Bugs vs. Ladybumps 1976
In 1976 l was 13 years of age and living in Seaford in Australia.
Back then, l wasn’t aware of my autism or my Asperger’s, l was simply aware that growing up in my household was quite possibly more of a challenge than perhaps that of my friends. I didn’t have many friends, l wasn’t a Billy no Mates, l just mostly preferred my own company. I could occupy my own time pretty easily. I had a few, don’t get me wrong, but mostly they were girls. When l was younger, and if honest thinking on it, most of my good friends have always been girls or women. It’s not that l don’t or didn’t get on with boys or blokes, it was more of a case of with the girls, l wasn’t bullied as much, l could be myself and just have fun, without any of the testosterone hassle that fellas back then used to dish out on a fairly regular basis.
The guys were always trying to prove something, whereas l was just content to get through each and every day in one piece be this either at school or more importantly at home. The latter being the hardest hurdles to get over. This was due to my own Father’s insistence that his Son had to be a better person, and whom was constantly taunting him with jibes of the following nature …
“You’re too shy!”
“You need to fight back more!!”
“You allow yourself to be bullied!”
You’re not a man’s man, you are a girl!”
“Maybe you should be bullied more, that’ll toughen you up!”
“Pick more fights!!”
“Stop acting weird!!”
“You are no Son of mine!”
“You are a poof!”
“You spend too much time by yourself, it’s unhealthy!”
It just went on and on and on, so that was really hard to contend with especially at 13 when l have to be honest and say that things were changing, l was viewing the world differently already, but at that age, l was starting to notice the changes in the world and in the girls!? The latter confused me somewhat admittedly.
I mean l had a really brilliant friend called Meghan, she was awesome. She was stick thin, small bumps and she laughed like a seal. We were always together, played together, went to the beach together, in the same class at school, did sports and everything, we were best mates! I had a couple of friends that were boys back then, but we were always being ostracised by our peers, because in their eyes being English irrelevant to having spent most of my younger life in Australia wasn’t good enough, l was not a true ‘Ozzie’ which always made me laugh on a historical level. But l was a pommy, a Brit, and as such, in the mid 70’s not worth that much as far as young Ozzies went! My two friends at school were also Pommies, so we got a relatively heavy share of brutality!
Strangely enough, my ‘girlfriends’ were all Ozzies and didn’t give two hoots if l was a pommy or an emu, they just liked my sense of humour and the fact that l wasn’t interested in them in ’that way’. They used to say that a lot “Rory, you are so different; you don’t look at us differently.”
Which always confused me, why would l, l used to think, what’s different about them, apart from the fact that they are girls? You see back then, l didn’t really see girls for being girls; l just saw them as being my friends. If anything, Meghan was my first girlfriend, my very first girlfriend, but not in the sense of this story!
Bugs vs. Ladybumps
The biggest problem with Dad, and trust me when l say there were a lot, equally as much as he thought about me, was that he was always slightly off the cue of things going on. I strongly suspect that he is somewhere on the spectrum, he is certainly quirky enough to qualify and genetically despite his accusations as to who sired me when l was younger, l only have to look in the mirror today to see he is guilty as hell!
I remember the following discussion with absolute astuteness, because of the weirdness of it all, it was a Tuesday night, l had gone to bed at around 8pm and was reading, lights off was at 9, so l had to try and unwind. Dad never knocked, Mum always did, but Dad atypically just walked in and on this occasion said ..
“Something has come to my attention, and your Mother and l think we need to talk to you about it.”
“Ok, sure, what have l done wrong?” I asked cautiously, as l was ALWAYS doing something wrong, so it was only natural to begin anything like this.
“Your Mother said she saw you smiling at Samantha in a strange way this afternoon?”
“Samantha, who is Samantha?”
“My girlfriend Samantha? I don’t have a girlfriend called Samantha!
“Yes, you do, you know the one you are always walking home with, that Samantha!”
“You mean Meghan?”
Dad looked flustered and l sort of knew that this was not a conversation; he wanted to be having with me, whatever the conversation was about. Dad usually left ‘’’delicate’’’ discussions to Mum, so l was surprised that he was here talking about Meghan. “It is irrelevant what her name is. You should stop smiling like that!”
“Smiling like what?”
“The way you were smiling at her, that way!”
“The way you were smiling at her, that way.”
“So, what you are saying is that l am to stop smiling at Meghan? As in l can never smile at her again, you mean like that?”
“No, you can smile at her, just not the way you were smiling at her, don’t smile like that!”
“Dad, l don’t understand, l am allowed to smile at Meghan, but not allowed to smile at Meghan? Is THAT what you are saying?
“Yes, no, yes, maybe, l don’t know, but your Mother said you were smiling at her in a knowing way!”
“A knowing what way?”
“Do l have to spell this out to you?”
“Yeah l think so, because l am kind of confused actually.”
“We don’t want you getting Meghan pregnant!!”
Well l was not just shocked, l was mortified, pregnant, how on earth was l going to get anyone pregnant by simply smiling at them??? “You are not serious Dad, surely?”
“Yes, your Mother is concerned, and l am confused, l thought you were shy, so if this is going on, are you prepared for the consequences?”
“Being a Father of course!”
“You, you think Meghan and l are ‘doing it?’
“Well, aren’t you?”
“Yuck, no way. We are just friends, Meghan is my girlfriend, as in she is a girl, and we are friends, she is my girl-friend.”
“You said to your Mother, that there were things that were different about her and l quote ‘she has bigger than normal bumps!”
Well l guess l must have blushed; l could talk to Mum about these things, but not Dad, “Oh those bumps, mm. Well they have got bigger, l noticed in sports the other day, they were bouncing everywhere, even Meghan said they were annoying.”
“They are called ‘breasts’, and we all have them.”
“Well mine aren’t like hers Dad, and yours aren’t like Mum’s.”
“Don’t bring your Mother’s bumps into this conversation.”
“You mean don’t bring Mum’s breasts into the conversation?”
“No! Right l see it is time to talk to you about the Bugs and the Ladybumps!”
“The bugs and the ladybumps? What does that have to do with anything?”
“Rory there are differences between boys and girls, men and women.”
“I know there are Dad. We don’t need to have this discussion you know, you don’t look comfortable doing so, l can…” But Dad cut me off.
“Yes we do, because if you get someone pregnant you have to go!”
“We are talking about sex yes? Well l am not interested in sex yet Dad. I would rather just enjoy Meghan’s company without any of that icky stuff if you don’t mind. I can’t say l am not fascinated with her bumps, because it is really strange how last month, her bumps were smaller than they are now. But they are just bumps Dad, or breasts, and as you say we all have them, just mine are not like hers!”
Dad was really starting to get angry now. “This is important discussion, that every Father has to have with his Son at one point or another, so tonight buddy is your turn.”
“Oh ok, carry on then.”
What followed was an odd discussion, with a few hand gestures, and a smattering of information, that had l NOT had the information about the subject that l aready possessed and figured out for myself, would not have been enough for a pair of ladybugs to understand what was expected of them! It was disjointed and left me wondering how much of a challenge Mum must have had with Dad in this department at some point? When he was finished he stood up, and said “Right there we go then, another job well done. So no more smiling at her bumps!”
“Gees thanks Dad for the talk about the bugs and the ladybumps, l guess l should tell you a couple of things before you go though. I am nearly 14 now, and Mum told me about the Birds and the Bees before l hit 12 because she found me reading your book “The Joy of Sex”, and figured l needed to understand it more, and also because you said because l was so shy l would probably not need to have the talk until around my 20’s??
“She knows that Meghan and l are just friends, and Mum said that Love is actually more important than the actual act itself. She told me l would notice changes in most of my girlfriends anyway, and that it was a perfectly natural thing to happen. That l was to not worry about anything, to not force anything, that when l was ready, l would know and that life was a huge learning curve!”
“I am also learning about sex at school and have been doing so for the last few months, you know pollination and all that, but also, the reason l was smiling at Meghan’s bumps, was because of her tee shirt that said ‘Are you smiling at my bumps or are you just pleased to see me?”
Dad looked quite shocked at this information and just looked at me oddly before leaving my bedroom, he never spoke to me about sex education again after that night. I guess he sort of figured that l knew everything l needed to know for the time being. He was always uncomfortable talking about it when l was younger, and whilst he would later on become an adulterer to my Mother and she him, he still held a very odd view of sexuality and his Son.
When l was 13, l remember the changes in people and how l viewed the world. Sexually l wouldn’t become interested in that for quite a few years, BUT l was always fascinated with ‘Ladybumps!’
How about you, when did you receive the ‘Talk?’ Who told you, your Mum, your Dad, friends at school, or you just sort of figured it out?