I got my earliest sex education out in the middle of a field of daisies, in the back seat of a car, on a hot August afternoon. It was definitely the true and honest facts about what would happen to me if I were to do certain unmentionable things. Things that must be so bad that they could not even be mentioned in the book. The slim worn hard cover book that we were all wrestling for and groping over, as the perspiration trickled down our overheated faces and into our eyes. Eyes wide open in a stunned silence at the graphic explicitness! The total horror of it all… Child birth!
If the pictures in the manual on how to deliver a baby had been in colour and not black and white, all four of us girls, Christine, Patsy, Marsha and I, would surely have upchucked. We would have tossed our cookies onto the decrepit interior of the old abandoned car we were huddled in, with its rusty springs popping out of the seats, and its distinctive odour of field mouse droppings mingled with mould, emanating from the ravaged upholstery batting.
Patsy came from a large Dutch family,the Verheys, and somehow she had sneaked the contraband out of her house, past her mother, under her cropped shirt—or perhaps she had simply rolled the shirt up and tied it in a bow in the front—that girl had a precocious sense of style even in her adolescent years! She came running out like a navy seal, dodging behind bushes and farm implements for cover, in a zig- zag pattern until she reached that unmowed area between the house and the barn that every farm seemed to have in those years— the place of Promise and Hope.
“Yes, Myrtle, I promise, I’ll fix that old washer up as good as new for ya’ as soon as I get around to it” “Well Mother, I sure do hope I can get a new axle for that old Buick. I’m jest gonna drag ’er out behind the shed ‘til I get Jed to have a look at ’er.” Promise and hope were a lot more popular in those days before easy credit came along. Nobody threw out very much when the likelihood of ever having the money to replace it was remote, at best.
Finally Patsy arrived to rendezvous with us, where we were waiting on the side of the car furthest from the house. To avoid anyone in her family seeing us, we jumped in by way of the back door of the car which, despite all odds, was not yet rusted shut. We frantically flipped from page to page in the book, trying to figure out what was going on in the pictures. For the life of me, I had no idea. Although I was an extremely good reader, and Marsha was too— in all likelihood all four of us were— none of us could decipher a word. I know it was all Greek to me.
Actually, when I think about it really hard, and try to force myself to remember what I can, perhaps… yes …perhaps…I can see it again… Of course, by forcing myself back there in my mind, for the sake of sharing this story with you now, I may risk a return to what very likely could have been post traumatic stress disorder, because of the repeated nightmare that I have experienced off and on since that fateful day.
Perhaps…If I try harder still to recall the words by using a special self-hypnosis technique I invented myself, it may help. If I hum Auld Lang Syne… and visualize floating soap bubbles on a calm sunny day… rising slowly…ever so slowly… upwards… towards a cloud in the shape of an enormous powdered sugar doughnut.. I can actually see the words before me… Yes!…Yes!…I see them now… I can type them as I see them before me. Oh! I am so glad I finally memorized the keyboard!
Hoe Maak Je Een Baby Te Leveren
1. Blijf kalm.
2. De moeder comfortable maken
3. Vertellen de man aan de kook water
4. Raak niet in paniek
5. Geef niet de moeder koffie
6. Hoeft pizza niet te bestellen
7. De baby geen druppel.
Now it finally makes sense that none of it made sense to me before! Obviously it was in Dutch! Despite the difficulty of doing so at my age, I have managed to learn a little of that foreign language from one of my friends at Writers’ Club. Now that I realize that the book was most definitely written in Dutch I don’t need to have that nightmare about not being able to read, ever again!
Because of my surprising talent for language acquisition, I quickly learned what my friend Coby meant when she once accidentally used her Dutch words to tell me that she would 1.“kook” 2.“water” for our instant 3.“koffie” and that I should stay 4.“kalm” and 5.“niet” 6.“paniek” because anyone can 7.”druppel” a piece of 8.“pizza” on the floor. My friend is tolerant of the kind of mess that only a 9. “baby” would usually 10. “maken”. Because she is a 11.”moedder”. She makes everyone feel 12.”comfortable“. Did you notice how I just showed you twelve of the Dutch words I have already learned? Did you learn any of them yourself? Gefeliceteerd! You must be gifted too!
Even though I did not understand a single printed word of my Dutch sex education lesson from that book, I still think it was, as Martha Stewart would have said, “A Good Thing”. Although I still did not know how babies happened to get in there in the first place, it seemed to be a very good idea, at the time, to try to avoid whatever was the cause of it FOREVER! And I understood that it surely must have something to do with boys, because boys grow up, and then they are men, and men are the ones who are Dads.
Well, “forever” is kind of a long time, and then there was just that one birthday party where we all played spin the bottle. I ended up with that boy who had the runny nose. I was so upset by it all that I had nightmares for weeks, and to this day I still can’t remember who “Runny Nose” was. Maybe I didn’t even know him at all, and he was just somebody’s visiting cousin from Saskatoon.
I do remember that afterwards it was the one and only time I smoked a cigarette, or at least tried to, and then I vowed that I would never again kiss a boy, and never again smoke…..
Well, at least that one stuck!