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My Life in the Times

Sex Education Gets a Makeover

In our ongoing coverage of the moments that defined our writer’s life, kids are talking about sex—and what they’re saying may shock you.

GREENBROOK, Ill., Sep. 22, 1977—Sex education has a new face: pinkish, round, freckled, and ever since an unfortunate incident with corn on the cob, missing a few teeth.

“The girl has a whoo-hole, and the boys have a penis,” says Jason Bachman, age 7, who is at the forefront of the movement to get sex-education out of the classroom and onto the playground.

Bachman wants to wrest control of sex ed from the health teachers with their birds and bees filmstrips and put it in the hands of small children who are far too young to actually understand—never mind actually need—the information.

At “whoo-hole,” titters ripple through the group of five boys, all second- and third-graders. (The girls have a separate session, moderated by Jeannie Woltzhoffer, age 7 and a half.) The meeting place changes regularly, sometimes behind the jungle gym, other times next to the auditorium entrance retaining wall. Today it is the aged merry-go-round, which sits unmoving—though what is happening is anything but.

Mr. Bachman frowns, quieting the giggles. “So, when you rub your penis against her whoo-hole, that makes the baby that grows in her stomach.”

When asked why he’s chosen to break the boundaries of traditional, grade-school classroom learning, Bachman says, “I learned everything I need to know about making babies from listening to my sister’s phone calls and walking in on my mom when she’s in the shower. School is for learning how to spell and to pick on the tards in dodgeball. Life is learned on the playground, man.”

When asked why he doesn’t join forces with Ms. Woltzhoffer, Mr. Bachman scoffs.

“Cooties.”

Ms. Woltzhoffer, taking a break from conducting her session (this time disguised as a tetherball game) agrees, “In fifth grade you can play spin the bottle with the boys, but now…yuck.”

The higher ups at Greenwood Elementary seem neither clued-in, nor concerned. Says paraprofessional lunch lady Doris Pearlmutter, “Are they hurting each other with sticks? Is someone going to plunge from a great height? Are most of their clothes on? Are all pants poop free? If so, I just want to just sit here and smoke myself into an early grave.”

“I heard my dad yelling one night last week about how Billy Simpkins made my sister pregnant—but she swears she never had her pants off.” On the other hand, Phyllis Wilcox, president of Parents Unusually Concerned About Everything (PUCE), is alarmed, and lays the blame at the feet of a run-amok media. “Have you seen this new television show, CHiPs? The pants on those fellows are simply too tight. Even someone like me, who has worked hard to suppress all sexual urges, can’t help but stare at those bulges.”

Once Bachman’s lecture wraps up, the questions follow.

“But my mom told me that babies are delivered by a stork.”

Bachman shakes his head sadly at the ignorance. “Your mom is full of crap, kid. Like I said, the baby grows in her stomach and comes out her belly button. I came out of my mom’s belly button, you came out of your mom’s belly button. That’s just the way it is.”

“Don’t you have to be naked?”

“It doesn’t matter. The penis just needs to be rubbed near the whoo-hole and the sperms jump out. It’s like a magic wand. I heard my dad yelling one night last week about how Billy Simpkins made my sister pregnant—but she swears she never had her pants off. Oh, and also—before the baby is born, it’s called a bastard.”

“Jason’s cool,” said one recent session graduate who cannot be named because he has a speech impediment that makes it nearly impossible to understand what he’s saying if the word has more than one syllable and contains a diphthong.

Not everyone agrees, though. One of Mr. Bachman’s earliest pupils, John Warner, thinks he might have a few things wrong. “I was watching the channel where everything’s all wiggly and scrambled and there was a naked man and a naked woman and his penis was closer to her mouth than her whoo-hole.”

When told of Mr. Warner’s doubts, Mr. Bachman sneers. “Warner doesn’t know what he’s talking about. The penis goes in the whoo-hole, or sometimes, like my mom says, the boy is supposed to stick it in his own ear, but that’s it.”

The recess bell rings and Bachman’s group scatters toward the building. “Bottom line,” he says, “you can either listen to me and learn the truth, or sit around and eat your own boogers. Warner is a booger eater.”
 

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TMN contributing writer John Warner’s first novel, The Funny Man was recently published by Soho Press. He teaches at the College of Charleston and is co-color commentator for The Morning News Tournament of Books. More by John Warner