BEFORE WE BEGIN…I need you to listen to something. 

After clicking on the link below, click the play button at the bottom of the Reverbnation page the link takes you to, and listen to this poem by me IF you’re not familiar with it. IF YOU’RE FAMILIAR WITH THE POEM, feel free to skip the link if you wish and continue reading.

He Kissed Me — By Petula Caesar

This piece is one of my most popular ones, especially with the women. The speaker talks about how she is very intimately involved with a man who she will not let kiss her because “that’s against the rules”. She goes on to say that he has done “everything to her body that a man could ever do…”, but she resolutely refuses to allow kissing as part of their intimate physical activity. For many people, women especially it seems, kissing is a much more intimate activity than sex. It somehow indicates a higher level of affection for a person than sex does. It demonstrates a level of fondness, of being attached to, of caring for that person. And I have to agree that. While I’ve had sex with my fair share of men, I’ve not kissed all of them. I would even go as far to say that I haven’t kissed many of them. Even the ones I did kiss I did not kiss very often, or they had to request kisses from me. I did not volunteer kisses most of the time. This includes my ex-fiancees, and even my most recent ex.

In the case of my most recent ex, not kissing him often was my way of keeping my emotions regarding him in check, because I knew I had to. So if he didn’t ask for a kiss, he didn’t get a kiss beyond pecks on the cheek that I give to most of my friends. Strangely enough he usually asked for kisses during sex, and I would oblige of course, but it was always rather hesitantly, which he didn’t seem to like. He was always rather insistent during these times during our osculatory activities, but I was never completely comfortable with it. For me it took our intimacy into a deeper place that I didn’t let many men go, and it was a place I really wasn’t sure he wanted to go. He knew exactly how I felt about kissing because he was very familiar with the poem, had heard it many times, and he knew about the incident that caused me to write the poem. He knew how I felt about kissing and what it signified for me. Yet he still asked for kisses when we were intimate, and would sometimes just kiss me.


So I’d come not to be a huge fan of kissing over the years. Kissing represented the last line of my defenses when it came to personal relationships. It was my way of keeping a man at arms’ length — or in this case, at lips’ length — but still having him close to me.  When I allowed kisses, I quickly set up boundaries for them in my head so they didn’t leave me feeling too vulnerable and emotionally exposed. For me, doing these things kept me from not making a fool of myself with a man. I foolishly felt not kissing a man would stop me from loving him and even worse, finding my love unrequited.

But I suspected things were going to be different this time around after I had this conversation with the man I am dating now. We were discussing a show I was preparing for, and I was telling him what pieces I planned to do.

Me:  I think I’ll do “He Kissed Me”. In fact I have to do “He Kissed Me”.

Him:  Oh okay. I know that one. That’s the one where the girl won’t kiss the guy and he just goes ahead and she gets mad because she feels more vulnerable with him when they kiss.

Me:  Yeah. It always surprises me at how well you know my stuff.

Him: I’ve been paying attention. Not that I’m a groupie or anything…(chuckling)

Me:  (Chuckling also) Yeah okay. Well, women love that one. You know for a lot of women especially kissing is more intimate than sex, so kissing a man  is really a more intimate act. It like kissing means you really like them like…FOR REAL.

Him: Really?

Me:  Yeah, definitely.

Him: (pause) So…can I kiss you when we have sex?

Me:  (longer pause)  Ummmm…yeah sure. I guess.

It took me aback because no one has ever asked me if they could kiss me before we were anywhere close to kissing.

kiss cartoon

So this guy was someone who understood kissing really was out of my comfort zone, and not what I typically did. He did because he knew the poem very well. He’s even asked about how I came to write it. He had to have understood the ramifications of asking for a kiss from me, especially during sex, especially in context of the poem we were discussing. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or serious, and I didn’t want to ask. I didn’t want to get into a huge discussion over the comment unnecessarily, and there really was no point because I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to have sex with him, much less kiss him. His comment did make me start wondering what being intimate with him might be like, and I hadn’t done that until then because I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. After all I’d been through with men I really didn’t feel I had it in me to throw my  pussy back into the cold cruel world. Plus I felt like my ability to judge a man’s interest in me was completely gone, and to be honest, I was still in my hurt feelings a bit from my ex and was finding it somewhat difficult to believe a man might like me, or want to kiss me. So while typically a woman decides pretty quickly if a man could “get it” (which is no guarantee that he will mind you), I hadn’t allowed myself to seriously think about him that way until this comment. But he did ultimately get cool points for asking.

But as the weeks passed, and we talked, and went on dates, and started to like each other, much to my surprise late one night after a date, it happened. THE FIRST TIME (well, our first time together) happened. Now women usually know when the “first time” with a guy they’re seeing is going to happen. They plan for it, consciously or sub-consciously. They wear the cute bra and panty set, or even go commando. They give everything an extra spritz with their favorite perfume or body spray. They put extra condoms in their purse. They arrange for the kids to be gone all night, or make sure they take along a few extra things they may require for an extended date. Whatever. I was totally unprepared for the first time. I saw nothing coming. It was just another date night for us as far as I was concerned. I’d gotten used to us ending our dates with a “goodnight” and nothing else. But on this particular dark night he invited me in. When I came out the light hit my eyes with brutal force, causing me to squint, and when I did I saw his face over me, eyes slightly closed, lips parted, preparing to reach down towards my lips with his to kiss me.

Now because I had warning that he was going to kiss me (after all he had been proactive enough to get permission beforehand), I’d had time to prepare extra defense mechanisms in preparation for that first time just in case it ever happened. I was able to call them up pretty quickly even though I didn’t think that particular night I was going to need them — I basically put them on “stand by” status after he made that comment. So throughout the course of that first time together I was ready to be kissed. I was good with it. It was okay with me, and had mentally prepared myself so I could let him kiss me. Notice I said let him kiss me. I did not say I was going to kiss him. Kissing initiated by me wasn’t going to happen. There was no need for it to, because again, that was a form of vulnerability that I certainly wasn’t going to allow to ruin this pseudo-casual sexual experience I was going to have.

But…but…then there was the problem of his lips. Kissing him was kind of like sitting down to eat dinner and not realizing how hungry you are until the food comes.

Shouldn’t A Let You Kiss Me – Ama Chandra

There was something about his lips that were like a battering ram to years of carefully constructed, military-precise defenses that had held fast for over a decade. It was like they were under attack. I tried to hold on, to hold out, but I found as the hours slipped by like water rolling down a hill I couldn’t stop the assault, and TRUST ME I TRIED. I am the veteran of the lust wars, and I’m not a lightweight by any means. There was something about him, his lips on mine, him kissing me and me responding though I knew I didn’t want to at first. But as he kissed me over and over and over through the night, my defenses didn’t seem like a safe place to hide anymore. My defenses didn’t seem like a way to keep hurt and pain out. With him they seemed like a prison keeping me from something I might want, I might need, I might deserve to have. They seemed like something holding me back, holding me hostage, separating me from a place I wanted to go, from a place maybe I really wanted to be, even if it was just for a little while. My defenses seemed like they were keeping me from a place where maybe, just maybe, I could be me, and I could be free. Totally me, totally free. And that, more than anything else in the world, is what I’ve really wanted.

Suddenly I felt my defenses were hurting me more than he ever could.

So I kissed him back and in my head listened to the loud crack in my wall. I winced at the sound. But when it cracked the second time I didn’t flinch at all. I kissed him back, even harder, and I felt him pull at my hair. There was a third cracking sound, louder still, and I closed my eyes as tight as I could. In my head I saw my water starting to leak through the cracks. I felt it trickle out of me, bit by bit at first. His lips pushed against the wall, making the cracks larger and the water started to flow through the cracks more freely and I opened myself up so the wetness could leave me like it wanted to.

And then I wasn’t afraid anymore.

Wonder how I’m gonna feel the next time I do that poem…because I think I’ve been converted to a kisser. Or maybe I always was one.


My strange Valentine’s Days these days…

This time of year is my busy season as far as my performing goes (in case you don’t know, I do erotic performance poetry with a band). What I do is very popular around Valentine’s Day. Since 2005, every Valentine’s Day I was on stage someplace performing; in some cases I wasn’t even in Baltimore. The fact that I’m usually so busy this time of year helps distract me from the things that bother most single people during the Valentine’s Day period. I don’t really have time to think about whether I’ll get flowers or candy or asked out on a date because I’m rehearsing, or picking out performance outfits, or finalizing travel arrangements. And this year won’t be any different – I’ll have several shows this year around V-Day, including performing at a popular local radio station’s speed dating event. While I do appreciate the distraction, I do see the irony in the fact that for the past 5 years, though my own love life has been strangely stagnated, I provide entertainment for lovers or potential lovers. They look to me to add spark to their celebration of their intimate and personal feelings for each other. They expect me to help them see each other through new eyes, to generate heat and passion between them for at least that night, and I try to do that. My Valentine’s Day sets are a combination of sensual and sexual pieces. I do a relationship piece here and there.

I try to have at least some new material each year, so I don’t bring the same show back to places where I am appearing for a second or third time. That means I’m writing and memorizing at least 2-3 new pieces in preparation for my shows throughout January up until the events. Now that I’ve started doing covers (which means I perform work by artists), that does help me create new shows because now I put at least one cover in every show I do. But that means my band is constantly learning new music. A new show also means new outfits to wear onstage. At some shows I do acapella sets, and at some shows I perform with a full band, so I have to rehearse different versions of my show to accommodate different venues. If I’m traveling, I have to pack, get to the airport/bus station/train station, get to my destination, check into my hotel, try to get to the venue a little before my show so I can get a feel for it and watch the crowd come in (that’s how I make a final determination on what I do in a set – by watching the crowd). By the time February 15th rolls around, I’m exhausted.

In many respects I am thankful for my new Valentine’s Day rituals. Granted they are not at all what I thought they would be at this stage of my life – I find myself in the strange position of putting on some of my sexiest and most revealing lingerie and attire for a room full of applauding strangers instead of that one special someone. But it does help take the focus off myself; I am focused on other people, which is a good thing. Instead of wearing myself out worrying about love, I worry about performing. I don’t have time to wallow in self pity or self doubt, to wonder why I’m alone or visit my mental cemetery of dead relationships. I don’t make random phone calls to any of my exes, trying to get closure where there is none (something I’ve done in the past). I don’t have time to wonder about unrequited loves from my past, present or future. I have to work, and that’s what I do. Work. I throw all my energy into my work.

But I do wonder if I would be depressed if I weren’t so busy. If I really had to feel the sharp little needles of loneliness so many unattached people feel this time of year, how would I handle it? Though I’ve never been one to be big on holidays and expressions of affection dictated by the calendar, it is still difficult to totally ignore a world draped in red and pick, smelling of roses and chocolates with words of love dripping from its lips. No matter how much reason and logic you apply to the whole Valentine’s Day thing, you still can’t help but feel an occasional pinch of sadness – and I think that’s especially true of women, who often put so much more obvious emphasis on relationships and being with someone. Or I would feel bad that is, if I weren’t so busy. Performing is the anesthetic I pour on my heart during this Valentine’s Day season, but what would I be like without it?

Of course I have to appreciate Valentine’s Day, because it is the month when I earn the most money as a performer. I sell more CDs and downloads between January 25th and February 15th than almost any other time of the year. I can count on a bunch of performances that pay pretty well, and are a lot of fun to do. The shows I do during this period always lead to other bookings and expose me to people that help me in other ways. And I sell a lot of merchandise during my Valentine’s Day shows. Love and sex is thriving business for me the first 2 weeks of February, and I take full advantage of it. I start looking for Valentine’s Day bookings in mid-December, and by late January I’m all set. I plan out my wardrobe, load up on product to sell, make arrangements for someone to keep an eye on my kids – between rehearsals and shows I’m not home a lot this time of year. During these two weeks alone, if I’m careful, even after expenses, I earn a very decent amount of money. But if I slowed down – would the pain catch me? Would I be lonely? Would I notice that there is no “special someone” who comes to my shows to support me, to admire me, to care about me and what I do? If I stood still, didn’t write the poem, put on the makeup, lace up the corset, pull on the stockings, would I look up and notice there isn’t anyone wishing I didn’t have to work on Valentine’s Day so I could spend it with him? Over the past five years no man has said to me “can’t you take off this year” or “do you have to work so hard”? Would I really notice the couples in the audiences I entertain, would I see them and wonder why I am not part of a couple someplace? Would I envy the couples that come up to me after shows who buy a CD, get it autographed by me and quickly take a picture before running home (or wherever) to make love, while I go back to an empty hotel room, or go home alone to my kids and kiss them goodnight?

For the moment, I don’t have the answers to those questions. Between today and February 15th, I have six definite performances and two possible ones. I start rehearsals next week. I have two new pieces I need to get to two different groups of musicians I’m working with. I have a new piece I’m committing to memory, and while I’m not doing any major traveling this year, I will be in D.C. with the band for a few shows. Again I’m too busy to really notice the celebration I so actively participate in and profit from. And it’s probably better that way.

Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t always like this. I have had extremely romantic Valentine’s Days in my past. I remember gifts. I remember perfume. I remember flowers, candy, jewelry, shopping sprees, and romantic dinners in beautiful restaurants. I remember getaways to quiet sexy places, satin sheets, and massage oil. I remember bubblebaths for two, bottles of champagne. I remember lingerie worn for only one set of eyes. I remember love letters and love poems written for me, instead of by me for others. I remember hands, a man’s hands, moving across every part of me with tender and sensual dedication. I remember scented candles, rose petals on my skin and passion in my heart. If I strain really hard I think I can even remember love, which made the lust much more potently powerful. Men in my past have showered me with love in its most luxurious, decadent, generous fashion in my past.

But these are my memories, not my realities. And the ocean between the two is dark with pain, regret, and probably even fear that the tide has turned away from my shores for good, and these things will never return to me.

So perhaps my present is a blessing. From where I stand onstage, I can at least acknowledge that these things do still exist, though they aren’t in my world. I can look out onto the sea of love, though I may never dive in again and ride those waves to wherever my lover and I end up. It perhaps is enough that for now love welcomes me on its sandy beach, offers me a special place to sit, tickling and teasing my feet with splashes now and then. It may be just as well, because I probably have forgotten how to swim in that powerful current anyway.

Having said all this, I must go now. I have a poem to memorize!


A blog about my hair…

Today’s blog is a rant/question more than anything that came from a few random conversations I’ve had with folks the past few days, and a blog I read through one of my Facebook friends’, DeWayne Alston’s page (the link to the blog I read is at the end of this entry). It’s nothing deep, meaningful, life-altering or soul-saving. In fact a lot of the time I make a point of avoiding that crap because as a writer (especially a Black one) every little bit of your creative energy is supposed to be about uplifting folks, and honestly, sometimes I don’t feel like it. (Most of the time to be totally honest…but that is in a blog that is coming soon.)

In the meantime…here is my question.

I have “natural” hair. For those of you who don’t know what I mean by that (and yes I do have some readers that wouldn’t know…), Black women often take their hair through a process called “relaxing”. The end result after this process is hair whose original natural texture has been altered to more closely resemble the hair of Caucasians. Most Black people’s hair, without this (or some similar) process, would have a texture that would be kinky, curly, wavy, or  a combination or these; the hair would have a “S” or even a “Z” pattern to it. It certainly wouldn’t be straight, which is what the “relaxing” process does. Sometimes it is called a “perm”; I refuse to call it that because the process is not permanent, it is temporary. I do not process my hair in this manner, so my hair is called “natural” hair. Nor to I have a weave in my hair.

Now I have learned over the years that all women of all races and nationalities do things to their hair cosmetically to alter its color, texture, length, style, or whatever. Unfortunately, oftentimes Black women alter their hair’s texture for reasons that go beyond the cosmetic. I don’t want to get into a long diatribe here about the self-hate that goes into some Black women’s desire to relax their hair, or wear weaves, etc. Because why women do it is not my question.

My question is – how can you possibly have a decent sex life with a relaxer or weave in your hair? Or one of those lace front wigs that is “supposed” to stay in a few weeks?

No….seriously…that’s my question. That’s it. That’s what I want to know.

Now Black men joke about how when their Black women have just returned from the salon with a freshly styled head of hair, sex is pretty much off the table for the next few days (or longer). Trips to the salon can get to be rather expensive if they are frequent. And even if you get a girlfriend or relative or someone like that to fix your hair, chances are he or she not going to always be at your beck and call to do it whenever you need it done. So in the interest of practicality, most women get as much mileage as they can out of their hair once they leave the salon. And for their men, that means either no sex (in most cases), or in some “alternative” sexual pleasuring that will not dishevel the hair too much — whatever the alternative sexual pleasuring is, the man must always mindful of the hair style must leave it intact. Most importantly, the hair must never be touched or get wet, either with water or sweat.

(SIDEBAR: Now I do know the high-end strand-by-strand weaves do allow you more freedom in these areas, but chances are if you can afford a weave that starts in the low-to-mid four figure range, you can afford to keep it up…)

So my question is ladies, does it not bother you at all to have your sex lives dictated to you by your hair style? What you do, when you do it, how you do it are all controlled by your hair – I mean, well, let me continue before I get to sounding judgmental, which is not what I want to do here. I really do want to understand. I’ll be the first to say I don’t know a lot about what goes on with relaxed hair maintenance these days, so someone school me.

Many of the things I enjoy about sex are gone the minute I put a weave or a relaxer in my hair. He can’t pull my hair. He can’t run his hands through it all the way to the scalp. He can’t wash my hair. If he touches my face, he has to make sure he doesn’t touch my hair. He can’t hold my head during oral sex. He can’t play in my hair. He can’t twirl his fingers around and through it in a random kind of way when we’re just chilling afterwards. In fact, a lot of the touching that promotes intimacy and closeness goes out the window. We can’t have sex in the shower, or the Jacuzzi, or the bath, or the swimming pool, or the ocean, or in the rain. I can’t sweat, nor can he. For me, that’s too much stuff to worry about. It kills spontaneity. It kills a lot of things for me. At that point I don’t see the need in doing it if all these “rules” are in place.

When I first cut out my relaxer, this was one of my primary reasons why I did. I remember certain people praising me for letting go of the chemicals, for not “lye-ing” anymore, for being proud of my true born hair, and yes, a tiny bit of that went into the decision. But at my core I am a practical person, and “going natural” was just as much a practical decision as anything. My hair was falling out first of all, and secondly, I could never keep my relaxed hair looking decent, because I like to screw and relaxers aren’t conducive to that. So after hours in a salon and a ton of money spent, I might look good two or three days if I kept my man away from me, and most of the time I didn’t want to do that — and just as importantly, he didn’t want me to keep him away. And while in most cases the guy would offer to significantly contribute to my hair maintenance, there then became the time issue. Even if I had the money, who has the time to spend 2-18 hours in a hair salon (depending on where you go), two or three times a week so my hair can look good for a day before my man tears it all up again? When I decided to cut my relaxer out, one of thoughts at the forefront of my mind was “now I can have sex anytime I want and not worry about whether or not I have the money to get my hair fixed!”

And that is how it’s been since 2002. I’ve had natural hair, and I have f***ed whenever I damn well pleased, wherever I’ve damn well pleased, including in blinding rainstorms, in steaming hot showers, and in blazingly hot non-air conditioned bedrooms that would make a woman with a relaxer turn away in disgust, no matter how horny she might be.

Now I’m not saying my way is the best way. It certainly isn’t the only way. It is what works for me. I’ve always been a person who didn’t like to be told what to do, especially in my personal life. So the idea that my hair was playing a significant role in my intimacy became absurd to me, and I took steps to ensure that it no longer did.


The original blog that inspired this is called “Why Men Hate Weaves”:

How I learned about sex…*shaking my head*

I learned about sex from a book. Actually several books. Books my parents gave me.

My dad considered himself a highly advanced intellectual though he never finished high school. Smart though he was, he had to support his mom and his siblings; he worked while they attended school. But he always read voraciously – in fact in the small coal mining town where he grew up nearly everyone went to him to borrow books for school. He sent off for correspondence courses to learn as much as he could, and collected all kinds of encyclopedias, history books, and almanacs. He thirsted for knowledge. And he managed to turn my mom into a “quasi intellectual” as well; he would often boast about how much he improved her in this department. I was born into a house that had a “library”…a room dedicated to books, with bookcases lined with several different encyclopedias offering information on everything from Physics to Latin, philosophy books, high school and college textbooks, novels, maps and globes, magazines (Reader’s Digest and Time were always favorites in my house), and collections of short stories and poetry, especially American poetry. And in one particular corner of one particular self, there were the sex books.

Now, in all fairness, what was in that particular corner wasn’t really that mind-jarring. It was a copy of “Our Bodies, Our Selves”, and a copy of a book called “Your Child In Adolescence”. If I recall correctly there was a “Joy of Sex” there also, but some days it wasn’t on the shelf. But “Your Child In Adolescence” and “Our Bodies, Our Selves” both had significant chapters related to puberty. When I was a young child I didn’t read these books; I was made to understand that the things in them were for “when I was older”. When my family moved to Baltimore, all the bookcases and books came with us. Somehow the books even ended up in the same places on the shelves. Since we moved to Baltimore when I was almost 13, I guess it was decided that I needed to start reading “the books”. I say “I guess” because I really don’t know how it happened. All I know is that I woke up one morning and the book “Your Child In Adolescence” was on my dresser. It had been removed from its sacred place in the bookcase, and left in my room.

I ran downstairs, book in hand to find my parents. I needed an explanation. I found them sitting at the dining room table. I placed the book on the table, but before I could ask any questions, my mom began talking.

SIDEBAR: During most of my growing up years my father rarely addressed me directly unless I was really fucking up. He gave instructions and directions to my mother on what to say to me and do with me, and carried out his marching orders. So even though my mother did the talking, I knew this was my father’s thing primarily – he completely ran the show in our house, even though my mother was usually the one onstage. I could hear his voice coming out of her mouth; it was extremely surreal.

“Petula, you’re getting older,” mom/dad began We want you to understand what is happening to your body as you get older. Read that book, and please come to us if you have any questions.”

“Ummm…okay,” I stammered in response. I didn’t feel like I could really inquire any further at that point. I did want to ask why he/they felt I needed to read these books right now. I wanted to know why he had snuck the book into my room in the middle of the night for me to find it in the morning. (Though I hadn’t caught him at it, I knew my dad did it.) But that statement was all I got. It seemed rather anti-climactic to me. I had always envisioned what getting “the talk” would be like when the time came – how my parents would be nervous, doing their best to talk to me and failing miserably. I had never been afraid of getting “the talk”; I just wanted to see what it would be like. And…this was all I got? Read this, and let us know if you have any questions? All things considered, I should have expected it. This was what we did in our family. We read. We looked things up. When we were happy we read. When we were sad we read. When we were troubled we read. So why wouldn’t we read now? Feeling somewhat let down, I took “ Your Child In Adolescence” back to my room.

In hindsight, I’m not sure it was the best way to present me with information on this delicate subject. The cold, clinical way that the book gave up the secrets of puberty was more traumatizing than anything they could have said to me. The first phrase that burned itself into my memory was “nocturnal emission” (that’s the fancy term for a wet dream in case you didn’t know). The idea that boys had dreams so powerful that it could make them have orgasms really troubled me for some reason. I didn’t like the idea of not being in control of your body and what it did. I was glad to read that this didn’t happen to girls, but then it made me wonder which of my male classmates had wet dreams.

I read about masturbation, and about breast and pubic hair development. The masturbation part didn’t interest me too much because I didn’t really get why you would want to do that kind of thing yourself – it seemed more sensible to me that you should just find someone to have sex with if you wanted the feelings that came from sex. (I’ve always been a highly sensible, practical girl you see.) The part about breast development didn’t interest me too much either. I’d had breasts practically all my life – I was pretty much born a B cup and by the time I had started reading the book at around 13 I was a sold 36C, much to the amazement of my classmates because it pretty much happened overnight. There wasn’t much the book could tell me about that. Now the pubic hair part did concern me because something about growing hair “down there” seemed nasty to me. Why did you need hair down there? Wouldn’t it stink? How would you keep it clean? Did you have to keep it cut so it wouldn’t go off growing and growing until you couldn’t walk without looking like you’d just gotten off a horse? I did a little check, and discovered I had a few strands at the time I started reading the book, I immediately cut them off with a pair of child’s safety scissors I found in my room with some old crayons.

I read about the pituitary gland, which lived in the brain and triggered all this madness. I read about the swift jump in hormones that caused boy’s voices to get deeper, girl’s hips to grow rounder and wider, and everyone’s mind to turn to sex, in one way or another. It frightened me actually. It sounded like the invasion of an army that I would be unable to fight. These hormones were going to take over me and make me into this…sex thing that I didn’t want to be. I felt like I was going to be possessed.

Now of course being a normal teenage girl, I did what all teenage girls did when they got hold of anything related to sex. I passed it on to my friends. So “Your Child In Adolescence” went into my book bag one day, and went with me to Herring Run Junior High School, to the seventh grade GATE (Gifted And Talented Education) Class.

Being in GATE meant you were officially a nerd. You had certification, paperwork proving your nerdyness. Every brainiac in the school was in GATE classes, where they were a bit safer from being taunted by the rest of the student body, and got offered extra stuff like more field trips and assemblies. The students in GATE were identified as being smart at early ages, but since I was new, I was put into a “regular” class when I started at Herring Run. Shortly after school started, my teachers recommended me for GATE, and I was invited to be screened. This meant taking a battery of tests given by psychologists and psychiatrists, including IQ tests. You had to look at ink blots, put puzzles together, all kinds of crazy stuff. This went on for two days. I was found to be sufficiently geeky, and got transferred into GATE. When I got there, I found that even in a class of misfits I was a misfit; the program’s director, Dr. Johnzak had announced that a new student was about to join the class, and that I had gotten some of the highest scores on the tests that he’d ever seen. He told them they had better be on point because I could easily beat them all out (I found this out after I’d been in the class for a few weeks) for the top spot in the class. When I got there, most of the kids already hated me.

So, seeking to ensure my popularity amongst the misfits, I showed the book to my desk mate in homeroom. She was a very flat chested girl who feared she would never grow boobs, and I quickly took her to the section of the book on breast development. She was happy to read that breast development often went on in teenage girls until 18, and I knew I was on my way to junior high school stardom. Over the next few days, the book circulated through the class. I never let anyone take the book home – the students would read it in class or during lunch or before or after school, but it always had to come back to me at day’s end. Suddenly I was popular, a sex guru, a legend at school. Everyone found out the real deal about sex – being the nerds they were, they loved all the intimate technical details about the inner workings of the body when you got an erection or when your nipples got hard. They especially loved learning all the proper terminology for everything, because expanding one’s vocabulary was important – learning terms like vas deferens, testicles, scrotum, labia, clitoris, vulva, areolas, and so on was empowering for them. And we went around using these words too, so the boys in class didn’t say “suck my balls”, they said “orally manipulate my testicles”. (It seemed much funnier at the time than it does now.) No longer were they limited to dick and pussy and titties, and maybe vagina and penis.  They loved it, and I rocked because I provided the knowledge!

When I finished the book, I returned it to my parents. My dad nodded thoughtfully as my mom asked (for both of them) if I had any questions. I really didn’t, so I said “no”. And I nodded back at my father in acknowledgement. And truthfully, I guess I didn’t. The book was pretty self explanatory, and I had figured out by then that they gave me the book because they didn’t want to talk to me. Why force it?  I was relieved not to have the book anymore, though my classmates were saddened. It had been a bit of a burden for me mentally and emotionally, carrying it around. But now the “sex talk” had been accomplished, I didn’t have to worry about the whole thing anymore. Or so I thought. Little did I know this was just the beginning.

After “Your Child In Adolescence”, periodically magazine articles would appear in my room related to puberty, teenage development, teen pregnancy, and so on. I would read the articles and return them to my mom and dad, always shaking my head “no” when she/they asked if I had any questions. The articles weren’t particularly graphic and were fairly easy to dismiss. I think the lack of reaction I gave my parents to the books and articles may have troubled them; I sometimes wonder now if I should have asked questions or engaged them more. I think they were looking for a response. And when I was fifteen, they broke out the big guns.

The big gun was a book entitled “Teenage Sexuality”. To me it was 387 pages of pure porn, disguised as scientific research.

“Teenage Sexuality” was a huge collection of studies about the sexual activities of young people aged 13-19. The research was thorough, broken down by gender, race, socio-economic groups and geographic locations (urban areas, rural areas, small cities, large cities, suburbs, etc.), and the age ranges were even broken down into young teenagers (13-14), middle teenagers (16-17) and older teenagers (18-19).

Since this was a scientific book, it was as brutally graphic and unflinching in its explanations as “Your Child In Adolescence”. But this time I was ready. I pored over the studies in the book and added tons of new words to my growing sexual vocabulary:  cunillingus, fellatio, mutual masturbation, auto fellatio, anal intercourse, outercourse, and more. I learned more than what percentage of teenagers were sexually active – I learned who they were, where they were, and what they were doing. Were they just getting straight to the sex, or were they having oral sex? Was this with one partner or multiple partners? Were they using more than one position? How often? What hours of the day or night were they most likely to be sexually active? What days of the week? Did they have sex with more than one partner simultaneously? Did they use sex toys? Did they record themselves? Did they share these intimate details with their friends? Did they use birth control? What kind did most teenagers use? And, the most important, burning question for me as a teenage girl – did most teenagers have sex with someone because there was an established ongoing relationship, or were they just having sex just to “do it”?

Now “Teenage Sexuality” was a GIGANTIC hit in my high school. In addition to all the studies, it had anecdotes from teenagers, who talked about their sexual experiences, what they did and why. I started out just showing it to a few of my close friends, and the next thing I knew classmates I didn’t even know were asking to see the book. This went on for most of the school year, and I am sad to report that eventually I lost track of the book and never saw it again. But strangely enough, this was the one book my parents never asked me to return. I guess they wanted me to keep it.

By this time I was sixteen. The grown men in the neighborhood that never paid much mind to me before were now rather lustfully admiring me. I had to wear bras all the time. I was no longer allowed to engage in the tomboyish activities of my pre-adolescence with my male friends. Suddenly the boys I had known for years treated me differently. I had even caught one of my male teachers admiring my breasts. Yuck! A lot was happening, and all I had were these books. And while my parents always asked “if I had any questions”, by this time I had so many I couldn’t get any one of them out. So none of them came out.

The one disadvantage about my “book learning” when it came to sex was that I never knew how my parents felt about my burgeoning sexuality. They never once told me what their opinions were. They never made any recommendations to me about what I should or shouldn’t do sexually. In fact not once can I remember them telling me not to have sex – at least not in so many words. That’s not to say they wanted me to, but it didn’t come across that way to me. I felt like they were leaving the decision to me after providing me the information, and that lulled me into a false sense of trust where they were concerned. When I finally did have a boyfriend (we’d been seeing each other casually since I was 14 and he was 13, but once we got a little older it got more official), it never occurred to me that I should keep it a secret. So I brought him to the house, and he was free to visit me as long as he left before 11 pm on school nights and midnight on weekends. And he could only come over a couple of nights a week. Unfortunately one day my parents caught me sitting on his lap, both of us engrossed in a “Newsweek” magazine article about the upcoming presidential elections (yes, I had a boyfriend as nerdy as me), they went ballistic. Now had I known better I would have done more to hide our relationship, but because my parents never led me to believe that sexuality was bad, it never occurred to me to hide it. Now it wasn’t as if I was giving him a lap dance, but the obvious physical closeness and the suggestive nature of it was too much for them. Funny thing was that I didn’t see me sitting on his lap as sexual, though he did, and hadn’t wanted me to sit there. He had said that if my parents came in they’d go crazy, but I told him they wouldn’t because they knew he was my boyfriend. They knew him, it wasn’t like he was some random stranger. Of course they banned the boyfriend from the house, which just meant I started sneaking around to see him, which included going to his mom’s house, and later his grandmother’s house when he went to live with her, where there was NO supervision at all. The first time we had sex was early one morning before school, in his grandmother’s bed after she had gone to work. I was 17. He and I had been discussing having sex for nearly two years prior, and of course he’d read my books. We did research, reading everything from “Playboy Advisor” and “Penthouse Variations” to the “Kama Sutra”. (Yes, I had really found a boy as nerdy as me.) We used condoms he’d brought some two weeks prior for protection, and once we began having sex regularly I started taking the pill. All total we were together five years; we broke up when I was 19. I never regretted the way my first time happened.

And according to “Teenage Sexuality”, we were the exception in many ways, because as teens in a major urban area we should have had sex earlier, without protection, and not with someone we had an ongoing relationship with.

Now I have an 18 year old daughter. My discussions with her about sex over the years have included books. But I don’t hand her reading material and send her on her way. I always read the books first – I learned years later that my parents NEVER READ any of the books they gave me before giving them to me from cover to cover, they just flipped through them. Technology being what it is now, it is web sites just as often as it is books that we have read together. I haven’t waited for her to come to me with questions; at times I have gone to her and just opened up conversation about this or that. I have been very truthful about sharing what sex was for me growing up. I have always told her what my thoughts and opinions were regarding sex when she asked, but always told her as an adult she would make her own choices. The most important thing I think I have given her is that I have encouraged her to own her sexuality. So many times I hear mothers tell their daughters “don’t let a boy…” do this or that, or “don’t let yourself get pregnant…” or “ you can’t allow him to…” The passive language drives me crazy, as if the girls had no ownership or say in the matter, as if sex was just something they have to keep from being forced upon them. So what were they supposed to do if they wanted it? I have encouraged my daughter, as she has become a young adult, to take ownership of her sexuality. To think about what type of man she wants to have sex with, especially the first time, and what circumstances does she want it to be under. Does she want it to be with her husband on her wedding night? Would she be okay if it wasn’t her husband, or just someone she was in a monogamous relationship with? Would she want to have a one night stand? What does she expect of her sex partners? I’ve told her, in so many words, that, at the very least, she never wants to have sex with someone who isn’t as just interested in her sexual pleasure as his own. (And there are way too many of those men out there, but that’s another blog entry.) And I’ve told her that sex doesn’t equal love. All in all, I want her to be as committed to maintaining herself as a healthy, functional, mature sexual being as she is to maintaining any other part of herself; I want her to make wise choices sexually.

As for me, I don’t read books about sex anymore. Now I write them. Well I don’t write books about sex specifically, but sex is a huge part of them. But I don’t write studies or clinical books; I write erotica, mostly short stories and poetry. But I guess it had to happen. My parents have been training me for this for a long time whether they realized it or not. So the next time I am selling a story to a publisher or performing a piece onstage, I’ll thank my mom and dad.