Did You French Her?


I am crossing the mid-point on my second book, tentatively titled ‘The 26 Year Old Virgin.’ Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 2 for your enjoyment.

By David Berry: In 1995, if a group of five sixth grade boys were early to homeroom, you knew one of two things had happened: There was a test that morning or – as was more often the case – there was something semi-sexual to talk about as it related to a girl in our grade. On this Monday morning, it was the latter.

I was part of the group, or at least that morning I was. These were some of the cool kids; I was cool enough to be talking to them, but not cool enough to be them. The coolest kid in sixth grade, Danny, was now two weeks deep into a relationship with Jenelle, the first girl in our grade to develop breasts, or at least enough to have us obsess over the fact notice that things had changed a little bit under her shirt.

Danny had told us on Friday that there was a chance he’d hang out with Jenelle at the mall over the weekend, and proclamations of “you know what that means” had us all on our toes. Or in my case, wondering what that was.

“So what happened?” Dustin asked. We were grouped together in a circle by a lab desk in the front of the classroom. And we were all dying to know.

“Dude…we made out for like an hour!”

There was a collective “ohhhhh” reaction from our group. Because that was awesome. Amazing, in fact. One of our own had done…that! But I had questions. I interjected.

“So, did you French her?”

The other four guys (who am I kidding, we were idiot 11-year-olds, we weren’t ‘guys’) heard what I’d said and froze. Then, they turned and stared at me like I had six heads. After a few seconds of staring at me like it was my first day on Earth, Dustin spoke up.

“Making out and Frenching are the same thing, idiot! You didn’t know that?”

Yeah. Frenching. Of course I knew that.

“Well yeah, I just…thought that Frenching might be like when you do it longer…”

They laughed mockingly, mercilessly. The 9:00 a.m. homeroom bell rang and we were off for another day of sixth grade. I was hoping that the raw excitement of learning that a red-blooded sixth grader – one of us – had made out with or Frenched or whatever’d a girl would be big enough news that they’d forget how stupid I’d just sounded.

I was mortified, because once you got to sixth grade, you were supposed to know all of this stuff. All of the slang, all of the milestones. And I didn’t.

It’s one of my earliest memories of sexual intrigue in my pre-pubescent years. I was excited about girls, and had been since I had my first girlfriend, Amber, in kindergarten. But sixth grade was different. We had learned about periods and breasts and expanding hips the year before, so now it was a waiting game to see when the girls in our grade would start changing, which I assumed was the same thing that happened with my Transformers toys.

Sex was a mystery to me. I was intrigued by the idea of kissing a girl and learning more about women’s bodies, but the actual act of sex didn’t make sense to me yet. Like, how would it work? You just walk up to each other naked and it goes in…there? Ehh, it didn’t matter yet. I’d worry about kissing a girl first and then figure the rest of it out at some other point. Maybe in seventh grade.

The summer between sixth and seventh grade was a sexual miracle to girls my age. So many of them had boobs on the first day of school – real boobs, like the ones women had. It was like a unicorn had come through the city of Rochester and sprinkled breast tissue fairy dust across the land, and simultaneously given boys a case of “how about an inconvenient boner for every time you have to go write some shit on the front board?” syndrome.

The wind could blow in my general direction and I’d be at full-mast. This boner parade was akin to giving a new car to someone my age (12), which is to say it’s something I’d totally want but have no idea how to use without breaking it.

On the flip side, girls were given a similar scenario. Like “here are your tits; from here on out, you’ll have total control over men and always wonder if it’s you or these that they’re really interested in. Don’t worry, I’m sure that’ll have no psychological effect on you at all.”

Seventh grade was a turning point for me for the simple fact that my fascination with women took off like a shot from there. It hasn’t dissipated. I was mesmerized; infatuated with everything about women. Their bodies, sure, but also the way they styled their hair; a high pony tail was adorable, and so was the shoulder length, parted down the middle look. Plus, there was the way they walked with a newfound strut, and best of all, how they smelled after dousing themselves with Country Apple body spray from Bath & Body Works (kryptonite for a 12-year-old boy in the 90s).

Despite all the hype and anticipation – self-imposed and peer-imposed – seventh grade didn’t go exactly as planned. I didn’t have a girlfriend that year, which meant no kissing/making out/Frenching, either. That of course meant that I had to lie about it incessantly. “Of course I’ve made out with a girl! Yeah, you just don’t know her because she goes to a different school…” It was the classic early teen scenario; everyone said they were doing stuff, no one was, and we were all just lying to each other about it for fear of being mocked by people we weren’t friends with.

That trend continued, for me at least, until I was 15 years old.

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