Who Wrote the Book of Love? Published Printed in the United States of America 14 13 12 11 10 09 08 07 06 05 1 2 3 4 5 isbn: Tell me, tell me, tell me Oh, who wrote the Book of Love? Chapter One says to love her You love her with all your heart Chapter Two: This character, who has shown up in my other books, including Love in a Dead Language and Love and Other Games of Chance, has consistently tried to pass himself off as me.
The similarities between us are, however, less relevant than the differences, and, of these differences, the most pertinent one is that while his obsession is with love, mine is merely with trying to write about it.
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer From the very beginning the child has a sexual life rich in content, though it differs in many points from that which later is regarded as normal.
In the beginning sex created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep. The spirit of sex swept over the waters. And then there was light. Reaching out for the bright beam, I am entranced by what seems to be the light touch of light on my palm.
Breathing deeply, slightly trembling, at once soothed and aching, I am a little afraid and yet very eager for more of the ineffable sensation. When I close my eyes, I can see myself. I say my name, hear it, and repeat it. Raising to my mouth the hand that holds the light, I feel my lips feeling my skin.
This is not to say that I do not have earlier recollections of other people, of my mother and father, an uncle, grandmother, neighbor, and strangers too, and of other things.
There are memories of memories: She was writing a book. There was an empty crib in the room, and my mother was pregnant. Once my brother was born, the room became his and, when it was refurnished as his nursery, the red velvet couch was moved into my room.
It was on that divan that I learned about sex. Sitting next to me there, my mother read from a book that was meant to ready me for the birth of a sibling by revealing what it was that my father had done so that my mother would become pregnant, not only with my brother, but with me as well.
I recognized it immediately. On the tattered cover, in bold print superimposed over a washed-out black-and-white photograph of a statue of Cupid and Psyche, is the title: Miller had inscribed the book for my parents: Your friend as always, Izzie, April 1, His book begins with a creation myth: In the beginning there was a tiny cell called a sperm. One night he met another cell, known as an ovum. He entered into her and, all at once, they became one—a fertilized cell! The one divided into two, and they divided again, and again, and again, remaining one while continuing to divide, to become a little embryo who began to grow into a fetus.
And that fetus became you! This book is about you. It is about where you came from, how you were made, and why you are here. Chapter 1 responded to its titular question by trying to convince me that I already knew the answer: Everybody knows what love is! It can describe how you feel about your puppy or a kitten if you have one, or even a favorite doll if you are a little girl. Religions teach us that God is love.
We can love so many things! We are born from love, to love and be loved. Love makes the world go round, as 5 the poets say, and it is love that makes life worth living. This kind of love makes two people want to get married, have a baby, and be together forever. When you feel this kind of love, you will want to engage in something known as coitus or sexual intercourse or sometimes, less formally, just making love. When it came to elucidating the penis, I thought that Dr.
Miller had hit the nail on the head: The penis is what some boys sometimes call their weenie or wiener, weewee, peepee, peanut, pecker, willie, dickie, peter, and many other pet names.
Usually the penis is lazy and lax, hanging down soft and limp. This is called an erection. Although the illustration located the testicles on either side of the penis, the text put them back in their proper place: Hanging beneath the penis, boys have a small sac in which there are two little ball-shaped organs known as testes. At this time, the boy will notice that hair has begun to grow on the pubic region.
This substance is called a seminal emission. The boy should not be disturbed, afraid, or ashamed of this. No, he should be proud of it!
It means that he is becoming a healthy and virile man, capable of sexual reproduction. Some boys, discovering that seminal emissions are accompanied by a feeling of pleasure, will begin to purposefully try to cause those emissions by manipulating the penis with their hands.
This is called masturbation. Boys who feel the desire to masturbate should not be ashamed or feel guilty. It is a natural urge, another healthy sign that a boy is growing up. It is surprising to me now, given passages like that one, counseling boys as it does to take their penises in their own hands and to take pride in wet dreams, that Dr.
Although I was too young at the time to have seminal emissions to be proud of no matter how much or what manner of manipulation I might have tried , I was at least able to take pride in something I learned from In the Beginning about my somnolent testes.
They were made of tiny tubes, which, if unraveled and stretched out in a straight line, would, according to Dr. Miller, be over a third of a mile long.
Girls have something called a vagina. It is what some girls sometimes call their peepee, weewee, or private. While technically the term vagina refers only to the birth canal, less formally the word is often used to refer to the female sexual apparatus as a whole. But, as far as I was concerned, the climax of the book had already come: These include ham, bacon, and pork. This is called circumcision. Having been circumcised, my penis would, furthermore, be easier to keep clean than a non-Jewish penis.
The book on religion, however, never got around to the good stuff about penises— erections, seminal emissions, or how they move in and out of vaginas with rapid motions. I recall several of the other gifts I received that Chanukah: He showed me a few of the things Silly Putty could do, including bounce when rolled into a ball and, when pressed against Dennis the Menace in the comics section of the newspaper, capture a perfect image of little Dennis.
Sitting next to me on the red sofa, my mother read not only In the Beginning: Like someone long deceased, the physical form of the book has vanished, but its stories still haunt me. And then, at last, we shall be rid of them. Loosening one of the upholstery nails that secured the burlap lining under the wooden frame supporting the springs of the red velvet couch, I slipped Once upon a Time into the space there and pushed the nail back in to close the gap between the cloth and the wood.
I held up In the Beginning for her. Your grandmother read it to me when I was your age. Where could it have gone? I was as astounded as I was relieved to discover that she did not.
Before that moment, I had unquestioningly assumed that my mother would innately know all that I thought or felt, or had or had not done. Just as I had hidden Once upon a Time inside the red velvet couch, I could, I realized, conceal things inside myself.
We could see Caen being bombed by our aircraft, the Halifaxes and Lancasters flying low in line astern, through the flac, dropping their bombs and turning for home. The boy should not be disturbed, afraid, or ashamed of this. He was a good swimmer too.
And then, to make sure that Miss Crim, my babysitter, and not my friend Neezer, would be the prime suspect in the robbery, I added that the last time I had seen it was the previous night when the babysitter had read the story of Cinderella to me. I opened it to chapter 5.
The success of my inaugural prevarication, providing me a glimmer of feelings of independence and an inkling of the potential power of lies, made me eager to fabricate again.
Experimenting with untruth, by trial and error, it was soon clear that, not only did I have the capacity to use speech to conceal truths, I could also, with false words, create realities. And so, in realistic detail, I described the tall, thin, old white man dressed in the dirty brown overcoat, wearing a beat-up gray hat, black gloves, and sunglasses who, I suddenly remembered, walked with a limp. It would be his word against mine. Mindful that a mastery of the art of mendacity required some determination of the boundaries between the believable and the unbelievable, I surveyed the limits of credibility and credulity.
Just to see how far I could go, I swore to my mother that I had seen an elephant in our backyard that day: Countering her move in the new game by pretending to believe that she believed me, I did my best to out-lie her. Her subsequent affectionate smile attested to a truth about falsehood: I wanted to believe that my mother believed the story about the elephant in our backyard. They were punishing me by not allowing me to ride any more bucking broncos for a year.
When he asked what I had done to deserve such a severe punishment, I confessed: Although it seemed fair to me for kids to lie to adults, there was something wrong about adults lying to children. The witch in the story lied too:
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