By way of introduction to this post, there’s something tyou need to know about me. On the one hand, my childhood was quite worldly: I knew the word “motherf***er,” and had used it in a sentence by the time I was five. On the other, despite knowing the the “granddaddy of all swears,” it was quite sheltered, as I had ever heard of sex, or of “lovemaking.” No one ever had the talk with me. I found things out on my own.
Heatwaves shimmered on the pavement as students filed onto the bus. Inside, it smelled of preadolescence–sweat and nerves and uncertainty. There were kids of all types, and stripes, on the bus that day: the self-assured, the shy, stoners, posers, jocks, and ones like the red-haired boy: latchkey–living in a single parent home, leaving everyday from an empty house, and returning to the same.
“Do you want to make love,” asked the boy of the friend beside him on the bus.
As a sixth grader, he should have known what the phrase–“make love”–meant, but he didn’t. In his mind, it–although he wasn’t certain–connoted a pact. He thought he was saying something like “Do you want to be blood brothers,” or, “Can we be best friends?” This is what he thought the phrase, make love meant–let’s make an oath.
No one had contextualized it for him. His dad checked out, and subsequently left. The boy’s mom was busy–as a counselor–healing the hurts of others, but missing those carried by her son.
It’s likely she threw herself into her work to assuage her own pain.
Oh, by this point he had seen porn, this boy, and heard the other word; he knew what “f**king” was, but made no correlation between it and lovemaking. In fact, he was quite enamored of the beauty, would soon have pictures of her on his bedroom wall.
So he said what he said on that school bus, not knowing that to “make love” was to have sex. As all he knew of sex came from magazines, videos, peers…
No one told him about the love of lovemaking–he was adrift in the sea of culture, a twelve year old De Leon, exploring these depths on his own.
Thus it was that the boy himself became the fount of the most vicious rumor about him. A question asked in innocent ignorance became a declaration:
The boy–Chad–is gay.
But it wasn’t true.
So Chad died a little more inside, hid himself–his true self–away. Again, no one was really there to help him navigate the murky waters of adolescence. Dad was gone, and for all intents and purposes, so was mom. Though he didn’t have the words at the time, he medicated the pain away with a drug already known to him:
How about you? How have you medicated your pain? How do you medicate now? How has God shown up to redeem that pain?