Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jiminy Cricket Explains Menstruation: The Blind Leading the Blind (Herpes References)

My formal sex education, as in that provided by the schools I attended, was woefully lacking. This was partly because my parents told me the essentials before the school got around to it. What the school told us wasn't quite as funny as the "Coke douche" method of pregnancy prevention, but it was not without its own amusing moments.

In high school, sex eduxation consisted mostly of the biology course unit of "The Question Box." I suppose it freed the teacher up from having to actually plan lessons. Instead, he answered questions that the students anonymously slipped into "The Question Box." The object, as far as the students were concerned, was to pose the grossest, most bizarre, stupidest, or most difficult-to-answer questions. One question I recall pertained to exactly how Siamese twins went about sex and if privacy was possible.(To be perfectly honest, I've wondered more than once about the logistic of sex when Siamese twins are involved.) I don't remember submitting a lot of questions to the box, but I did write one asking the sigificance of the number 69 as it pertained to sex. The instructor wrote the number "69" on the while board, then told us to imagine that the circular end of each numeral represented the head of the human body and the other end represented the other end. A boy whose name I cannot recall summarized, "So '69' means people suck on each others' toes?" The next day someone asked in the question box if any non-numan members of the animal kingdom engaged in 69 or any other form of oral sex. The instructor's answer was that there IS no such thing as oral zex. ???????????? Perhaps our instructor was also former President Clinton's sex education teacher.

In middle school, we watched the menstruation movie, which fell largely under the category of "too little - too late" since probably more than half of the girls viewing the movie had probably already been visited by the crimson fairy. The week-long unit, including that movie and one or two others, was taught by the school nurse. At one point she ventured into the territory of sexually transmitted diseases. The discussion was rather one-sided, as middle-school girls aren't likely to contribute a whole lot to any sex-related discussion led by or even held in the presence of an adult.
It wasn't long before the school nurse introduced herpes into the lesson. The instructor had apparently only seen the word in print and had never heard it pronounced, or at least had never heard it pronouced correctly.

Being a true central California Okie, the nurse knew a silent e when she saw it. Conseequently, she pronounced the word /herps/. The first time she said it, only a few girls noticed, and the giggling was barely audible. The second time, it was picked up by more of us. By the third time she mispronounced the word, the auditorium erupted in laughter. The nurse was utterly clueless. She thought we all found something inherently humorous in the condition of herpes as opposed to her mispronunciation of it.She declared, "I jus can't understand what in the world you young ladies find funny in the least about 'herps.' " She began a lecture of the seriousness of "herps," and how easily it could be transmitted between sexual partners, and how greatly it would limit our chances of attracting decent husbands, or at least of keeping them. Any decent man in his right mind would divorce us or annul the marriage immediately once he found out we had given him "herps." By this time girls were practically falling out of their chairs laughing.

The school nurse did not have any clue as to how this situation could best be handled. She eventually burst into tears and ran out of the room, leaving almost three hundred girls in an auditorium unsupervised.

One of the bolder students among us approached the microphone and continued the lecture about "herps." She said that "herps" was something like a scourge or plague that God had cast upon the Earth in order to sucessfully separate the wheat from the tares, or the pure from the impure, or something of that sort. She asked us what if Adam or Eve had "herps"? if such had been the case every one of use would have been born with unsightly sores all over our faces and genitalia. She started to drawe a picture of what everyone would have looked like had our forebears been afflicted with "herps." Then the vice-principal walked in.

Our impromptu lecturer quickly took her seat as the vice-principal walked up to the microphone. He stood there silently for a moment, then said, "I don't know exactly what you girls said or did to upset Mrs. Upton to the degree that you did, but I've worked with her for three years, and I've never seen her angry, much less in tears. Can anyone explain this?"

We sat there silently for an uncomfortably long time that was probably only a few minutes. Eventually I grew tired of sitting in silence. I approached the vice-principal. I asked if I could speak to him away from the microphone so that nothing I said would be picked up.

He stepped to the side of the stage. I motioned for him to lean over to my level, as I didn't wish for anyone else to hear what I told him, and he was too tall otherwise for me to whisper in his ear. I told him in hushed tones that Mrs. Upton did not know the correct pronunciation of the word
herpes and that every time she said "herps," it became funnier. We grew more and more hysterical when she thought we were laughing because we thought herpes was such a funny disease. I told him the final straw had been when she said in parting as she stormed off the stage and out of the auditorium, "It would serve all of you right if every single girl in this room got herps."

The vice-principal couldn't entirely conceal his smile. He called the librarian, who brought in several approved movies -- all lame, but none as bad as the "Jiminy Cricket Explains Menstruation" video we had watched earlier. The next day was to be the final day of our family life education, but it was scrapped. We went back to our normal schedule.


  1. I don't remember sex ed in school at all. We went over reproductive stuff in Biology, but that was towards the end of high school. Maybe it was in one of the grades I skipped (long story). I remember talking to my sister (who's older by 3 years - you would think she would have known more) but I think I got the majority of knowledge either first hand, talking to kids at school or through reading.

    This post made me crack up, I could just hear the 'herps' in my head and giggled...

  2. It has long been my belief that Disney should make a sex education film warning of the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases.

    It would feature a VW Beetle and be called Herpes Goes Bananas.

    I did not have much sex education. My mother, a good Mormon, decided I should have none. A Jamaican friend also was taken out of sex education. His mother was equally devote, but from the Church of Jesus Christ, Apostolic, I think.

  3. My mom has a friend who teaches eighth grade and is a vice-principal at a Catholic K-8 school She teaches every aspect of birth control, even bringing in diaphrahms, IUDs, condoms, etc., and gets away with it. The rationale that allows her to continue to do this is that how can the kids possibly be expected to know what they're not supposed to be using if they don't have a clue as to what it is. She has a hidden agenda, of course (she has two children, and she's every bit a s fertile as the next myrtle) but she has an explanation that the bishop sees as logical.

  4. Dang. My comment vanished due to the Blogger outage. Oh, well!

  5. Oh! I just remembered what my comment was!

    I have thought for many years that Disney should make a sex education film on the danger of sexually transmitted diseases.

    It would feature a VW Beetle and it would be called "Herpes Goes Bananas."

    At my school there were two of us banned by our mothers from sex education. Me and my Jamaican friend Jim, whose mother was, I think, Church of Jesus Christ, Apostolic.

  6. lereynolds@at.netMarch 14, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Could someone please, please help me find a link to that Jiminy Cricket teaches the menstrual cycle film? I need it for my 1 year past my period Menopause party! Thanks.

    1. I have been on a search for jimney cricket explaining thr menstral cycle for ages and it is if it has been wiped off the face of the earth. If u ever finf it please email me at buttercuplynn@yahoo.com.

  7. Lynn, I haven't had any luck in finding it, either. There's a milder Disney one out there somewhere, but it doesn't have Jiminy.