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Protecting Your Children From Something Worse Than Herod's Troops

by space at 01:03 PM on February 04, 2002

We were twelve years old and it was time to learn about fucking.

They called it our sexuality, as in Valuing Your Sexuality, retreats and programs in which we were taught by about sex, disease, and abstinence, abstinence, abstinence, but if not, condoms, but abstinence, really. I attended Catholic schools in an era, where, fortunately, sex ed was no longer in the hands of celibates. Our teachers mostly had children of their own, so, theoretically they knew how the thing worked. This is not to say they were comfortable with the task of telling a bunch of rambunctious and smart-assed sixth graders the biological terms for functions and equipment they had pretty much grasped (mentally or physically) by now. So our teachers turned, reasonably, to a medium we were familiar with: TV.

One of the Sex Ed videos in particular made a big impression on me. It was shot a couple years before we were born, 1975 or so, when the shorts were short, the socks were long, and young men and women wandered through urban environments for days wondering what sex was. They asked their friends, their parents, their teachers, and even their coaches ("well, it's like this. A boy has a baseball bat, and a girl has a catcher's mitt..."). They grew confused and despairing.

Where can you go when those entrusted with your education have failed you? To whom can a young person look to when she or he cannot get a straight answer? When there's no place left to turn, when you are met by waffling, peculiar metaphors and uncomfortable silences, when your school does not have videos like this very one, what do you do?

I don't know the answer, but our sex video hero found his solution at the zoo. Specifically, with a zookeeper, a guy standing around in a jumpsuit with a broom, waiting for an animal to poop.

Actual dialogue: "I'm glad you asked. In this job, I see a lot of penises. Animal penises, that is."

From the zookeeper, the young man received the ins and outs of sexuality, straight answers in simple terms. By the time the zookeeper had finished, a small crowd of mustachioed and leisure-suited adult citizens had gathered around to applaud the boy's courage. They then formed a line to shake his hand and congratulate him: "I wish that I had thought to ask a zookeeper about sex." "What a brave young man." "Good job." "I had so many questions when I was your age."

We were so stunned by this plot development that we all immediately forgot what the zookeeper had told the boy. After the film, we had a quiz, which most of us failed. And so, a couple days later, our class piled onto the bus for a field trip.

To the zoo.

comments (5)

because where else do you learn about hot monkey sex, if not from hot monkeys? i mean, really?

by kd at February 4, 2002 3:55 PM

Ha. At leat you got the ones from 1975. You should see the ones I had to suffer through made in the 60's. Black and white films of some guy with a flattop and horn rims, warning about the dangers of staying out too late on a date and "refer dens." Yeah, that was some useful stuff.

by Charles at February 4, 2002 7:49 PM

You can always come to me because I know A LOT.

Shut up.

by melly at February 4, 2002 8:51 PM

When I asked one curious question too many, my mother stopped her ironing and handed me a booklet: "What Every Young Girl Should Know".

by BtC at February 5, 2002 6:36 PM

I don't think I got any kind of sex ed in school. I would have killed for a chance to visit the monkey house.

by mg at February 5, 2002 11:41 PM

comments are closed