Baby it’s cold outside

I have an ear worm in my head, a song I heard on the radio last night.  The meaning
of the lyrics are plain enough: in some cold and snowy place in America a young man  attempts to persuade a young woman to stay the
The man offers many reasons why the woman should not leave, with the unspoken subtext of enjoying sex together.  She offers up
as many reasons as to why she should go.  It’s clear she’s ambivalent.  
‘The neighbours might talk…My father will be pacing the
floor…’ But the young man urges her to have one more drink because ‘it’s old
I used to enjoy this song till
last night.  Last night I listened
to the lyrics again and thought more about the narrative presented here.  A familiar one in which a girl needs to
be persuaded to enjoy sexuality.  
No doubt it’s rooted in the song’s context, the 1940s, pre contraception, when women ran the risk of unwanted pregnancies, but maybe there’s more to it
than that. 
The push/pull of desire: the man
seemingly wants it the most, the woman might or might not acquiesce.  Girls offer it up, their virginity that
is, and boys take it.  Or so I learned
as a young woman on the cusp of sexual desire myself. 
But for me and I imagine for most
of us, women and men, it’s not so simple.  
As a young child I decided that sex between the sexes was too hot to handle so I tried
to put it out of my mind.  I left
my body to itself.  I refused to
explore it, at least not what lay below. I experimented with my younger
sister but we stayed at the top half with our imaginary breasts.  Besides, because I was older she gave me – or I took on – the role of the man. 
I was the one who fondled my
sister’s imaginary breasts.  I was
the one who wore ‘jocks’ as we liked to call them in those days, men’s
underpants.  The word ‘jocks’ set my heart racing, this when I was
seven, eight, nine, ten. 
Then I decided through lathers of
guilt that my antics with my sister must stop. They were wrong, I knew, closely
attached to impure thoughts and therefore only admissible, if at all, in
confession and even then too shameful to admit to a priest. 
I started to find myself excited by
my own body, by the slowly emerging shape of my breasts.  I had a black jumper with a roll neck, which I wore with one of my older sister’s cast off woollen skirts and strode up and
down Wentworth Avenue past the house of an Italian boy who lived a few houses
along.  I imagined him noticing me through his window, both desperate for the thrill of seduction.
The boy was older than me, in his late teens even early twenties, and lived
with his parents in one of those houses whose front garden had been taken over for
vegetables.  Tomato plants on
stakes, green lettuces in neat lines all the way up to the front door.  It seemed to me then an odd use of
garden space, as if the boy’s family had somehow reversed their sense of space and
put the plants that should grow in the backyard into the front.  I did not realise the Mediterranean
migrant’s predilection then of using up as much space as possible for growing
My young boy/man wrote me a letter one day.  It arrived in our letter box addressed
to me, not by name but by description, to the girl with the long fair hair. 
I must have intercepted it somehow before anyone else could see it.  The paper was pale lilac with
a splodge of pansies in a corner, or was this the paper on which I wrote my return
letter?  His letter was filled with
spelling mistakes and clumsy wording.  It masked an invitation to
I showed it to my younger sister
for advice, and she was furious. 
Jealous perhaps that I might have given up on her and our time together
exploring each others bodies or playing at dolls.  She wanted me to have nothing
to do with this boy/man. 
My sister destroyed the letter while I
was elsewhere.  She took it from my
underwear drawer and tore it up. 
She told me as much when I went looking for it later.  She had disapproved of this, my first seduction.  
The story ends there except in my memory.  It ended when my family moved house.  

6 thoughts on “Baby it’s cold outside”

  1. I have come to believe that regardless of the moral attitudes of anytime through history, sex is enjoyed and desired by women and men alike. My evidence is the countless babies born in and put of wedlock and the many famous affairs and mistresses we know of.
    How could it not be?
    It is driven by hormonal maturation, the need to procreate and the need to be desired, accepted and in many cases, protected.
    Last night I watched an old Bette Davis movie 'Now, Voyager' and I was more offended at the number of references made regarding 'fat and ugly' in the context of the the movies theme of a repressed young woman.
    BTW it's Melbourne and its winter. Baby, it's cold outside.
    Regards, Karen C

  2. I used to wander up and down the footpath outside the house of a boy I liked. I was eleven and knew nothing of sex or why I liked the boy, but I wanted him to notice me. Perhaps the hormones were beginning to wake up. He never did notice me. I got over it soon enough and after that, the boys I knew were still just friends to play with at the beach.

  3. I was never that close with either my brother or my sister growing up. There’s three years between my brother and I and three years between him and our sister; I was the oldest. I was also a very self-preoccupied boy. That I should become a writer is no great surprise to me now. I lived, and feel I still live, in a wee world all of my own. The idea of having a sensible discussion with either of my siblings never entered into my head. They were there, part of the household; I didn’t exactly hate them but I had little interest in them. And then when I was nineteen I married and left home and was greatly surprised when a few weeks later my brother turned up on my doorstep. Who’d died? No one apparently. He’d just come to see me. Why? Because he was my brother and wanted to see how I was doing. He missed me. I found this very strange because if I’d never seen him again I honestly don’t think I would’ve been that worried. Some months later my parents turned up and dumped my thirteen-year-old sister in my lap to give them a break. Suddenly I found myself having to deal with her and talk to her. And when did my sister suddenly grow a pair of breasts? I was sure she owned no such protuberances the last time I’d seen her. Or maybe she had. I’d been too interested in my fiancée’s protuberances to pay much attention to my kid sister.

    Of course now my sister will be forty-eight and my brother fifty-one; three and six years makes no difference; we’re all adults; our parents are dead and we’re the grownups now. I’ve not spoken to either of them in over ten years, In our twenties and thirties we grew closer—both stayed with me for extended periods when their marriages broke down—and so we did eventually talk. My brother wasn’t one to talk about sex—what little I know about his personal proclivities in that regard came via his second wife—but my sister and I talked a lot. For all we talked a lot there was much left unsaid that I learned about years later.

    I struggle with the concept of family. I don’t understand why I’m not a “family man”. I visited Carrie’s parents and children so that they could see for themselves that I wasn’t a monster who’d kidnapped her and I did make a little effort in the beginning to befriend her son and daughter but that’s all died off; I’ve nothing to prove now. Even my own daughter I now only see every few months and that seems to be enough for both of us. She came over yesterday and we did the birthday thing—she got me a pop-up Escher book which was an interesting choice (she always makes an effort)—and we finally listened to the old reel-to-reels of my family from the sixties which was actually fun and embarrassing. I think she was surprised by how loud and outgoing I was as a wee boy. Where did all that go, I wonder?

    I think the big change came with puberty or just after. That’s when my true personality started to manifest itself and I began to pull away from these odd people the state made me live with. I developed interests in music and art (and later on writing) and that was me; I became more and more self-absorbed and all major discoveries from then on I made on my own.

  4. Impressive and tantalising post. I love it. Reminds the reader of his or her natural desires in the sweet 'discovery years'. I was sixteen-and-a-half when I met my first girl-friend, Stella, who was six years older than I.

    In October 1951 Stella and I were cosily ensconced in the dark back row of the Classic cinema. We'd been "going steady" for a few months and we had spent many hours in Stella's doorway porch kissing and hugging for far too long after an evening out.

    Stella is seated next to me with my left arm around her shoulder. Now and then her face would tilt towards me and we gently kissed in the darkness. And then it happened!

    Stella slowly guided me left arm from her shoulder, under her own left arm and pressed my hand on her breast.

    This was the most exhilarating experience of my life at that point. We kissed, passionately, with my hand caressing her left breast as though time had stopped. It was unbelievably wonderful; a never-to-be-forgotten moment.

    Of course, I was an inexperienced chap in those days. Wouldn't have dreamed, or dared, to have fondled a girl's breasts then, even though the temptation was usually quite strong. Things seem to go a lot faster today in the dating and sexual exploits of the youngsters but in my day we seemed, generally, to be more restrained. Anyway, from that point onwards our lingering in the porch, or elsewhere, now included the fondling and caressing of Stella's bosom. One of my favourite actions was to stand behind her, nibbling at her neck and ear, whilst holding both her breasts. Always through her clothing, never inside her blouse or cardigan etc. And that is the extent of our fondles! Nothing further. No wandering below the waist, or stroking the thighs and stuff like that.

    Whether Stella wanted me to venture further I know not. Possibly she did, but being such a gauche or unpolished lover-boy, I just didn't feel it right to risk such a thing as groping "down below". So now you know. Keep this secret. I wouldn't want anybody else to know all this!

  5. I suppose you are a professional writer but regardless this a brilliant piece of writing. I don't know much about female sexuality but I recall my racing hormones at a young age, and clearly it is not so different for girls, but we did not understand our stalking and obsessive behaviour.

    I listened to a podcast this week, about how young straight girls and guys connect now, from a hook up to spending time together to moving in together, to marriage to moving to Point Cook. It was fascinating and while it was alien to me, I could see how it worked.

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