I was ten years old and I knew nothing. It was bad enough being the shortest kid in the fourth grade, but I was made to feel even smaller by how much all of the other kids seemed to know about this thing called sex. All I really knew at that age was that it was something action heroes did that involved saxophone music, billowing curtains, a naked chick, and a hell of a lot of candles.
Most of us had been educated on the basic mechanics of the act in children’s books like “Where Did I Come From?” – two fat people lie on top of each other until smiling white pollywogs fill the page (big deal), but it was clear there were things the adults weren’t telling us. In movies like “Airplane!” actors would say sex things that would elicit booming, knowing laughter from our parents – using words that hung in the air like little clouds of filthy vapor – but these words did not exist in any dictionary. Believe me, I checked. There was no internet to help us back then. Your computer did not fire pop up windows full of high-resolution vaginas at you like Alien face-huggers any time you searched for a recipe for clams casino. A picture of a vagina was a rare thing you and your friends would have to go on an actual quest to see, usually squirreled away under a wet, worm-ridden log somewhere deep in the woods out past the chainsaw massacre shack and guarded by a foam-spewing Rotweiller with one eye. A boy would risk life and limb and all sorts of dangers just for a rare glimpse of fur.
When I was ten, anything a kid learned about the dark, secret world of sex they would hear from an older person – a big brother, a drunk relative, or some creepy old homeless dude shouting at them from under a bridge. But I did not have an older brother, or a bridge hobo. I only had my friend Wes, a curly-haired kid who could fart on cue, which was a valuable talent to have back in those days. And Wes was the Bob Woodward of boobs and muff.
We were playing video games on his Commodore 64 one afternoon when he asked “Hey man, have you ever heard of this thing called a ‘blowjob’?”
I hadn’t, but I was sick and tired of being the last to know these things. “Pssssh. Yeah, of course.”
“Ok. Then, what is it?”
“I don’t have to explain it to you. You tell me.”
Wes rolled up his sleeves and began miming the whole process. “It’s when a woman unzips a man’s pants… grabs onto his honker… takes it out…” Interesting, interesting, go on, I thought. “… takes a hair dryer… and just waves it back and forth over the guy’s crank. It’s meant to feel amazing.”
I did not even miss a beat. “Boom. Yes,” I lied, “Exactly. That is exactly what I heard, too.” Because when you are ten, the way everything is named makes sense. Snow pants are pants you wear in the snow, Autobots are robots that turn into cars, and so if there was one thing I was absolutely certain of at that moment, it’s that a blowjob had something to do with wind.
As we turned back to our video game my brain just swelled. I suddenly felt all-powerful, as if I had lopped the noggin off the last Highlander. I had learned a new sex term – one that no one in my class had uttered on the playground before. A blowjob! Blammo! This little slice of wisdom was going to get me places, for sure. Everyone at school was going to be so impressed.
And so the next day I sat on pins and needles in class, waiting for recess to be called, and once it was, I didn’t waste half a second, turning to the kid next to me. “Hey man, you ever heard of a blowjob?”
The basketball court was empty that day. Kickballs blew across the baseball diamond like tumbleweeds, not a kid in sight. There was but one child’s voice heard shouting on the playground that recess, and that voice was mine – the shortest kid in the 4th grade, standing atop a bench with a class of enthralled 10 year-olds clinging to my every word. And so, like Prometheus bringing fire to the ancient Greeks, I bestowed upon them my knowledge of blowjobs. And I was treated like a sage. “A hair dryer, you say! Fascinating!”
For an entire afternoon, I was the most popular kid in our class, and desperate to keep a firm grip on to this new position, I even began to make up definitions for sex terms I’d heard mentioned before but could never sort out. Your mother’s feather duster became a “french tickler”. “Felching” was when a man sniffed a lady’s bicycle seat, and so on and so forth.
That evening, perhaps somewhat mad with power, I decided to give it a whirl myself. A blowjob was, after all, meant to be the greatest sensation a man could feel. And so I snuck into the upstairs bathroom, pulled down my pajama bottoms, plugged in the hair dryer which was resting on the lid of the toilet. And I blew myself.
It wasn’t half-bad, really. It hurt for a moment, but once I got the hang of it and held the hair dryer at just the right distance it was really quite pleasant. It wasn’t what Wes built it up to be, but I thought perhaps when I was older, once I had vaulted past puberty and had long David Lee Roth-like locks sprouting from my nethers this hot breeze might be much more pleasurable. But for the moment it was just so-so. I often wonder how many of my fourth grade classmates went home and did the same that evening and were now walking the Earth with crispy Freddy Krueger penises because of me and my shitty intel.
I strolled through the house with a swagger the next day, brimming with a degree of confidence I had never felt and have certainly never felt since. I was no longer the playground runt, but a big man on campus. I was a man who knew things. And it was just that sort of hubris that got me into trouble when my mother and older sister returned home from the drugstore that afternoon, plastic bags dangling at their sides.
“So, what did you get?” I asked my sister.
Immediately suspicious of me, she flipped her Farrah Fawcett perm to the side and arched an eyebrow. “Nothing you’d care about. Make up. A toothbrush. A new hair dryer.”
She had thrown me a softball. “A hair dryer, eh?” I said with a smirk, knowing all too well that what I said next would pop her top like a volcano. “Is that so you can give your new boyfriend a blowjob?”
There was a loud CRASH from the kitchen. The sound that came out of my mother at that moment was something primeval, like the screech of a pterodactyl protecting its young. The very walls of our small row house tremored with a quake I’m sure was felt at least four doors down. The next few seconds were a blur, but I can say that my arm was nearly popped from its socket as I was dragged up a flight of stairs and thrown into my room, sentenced to a week of complete isolation, with only my Transformers and the french tickler I had stolen from the hallway closet to keep me company. I had never seen her that angry before.
The only company I was allowed to see was when my aunt and uncle brought my cousins by for a visit that Sunday. It must have been pretty boring for my cousin hanging out with me in my room, pushing matchbox cars around the shag carpeting, with me not allowed to leave.
“So what are you in for?” he asked, and so I told him what I had said to my sister to deserve a week of incarceration.
He was baffled. He sat upright and stared at me for a good minute before asking. “Yeah… umm.. What exactly do you think a blowjob is…?”
I launched one of my matchbox cars over a ramp I’d made with a coloring book and said “You know. When a girl takes a hair dryer and waves it over a guy’s dong.”
That was when my cousin’s brain exploded.
He laughed so hard at me for a moment I feared he would have a stroke, his hands clutching at his sides to prevent his guts from bursting out of him onto the carpet. Any confidence I had cultivated over the past week drained through my toes at once. “Holy shit… Holy shit. That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard.”
“Whatever,” I said. “You don’t know what a blowjob is.”
He composed himself. “Of course I know what a blowjob is. I’m eleven.” He could see how upset I was becoming. “Listen, dummy. A blowjob is when a woman sucks on a man’s penis.” His chest began to spasm again and was once again doubled over, thrown into fits of laughter. “Holy shit! You’re killing me!” he cried.
All at once, the world as I knew it completely stopped making sense. Just when I thought I had taken this great stride towards understanding the mysterious world of adult sex, I had been punted a mile back, flat on my ass. How could this possibly be, I thought? I’m supposed to believe that a blow job is when a woman sucks on a man’s penis?
Well, that’s just retarded.