Friday, June 21, 2024

Steven Ivory: The Carnal Knowledge of Sex Ed(ward)

Who taught YOU about the 'Birds and the Bees?'

Sex Education - Depositphotos
Sex Education – Depositphotos

*I’d never heard the word before. Yes, school is for learning, and indeed, this was class. But I was 11, in the sixth grade, and in my limited knowledge, that word didn’t sound like it had anything to do with sex.

Then again, this wasn’t a class ordained by the Oklahoma City Public Schools system. This was lunchtime in the cafeteria at Carter G. Woodson Elementary, 1966, and Ed McIntosh, over meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and big, puffed-up buttery dinner rolls, was sharing more of his sexual exploits with four of his favorite wide-eyed male classmates, when he used the word “wince.”

That’s what Ed said one of our female classmates did the moment he inserted his penis into her vagina.  He said it happened one day during lunch period on a couch in the garage at the home of the girl’s family near our school.

While most were sure it was Ed just talking jive, some of us believed Ed was really having sex, irrefutable proof being the shriveled, dried-up condom he proudly carried in his worn wallet. (Boys would get a condom, use it, and then carry it in their wallets to use over and again.) We’d heard girls say “ouch” at the onset of sex. “Wince” was something new.

Sex Education - Depositphotos
Sex Education – Depositphotos

“I don’t get it,” said diminutive Danny Stewart, pushing his bifocals up the bridge of a formidable nose. “She went?  Went where?”

“Nawl, she didn’t go nowhere,” said Ed. “She kinda moaned when I put it in.  That’s what wince means.”

Tall, dark skinny Ed was our age, but infinitely more streetwise. He could be as childish and silly as I, a fan of DC and Marvel comics and Astro Boy cartoons.

The “other” Ed was supposedly having sex with females. Whatever he did, he shared with his “boys.”

Truth is, everything I learned about sex as a child came from Ed and other boys who were having sex and willing to talk about it or virgins who dutifully circulated schoolyard myths.

The birds and the bees
The birds and the bees – Depositphotos

Did your parents explain the so-called “Birds and the Bees?”

Mine certainly didn’t. While driving me somewhere, Daddy emerged from deep reflection to declare that if ever I were constipated, putting a finger up there would promote movement. That was our talk about body functions. Mama, whom I viewed as progressive in her outlook on life, never uttered a word to me about copulation.

Typically, the sex stories boys told were glazed with the chauvinistic insinuation that a girl didn’t care for sex–she had to be persuaded. Her hypothesized reluctance was part of the lure. No boy ever described anything resembling a female’s orgasm.

A proverbial late bloomer, I’m the only man I know who [will admit he] didn’t have sex until he was 21. She was experienced, kind, and exceedingly patient. You can imagine how hard I fell in what felt like love, true and absolute.

Of course, when conscious, curious adults have sex, childhood myths evaporate.  Turns out, women don’t have to be swayed into having sex. They like it.  And though it can be complicated, females have orgasms.

Sex Education - Depositphotos
Sex Education – Depositphotos

Today, I’m not sure if sex education is taught in schools. But in an era where some school systems ban books, shun factual history, and give cultural inclusion the side-eye, you wonder what kind of reception is given to teaching biological human conception.

All the reminiscing got me wondering about Ed, my childhood carnal guru. By my middle school years, my family had moved out of Oklahoma City’s predominantly Black East Side neighborhood of my birth, leaving friends, including  Ed, behind.  Where was he now?

On Facebook, I found an Edward McIntosh in Chicago, and messengered a single sentence: “Did you by any chance attend Woodson Elementary in Oklahoma City?” About an hour later came a response. “As a matter of fact, I did attend Woodson Elementary!”

I described where he and I lived as kids and what we did for fun.

“Dude, I remember those days.”

I’ll be damn. I just found Eddie Mac.

I asked about his two younger brothers and told him how kind I remember his mom to be.  Ed responded that the family was scattered across the country and doing well, including one in Philly, where his mother had relocated.

Then I mentioned the used condom he showed us. “You had me convinced you were having sex,” I wrote, using a laughing emoji.

“Yeah, I remember,” Ed responded, following that with a smile emoji. “Those early days of getting’ down with chicks made me a father at fifteen! Altogether I have nine kids including twins and eighteen grandchildren.” Another smile emoji.

“Nine kids are not a family,” I replied, “that’s a singing group.”  I joked that without children of my own, I might just take one of those grandkids.

“Go for it,” said Ed. “but just remember, kids never stop asking.”  Another emoji. This one was a happy face with a straight line in place of a smile. I later looked up its meaning on an emoji chart: Neutral, irritated, or not amused.  “Hope you’re well,” Ed wrote, followed by yet another emoji, this one smiling.

Sensing I was losing him, I followed up with some prattle about our childhood love of Astro Boy…Crickets.  Edward McIntosh was gone.

I’ve heard about people using the Internet to find childhood friends and lost lovers, with varied outcomes. Seldom is the result mutual: One person has a sentimental yearning to reconnect, while the other person barely recalls who you are.

Ed was cordial, but never gave me any indication that he remembered me. I wanted to know so much more. Things that weren’t any of my business.

However, one thing is certain: When we were kids, Ed McIntosh really was having sex.

Steven Ivory
Steven Ivory

Steven Ivory, veteran journalist, essayist, and author, writes about popular culture for magazines, newspapers, radio, TV and the Internet. Respond to him via [email protected]

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