Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored!" Let's talk about sex! Okay, I'm female. And you?
Another day, another junior-in-high-school online health class. Poor Spare! Imagine having to watch a half dozen videos about how your life gets ruined when you're a teenage girl who "does it," leaving not too much of the "doing it" to imagination! Spare was groaning and cursing the screen. "GROSSSSSSS!" and "EWWWWWW!"
Spare hasn't met that special dude yet who will render the idea of sex less gross and ewwy. She's 16. I remember when I was 16, I didn't think sex was gross and ewwwy, but I wasn't ready for it either. And not because I was afraid I'd get pregnant. In those good ol' days, you could go to the free clinic and get The Pill without even having parental consent. Any age. Groovy, huh?
Spare had to answer a lot of questions about risky behavior. The first one was, "Why do people say to themselves, 'Bad things only happen to other people, not to me'?"
By "bad things," I suppose the teacher means PREGNANCY or STDs, both covered exhaustively in sex ed class.
Let's take a look at this mentality, though. Why do people think they won't suffer any ill effects if they behave in risky ways?
Risky behavior with little regard to the consequences. Yes, this leads to unwanted pregnancies, drunken driving accidents, all kinds of bad, bad, bad stuff.
But risky behavior also leads to a defiant leap to catch a towering fly ball in the World Series. It leads a person to strap himself or herself into a spaceship that may or may not land safely. It leads an Italian entrepreneur to sail west beyond any previous western sail, thence to find land. It puts people on top of Mount Everest, in submarines, in laboratories and rescue vessels.
Where would we be without any risk?
I took this question to the bored gods.
Some of my Work involves deities that guided the human species long before anyone got the idea to write anything down. Those deities speak of a time when "survival of the fittest" meant "survival of the ones who took risks and lived." We are a risk-taking species. Especially when we're young, and our danger clocks haven't been chimed by too many calamitous events.
Raise your hand if you've never done anything risky. Oh yes, I see you back there! Wimp. Exit "The Gods Are Bored" now, and go console your fears by watching "Jerry Springer" re-runs.
All the bored gods know that I don't want my daughters to run around having drunken, casual sex with strangers. I never did anything like that. I'm a born romantic with a philosophy given to me by James Baldwin: The most powerful, most enduring love is unrequited. I can't imagine having casual sex. Eww.
But that's me. That's not everyone. We have risk-takers in our species. Some of them drink too much and have sex. And make babies.
If our world was suddenly deprived of every human who had the moxie and/or bad judgment to get it on with someone they hardly know, who would be left? Would we as a species be as adventurous as we are? Would we cheer at sporting events (okay, I live in Philly ... would we BOO at sporting events)? Would we venture outside on a snowy day? Would we even have invented houses?
Raise your hand if you don't know anyone who was conceived by the coupling of two people who didn't know each other very well but who got caught up in the moment, through drinking, drugging, or just plain horniness. Aha! No hands. Because that's just how we are as a species.
I'm sitting here today because my grandmothers (BOTH of them) engaged in risky behavior. I owe my life to it! So did my mom and dad! Aunts, uncles, and cousins galore! All the end result of risky sexual encounters.
The moral of this sermon is simple. Risky behavior is dangerous, but it also informs who we are. Don't go out and get drunk and screw around because you read "The Gods Are Bored" and decided to be a sexual Christopher Columbus. But don't fear the risk, either. Modern life gives us tools to manage risk. Use them and live a little.
Heir and Spare, if you're reading this, forget it. You are the exception to the rule. Go to your rooms, pick up those samplers, and get to your cross-stitching. And I mean NOW!