WHEN our all-girl high school batch dispersed soon after graduation to different colleges, the grapevine kept us connected.
These days, Facebook chats and SMS-organized reunions help us keep tabs with who’s now promoted to grannywatch or who’s maintaining which medication.
In the 1980s, the grapevine issued more dramatic bulletins: who had to get married.
Whenever the verb “had” walks into a phrase, it always leaves a scene.
Having to get married meant jilted studies, derailed ambitions, aborted expectations except that which, nine months later, always fulfilled itself.
Initially, as news of hasty marriages trickled down the vine, our gushing was romantic, even tinged with envy: she gave up everything for him!
Then a pattern emerged. Those who reportedly got pregnant were not the ones known for behavior our high school teachers always said would get a “bad girl in trouble”: staying out on weeknights instead of untangling the aphorisms of Jonathan Livingston Seagull, reading a paperback with a thin plot and much thinner chemises that was secretly stashed inside a tome about mitosis and chromosomal coupling, or possessing that most serious obstacle to self-actualization: a BF.
About the wild ones, the grapevine was silent. It was less restrained about the “unlikely ones,” the quiet nice girls who always sat in front and never holed up in the last seats, slouching or cracking gum or practicing microscopic penmanship in tiny notes responsible for frequent eruptions of giggles in a room silently drowning in trigonometry.
According to the grapevine, the ones who took the nursery-and-wedding-aisle detour while negotiating the wild wild world of coed life were the ones who behaved in high school: their t’s were crossed as neatly as their ankles, their high school skirts fanned out chastely so not even a low-flying bee could read their “book”.
Many hypotheses were forwarded for this fall from grace into the “baby trap”. One that got the sorority clucking was the belief that “bad girls don’t”.
Sure, bad girls stay out late, can quote from memory pages of Harold Robbins when they can’t even spell Siddhartha, even pet like born acrobats—but! Bad girls don’t get pregnant.
Like the rest of us, they studied sex dressed up as different subjects: physical education, health, biology. We discussed how rape spared neither the Doña Pia Albas nor the Sisas of Rizal’s time. How could we forget Dick and Jane and Mother and Father, a first-time reader’s poster models for the nuclear family and responsible parenthood?
But while the rest of us memorized the vas deferens and other theoretical parts of the abstract male anatomy, the so-called bad girls picked their way out of the academic thicket into more practical knowhow: how to negotiate, how to be safe, how not to be who you don’t want to be, such as being a young girl scared by a missed period.
While many of us learned how to spell epididymis and explain its role in boy-meets-girl, our batch was generally innocent, naïve—let’s face it—ignorant about sexual politics.
Isn’t that why we’re already a couple—so he can decide for me?
Should I give up everything for him? My first love will be my last so it should be fine.
My parents don’t understand me. My teachers don’t accept me. He’s there for me. Always. I hope so.
Nothing can spoil the first time. So I can’t get pregnant if we just stop after that first time.
Thus, my sympathy is for the irate mother who recently sued a young lover for texting her daughter to take aspirin and 7-Up so she would be “safe” after having intercourse.
I can sympathize because, nearly 30 years ago, these were already the enduring “morning after” myths: douching with Coke or 7-Up washes away leftover sperm and drinking 20 aspirins knocks out any semen-surfing spermatozoa trying to spurt out of the epididymis and vas deferens.
But if I had a daughter, I’m not wasting my time on that poor ignorant son of Adam. Girl, it’s your life, take over.
(firstname.lastname@example.org/ mayettetabada.blogspot.com/ 09173226131)
* First published in Sun.Star Cebu’s June 13, 2010 issue of “Matamata”