Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SEX and the Class of '61

SPECIAL NOTE: A definitive list of those classsmates who lost their virginity prior to graduation will be posted soon.  You will undoubtedly be shocked at some of the names appearing on that list.  Stay tuned!

We all know that sex sells.  Come on, admit it!  When you saw the titles of these blog posts, this was the first one you opened and read.  I'll give this post my best shot and hope it's not anti-climatic.
Unlike today, we grew up in a culture that was not permeated with sex the way today's culture is.  The press kept the peccadilloes of politicians out of the newspapers.  Censors cleaned television scripts of any reference to sex. Despite being married, poor Ozzie and Harriet had to sleep in separate beds.  Our parents seldom displayed open affection in front of us, and if the words, "I love you" were ever uttered by my father's lips, I certainly wasn't around to hear them.  The word "love" was not bantered around as freely as it is today.
Not that the opposite sex wasn't on our minds.  There were plenty of couples who stayed together throughout high school, some eventually getting married.  Dating involved words like "necking" and "petting," words that have all but disappeared from the language as today's Coca-Cola kids insist on "The Real Thing."
The porn industry was in its infancy in those pre-computer days.  What today would be called soft porn could be found in places like Joe Latona's Barber shop on W. 18th St.  There were no unisex styling salons back then, only beauty shops for women and barbershops for men.  Joe had a good collection of "girlie" magazines in that all-male domain.  These contained photos of pre-implant, all natural young beauties that a teenage boy could only dream about (and often did).  You made certain you went to Joe's for a haircut on a Saturday, his busiest day, when you were sure to have to wait at least a half hour before getting your hair cut.  The truth of the matter is that if one of these nubile babes had jumped out of the magazine into real life and said, "I'm yours, what you want to do?"  we would have been so flabbergasted, we would probably have just run out the door.
And then there was Bridget Bardot, the French sex kitten who came to America in the form of a movie titled "And God Created Woman."  It was playing at the Strand Theater, right next to the YMCA.  Ray Morin and I were regulars at the Y, except for one day when we bagged the Y in order to "sneak" into the Strand to spend an hour and a half with Bridget.  We watched the curvaceous Bardot cavorting around in a bikini, a garment that would soon explode on the American scene, but which in 1961 was associated with those decadent Europeans.  If the movie had been rated by the Wood Foundation, I'm sure Ray and I would have given it five logs.
Now, none of that ever translated into a girlfriend.  Having grown up in an all-male household (mothers don't count), I couldn't begin to interact with girls.  I just got all goofy around them. They made me do strange things, like take Spanish.  My father came from Germany, and I had aunts, uncles and cousins in Germany whom I wished to visit one day.  Yet, instead of taking German, I took Spanish.
And that was Joan Blila’s fault.  I took Spanish because Joan took Spanish.  I sat in the back of the room because Joan sat in the back of the room.  Joan was there to learn Spanish, but I was there to entertain Joan and make her smile, which I frequently succeeded in doing.  Mrs. Blila was the teacher and was very indulgent of my fascination with her daughter.  Of course, I never asked Joanie out on a date, for that would've taken a  word that was not in my limited Spanish vocabulary – – – cohones. 
Oh well, such is life.  I, like most of my classmates, graduated with my virginity firmly in hand.  Little did we know that two years following our graduation, the birth control pill would be invented and the sexual revolution would begin.    For the first time in history, women did not have to worry about an unwanted pregnancy.  That opened many doors, giving us the opportunity to make up for lost time.
In fact, we lived in the best of times.  Science gave us the birth control pill that set off the sexual revolution in our youth, and in our "old age", science gave us the little blue pill to assist the leaning Tower of Pisa.
And now for that list of those classmates who lost their virginity prior to graduation.  It ain't happening.  I lied.  Hey, this post is about sex.  Everybody lies about sex.  If you don't believe me, ask Bill Clinton.
Oh yes, one final thought.  I have been referring to heterosexual behavior, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention the homosexual lifestyle which was severely repressed in 1961.  We must have had some sort of awareness of homosexuality, because I recall a day in Mr. LeBlanc's Latin class when he introduced the Latin word "homo" as part of our vocabulary, and I alone laughed out loud.
"You find that word funny?"  asked Mr. LeBlanc.
"Yeh," I said.
"Well, maybe you would like to tell us why you find that word so funny," said LeBlanc.
"It made me think of an English word," I replied.
"And what was that word?"  LeBlanc asked.
"I forget," I said.
"Well," said Mr. LeBlanc, "why don't you go stand in the hall until you remember what that word was."
So I went out and stood in the hall, and, about twenty minutes later, Mr. LeBlanc came out to talk to me.  "So," he said, "have you had enough time to remember that word?"
"Yes, I have," I replied.
A brief silence followed.  "Well, and what was that word?"
"Homogenized," I responded.
Exasperated, he told me he knew what I was thinking even if I didn't want to tell him.  He told me to return to the classroom and think before I reacted.  That was the end of the incident.
Suffice it to say that most, if not all of us were blissfully unaware of any gay classmates.  Hell, they themselves might of been unaware that they were gay.  Coming-of-age was difficult enough if you were straight.  It must've been impossibly painful if you were gay.  I'm sure that fifty years later, this subject is still, according to surveys, difficult for many in our generation to deal with.   My personal attitude is, when you're happy, I'm happy.  This country has more important issues to worry about than a person's orientation.
Well, enough of this post, although there are additional stories to tell: letters from camp, girl-ask-boy date, the basement rec room double-date, the secret admirer, etc.  I will spare everyone from reliving those awkward teenage moments we all experienced.
I, like most of you, emerged from those somewhat embarrassing years AOK.  Having a wonderful wife, two daughters and two granddaughters has enabled me to adjust to the feminine perspective.  I said “adjust,” not “understand.”  Some things are not meant to be.

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