An essay on innocence, human sexuality, and language.In a galaxy far, far away, I was an altar boy serving in the great pageant known as the Latin mass. As such, I delivered with duty and precision responses to a priest whose recitation seemed no more perfunctory and credible than my own. I was doing what I was trained to do. Whether he did so by training or belief I can never know. Everything back then was a mystery to me. But none more so than the onset of puberty in a world where puberty was something that required repression at worst and discomfited acceptance at best.
At the time, my understanding of sexuality was unusually meagre and late to arrive, in part because I was encouraged to believe that sexuality was nothing more than something to be endured rather than embraced. My own delay in biological development explains my protracted understanding of my own body and its wants. I didn’t understand much about sex until well after all my friends did. This is politely known as late blooming. For everyone I ran with at the time, it was known as retarded.
As an example, the first dirty joke I heard — and which left me mystified — went like this (and which I heard a few decades before politically correct was even a thing): What did the retard get when he jacked off? The answer: Crazy Foam. Upon hearing the punch line I was perplexed. What could this possibly mean? I heard this joke well before my introduction to adolescent masturbation and so was clueless. Upon witnessing my confusion, one friend said, oh Hofmeister, you’re such a dope. Don’t you get it? I didn’t and wouldn’t for a while. This memory calls to mind my aunt who was a nun and who on occasion visited us. She was, much to me and my brother’s amusement, aghast at our using expressions like “queer.” This was yet another failure to understand what words mean, something which children do all the time. I knew that nigger was a bad word, but queer just meant odd. But I digress.
Whether my intellectual delay was a reflection of my late physical maturity or the incredibly repressive and overarching reach of my religious upbringing is hard to say. I only know that as a boy of 13 in 1965, the world of human sexuality was about as close to me as the surface of Mars. It was one which my younger brother knew nothing of either — being a place we had never visited nor knew anything about, the place that connected our young bodies to the rush of desire that awaited us. But knowledge would come of course since not even the Catholic Church could ever hope to circumvent human evolution and the indefatigable needs of boys in full.
So it is that I come to the title of this essay — “And Then You Blow?”
At some point in my sexual education, I came to know what blow jobs were, although I wasn’t aware of their widespread occurrence, but was pretty certain that my pals who knew about them probably weren’t getting them. At least not as often as they talked about them. It was at this time that I was bringing my younger brother up to speed about blow jobs. Jimmy, two years my junior, was a good soul who generally exited the confessional booth worried, afraid, and flushed, having done nothing more than admit to lying to our Dad about something that would result in the good whack to the back of the head.
Explaining a blow job to the unenlightened, let alone someone who hasn’t a clue why a guy might want one, can be problematic to say the least. I opted for the simple description of the act, leaving aside why guys so loved and wanted them. Jim listened intently, taking in this information dutifully as one learns how to bait a hook or get out of walking the dog after dinner. Anyway, he responded to my description as anyone might who is conversant with English — and with what words actually mean — by asking, “And then you blow?”
I don’t recall if I burst out laughing or just smiled and said, no, no, you don’t blow, really. You don’t actually blow, maybe suck would be a better way to describe it.
So, he asked in so many words, why are they are called blow jobs and not suck jobs. I didn’t know. At the time, I didn’t think it mattered. I mean, why do we call getting fucked, getting fucked, when getting fucked is often something we want and something we don’t want depending on the circumstances? Nuance. Language is full of it.
Jim would survive his innocence As would I. And if you care to learn more about why blow jobs came to be called blow jobs, checkthis out. And if this story gives you a sense of why and how our understanding of human sexuality has changed in the last 60 years, all the better.
©2017 John Hofmeister.
When I'm not writing for clients, I write about things that interest me.