SEX!!! Does that provocative word catch your attention? It always does. Despite any pretended indifference or aversion, all of us are interested.
I had a friend who was a Sanskrit scholar. Someone suggested he write a serious book on the subject. In order to promote sales, the friend suggested a catchy title, SEX in Sanskrit!
But like race, racism, politics and religion, sex is a subject that we usually avoid – especially in mixed company. I therefore tread cautiously into this oft forbidden territory.
All of us probably have some very deep feelings about human sexuality, and no one wishes to be preached to on this subject. Indeed, attitudes vary widely, and on what authority does one say that this or that is good or bad, right or wrong? We might appeal to the Biblical standard, but which persons do we cite as role models? Joseph was admirable, of course. On the other hand, King David, whom God loved, certainly had serious flaws; and Rahab the prostitute was an ancestress of our Lord. All of us have our weaknesses, and none of us is in a position to judge others or, as Jesus said, to throw the first stone. In the following I only recite my own experiences as being of possible interest to those who read this blog.
I thought long and hard over whether I should include this very personal entry into a blog that could be exposed to the world. Finally, I decided yes. It concerns a very important part of life – the difficult business of growing up. Each of us goes through it differently, and most of keep these experiences and feelings to ourselves. Often some luminary of stage or screen will write a “tell it all” memoir about their various affairs. Perhaps it would be good to get a story from someone who led a more ordinary life, someone who married his first real love and remained constant to her throughout their 63 years together.
After such a build-up, I fear that many of you may find my narrative dull and boring. I am certainly no Don Juan, and I had no great amours or sexual adventures. Indeed, I was never much of a “ladies’” man.
When very young I don’t believe that I was self-conscious around members of the opposite sex, and at one time or another I had special “girl friends”. In the small village of Pleasant Garden I remember it was Betty Siske, a very sweet little girl that I was very fond of and who was fond of me. All of these relationships were entirely innocent.
As I grew older I became a real klutz around the ladies – awkward, at a loss for words, etc. – especially if I found the girl attractive. This did not keep me from “affairs of the heart”, but generally speaking I tended to worship from a distance, fearing that any close approach on my part would lead to inevitable disaster followed by complete rejection accompanied by profound personal embarrassment. Of course, my fears were exaggerated, but nonetheless they were real. Consequently, my dating life was rather sparse. The girls I was most interested in were usually not interested in me, and those girls who pursued me were equally disappointed. Bruised hearts and hurt feelings were not uncommon.
I did have a serious case of puppy love when I was a sophomore in high school. I was wild about the girl. When that brief romance ended (not by my choice), I was heartbroken, but somehow I survived that time and found that life does indeed go on. It’s sort of funny and sad to realize how difficult and painful it is to go through that process of “growing up”. Inside all of us were so painfully unsure of ourselves — both in peer relationships and in boy-girl encounters; but many of us tried to hide our insecurities behind a mask of insouciance, pretended savoir faire, and even arrogance. Under these masks all of us carried some very tender egos.
In my interaction with girls I was a sexual innocent and extremely naive. This was before the sexual revolution of the 1960s-70s. There was no pill, there was no TV, there was no Playboy magazine, movies still had a code, novels were not explicit, and the indiscretions of political leaders and movie stars remained mostly unknown. I had a highly idealized and romanticized vision of members of the opposite sex. Girls whom I admired I viewed in an ethereal rather than a carnal way. I saw them “as pure as the driven snow.” Indeed, I had taken to heart that old childhood doggerel: “Girls are made of sugar and spice and everything nice. Boys are made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails.” At that age, I did not comprehend that those “sugar and spice” girls were also sexual beings and perhaps just as prone as boys to behave in ways outside the approved social conventions. Correctly or not, I preferred to put these lovely creatures on a pedestal, and I, like Don Quixote of the Man of La Mancha, would see Aldonza as Dulcinea. My erotic fantasies were sometimes aroused by sexually provocative images in magazines or elsewhere, but I did not project those feelings toward the girls I really cared for
I was aware of “naughty” girls, of course, but they were not part of my social circle. On more than one occasion I was approached by a young girl with a very explicit invitation to “take a roll in the hay,” and as I look back on it there were a number of more subtle but obvious approaches that I was too dumb to recognize, but either way I managed to resist or ignore these advances. I did not treat these girls disrespectfully, but I avoided close personal encounters and, when cornered, pretended not to understand or simply ran away. I believe I had a normal sex drive, but my inhibitions and convictions concerning right and wrong behavior with members of the opposite sex were even stronger. Above all, I didn’t “make out”, and I really wasn’t interested in doing so. I had too much respect for God, my parents, myself, and the many fine girls I knew.
My head was also full of images from Sabatini, Scott and other writers of historical fiction who tended to elevate womanhood in beautiful and often very unrealistic ways. That high view was reinforced by my own experience with my mother, sisters, and nieces, all of whom were of excellent character and so very special to me, and by the examples of goodness and gentility set by my father and brothers. Moreover, as the youngest child of a father and mother who were born during the lifetime of the famed British empress whose name symbolized an age, perhaps it was only natural that my attitudes were somewhat Victorian. In fact, I was a bit of a prude.
I would never admit my romantic idealism and inexperience in bull sessions with my fellow teen age adolescents. I am ashamed to admit that on a few occasions I made up stories of my own sexual adventures just to impress them. I did not have the moral courage to stand for what I truly believed. I also sometimes tried to play the sophisticate in mixed company, but it was a sham, and I was not a very convincing actor. Most of them saw through me.
In one on one situations with girls I liked, I was perhaps overly respectful and gentlemanly in my behavior. For reasons that I did not comprehend at the time, those of the opposite gender often seemed to be more attracted to sexually aggressive cads.
Yes, I was no Don Juan. In fact, I did note even rate as a Don Two. In this moment of honesty I confess that there is only one woman I have ever been physically intimate with, and that woman was my wife Ann. When we met she was as sexually innocent and naïve as I was, and when we said our wedding vows they were truly meant “till death does us part.” I loved her dearly.
I am certain that some of you read this post expecting a lurid “tell it all” confession. Perhaps you are disappointed. If so, you must look elsewhere.
Hooray for romantic love! Three cheers for TRUE LOVE!!!
Praise God for LOVE!