I must have been around nine at the time. Or was it ten? I heard some boys talking behind my back about a girl who was described as “the local bike”. I thought I knew what that meant, and I knew who “she” was; but I didn’t know that “she” was having sex with anyone, let alone that “she” was having sex with more than one boy.
All that I knew about her up until then was that she was attractive and confident; a kind of goddess in the background of my life at school. She was often there but never close by. I liked her...at a distance. As a matter of fact, I liked her a lot; everything about her. Rather than thinking less of this girl for having sex with more than one boy, she went up in my estimation. I just wished that I could be one of the lucky ones. But I was too young. I was still a kid, and she was a voluptuous young woman already; mature beyond her years.
But this remark that I overheard by chance set me thinking about my values regarding sex and love. For a start, I thought that the kids who were talking about this girl in such a demeaning way were probably not among ‘the lucky ones’. I was sure that none of them had had sex with her. They were younger, like me. If any of them had had her, I thought that they deserved a good kick up the arse for betraying this nubile goddess in such a vicious way.
Even if they were mad with jealousy, why weren’t they grateful that such a person existed...in their small town; someone so courageous and generous of spirit that she was willing to take on the risks of having sex before it was even legal, let alone safe! Did she do it for money? The question never entered my head.
I made up my mind at that time that, if I should ever be lucky enough to find someone whom I truly loved, that I would let her have the boyfriends she wanted. From that time onward, I truly believed that a lover was somebody that deserved gifts and respect. And if the gift that a lover wanted was another lover...or maybe even more than one, well, if it made her happy, then what was the problem, besides the obvious?
I soon learned that having more than one lover was not a socially acceptable thing to do. Yes, you could change girlfriends and boyfriends, but the rule was that you only had one at a time. The done thing was to break up and move on. Anything else was taboo. It meant that someone was ‘cheating’. The word hasn’t changed, and neither have the attitudes.
So, reluctantly, I embarked on a course of serial monogamy, just like everyone else I knew. That lasted right through my twenties. I didn’t like it. To me, the whole idea of a monogamous sexual relationship with just one person, for life, was crazy. I could not see how it would possibly work for either me or the vast majority of people. It seemed like monogamy was a kind of straight-jacket that everyone had to accept so that society would function. In the decades since then, the divorce statistics seem to back the views that I had as a boy.