When my boys were little, I attended a dinner party at the home of an older colleague. The older colleague is 30 years older than me, a full generation ahead. This man is someone I respect immensely, as much for his warm and accepting way with his family as for his professional accomplishments.
Wine was served, and consumed. The conversation turned to talking to your children about sex. At the time, my boys were about 5 and 8, but the hosts had grown children. Mrs. Host shared “the talk” she had had with her daughter:
Stay a virgin as long as you can.
That instruction grabbed my attention. On the one hand, such practical, realistic sex advice would never have been given in my childhood home. On the other hand, this message is simply a variation on the theme of all the advice from my upbringing: delay, delay, delay gratification.
Of course this advice isn’t just about literal virginity. Year after year, as the sons remarked that they were the LAST children on the planet to [fill in the blank: have Pokemon cards/have the cool basketball shoes/have a cell phone…], I told myself, “one more year of [Pokemon] virginity.”
I love this line from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Committed, where she reflects on her mother’s experience:
abandoned (as so many of us must do, after a certain age) the luxuriously innocent fantasy that one is entitled to have unmixed feelings about one’s own life.
Keep your luxuriously innocent fantasies as long as you can. Even my G-rated parents could get behind that advice.