I’ve never had vast knowledge of the ways of The Intercourse. I attended a Catholic elementary school and a Catholic high school thus my sexual education basically consisted of “Don’t… just, don’t do it, k?” followed-up with “Jesus doesn’t like it when teenagers are alone and they, you know, get ‘happy’.” To my educators, masturbating was a seriously dishonourable discharge in more ways than one, and romping around in haystacks with other rompers was equally sinful. Fearing that my cooter and I would burn in hell for eternity if we experienced any form of joy I abstained from the penis games until the ripe old age of twenty-one.

However in all honesty, being a long-term virgin had less to do with religion and more to do with a pair of baggy, high-waisted pleated trousers which I wore as a uniform for the first three years of high school, or as I like to call them, the “years I wish I had a full-length mirror.” I did often engage in the “alone happy time” though. Yes, I frequently “dialed a rotary phone,” “paddled the canoe,” “strummed the banjo,” “trolled the bermuda triangle,” or my favourite term for it, “didn’t know what the hell I was doing but geez it felt pretty all right”. Getting to the point of banjo strumming took a long time to master. There were numerous failed attempts and rigorous studying. Since I didn’t receive information in the traditional way I had to find alternative sources to help me understand my “alone happy time” and future “joint happy times.” Below is a list of places where I learned what a hormone was and how to restrain said hormone from ruining every Boyz II Men slow dance I had with a boy who was trying to restrain his own hormones, if you know what I mean. For future ref, BONERS. I’M TALKING ABOUT BONERS.

Online chat rooms. In these rooms there was a plethora of wisdom from horny young gentlemen who needed more than a Sears catalogue to get them in the mood. They would ask questions of me like, “Do you enjoy a good fingering session?” to which I would reply “This fingering you speak of, do you mean thumb wars? ‘Cause if so, heck yes! Love that game! I never lose!” They would then either give me a rundown on cyber fornication or go offline. Either way, I exited the chat room feeling inspired, wild, and with thumb wars on the mind.

Extremely sexually experienced, precocious gal pals. They were my number one go to for anything that happened in/on/around my body which I considered to be an unsolved mystery. “What are those flappity flap flaps near my vaj-ity vaj vaj?” I would inquire. They would first request that I stop using the vocabulary of a toddler and then provide some insight into the workings of my smush muffin. They were also handy for tips on kissing, kissing with an open mouth, kissing with tongue, and kissing not on the mouth, which for years I assumed meant “on the forehead.” “Why is it SO DIFFICULT for a guy to kiss you on the forehead the right way? Are you exclusively dating uncoordinated blind men?” Oh, young Jess. Oh.

Seductive cinematic masterpieces. These critically acclaimed films included Cruel Intentions, 54, Playing by Heart, anything starring Ryan Phillippe, Pleasantville, and Eyes Wide Shut, although I would say that last one is more orgies than movie. I saw it in theatres with my parents because my mom adored Tom Cruise and obviously didn’t do enough research into the film. Afterwards she was scrambling for conversation about the plot, but we could think of nothing but the many pairs of nipples that were afoot for two and a half incredibly awkward hours. Cruel Intentions was my first encounter with the sex of the oral variety. When Selma Blair describes Mr. Philippe writing the alphabet on her downtown and an explosion suddenly erupting I thought she was epileptic and this “explosion” was a classic alphabet-induced seizure. It wasn’t until my late teens that it all became very clear. So THAT’S what Sarah Michelle-Gellar meant when she said “down boy.” Ryan wasn’t the boy, his ding-a-ling was! Who knew!

Googling “partially naked people doing partially naked activities.” Watching these real life activities was easily achieved on my family’s shared computer. It was the age of the internet and I was not the age of the adult, which I was repeatedly reminded of when I tried to enter these provocative websites that required me lying and clicking “Yes, I am 18, Thank you for asking.” Every time I heard sirens in the distance I thought the police were coming to arrest me before I could even “dial my rotary phone!”

Anyone who worked at Shoppers Drug Mart. I was too nervous to even spell the word s-e-x in front of my family doctor, so I relied heavily on the medical advice from folks at Shoppers. If there was a line-up at the Pharmacy I would simply walk up to the closest cashier, hand them a box of condoms, and say “How?!?”. They would then reply with “Excuse me?” and not knowing how to proceed, I would run for dear life, out of the store, and continue running until I was at another Shoppers, in a different location, doing it all over again.

Couch cushions I became intimate with. The cushion was truly my greatest teacher. My mentor. My spirit guide. Our shared experiences were deep, complex, and quite technical. I would begin by getting a pillow or multiple pillows of varying sizes, which I would then place underneath my body. I would begin to hump and continue to do so until something happened and then I would repeat the action. It was beautiful, it was experimental, it was educating. It was confusing for my mom because she was constantly having to fluff cushions and didn’t know why.

Museums/Science Centres/Art Galleries/Zoos. Some students went for the history, and the scientific facts, and the gorgeous works of art, while others (me) went for the exposed cave men genitals, monkey coitus, detailed reproductive diagrams, and the paintings of well-endowed Roman fellas. I was thankful for having such a rich education because it was the closest I came to seeing the opposite sex au naturel for years. Prosthetic balls are pretty close to the real deal.

My sister’s romance novels. My sister had an entire library of Harlequin romance novels which she claims she read because the “stories were… uh… good… yeah.” I was never convinced by this and always suspected that she had an ulterior motive. Maybe I was being paranoid, but I had an inkling that “The Forbidden Passion of the Dark Lord” and “The Seduction of the Ice Queen Cometh” weren’t going to win Pulitzers. Flipping through those pages really widened my glossary of titillating terms. Who know that I could use the word “engorged” in so many sentences? Harlequin knew.

The hits of the ‘90s. Just like Salt ‘n Pepa, I wanted to TALK ABOUT SEX, BABY as well. Singing along with chart toppers like “Sex and Candy,” “U Can’t Touch This,” and “I Touch Myself” allowed me to discuss the act under the guise of a person who likes “music.” I picked up some interesting information listening to these songs and discovered what kind of wardrobe a sensual lady, like myself, should have. Apparently the wardrobe mostly consists of “Thongs, th-thongs, thongs, thongs.”