My first sexual let down came when I was ten years old. My parents and brother were out of the house, and I was alone watching television in the family room. Clicking through the channels with the dial on the face of the TV, I came across a PBS documentary on pregnancy. It was just starting, and the announcer revealed that the show would culminate with the birth of a baby. I was hooked, held in rapture at the promise of seeing vagina for the first time.
It was 1984, well before the days of internet pornography, and none of the boys I knew had gotten their hands on a nudie magazine. A few boys claimed to have seen their female cousin naked or a neighbor girl through a window, but none of them could describe the vagina clearly. One kid said it was a little container girls had between their legs to hold their things. He knew this because his older brother was always talking about his girlfriend’s “box.” Another boy from an Italian family of bakers argued it had something to do with bread because he had seen his mom pointing at her crotch and complaining about a yeast problem. I needed to see a vagina and make sense of all the stories. This show was my chance to do so and become a respected authority on the topic at Bala Cynwyd Middle School.
After an hour of boring documentary crap, the moment came. The camera showed a woman sitting up on a gurney soaked in sweat and screaming. She was surrounded by a doctor and nurses dressed in white. I got off my belly and moved towards the screen on my knees, getting close enough to make out the green, red and blue phosphor dots. The nurses moved about the woman as the doctor barked out orders. The frame cut to between the woman’s legs, and there it was – a massive bush of dark pubic hair encircling the purple crown of a baby’s head. Bloody secretion squirted from her crotch as she howled. The shriveled baby shot out of her before the scene cut to the doctor cutting the umbilical cord and handing the child to the mother. The doctor’s face filled the next frame as he pulled down his surgical mask to reveal a theatrical look of relief.
I turned off the television in shocked disgust, vowing never to touch vagina.