Birds and Bees

When I was a high school freshman In 1977, the P.E. teacher encouraged me to take what she called a health class. Since I was always interested in the subject, I agreed to give it a try. It turned out to be a class for girls only, and when I walked into the room, someone snickered and said, “So you want to learn about sex, huh?”

For the first couple of days, the instructor covered basic health issues. On the third day, she gave us THE DEFINITION. I remember her words as she spoke and wrote them on the black board. “Sexual intercourse is the insertion of the penis into the vagina.” I was mortified. I never returned to that class.

Later, Dad told me and my younger brother Andy that sexual intercourse was something done by a man and a woman who love each other, and that’s how we were created. When I was a senior, I was studying Spanish. It occurred to me that song lyrics didn’t provide graphic descriptions of love making. I decided to write a song using the dreadful words I learned during my freshman year but put them in Spanish and have the rest of the song in English. When I broached the subject with Andy, he said, “You’d better be careful what you say. Somebody might think you’re telling him to put his penis on the end of a fork.”

The next day at school, I set to work. To my disappointment, I couldn’t find the words penis or vagina in my Braille English/Spanish dictionary. What was I to do now? Since I didn’t feel comfortable asking my male Spanish teacher for help, I came up with an alternate plan. Instead of writing in Spanish, “Put your penis in my vagina, my darling,” I would write in Spanish, “I don’t want to be a virgin.”

My dictionary had the word virgin so I wrote my first line, but that’s as far as it went. It didn’t sound as romantic as “Put your penis in my vagina, my darling.” If I couldn’t write that in English or Spanish, I wouldn’t write a love song at all. Although my parents would have helped me find those words in Spanish, I didn’t tell them or anyone about my project. It was too embarrassing. I realize now that wouldn’t have been nearly as humiliating as if I actually did it and got pregnant.

I recently discovered the Spanish translation of the words penis (penne) and vagina. (vagina)But over the decades, I have matured from a curious teen-ager to a sensible woman. I am happily married, and my husband and I have discussed sexual intercourse. Since I take sex seriously, I doubt I’ll write that Spanish love song.

What were your experiences with sex education? Did you take a class? Did your parents give you the facts of life? Have you ever written a love song? Please tell me about it. I’d love to hear from you.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome

Author: abbiejohnsontaylor

I'm the author of two novels,, two poetry collections, and a memoir. My work has appeared in various journals and anthologies. I'm visually impaired and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my totally blind late husband who was paralyzed by two strokes. Please visit my website at

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