Don't you? Don't you?

I was about twelve years old when I learned - maybe "discovered" is a better word - something that has remained with me for my entire life.  I know what you're thinking, and no, I'm not talking about masturbation, though it is at least masturbation-adjacent.

There was a pretty young woman with very full lips that made me feel things, and a voice that made me feel other things.  I was definitely not the master of these feelings.  

I had cobbled together a bunch of entirely theoretical ideas about women and sex by reading as much as I could find.  None of these ideas was remotely helpful.  Everything I learned alarmed and intrigued me.  Everything I learned made me want to know more.

At the same time I was desperately frightened.  I knew that I was loathsome and pathetic, and I wasn't far wrong - there is little as loathsome and pathetic as a boy going through puberty.  Girls, in particular, seemed to hate me.  I did not have the first idea about what went on inside other peoples' heads, and so the thought that they might hate me less if I made myself less unattractive to them was still very far in my future.  These feelings were destroying me, and the girls who figured so prominently in them were rolling their eyes in disgust.

(I think this is pretty much what the experience of puberty is like for most boys that aren't actually psychopaths.)

I was a kid who went to school every day and watched TV and played games with my friends and avoided talking to my parents.  And my life was being smashed up.

So the pretty woman was on the TV and on the radio and there were pictures of her in magazines.  It was thrilling to hear her sing.  It made me want to hug her, hug anyone, hug my pillow.  When I thought that I might not want to feel this way, I discovered that I couldn't stop.  That was scary.  Also, I wanted more of it, even if I also didn't want it.  That was also scary.

The song I kept hearing her sing just augured into my mind:  "I had some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee, clouds in my coffee, and you're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."

A thought came to me, after hearing this song many times.  

It was a thought that briefly let me grab the steering wheel and wrest control away from the pretty woman and what she was doing to my hormone-addled self.  It went something like this:

"Actually, Carly, the song is about him.  He's not vain, he's right."

It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that I even needed to unfuck this.

When someone's wrong about something, of course you correct them.  You're helping to repair the universe.  You're doing your part to stave off chaos.  You're working in service to the truth, and what's better than the truth?

In my defense, sexual confusion is confusion.  If I hadn't been confused, I would have stood a much better chance of seeing what I was doing and why.  About a year after I learned this trick, I used it to keep the upper hand with this girl that I was desperate for, and she got so pissed off at me that she hurled a book across the room and hit me in the head.  I felt victimized for years.

I'm a lot less sexually confused today than I was when I was twelve - or, for that matter, when I was forty-five.  I can't imagine how I could possibly make amends to all the women I've condescended to in my life.

The sad thing is that knowing this from the inside as I do doesn't give me any insight into how to help other men figure this out earlier in their lives than I did.  A really strong component of sexual confusion is that you don't want to admit that it's what's motivating you.  Even to yourself.  

Especially to yourself.  I'm talking over the woman in this meeting because she's missing the point, not because somewhere in the back of my mind I'm thinking of what her hair must smell like.  Only a monster would do that.

I really feel for my colleagues who are in their twenties.  I mean, I envy their energy and their optimism and all of the fun they're going to have figuring out who they are.  But they really don't have any idea how heavily weighted the mind-body problem is against the mind.


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