I was inspired to write on this topic after reading a hilarious open letter entitled Letter to my First Five Girlfriends, in which Emlyn Lewis apologizes for his inept handling of their female parts:
'I'm sorry I didn't know where the clitoris was, or, more to the point, where your clitorises were. I was a horrible wreck of dry humping, fingering teen lust who pinned you to couches and carpets and danced all around your deserving buttons of love without so much as grazing them....
To be honest, you should be pissed at my dad. We never "had the talk." I had no diagrams to work from, no explanation of the intricate workings of the little man who steers the canoe. Everything I knew about sex was gleaned from Cinemax's presentation of Emmanuelle in Bangkok.
I asked my father why he never clarified the finer points of clitoral massage with me way back then, but he just said that wasn't really part of polite conversation and he'd prefer not to discuss it. So I asked him if he knew where Mom's clitoris was and he hung up on me. I took that as a no.'
All of which got me thinking about what I learnt about sex as a kid. It was all rather vague, I recall, not to mention confusing. My mum had told me that to make a baby, the man gives the woman a seed, and I always had this vision of my mum and dad in a bathroom, for some reason, and him very seriously handing her a lentil and sticking it in her mouth (I don't recall my mum saying where the seed went).
Then, when I was about seven, a friend and I found a discarded porn magazine in the street and studied the images with a great deal of interest. I had a notion that this had something to do with making babies, but it didn't seem to correlate with the solemn handing over of a lentil in a bathroom.
When my mum found us looking at the mag, she didn't get angry, she just went into a long rambling spiel about, "This is what two people do when they love each other." I wanted to point out that in some of the pictures there were three people together, or more, but figured it would be better to just keep quiet.
My friend and I had had the foresight to tear some of the pictures out of the magazine before my mum found us with it and threw it away. See, we knew that we weren't really meant to be looking at it, although we didn't know why, since all these people licking each other's extremities were meant to be loving each other. All very confusing...
Well, time went by, and at some point I figured out that the seeds involved in the exchange weren't lentils. Then I started to develop an interest in boys. Well, maybe 'interest' is a bit of a strong word. I mean, sure, I fancied them, but going to an all girls school, they were a bit of a mystery. But only in the sense that astrophysics, while mysterious, is not necessarily a subject I feel compelled to find out more about.
It was no surprise that I only lost my virginity at the relatively late age of seventeen. I just didn't have that flirting gene, nor the ability to stand outside the local boy's school flicking my hair back and giggling at the boys' jokes. And as for the fact that some girls would watch the boys doing soccer practice and try and flirt with them, I was like, are you joking? Standing around in the freezing cold just to see some blokes running about in shorts? I don't think so.
I mean, why go to all that bother, when come Saturday night you could go to a house party, sit down on the sofa next to a teenage boy with a massive quiff (this was the era of the psychobilly, if any of you can remember that far back), and engage in a stimulating discussion.
Him: So are you a psychobilly?
Me: (Lying through teeth, because I want to impress him) Yeah, I am, but I haven't got my hair in a quiff today, I ran out of hairspray.
Him: So do you like the Guana Batz?
Me: Er, yeah, but I'm more into, like, King Kurt.
Him: They're good.
Him: Do you want some of my cider (in the UK cider is alcoholic).
Me: Okay. I take a swig from his bottle of cider.
He lunges at me. We lock face. Snog for a while.
Him: Do you want to go into one of the bedrooms? I've got a condom.
Me: No, I don't think so, I don't really know you.
Him: Oh, go on.
Me: No thanks.
He removes hand from my breast and starts rolling a joint.
Another successful night. Embellished story at school on Monday: "Yes, Neil did ask me out, but I knocked him back. He's far too immature."
Yeah, I really don't think I had any kind of good conversation with a male until, at seventeen, I switched to a mixed sex comprehensive school, because the swotty girls school I was at was killing me with boredom.
Once I started having boys as friends, I learnt that, much as I had suspected, boys really weren't all that interesting. Although I didn't give up. I knew the devastatingly attractive ones were out there, just not at my school. For one, there was Jean Paul Belmondo in Au Bout de Souffle. For another there was Alain Delon. And okay, yes, they were French film stars from the sixties, but that didn't mean that a fascinating sophisticated man might not be out there for me somewhere, now did it? I had to be prepared for sex. Alain Delon could accost me at a bus stop at any time.
Yes, I decided, lost as I was in my Gitanes-tinted fantasy world, it was time to go on the pill.
That didn't last long though, because my mum found my secret stash and flushed it down the toilet before giving me a long talk about holding on to my virginity and one's body being a precious gift that you gave someone when you were in love with each other. I thought it was bollocks, really. After all, my mum and dad had probably loved each other when they conceived me, and now they lived apart and had barely a civil word to say to each other. I think it would have been better if she'd said, like my friend Sally's wild mom, "Here's a bumper pack of condoms. Give sex a good whirl, and you'll soon realize that doing it with teenage boys, or in fact, with anyone, really isn't all that it's cracked up to be."
All of which begs the question of what I'm going to tell my daughters about sex when the time comes. I mean, Scarlett knows the biological aspect of sex, and she and Sausage have always got dolls up their jumpers ready to be born. And are always breast feeding them, so I don't need to worry that they won't be good mothers. It's just, I really don't want them to be mothers for a very long time.
What I'm thinking about is, what am I going to tell them about the emotional component or even the physical component of sex. My mum cloaked it in a world of romance and love, when maybe she should have just talked about the realities. Although, that said, we did know a woman, while I was a teenager, who had drawn her son a diagram of the female genitals and had instructed him on how to stimulate them, and I remember praying my mum wasn't going to have such a talk with me about male sexual functions, because I would have died of embarrassment. But I reckon talking about it, however embarrassing, will definitely prevent an unwanted pregnancy, if not the heartache associated with early love affairs.
Here's another bit of advice for all you guys out there with sons. After reading Emlyn's letter to his first girlfriends, you know what to do. As soon as they are of age, you need to have the 'what to do with a clitoris' talk, (assuming you know yourself). I suppose I have to be an equal opportunity sex educator and tell all you mums out there to show your daughters how to correctly handle a penis, by doing stuff to bananas.
Okay, now call me prejudiced if you like, but I reckon a penis is a lot easier to handle than a clitoris. The clitoris is like an old car with a cranky engine that needs to be coaxed into life, slowly, and needs a lot of patience, until it is finally up and running, while the penis is a finely tuned racing car that goes from 0 to 100 mph in a matter of seconds. Frankly, whatever you do to it - within reason - seems to get a pleasurable response from the car, er, male.
Although I am sure all you men out there will beg to differ on this point...
life's little moments
2 hours ago