ok fellas. we gotta talk.
i was recently at a reception and sat down with a friend i hadn't talked to in awhile. i asked him what was up. what was new. during our catch-up he remembered something, lifted a finger in the air and said, "oh, get this". he proceeded to tell me a story about how he, needing a computer quick, raised the lid of his teen son's laptop and found something on the screen that made both his eyes and mouth go wide. it seems his thirteen year old son, after his latest digital tryst, forgot to, in his euphoric stupor i reckon, close the browser window that provided his last set of visual aids. and we're not talking about victoria's secret ads or the latest SI swimsuit images. we're talking about the real deal, the full monty, a no shots barred caliber of eye candy, or perhaps in this case straight-to-the-vein heroin.
as the story unfolded, my eyes and interest grew as much as this man's did at the discovery. when he had laid the whole story before me i let out an empathetic exclamation and asked him what he did. he stepped through his thinking and his sitting the son down and the uncomfortable conversation that ensued. sitting back i confessed that my boys weren't there yet, but they were charging to this juncture at light-speed. i imagined, for the first time, what such a conversation might look like. at this dining room table in the middle of a huge hall, this man and i huddled close looking like conspirators hatching a plan. i surveyed the realities of the situation:
young, curious, hormone-riddled boys
a high-bandwidth, full-access, un-moderated internet
a parental nightmare
i told the man that given the seven minutes i had to think it through, it seemed like all fathers of young boys in this technologically and informationally open landscape simply have to have a very adult conversation with a child. we have to tell them that this stuff exists. it will be important to add that what they find online is not representative of the real-world, or at least it is only as accurate as, say, hannah montana or the hunger games is. and that, personally, if i treated their mother in a comparable manner, that within twenty-four hours of the offense, i would likely wake up with my genitals duct-taped into my mouth.
but the simple truth is:
making the basic question:
- a world of sexual and sometimes crazed material is out there.
- these are innocent youths just beginning to form their ideas of what sexuality is.
- given the internet, instead of wading into a kiddie pool small step after small step, they are being thrown from an ocean liner, mid-pacific, in the midst of a typhoon.
and a consideration for the ladies. for those of you thinking that:
- how do you prepare a young man for this experience.
should know that you are living in a dream world if you think any of the above three options is at all realistic.
- your little johnny wouldn't do that or
- you can tell your little angels that stuff is bad and they should stay away or
- even thinking your own husband doesn't have a url, a folder of images or even a 1TB hard-drive of the stuff they've curated stashed away somewhere
i've talked about this with a few fathers (and mothers too although i find those talks less fruitful because frankly, as i've said before, the female mind is simply unable to conceive the depravity-potential of the male mind). the best answer i heard to date is that you should talk to the child and explain that this stuff exists, it is out there, and they are sure to bump into accidentally (or intentionally) or hear about it from their friends, and that it is totally normal (and healthy) to be curious and to want to see what it is all about but they need to know there are a lot of bizarre things out there and if they see anything that makes them uncomfortable, they should probably move onto something that doesn't make them uncomfortable.
a few weeks later i shared this insight with another friend, saying i thought it sounded like a reasonable approach. then my second friend said:
yeah, but when you're first coming to it, doesn't it all seem strange and bizarre. who is going to tell them that licking this is acceptable but this not so much, when at the end of the day, and with a clear, un-aroused mind, considering running your tongue over either of those body parts is equally dubious.
his thought reminded me of an old dennis miller bit where he talked about when you are deep in the act, anything goes, and you and your partner are grinding and gyrating and audibilizing and contorting in all these machinations and, in the heat, it all seems right and normal but the second it's done, you're saying things like:
and let's not forget about the mysterious origins of attraction. foot fetishist started liking feet at some point in their development. a guy once told me he liked licking the back of girls knees because of the sharp scent and taste. and he figured that out without an internet at his disposal. this leads me to believe we may be eleven kinds of screwed. which is about ten more than we logged on for.
- why are you wearing my bra?
- can you get off my arm because it suddenly feels like the joint is about to break?
- did you say i was your dog in heat? maybe. don't do that again. ok.
i know i'm far from done thinking on and talking about this topic but let me throw a few more ingredients into your brain's stewpot for consideration.
- regardless of your family's laws and beliefs, no one is immune to this part of our society (and humanity).
- yes, i know the girls need to be addressed to, but i also know, or believe deeply, that that conversation is wildly different.
- just in case you think i'm saying there are answers in anything above, there are not. just hard and complicated questions. questions i feel like it would be good for us to have some thoughtful and well-reasoned positions on.
- and no, i am not the back-of-the-knee-licking guy. i met him in canada.