1. The Early Years---
I have this very, very faint memory of watching tv in our living room in Mobile. My brain being what it is, the part that I remember most about this whole experience is that the woman on the screen was wearing a bandana on her head. She had no hair, which I guess my Mom must have explained meant that she was very sick. I decided then and there that I would never wear a bandana.
During this formative moment about future head pieces, I believe that I asked where babies come from. This is where the memory ends. That's it. I have no idea what my Mom may or may not have said. Knowing her, it was pretty straightforward and a bit on the clinical side. Obviously I thought it was pretty dull because a bandana beat out that conversation for space in my permanent memory bank.
2. The Revelation--
Around fourth or fifth grade my Mom developed this horrible, life-shattering habit. No, it wasn't heroin, and she didn't develop a taste for the drink.
So much worse.
She would ensnare me on long road trips and talk about how I was going to start my period one day. I would get hysterical, all but clawing my way out the car on I-65 and try to make her take it all back. Occasionally she would relent with, "Ok, Laura, maybe you won't" so that I would raise my seat back up and stop humming. Needless to say, I wasn't hearing any talk about my own or anyone else's body.
Flash forward a year or so. I had completely bypassed training bras and gone straight to the top of everyone's pool party invite list. I was a most embarassed and begrudging VIP. To all of you girls who dreamed of developing in middle school, count yourself lucky. Boys in my class would call me the B-52 bomber. No, that is not a human size, but it stung nonetheless.
I found this attention weird and confusing. My friend at the time would've killed for it. She was definitely more cosmopolitan than me. She shaved her legs and knew about sex, which at that age, is basically the same as having your own apartment. She asked me if I knew about the big IT and I was like, "Yeah, I know. Fallopian tubes, sperm, tampax, clean your room, nine months, yada yada yada." She realized that I was pretty much in the dark and proceeded to explain the deed. I told her she was a liar and not funny and that that was impossible anyway. Turns out, I was missing a lot of anatomical information. Being a good friend and a prodigous artist, she shed some light on the situation by drawing the whole thing in sidewalk chalk on her parents' driveway. I was truly horrified. That night I bargained with God that I would never do that if he would take away periods and math class.
3. Teenage Years--
So let's add this up. I was a young girl who had found out only a few years earlier that God has a strange sense of humor and that belly buttons are not, in fact, the magical portal to pregnancy. By this point, every health and science class had pretty well convinced me that even thinking about sex will get you knocked up quicker than you can say unwed mother. Our school allowed a program called You Are Unique to come and talk to us about saving ourselves for marriage. This woman with the perkiest South Alabama Junior League accent told us a story about a young lady whose father...excuse me, let me do her justice...
whose Daddeh had given her a beautiful strand of pulllls (pearls for those who don't speak Bama-nese) to wear on her weddin' day. This young lady, though, wore them out one night in high school and spilled punch on them. She put them away after that, but then she took them out anotha night in college where they were broken. She put them back in the box. Years later at her weddin', she was standing with her Daddeh at the church and he went to put her pullllls on, but they were too spoiled too wear.
Well, I'm still snickering my way through life. I have learned that you cannot get pregnant by merely being horizontal. I get the reason for scaring teenage girls stupid by telling them that pregnancy will come and find them if they so much as speak its name. I think, though, that when you get married and may want to have a baby, someone at the end of the aisle should say, "Nah, we were just playing." I get a little nervous when I think about having to give the talk myself. I'm scared it'll come out all wrong. I just don't want them the think that if you don't wear a bandana while you're on your period, you might ruin your pearls and get pregnant.
Picture from here.