THe Facts of Life

Raging Hormones: Why puberty begins at twelve


Raging Hormones: Why puberty begins at twelve

Puberty is a difficult period in the life of a child. Not only are there rapidly progressive physical changes, but also as if mystically or magically materializing out of nowhere, unusual thoughts and proclivities directed toward the opposite gender emerge like a wild Blue Norther rolling across the plains of West Texas.

Most children probably do not have a clue as to the whys and wherefores of what is happening; or at least not until their peers start to disseminate both information and misinformation about sex. I have already mentioned my friend Eddie, who told me that sex was when a man puts his penis in a woman’s ass and then pisses in it. Meanwhile as their parents are wallowing in anticipatory dread about appropriately timing “the talk about birds and bees” in some cases, ironically the children could probably teach their parents a thing or two they didn’t know themselves; Eddie notwithstanding.

When the subject is finally put on the table it is usually accompanied by dire prohibitive warnings about pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases; or if religion is piled on by evoking the sexual guilt card and the additional threats of eternal damnation, premarital sex becomes a crime against God; a Cardinal sin.

The reason no one can reasonably come to grips with the problem is a lack of scientifically based understanding. That is, the dichotomy between the societal sexual taboos versus the age at which puberty starts can be explained by the fact that biological evolution has remained a constant factor over time while concurrent societal evolution has become more technically complicated. Societal issues outpace and artificially grow further away from those biological roots.

This has created a significant paradox that unintentionally accounts for the mandatory sexual suppression of the adolescent, who is capable of reproductive breeding but who is also incapable of subsequently coping with day to day survival, making a living, and supporting a family. All of this was more easily facilitated when humans lived in communal tribal bands surviving as hunters and gatherers. For human beings it is simply the case that they are both genetically and biologically programmed by design to begin their reproductive cycle at about the age of twelve. This took millions of years to evolve, whereas our modern technologically oriented society has only taken a few hundred.

The emergence of secondary sex characteristics therefore is nothing more than nature’s way of signaling to the rest of the world that a child is announcing: “Hey look at me. I’m ready.”

The human species, by evolutionary standards is relatively frail. Without the modern medical miracles of safe habitats, weapons, tools, decreased maternal and infant mortalities, vaccinations, antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, exotic surgeries, and the other marvels created by life extending sciences, a human being would stand little chance of living past the age of thirty or forty. Face to face with a Grizzly bear, and without a knife or a gun; the bear will always win. In fact, the average life expectancy of a white male in the United States in 1900 was thirty to forty, which oddly enough also correlates well with the female menopause.

Age forty for a human being then, is a biologically programmed time for everything to be “over and out;” so to speak; including the rationale for a number of Medieval royal patricides.

Even so we are still doing better than our Cro-Magnon forebears whose average life expectancy was only twenty-five years, or our European ancestors in the Middle Ages, who barely made it to the age of thirty. That is why European Royal families married off their girls at about age 14 and nobody blinked an eye about it being a form of pedophilia.

To illustrate this point, does anyone not think it odd or ever wonder why Alexander the Great had already conquered half the world before he was twenty-five? He had to seize the day because the odds were critically against him living for even another half decade. Or why is it a fact that most elite athlete’s careers, including tennis, baseball basketball and football are over before they even reach the age of thirty. Or that for certain other athletic endeavors such as Olympic level swimming, and especially for gymnastics, that the age of twenty five is also considered to be “over the hill?”

Mortality issues were also the only omission in the otherwise exceptionally brilliant thinking of America’s forefathers when they drafted the Constitution. If they had even an inkling that someone could actually live to be 90, they would have set term limits for all political offices at the documents’ inception.

In some primitive tribal cultures the rites of passage to adulthood are actually the official signal of availability of the young man or woman for marriage and child rearing. These people for the most part do not fixate on the appropriate age. They fixate more on the biology, which they simply take for granted, with guidance directed only by empirical observation.

The rites of passage of the Jewish Bar Mitzvah or the Catholic Confirmation ceremonies are also neither mystical nor magical. They have simply lost their true identifiable meanings as a marker for official passage into adulthood. The development of breasts and pubic hair on the other hand, has not. What this means is that if a human being had not already reproduced at a young age, his gene pool would basically become extinguished.

Being just two generations removed from my Italian grandmother who was married when she was sixteen, this circumstance was not considered to be anything out of the ordinary; nor did it raise any eyebrows. Even today there are still pockets in the deep rural south where there are teenaged child brides.

Maybe OK as long as it is not your fourteen-year-old first cousin, which coupled with Jerry Lee Lewis’ notoriety, was more the reason that got him into trouble than for actually marrying a child in the first place. Consanguinity in his case was worse in the eyes of his fans than his getting drunk one night and because Jerry, in believing that he had more talent than the King, tried to drive through the gates of Graceland to kill Elvis Presley with a handgun.

What we now have instead is a society that has become so complex that many people are forced to delay having families until they are in their thirties or even forties, which according the biological species time card should be just about the time they would ordinarily become grandparents or even getting ready to clock out for good.

The ultimate, unanticipated ironic consequence of this longevity has left some of today’s generation having to care for two sets of children. Their own, who may not leave home until they are in their mid to late twenties, and their aging, slowly disintegrating parents who may even have to move back in on the heels of their grandchildren’s recent vacancies. This is known today as being “The Sandwich Generation.”

Couple this with the new modern insanity of men and women becoming parents when they are in their fifties, or even worse for men who become fathers in their sixties or seventies and you get:

  • Hey Johnnie. How come only your grandpa brings you to school. What ever happened to your dad?

All of this only leads full circle to the way it was originally designed in the first place; the early orphan phenomenon, which is summarized as follows:

You are born. You give birth. You die. 

Parents, teachers, and clergy lose perspective or understanding why they have such difficult issues when trying to control teenagers. The reason is that ten thousand years ago teenagers were more functional as integral parts of a larger group, and in fact were expected to reproduce as soon as they could to ensure both the survival of the tribe as well as the greater overall survival of the human species. Imagine, then a primeval cave in which Barbie was the doll who had to play with a real baby, while Ken was the buffed dude out hunting a Bison instead of playing X-box.

Hormonal cycles are finely tuned end products of a biological evolution that makes it virtually impossible to beat any rational thought or guilt out of a blossoming adolescent. 

The reason that puberty begins at twelve is very simple. It was designed solely for the preservation of the human race, but not at all for the preservation of parental sanity.


Raging Hormones
© Film: Written and Directed by Michael Dugan


Race Relations (1960s….. and on)

Black Humor 

I first met Stanley at High School wrestling practice. He was in the 118-pound weight class, having filled in for me when I moved up to the 128-pound division. Stanley was black, as was another team member, Albert, while one of the better wrestlers on the squad was a white kid named Billy. Because of our common bond on the wrestling team, we ate lunch together every day, along with another black kid named Donald. Unfortunately, having lunch together never became an exercise in boosting team spirit, because for the most part we had already accepted ourselves as mediocre athletes.

The school system itself was rated class ‘C’ in New York State, a designation that relegated all of us as being nothing more than small fish in a large pond. But we did share the additional common bond of being straight ‘A’ students and thus additionally lumped together in the “Advanced Classes.” It was a time in American history when brains were still more highly regarded than brawns.

Stanley gave me a moniker, based on the fact of my temporary summer sojourns to the Hamptons. He perpetually referred to me as “Rich Al”, while I referred to him as “Stan the Man.” Either way the nicknames were infinitely better than “Four Eyes” for me, and who knows what else for him.

The concept of racial segregation in the New York public school system was nonexistent, accounting for why I had so much trouble with it when I visited my relatives in the South. There was no “back of the bus” in New York.

Actually in those days we referred to “people of color” as Negroes, because it was not until the Civil Rights movement of the concurrent coming decade that the black people of this country re-labeled themselves as either being “Black” or as “Afro-Americans.” Although it was still true that the slang term “nigger” would occasionally be heard, it was also true that I would also occasionally hear the term “wop” or “dego.” I guess the big difference was that I never took verbal racial slang seriously or personally. Also nobody was being lynched, and the only known local discriminatory murders were relegated to the shocking yet entertaining mafia mob hits that made front-page news in the big city New York newspapers; degos killing degos so to speak.

My roommate in medical school, who was Jewish tried to explain it to me in the context that slang terminology should be reserved only for the worst elements of a particular minority group, such as Kike, Frog, Limey, Mick, Wop, Dego, Wetback, Spic, and Nigger, while proudly pointing out that he personally had too much class to ever be called a “Kike” himself. He said that it was the Kikes who gave the rest of the Jewish people a bad name. This was a concept I could easily embrace because not only did I never think of myself as being a “Wop” but also as I went through life certainly came to know plenty of Aryan protestant white supremacist morons and their toothless “Trailer Park Trash” cousins.

Thus coming from a background where schools had already been integrated, but unlike my bigoted southern relatives, I never thought of my black friends as being different from myself. We had common bonds, we liked each other and we had fun together. The black boys did not attempt to segregate themselves in any way or to draw attention to any potential differences between themselves and anyone else. We simply did not think about skin color. In fact there were times in high school that I wish my black body guard Vernon had been able to come along to protect me from a few of the local, relatively oafish white goon athletic jocks who seemed to have the same distain for students with brains that was shared by our ever endearing gym coach.

None of my black friends spoke with the patois that later came to be known as “Ebonics.” They all eventually went to college and as far as I know they all went on to have very successful careers. Their parents were upwardly mobile people who had ingrained in their children a sense that success was measured by fully integrating themselves into a predominantly white culture via the path of higher education. How strange and yet how very similar this credo was to the ethics imparted to his children by my Italian grandfather. “It’s America. Speak English.”

Many years later when I was in medical practice, I frequently played tennis with a Black community activist who spent a great deal of time with local underprivileged Black children. He actually ran a cultural center that specifically catered to their needs. However, he got himself into considerable trouble when he tried to make these children understand that successful integration into society was also predicated on playing by the rules of that society.

For example, he would tell them that they would get no where fast if they went to job interviews wearing: baggy shorts with the ass seams hanging halfway down to the cuffs revealing their butt cracks, low rider jeans with chubby bellies and navel rings spilling out the front, idiotic or intimidating logo tee shirts, high top sneakers, nose rings, multiple earrings, or shoes adorned with sparkling twinkle lights. He also explained to them that the better their elocution and the better they physically presented themselves, the better the chance of getting ahead in the job or salary market. But generally speaking this is the case for all of us and unfortunately now applies to a new sub-segment of  tattooed, body-pierced functionally illiterate multi-racial teenage population in general; “Like, you know, right?”

Local black political groups severely criticized him for his efforts describing it as an attempt to undermine “Black culture” and “Black history” while simultaneously accusing him of making a flagrant attempt to ruin the cultural roots of their children. This is the same insanity that prevails in the Sons of Italy organization when they keep trying to become Italians again.

What’s the point? This is America and as long as any group of Americans separates itself, then highlights or harps on its unique differences, the very visual imagery of smelting, which evokes perfect integrated admixing, becomes lost in a country that had for centuries touted itself as being the world’s melting pot. It is recidivistic logic.

Although Afro-Americans should certainly retain pride in their ancestral roots and to the sorry point that they are the only minority group who did not voluntarily come to America, they should also realize that to a great extent as a result of tribal warfare, it was their own African brothers who sold them into bondage in the first place. Also, by the same token there is nothing that would prohibit anyone, be he White, Black, Yellow or Green, from emigrating and returning to any supposed country of lovable origin. If anyone feels as though America is such a horrible place to live; there is nothing preventing them or any other person at any time from packing a bag, getting out and going “home” again.

It was not until I understood politics a little better that I came to realize politicians in general derive power bases specifically by polarizing constituents. The problem then, not only with Black Leadership in the United States, but with any group purposefully promulgating racial, cultural or ideological differences, is that the sub-rosa agenda is solely to retain the power derived by what should really be referred to as “reverse bigotry.” Unfortunately, in this country, the next “minority” group standing in line is the ever-growing Hispanic population; that will only create yet another set of pre-conditions for more intense minority racial unrest.

Minority group leaders instead should be encouraging their constituents to do everything they can to learn the common vernacular and to play by the rules subscribed to by polite civilized society.

In honest truth, as they fly around the country in private jets clothed in three thousand dollar suits; lashing out on their on their pulpits; it is the sad fact that after over four decades of preaching hateful diatribe and rhetoric, I have not seen the likes of a Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton or (now) Barack Obama constructively improve the plights of their own people. They know that the key to improving the financial bottom line of the inflammatory power broker is by keeping their constituents poor, ignorant, barefoot, pregnant, living in slums or shanties; then by perpetually stirring them to be angered by the political ploy of blame shifting. Most of these venal rabble-rousers would sell their souls to maintain a lifestyle their constituents could never even remotely hope to achieve.

Instead of constantly harping on what makes us all different from one another by ladling out pointed imprecations we should be cultivating more of what we all have in common. We should take all the positive elements each culture has to offer, and then integrate them so tightly into the structure of our society, that no one could ever actually remember their origins.

Worse yet reverse bigotry is also played out every day in the world’s political theaters, is disgracefully counterproductive, and by constantly sowing the seeds of dissent only succeeds in fomenting or perpetuating wars. Thus, as long as pre-existing hatred can be cultured or artificially manufactured where none already exists, and as long as it is predicated on perceived critical physical, social, cultural or religious differences, there will always be leaders who derive a power base by fully exploiting the ‘Principle of the Scapegoat.’ Adolf Hitler used this tool to the extreme.

On the positive side, one indigenous gift that my Black friends owned and then shared with me was a unique style of humor predicated on the ability of a person to be able to laugh at oneself; or more importantly to always wear a laugh on a shirtsleeve. My less than desirable personality traits of being shy, humorless, tight-assed, and stiff-lipped were entirely changed by my lunchtime friends.

They tirelessly poked fun at me until I learned to undo the psychological damage of my brother’s malicious teasing, and then translated that teasing to more subliminal levels. This opened a world of laughter by teaching me for the first time the counter productivity of taking oneself too seriously.

I eventually graduated the social scene with honors when I capitulated to the soul-soothing phenomenon known as the belly chuckle along with a final understanding that double entendre escalating interpersonal banter is so completely harmless, that if left to itself can reach the pinnacle of sidesplitting laughter.

On the macro level the television situation comedy show, Amos and Andy, was a prime example of black humor, or just plain humor at its best. To this day I cannot understand why American Black leadership, deeming it to be a degrading portrayal of black people, had it perpetually banned from the airwaves. I never thought of it as degrading but simply a series of funny scenarios about the general human condition, the ever diminishing rewards that come from deceit or investing excessively wasted time in schemes and dreams to “get rich quick.” Were the lovable characters of the King Fish and Andy any more racially degrading than the character portrayals of the doltish Lou Abbott, the idiotic Three Stooges, the perpetually angry obese blue-collar bus driver Ralph Kramden or the moronic half witted pseudo-palsied Jerry Lewis?

These friends also went a long way to advance my retarded socialization process as they repeatedly pointed out that I would never get a date or ever get a girlfriend by simply standing around the high school canteen hoping against hope that some girl would come up and ask me to dance. They constantly explained that nothing was ever really going to happen unless I made it happen first or became more of a protagonist. In so doing they became the first ones who taught me how to approach members of the opposite sex without excessively shy fear.

In having a more realistic and down to earth approach to sexuality than the rigid brainwashing doctrine of the Catholic Church, they gave me pointers on “the how to try to feel a girl’s tits by sneaking the arm around under the blouse in the RKO movie theater while she was distracted by eating her popcorn maneuver,” or by explaining to me what it might really take to turn a woman on and to have her actually enjoy it. Their approach and counsel was infinitely more palatable than the tenet that procreation was a divine mystery intended to be devoid of pleasure, that women do not really enjoy sex, and that the act itself for both genders should be an obligation primarily performed to keep the Catholic Church in business by: “Making an army for Christ.”

This coaching was “all the things you really wanted to know about sex but were afraid to ask your father, your mother or your local parish Priest.” Or perhaps it was more like what these mentors were really afraid to tell you. But the black kids finally corrected once and for all any gross misconceptions that my old friend Eddy had conveyed about his own perverted version or interpretation of the so-called “facks-a life.” No, the idea is not to stick your penis into a woman’s ass and then piss in it.

Come to think of it, I do not believe my father ever really did tell me about those facts or even remotely approached anything about them in explicit detail. Or if he did, it was with a half embarrassed preamble that would begin as: “You know you are getting to the age where you are becoming a man….;” which would then progress through a series of oblique, intangible or non-biological vagaries becoming just about as good as the version one gets at the age of five when a child asks his father where babies come from.

  • Well son, when a man and woman really love each other, the man plants a seed inside of the woman.
  • Oh, now I get it dad. The man eats a cherry and then spits the pit down her throat.
  • Not quite son. It’s more like how they do it on a farm.
  • So it’s like plowing a furrow and planting a field?
  • Not quite. Anyway; you’ll figure it out or maybe your mother can tell you.

However as I grew up and learned the truth more or less on my own, somehow I could never bring myself to refer to my penis as “The Little Tractor” or “My Seed Hod.”

Then of course there was my mother’s allegorical version of planting the seed on a farm. When I finally did get to the stage in my senior year of seriously wanting to date someone, it was simply stated and tersely boiled down to this dire caveat:

  • Just don’t get anyone pregnant. If you do, you’ll have to marry her, move out and get a job; because your father and I certainly won’t support you and some loose legged whore who ruts around like a barnyard pig and then has your bastard kid.

Tell me quick, before I faint.

Is you my friend.

Or is you ain’t?

(My lunch buddy, Stanley)



Alter(ed) Boys 1950s-60s)

Alter(ed) Boys 

Circumcision aside, after a Catholic boy reaches the age of twelve, he is qualified to become an alter boy. Actually there are no other qualifications than to simply be a boy and to have passed First Holy Communion followed by Confirmation; when paradoxically enough, he officially becomes a man. Catholic girls, on the other hand are told to abstain from sex, become a servile Nun or if getting knocked up, to segue with it, raise the baby and then procreate until both their uterus and bladder prolapses This then becomes the preferred method of birth control as the husband can no longer successfully mate with inside-out genitals and then defaults to using his hands or his mistress.

When I grew up, no one even considered the possibility that a girl might ever even want to be an Alter Boy. It was simply another aspect of the male orientation, domination and control of Catholic hierarchy, which to this day continues to delight in demeaning and degrading women.

My three closest friends, Timmy, Eddy and Billy, lived in or near my neighborhood.

I was closest to Timmy whose middle name was Ignatius. Not so much to be remembered after the Patron Saint of Retreats, but only so that his initials would spell T.I.M., was something his parents pointed out to everyone they introduced him to. This usually happened in a split second after the introduction was made.

  • He’s Timothy Ignatious M—-. And that’s why we always call him TIM.
  • Oh, that is just so adorably precious. So where is the wet bar?

TIM came from a devout Irish Catholic family, but his parents, Ned and Eileen, did not get along very well, such that after years of contentious dissention, and deciding to divorce, they then proceeded to ask the Church for an annulment. However in the Catholic Church there is no such thing as divorce, so by default, their annulment request was denied.

For a Catholic, marriage can only be annulled for such extremely ridiculous reasons as non-consummation meaning that having sex with someone only once becomes tantamount to a life sentence. This would only end as a “He said, She said” no-contest argument. Katherine of Aragon used this feint when Henry VIII tried to divorce her, claiming that she never had sex with his dead brother; whom she married first. The case dragged on for decades.

Non-consummation is even more difficult to prove, especially if you happen to have one or more children, and does not hold much defense even if you never had sex with your bride and the father happens to be the milk-man. This is because the faith subscribes to only one holy solitary possible Virgin birth scenario; that will never be yours. The Pope will never hear the case; until and unless the Church ever comes to believe in the validity of DNA; the same Church that finally decided in the 1980s that Galileo was in fact correct in stating that planets did indeed, orbit the sun.

Drunkenness, beatings, verbal abuse, and infidelity do not count. Church doctrine basically states that if you come to hate your spouse, it is simply too bad, you should just suck it up and try to live with it, or to counsel your way through it, or somehow learn to ignore it. It becomes part of the many personal crosses one is required to bear as he or she slogs through the remainder of his or her tortured life. I firmly believe this to be the root cause for men taking up golf, and women taking up Mah-Jongg, knitting circles or playing Bridge.

Therefore, Timmy’s parents, having reached a point of such extreme interpersonal vituperation, decided that a separation was better than suffering the eternal damnation of the hell on earth: being forced to live forever with someone, who at one time in life you had passionately loved, just happened to breed with, but now who you equally dispassionately hate.

Because of financial constraints they decided to live in the same house, with him occupying the basement, her living upstairs, and the middle of the house becoming the demilitarized zone. They then communicated with each other non-verbally by writing day-to-day notes on a chalkboard in the kitchen. For example, when Eileen’s dog pooped in Ned’s downstairs den and he expected her to clean it up, he wrote a note, which said: “Dog shit in basement.” She came back later in the day, did a partial erasure and rewrote the note to say: “Shit-head in basement.”

It did not help matters that they both drank excessively. Seeing them occasionally stumble around the house screaming at each other became my first exposure to alcohol mediated domestic abuse.

Timmy was a second child who had a much older brother whom I met only once or twice because he had permanently moved out of the house when he had enlisted in the military. In fact the very first time I heard the word “Vietnam” was from Timmy. In 1962 he told me that his brother was a helicopter pilot in this far off Asian country, where we had a war going on. He said that he almost had his ass shot out from underneath him while on a flight mission, but then received some sort of medal for being wounded. The next day I had looked at map of the world to locate the place, thinking simultaneously how curious it was indeed that none of us in high school knew anything about it. I was in the tenth grade at the time and forgot about the whole thing, not thinking for a single moment that Vietnam was something that could possibly ever affect my life.

Timmy and I spent a lot of time together. He was one of those rare individuals who could excel at anything he tried without really working at it, which included such things as music and sports. Yet strangely enough he never participated in band or team athletics in high school. He taught himself to play the banjo simply because he liked its sound and could dribble a basketball as well as any contemporary point guard. But he was never discovered at high school as a talent as he never even tried out for the team. I don’t think he really cared, and beside that, the discipline of practice would have ruined the fun of it. Everything he did was for his own personal entertainment.

During high school however, one odd personality quirk emerged when he developed the bad habit of shoplifting. This soon to become obsession incubated the day he lifted cigarettes from the local Stationary Store, which we all then puffed out in the woods. The habit then escalated or germinated to pilfering bigger and better things from Macys Department Store. I think he simply considered it to be a challenge because he got so good at it, he never got caught. That made it into the proverbial positive feedback loop of “Risk versus Reward.”

Because I was the type of person who could never get away with anything, and would probably not only jinx him, but also end up being indicted as the major perpetrator, I eventually had to stop going with him on these forays. After the chewing gum incident when I was five years old, which then prompted a parental Christian Pulpit Fire and Brimstone Sermon, followed by the apology and subsequent payment to the storeowner, I never questioned nor ever again transgressed the Eighth Commandment.

Eddy lived down the street from me. He had an overprotective mother who was the type who made interminable excuses for him while blaming all the other children if there was ever any trouble he happened to be associated with. Even if Eddy was implicitly involved she never believed he could be culpable because someone else, of course, had made him do it.

Eddy’s friends were hardly ever allowed into his house where there was always a quiet pall over the place that was unsettling. The domicile was also too neat and too exceptionally clean; with nothing ever being out of the identical place it had ever been in the week, month or even the year before. His mother had plastic covered sofas to keep them from getting soiled, which was a paradox since no one ever came over to visit or to sit on them anyway.

Being obsessed with sex, Eddy talked about it incessantly, despite what little extent he knew or thought he knew about the subject. On the rare occasion we got into the house and had some privacy, his first action was to rummage through his older sister’s dresser drawers so that he could play with her underwear.

Another friend, Billy, lived across the street from Timmy. Billy was standoffish, enrolled in a Catholic school with a strange aloof personality that I could never seem to get close to. Despite the fact that he had an athletic build, he also had a beatific cherubic face, baby soft skin, and never seemed to be too interested in sports or girls.

In general, Eddy and Timmy never seemed to be interested at all in girls either, to the point that as we got older the subject of dating never seemed to come. They also never seemed to have any girlfriends.

Once when we were walking along the highway, Eddy and I found a pile of black and white photographs of a nude woman in various poses that someone had thrown out of a car window. They looked like home amateur photos, maybe discarded by a disaffected lover. After collecting them, we promptly started referring to them as our “naked lady pictures.” We wrapped them in cellophane, then with aluminum foil to keep them dry, and safely buried them in a secret spot in the woods. Then we would meet every day to dig them up for hours of ogling.

My mother thought something odd was going on relative to our suddenly intense interest in the woods across the street where she would watch us go from the living room bay-window. Her curiosity had been piqued by wanting to know why I needed aluminum foil for the woods and what was I going to do with it. The give away was the fact that I stammered over an inadequate answer. One day when curiosity got the better of her she raided our camp, found our photos, and in a fiery rage destroyed our treasure right on the spot by making us burn them in our campfire while she stood over us; up to and including the final ashes.

It was a sad day for sure when we had to roast our naked lady pictures, like they were no better than a few toasted marshmallows; thinking all the time that we should have put a few reserve photos in another secret spot.

Breasts and Buttocks 3

Shortly after this Eddy told Timmy and me that his father had decided to tell him the Facts of Life or as he said: “the-facks-a-life” and did we know what they were? We didn’t have a clue as to what he was talking about; leading him to behave as though it was some mysteriously deep secret he could lord over us. We then became so curious that we begged and cajoled him enough to the point of him, with smug belated arrogance, finally divulging the information.

He then proudly proceeded to tell us that babies are made when a man puts his penis in a woman’s asshole and then pisses inside her. At least we did not have to pay him a monetary bribe for this information and although I am not sure what Eddy’s father really said or may have done to him, or how Eddy interpreted the information that put this notion in his head, never the less after the deposition, Eddy immediately proposed that we should try it out on each other for practice. 

Something about the entire thing did not seem intuitively correct and although Timmy and Eddy and Billy did try it out in my basement bathroom, I opted only to watch what turned out to be something of an eye-opener. Then I told them they should probably use their own houses if they wanted to do it again, as I knew my mother’s psychic radar would probably discover the activity. I was terrified of the parental firestorm predicted by the inevitable discovery of homosexual buggery that would make those associated with the discovery of the naked lady pictures pale in comparison. So I invoked a prayer to St. Ignatius, and retreated.  

Shortly after this Eddy, Billy and Timmy became alter boys.

Out of a sense of duty and wanting to be with my friends, I went for the tryouts too, but embraced this tedious concept of ritualization with as little enthusiasm as the priest seemed to embrace me. The chemistry between us was not good at all, resulting in a gut feeling that he knew in the core of my soul, I was probably a non-believer.  

Among other things, I had stage fright anyway and would have been terrified at being on the Alter having to perform the sacred rituals. I also hated the idea of the regular Sunday obligation or worse, the possibility of having to serve at more than one boring mass each week. Thus I never lost sleep over missing the cut. Just as with the Cub Scouts, I did not care for the alter boys’ ironed rigid starchy robes, the conformity, or even their infused incense fragrances. It also still seemed curiously strange to me that Eddy, Timmy, and Billy actually reveled in putting them on and performing their roles on stage. 

When the priest let them in and kept me out, perhaps it was because he had also sensed that little something “extra special” about them that I had witnessed by their exploratory basement experiments. Or perhaps I had just missed that part of the final tryouts in the privacy of the Rectory. In retrospect this inference would have never even remotely crossed my mind as a possibility except for an occurrence that happened to me later in the course of my religious Catechetical “instruction.” 

After being excluded from the Alter club, we all then went on to High School. The three of them then spent more and more time together without me, the friendships eventually became strained, and we failed to maintain lines of communication, such that very gradually we all drifted apart.

 Different drum

You and I travel to the beat of a different drum.

Ah, can’t you see by the way I run

Every time you make eyes at me. 


(Different Drum: Michael Nesmith)



 Drums: © Mich Pouliot Drum Gear/Graphic by Jim Wright