Really? Do we have to?
When it comes to sex I’ve always taken a rather more practical approach. Let’s just say that I’m more about the doing than the talking. I’ve done the talking thing don’t get me wrong however tequila and cocaine is most probably required. When it comes to actual open communication about sex I am not your girl. When in a relationship, although not common it has happened, if the question of sex or a lack thereof has arisen I’m much more of a head in the sand type of person than dashing off to Anne Summers to buy the latest peeka boo red lacey frilly thinga ma jig.
I’ve never owned a vibrator. Never. This may surprise people that know me as I have always been fairly promiscuous, a traditional nineties lad-ette I would pride myself on my ability to go out and treat men as pieces of meat. I got a reputation for being a bar shark when living in the Alps where everyone is pretty much at it all season and have been known to be dangerously spontaneous, obnoxious and loud. However when it comes to the old actual conversing in a normal way about sex which I assume one would have to do when purchasing a sex toy or fixing a broken sexual relationship I completely clam up, disengage and hide under the duvet.
I mean a hair brush works just as well and if I don’t want to have sex with you I’m hardly likely to want to talk about it am I?
I blame my parents. It may surprise you that I did not grow up in a house full of well-meaning yet sexually repressed nuns. No, I grew up with the parents that were so mad about each other (and still are) they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. But not like constant heavy petting more like as soon as you leave them alone, BAM they’ll be sandwiched together like the two young lovers they most definitely are not anymore. My sister and I cottoned on to this quite young and would try to break them apart if we caught them kissing in the kitchen on a Sunday (it’s always on a Sunday) but the real trauma hit home on holiday. Oh yes.
On holiday my family was all about the integration. My mother is a budding linguist and would have us learn a bit of the language of whatever country we were in, I’m making it sound more glamorous than it was we rarely left Europe and mainly learned a bit of Spanish or French, however this integration cleverly involved a siesta no matter where we were. This siesta served several purposes I have since realised although again me and my sister were not far behind on this one either, first one was get the kids out of the sun at the hottest part of the day, it’s sensible and pretty normal for the middle class parent that whites up their little darlings in factor 5000 from head to toe every time the sun comes out. Second; lots of things close at this time, when in Rome etc. Thirdly (and I know this because I lived abroad for five years two of them spent in Spain) SIESTA MEANS SEX. The next time you’re on holiday and you see your Dad wiggle his eyebrows as he suggests an innocent ‘siesta’ to your Mum you now know what my entire childhood was like.
Every day for two weeks we would be left in our bloody bedroom while everyone else was still allowed outside. Unfortunately it did not take long for us to get bored I mean jumping on the bed only takes up a certain amount of time before you either aim for the window or go and seek more interesting entertainment. You know what they say. Curiosity kills innocence.
I remember the cheap, brown wooden door of my parents’ bedroom in the Spanish apartment that year. Fortunately I do not remember the sounds. We nudged the door open to see if they were awake, if we could be released, if we could go back to our holiday but instead we saw something indescribable. A rite of passage had just been achieved and we didn’t even know it yet. There was movement, definite movement. Disturbing shapes under the sheet were enough for me, the youngest of the two sisters, to cry out ‘What are you doing to my MUMMY?!?’
Ah. Here it is. The moment that every parent dreads. Well, every normal parent, unfortunately for me with my mum being a dedicated Nurse and the daughter of a very proper Midwife who helped set up Bristol’s Brook Advisory Service she positively enjoyed it.
‘When a Mummy and Daddy love each other very much…’
Sorry can’t help it. It makes me want to hurl, truly. And what’s strange is I’m sure it happened more than once. I am certain that we caught them several times on several holidays and had to hear mums sex lecture over and over again. I can hear it replaying in my mind. Actually that’s not true I black out at ‘love each other’. Maybe that’s why I’m the Queen of the one night stand? Why in depth sex talk turns my stomach. Because I can still hear my old dear enthusiastically reciting the proper words for a willy and a peach and because love was so often stressed I chose to leave it out of the equation entirely. Who knows.
One thing I do know; we never shared an apartment on holiday again.
The saga sadly did not end here. We just stopped talking about it. To them anyway, not to each other, Christ my sister was all I had. As the years went by the most innocent of deceptions like searching for Christmas presents in Mum and Dad’s bedroom would result in us uncovering yet another new edition to my parents sex life; I have never been able to read Lady Chatterleys’ Lover after discovering one in my parents chest of drawers. Eventually we stopped looking, it got too much although looking back I’m starting to wonder what Mum’s story would be as a way of explaining that one away. Actually on second thoughts I take it back. I know exactly what she would say.
‘Oh Janna it’s just sex, for goodness sake’ in her ‘matter of fact earth mother’ nurse voice that makes me want to become a nun out of blind rebellion.
There is obvious irony here though. Without any of our parents having sex none of us would have been born. The very thing that creates us is the thing that repels us the most; specifically ANYTHING to do with our parents sex lives and vice versa. And again why? Why am I and so many like me so grossed out by talking about sex? Is it turning something that we’ve misled ourselves to be mythical and magical into something normal and practical and therefore killing the buzz? Was my early introduction to the birds and the bees somehow over exposure forcing me to go the other way?
Ultimately however I am aware how blessed I am to have the parents that I have because no matter how much they grossed me out (and still gross me out) with their openness and obvious healthy loving lively relationship that openness translated into a mother that I was not afraid to tell I was having sex when I was 14 and happily put me on the pill at 15 with no embarrassment or questions asked on her side. I was incredibly clued up on STI’s from a very early age as my parents were not afraid to mute my interest. My Mum let me read my Just 17’s way when I was still at Primary School and would talk to me about HIV and AID’s if I had questions that begged answers. I can talk to my Dad about the last bout of Chlamydia I had and he doesn’t even bat an eyelid. I am 34, I’m fairly certain I have had a higher than average amount of sexual partners and have not once gotten pregnant or picked up anything worse than chlamydia (twice, ok, only twice). So although I am a bit of a prude and still squirm at Christmas when yet again Dads bought Mum more lacey underwear (seriously, every year) the open sexual environment that raised me seems to have done a sterling job.
I just don’t want to TALK about it. K?
By Janna Fox
Janna’s blog, Sobriety in The City comes out every Wednesday on The New Establishment. Follow her on Twitter @Sober_TheCity