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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sex Ed 101

When I was a kid, I had a lot of strange ideas about sex.

Like many words in my family, the topic and even muttering the actual word were considered taboo in my family. It was a concept that I knew about mainly because I saw people rubbing their bodies against each other if I was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of "Guiding Light."

My older sister and I had an arrangement. If I was quiet and let her watch "Guiding Light" then I would be able to watch as much "Scooby Doo" as I wanted.

The arrangement worked for me.

I was lucky enough to watch a lot of Indian movies with my family when I was growing up. Full of colorful singing, highly choreographed dance routines, car chases and gratuitous violence, the movies were an amazingly entertaining way to spend most of my early childhood in a trance in front of the television.

However, these movies were not the best representation of what sex was either.

You see, in Indian movies, people don't kiss. Like, ever.

Ok, so there might be some movies now that have kissing scenes, I am out of the loop. But when I was growing up, it just didn't happen. Not to say that the sex wasn't there. It WAS. But I just had no idea when it was happening, what initiated the action or how people kept getting pregnant.

Did it happen during the dance scene where the woman was wearing a white sari in the rain?

Did it happen during the scene where the man looked deeply into the woman's eyes and placed his hand on her hand?

How come the next scene shows her panicking and her parent's throwing her out of the house for dishonoring the family?

Dude, he just touched her hand. How is that her fault? I thought. And how did that sperm get in her stomach?

Which lead me to believe that pregnancy could happen at anytime. To anybody.

Spontaneous pregnancy.

I was very cautious around men. If someone accidentally brushed against me, I would make sure to wash the body part (foot, hand, shoulder) quickly and thoroughly.

I had my whole life ahead of me. I couldn't be saddled with a kid!

While I knew this pregnancy thing could happen very quickly and without warning, I still had no idea how in the hell it actually happened. I knew that odds were higher once you were married because of increased risk of exposure - for example, hands brushing each other at the dinner table and all that.

While we didn't have the internet, I know I could have easily looked some of this stuff up in the heavy outdated volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica, so I blame myself for not knowing.

Sure, I read "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret." But short of understanding now that I would be saddled with some stupid thing called a period for the rest of my foreseeable life - none of the penises, I mean - pieces (SORRY!) fit together.

Sometimes I would catch glimpses into what this meant. When watching an episode of "Who's the Boss" with my mother (Ma hearts Tony Danza), I was banished to my bedroom during the episode where Sam gets a hickey because it was too risque. I didn't even know what the hell a hickey was, but I knew again that it probably had to do with sex.

Over time, I realized that my assumptions were wrong. Through close observation, I started to note something critical to my understanding the epidemic proportions of pregnancy and the key to prevention.

You could not rub tummies with a man. Ever.

I had it all wrong. It wasn't the hand or the foot or the shoulder or the leg, all which could come in contact easily without risk, even in the most sperm infested environment. It wasn't like sperm was pollen - it wouldn't just float over to you while you paid for your lunch in the cafeteria.

Not even on Pizza Fridays.

A whole lot of tummy rubbing was what was causing these outbreaks of pregnancy on "Guiding Light," "Dallas," and every other show on TV. That dad from "Eight is Enough"? He liked to rub tummies so much with his wife that they had 8 kids.

What the hell?

Watching the scene from "Grease" where Rizzo and Kenickie are necking in the car? Well of course she got scared that she was pregnant. Now I understand my mother's concern about Alyssa Milano's hickey.

Necking, i.e. the touching of necks and exchanging of lipstick from one face and or neck to another oftentimes leads to good fashioned tummy rubbing.

Rizzo must have been so bloody grateful at the end of "Grease" when she wasn't prego because she obviously had been rubbing some serious tummy.

That girl got around. She knew her way around necks and belly buttons.

I lived the first 12 years of my life in the dark on the mechanics of the actual act. Sitting in Sex Ed in the 6th grade next to one of my best friends, I skipped a few chapters ahead to see a picture of male and female genitalia with arrows indicating possible entry points.

"What the fuck?" I said, looking at my friend Danielle. Yes, even though I did not know what sex was, I cursed like a sailor when I was 12. Another day, another post.

My eyes were wide open. I was horrified.

"What?" she asked. I could tell she was amused by my reaction, because I was obviously joking.

"Danielle, why would he put THAT, well THERE? This book makes no sense. " I was floored.

"How do you think it happens?" she asked.

I explained to her what it was really about. How tummy rubbing was the cause of so much unexpected pregnancy in the world. Like most friends would do, she nodded understandingly and patted my hand.

No fluids were exchanged.

No, of course she had to bust out laughing and announce it to the whole room. "Oh my God! Kiran thinks sex (that word, ugghhh, that WORD!) is rubbing stomachs."

"Is she stupid?"
"What the fuck's wrong with you?"
"Why the hell would anyone want to just rub stomachs? How did you think the sperm went in?"

"It just goes through the skin," I explained, not willing to let go. "Sometimes the belly button."

They all looked at me in silence before busting out laughing again. I am pretty sure my teacher was laughing the loudest.

So - SEX - yes, that WORD - and what it meant from a purely physical, mechanical perspective, was fully explained to me in my 6th grade Sex Education class at Jonas Salk Middle School when I was 12 years old.

I would like to say that finally having this knowledge gave me what I needed to navigate my way through relationships with men, but I think I was so traumatized by the pictures in that textbook that I was too hesitant to let go of my tummy theory for a while.

I had my first "real" kiss when I was 17. I almost bit the guy's tongue off, I really had no clue what the hell I was supposed to do. My teeth were like a blockade and nobody was going to get past them. I tried, I really did. I am only person I know who had so much trouble with the act of French kissing.

It took a long time before anybody got to rub tummies with me.

When Nico and Shaila do get to the point where they ask me, I wonder how readily I will walk them through the truth. I think just to mess with them, I should work the tummy theory into their education in some way.

After all, its how they were made.


webb said...

Maybe sex ed in the 6th grade is a great idea. It seems to have scared the hell out of you! But I think there is merit in that tummy idea - after all ... what is it that sticks out all full of baby? it's the tummy. I think you need to look into that further.

Annie @ astonesthrowfrominsanity said...

Oh Kiran! don't feel so bad. After patiently explaining sex to my daughter, I patted myself on the back that she would not be as naive as I had been. That is I patted myself until she revealed that she thought that people that tandem skydived were having sex in mid air. It was then that I realized I had not done as good a job explaining as I had thought I did. At least rubbing tummies makes sense to me!:)

Anonymous said...

Really entertaining post Kiran.
And it would have been fun if girls would become pregnant by just tummy rubbing :-)
We would need another earth!


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