Diane lives in North Carolina with her significant other, photographer John Pagliuca, and their two Shelties, Keeper and Jet.
Sex and A Good Father
by Diane Chamberlain
I was listening to NPR the other day when Dan Savage was being interviewed. Dan is a journalist, activist, and creator of the It Gets Better Project, which he founded to prevent suicide among gay adolescents. When I tuned into the show, he was talking about how people learn about sex. Dan said he learned about it from a combination of Ann Landers’ advice columns and a Penthouse magazine forum. Dan wasn't talking about the birds and the bees--he was talking about Sex with a capital S. The discussion brought back a memory. A sweet one.
It was the day before my first date. I was a new high school sophomore who’d been asked out by a senior from a neighboring school. I’d had a boyfriend over the summer, but apparently my parents had ruled him harmless. This senior boy, though—he was the real thing, and it was time for The Talk.
I knew The Talk was coming, although I'm not sure exactly how I knew. Somehow, it was common knowledge that my sister, seven years my senior, had received the talk and my brother, eleven years older than me, had endured it as well. My siblings and I weren’t close back then, given our age difference, so I don’t think they told me. Somehow, I just knew.
So when my dad came into my room and sat next to me on the little step by the bookcase, I knew what was coming. He was so good. Even at the age of fifteen and despite my embarrassment at having him mention the words erogenous zones, I knew he was doing something rare and remarkable for a father. I was quite certain none of my friends had a father with the guts to talk to them about how guys felt when they got close to girls and how girls could keep their wits about them. I remember thinking, even at that moment, how proud my mother must have felt to be married to a man willing to take this on. I felt his trust in me. I felt his love. And now, many decades later and with Dad gone, the memory puts a tender lump in my throat. He was, in so many ways, a good father.
I know how lucky I was. How about you? Did your parents teach you about Sex with a capital S?