Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Birds and the Bees

At the Memoir Writing Group which I attend on most Monday afternoons we have a system we use to select topics. There is a coffee can and a bundle of small cards. If any member of the group thinks of a title/topic for a blog, she or he picks up a card, writes the thought on it, and drops it into the can.

We begin our sessions at 2:00 PM and write for two hours. This gives us enough time to write two entries and then read each out loud to the others. While there has been no panning of any contribution, each of us may comment upon the offering if we wish to do so.

On this past Monday I had an obligation to attend to so I had to leave early. However, I waited until the second topic was chosen. It was the title that you see at the top of this blog. While this does break the thread of most of my entries, I thought that I could have some fun writing this for all to see.

In case you have not read my earliest blogs, I am the oldest child in a family of four offspring. After me came my sister, Alda who is 22 months my junior. My first year was troubled by a serious illness and the impact of that has colored the rest of my life.

For instance, I understand that there is often some jealousy exhibited by an older child when a new one enters the family group. I have no recollection at all of Alda until I was about four years old and our family unit had left my grandparents' home and moved to a little cottage  about half a mile away and in the forest. My memories of that time are mainly of playing in the yard during a summer - although I do have a vague memory of me attempting to change Alda's hair color from fair to dark by using black shoe polish! That is the first spanking that I can remember receiving. I don't know why Mom was so mad at me - all I was doing was trying to help?

We four kids were spread out in age. The next one to arrive was Gladys (known to us as 'Babs'). She was born in December of 1943 on the day before Alda's sixth birthday. Daniel (Dan) was the last born - in 1949 when I was 13 and nearly 14. Here was when I remember the 'Birds and the Bees' lecture happening.

The house where we were living at that time was heated by a wood burning stove. Out back of the house - and off to one side - was a woodshed. Dad and I were out there with him splitting and me stacking some wood. It was then that he (rather shyly) tried to explain the facts of life to me and I was really clueless. Something that Dad said then puzzled me has remained with me ever since. Was there a girl in my class at school the presence of whom bothered me?

I believe that Dad was referring to the usual boy/girl thing that so often seemed to be more hostility than amorous interest. I don't think that Dad knew that I was Gay - it would take me many more years to come to that conclusion myself.

Shortly after the woodshed incident was when the local Roman Catholic School Board decided to close down their schools in an attempt at forcing the Provincial Government into funding Separate Schools. The reaction of the Public School Board was to institute a swing shift with senior high school students attending from 7:30 AM until noon while the junior grades attended from 12:30 until 5:00 PM.

I was the only male person in our neighborhood who was in the senior grades so I had those afternoons all to myself.  Above our house was the forested ridge and I spent many afternoons on my own tramping through the woods and the ravines thinking and wondering. It was then that I began to realize that I was gay and, therefore, had no interest in females. Around that time a friend (actually - Alda's boyfriend) helped me to explore that further.

Yes - there was the High School Prom and also Graduation. It took an awful lot of steeling on my part to get up courage to ask a girl to be my date. I don't think that she really had that good a time!

Birds and Bees?

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