The birds and the bees.
As I said earlier, I pretty much ignored the section of “Love and the Facts of Life” on sex. The illustrations depicting a nude man and woman were so lifeless, there was no way I was going to see them as connected to me. The other illustrations of the book showing the individual body parts and how they worked in the reproductive system, were even more alien. I had no motivation at all to then read the book’s dry explanations of the sex act… so I didn’t.
The book I remember being very interested in, that depicted sex acts of a sort that was far more fun to look at (and probably far more informative) was “Mad” magazine.
This was around 1972 or 73 I think and it’s possible that my Dad gave me the “Love and the facts of Life” book because he found my copy of “Mad”. I remember hanging out in my room listening to “Beginnings” from my new album “Chicago Transit Authority” on my old Panasonic portable record player. I just loved that song and I played it and sang along with it over and over again. Then I heard a pounding at my bedroom door. It was my sister Stacy. She was shouting that Dad wanted to talk to me and I’d better get to the living room quick because he was mad.
I opened the door and Stacy had that smirk on her face that could only mean that there was no doubt in her mind that I was really “in trouble”. And of course she said so. “Brian’s in trouble, Brian’s in trouble na na na… “.
“Shut up twirp.”
“Shut up dork.”
I went into the living room to face the music. I had no idea what it could be but as I came down the hall and saw my Dad in his chair I stopped dead. “Shit”, I thought… “I thought I’d put that away.” Dad was holding my copy of “Mad” up for all to see.
“What’s this Brain?”
“I dunno, just a dumb magazine I guess.”
“You guess?” Dad had a look on his face I wasn’t used to. A sad look that said (although I really didn’t it know at the time) “My good little boy is being exposed to a part of the big bad world I had no idea existed and I don’t really know what to do about it right now”. Poor man. I’m sure he’d really wanted this parenting thing to be easier and I’m thinking that for some reason, Bruce had been different with this topic. The topic that Dad was not at all comfortable talking about.
The topic of sex.
See… my issue of “Mad” that he’d found, happened to be the one with a multi-page expose’ on sexy plants. There were illustrations and actual photos of plants in funny shapes and positions that made them look like penises and vaginas doing what they do… it was pretty graphic and I remember not actually understanding enough of it to really get the subtlety of those jokes. “Mad” was a pretty sophisticated humor mag for an ignorant twelve to thirteen year old farm boy like me and I’m sure there were loads of jokes (including jokes about sex) that went right past me.
Of course I thought the photos of sexy plants were pretty funny but at the time, I was generally interested in “Mad” for the more simple cartoons like Don Martin and Spy vs Spy.
“This is pornography Brian!” Dad said with as much incredulity as he could muster.
“No it’s not” I protested, “it’s just a bunch of pictures of plants.”
“What is it about these that interests you then?”
“I dunno… it’s funny I guess.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s funny and I don’t think you should have this.” he said, I was far from devastated and Stacy was looking the most disappointed because it appeared I wasn’t really going to get in much trouble after all.
So Dad took the copy of “Mad” and that was that. I’m pretty sure now that it wasn’t long after this that he gave me the “Love and the Facts of Life” book with those boring photos of “real” sex that I promptly ignored.
No biggie… plenty of issues of “Mad” around and I of course would soon enough learn all the usual lies about sex in the usual manner for teenage boys of 1970s midwestern America.
More on that when this must of course is to be…
To be continued…