Hi everyone, it’s Zen!
Well, it’s been three months and no one has walked up and asked about the toy party or the blog or anything. Luckily, Father doesn’t use the Internet. I’ve still got my job. And I haven’t turned into a human lightning rod.
So I called Pete a few weeks after my meltdown and apologized for being so weird. He said he knew someone that I should meet and offered to pick me up. I made him promise that it wasn’t going to be some kind of girl-on-girl S&M or other scenario he had dreamed up. The time was set for 6:00 PM Friday.
“We’re going to see Fred.” Pete drove us to the far side of Lake Travis. I had never seen any of this and didn’t know it existed. High hills, dramatic valleys, the blue lake, boating and swimming and skiing. We soon arrived on a high ridge overlooking the whole of it, like a scene from a Western. Big Valley, maybe. Father loves Westerns.
Fred Reynolds introduced himself as a sexologist and didn’t blink when he said it. This unnerved me for a moment then I responded that I’m a teacher, to which Pete asked rhetorically, “Who teaches the teachers?” Fred asked him to go back to town to get Corona Extra and a can of whipped cream. Pete giggled as he left. I wasn’t sure whether to be concerned.
We sat on the front porch, gazing across the valley below. Fred didn’t say a word. I didn’t know what to say. I had never met a sexologist before. What was I supposed to do, tell him that I don’t know anything about sex? I tried not to stare at him. He seemed so relaxed and in the moment that soon I started to feel more at ease.
“I kissed a girl. Well, actually, she kept kissing me. But I didn’t mind.” Fred said nothing. “Her name was Jane. I didn’t even know her.” Fred seemed to be focused on something in the distance.”We were at a party and she used a dildo on me.” He looked down for a moment, then back toward the lake.
“I’ve never had sex before.” This got Fred’s attention, shifting in his chair slightly to turn toward me. “Really? How do you define sex?”
I was stumped. I had never thought about this question before. What is sex? Father always talked about how bad sex is for pretty much everyone except babies ‘cuz that’s what gets ’em born. Besides the regular stuff, there’s also fornication, prostitution, masturbation, bestiality, homosexuality… What kind of sex is the “right” kind? What do I say?
As if reading my mind, Fred spoke up. “‘Sex’ is a blanket term, the way it’s commonly used. We refer to anything that even hints of eroticism as sexual in nature. At the core, ‘sex’ just means gender, and humans participate in ‘sexual reproduction’ which just means that a member of each gender is required for procreation. However, the meaning of the word has been expanded to also include how we think about it.
“In most species, sex is sort of automatic. You know, you’ve seen dogs and maybe horses or sheep or something, right?” How did he know I am from farm country? “They know what to do when the time is right but they don’t think about it the way we do. Dolphins and bonobos are like us in that they recognize themselves as sexual beings. Humans and dolphins and bonobos can pursue sexual experiences independently of pure instinct. We can actually enjoy it.”
Fred stood and announced that the beer had arrived. Though I hadn’t seen or heard his truck pull up, Pete was handing me a cold Corona. “Townsend was just telling me how sex means something different to each individual, and I was telling her about sexual self-awareness in higher mammals.”
Pete lit one of his funny cigarettes and said between puffs, “I used to think there was something wrong with me for liking all the things I do. Somewhere, somehow, somebody always has a problem with one thing or another and that makes it hard to talk about anything at all.” Fred asked if it was easy for me to talk about my sexuality. Deer in headlights.
“Zen writes a column for Sandra.” “Ah,” Fred nodded knowingly. Dammit, Peter, shut up. “Yeah, she’s a real pro. S&M parties, swinger orgies, sex toys, Zen does it all.” Shut up, asshole! “Why, just the other day she had a romp with a hot Scandanavian airline stewardess!” My beer was getting low quickly.
Fred resumed his gaze over the valley as Pete distributed more cerveza. “There is no right or wrong in sex. Right and wrong are moral or ethical judgments on behavior. It’s your intent that determines that. But how you feel and think about sex is entirely up to you and no one else, and there is never a right or wrong way to feel or think about anything.”
Pete leaned in and asked, “Do you feel OK about Jane?” I nodded and said that Jane probably feels OK too. “And did either of you do anything wrong?” I said no right away though my mind was still looking for a plausible reason to condemn what happened that day. I’m sure Father could have found something negative to say about it but strangely I could not. The sun was winking out on the horizon in the most spectacular display I have ever witnessed.
Fred began talking about the history of Lago Vista and its airport and the lake and about a lover who was a great-great-great-something to a man named Hornsby that performed the original survey of Austin and the Capitol, and how his name is associated with a leg of the Colorado River further south where he was granted “a league and a labor” of land, a measurement that apparently only Texans understand.
The evening passed quickly into night. Stars were everywhere. Fred asked Pete if he had remembered the Cool Whip, to which Pete responded with his signature cackle. I wasn’t sure what would happen next so I excused myself and found a bathroom, only to return to find these two supposedly mature gentlemen spraying handfuls of the white foam and clapping them together, laughing hysterically as the goo splattered. Boys.
I thought of my kids at school. Then I thought about them having to figure all of this stuff out too someday, just like me and pretty much everyone that ever lived.
“Who teaches the teachers?” Pete’s words stuck in my mind. It finally hit me: We’re all teachers.
I’ve got a lot to learn.
(Zen here, almost a year later. I saw this fantastic article on Alternet today and just had to link it here. It says what Fred was telling me that evening from the persepctive a young man about my age. Listen up, everyone – you’re not alone.)