An older woman

Part 2, My 1972

Harry Welty

In 1986 I got a classroom of seventh graders rolling on the floor laughing when I described how my three-year-old son climbed on a chair at Perkins and announced to the Sunday crowd, “I AM A BOY AND I HAVE A PENIS!” The laughing grew more frenzied when I told the class that my son loudly added,  “MY DAD IS A MAN AND HE HAS A PENIS!”  

In 1987, after an eighth grade girl called me a “douche” in class, I calmly asked her if she knew what a douche was. When she gave me a sly smile and shook her head NO I told her a douche was a “vagina cleaner.” I got fired for saying that.  

Before he was President, Donald Trump went on a late night TV show, pulled a Trojan packet out of his coat pocket and yelled, “Safe sex, everyone!” Before he was elected most of us heard him say on tape, “I did try and f*** her, she was married.”

Today his fervent evangelical voters think these are signs of a leader chosen by God to help them make their’s the official religion of America. They are getting closer. In states that make abortion nearly impossible, since the Dobbs decision there are 69,000 women who have pregnancies from rape.  

This Christianity springs from the South where Sunday school classes were taken to the lynchings of accused black rapists. It makes me feel a responsibility to lay out how I learned about sex. So I will and BTW my example is more tame than some stories I know like the fraternity brother who bet he could bed a new woman every night for a month. He was obviously Presidential timber.  

After 50 years there are fewer people for my candor to embarrass. The older woman I happily allowed to seduce me is long gone but her children are not so I’ll be vague. Her age was roughly halfway between mine and my mother’s.  

When I was in junior high my Mom was just a little too eager to have me learn about the birds and the bees. Minnesota was a little ahead of most states and God fearing Christians opposed Sex-ed. My Mother feared my ignorance more than God. I was horrified when she asked if I was learning everything I needed to know. Of course I lied and said “sure.” To be frank the teachers of 1964 were far less eager to talk about certain body parts than I was in 1987. For a long time I was just like them.  

As a very small child I recall seeing my mother naked while she dressed. I probably stared at her too intently because I never again saw her naked. In fact, I became such a prude that I knew that if my baggy swim suit slipped off after I dived into a swimming pool I would have no choice but to commit suicide rather than face ridicule.  

Despite my reticence my Mother was patient, clever and a good story teller. After my family left Topeka, Kansas for Minnesota she felt so guilty leaving her  widowed father in a Topeka rest-home that she and her sister took turns driving to Kansas every month for week-long visits with their war hero father, George Robb. At every visit she would ask him about his past and she would bring that past back to me in what now seem to  have been debriefings. 

She wanted me to know that history. I was especially interested in stories about the First World war that resulted in my  grandfather being awarded the nation’s highest military honor. On one occasion she brought back a story about sex that piqued my interest.  

In the trenches my Grandfather’s best friend was a fellow lieutenant. Lieut. Siebel was a worldly New Yorker. He would later be killed in a bomb blast that also killed their commanding officer and injured my Grandfather. It was the first of three wounds grandfather suffered that day and each time he refused to go the aid station behind the trenches. He had a battle to fight.  

Mom told me  how the two men were debating whether it was better to have sex with a single woman or a married woman. The experienced Siebel told my grandfather it was better to have sex with a married woman because if she got pregnant there wouldn’t be a scandal. Why it didn’t occur to Siebel, whose soldiers were black Americans, that such secrets might not always be easy to hide I don’t know. Perhaps race mixing was so inconceivable it didn’t occur to him.  

Grandfather must have been persuaded by his comrade because Mom told me how angry this made her. She told her father that impregnating a married woman could destroy a family. But on the other hand she also seemed to be defending single women. She told her father of a friend from college who had been sexually active. His view from 1918 was different from hers in 1948. Somehow without sex-ed she had learned ways of avoiding pregnancy. Maybe it had something to do with that strange rubber disc in our medicine cabinet  

Mother wasn’t finished with me because she put another idea in my head that didn’t seem that far off from Lt. Siebel’s advice. Mom told me that in medieval Europe well-to-do families introduced their sons to older women who would school them on sex. For some time this was simply theoretical. So, staying vague I will cut to the chase. My first “time” was with one of Lt. Siebel’s older women although she was no longer married. She would throw snowballs at my window to alert me to join her.  

Our first time I told her I didn’t want to make her pregnant. She told me not to worry. No babies were conceived but not long afterward she warned me that she had been exposed to an STD meaning that I would have to be treated too.  

As Trump told his TV audience, “Safe sex, everyone!”  

There’s no telling what Welty might say at