I went to school before Sex Ed. was invented. In fact, I did not see the words "sex" and "education" strung together until I was in my 20's. We learned about sex the way our ancestors did: through Trial And Error. And occasionally, Learning By Rote.
Any six-year-old today can explain to you where babies come from; but no one ever did explain it to me. I just gradually figured it out on my own, as a teenager. Well, technically, I did experience one attempt at covering the subject in school. My freshman year of high school, I had one 40-minute gym class where we were shown two short films. One was about sex; and the other was about drugs. That was my entire formal education on both subjects.*
The drug film showed some teenagers smoking a joint, in an alley of course. After a few tokes, they started laughing insanely and running around wildly crashing into each other. Then one maniac grabs a bottle of pop and opens it by smashing the top on a brick wall. Then he guzzles it down, broken glass and all. Naturally, the other kids think this is great, so they all do the same thing. The film ends with them all being hauled off in ambulances.
The sex film was about two teenagers, a boy and girl of course, fooling around in the back seat of a car.** She's saying, "No! Stop!" And he's saying, "I can't! I can't!" like he's rolling down a hill out of control. They both end up crying and then they go to a doctor, where they find out that she's pregnant and they both have VD.
I was almost 18 when someone asked me, "Don't you think that maybe Dick is gay?"
What?! Dick?! Gay?! My beloved piano teacher, who always dressed immaculately, and was very proper, and never had a girlfriend? I had read about gay people in books. I had known Dick since I was four years old. It was like a little lightbulb lit up in my brain. Of course Dick was gay! Lots of things just clicked into place. Then I remembered how my well-meaning parents were always setting him up with single women. Oh My God! And he was always so nice to them, as he was to everyone, but he never called them for a date. It never occurred to my folks. And Dick never mentioned it. No one talked about sex. Period. A year later, when I was no longer his student and was officially an adult, we went to an orchestra concert together, and Dick picked up this totally flamo guy. But we didn't talk about it.
When I was 19, I had this 16-year -old girlfriend. Actually, she was 15, as I found out on her 16th birthday. She cried when she told me, because she was afraid I wouldn't go out with her if I knew how young she was. Hell, I didn't care. I liked her! It's really weird that today our relationship would be considered scandalous, criminal even. She seduced me, for Chrissake! I wouldn't have known how! I had only recently graduated, just barely, from virginity. She was mature for her age, and, well, I was not, so we had a great time together. We never had a fight; and even when we broke up, it was cool. Had a good time, I'm going this way, you're going that way. Thanks for the long date - it was great. Love ya!
In college I got to know some Catholics, which were a kind of people that I knew existed, but had never really interacted with. My roommate had attended Dowling Academy For Boys in Des Moines. He wasn't too messed up, but the guys he introduced me to were some of the most fucked-up guys I have ever met. They talked constantly about sex, but knew even less about it than I did. And that's it. All they did, besides go to class, was hang around their dormrooms talking about what fucking must be like. They thought it was amazing that I had friends who were girls! Like what, you thought I'd rather hang around with you guys?
I got to know this one Catholic girl, who was actually quite promiscuous, except that we didn't know that word. Or even the concept. She was also proud of being a virgin, which was only true by the merest technicality.
Twenty years later, I was hanging out with our friend next door, who had gone to Catholic school. She had little kids, and we had little kids, and she had a porch and a backyard, neither of which we had, so we spent a lot of time together, talking and watching our kids. One day, somehow or other, we got to talking about Sex Education, and I told my little story about the short film in high school where two virgins fucked in the back seat of a car, and they both got pregnant and they both got VD.
I was surprised to learn that she had gotten more sex ed. than I had. "Oh yeah," she said. "We even had a class about oral sex."
"Yeah. The nun was explaining to us what oral sex was. Then all of a sudden, my girlfriends and I, we looked at each other, surprised, and said, "Oh No! You mean THAT's SEX?!"
*I also had no interest in either topic before that day. But isn't that what education is all about? Sparking interests in trying new ideas?
**Why is it always the back seat? This has never been explained either.