January 21, 2012: La La Love You

Letter: P
CD Number: 18
Track Number: 25
Song: “La La Love You” by The Pixies from Doolittle

Girls chatting, I am sure they are just talking math.
(Picture taken from http://www.visualphotos.com/image/2x3994506/teenage_girls_gossiping)

MATHILDA walks on to the stage and begins to speak to audience as though it was an average everyday thing to do, no nod towards the artificialness of it, no “Oh, I didn’t see you there,” stuff.
The other day I was at the mall. Enjoying a pretzel in the food court. With a soda. As is my god given right, nay, requirement as a citizen of this grand land we call America. What would you have me do? Wait til I get home to have a snack?
Long pause. Challenging glare.
As I was saying, I was enjoying this pretzel. Auntie Annie’s. I threw my considerable support behind Pretzel Time during the Great Mall Pretzel Wars of the early aughties, but, alas, it was not to be. I am nothing if not humble in defeat.
Anyway, as I munched on this wholesome, arguably patriotic snack, albeit one provided by an inferior vendor, I became aware of a small group of teen girls. Given that they were hanging out at the mall, I’d judge them to be 14 or 15ish. In my experience, the acquisition of a license ends the era of the mall as a mecca of social interaction in a teen’s life.
These girls were talking about boys, as straight girls of this age are wont to do, and one of them brought up the base system. I believe she mentioned she had gone to second with a boy named Tad. This appeared to be a spectacularly bad decision on her part as the picture she and her friends painted of “Tad” was of a burgeoning sociopath. She, however, seemed quite pleased to have hit that double so, perhaps, I am just being a bit presumptive in my feelings towards Tad.
As I soaked up their early adolescent girlie-ness, it occurred to me that I had no idea what her “second base” was. I knew where it was when I was young, but I had also spoken to younger siblings of friends of mine and they seemed to suggest there had been some…drift in recent years. The sibs were plenty halfway between my age and the age of girls seated behind me, so it stood to reason that there had been further…drift in the definitions.
I’m in my 30’s…
Yes, you are right. It is surprising. I have incredible skin and the body of a woman between 10 and 14 years younger than me. Good genes, I suppose.
In any case, for us, the bases were easy. They were the four “F’s”: french, feel…and you get the idea. Some things a lady does not say in mixed company, you understand.
However, in accepting an easy summary of the base system, people my age sacrificed nuance. There was, for instance, no room on the base path of oral sex. I’ve heard others try to refer to it as “taking a lead from third” but this seems to give short shrift to this particular form of physical pleasure.
Additionally, a homerun was a homerun if it involved just you and a partner or you and thirty. I guess you could go “grand slam” but a.) that doesn’t start with “f” and b.) how do you choose where line is between humdrum solo shot and standing ovation grand slam? Simplicity begat more complications, not less.

Perhaps the 12-15 year old set of this world right now had worked it all out. Or perhaps it was even weirder for them. Maybe the whole damn thing was upside down. I’ve had friends tell me about guys they’ve dated who had no problem sleeping with my friends but insisted kissing was too intimate.
Body language convey that this is an aside/digression from her main story.
Who knew how devastating Pretty Woman could be to my generation when it came to what intimacy meant? I mean, kissing, really? That’s the holiest of holy? Julia Roberts, this is on your head!

Dragging herself back on topic

I briefly considered asking the girls about it but it occurred to me that that was how people my age ended up on websites and having to go door-to-door in their new neighborhood letting everyone know who they were.

But it got me to thinking, did I even want to know, really? It’s not like I have to describe my various exploits in these terms. I may not have grown up in a lot of ways, but, certainly this was one of them.
On the other hand, with any luck, I’ll be a mom some day. And my daughter will someday be one of those girls like the ones sitting behind me. If I keep up with the evolving standards for base achievement, getting an update every few years or so, maybe I can avoid sticker shock when I find out that second now calls for the use of toys, a spotlight, and a half filled black box theatre of observers.

I don’t really think it’s going to be like that, by the way. I think the bases have changed, but I think it is like…a pendulum. I grew up at a time when the Christian Right had really seized power for the first time and AIDS was a disease that killed you dead, no exceptions, and right quick. We were being told that sex would destroy our souls and our bodies, often simultaneously. It didn’t stop most of us, granted, but I am sure it tamped down when we crossed that line and what range of activities were willing to do upon stomping on home plate. It had, if you will, a chilling effect.

Also, grunge helped no one. Seriously. “You have probably the best body you will ever have right now. Here are layers of flannel to wrap it in to distort and obfuscate that fact.”
Now though, teen fashion is not what I’d call “great” but at least it recognizes that these are the beginning of “if you got it, flaunt it” years and no matter what parents think, shrouds are not a good choice. The Christian Right has overplayed their hand and been found to be rife with hypocrisy and introduced so many restrictions to the national discourse that sex has become even more taboo and thus an even bigger draw for teens. Finally, the boogie man of AIDS has been reduced to a “this is a bummer of an illness,” status. It can still be deadly, of course, but not nearly as total or as quickly as it once was.
So, of course the bases have changed. Kids think sex is safe again. Either because it is certainly “safer” or teachers will be fired for talking about anything beyond, “hey, abstinence, am I right?”
My parents, the people who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s probably felt the same way. Think about it, our Woodstocks featured 10 dollar water and riots. There’s was all about free love. People may age, bad news for you, your parents did WAY more stuff than you did and it was WAY weirder too.

I can imagine my mom listening to me discuss letting Fred McGaul go to first at a basement party. At first, she is a little worried. Then, she realizes first equals kissing and she walks away shaking her head and thinking, “I’ve raised a prude.” Because, in her day, first was, well…who knows? Probably something involving drugs, the Beatles, and multiple partners.

Of course that means that by the time I have a child and he or she is at the age of bases, we will be back to repressive, strict, simple designations. So maybe there’s no point in trying to figure all this out now.
Long pause
I will tell you this though. That Tad better behave himself. His girlfriend seemed like an absolute delight.
Reach out and touch me at tim.g.stevens@gmail.com or @ungajje on the Twitter. Let me know what you love and what you hate. And please, do spread the word.