I've been talking about sex since one afternoon in Fredericksburg, Texas, in the spring of 1991.
I woke up groggy in a one-room cabin from a heat-addled sugar coma on Easter Sunday, and aside from my sweaty brother still sleeping next to me, the room was empty. I was 6. I blinked as I looked around the room, trying to get my bearings. Spring break, my brain reminded me. Concrete floors. No AC. Cows for miles.
I went looking for my mother, and when she wasn't in the bathroom I tried the front door, vaguely surprised that I had to unlock it. On the porch in front of me, a trail of clothes 20 yards long led me to an image I will never forget: my naked mother propped atop the hood of my step-dad's black '87 Jaguar, their pale bodies slamming against one another in a position I have yet to experience in my own sex life - her legs akimbo, hands gripping the windshield wipers, my stepfather's scrawny ass thrusting in between the time it took for him to sort of sideways scissor kick her thighs by hand, all of it with the gusto and rhythm that I at first mistook for partner Jazzercise. I quietly crept back into cabin and woke my 4-year-old brother, Chris.
"Don't tell Mom, but I just saw her naked on Tom's car."
"What were they doing?"
"I don't know. Exercising. Don't tell."
It only took him an hour to blurt the news to my parents, and only seconds for my parents to concoct some cover story about sunbathing. But by the time we'd returned home to Houston, I'd pieced together the fragments from sneaking late-night-TV and eavesdropping on my dad's sleepovers with his 22-year-old girlfriend.
"Mom. Was that sex?"
She looked at me with all the resolve she had, and said, quite finally, "Yes." She kissed me goodnight, and we haven't spoken of it since.
I have to hand it to my mother: I've always been a curious child, and issues of sex and love have always been high on my radar. It couldn't have been easy to be so steadily bombarded with questions like, "Why would anyone 'munch a carpet'?" or more philosophically, "Do you think love is more about fate or timing?" Most memorably, I pulled her aside in the middle of my grandfather's birthday dinner to demand, "Mom, what is the difference between 'oral sex' and an 'orgasm'?" She always tried to answer me succinctly but honestly. The short answer was usually more than enough information to ponder, so after she finished she would quietly slip away and recover while I embarked on a lifelong quest seeking knowledge of the secrets behind human hearts and bodies.
When I was a child, I didn't have the Internet, so my copy of Our Bodies; Our Selves and the secret stash of porn I found in my dad's closet were my library. One wacky aunt had a first edition of the atlas-sized The Joy of Sex, and I spent hours staring at the carefully rendered armpit hair on the woman, the soft trail of pubic curls linking the man's navel to his penis.
The penis didn't shock me since I grew up with a brother close to my age who was my frequent bath-partner, and a father who changed openly in front of his children for as long as I can remember. It wasn't the body so much as what you were supposed to do with it that I found so fascinating.
And there is so much to discover. The minute I swiped my V-card a month after my 18th birthday was the end of just reading. Since that awkward first encounter I haven't gone longer than a few weeks in my life without doing some field research. However, I am somewhat catastrophically a relationship-person: I have had only one-and-half one-night-stands in my life (I knew the second guy and slept with him twice, which definitely straddles the definition as far as I'm concerned) and only a single legitimate threesome. I've slept with two women but kissed dozens; my freshman year of college I went through a phase where kissing was more or less a handshake. And then, the summer before my sophomore year, I entered into what would be an almost six-year relationship that threw me screaming through a wide spectrum of sex-and-love issues: long-distance and infidelity; an accidental pregnancy; a Romeo-and-Juliet-type of disapproval from my family that led to a brief but painful estrangement; a several-month-long backpacking trip through South America where the bounds of our love and our sexual appetites were thoroughly tested. We lived together, had plans to marry and adopted two cats. Then, shortly before my 25th birthday, I found myself suddenly desperate for space. A mismanaged breakup and my long-awaited sexual revolution ensued.
As Creative Loafing's new sex columnist, here's what I want to talk about: the myth of virginity. The merits of good butt-play. How my retired high school art teacher just friended me on Facebook and is posting half-naked photos fondling a former student on a beach. Why rape-games are fun and bad at the same time. How laughing during sex is key. Whether or not my two year "friends with benefits" relationship was successful or not. Why giving three blowjobs in a single day can be empowering. How my father's death from AIDS lost me friends and still didn't keep me from always using a condom.
Whether extramarital affairs actually are the kiss of death. What to do when your boyfriend cries all the time. Why I struggle with adding toys to my sex life. Whether or not there really IS porn for everyone, and how to enjoy it discreetly. What it really means to drop the L-bomb and not to hear it back. How dreams about fucking your dad can happen to anyone - even you.
I don't pretend to have answers: I have experience, an embarrassing number of hours logged searching the ins and outs of humping and pumping, and my curiosity is insatiable. I want to talk about these things more than anything, and there isn't a soul I don't want to discuss this with. It's been 22 years since that day in Fredericksburg - I'm still looking for information.