Sex Education I: The Land of the Lay

Steve Russell
9 min readDec 31, 2020
Only Babies and Adults Get It. Teenagers are Hopeless. Photo from Pixabay

[Author’s Note: My memoir, Lighting the Fire: A Cherokee Journey from Dropout to Professor, was published in June by Miniver Press. Thanks to Covid-19, I have been unable to promote it. Drawing a crowd might sell books, but it certainly kills people. I intend to adopt pieces of it to magazine format if there is an audience. I understand this is not the kind of thing I normally publish on Medium, and I assure one and all that it won’t happen again unless people like it. SR]

Puberty hit me in the fifties, right below the Bible Belt. My kids — both the boys and the girls — would find it all hilarious.

I do, too, if I’m thinking of Peter Sellers playing me in a movie rather than how it felt at the time to be ignorant of female anatomy and not even know a great deal about my own.

I was raised by my elderly grandparents, and they were not equipped to tell me much even if they could get past the emotional blocks. My earliest investigation was — I am not making this up — -looking for pertinent words in the unabridged dictionary at the public library. They often had drawings that were not completely useless.

I shall not forget how I saw my first adult female nipple (not counting when I mercilessly used my height to peer down the front of my schoolmates’ clothing.) That taught me less about anatomy than it taught me about psychology, either theirs or their mothers. There were a lot of “falsies.” A lot.

[Russell digression™ The girls who thought they needed falsies would blush bright red when they believed a boy knew. But the girls who were endowed in a manner that required them to wear a bra to keep order up there would also blush when they believed a boy knew. It seemed to me they could not win if both small teats and large ones were an embarrassment, and that put me in the odd position of trying to find out as much as possible without letting a girl know that I knew….whichever.]

The first adult female nipple I saw was, naturally, in a movie theatre. I could watch the guys who treated girls badly and so were objects of desire among the girls put their hands down there. One time, I was sitting behind one of those couples and he actually took her bra off and had…

Steve Russell

Enrolled Cherokee, 9th grade dropout, retired judge, associate professor emeritus, and (so far) cancer survivor. Memoir: Lighting the Fire (Miniver Press 2020)