You must understand that I led a very straight and narrow childhood. My parents were not especially strict and certainly not prudes. But sexuality in the late 50s/early 60s was nowhere, nohow as present in everyday life as it is today, and certainly not in my household. I have two stories to tell about back then, and one about now. Ah, s-e-x…I knew I’d get your attention.
Isn’t it odd how isolated details of some childhood events stay with you forever? Case in point: One of the earliest memories I have of first becoming aware of something called “sex” is like a scene out of a movie. I was 11 years old in 1956. We owned our first family car. It was a red and white 55 Chevrolet, later to become one of Chevy’s most iconic models. In the 1950s cars were taking on all kinds of new meanings as marketing concepts evolved. It was not unusual to refer to a car as “hot.” Books, on the other hand, were never referred to as hot…until one called Peyton Place was published. This book, like 50 Shades of Gray, shot so far off the best-seller list there was a line at any store that sold it.
Honest to God, I remember one of the girls in my class at Leeds Junior High School having a copy of Peyton Place with a brown paper wrap around it. She actually took it out of her purse and read it—with a crowd around her—during lunch. I was naïve then. Okay, I still am, but I cannot believe the teachers did not know what it was. I think for them it was simply too hot to handle so they chose to turn away and continue on with their discussion of Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
So it’s no surprise that my buddy Steven and I are curious about this Peyton Place book and we want to see what has gotten all the girls in such a sophisticated, mature reading mode. He and I pool our funds and decide to buy a copy. But how do we do that? We’re two 11-year-old boys buying the hottest chic-lit sex book of modern time. Our main read is Mad Magazine for cry’n out loud. So we script out this scenario whereby we go into Harris’ Drug Store, peruse the twirling paperback book stand for a few minutes with stares of puzzlement and then pull a copy of Peyton Place out of the slot. We walk up to the counter and—oh my God—who’s there but Mr. Harris himself, not the younger, hip assistant drug store guy. So we put the book on the counter and, as per script, I say to Steven, “Are you sure this is the book your mother told you to get?” And, right on cue, Steven says, “Yeah, she said it was black and had this little train station on the front and that’s this book.” So, of course Mr. Harris takes this all in, in addition to taking our money all in. Then he whips open a bag, puts the book in it and hands it to me. We’re outta there like a bullet. And that’s all I remember. I don’t remember ever reading the book, not a page. I don’t know if we took it to school to prove to the girls that we were just as cool as they were. I just don’t remember anything beyond the trauma of buying it. But I remember that 55 Chevy. I learned how to drive in that car.
Okay, that’s story #1. Here’s #2…
I didn’t get the “official talk” from either of my parents. What I got instead was a thin booklet with naked sketches of a boy and a girl and explanations of how things work. I think it was handed to me by my mother when I was around 12. I have to admit, most of what I read was totally new to me and while it was not as thrilling as the current Hardy Boys mystery I was reading, it did hold my attention. I remember my booklet was green and my brother’s, two years older than me, got one that was orange. Funny, he got his at the same time I got mine. Either they didn’t have these kinds of books when he was 12 or my parents thought I was significantly more mature than my brother was at 12. Or, it meant absolutely nothing at all, which was probably the case. Y’know, it’s really fun writing about this. I just wish my mom were here to read it. She’d get a kick.
Well anyway, you better believe I got my hands on my brother’s book as soon as he walked out the door. I wanted to see if there was anything in his book that wasn’t in mine. I guess not, because I don’t remember any difference between the two. There is one thing that I do remember vividly and that was, when I went to school the next day, I found myself staring at many of the girls in a totally new light. Suddenly, their appearance, their entire presence, had changed. They, as I now understood, were just like the sketches in my book. This was a revelation! Even my favorite childhood book, Charlotte’s Web, couldn’t top anything that I read in my thin little green booklet. From that point forward I didn’t give a crap about spiders.
So that was way back then, and this is now. It’s 2015, I’m a month past my 70th birthday and I am in the middle of writing a contemporary novel. And what is happening in this novel? Well, I am attempting to write a sex scene and all I can think about are these two childhood memories. And all I can see are these two sketches of a naked boy and a naked girl on the pages of a thin green booklet, and I am wondering…really, really wondering…how am I going to make this work?
Almost forgot…here’s the latest and greatest who stopped by marc’s blog and left a comment or a “like” or maybe just a footprint…thanks for your support: Ryan Lanz, Ben East, Gol Naran, The Drabble, Del Nolan, Ron Carmean, Rita Petrushansky-Mastroni, Mike Fuller, Kate Beth Heywood and facetioussoup aka MLWA.