I must be crazy. I’m about to start a series of articles that addresses one of the most divisive political issues — abortion. Probably just saying that already has a few of you moving on to something else. Others are giving me the squinty eye, daring me to say anything worthwhile.
I might not say anything worthwhile, but here I go.
The abortion topic has surfaced again in national news. Laws are being proposed and changed around the country. Some of these laws are good and some not so good. Researching abortion has been semi-traumatizing, being currently seven months pregnant. I instinctively cradle my tummy, hoping Baby is okay after reading certain articles. Feeling her little hiccups help.
I’ve struggled to know how to organize my thoughts, so I’ll just start at a point that makes sense to me. I hope the rest of you can follow along and gain something as well.
My journey begins as a teenager who was not allowed to join in my high school’s sex education class. I sat outside of the classroom as the teacher taught about “s-e-x”. My parents didn’t give their consent. I wasn’t sure why. Probably because they didn’t trust how the material would be presented, but I honestly didn’t really care. I planned to wait until marriage, so it didn’t matter to me one way or another. Abstinence was the default birth control and that was fine by me. I watched peers make different choices and felt isolated as I avoided getting close to any guys at school. I never had a boyfriend and wasn’t invited to many parties.
Toward the end of my senior year I was 18 and had literally never been kissed except by a neighborhood boy when I was eight. This fact bothered me and I started talking about it with my mom. I had this idea that I should hand-pick someone to be my first kiss and orchestrate something that resembled what you’d see on a classic boy-meets-girl movie. I don’t know what all went through my mom’s head at my ridiculous and unrealistic idea, but she went along with it, giving her permission and support.
I picked a guy I kinda knew from church. He was 27 years old and I figured he’d know what he was doing. I called him up and bluntly told him I wanted to go on a date and have my first kiss. He handled my request fairly well, asking just one question; tongue or no tongue? That question alone planted a seed of doubt that this was such a good idea, but I told him no tongue and stuck to my plan.
The beginning of the date went pretty well. Being our first date, we mostly just walked around and talked, trying to get to know each other. At breaks in the conversation there would be an awkward pause where he’d bring me in close and try to create a romantic moment. I’m sure he was trying to meet my girlish expectations of romance, but I wasn’t giving him much to work with. At one particular attempt, he pulled me toward him and I robotically swung my arm onto his shoulder. He let me go and kept walking.
Well…. I didn’t know how to melt in his arms. And it’s not like there had been much time for any emotional build up. At any rate, each time he tried, it would flop and we’d just keep walking. I understand now what pressure he must have felt. But hey, in my mind we had all night to get to the point of a kiss, so I didn’t feel any rush. After a while though, we were both getting pretty tired of walking.
He finally suggested we go to his place to make dinner and watch a movie. Before getting into the car and before opening my door, he pinned me against the side and kissed me. After all that walking and the cold weather my lips were incredibly dry. His were wet and mushy. He let me go without a word and opened my door, allowing me to get in before walking around to his side and sitting in the driver’s seat.
The first few minutes in the car, we were both silent. I had no idea what to say. He turned on the radio, already tuned to some news station, and we just listened for a while. Then he asked what I was thinking. I launched into everything I wasn’t thinking… items just mentioned on the radio, the weather…. and finally a statement that my lips were dry. I asked him what he was thinking. He simply said, “Your lips were dry.”
We entered his apartment and there was not a roommate in sight. We started making dinner, something simple like pizza and salad. As I washed the lettuce at the sink he came up behind me and put his arms around my waist. He started kissing my neck. He had to maneuver around my turtleneck, so that made it a little difficult. Sorry, but it was January and I hadn’t really thought past “first kiss”.
As the pizza cooked he took me upstairs to one of the bedrooms. I wasn’t sure if it was his, but it had a big queen-sized bed that looked comfortable. He had me lay down and he got on top of me. He started kissing me mostly on the lips, but occasionally moving down to my neck too. As we kissed he coached me on how to get my lips to flare out more, letting them relax and respond better to his. I couldn’t help wondering what I had gotten myself into? This was a church-going guy, right? As I laid there under him, I started to wonder how much further he planned to go? And of course, that every present thought; what in the world was I going to tell my mother?
After kissing my stiff and uncertain body for several minutes, he decided we should check on the pizza and start the movie. We went back downstairs and got things ready in the living room. He picked to watch Notting Hill, a movie I’d never seen but hated for a long time afterward. We ate dinner and once the dishes were in the sink, I sat down on the couch to get comfortable. He laid down and pulled me over him and started kissing me again.
I would stiffen a little as he got more and more intense and he coached me again, telling me to relax. I was fortunate he kept true to my request not to use any tongue. I’m also grateful that while his hands went everywhere else, he avoided the main objectionable parts.
I wasn’t sure what to do or how to take charge. I kept praying the movie would be over and I could go home. From the glimpses of the movie I managed to see, I decided Julia Roberts was dumb and Hugh Grant wasn’t as cute as he thought he was.
Eventually, the movie ended and it was time to take me home. I don’t remember much of the ride, other than practicing which parts I’d tell my mom. I wasn’t even sure if she’d still be awake.
When I got home, she was.
Most of my teenage years I lived in fear of disappointing my parents. My dad had given me the sex talk years ago, but he wasn’t the one I was worried about that night. As I made my way to my parents’ room, I couldn’t help wondering how disappointed my mom would be about what had just happened. It was my idea, after all. I’d been so sure I could trust someone from church, I hadn’t even thought that things would go so far. As I poked my head in, she looked up, put her book down and came over to me. She asked me how things went. The first thing I thought to say was how squishy and slobbery his lips had felt. She laughed and after all that had happened, I felt myself laughing too. In that moment there was this inward sigh of relief. It was like talking to a friend, a true friend who really cared. During the rest of our conversation she didn’t judge me, grill me, look for reasons to make me feel embarrassed or ashamed. She didn’t ask for any details and let me share whatever I wanted to share.
I didn’t share everything, but I remember deciding from that moment on, I would never do anything I couldn’t tell my mother.
All of our experiences are different, but there are common threads that bind us together and help us relate to and care about each other. Remembering my induction into the world of physical contact with men has helped me be more sympathetic and understanding as I read about the problems women still face today.
More thoughts to come…
And as a little side note: my three-year-old came in while I was making the graphic for this post and she immediately said, “Hey, clean those hands off!”