To say that for quite some time I felt like a fish out of water where sex was concerned is perhaps a bit confronting.
I was painfully shy well into my 20s, so was not good at even talking to girls, in the quiet corner of Western Victoria where I lived.
Growing up in the 1940s and 1950s my parents never talked to me about sex, even about birds and bees. I suppose they thought that growing up on a farm where there were horses (no stallions though) thousands of sheep, hundreds of cattle and tens of thousands of rabbits – before myxo at least – that I would be observant enough to realise their numbers were not getting bigger by themselves.
But not being that observant anyway, I was blissfully unaware.
My two years younger sister and I spent a lot of time riding horses and I remember once when I was 13 or 14, that we rode past a bull impregnating a cow and I asked her what was going on. I think my sister giggled and tried to explain. But I’m not sure I really got it. Naivety with a capital N.
By then I’d been at a boys’ only boarding school for four years and in reality I think we were all pretty naïve.
At one point when I was about 12, the headmaster spent some time telling us, that it was just not acceptable to walk around with an arm around another boy’s shoulders. I don’t think we knew why, but no doubt looking back, that directive was to ensure that none of us became gay. To this day I don’t know how many of us were, but I’ll ask at a school reunion I’m going to next month.
Much later, in fact in year 11, the headmaster was horrified to find that our year had not received any sex education although it was supposedly on the syllabus.
But I hadn’t advanced much in the sex awareness stakes on my own account either. I was excruciatingly shy which didn’t help and I didn’t start to get over that until I was well into my 20s.
Being a mid WWII kid, I had few contemporaries to socialise with in the quiet heart of the Western District I went home to after school. Then I jackerooed on a fairly remote Riverina sheep property and from there landed a job helping look after Hereford cattle being exported to Chile.
Aged 24, I was still a virgin when we landed in Chile. But the two other Aussie blokes I was with, although not verbalising that a bit of sex was high in their priorities after a month at sea, suggested we go to a brothel in Concepcion, the port where we landed.
One of the other blokes now lives in my street, but I don’t think we compared notes much then and we certainly haven’t since. Perhaps the time has come. To me it was a revelation but what I really remember is being advised to hide my money in my shoes. Good advice, because although the young woman demanded and probably deserved more than I gave her, she didn’t suspect I had more.
But the brothel visit was a oncer, because although the three of us lived together in a flat in Santiago for another three months – we were showing Aussie cattle at Santiago’s annual show – the subject of visiting brothels did not come up again.
However it was a turning point for me. No longer did I feel like a fish out of water, where sexual relations were concerned anyway.