It only lasted for a short patch of my junior high school
career but at the time it seemed like it would go on forever. The sexual
expression “69” had just become popular and was making the rounds, bouncing
daily off the pale green walls of our school’s congested hallways. To this day
I don’t know if the term itself was new or if it had simply found its way into
our pubescent awareness.
I only know that the phrase seemed to be everywhere, and
that I lived in a state of fear and embarrassment that the foul number would
again raise its obscene head. And part of the reason for that embarrassment was
no doubt because I, unlike apparently every other guy at school, had no idea
what 69 meant.
There was one large and loud fellow named Steve who seemed
to take particular delight in the number. In fact he appeared to live for the
mention of it. He was like some coiled but chubby panther, patiently waiting for
his next opportunity to pounce at the mention of the number. If the teacher
said, “Please turn to page 69,” Steve was there to instantly bellow
It got to the point where I would scan ahead on the page we
were reading, dreading that the offending digits would make an unwelcome
appearance. I once innocently told Steve that my friend and I were in the midst
of playing a tied curb-ball game that already was in the 62nd
inning. “You’ll have to play seven more innings!” he said predictably and
loudly. I became so embarrassed by the ubiquitous number that I even began to
dread the approach of 1969, even though it was still over two years away.
I was on a school bus on the way to a field trip when I
began to overhear the conversation of Larry and Kevin, the two kids in the seat
in front of me. Apparently Kevin was like me in that he too had no idea what 69
meant; but he was unlike
me in that he was willing to admit it. Larry,
no older than we but somehow perceived as wiser in these matters, was about to
answer all his questions. I leaned forward. This was an unexpected educational
opportunity that I was not about to miss!
“69 means different things in different parts of the
country,” began the school bus sage. “In
the South it means a blow-job” Now I knew instantly that this didn’t sound
right. (I’ll not specifically describe the different sex terms that Larry
enumerated because I don’t need my Mom to yell at me about this column again.) Maybe
I didn’t know what 69 was exactly, but I knew that it was the same thing no
matter where the hell you lived. Wise Old Larry, it seems, was nearly as much
in the dark about this taboo term as the rest of us. I listened anyway.
The phase where Steve, and others, would yell out “69!
Awright!” every time the number came up soon faded, joining other dusty and now
fading memories from our school days. The term became so insignificant to me
that I don’t even remember the first time I found out what 69 meant. Hell, I
don’t even remember the first time I did
it. And so instead of dwelling
in the foggy past I’m going to conduct a little experiment using only my
stopwatch and computer. Ready…go!
Amazing. Through the use of the Internet I was able to find
the definition of 69 in 39.34 seconds. Man, having a computer even for just a
minute back then would have saved me months of suffering in embarrassed agony. Believe
me, Kids, it was a dark, dark time.