When I was eleven, my brother (who is five years older than I am) told our Mom that it was time for her to give me the talk. The walls in our house were rather thin and I could hear them having this conversation in the kitchen from my bedroom. To be fair, I might have been eavesdropping (I wanted to be a detective at the time).
I was rather mortified at the prospect of having this conversation with my mother and besides at age eleven I was pretty familiar with the subject, not from personal experience mind you, but I had a firm grasp of how babies were made. My best friend and I had already seen our first porno: an orgy of hippies fornicating in a meadow, a tape we had found in her Dad’s closet. So when, my mother called me down into the kitchen, I was happy to tell her she didn’t need to put either of us through this, since I already knew all about it. She wanted to have the talk just as much as I did, so she let the subject drop.
My parents were separated and weren’t the best communicators in the world, which meant that my Dad also took it upon himself to have the sex talk with me. His version was to awkwardly knock on my bedroom door and hand me a book about puberty and sex, at which point he immediately left. That was it, not a word was spoken. Still at least I had access to some information and he didn’t just hand me a box of condoms like he had done with my brother.
I have no idea what happened to that book, but I remember it clearly. It had a hard cover, but was rather thin and it was filled with drawings of girls and boys and the changes they were going through. The color palette was all very beige and the kids were always smiling, there was something very non-threatening about the whole thing, yet not quite reassuring either. Besides, I had already begun most of the changes outlined in the book and none of it came as a surprise. It can’t be easy for a Dad to talk to his daughter about sex and at least he made an effort in that direction.
High school was another matter, now we were given more precise information about the biology of our bodies and sex. I recall my grade seven teacher, an alcoholic with a gruff personality explaining to us what libido meant. He was also quite forthcoming about an experiment, which had taken place in another class, where the students had to take a swab of their mouth and let the collected particles germinate in a petri dish over night. As the story went, the next day, when he was examining the petri dishes and explaining to the students what all the little growths were, he came upon a particular dish that contained semen. Apparently, a girl had swabbed her the inside of her mouth after giving head to her boyfriend. I’ll let you decide whether that was true or false.
We also had to sit through the all too common STD and Aids seminars held in our auditorium. A nurse from our local CLSC would come in and give a lecture about safe sex and the dangers of not using protection. She was a short stocky woman who never batted an eyelash while demonstrating how to put a condom on a banana.
That wasn’t the first or the last time a banana would be used in a sex demonstration. My older and more sexually advanced friends were the ones that really gave me all the information I needed. We’d have endless conversations about sex, and my friend Sandra, at my request, once demonstrated how to give fellatio. Using a banana as a prop, she put a condom on top of it to make a smoother surface to work with and quite literally showed me how to give head. Now, that’s a good friend.