When I wrote Surviving
I wanted to make it a “realistic” look at the roller
coaster of emotions that boys go through as they enter puberty and leave the
cloistered security of grade school.
It is a scary period. There are lots of different teachers,
the subject matter is tougher, kids from other parts of town want to pull your
underpants over your head while you’re wearing them, and girls suddenly look a
It is a strange transition, especially in the attitude
towards girls. Before summer vacation they were primarily there to be ignored. Lots
of times, if they wore short hair and pants, they seemed almost normal.
But somehow, over the summer, their chests became an area of
notice. Now, in retrospect, I know that for many of them, there were lots of
foreign objects tucked up there: Kleenex, foam, silly putty, etc. But, at the
time, we were clueless and pretty curious about the change.
A female friend is often quoted as wondering what the heck
is the real attraction. “Breasts are just a couple of mounds of flesh”.
Well, if that’s the case, why are girls so anxious to keep
boys from finding out? They hide whatever it is under bras and slips and
blouses and sweaters. Sometimes they won’t even take off their coats when they’re
To a thirteen year old boy, this is like telling him he has
to eat kale when there is roast beef on the table.
This is an excruciatingly difficult period for boys. They’re
expected to make an assault on Mount Everest without any climbing tools or
When they finally realize they may need to do some research,
the effort may take some surprising turns.
I discuss one of these research efforts in “Second Base
” and “Bras”
). This was about a movie date when Billy realized he was
never going to get to “second base” unless he learned to unhook a bra with one
I might add that the only bad review I got on this book was
by a woman in Alabama who said her thirteen year old son had no business
learning about that stuff. I thought that was pretty funny and made sure to
enclose that one star review in a lot of ad material. I think it has helped
Billy said he almost got to second base.
He took Irma to the movies.
They snuck up to the balcony
And started kissing and fooling around.
Then the problem developed.
Those things are pretty complicated
And they always put the hooks in the back.
Why don’t they put them in front
Where you can get at them?
Billy has an older sister.
He’s going to “borrow” one of her bras
So we can practice unhooking it
Billy’s sister is seventeen
So he was able to get a bra
That we could practice on.
We put it around the back of a chair.
We put another chair next to it.
Maybe the chair was too big,
When Billy finally got it undone
It almost put his eye out.
We finally got the hang of it,
But it took a lot of practice.
I hope they don’t make them
With more than two hooks.