Our neighbors across the street had a sweet, frisky collie, Princess. When they were away I earned a few bucks feeding Princess, playing with her, making sure she was settled in the basement for the evening. Those few bucks were just icing. The real payment was the collection of Playboys in the basement. A job that took, maybe, 10 – 15 minutes a night usually extended to 30 or 40. My kid sister picked up the task of watering the neighbors’ plants upstairs. I don’t know how she saw me. I don’t know when she saw me. Nonetheless, one night during the family dinner my sister ratted me out. “[Stim’s] looking at the Playboys.” Surprisingly the folks didn’t react too badly (Dad might’ve been a little jealous). However, it was another black mark in the “Annoyance” category against the sister.
Summer school Biology came between 9th and 10th grades. The summer wore on before we finally approached the final textbook chapter, “Reproduction.” For a lesson on human growth, Mr. H, our teacher, brought in his 5-year old son and 6-month old daughter as props. He chose Sherry from our class to represent 15-year olds. Using a length of string then laid upon a yardstick, he would measure various parts of the human anatomy of each subject and announce the results in centimeters. Yes, there would be a chest measurement. Sherry was a small girl. Turned out that the 5-year old had a bigger cranium. You all can see this coming, can’t you? There’s poor Sherry raising her arms for the chest measurement and there’s every boy in class poised with his calculator ready to divide by 2.54. For the remainder of the summer, dear, innocent Sherry was known as “30.3.”
Let’s be honest. From Kindergarten on, no one pays full attention to an educational film no matter the topic. With one exception: Breast Self-Exam. Me at 15 watching a woman twice my age on screen sit in front of a mirror and drop her robe (God bless that woman) and demonstrate the technique (truly, God bless that woman). Silence in the classroom. No sound of pencil/pen scratching a note on paper.
10th grade brought Health class. Health classes were taught by the high school coaches. This was separate from P.E. Health class was a desk in a lecture hall twice a week. For most of the semester Mr. B. taught the class. Until the semester’s final topic, (drum roll) Reproduction. At that point a partition that separated our half of the lecture hall from the Health class on the other side was removed. Reproduction was to be team-taught. And who was the other Health class teacher/coach? She was Miss J. Or as my friends and I called her, “Little” Miss J. “Little” referring to her chest size in the manner an obese person might be nicknamed “Slim.” Trim, little Miss J simply standing still breathing was a sex-ed lesson unto herself and an exercise in male hormonal control. Her hips swayed, too.
We got to the male inner workings. Mr. B already talked about the section of the vas deferens that doctors snipped during a vasectomy. Good to know. Not pleasant to think about. Miss J.’s turn followed. She attempted to explain why a man cannot ejaculate and urinate at the same time. After a bit of stumbling about, Miss J. instructed us that “it’s like there’s a little guy in there turning a valve.” Yes, that’s exactly how it works.
My senior year welcomed a new coach, Miss C. Whereas Miss J was, as I mentioned, “little,” Miss C was more … streamlined … and a little younger. Miss C was a well-tanned, long-legged, blonde whose preferred attire included short-shorts (thank you). Outside of watching her move (not as much hip action), Miss C really didn’t contribute to my sex education. However, toward the end of the school year, Miss C did get busted for prostitution at the local Holiday Inn.
As my senior year ended, my relatively wide book knowledge of sex ed (at least compared to my classmates) was equally matched by my woefully pathetic amount of direct experience (compared, to say, pretty much everyone). Yet, the final piece of my adolescent book knowledge was just ahead of me. In its own way, it was the most important.
The Hite Report by Shere Hite caused a small, nationwide storm when published in 1976. Hite surveyed 100,000 women, ages 14 – 78, about sex: frequency, what they liked, didn’t like, orgasms and how best to achieve one or many. Not since Masters and Johnson had research results on sexuality grabbed the country’s attention. Horrifying to some sexual traditionalists, The Hite Report, published during the height of the Women’s Movement, called for a cultural shift to acknowledge not only that women enjoyed sexual stimulation, but providing stimulation should be an integral part of love making.
Such a conclusion may have caused a collective “About time” among many women. To a certain 18-year old who had no ability to make entertaining small talk, much less entertaining small talk to an attractive young lady, The Hite Report was a godsend. As enlightening as the book was about women and their pleasure points, I found that at the center of all the descriptions and methods of stimulation and orgasm, the key was “communication.” Listen to what your partner says pleases her. I’ve never been much of a talker, but, damn, I knew how to listen. It took me eight years to find the complementary book to those sex-ed booklets I read as a 10-year old.
Which still left me with the question of why women’s hips swayed. Sure, it was the natural physiology, but not knowing the exact reason why sort of left a last, little mystery. The mystery was especially top of mind from that previous summer when I watched Sue, a year ahead of me in school, calmly walking the edge of a community pool. Her tight, one-piece suit emphasized the metronome of her hips. Which was as close as I got. She dated an All-State linebacker.
I don’t remember how I came across a description of the female sacrum and its development during puberty. Or how the sacrum’s design affects the angle of the femur. And how that angle between the hip joint and the knee causes such a lovely, natural enticement. I do remember that I felt a little disappointed to learn the reason. An honest man admits that a woman’s mind and emotions are endless sources of mystery. As much as I still had to learn about those aspects of women (the education is forever ongoing), my book learning had answered my last childhood question about female physiology. My interest in direct exploration remained.