Recently I went back to my hometown, Rocklin, California. I wanted to see the house where I grew up, the church we attended and the field where I played Little League, but I was also hoping to catch a glimpse of my first true love.
Was she still around? Would she remember me? Would we still feel the same?
They say you never get over your first true love and I wanted to know if that was true.
The first time I saw her, my first true love was on the Rocklin Elementary School playground. She was unusually tall and slender, but a classic beauty; somewhat aloof and mysterious. And she was popular; all the kids wanted to play with her.
Which was completely understandable:
She was a tetherball pole.
What’s that funny feeling?
As I recall, some girls were playing tetherball and the ball got wrapped around the pole and stuck at the top, so someone had to climb the pole and unwind it.
But after wrapping my legs around the pole and going up and down, the friction on the crotch of my jeans gave me a funny feeling and it wasn’t ha-ha funny, it was hmm-that-feels-pretty-damn-good funny and after that, you couldn’t keep me off that damn tetherball pole.
I was like the 911 of stuck tetherballs.
Got a tetherball wrapped around the pole and need someone to shinny up that pole and get it unstuck? I was the man for the job.
I’d hang around the playground waiting for someone’s tetherball to get stuck and on a good day I might unstick three or four tetherballs and finish recess looking like someone had shoved a Louisville Slugger down the front of my pants.
(At that point in time it was the Little League model Louisville Slugger, but as any guy will tell you a Louisville Slugger is a Louisville Slugger and well worth having even if you never get a trip to the plate.)
It took me a while to figure out I could give that funny feeling to myself, but up until that particular light bulb went on, my six-year-old brain figured there was some mysterious connection between that tetherball pole and erections.
Hell, a good tetherball pole still kinda turns me on.
So now I knew about Louisville Sluggers (and yes, we are going to continue using that metaphor), but after I got one I wasn’t real sure what I was supposed to do with it.
Then one day a bunch of us kids were walking home from school when of my pals decided to hold an impromptu Sex-Ed class and explained that Tab A went into Slot B. (OK, my apologies; I switched metaphors on you, but we’ll get back to ‘Louisville Sluggers’ when we reach the section on pornography.)
At first I figured he had some bad information and questioned his sources, but when he confirmed “yep, that’s what happens” I felt kinda oogy.
Having a good Christian upbringing I was ashamed of everything below my hips and above my knees and couldn’t imagine even showing all that disgusting plumbing to a girl, much less expecting her to get personally involved with it.
So I then asked my pal if it was possible to be married and not have sex.
And unfortunately – as a lot of married couples have learned to their regret – the answer is yes. (Exceptions being made for birthdays, anniversaries and the occasional Chinese New Year which will next come around on January 25th, so mark your calendars.)
Toward the end of grammar school they separated the girls from the boys and forced us to take Sex-Ed classes which – at best – were embarrassing and confusing because while they had charts and graphs and slides, the mortified teachers managed to avoid being specific about all that “Tab A into Slot B” business.
Case in point:
Mr. Brooks taught my Sex-Ed classes and after several days of hemming and hawing around the subject said that was it, class was finished and then made the fatal mistake of asking if any of us had questions.
One kid – whose name I remember, but won’t reveal unless we’re having a drink together – raised his hand and said yeah, he had a question: he understood the parts about sperm and eggs, but was still mystified by how the sperm got from that male diagram on the right side of the chalkboard into that female diagram all the way over to the left.
The next few minutes were some of the best of my life.
Mr. Brooks – red-faced, sweating and tugging on his collar like Rodney Dangerfield – choked out a garbled explanation that included the question: “Have you ever ridden a horse and gotten a funny feeling?”
Those of us in the know were trying not to laugh and I may have separated a rib in the process.
When Mr. Brooks finally got around to admitting a man’s penis actually went into a woman’s vagina, the confused student disagreed:
“My sister’s pregnant and I don’t think she’d do that.”
The whole class – including Mr. Brooks – exploded in laughter and I remember Mr. Brooks laughing so hard he had tears in his eyes and eventually put his head down on his desk until he got his hysterics under control.
Not long after, Mr. Brooks died in a car crash, but he didn’t leave this vale of tears without laughing his ass off at least once.
Unfortunately for most women, most men look at pornography and looking at pornography warps men’s view of sexuality.
I was no exception.
But I gotta admit pornography visually explained some things that Sex-Ed avoided: “Oh, so that’s how that works.” If you happened to have a Louisville Slugger (see? I told you we’d get back to it) pornography showed you how to swing it.
Unfortunately, pornography also taught men that women are always up for it and all you have to do is deliver a pizza or stop by to clean her pool and next thing you know you’re in the rack with a woman and her next-door neighbor who dropped by to borrow some sugar.
This explains 82 percent of the stupid shit men say to women in an effort to get laid.
If showing up at the front door with a pipe wrench to fix her plumbing and saying, “I hear you need your drain unclogged” gets women fired up, why not yell crass remarks at women walking down the street?
It works in the movies.
Back to where we started.
I went back to Rocklin Elementary and although she’d moved location, my first true love was still on the playground; slender, willowy and as alluring as I ever. So what the fuck, I decided to climb her one last time.
The picture below is the sad result of that attempt:
I jumped on the pole thinking I’d scramble up to the top with ease, but unfortunately my arm-strength-to-bodyweight-ratio seems to have altered since I was six. I never got an inch higher than where I started and just slowly sank down the length of the pole until I was back on the ground.
(This seems like a metaphor for something, but I’d rather not waste any more time speculating on what that might be.)
So here’s today’s lesson: yes, you can go back and find your first true love and if she still feels the same way about you that you feel about her, maybe she’ll let you climb her pole one more time, but if you’re in your mid-sixties, I have a word of advice:
You might still have a Louisville Slugger, but you better bring along some pine tar.