The last time I read Forever by Judy Blume, I was in 6th grade and owned a shockingly complete collection of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, the best being--if you ask me--Piece of Cake, which tasted like wedding cake. If I ever get married again, I am handing those out as party favors.
Now that I'm a mother of six and the CEO of a major conglomerate, Forever by Judy Blume has taken on a whole new meaning. Mostly, when did we get so fucking weird about sex?
I was raised the same way as Katherine, the hero of our story. Her family is a little bit hippie-ish, meaning they don't live on a commune, but there's lots of macrame and free thinking and openness about sex. Even Katherine's grandmother was all, "Go on the pill! Have sex if you want!" and my one grandmother was the same way.
(The other grandmother spent a lot of her time worrying about how rapidly that steam train to hell was coming for me. She was what you might call traditional, and my upbringing caused her some consternation.)
(Imagine how worried she'd be if she knew some day I'd know and laugh at Faithful Reader Paula's jokes.)
The point is, it is shocking, when you read this book today, how NOT like that we are anymore. All of a sudden sex is this forbidden topic, and no one is doing it, and it's bad bad bad and everyone's getting shrill about DON'T GO SEE 50 SHADES, and Pee Wee Herman is selling abstinence rings, which okay, he's doing as a joke, but that there are enough abstinence rings out there that Pee Wee has to make fun of them is saying something.
What I like about Forever by Judy Blume--and apparently I have to say it like that in its entirety every time--is that this is a story where two people meet, have sex, and break up. Nothing tragic happens. Our heroine does not get AIDS or pregnant or even a UTI. It's--let's face it--kind of what happened to most of us in high school. We fell in love, we had sex and hey! Nothing bad happened except for maybe a broken heart, that you get over once Theo calls.
Not only did I have a wave of nostalgia for the permissiveness of the '70s, I also loved the references to things we don't do anymore: embroider jeans, talk on the phone, drink legally at age 18. It was all so charming in its '70s-ness. It made me long for Love's Fresh Lemon and an Ayds Candy.
I'd forgotten about the depressed friend, whose half-closeted homosexuality I could see coming a mile away. I have no idea if it's easier to be a gay teenager now, but I hope it is. The worst part about having a closeted boyfriend is you have to go to all his plays.
So, how'd you like revisiting Forever by Judy Blume? Were you scandalized? Thrilled at the once-shocking sex scenes? Wondering why we meet "Ralph" but never "Deloris," ifyouknowhatI'msayin'? And how much do you not miss monkey posters? I have never once enjoyed a monkey poster, or a monkey in clothes, or really a monkey anything other than straight-up monkeys being monkeys. Show me a picture of a monkey acting human and I show you my Easter Island face.* Let me know your thoughts.
*(c) Faithful Reader Paula, with whom I seem particularly obsessed today. Oh, I hope she shows me Ralph soon!!