Sunday, February 11, 2007

The First Time

from the diary: “Friday 4/4/86

“Speaking of fucking (and we weren’t) today and yesterday I been reading The First Time by Karl and Anne Taylor Fleming. This should be required reading in high school. It helps to know that a lot of famous successful people had a hard time with sex. Dr. Benjamin Spock was a virgin when he was twenty, too. And coming (unfortunately no pun intended) right after For Your Own Good I pick up a lot of what Alice Miller said about children being the dumping grounds of their parents’ problems. We repeat our parents. Not always, and never exactly the same way, sometimes worse, sometimes better, but we get an incredible legacy.”

I’m not a big one for dumping secrets. I’ve read memoirs/personal essays in which the author seems to be telling all, and that’s fine, I can be shocked and amazed, and I can wonder what reaction others in their lives are having to seeing/hearing these stories told. I’m not a big one on keeping secrets, stuffing them away in boxes. But then at most my secrets are embarrassing, nothing criminal, no big betrayals or addictions, diseases or accidents or violations.

I didn’t really know enough about my mother’s story to be able to say with authority, “We repeat our parents.” And I knew a good deal less about my father’s story. It’s a pretty banal statement, though, isn’t it? We repeat our parents in so many obvious ways, what’s unreasonable about saying it likely our sexual lives are not without precedent? Mom, it seemed to me, was uncomfortable talking about sex, uncomfortable with the idea of sex, let alone the actuality. My sister, who knew Mom when Mom married her father, sister already eight years old, remembers a woman who wore form-revealing dresses, drank cocktails, and went out dancing with her handsome father. Sister did not consider my mother repressed.


David Lee Ingersoll said...

Mom seemed to be comfortable talking about some aspects of sex. Certainly she told me the mechanics of fucking very early on. ('Cause I asked what "fuck" meant. That gave me the information to pass on to guys whose parents hadn't given them the definition. I was one of sources when kids learned about sex on the streets. Heh.)

And she did tell us some of her romantic history.

Would I call her comfortable with sex? No. Did she pass on neuroses to us? Oh yes.

Mom smoked (but said she didn't inhale). Mom drank (but said she'd only been drunk a couple of times). She was very liberal for a woman of her generation.

It seems like she got weirder about sex as she got older, especially when she became willing to discuss her own child abuse. (But maybe I'm just not remembering faithfully.)

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Yeah, "weirder as she got older" ... that may well be the case. I wonder what she was like before we knew her?