Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Don't have sex!!!

More from my book of growing up in the 60s.

1965 -- Tenth Grade

Among my classes that first semester was Health. Aunt Bea from THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW taught us the correct way to brush our teeth, clean our ears, and treat vaginal discharge. Under the guise of sex education we were shown a steady parade of “informational films” designed to scare the shit out of us. They were always these little black-and-white dramas. Bobby and Linda disobeying their wise parents and being “promiscuous”. Part one, Linda got pregnant. Part two, they both got gonorrhea. Part three Linda became a whore. The girls in class seemed somewhat shaken by all this. The boys just wanted to see Linda naked.

There were also cautionary drug docudramas on marijuana and drug use. These always featured Jimmy. (Bobby was in an insane asylum by then with syphilis.) Jimmy was a good kid but weak willed. He bumps into an old friend (who looks like Satan) and is invited to a party. He disobeys his wise parents and goes, even though it’s a school night. Everyone is smoking marijuana and listening to that jungle music. At the risk of being called a “square” Jimmy takes a puff. Part two is a week later. Jimmy is now a drug addict, shooting up, stealing to maintain his habit, hanging out with girls who wear slacks. Part three, he’s arrested, and must go through withdrawal. We see him in agony, thrashing around in his cell, screaming for what we’re told will be 48 straight hours.

I must confess, at the time, the drug films did sell me somewhat. Not that I assumed one toke would turn Jimmy into Reverend Jim but it did give me pause. And this was still the period where a clear line existed between good kids (like me and my friends) and bad kids (drug users/shop majors). Less than a year later that distinction would be completely blurred but in 1965 my drugs of choice were unattainable girls.

13 comments:

Mobutu Sese Seko said...

My health classes taught me the ways I could kill myself with drugs (and, by omission, the ways in which I would not), the ways in which I would contract STDs and the probability of my doing so (and, by omission, the ways in which and the likelihood of which I would not) and how to administer CPR to another human being.

Decades later, I've still not accidentally become a parent, contracted any STD, nor had any drug-related mishaps (although, thanks to details from both textbooks and friends, I opted to skip a couple of drugs because I had no real interest in them).

The only thing that still scares the hell out of me is administering CPR to a stranger, accidentally cracking his or her xiphoid process and getting sued into oblivion.

Mary Stella said...

You had Jimmy, our anti-drug movie had Sonny Bono. Expounding on the dangers of marijuana and other drugs, they had a scene with a "typical" teenaged boy in his varsity jacket in his family living room. Then, while Sonny explained that drugs can make you paranoid and change your perception, the kid walked back into the shot wearing a werewolf mask and paws, looked into the mirror and gasped.

The class howled . . . with laughter.

brycejmcewen said...

I had health classes in the early 90's...we were taught that if you have sex, the girl is going to get pregnant and you'll both get aids and die.

Good times.

Curious George said...

Speaking of not having sex, did Radar O'Reilly have any while he was at the 4077th?

And this is a Friday question, rumors used to circulate that the actor, Gary Burghoff, who played the outwardly naive, but clearly opportunistic (based on the movie and earlier Tv MASH) and slightly cynical, Walter O'Reilly, was not anything at all--sweet and innocent--like his character. In fact, rumor has it he was a real jerk to both cast and crew. So, give it up, was he more Radar-like or more jerk-like?

Just curious.

Anonymous said...

In 1967 or 1968 my mother's church was distributing anti-drug pamphlets. The one on hallucinogens showed a little bare-foot tie-dyed scraggly hippie guy clinging desperately to an enormous sugar cube rocketing around the earth. This was supposed to scare me? Man, I could hardly wait...

jbryant said...

mary stella: we had the Sonny Bono film too! Oddly enough, the only thing I really remember from it was an interview with some intellectual sounding woman who talked about homemade drugs and the "catch-as-catch-can, bathtub gin" methods used to make them. I didn't really know what she meant at the time, but the phrase stuck with me. Why I found her more memorable than the werewolf, I have no idea.

Like Ken, I was generally persuaded by these films. I knew they were accentuating the negative, but I didn't want to take any chances.

Anonymous said...

Hi,Ken -
I just read your blog on Wacky Secretaries and wanted to thank you for your kind acknowledgement. I was afraid I would recognize myself as one of the loons. I'm a regular (but silent reader) of your blog, which I enjoy.
Ruth Horne

D. McEwan said...

I wrote a play a few years back that is, in part, a parody of these films, with a high school boy getting "Hooked on the smoke," and completely strung-out on pot, committing ever-more desperate crimes to keep riding the Mary-Jane Dragon. Meanwhle, his girlfriend falls in with a bad crowd, and gets "Forcibly finger-banged" ("Riding the Palm Springs!"), and has to go to a "back-alley gynenocologist" to get "Re-virginized" He sews on the hyman of a girl "Who died in here a few hours ago. It's not important how." But, more tragedy ensues, he uses a black girl's hymen on this white girl (The play is set in 1955), so it's WORSE than not-being "intact".

There's an hilarious feature called MARY JANE starring Fabian (!) as a crusading high school teacher, trying to save kids who get hooked on pot (After one toke, natch), and do terrible things, like giggling, and breaking into a closed amusement park to illegally ride the merry-go-round with out employing safety restraints. It'll make you think, because the filmmakers clearly didn't.

Hey "Brycejmcewen" are we related? I was told that the McEwEns were from the wrong side of the Lochs, not as good as the McEwAns, but I say it's all blood under the moor.

plays88key said...

My health class taught me that to be a health teacher, all you needed was a steady supply of Molly Ringwald movies. We watched her films for every topic, whether it was the movie where she gets HIV from a one-night stand or the movie where she and a boyfriend commit suicide together (I don't remember the teacher distinguishing which of the two was a worse idea).

What made it worthwhile was watching the teacher blush as he explained that Ringwald's character in the first film was a "promiscuous" woman. He was so clearly embarrassed talking about it that we all wondered why he taught health in the first place.

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

I recall Radar getting "slaked" in the episode where he carried the torch for a new nurse, one who liked poetry.I think Mary Kay Place played the nurse.

Roger Owen Green said...

I saw Reefer Madness in college, but don't remember much about it because of the contact high I was getting.

rms said...

"hanging out with girls who wear slacks"

Yikes! Now I know where I went wrong. I've got to get out of those slacks. Um....

Michael said...

I remember my health class in the '90s... I was being lectured on the dangers of being promiscuous by a former professional baseball player. Yea, he couldn't keep a straight face either.

Bonus: I was just thinking of the transformation of Rev. Jim when I read this.