When I was a lad, about three foot three
Certain questions occurred to me
So I asked my father quite seriously
To tell me the story of the bird and bee.
— Harry Belafonte (“Man Piaba”)
When I was nine I became curious about the birds and bees. Little did I suspect it involved making a baby, a thing I had no curiosity about whatever. It just seemed something that old people said when they wanted to be smarter than you.
“He doesn’t know about the birds and bees.”
“Ah, well then.”
Whom to ask? My dad had died the year before. My mother? Unthinkable. But I had a sister, Lulu. Lulu was 15, and wise.
“Tell me about the birds and bees” I said.
“You’re too young,” Lulu said.
“How old do I have to be?”
She considered. “Twenty, maybe eighteen.”
“Do you know?”
“You’re only fifteen.”
“I’m a girl.”
She must have told my mother. Not long after, a thin book with a cherubic infant on the cover appeared in my room. It was called, A Baby Is Born, and it contained a horrible truth that I cannot bring myself to tell you.
I mention all this because Nick (who is nine now) and I had the talk recently. Rather, we had a talk. Nora and I knew something was up because the word sex had just entered Nick’s vocabulary, as in, “My teddy is on top of my bunny because they’re having sex.”
A couple we know is getting married and the subject of weddings came up.
“Tell me about marriage,” Nick said.
“What do you want to know?”
“They’ll be having sex now,” said Nick.
Nick, you may be aware, is not a guy to pussyfoot around.
“Exactly what is sex?” I said.
“He puts his penis in her vagina.”
That horrible truth again. Was there no end to it?
“Ah, well then,” I said.
Answer exactly what they ask I read somewhere. But I decided to be proactive and tiptoe into the part about the seeds and eggs. Otherwise, the thing makes no sense.
Not eggs, actually. Ova. We are not chickens.
I clarified things about whose seeds and ova, tricky in our house because of Nick’s adoption.
“Do you like sex?” he said.
A Baby is Born hadn’t covered this.
“Um, well, sort of.”
“Well, I guess, because, it feels good. If you love someone.”
“Why does it feel good?”
Evolution, I reasoned. Not for nothing am I a trained doctor.
“Well, suppose you were designing a new species, say, Burbies. You want to have enough Burbies.”
“So… you’d want mommy and daddy Burbies to want to have sex.”
A look of true interest.
“You’d make it feel good,” he said.
But the whole experience took me back to being nine.
After reading A Baby is Born, I was unable to contain my shock. I made the mistake of spilling the beans to my cousin Robert, who lived up the block.
“You know what this means about Felicity and Ken?” said Robert.
Felicity was my older, older sister. She was married and had just had a baby. I could see where this was heading.
“Felicity and Ken must have–”
“Shut up!” I said. “Just shut up!”
Robert ran and told his mother. She told her husband, my uncle, who came looking for me. There was no getting away. It was like the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
“Do you have any questions?” my uncle said.
I ran into the bathroom.
“No!” I shouted through the locked door.
“Wolfie, it’s important to talk about these things,” he said.
“You’re not getting my body!”
“I have to throw up. I’ll be here all day.”
It took a while, but eventually I got the thing handled.
Actually, it is sort of like Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Maybe I’ll leave the DVD in Nick’s room.
This essay was originally posted at Aiming Low.
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:
A Baby Is Born — The evidence. So you don’t think I made up the part about what goes where. I think better books have been written since.
. . .
IMAGE CREDIT: Bee-hind by WildLifeMargrit
Sex! Does it provoke a response? Inquiring minds want to know. (Add your thoughts by clicking a few lines below below, where it says comments or add one. I always respond here.)
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