My brother and I were chatting the other day about our teenage years. It's impossible for us to go down that path without the subject of weed, booze, and sex being the main topics of conversation. As our mother drifted into the kitchen our voices became hushed whispers. This is purely out of habit and guilt as our matriarch refuses to wear her hearing aides and is deaf without them.
My brother spoke in hushed undertones, "I was too bloody freaked out to do too much stuff like pot, sis." I looked at him, rolled my eyes and muttered, "You were a pot-head, don't kid me." To which he replied, "Never was, sis." I gave him my sisterly hands on hips, do I look stupid pose. He continued, telling me that he'd been scared shitless to misbehave after Dad had given him, the talk. A head jerk toward the direction of our mother was instant code that he'd fill me in later.
The following evening we found ourselves doing the dishes at his home while the rest of the family lingered in the living room. "I gotta tell you about the religious shit, sis. The Gospel according to our father, the sex talk from Dad." He was animated as he spoke, laying the tea towel on the bench and taking a sip from his goblet of red wine. I wondered what the hell he was about to confess.
"Well, when Dad took me downstairs for the big talk."
"Age?" I asked, needing to get a clear picture of the situation at hand.
"Jeez, I dunno sis. I was bloody freaked out though, maybe eleven or just on twelve. Anyway, the old man ranted and raved on about how God looked down on those who had sex before marriage, and all that other stuff. I'd never really heard him go on about God like that before, but he was preaching up a convincing storm. He had me believing."
My brother looked at the ceiling of the kitchen as if he was expecting to be hit by a bolt of lightning before resuming his story.
"I mean, for a kid my age that was bloody scary stuff, sis. There I was, a young pubescent kid, hoping to at least get a bit of stink finger in the not too distant future, when my own father starts preaching that I'd go to hell if I even thought about sex. It ruined me for a long, long time. It was brutal stuff, sis."
I grabbed the detergent and squirted some into the dishwater.
"That's awful, and sad. But exactly how long was a long time? Before you were able to, you know... "
He thought for a second, shook his head and replied, "Jeez, I reckon it ruined me for a good six months."
At these words I cracked up, "So let me get this right. Dad's lecture freaked you out so much, made you absolutely terrified of even thinking about sex, that you held off from anything until you were... twelve, maybe twelve and a half?"
He did the math instantaneously in his head then grinned and we both doubled over laughing. "No wonder it was you that fell out of the car while Dad was driving us to church that one Sunday morning. Remember that?"
He instantly became serious again. "Christ, that was bloody awful wasn't it? Too much damn stink finger I guess." He was at least fifteen by then.
The dishes were eventually done with more laughter and reminiscing. Later that evening as I got Mum into the car and drove her down the dirt road to her little cottage on the farm, it hit me that sharing stories from our childhood makes getting older a hell of a lot of fun.