What's all over this floor?
As you might have guessed, I wasn't exactly a woman of the world when I married my first husband. Although I had lived in many different states and even attended my freshman year of high school in Wuerzburg, Germany I remained a little North Carolina girl on the inside.
I was especially naive when it came to my wifely duties and I'm not talking about vacuuming. It wasn't that my parents didn't talk to me about sex. They did. My Mom, Step-Mom and my Daddy were nowhere near free-loving flower children, but they were products of that generation. They had no problem answering every question about sex we asked and I knew very early on the mechanics of the act. Peg B was to be inserted in Slot A. That was it in a nutshell.
I also benefited from my sister Connie's amazing knowledge of sex. She was two months younger than I was, but she married young and was able to fill me in on the stuff I would never in a million years have asked my parents.
Once when I was fifteen, I met a guy that was a senior at a North Carolina college a few hours away. His parents went to our church and while he was home on Christmas break, our eyes met and we fell madly in heat. I was on top of the world because this guy was the best of the best. Not only was he at least 4 years older than me... which we know was a requirement in my book, he was unbelievably handsome and an accomplished trumpet player to boot.
I couldn't believe he liked me.
As he was a college man, I'm guessing he was no stranger to sex. He kissed me unlike anyone had before and he even tried to touch the boobies. Naturally his hand was politely but firmly moved.
I went to my Dr. Ruth sister for advice.
"When you start kissing him," she said, filled with months of marital knowledge, "sort of look down at his pants where his thing is. When you've been kissing awhile there will be a bulge there and you'll know he's getting too excited."
Aaaarrrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhh! Now I had to look at his bulge to determine how excited he was? Yuck.
But I loved him terrible and so I reluctantly took her advice. Surprisingly enough, college boys are apparently always excited so he was pretty much a waking bulge. I was doomed.
Turns out that I really didn't need to worry. After only a few months of bulge-frustration with a fifteen-year-old, he met a girl at college who I was sure had no problem letting him touch her boobies... or pretty much anything else he wanted to touch. I was hoping God would seriously smite them both for their fornicating ways.
So, boys came and went and up until my slimy fiance finally grabbed the gold, I kept moving hands. Even with him, the man I thought would be my husband, we've established that it was less than wonderful. He really never did any better than prom night, so if I hated the idea of sex before... I hated it to infinity after him.
Hubby #1 was quite the man of the world though. He had been with many women, a fact about which he enjoyed bragging, and he even read books on the subject of sex. I had never met anyone like him. I must have seemed like a blank sheet of paper upon which he could write anything he liked.
To give you an idea of how vastly different we were in that area, nothing explains it better than the story of my twentieth birthday.
On April 24, 1984 I was about five months pregnant with our daughter. I had deliberately gotten pregnant as quickly as I could after we were married. The truth is, I wanted to get pregnant so badly that when the first month of marriage passed and I wasn't, I was ready to fly in specialists from Switzerland.
On that special occasion, my handsome husband decided I was ready for a grown-up birthday. He whisked me away to Louisville, Kentucky for a romantic night in an upscale hotel. (At that time in my life, an upscale hotel meant you didn't have to walk up a staircase on the outside of the hotel to get to your room.) We had dinner in our room and then he told me what else I was getting for my birthday.
He was taking me to a sex shop and letting me pick out anything I wanted.
A what now????
I'm sure looking back that I tried to fake my enthusiasm, not wanting this man seven years my senior and very accustomed to this sort of thing to know how very clueless I was. What in the heck was in a sex shop anyway? What in the world was I going to pick out?
I smiled pretty and put on my best maternity dress. I pulled my long hair back with a gigantic bow that matched the bow on my dress. What does one wear to a sex shop anyway? I'm sure I looked like Debbie Does Sunday School.
As we drove to a part of town that scared the wits out of me, it occurred to me that he had obviously visited this establishment before. He drove straight to it without any wrong turns or confusion. That Mustang knew exactly where it was going. I half expected to get the Norm treatment when we walked in and have everyone turn and shout, "Mark"!
The building itself was very old and in an advanced state of disrepair. The windows were blacked out so that you couldn't see what was inside. And as if placed there by central casting, a disturbing looking man in a dark trench coat was loitering just outside the front door.
My heart was in my throat.
When we walked in, there was a man at the cash register sitting on a platform of sorts high above the rest of the store. He had the same arrogance pharmacists have... as if they cannot possibly be on the same level as the rest of us. Beneath him was a glass encased display cabinet with things inside no little southern girl should ever, ever see. Luckily, I didn't know what most of them were.
My husband led me down aisle after aisle of magazines, books and various other assorted amenities that were without question the single most vulgar things I had ever laid eyes on. As we walked past the racks, we weaved our way in and out of men pouring over the contents. Men were everywhere. I was the lone female in the place, if you don't count the blow up doll in chains on the wall. Ever mindful of southern upbringing, I made sure I spoke to every man that looked my way as we passed.
"Hey", which is North Carolina for hi.
"How are you?" I'd say politely with a smile.
Here I was, a well-mannered twenty-year old woman five months pregant and wearing more bows than anyone should ever wear acting as if it was my coming out party and they were the other debs at the ball. I'm betting everyone in the place was searching the room for the hidden camera.
While my husband poured over a particular magazine, my eyes were darting around trying to find a safe place to stare. I noticed that every minute or two a guy would walk to the pharmacist level cashier, hand him some money and receive a token in return. Then he'd walk through some doors in the back of the store and that would be the last you'd see of him.
"Hey," I said to my husband. In this case, hey did not mean "hi" but rather it was an attention getting word. "Hey, where are all those guys going? What's back there?"
My best guess was that the men had grown tired of looking at porn star women doing things in magazines that normal women would rather eat glass than do, and they were going to work off some steam by playing video games. That's all my innocent little mind could come up with.
"Do you want to find out?" my sneaky husband asked. Looking back, I can recall the amusement on his face.
Not wanting to seem anything less than an adventurous woman of the world, I said yes. Afterall, video games couldn't be as bad as what was in this room.
He gave the cashier our money, we took our tokens and walked to the double doors at the back of the store.
"Hey! There are no video games back here!" (Again, yet another use of the versatile word "hey". It's the southern equivalent of Aloha.)
In place of my imaginary video games there were little booths. Each was about the size of a very small closet and had a long, black curtain instead of a door. Mark pulled back the curtain and we sat down on a little bench that was about arm's length from what looked like a television screen. He popped the tokens in the slot and the TV came on.
Let's just say that it wasn't what I expected.
There was groaning, moaning and frightening acrobatic moves that left me with only one thought.
If he thinks I'm going to do that, he's out of his mind.
Very quickly, it was over. I have never been more thankful to get out of a place in my whole life. I had no comment on the vulgarity that I had just witnessed, but I did have a lot to say about the messy patrons that had been in this dark little closet before us.
"Can you believe how sticky this floor is?" I asked Hubby. "If people are going to sit back here and drink pop they need to be more careful. They've spilled it all over the place. My shoes are actually sticking to the floor, it's so bad."
Yes. I really did say that. And you want to know something even more unbelievable? It was years before I realized that the sticky stuff all over the floor had nothing to do with an overturned pop can.
You can take the girl out of North Carolina....