If you posed that question six months ago, the bells would have rung, and I’d go home with all the prizes because the answer would have been me. We have every age-appropriate book ever written on the subjects of sex and the human body, and I’ve always answered my 12-year-old daughter’s question with great candor and ease. Years ago, when she came to me requesting more information about her “Virginia,” I was all over it. Two days later she was explaining body parts to her bears. “Repeat after me. This is the vagina.”
Now, I have a rival, and she has an unfair advantage: she’s got street cred. Her name is Jenny, and everyday she holds court at the back of the bus. This where she practices her art of dispensing fallacious and salacious information while her acolytes whisper urgently and nod their head in agreement.
Picture a mini-Betty Davis with pink and black hair, peering through her cigarette smoke” and proclaiming in a world-weary voice, “Put out, honey, or be shut out.” Her puberty came early (of course) so she’s got plenty of curve appeal. To the sports bra set, this is all the qualification they need, but Jenny offers so much more. “Who’s doing it?” “Who wants to do it?“ “And who better do it soon?” Jenny sees and tells all. A mobile maven who is part sex therapist, part relationship coach—it’s so new millennium.
I first became aware of my nemesis when I took my daughter to see Juno. Great movie with lots of teaching moments, or so I thought until she uttered these words: “Jenny-from-the-bus said you can’t get pregnant the first time you have sex, so I think this movie was stupid.” I turned purple and through clenched teeth asked, “What else does Jenny-from-the-bus have to say.” This opened the floodgates. Everything from “you can’t get pregnant standing up because the sperm can’t swim that fast” to “ the only way to know for sure you’re pregnant is if McDonald’s fries make you puke” to “word to the wise—don’t chew gum if you’re doing your guy. It can get caught in his pubes and make a real mess.” Gee, thanks Jenny for those tips. I so totally get your point-- Love/sex isn’t for sissies and it requires some help to make it happen.
I managed to keep my cool as I calmly explained that Jenny was a stupid little so-and-so who should mind her own damn business. Since then I’ve tried to right my enemy’s wrongs. Now, like a soldier on the eve of battle, I’m stockpiling ammunition. I completely reorganized my Tivo line-up so that The Secret Life of an American Teenager and I Didn’t Know I was Pregnant are feature presentations. We’re starting with the basics. but this time I’m injecting them with extra awesomeness!
I’m not sure who’s winning, but at least I’m in the game. Yesterday, my daughter came home with news from her source. The headline was that Mark broke up with Serena because she wouldn’t give him a blow-dryer for his birthday. I asked if those were Jenny’s exact words. “I’m not sure. I mean why would Mark get so upset? He doesn’t even comb his hair?” So we sat down for a delightful conversation on oral sex, and I felt so much better. As long as she keeps asking, I’ll be there with the answers.I