I’m not sure how woman mark their transition from childhood into womanhood, I suspect some of it may be the development of boobs or the first menstrual cycle and I’m sure there are a hell of a lot of other markers that my sister would never think of sharing with me but for us men there is only one. You’re probably thinking it’s successfully asking someone out on a date (never happened!) or even losing our virginity (almost never happened!) but it’s neither of those, for us men it’s a much simpler marker, it’s finding your first pubic hair or your first chest hair.
I was reminded of this the other day when I was chatting to my two boys, 14 and 12, and remembered what it was like for me at that age. Until I went to Secondary School I was completely innocent and naive, sex was something adults didn’t talk about in the early 70’s in Northern Ireland – especially when children were within earshot – and because of the Watershed Rules sex was never mentioned on the telly before 9pm, well after my bedtime, so I started Secondary School knowing now’t about this rite of passage into manhood and never viewing naked mens bodies. And my innocence continued for the first few weeks at school until it was swimming lessons and we were all marched down to Pickie Pool for lessons.
Now, you need to understand a few things about Pickie Pool, it was at the time basically the freezing cold Irish Sea masquerading as a swimming pool, it was an ‘open air’ ( ie open sea) swimming pool, a thick wall stopped the worse of the sea pouring in but the sea just poured over the cold cement wall and we all froze our bits off trying to learn to swim whilst simultaneously getting our lily white backs sunburnt on the rare occasions when the sun shone, so the bottom half of our bodies were blue with cold and the top half red with sunburn, not a pretty sight.
About the only vid I can find of Pickie Pool is here and yes, girls in Bangor really do sound like this.. (still!)
Anyway, I digress, so we all pitched up at Pickie Pool and as we were an all-boys school we went into the communal changing area and stripped off and got our swimming trunks on. Now I’ve been told that, as a general rule, girls ‘tend’ to have separate changing rooms, one cubicle for each girl to preserve their modesty but we boys didn’t have that luxury and we all stripped off together and that was my first eye opener, you see, I was 12 and as I got changed and looked around me I was shocked to see that two or three of my school chums had pubic hair. And of course boys being boys, they were very proud of it and strutted around the changing room like prize silver back gorillas whilst all us other kids looked on enviously and desperately tried to hid our lack of pubes.
So that was a salutary lesson, my innocence was lost that day and of course for the next few years I (and I’m sure every single one of my pube-less classmates) searched frantically each evening for at least one pubic hair. And as the months passed into years and more and more of your classmates grew pubes the search became more frantic, examining your nuts each evening until at last you found one or two and breathed a sigh of relief, I was a man at last!
At age 13 I started to get hairy so of course I couldn’t wait until swimming lessons were I too could strut my funky stuff and be a man.
Trevor, my friend never developed any real pubes until well into Third Form and somewhat unsuccessfully begged to be excused swimming each fortnight with varying excuses like Leprosy and The Black Death but still had to endure the humiliation of being one of the few boys completely pube-less, a bit like the last turkey sitting on the supermarket shelf at Christmas time..
Of course now I am 50 it kind’a works against me, now I seem to be getting hairier and hairier as I get older and I can’t understand why Mother Nature thinks I need more nasal hairs and big bushy eyebrows, I mean, what sort of creature does Mother Nature think I am going to be attacked by at night and will be repelled by long nasal hair – apart from woman of course! ;(
Oh, I liked this poster!