I was at the pool, watching all the bodies in their scant coverings of spandex, when I started thinking about abstinence programs. (Gee, I don’t know why, either. Actually, first I thought about tattoos for a while, then abstinence programs. My thoughts on tats are unchanged, which is why I moved on to abstinence so quickly.) Recently I had taken one of those left-right-left turns on the internet and ended up at an account of the Sex Lady, Jennifer Waters, and her entertaining presentation to middle-schoolers:
Jennifer Waters calls herself the Sex Lady. She likes to play matchmaker with Miss Tape and unwitting teen boys.
She slaps a piece of clear tape across Julian’s arm. He winces.
“It’s gonna hurt when I take it off,” the lanky boy protests.
“But it’s fine now, isn’t it?” Ms. Waters whips back.
The puzzled looks on 18 eighth-graders at Carrollton’s Arbor Creek Middle School brighten. The Sex Lady has made her point: Bad relationships hurt.
Is that her point? Actually, the point comes later in the hour:
The Sex Lady tells Julian to break up with Miss Tape.
“I don’t wanna,” Julian screeches before obeying. He cradles his arm as he sits down.
Ms. Waters shows Miss Tape to the class before calling up another boy, Spencer.
“We got some skin, Julian’s hair,” she says. “Spencer, did you get a good look at Miss Tape?
“You bond with Miss Tape,” she says, slapping the strip onto Spencer’s arm. “Everything Julian had has now been passed on to you.”
Ms. Waters does this again with a third boy, Jonathan. This time, when they break up, the tape comes off pretty easy.
“What happened to the bond?” Ms. Waters asked the class.
“It didn’t hurt as much,” a girl replies.
Get it? Sleep with too many people, and you’re like an old piece of tape. Note that the tape is female. Of course. In these little presentations, women hardly ever get to be actual human beings. Don’t buy the cow if you can get the milk free. Remember that one? Then I read something where the woman was a tree, climbed by a man, and honestly, if the writer hadn’t said, “This is a metaphor of marriage,” I wouldn’t have had the first clue what he was talking about, except that it sounded pretty Freudian, the guy clambering around in the branches and all.
Now it’s tape. I don’t think this is a good thing, going from a hooved mammal to a tree to a piece of sticky plastic. No wonder abstinence programs don’t work.
But we shouldn’t be surprised. I had drug education in high school. You remember that: There was a movie featuring Sonny Bono in an orange satin suit, talking about the dangers of mary jane. The story was that the movie was part of Sonny’s community-service sentence on drug charges, which sounds like a crock, but I don’t know. (Hey, I wonder if it’s on YouTube. Are you kidding? Everything’s on YouTube. Parts one, two and three.) Rewatching it today, I can see that the film makes a number of sound points — yes, I would rather the pilot of an airplane I was a passenger on to have recently smoked a cigarette rather than a joint — mixed with the usual heapin’ helpin’ of bullshit. I’ve known people who wrecked their cars when they were high, not because they were so tripped out and groovin’ on the cool summer day that they actually drove off a cliff, as the film shows, but because they tried to take the curve too fast.
There was another movie where a girl, babysitting and tripping on acid, puts the baby in the oven, thinking it’s a turkey. You don’t need me to tell you it was greeted by guffaws and several cries of “I’ll have what she’s having” from the darkened classroom.
I always wonder why we can’t try the truth. Is subtlety too hard for teenagers to grasp? We expect them to understand moral ambiguity by junior year (in English class, anyway); can’t we also tell them that taking drugs is a bad idea, but like many bad ideas, there’s a time when they seem like a very good idea. (I always thought everything you need to know about marijuana could be summed up by Samuel L. Jackson’s great exchange with Bridget Fonda in “Jackie Brown:” “That shit robs you of your ambition.” “Not if your ambition is to get high and watch T.V.”)
Same with sex. Nothing — even a bikini wax, even tape on your arm — hurts like your first heartbreak, but like virtually every other human being on the planet, you’ll live to love again, and better. Sex is a bad idea at 14, a less-bad one at 18, and if you’re not having sex, married or not, by 25, you’re missing out on a big part of life at the best time of your life to enjoy it. I’ve always found the fetishizing of virginity to be deeply creepy, medieval, Islamic. And get a clue, Sex Lady: Women are not tape. Nor are they trees, or cows.
It’s another beautiful day in the neighborhood; lately I feel like I’m living in southern California. An enormous storm system passed through the area yesterday, and true to form, voided about eight raindrops on our little patch of heaven. It’s like all the heat rising off this asphalt island repels rain, or something. Anyway, the temperatures have moderated, the humidity’s down, and I’m off to
Ralph’s Kroger for supplies.
No, that would be this site.
Thanks for all the suggestions on how to spend my windfall. Making final decision soon, and I’ll let you all know.
Have a swell day.