“The Facts of Life, Irish and Unabridged,” Creative Nonfiction, in Brevity

When I was a kid, nobody did much chatting about what the birds were up to. Last year sex education was made compulsory in the Republic of Ireland, but in the early sixties, Irish-American families like mine left the subject mostly to a girl’s imagination. In fairness, the matter was a quandary. How would a mom go about discussing body parts her daughter was forbidden to use?

Back then, the Roman Catholic Church—whose clergy were already masters at keeping dirty secrets—had strict rules about sex and the proper place for it in a girl’s life. And more than a few Catholics took them seriously. For women, sex was to be employed only as needed to fruitfully multiply. It took another decade—and a little help from the pill—for the girls in my generation to let them stuff that worldview where the sun don’t shine.

But at eleven years old, I was truly at a loss to explain the trick Mother Nature was playing on me, because information about it—and what other indignities might be in store—was kept under wraps. I revisit the twisted assumptions that secrecy conjured in “The Facts of Life, Irish and Unabridged,” now in Brevity: https://brevitymag.com/current-issue/irish-and-unabridged/