Because she was a virgin two years into her first marriage, my mother chose to start my sex education when I was eight. Over dinner at the Olive Garden, on Shelbyville Road in Louisville, Kentucky, with my stepfather across the table, my mother handed me the book, Sex Before Marriage: Guidance for Young Adults, ages 16 to 20 by Eleanor Hamilton, printed by Merideth Press in 1969. Her mother had given her the book when she was eighteen, as a wedding present.
“Your grandmother thought you could get pregnant from French kissing,” she said. “Triple bag it if you have to. If you’re like me, you’re very fertile.”
I was skinny, stringy-haired. I collected stamps. At summer camp that year, the sixteen-year-old counselor in training had the girls’ bunks together to play truth or dare. I was dared to give a blowjob to a baseball bat (rather then tell the truth about whether I’d ever shoplifted). I examined the bat, considering the best approach, then blew on it as one might blow out birthday candles. An older girl demonstrated a different technique – with what I know now, that baseball bat was an optimistic substitute.