There were so many good entries that, in the end, I just went with first responder @empiregrrl. For empriregrrl's promptness, she gets her choice of the highly fuckable Pearly Waterproof Vibrator from Good Vibrations OR a $50 gift card, also provided by Good Vibes.*
So yes, completely loved everyone's entries and it was so good to know I wasn't the only Jr. Perv skulking around in the back aisles of book stores looking for dirty information I might one day need. Back then--I said, sounding like a fucking grandma (a phrase which, now that I write it, sounds like it could be interpreted another way entirely)--such activities were absolutely not discussed. I think this was especially true for girls, but maybe for everyone. I felt like what I was doing was wrong, pretty shameful and I was probably the only one in the world who did such things. I never mentioned any of it to anyone, ever.
(Until now, that is, when I'll tell all of y'all, plus any weirdo who happens to wander in via some fucked up Google search [like today's Misguided Googler who arrived via "Demi Moore anal." Sorry to displease! Come again any time!])
I hope it's different for curious kids today. No one should feel like a creepy weirdo because they want to know about a damn basic fact of human existence. I mean, we don't keep the Knowledge of Eating secret, forcing kids to sneak online to see how to cut a steak or something. (Although if the secret food porn was like regular porn, it would show cutting the steak easily with a butter knife, the steak would be moaning "ohyeahohyeah" etc...) My point is, we really need to stop being such babies about sex.
We *may* be getting better about this. The sex ed at my daughter's middle school, according to my interpretations of the giggling from the back seat during carpool, actually shows kids how to put on a condom. Though, weirdly, they demonstrate this using a pear instead of a more obviously penile-looking fruit (Banana, I thought you had this gig!) I can see this causing further confusion as girls faced with their first set of dick n' balls try to decide which part looks more pear-like.
At the end of the class, my 13 year old daughter will be coloring a picture of "The Uncircumcised Penis" which I plan to display on my refrigerator because I think the idea of a penis coloring page so perfectly captures the awkward, uncertain space that a 13 year old kid occupies--no longer really into coloring, but sure as fuck not ready for "The Uncircumcised Penis."
Anyway, like I said, I loved all your entries, especially this one from Keppie. It's kinda long, but if you have the time, it's totally worth it--funny, true and containing the phrase "he thrust his man-meat into her pulsing velvet cavity."
Love you hard. That is, a lot. Not, you know, hard. Though that's pretty good too.
The Guide(s) to Good Sex
Dr. Ruth's Guide to Good Sex, by Dr. Ruth Westheimer
The huge red and black block print on the cover gave nothing away other than the title, but wasn't that enough? Good sex, it screamed in inch-high letters. Guide. A book that was confident enough to put that on the cover had to deliver. In the late eighties, I was still naive enough to know I didn't want to be naive anymore, and this book promised a good solid start in losing some of that innocence—and in a practical way, to boot! It was written by a doctor, so it had to be a reliable source. Of course I had sat through “the talk” with my mother and the requisite basic sex-ed course in school (I was of an age that it was still given on filmstrip. Filmstrip!), but I was ready to learn more than the fundamentals. I wanted to know ... what it was no one was telling me. In short, the good stuff. The fun stuff.
I had recently begun reading romance novels (known charmingly and colloquially as bodice-rippers) for the informative smut to be gleaned from them. Janelle Taylor, Danielle Steele, Johanna Lindsay, to name a few. I quickly learned to recognize which authors were “soft porn”: i.e., mostly kissing and some canoodling scenes before cutting back to the plot (yes, there is some plot in those things), and which authors featured all-out X-rated passages, with the whole deed spelled out in lurid detail. The thing was, as a young reader, it wasn't quite explicit enough. I say that because while the scenes were invariably exciting, the flowery language used phrases like “he thrust his man-meat into her pulsing velvet cavity”. While this is undeniably specific and leaves no room for doubt about what is happening, as I reached an age where I was starting to wonder how I would one day fit into this scenario, it left me more and more terrified. Did I want man meat shoved at me? Did I want to pulse like that? Could I? I looked at the boys in my band class and in the hallways of my school who I had known for years and on whom I'd developed crushes, fleetingly and somewhat regularly since puberty, but I couldn't link liking them to what I was reading in those novels. Man-meat indeed.
Beyond the somewhat skeptical education they endeared, romance novels had left me with another, less tangible yearning: the idea that I wanted to be part of a relationship like the ones I was reading about. Apparently, relationships that were blissful, romantic and ended happily also included man-meat and pulsing velvet cavities. Therefore, if I wanted to be happy, I'd better figure it all out. Since no one in band class was offering to help me, I had only my own ingenuity on which to rely. As a time-tested nerd, I turned to the resources that had never failed me in the past.
Which brings us back to Dr. Ruth.
I don't recall where I found the copy of it; I know I would have been too mousy to have checked it out from the library. It is far more likely that it was wedged on the shelves in our musty basement collection of rag-tag books for some reason. Wherever I acquired it, I squirreled it away under my Laura Ashley pillow sham for further inspection when I was sure not to be disturbed. Reading romance novels is one thing; you can always claim that you like the story. People may or may not believe you, but there it is. There is only one reason you'd be reading a guide to good sex, and it isn't for the plot. My underage cheeks burned at the notion that anyone would guess I was even interested. I cracked the cover and dived in, waiting to be overcome with tips to make me a sex goddess.
Suffice it to say that the book was a major disappointment. It was a somewhat dry medical text that was directed, predictably, at people who needed practical advice about something that they had been doing for a long time and, presumably, no longer found even the word “sex” titillating the way a teenage girl did. It was sex advice in print form as if your eighty-year old no-nonsense German grandma sat you down and told you the best way to bake a kuchen. Which is pretty much exactly what it was. At an age where the power of rampant hormones hijacked me into raging arousal for Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (God, why?), I got nothing out of it. It was a disaster.
The next and last book in the my misadventures of my sexual awakening came not long after the Dr. Ruth incident. I had gone back to the solace of my romance novels, and I had recently found one at a bargain bookstore for a good deal. It wasn't the kind I normally read—I preferred wild time-travel fantasies or romps through the middle ages—as this one didn't have any swoon-worthy cover art featuring Fabio and some half-naked lady. It was a woman's face, clearly from present times, which was kind of a bummer. In its favor, however, it did feature glittery purple letters for the title, which read “Working”. At the price of only a quarter, how could I refuse? As an avid reader, I knew I'd be through it in a matter of a few hours. I bought it.
The book that lives in infamy is “Working” and in tiny letters, had I read more closely, says: “My Life as a Prostitute” by Dolores French with Linda Lee. I did not notice the subtitle until I had it home, wherein my eyes practically popped out of my head. As I mentioned earlier, though, I was an avid reader and curiosity got the better of me, so I began to read.
“Holy shit”, I would have said, had I not been a goody-two-shoes. Then “Holy shit” again and some more for good measure throughout the memoir, which was an extremely frank (and funny) recounting of this woman's years in the business of prostitution (not a surprise, since it clearly stated that on the damn cover). As a side note, she later goes on to become the president of HIRE (Hooking is Real Employment), campaigning for women's rights and becoming a real activist for the cause, but to be fair I was not interested in the empowering part of her story at the time. I was interested/horrified by the descriptions of sex, which were plentiful and detailed. In a way the romance novels were not, I might add. No man-meat to be found here.
Instead, my naiveté fled during the course of 200-some pages as I read about people doing things to each other that, in my brief and inadequate reading of Dr. Ruth and Danielle Steele, I had no idea was even an option for people to do each other. I read about people peeing on each other in bathtubs while being dressed up as cats and eating tins of cats food (why? why?), sex on canola-oiled up sheets, men who liked to smell farts, men who could only come if they were being spit on ... my brain rebelled. What if Adam from band class wanted me to smell his fart? Oh my God! But I was also undeniably turned on by all of the things I was reading. What was happening? Why was I so turned on by the clearly disturbing things I was reading? Was I a weirdo? Was I going to grow up to be a hooker, too? Cue: existential crisis in suburbia, big time.