I am a bad girl.
I am also a wife, a mother, a librarian...a role model. Waiting in a theater, surrounded by other mothers, I find myself furtively writing this post, at the last minute, as I wait for my daughter to finish her dress rehearsal for the Nutcracker. Glancing up frequently in guilt, I dash down these words.
I discovered my father's porno collection when I was six years old. Bored with playing in my dollhouse I explored our basement one afternoon and noticed a small chest of drawers tucked behind some packing crates. Fearful of Jerusalem crickets, I didn't want to reach into the dark behind the boxes but my curiosity was too great. I slid the moldering boxes aside and stood barefoot on the cool concrete considering the chest. It was an odd thing, rough wood painted a burnished gold with three long drawers; on each a large circular drawer pull just begging to be grabbed. Surely it held treasure!
I sat down before the chest. The top drawer slid open to reveal a montage of junk that I immediately knew belonged to my father. The drawer held a woodsy, spicy, exotic scent that I can almost taste just by remembering it. Old keys and older key rings, mini tool kits, dried up pens, rusty paper clips. So much for treasure! Although I knew my father would be angry at me just for digging in his stuff, that drawer was a bust. The next drawer however was quite a bit more interesting. This one as filled with magazines. Scantily clad women gazed demurely at me from the covers of several vintage Playboys. I flipped through the pages with interest, noting the tilt of hips here, the slightly parted lips there and thinking that those women were beautiful and glamorous in their satin covered boudoirs. Very interesting but the best was yet to come.
The third drawer was the prize. Full of books, there were a few instructional manuals and about 15 adult novels. Slim volumes of cheaply bound smut with names that got right to the point - Sleep-Away Camp Counselor, Girl's School HEAD-Master. A precocious child, I already read voraciously, and I proceeded to devour the slim volumes with innocent enthusiasm. They were written on about a second grade level so it wasn't even a challenge. By the time I wandered upstairs that day, careful to put everything back just as I'd found it, I had been introduced to oral sex and anal, threesomes, orgies and some light bestiality. I knew better than to mention what I'd been reading to my parents. My Catholic upbringing screamed that the way those books made me feel meant there had to be something naughty about them.
Still, I read them all over the course of the long summer. Ora-Genitalism was one of my favorite titles. Written in the 50's, it went so far as to map the perfect kind of woman to receive oral sex from - full lips, soft hands, duh! - and even went into detail about the ways a man could train his tongue so as to greater pleasure his mate. It was incredibly informative. I also spent quite some time in the dim basement studying the illustrations from The Art of Sexual Fantasy while my family clomped about overhead.
Now, my parents didn't mean to be so neglectful with me but it was a rough time for them. My gramma, who had lived with us for a decade, was dying of cancer in our mother-in-law suite and they had my new baby brother to fuss over. They were just glad I wasn't underfoot and happy I'd taken such interest in the old dollhouse in the basement. Still, it is a sad thing when an elementary-schooler is so well-versed in lust.
One day my mom wandered downstairs unannounced. Did she miss me? Suddenly wonder what could be holding a six-year-olds interest in a chilly basement for hours each day? I was in the back, sitting on an old blanket I'd made into a kind of reading nest when she walked in and found me, a book in one hand and the other...well, you figure it out. She lost her mind. Screaming, kicking boxes. Terrified, at first I thought she was angry with me, but then I realized it was my father she was ready to murder. She disappeared up the stairs and came back, dragging him by his shirt. Gesturing at the box, she told him to get that trash out of her house, to burn it. He picked up the whole chest and walked out. I never saw the books again.
My mother stormed to their bedroom and locked herself in, but my father sat quietly on the couch and waited for me to emerge, red-faced, from the basement. He wanted to ask me what I'd exactly I'd read.
"Everything?" I intoned solemnly.
I tried to name some specifics but I was so embarrassed I almost couldn't form the words. The damage was done. My mom and dad couldn't make me unread all that I had digested over the past few months. My father looked at me with chagrin. Those had been his books his child was reading.
I don't remember the exact words of what he said then, but it it was something like this...
"Honey, there are some pretty wild things in those books. You are just a little girl, and I don't want you to read about something now, and grow up thinking it's disgusting, because there's so much about sex that is great. The things you read might sound weird to you, but sometimes adults do those things because they feel really good..."
What my six-year old mind took from that was that naughty sex is fun. I say that only half-jokingly. In asking me not to be disgusted, my father allowed me to grow up without fear of sex or sexuality. Those books, I don't want to blame them for my vivid fantasy life or the kinky twists and turns I have made in bed...and in the woods...and in graveyards and...well, you know what I mean! But they certainly were a steep cliff to dive off of.
They also freed me from a life of judging others when it comes to sexuality. What gets you off is your thing. Consenting adults shouldn't need my approval, or anyone elses, to have a good time. As Dave Attell says “Hey, whatever a man and a woman and another woman with a penis and a midget do to a donkey, that’s their business.” Feel free to do it - and to know I'll still be your friend if you need to talk about it in the morning.
So, why do I feel like such a bad girl? As tolerant as I am, glancing around the theater, I fear that the people who are so friendly on a superficial basis, the ones who just don't know me that well, would cringe if they knew about my wild past, my dirty mind, my well stocked "toy box." I could be all wrong. Maybe everyone is "bad" now that we are adults. But, no matter how old I get, sex to me will always feels a little forbidden, a little naughty, and the scent of a damp basement can almost always make me blush.