Amateur psychologists might use these scenes of decapitation-home-invasion mixed with sexual assault and car jacking as evidence that Mike and I were psychopaths. But, at least we were using our budding criminal imaginations; boys born a decade after us could act out far worse scenes via Grand Theft Auto. While this type of play may seem perverse, it's a normal result of a healthy curiosity about the female anatomy mixed with a boyhood need for mayhem. Just as Barbies allow girls to pretend to be adult women, these dolls let boys act out fantasies of being with adult women. Barbies were teaching tools, sex surrogates for Elisabeth Shue and She-Ra.
For Mike and me, Barbie’s flaw in her seamless veneer was her lack of genitalia. When it came to penises, I was an expert. I knew penises were built primarily for peeing and occasionally for molding like silly putty into potato-shaped figurines. In contrast, vaginas couldn't be used as squirt guns, fire extinguishers, tools for vandalizing walls, pens for writing in the snow, or weapons for battling fire ant mounds. Vaginas couldn't even participate in the time-honored tradition of sword fighting.
Mike and I didn't as much sword fight as we played “Star Wars” or “Ghost Busters”; we thought our high fructose urine streams more closely resembled light sabers and proton packs than swords. I actually had higher aspirations when it came to pee games: I wanted to perform synchronized water ballets, or pretend to be stunt pilots weaving our jet streams together. Mike lacked my artistic flare. When I attempted to practice figure eights and arabesques, he would kamikaze my stream—I swear this isn't leading up to the justification of a urine fetish (though with such compelling writing, you can almost see the appeal). The point is that in my childhood mind, genitals were for peeing, which is why I wasn’t sure why girls lacked penises.
Vaginas were black holes of mystery, primeval caves that seemed to hold the secrets to the origins of man. Like other curious boys growing up in the pre-Internet age, we searched in print for answers to the questions presented by the vagina. We pieced together a rough blueprint of the female form from Encyclopedias and National Geographic magazines. While our mother was occupied in the religious section of the used bookstore, Mike and I launched reconnaissance missions into the art section where we searched for nude photography books. The pictures we did find all too often featured bushes of pubic hair disguising vaginas like the fake beards of secret agents.
Once we discovered the book, Where Did I Come From?, in the children’s section of the used bookstore. We assumed the book had been hidden there by a fellow vagina archeologist before he was captured and imprisoned to a lifetime of timeouts for discovering this forbidden knowledge. The book featured cartoonish images of an older couple naked. It was the closest thing to pornography we’d ever seen. Our mother caught us flipping through the book. Instead of punishing us, she offered to buy it. She must have just been excited to see us actually interested in a book. At home Mike and I immediately set to work tracing the more revealing images as though we were transcribing treasure maps.
Needless to say, Mike and I had very little experience with the opposite sex. Despite our ambitions in the field of medicine, we lacked volunteer patients on which to play doctor. As such our medical training was limited to decapitating Barbies and operating on roadkill with firecrackers.
The girls we did know were basically boys with long hair. Vivian was the exception. She was different from other girls. She was pretty.
By some act of providence, Mike and I ended up at Vivian’s house. In my memory we may as well have teleported there or took a flying car, as neither would seem that much of a stretch for transporting us to a place so far beyond our limited experience. Vivian lived on the rich side of the highway. Unlike our parent’s house, we could definitely not crack our jumprope bullwhip inside or practice any of our other Indiana Jones skills. Her mother was a professional artist. In my memory, the entire estate was covered in framed paintings of naked women. There was even a nude drawing of Vivian. While Mike and I could have spent all day wandering this nude museum, we were ordered to play with Vivian in her room while our mothers presumably did some lame adult stuff.
Vivian had a bathroom attached to her room, which seemed just as cool to me as having a secret room. In the bathroom Vivian kept a secret that she wanted to show one of us. Never-mind that her secret was a rock collection. We would have happily taken any excuse to be alone with her. Vivian held some sort of sham contest to see which one of us would accompany her into the bathroom and gaze upon her precious stones. I won.
When Vivian locked the door behind us, my heart began to pound. I knew something exciting was about to happen beyond simply expanding my knowledge of geodes. When the bathroom door in my house was locked, that meant either you were pooping or getting naked. I hoped for the latter.
Vivian pushed her underwear to her ankles and pulled up her dress. Then she hopped on the toilet to pee. I observed all of this with scholarly intensity. I couldn't figure out if she had invited me into the bathroom to watch her pee, or if she was just that comfortable being naked in front of a boy. While I can’t remember the particulars of what happened next, I do know I blew my one chance of practicing amateur medicine on her. I probably said something like, “well this is nice and all but I thought we were going to look at rocks.” Vivian showed me a handful of common stones and then she showed me the door.
In retrospect I suspect Vivian knew exactly what she was doing. First off, my brother was the clear choice to appraise her stones. He had nerd glasses and a rock collection of his own. I’d like to think Vivian saw something special in me, that I was the first guy to see her treasures, but I think she knew exactly what she was doing from experience.
Had I known that this was the closest I’d get to a naked girl until college, I might have shifted the focus of my attention away from rocks. I still wonder how playing doctor with her might have changed the course of my life. Maybe I'd have matured earlier, become an expert on the female anatomy whose professional opinion was sought by girls from as far as two blocks away.
At the time all the experience taught me was that girls did in fact pee sitting down, and that rock collections sucked. On the surface this may not seem like a sexual experience, but it was. From the moment Vivian locked the door, my heart raced with the same intensity it still pounds with when a female locks me in a bathroom with her. Vivian did have a secret that she let me glimpse that day. Her secret was that the female body will always mystify heterosexual men. I could have examined her anatomy with a headlamp and spelunking tools and my interest in vaginas wouldn't have been satisfied. At the time I assumed my curiosity about vaginas was simply a thirst for knowledge. It was not. Vivian offered me my first glimpse into an underworld of experiences that went far deeper than my childhood mind could fathom. This marked the beginning of a lifelong desire to explore as many vaginas as possible with the same zeal that Indiana Jones threw himself into subterranean ruins.