Male Bag

By Christina O'Brien

This column is devoted to love letters, hate mail, and other correspondence from guys that I've saved over the years. Names have not been changed to protect the innocent.

The only thing I miss about junior high is the sex. Or, rather, the novelty of sex. My friends and I weren't actually having sex, but we were constantly thinking about it, reading about it, talking about it, passing notes about it. Sex infused everything. It was new and it was fun.

I was not popular in junior high, but I was the object of many popular boys' affections. However, these boys were not popular because they were cute or funny or athletic. They were popular by default. Brian P. was popular because his fraternal twin Paul was cute and funny and athletic. Rob S. was popular because he was rich and he was always the first to own the trendiest clothes and accessories (like the transparent Swatch watch with the exposed inner parts). Steve H. was popular because he hung out with Brian and Rob.

Brian and Rob and Steve expressed their affections toward me by hurling dirty notes at me during class. At any other time in my life, I may have construed this behavior and the contents of these notes as sexual harassment. But back then I loved it. I especially loved that they called me "Pat", after my idol Pat Benatar.

Of course, at the time, I pretended to hate the notes and the nickname because that was the cool thing to do. I rebuffed the boys' affections with very witty responses like the one to Steve's question in Spanish (which, for you monolinguists out there, roughly translates to "Do you give good head?"). I was taught to play it coy, but I quickly learned that playing it off like a big joke was the best way to keep them coming back for more. (Although I'm not sure why "In the ditch or at the library?" was all that funny.)

When I started having sex years later, it was still as new but it wasn't always as fun. It became complicated by love and guilt and heartbreak and violence. Maybe that's what compels me to save these notes from junior high—they help me remember the days when sex was good, dirty fun.

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Copyrightę2002 by Christina O'Brien.

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