To my daughters, age nearly 10 and 11.5, because the topic came up over how to deal with boys at school dances who might experience erections while grinding on the dance floor.
This is what the world has come to, so to speak.
I’m remembering how dances were when I was in junior high, when I dared to attend them. For the most part he dance floor had a clump of people who came to dance and usually came with their friends. It wasn’t a dating situation, people went to the dance to meet their boy and girlfriends and hide out in the corner. In fact, the walls and corners were the most populated parts of the cafeteria and gym during the dances, and the room was fairly segregated with boys over here, girls over there, and a rumor and gossip on both sides. Occasionally one side would send an ambassador with a message to the other side, like feudal messengers courting on behalf of the royal families, testing the waters to see who sorta likes whom.
Now urban white kids without an ounce of dance rhythm are attempting to grind against each other on the dance floor, and the parents are talking about what to do about boys deliberately getting erections in public? And my girls, who hear about these conversations, these ‘issues’ of grinding and how oral sex isn’t really sex, ask for more information, and more information, and somehow the question of boys having no control and wet dreams enter the discussion and I’m called in as an expert (being the only guy in the house who isn’t a cat) to explain what they are and how they happen.
I thought I was going to avoid all this by having girls.
What’s funny is that in trying to articulate the situation there’s a little bit of my writer voice echoing in the back of my skull as if shouting from another room:
Tell ’em about the time you got an erection watching Roots on the living room floor as a kid, and how you took an unusual interest in the 11 o’clock news that followed because you hoped it would buy you time to calm down before you could get up and leave the room.
No, that’s not a good story to tell, but how do you explain this uncomfortable phenomenon in a way this isn’t totally gross?
“So, it’s like, it doesn’t even have to be a sexual dream. In fact, when it happened to me I woke up not even remembering what I’d been dreaming…”
Mostly true. I only think I had, like three of these in my lifetime, but…
“… And you’re all groggy, and you’ve got this erection and, it’s like when you’ve wet the bed and it feels colder because it’s wet…”
Big eyes from my youngest. This is grossing her out.
“… But it’s not like peeing the bed because its… You know how when there’s sperm? Well, it isn’t the same consistency as urine. It’s more like… runny hand lotion…”
Runny hand lotion? That’s the best you can do?
“… And you’re still coming out of the dream, you’re not really awake, and you don’t understand what just happened. And it doesn’t happen immediately when you hit puberty…”
Whoa, hold on. This is tricky. I don’t think they need to know that the first couple of times a boy orgasms he doesn’t ejaculate, because I don’t want to give the impression that sex with boys is safe early on. Nor do I want to explain why my brain is shouting:
Hey, it’s like how marijuana doesn’t always have an effect for the first couple of times you smoke it, and it’s kinda funny how this conversation started about oral sex, and how Bill Clinton said he never inhaled and–
Shut up! I’m almost out of the woods here!
“… Wet dreams usually happen later, they don’t usually get wet dreams at the first onset of puberty. It happens–”
Don’t get confessional!
“–sometimes when they’re older, and it’s more embarrassing. Like, a guy wakes up, and he realizes what happens…”
The writer’s voice moves forward.
“… And he’s all grossed out. So he sneaks into the bathroom and changes, tries to clean up the mess himself and hide his clothes so they can dry out before he puts them in the laundry hamper. But he doesn’t really do a good job, and the clothes are a little stiff and starchy, so he’s suddenly saying Mom, I think I want to start doing my own laundry and mom goes What?!”
They laugh. That takes the remaining edge off my discomfort.
“So, does that answer most of your questions?”
I take my bow and leave my girls to the rest of their bedtime discussions. And for future reference, should the question of whether or not oral sex (or any other kind of sex) is real sex, the rule is this: anything that requires at least one of the participants to remove or alter their clothing in order to create access for another party, that’s sex.
That’s the party line.