Judy Blume was an integral part of my child- and tweenhood. Where would any of us be had it not been for Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret ?
I was at my parent’s house the other day, and I decided to scan the bookshelves in my bedroom. Just looking at the titles brought back memories from different times in my life. Like certain smells, certain titles have the ability to take me back to an exact moment in my past, causing me to laugh, cringe, or tear up...and many times, all of the above. My collection of Judy Blume books stood in front of me, evoking memories of that awkward time between puberty and my teenage years. After reading Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself, I decided to steal the heroine’s “creative” closing. When Sally wrote letters to her family, she would sign them “Love and other indoor sports, Sally.” I copied Sally, and am sure my family members were horrified when they received letters from me at camp using that same closing. I didn’t realize it until years later what that signature actually meant. Judy Blume had corrupted me, and I was essentially signing my camp tales of archery and swimming in a murky pond with, “Love and sex, Lindsey.”
Notably missing from my collection of her books was Forever. I can’t remember when I purchased Forever, but I imagine I did during a mall outing with a friend. Remember when our parents would drop us off for a few hours? And because cell phones didn’t exist then, we were told to meet them out front at a set time...not a minute late. Anyway, I imagine I was innocent (or somewhat innocent, at least) in purchasing Forever. I just saw it as a Judy Blume book I hadn’t read. So, I went home and read it, realizing immediately that this was not a book I needed to keep on my bedside table for my parents to peruse through. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of reading Forever, it’s about a teenage girl having sex for the first time. Of course that’s not what it’s all about, but that’s what made the book not appropriate for my 11-year-old eyes. I knew what I had to do, so I hid the book under my bed. My parents would never know, I thought.
A few days later, I was sitting in my bedroom when my dad knocked on my door. I had no idea what I was in store for. Dad said to me, “Lindsey, we need to talk.” I knew from his tone that it couldn’t be good. He reached behind his back and pulled my copy of Forever from his back pocket. He held it in his right hand, and tapped the book into the palm of his left hand, like the book was in trouble too. I’m sure my heart stopped at this moment, but all I remember is dad saying to me, “You know we don’t believe in premarital sex in this household.” I told him I knew that, that I had no idea what the book was about when I purchased it. I’m sure he said something like, “You didn’t read the back cover before you bought the book?” but due to the awfulness of this event, my memory of exactly how things transpired is somewhat hazy.
Dad ended the conversation telling me he was throwing the book away. He left my room, and I imagine I was unable to make eye contact with him for the next year or so.
In the end, Ms. Blume not only taught me about sex, but she gave my dad the perfect “in” for discussing his views on premarital sex with his young daughter...something I’m sure he never dreamed he’d be “fortunate” enough to do. I can officially credit Ms. Blume for the most excruciatingly embarrassing conversation I’ve ever had with my dad in my 28 years on this earth. Thanks for that, Judy.