The Boston Phoenix
December 21-28, 2000

[Out There]

I, Prudius

In which our protagonist
realizes she ain't seen nothin'

by Kris Frieswick

prude It Was my birthday several months ago and as a way to mitigate the increasingly traumatic nature of that event, I surrounded myself with some of my favorite women friends, all of whom have been through more than their share of birthdays and know the routine. We gathered in a little café, ordered up some chow, raised a toast to having been there and done that for yet another year, and proceeded to do what women do when they get together and drink too much: talk about sex.

There's a misconception in this world that men talk about sex more, and in greater detail, than women. Women are still considered, by whoever it is that creates and disseminates broadly accepted stereotypes, to be the demure, passive half of the sexual equation. This misconception has somehow persisted despite the fact that when women get together, they discuss sex at a level of detail and frankness that I am quite confident would send a Navy SEAL into a full blush. With half the population aware of this reality, it is amazing that the misconception has persisted as long as it has.

It was only natural, then, that the conversation turned to the question of "the weirdest place you've ever done it." I'm not a wild woman by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought I was at least in the running on this one: a skybox in the Boston Garden during a Grateful Dead show. I waited for their reactions. They were unimpressed.

"Were you in danger of getting caught at any point?" my friend Sharon asked. "It doesn't really count unless you might get caught." I had to admit, there had been very little danger of discovery. Still, I argued,
" . . . a skybox . . . come on . . . isn't that even a little? . . . "

"My weirdest place was on top of the counter at the pro shop at my parents' country club with the golf pro at 10:30 a.m.," said Sharon's lover, Virginia. Until she met and fell in love with Sharon, Virginia was a married woman with children, house, Explorer, dogs, etc. When I met her, she struck me as the type of person who might request that I not say the "F-word" so much. Clearly, first impressions can be deceiving. "We were fully naked," she added.

Then Sharon divulged, "My weirdest place was in the back seat of a car, with a woman, with her husband driving."

Virginia gasped. "Oh, God! That was with me!" The two huddled together in an intimate giggle, recollecting a particularly unusual phase in their lives.

Then it was Linda's turn. She looked up from her chardonnay demurely. "S&M club. That was weird."

I sat there, struck silent. It was official: I was a prude. I was practically a Quaker. I've climbed mountains, skied the rocky peaks, white-water rafted down Class Five rapids, mountain biked the Wickedness Single Track, traveled the world alone, met and interviewed presidents and murderers, and, yes, even hitchhiked. But when it came to sex, I had just been revealed to be as parochial and boring as a missionary. Now I had to face the fact that I'd done nothing in my entire life that could be even remotely compared to what my friends had experienced.

They sensed my dejection.

"Hey, the Grateful Dead, huh? That's pretty cool," said Sharon with forced enthusiasm. "Were they good that night? I saw them a few years ago, but I think Jerry was already almost dead."

"You know we don't do any crazy stuff like that anymore," said Virginia, patting my arm. "We're like a boring old married couple now."

"Yeah," said Linda. "It's too dangerous and scary these days. Not like a few years ago. Things just seemed a little safer then. Not so many crazy people. But you can still pretty much find anything you want if you know where to look." A wistful look of fond remembrance crossed Linda's face. Virginia's eyes also started to gloss over. "Yeah, those were the days," she murmured. "Crazy stuff."

They were not making me feel better. A life I once considered full of experience and well-lived suddenly had a great big void right in the middle of it. Damn, I thought, how could I have missed this? I thought everything was pretty good up till now. I've never had any complaints, no one I've loved has ever had any complaints . . . but I started running back through my Rolodex of memories, trying to remember if anyone had ever said or done anything that might indicate that he was looking for something a little more . . . adventurous . . . and I was just too clueless to catch on. Fortunately, the wine had worked its anesthetic magic, and my Rolodex was locked up tight for the night.

Then, as if a light had flicked on, I realized my friends had just given me the best birthday gift anyone could ever get -- suddenly, I was "inexperienced," at least in one aspect of my life. When I walked into the café earlier that night, I'd been a veteran of life's wars. In one short hour, I was a neophyte again. It was like setting the Wayback Machine to 16.

Thanks to my friends, I will now wear my prudishness as my own personal Fountain of Youth. My friends will probably never interview murderers. I'll probably never consider sex a form of recreation. They look at me with awe, I look at them with awe. At this point in our lives, knowing that there's something big and scary out there that we've never done, and never will, is probably the only thing holding back the onset of world-weariness that was dangerously close to consuming each of us before we walked into that café. You know, I might even try to stop saying the F-word so much.

Kris Frieswick can be reached at

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