Clarice James

Smart, Fun, Relatable Fiction

It’s Not Always About Sex


Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. ~ Ephesians 5:4 (NIV)

I was raised in a home where “obscenity, foolish talk [and] coarse joking” were NOT the norm. Private matters were kept private and private parts had cute, little nicknames—which I will refrain from sharing at this time.

The first time I sought clarification on a word I’d heard an older boy spew on the playground, I was five years old. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Soap? But Mom . . . .

I’ll wash your mouth out with soap!

“Mommy, what does #$%& mean?”

Her response was swift—if not helpful. “If I ever hear you say that word again, I’ll wash your mouth out with soap.”

Not that I wish my family life was otherwise—I know now I was blessed—but there were times I felt uninformed, insecure, and naïve. I thought “off-color” meant dull and “double entendre” meant we could have second helpings at supper.

As I got older, my peers found my ignorance amusing. I found it humiliating. Like when I was thirteen and a member of the Camp Fire Girls. One day my troop leader motioned to one of the girls and said, “Anne won’t be participating in this afternoon’s activities because she has her friend.”


Wo-He-L0 is short for Work, Health and Love

I spoke up, “We don’t mind if her friend joins in.”  I looked around, wondering where her friend was and why the rest of the troop was gawking at me.

The leader said, “No, dear, it’s her monthly visitor.”

I extended the invitation again. “Even if she can’t attend every week, it’s okay.”

I was sent home with a note. My mother read it, then produced an old, faded “You’re a Young Lady Now” booklet and sent me to my room with orders to read it.

I was horrified.  GYour a woman now

From that moment on, I was on my guard. I pretended to get jokes, giggling when others giggled, rolling my eyes when others rolled theirs. When I got my very own Webster’s Dictionary that Christmas, the first thing I did was look up words I thought I should know. I didn’t plan to use them, but I was tired of being caught unaware. (Of course, not knowing the words to look up didn’t help much.)

As a freshman, when I overheard an upper classman whisper to her friend, “Did you guys French?”, I wondered why she would ask such a dumb question since they were all in the same Spanish class.

Married right out of high school, I learned the details of having a baby through—you guessed it—another booklet. Mortified, for years I blushed every time I heard the word “stirrups.” Riding lessons are still out of the question for me.

The mandatory health class in high school was one big blackout. Which might explain why, as a new Christian at the age of thirty-two, I thought the pastor was speaking about male body parts when he spoke about St. Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.

I was widowed at fifty and fell for some dumb lines. It took the young adults in my church group to warn me that “Want to come in for coffee?” was tantamount to “Want to come in for a nightcap?” And it took my thirty-something co-workers to discourage me from using the expression “hooking up.” Apparently, it meant more than I thought it did.

After dating David for a year, we married. It was a mixed marriage of sorts. He was a WASP from suburban DC; I was French and a former Catholic from Cape Cod. He’d been in the Navy; I had not.

One day, in the honeymoon phase of our marriage, David went out to run errands. I heard the garage door go up upon his return. When he didn’t come in right away, I looked out the window and saw a neighbor approaching him.

I was surprised when David entered the house a minute later. “You sure didn’t talk very long to Roland.”

He leaned over and kissed me. “Why would I want to talk to Roland when I’ve got a warm sandwich for you?”

A warm sandwich? My mind scrambled. I’d heard of spooning, snuggling, and canoodling, but what on earth was a warm sandwich? Was this a common WASP expression or a term specific to DC? Or worse, had he picked it up in the Navy? I panicked.

How well did I know this man anyway?

I mustered my courage. “What do you mean by that?”

“By what?”

“A warm sandwich.”

He plopped a brown paper bag on the table. “The steak and cheese sub you wanted for lunch.”

Of course. The sub. I knew that.

When will I learn? It’s not always about sex. Sometimes it’s just a warm sandwich.steak and cheese sub

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. ~ Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

PS: This was The Law of the Camp Fire Girls when I was a member:

  • Worship God
  • Seek Beauty
  • Give Service
  • Pursue Knowledge
  • Be Trustworthy
  • Hold onto Health
  • Glorify Work
  • Be Happy


17 thoughts on “It’s Not Always About Sex

  1. C, I can so relate to this. My mother gave me the booklet instead of having The Talk, and I was so mad I refused to read it which led to all sorts of hilarious misadventures when I finally started dating. Even those of us who were “informed” were in the dark compared to today. I learned most of my “facts” in a convent boarding school, which I don’t think was my parents’ intent when they sent me there. Oh The Fifties…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was also very naive, Clarice, and missed meanings which created many awkwaed situations. I also grew up in a very “polite” home with no bad language. Part of it was the times in which we were raised. While it wasn’t perfect, I prefer it to our current times where there are no barriers to what young and very young people discuss.
    I remember feeling so sad when young girls were discussing very private matters with my adolescent sons in the early nineties.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am still shocked when I hear adults swear in front of their children. I wasn’t a perfect parent, but that wasn’t the way I spoke to my children and they certainly didn’t speak to me that way! I do wish I was more open about discussing certain matters though. By the time I tried, I was too late.


  3. Smile. I can identify so much with your article!!

    You said so much with humor. How different it is today!


    *From:* Clarice James [] *Sent:* Tuesday, September 29, 2015 11:27 PM *To:* *Subject:* [New post] It’s Not Always About Sex

    Clarice James posted: “Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. ~ Ephesians 5:4 (NIV) I was raised in a home where “obscenity, foolish talk [and] coarse joking” were NOT the norm. Private matters were kept pr”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. OMGoodness, Clarice! I still have “You’re a Young Lady Now!” We must have gone to different schools together. LOL Your post is hilarious and I was a dunce about these things, too. Yay! Let’s hear it for dunces. Study goodness and love the sandwich – or something. =0)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So funny and so much like some of my own experiences. “My friend” came and I thought I was going to die. I had no idea what was happening. And “fart”, I thought meant the same as another 4 letter word starting with F. I wish my grand kids knew the sweet age of the 50’s.


  6. Yes, I can relate to this account of your earlier life. I think I’ll share this post and see how many of my friends relate. 😉 Well done!


  7. What a fun post, Clarice. I was not as naive as you were, but I had friends who were. You brought back some good, and interesting, memories.


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