Oct 29, 2014
Dad Explains the Facts of Life (Except the Most Important One)
When he teaches you to shave.
When he lets you drive for the first time.
When you can beat him at arm wrestling.
But the biggest is The Talk, when Dad sits you down and explains The Facts of Life.
By which he means the mechanics of biological reproduction, how sperm and egg cells merge their chromosomes to turn into an embryo, and nine months later, a baby.
Why is this the sole subject matter of The Talk?
Biological reproduction may be interesting, but it's irrelevant, the physiology of the past. What about your respiratory, circulatory, nervous, and muscle systems? What about the nutrition and exercise necessary to ensure that your body works properly? Surely those are Facts of Life of more immediate importance.
The reason is obvious: The Facts of Life Talk isn't really about biological reproduction. It's about Sex, aka heterosexual intercourse.
Dad assumes that the quest for heterosexual intercourse, will occupy your thoughts, color your decisions, throughout your life. You will choose colleges and careers solely on the likelihood of heterosexual intercourse, marry to be ensured of a regular partner, get a job and a house and have kids to ensure that she sticks around, and spend your declining years on a park bench, gazing at "all the pretty girls" and wishing that you could have heterosexual intercourse with them.
By the time Dad sat me down for the Talk, I already knew all of the Facts of Sex, except for one.
1. We learned some of the Facts in seventh grade health class. The teacher showed us a drawing of a man and a woman, facing us like the greeting to aliens on the Pioneer Space Probe, with the testicles and ovaries circled. He explained that sperm from the man's testicles merged with eggs from the woman's ovaries, which was then embedded into the uterine wall and developed into a fetus.
Ok, but how did the sperm get to the ovaries, when they're a good five feet from each other? Teleportation?
2. Ok, so we reproduced through sex. That must be why my Sunday school teacher, Brother Dino, admonished us not to have sex before marriage, or God would strike us with incurable diseases as a punishment. He didn't want kids having kids.
But what exactly was sex? What did you do to draw the wrath of God and make a baby?
"Good question!" Brother Dino said. "It's not just sex. God hates anything that defiles the body."
Which didn't answer the question.
3. At Nazarene summer camp, I asked an older boy named Marty to explain the procedure. He told me about going from first base (kissing) to second base (feeling the girl's breasts over her bra) to third base (feeling under). He even demonstrated by feeling my chest under my shirt. But then he got nervous and left before the home run.
How did feeling under a girl's bra make sperm go from your testicles to her ovaries? The two organs were still a foot or more apart!
4. In eighth grade at Washington Junior High, my friends and the jocks claimed that they had sex often, a dozen times a week. As we walked down the halls, they would say "I've had her...had her...had her..."
"Ok," he said, "The home run: you put your penis inside the girl's vagina." (yes, he used the technical terms). "That's an opening that leads all the way up to her ovaries. So the sperm comes out and goes right up the tube to the egg."
"But...but...pee comes out of your penis, too!" I exclaimed. "How do you make sure that sperms come out instead?"
Mike began to blush. "Um...when you get older, sometimes...you know, it gets bigger...and like turns into a baseball bat."
"Sure, I know all about...um, baseball bats," I said, feeling very grown up and sophisticated. No one had ever mentioned that Fact of Life before.
"Well, when you're like that, only sperm can come out. When you're not, only pee."
"But..you can't control when that happens. How do you get it to happen when you want to have a baby?"
He laughed. "Oh, you'll find out, Bud. Believe me, you'll find out!"
So I sort of knew the procedure. But Mike left out the most important Fact of Life.
Can you think of what it was?
"You had Sex Ed, right?" he started off. "You know about sperm and eggs, and all that?"
"Do you have any questions?"
"Well..." Yes, I had a question. "I already learned about running the bases, and what to do with your penis if you want a baby. But I hear guys talking all the time about having sex when they don't want to make a baby."
"Don't do it!" Dad said sharply. "God will punish you with incurable diseases."
"Sure, sure...but...why would you want to? I mean, if you don't want to make a baby, what's the point?"
"What's the point?" he repeated, staring at me. "What do you mean, what's the point? It's a girl -- let's say a really cute girl -- and you've been kissing her, and feeling her breasts."
I looked away, toward the garage. "That's gross! Girls are all soft, with no muscles, no penis. Nothing cute. I mean, why would you touch them like that, unless you had to?"
I didn't realize that I had said too much until it was too late. Dad stood abruptly, snarled "Don't be a wise guy!" , and nearly ran back to the house.
Like Mike, Dad left out the most important Fact of Life. It took me years to figure out it out on my own:
Sometimes you want to hit a home run with a boy, not a girl.
See also: Getting past first base; and Seeing Brother Dino in the Shower.