyway.
First, although I make no claims for myself as a prose stylist, I’ve been trying to write in manner that might be enjoyable to read. I haven’t clung too closely to the dictum “Show; don’t tell,” but, still, where possible I’ve tried to avoid lengthy exposition in favor of events that illustrate the points I want to make. At the same time, I’ve tried to be true to my recollections rather than distorting the facts to make them clearer illustrations, which limits the effectiveness of “showing.” If I were writing a novel, I could probably jam everything I learned about boys and sex into one, unusually eventful, summer, a sort of Summer of ’79, with a cast of about half a dozen engaging characters and dramatically revealing moments. Instead, my family moves, a whole new set of teenagers come into my life and in each milieu I have more than one romantic interest. As a plot, it’s messy and lacks a good narrative arc.
I also feel as if I should address the explicitness my description of some of my early sexual exploration, which will probably continue. Exactly how I will handle future situations will be bridges I will cross when I get to each of them. It’s not in there for prurient reasons. One of the difficulties I’ve always found in discussing sex is that people shy away from saying exactly what happens or what happened. People fill these gaps with assumptions, clichés, stereotypes and bits of received wisdom. The result is that everyone’s preconceived notions are preserved. The reason I’m writing about sex and sexuality in the first place is because whenever I hear discussions of the subject I feel that my own experiences don’t confirm what people say. Furthermore, one of the reasons I’m concentrating so exclusively on my own experiences is because I don’t want to make statements about what anyone else may have, or may not have, experienced.
The first assumption I’d like to address is the notion, often subconscious, that only certain types of girls like sex. Throughout this time period, I continued to get good grades in school. The biggest black mark on my school record was gym. Eventually, I would graduate from high school early as would Suzy Q. We would both get scholarships to college. Among the others, Cherry Bomb was a reasonably good student, although not one of the top ones. Cat Eyes and Sour Puss were pretty ordinary as far as intelligence went and their grades, as far as I know, reflected that.
If I’ve neglected the alcohol and drugs, that’s because there weren’t any. I never really gave it a lot of thought before, but since I’ve decided to start discussing these things on the internet, which includes some months on forums before starting this blog, I’ve noticed the tendency for references to sex to bring up references to drinking even if it’s apropos to nothing else being said. This occurred in a comment Holly left on an earlier post. I didn’t bother to address the reference to drinking at the time, but after noticing the pairing in some other places I was going to make an entire post about it. Perhaps I never really made the association because alcohol tends to deaden my libido. Anything beyond, perhaps, two glasses of wine and I start to lose interest in sex. In my experience, if affects men the same way. Overeating isn’t great for sex in my experience either.
Now that I’ve written about it, I wish I had asked Sheep Dog how he felt about it, but I was under the impression he was embarrassed and I didn’t want to make him feel anymore uncomfortable than necessary. If it wasn’t obvious from my narrative, I’d like to emphasize that neither of us pushed the other into doing things we didn’t want to do. I’d also like to note that we held back from going further, although I’m sure we could have managed a time and place with a little more privacy if we had put our minds to it, for the simple reason that we weren’t ready for it. We weren’t resisting the impulse to do more. So many times when I hear and read things about teenage boys, they seem to be depicted as a bunch of callous louts that just want to put notches on their belt. My own experience when I was young just doesn’t conform to that. That said, I did tend to find myself drawn to the shy, sensitive boys, not the braggarts and the blowhards.
Finally, my sister couldn’t figure out from the nicknames who all the individuals were. That’s probably good. I’ve been slightly vague with exact names, places and dates in hopes of leaving people a shred of privacy.