I must have been seven years old. I was watching American TV shows like Dallas, Dynasty, The Love Boat … you name it, I must have seen it. These shows always involved love stories, and these love stories went in all possible directions to keep viewers like me stuck to the screen like moths to a light. Of course, the writers of such shows used every trick up their sleeves to make characters hate and then miraculously love each other, when a few episodes later they’d go back to their usual “go to hell” mode until one of them left the country, fell into a coma or died in a plane crash.
But as a child, I saw this drama as an exquisite window to what real life felt like.
Parts of my innocence and naïveté were slightly brushed off as I learned more about the mystery of love. And love included lovemaking. Now let’s pause for a second and think. I grew up in a conservative environment and a conservative society where sex wasn’t as omnipresent as it is now. I knew how babies came to the world, but I never knew how they were made. Weird enough, I was fascinated by the end result, not the making process.
So picture the little girl who’s watching these crazy shows and try to put yourself in her shoes. What would she understand lovemaking to be?
Well . . . here’s your answer.
One Saturday afternoon I invited a girlfriend over. We were great friends, as much as you can establish a strong friendship at seven. The common interests we shared involved climbing on top of her mother’s old car, using her brother’s skateboard as a sleigh and sliding down the road/steep hill by her house, and playing doctor where she’d be the victim – strike that – patient and I’d be the doctor who cut out her organs.
Now I understand why our friendship didn’t last.
This girl and I watched tons of American TV shows and movies, and we loved them. That afternoon we sat on the couch, ready to enjoy a few hours of pure awesomeness.
A very dramatic episode came and we were glued to the screen–at least I was. We couldn’t wait for the main protagonists to reveal why they couldn’t stay together anymore. The plot twist almost broke my heart. Suspense nearly killed me. The girl was pregnant with another’s guy baby, but she still loved her boyfriend, who on his end decided he had to leave the country to take a break, and would ultimately die in a plane crash….
While my imagination ran wild, my girlfriend sighed.
“They make love too much. They should stop making love. Look they’re making love again. What does it have to do with the story??” She suddenly looked at me and gave me this bewildered, annoyed stare, waiting for me to answer.
“Well,” I replied. “You make love when you love someone. You can’t remove that element from the story.”
“But it’s so unimportant!!” she said. “Who cares? It has become too much!” And just like that, she stood up and walked into the kitchen.
Now set on boycotting the show because of too much lovemaking, I followed her–I wasn’t good at resisting peer pressure at the time. “So what? Like this? You won’t watch because they were making love?”
“Yes. I’m tired of it,” she answered, and I could tell she wouldn’t change her mind anytime soon.
Meanwhile, my mother was in the kitchen and overheard us. Of course she asked the million dollar question: what did we understand as lovemaking?
My girlfriend responded, “You know, when a boy and a girl smooch each other for hours!”
“She’s right; it has become too much,” I added in a very serious tone. “Lovemaking is completely unnecessary. Let’s get to the point. Will the main guy die in this plane crash or not?”
And here we are. I must have used the “let’s make love” expression a million times as a kid and nobody ever corrected me. I never thought lovemaking could be anything else… until I turned twelve. Imagine the reaction when after five years my strong beliefs got crushed in a millisecond because of sex-ed classes. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about adulthood. Well, I certainly didn’t.
Sigh. Now I didn’t react so harshly when I learned Santa wasn’t real.