Paul and Vicki, 1976
I was sharing my recent tea-party adventures at Calvary Chapel Ft. Lauderdale, and I met a beautiful, German-born black woman named Jannique. She had a firm grasp on all the issues and explained them well; the Bush tax cuts, Net neutrality, globalism. I told her that she should be a professional speaker, and she said, “I am.” Jannique works at a Pregnancy Crisis Center and in her spare time travels the country as a pro-celibacy and pro-life speaker. She’s a Diamond. I hung her on my necklace.
“How do teenagers get pregnant?” she asked me.
I stammered, “W … w … what?”
She answered herself: “‘Making out.’ Every pregnancy begins with ‘making out.’ It is the way God designed our bodies. Physical changes occur that prepare our bodies for intercourse. Does your teenager make out?”
I was shocked at her directness. I sputtered, “Uh, uh, I … maybe … I think maybe. …” When I got home I asked my teenager. I thought we’d already covered the birds and the bees a few years after the flip flop and the “broccoli prevents cancer” speech. 1 Corinthians 6:18: “Flee fornication.”
My teenager then proceeded to tell me a long, sad story that involved the absolute absence of romance in the life of the modern-day teenager. My heart breaks for her generation. She said, “It’s not a special, secret thing anymore … it’s a joke … and it’s not ‘sex’ or ‘making love’ … it’s ‘smush, smash, bang, tap, hit. …” She told me that even the kids at her Christian school say the F-word and all the other vulgar words. They listen to music riddled with b*#ch, ho, f***, hump, etc., and “after a while,” she said, “we get numb to it.” She told me that the catchy beat sucks them in, and then the words lodge in their fertile minds. The first song she loved that had a bad word in it was “Hey Mama” by the Black Eyed Peas. “I felt guilty for liking it, so I would sing along but never say the word … but then as time went on …”
l just looked at her cell-phone texts for the first time, and I almost passed out. I took her phone away and I cried. We started to make a list of TV shows that push, endorse, or encourage fornication, I mean “tapping,” and the list got so long we suddenly realized that every TV show and every movie and every song teenagers hear is a constant chant that says, “Do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it, do it. …” I cried some more and took the TV away.
My teenager doesn’t get love notes, or go to dances, or dream about a big, beautiful wedding and a romantic honeymoon on satin sheets. She told me there is no mystery. “Boys can see naked women anywhere, anytime, and the only way teenage girls can get their attention is to offer live-girl services that the boys can’t get on the Internet.” I didn’t want to hear any more. I remember not so long ago when I was 16.
I didn’t have a TV or radio and was only allowed to see G-rated movies. My dad said that immoral images or songs stick in your head forever. I actually walked around singing dreamily to myself, “I am 16 going on 17, innocent as a rose,” from “The Sound of Music.” When no one was looking I’d dance around an empty gazebo and pretend my true love was singing and dancing with me. I actually had a boyfriend that sent me love notes and poems. He is my husband of 18 years now, and we have all of them saved in a box. Even his Dear John letter that he sent me when I ran off to Hollywood is framed. Our love is serious. It is not flippant or fragile. It endures. Oh, we fight. We almost get divorced daily. But we take marriage seriously. Our vows were to God.
Ironically, rules create romance. I have romance.
I met Paul in seventh grade. I was 12. He was 13. It was Bible class, 1970. I was passing out papers with my best friend, Elizabeth. Bobby kept snickering and saying, “Les-beth, Les-beth, Vicki and Les-beth.” I didn’t get the joke. I felt an aura of strength and peace permeating from Paul Wessel’s desk. He was serious for a seventh-grader. He carried a briefcase! He had glasses and big ears. He rarely cracked a smile. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, even when I was sad! We were opposites. I said, “Your dad is a doctor.” He responded dryly with a twinkle in his eye: “Your mother is a nurse.” A few years later, our cars met at a stoplight. His electric window slid down. I looked out the window of my beat up, $200 red Ford Falcon with no radio and smiled at him, “I like your car.” Without missing a beat, his serious little face replied, “I like your car.”
I stick a handstand on hood of my Ford Falcon
A few months later, he saw me in the school parking lot and asked me on our first date. It was an elegant affair for his father’s work. I wore a “gown,” my old homemade beauty-pageant gown. (I lost the beauty pageant.) I wore glued-on fake fingernails that fell in my salad when I clapped. When he walked me to my doorstep, like a gentleman, he took my face in his hands, lightly kissed my mouth and said goodnight. I swooned and fell into my house.
When I was sent to the hospital to see why I hadn’t “developed yet” at age 17, (a side effect of my intensive gymnastic training), the doctors said they’d have to do tests, I might be missing female organs and thus technically be “a man.” Paul came to the hospital to visit. He hugged me in the hallway, me, a perfectly healthy teenager in a hospital gown. Paul mumbled with his straight face, “Well, I love you, so if you’re a man, I’ll just be gay.” Now that’s true love!
Speaking of gay, Jannique told me that the LGBT have put up posters in the public high schools that have a photo of two girls hugging; underneath it says, “Don’t Knock It ‘Til You Try It.” Wow. This spiritual battle for the soul of our children, Ephesians 6:12, is real and intense, and we are losing. The efforts they will go to, to bring more over to their side! And, Christians are not allowed to proselytize. Chuck Colson explains this battle. Isaiah 5:20: “What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil.”
Paul was the church pianist. I’d sit next to him on the piano bench and be his “page turner.” I tingled with desire. We listened to the 8-track of Bread over and over in his silver Trans Am with the red leather interior and talked for hours. We kissed. We didn’t “tap.” He followed me to Furman University in South Carolina. He played the piano and wrote a song for me:
… oh I could climb so high that I looked down on the mountains
I could swim to the bottom of the deepest ocean blue
I could look forever but there’s something I could never do
I could never find another you.
He gave me a diamond ring. His father forbade him from marrying me because we were too young. I went to Hollywood. He married someone else – so I did, too. We gave our spouses our virginity, physically disease free and emotionally baggage free. Ten years later, and both divorced, we reunited. So, I’m not saying we are perfect. Things happen, life is complicated, but we tried.
It’s an attitude. Trying to obey God and failing is different than rejecting God. Set the bar high.
One time I asked Paul, “Maybe we should’ve done it when we were teenagers, when I was young and beautiful?” He looked at me crossly, “What?! That would have ruined everything.” That’s the kind of guy I want for my daughter.
God didn’t make rules to ruin our fun but to give us abundant life (John 10:10).
Vicki and Paul, 1992
I just spoke with a fellow parent from school, a Democrat/liberal. She bragged, “I’m so proud of my son for getting to 18 and not having two babies … you know, from different … most boys his age these days have at least two.”
I squinted. Then, she repeated herself. I shook my head as if I wasn’t hearing correctly. I am not of this world (John 8:23). She isn’t proud that her son is a virgin, but that he didn’t get caught.
These are the kind of boys my daughter is dating?!
Whatever happened to integrity? Restraint? Discipline? ROMANCE?!
Um. Maybe we should expect more of ourselves and our children?
My dad wasn’t even proud of me when I made all A’s and one B. He’d say, “What happened?” He told me to return my American Legion award because I had slow danced one dance at a party, only touching hands and shoulder. He said I was a liar because I had signed a paper at our Christian school promising I wouldn’t dance. That’s how high my dad’s bar was.
I’ve got some parenting readjustment to do. There are alternatives to “16 and Pregnant” and “The Hangover.” My friend David White produces clean, high-quality movies. His latest film, “Holyman Undercover” is very funny, original and uplifting, not innocence-robbing.
I just did a film with him called “Marriage Retreat” co-starring “Lost’s” Jeff Fahey. It portrays the challenge, beauty and rich fulfillment a Christian marriage holds. I had a big tear jerker scene where my character tells her husband, “You are my home.”
Paul hasn’t played the piano for me in a long time, so I twisted his arm and I hope you enjoy our duet. The man in the background is my 82-year-old dad. He was holding his ears on my last note. I first wrote and performed this song on “Saturday Night Live” in 1989. It’s called, “Mrs. Santa Claus.” It’s a bit “randy,” but we are married.
Conservatives are proud if their children are virgins on their honeymoon. Liberals are proud if their children wear condoms in the eighth grade. Why would I want to be a liberal?