Monday, January 16, 2012

Birds do it. Bees do it. And so do chickens, apparently.

I think I must have been about 4 years old when I asked The Question. My family was living in Greensburg, Indiana (this was before we made our big move to "The City" - Indianapolis) and Stuart, my buddy next door, was about to become a big brother. Stuart's mother was the first pregnant lady I'd encountered and, as the months went by and she grew steadily larger and wider, I must have been curious. I'm guessing that's what prompted The Question. I don't actually remember asking it, but I do remember The Answer, and it came in the form of a real doozy of a book: How Babies Are Made.

My mom, naturally, was the one to proffer the book and broach this delicate subject with me. She was the typical 1970's earth mother, quite different than the conservative mothers of my friends, and definitely more "with it" than the small-town mothers of Greensburg, so it makes sense that she would have used How Babies Are Made, a Time-Life book first published in 1968. Apparently it's quite famous (Judy Blume even mentions it in Superfudge) and pretty much the go-to book for forward-thinking parents of the era who wanted to teach their kids about the birds and the bees. The images in the book--crafted entirely from construction paper--have a sweet, touchy-feely quality, but at the same time are rather explicit (check out the equipment on the dog, for starters). I don't remember the details of "the talk" but--as the cliche goes--a picture is worth a thousand words. And this book had a lot of pictures.

Here are a few highlights....

Here we have the artist's rendering of a bee pollinating a flower, but I can't even pay attention to what's going on inside that flower because, seriously, that bee is AWESOME! And it's made completely out of construction paper.

A mommy chicken and a daddy chicken doing...well...The Funky Chicken.
But wait...there's more! Turns out that dogs do it too. (YOU probably thought I was going to make a joke about doing it doggie-style, didn't you? Well, ha! I resisted the urge, so there.)

Look, it's Angelina Jolie's wet dream! (Sorry, I had to.)

And here are the babies, all grown up! I was mistaken, that's not Angie's brood. Clearly it's (clockwise from upper left) Zac Efron, Jessica Simpson, Barack Obama, Adam Brody, and John Cho (sporting an unfortunate haircut and a seriously groovy shirt)!

This is how humans do it. Under the covers, missionary-style. End of story.
Note: I like that the woman seems to be enjoying herself; that's a sure sign that this book was crafted in the late 1960's. In the 1950's such a notion would have been soundly mocked and quickly dismissed. Women enjoying sex? Hahahahaha! Surely you jest!

After the mommy and the daddy get nekkid and lay in bed and kiss for a while, a baby comes out!

Awwwwww! I can't even make fun of this picture, it's too sweet. I'm gonna go call my mom now.

While searching for images from this book I came across other people who had blogged about it. Check 'em out:

One of a Kind Wisconsin -- I really loved this post and the writer's commentary!

Teri has a highly entertaining blog and a great story about how she discovered this book.

Jennifer blogged about this a few years back. Check out her recollections of How Babies Are Made. (Her current blog, btw, is here.)

Do you have memories of this book? How did you find out about the birds and the bees? Tell me about it in the comments.

And speaking of books, here's mine.


Ms Sparrow said...

Gee, when I asked my mom how babies got in the mommy's stomach, she said God put it there. Too bad she hadn't read that book!

Doug Toft said...

I confess that I am of the age to remember the book. It was revolutionary in its own quiet way and paved the way for The Joy of Sex—the subject of your next blog post, I hope.

Jennifer said...

Love your take on this book. The chickens, the dogs...the Zac Efron bunch. So funny.

I'm both chagrined and completely delighted that - out of all the Very Serious Writing I've done on two blogs - the post that still gets the most traffic is the one I wrote about this book. :) I love that people still search for and find this book for their kids (or for their grown-up, nostalgic selves).

Thanks for mentioning my post, and now I'm off to read the others...

andiepants said...

Thanks for reading, Jennifer! It's funny, the things draw blog traffic. Who can predict it? ;-)

Ms. Sparrow -- that's awesome. I'm guessing that was the traditional Lutheran response?

Doug -- Great, isn't it? I don't think I'll be writing about "The Joy of Sex." I wasn't too impressed with that book; the hirsute people in the drawings were kind of a turn-off for me. I much prefer cute construction paper cut-outs.