Thursday, June 16, 2011

Part 3, Rusty and LuAnn

"Rusty has noticed some changes going on in his life. Now instead of looking for amphibians and oddly-shaped rocks on his way to school, it's LuAnn who catches his eye."

The year is 1972. I’m watching my first ever Sex Ed’ film in Mr. Hoezel’s classroom with my fellow sixth-grade boys.

We see Rusty getting off the school bus. He turns to stage left and breaks into a big smile like he just found out they're handing out free root beer floats in the cafeteria. The camera cuts to a group of girls, their natural feminine forms so obscured by stiff wool and hairspray, it's difficult to discern what exactly has Rusty so excited.

I don't remember that Rusty and LuAnn interacted at all. I don't think they did. Maybe that would have been too controversial. Remember this is back in the days when Mr. and Mrs. Brady had only recently broken down television's sleeping-in-the-same-bed-together barrier. And they were married and wearing pajamas. Plus they didn't sleep so much as read and talk things over.

Anyway, back to Rusty and LuAnn. LuAnn wanders off clutching her books to her chest, and that's the last you see of her. After school, Rusty meets up with an older boy, and the two of them go visit a middle-aged man who might have been a medical doctor. I don't remember. I'm not sure that he had any professional credentials at all, but he wore a tie and smoked a pipe, and he had a very confident way of speaking, kind of like Barry Goldwater, or the Professor on "Gilligan's Island."

Now the first point this Barry Goldwater Professor guy wants to impress upon Rusty is that his voice has started changing, and it's going to keep on changing in the months and years to come. He tells Rusty to say "aaaaah." The way you say "aaaaah" at the doctor's office. Then he tells the older boy to say "aaaaah." Then Professor Goldwater says "aaaaah."

"Testosterone causes your voice to change," explains Professor Goldwater, "and it will bring about other changes in your body as well."

I think that's where I started losing interest. Maybe if the Professor had had a deeper voice, I would have found him more compelling. I remember thinking "That guy's voice isn't so deep. He sounds like a wimp. You know who has a deep voice? Johnny Cash."

In my mind's ear, I heard Johnny Cash's weathered baritone reflecting on life’s bitter realities: "I was a young fella. Not much bigger'n you. I walked into a watering hole outside Dodge City. Met a girl named LuAnn. She broke a bottle over my head and stole my horse."

Wet dreams, pubic hair, deodorant. Your penis gets bigger. Girls develop breasts. Boys start shaving. Some of the information got through to me, but most of it seemed pointless. It was like a lot of subjects in school. It was like De Soto discovering the Mississippi. Why did I need to know how De Soto discovered the Mississippi? He discovered it. It's there. Why all the details? Can we just move on now?

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