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In Search of the Final Freedom: Chapter 6

Updated: Apr 5

In Search of the Final Freedom:

An Erotic Socio-Political Novel

Book One: Unlikely Revolutionaries

Chapter 6

Familial Evolution

The Campbell home was neither old nor new, by local standards. Like so many rural Southern homes it was a large but firmly middle class affair with a clapboard core and numerous additions made since its 1940’s beginnings. Situated on a none-to-busy county road, it had just recently begun to seem out of place. With the trend of family farms being broken up into mini-estates the community was changing. In the miles of countryside around the Campbell homestead were now a dozen or more large expensive homes. Joshua Rose, owned a thousand acres on both sides of Route 77, part of which came right up to the Campbell property line. When he passed away, his children, who had long ago moved to the city, subdivided the property during the building boom of the 2000’s.

There were several new homes under construction on Route 77’s six mile length when the Campbell’s moved back to Sparta from Atlanta fourteen years ago. Though no longer isolated, the Campbell property was not small, a full thirty-five acres including the woods and a creek, with the home being in the north-east corner. The 80’s vintage swimming pool, rather than being directly behind the home as might be the case in a city suburb, was built to the left of the house running just a few yards from where the Rice farm had been. When Cooper had inherited the house from his father, he repaired the swimming pool and had added one section of privacy fence running fifty feet from the side of the house to the property line running parallel to the highway. If they were going to have a swimming pool, he and Bonnie reasoned, it would be their adult playground since their new born son and two year old daughter would hardly be having pool parties for quite some time. And if it were an adult play area, then privacy would be required.

When construction began for a new home less than a hundred feet from the property line, to Cooper it appeared inappropriately close given the rural nature of the area. As an architect and civic leader he tried to stop the construction, but to no avail. It was for this reason Cooper had added an additional section to the privacy fence, perpendicular to the road, that ran along the property line for two-hundred fifty feet until it reached the woods. To the west and south, where the woods and then creek lay, the original rusty barbed wire fence remained.

Cooper's father had built the swimming pool when he and his brother were in junior high school. He had many great memories from that pool growing up and was happy his own kids would be able to enjoy it too. Predating the advent of vinyl liners, the pool took a good deal of annual maintenance, but Cooper did not mind. He could not recall why his father had put the pool beside the house rather than behind it, but he was sure there was a good reason at the time. The upside of the pool's location was a large concrete patio with several built in garden boxes each with a mature, but well-trimmed pecan tree. This made for a large and elegant space for entertaining on summer evenings. Bonnie and Cooper’s church friends had long appreciated evening socials at the Campbell’s.

After the family returned from Miami, at the Wednesday St. Thomas Methodist ladies social group, Bonnie's friends asked about the beach trip. She told all about Miami and there was a lot to tell even if she omitted the encounter in the Penthouse, the nude beach and the nude photo session that last morning. As part of her verbal report she told them about going shopping with Misty and buying no fewer than five bathing suits for each of them. When several of the women asked to see what she had bought, she told them they were in the wash. Of course they were in the washing machine; Bonnie had put them in there just before they arrived. She didn’t turn it on because once they left, she would have to take out the two expensive designer suits because they were hand wash only. She figured she'd show them eventually, but not just yet.

When several more asked about photos from their beach trip, it forced her into making a decision. She knew she had created two lives the first time she and Jill had become sexual. Prior to that, the whole idea of hiding her private life from her church friends had never even occurred to her. One thing on which she had always prided herself had been her proclamation that “I am an open book. Ask me and I’ll tell you.” That attitude came from her upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains where there was little social pretense. That attitude stood in stark contrast to the carefully crafted public image maintained by society women in the Deep South; and, due to her marriage into the Campbell family, she was part of Sparta’s “society”. The truth was that she very much enjoyed shocking those nice southern ladies with her behavior on occasions. However, she would have to be careful with this. She did not want this to be a bridge too far and loose her credibility with this group of influential church women.

The Wednesday social group was not created as what it became. For years the Wednesday meetings were more like a regular church ladies group. They rotated homes and it was more or less a Bible study time. Perhaps because as time went on more and more of the weekly group were members of the Sunday School class Cooper taught for young couples the group's format began to change. Bonnie thought it was because of this she had been drafted to be the regular discussion leader about three years before. It was under her leadership that the meetings became something different. Rather than sit and teach, she morphed the program into a topical format where she would put out topics relevant to women and/or the Christian life for discussion. Things such as marriage, church, society, children and even sex were the groups focus. So while it appeared to be a social time, to Bonnie, it was a stealthy way of guiding the women to what she called "the relevant Christian life."

While the group met at Bonnie's every week in summer, the rest of the year the women retained the older tradition of rotating hosting duties. It was normal for the hostess to show off new decor and such, but Bonnie also used that to push boundaries. A number of times she'd shocked the women with art she'd bought for their bedroom. One of the most notable of her acquisitions had been three years ago when she’d spent fifteen-hundred dollars on a pair of marble sculpture reproductions. They were works by Auguste Rodin of couples making love. The sculptures were certainly not pornographic, but, in Sparta Georgia, one could get arrested for showing them in public.

When she and Cooper had celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary, she couldn’t wait to see their reaction to her newest piece of art, the gift from Cooper. The painting was a modern original impressionist oil painting of a nude lying on a divan. It was nothing short of high art. What made it shocking to the ladies was that it was Bonnie who was depicted in a full frontal nude pose. The women were utterly beyond words when they saw the painting on her bedroom wall. When she told them that the artist had worked from more than a dozen nude photos Cooper had taken of her over the years, the women were positively scandalized. She didn’t know why, she tried to explain that the alternative would have been for her to go to the artist’s studio every day for a week to pose nude live. Two women declared they could never let their husband’s take a nude photo of them let alone show it to anyone. The rest admitted that since the advent of digital cameras their husbands had taken nude photos of them. However, they made it clear that they would never let anyone see them. Only Brandy Connelly and Ashley Ericson-Webber, admitted that they liked posing for naked photos for their husbands. More important for Bonnie’s efforts to bring the women’s group into the 21st century, both said the photos had been shown to a number of their friends with both the husband’s and wife’s full consent. To get the heat off of the two women, Bonnie said that was true for her and Cooper as well; though in truth she was not aware that he'd ever shown her nudes off to anyone but the painter.

This all had happened over the prior few years, now however, Bonnie was no longer the open book she had once been. Now she had a whole other life that she hid from even her closest friends, all of whom were in this group. Of course Bonnie was not the first to violate her vow of monogamy. Over the years there had been a few women who had confided in their group they had committed adultery. Such confessions were of course made in conjunction with sobs of remorse and pleas for help from the group. This did not include the divorced women who simply did not talk openly about their sex life, even when they moved in with a man. Those were more or less don't ask don't tell cases. Bonnie’s situation was different than both groups. Her only regret was that Jill and Vic had moved and she couldn’t have sex with them again. But the deepest secret was that her husband knew and supported her choice.

In the past eighteen months she had floated the notion that sex outside of marriage was not patently “un-Christian” a couple of times. Even though she offered this in a pure theoretical sense based on her and Cooper’s research and reasoning, it was flatly rejected the first time. She tried again about nine months later with a different angle but only made a little progress. The last time she’d brought it up in their discussion she’d been more effective. It had been just before the prior Valentine’s Day. It happened that the holiday was on a Wednesday and they had been at the home of Marcy Marshall. At Bonnie’s direction, Jill had provoked the women into talking about their sex lives in far more detail than they ever had before. Not that anything said was more than mildly racy, it was still unusual for the women to admit they had active sex lives at all. As planned, Jill referenced a love affair she’d had before she’d met her husband. This admission allowed Bonnie to push the envelope and ask “How many of us were virgins when we got married?” The women all sat and looked at each other. Not one of the nine women present that day could say they had. That seemed to surprise everyone. She followed up with “OK, who was a virgin before you met your husband?” Only one hand went up. That was even more revealing. Bonnie again followed up “So none of us met the standard that we teach our kids is normal, and only one comes close. I won’t ask how many of us, deep in our heart, still have beautiful memories of sex with a prior love. I know I do. Let me ask, until right now how many of you thought most of us had never had sex with someone besides our husbands.” Every one of them admitted that they assumed most of the others had been virgins when they met their husbands, if not on their wedding day. That led into a discussion that revealed a great deal of guilt regarding premarital sex. Several followed Bonnie’s confession about holding on to the beautiful memory of sex with another man. Bonnie followed up by citing a recent study of evangelical women that suggested their group was not unusual.

That gave her a way to explicitly float the idea that a woman can be both a good Christian and have sex outside her marriage. She asked directly “Is our vagina so powerful as to cut us off from God if we put the wrong thing in it?” The bluntness of the question was just what was needed to move their thought process. And since they were already thinking about sex before marriage, the group came to a consensus about sex outside of marriage that was significantly different than what it would have been the day before. Closing the discussion part of their meeting, Bonnie had articulated the final idea for the day: “So we are agreed, that God is not as insistent that sex must always be inside of marriage as is traditionally presented.” Her proclamation was tepid; Bonnie knew that. She had considered pressing for something that affirmed the validity of sex outside of marriage, but she decided she'd made enough progress for one day.

Therefore, after the Miami trip, when she was asked about the beach photos she was faced with a choice, either reduce the disconnect between her public life and private life or ingrain it further. She saw an opportunity to open up at least part of her secret life in a way palatable to her group. This was a good time to do so since Jill and Vic were gone and it could be years before another opportunity like that one presented itself. Showing the photos would invite scrutiny regarding her choice to go topless in public, but likely there would be even more questions about her parenting in that she allowed her sixteen year old to go topless as well. Such scrutiny could, if addressed well, lead to reconsideration about at least one part of sexual morality.

They had taken a lot of photos on the trip. She had gotten Cooper the new Cannon digital SLR for Christmas. She’d spent a good deal of money on what was described as a semi-pro camera in part because Misty had decided that she absolutely was sure her career choice was that of becoming a professional photographer. So, to give their daughter a good tool to learn photography, she bought Cooper a good camera even though their iPhones took simply wonderful photos for everyday use. This of course is parental logic at its best. However, the most use it had gotten from Christmas till 4th of July was by Lamar who used it as an excellent video recorder to record things he posted on YouTube almost every week. This was not its sole use however, Cooper had played on and off with it for months and Misty had used it since beginning her summer course in Photography at nearby Georgia College and State University (GCSU). In addition Bonnie had asked Lamar to show her how to use the camera for video recording so that she could make her movie of her, Jill and Vic. She had stated to him that she wanted to film some of their youth meetings at church. With Misty's revelation that both kids had watched her sex movie, the lie had come back to bite her.

Despite the whirlwind nature of their trip, the family had taken a huge number of pictures. Cooper had taken hundreds of photos, Misty had taken hundreds of photos and Lamar had taken both photos and video. Her solution to the request to see their Miami pictures was not quite to divide the baby but was to tell her friends that there were just too many photos and they were on several memory cards. She told them she had yet to make up a manageable set of photos to show. All of that was true. But what was also true is that the delay till the next week would give her time to make up a set to show them that would, while not hiding the fact that both she and Misty went topless, diminish the impact of this revelation.

Over the next week, she worked on selecting and editing photos every day. First she culled the photos, getting rid of images with exposure or focus problems. Additionally almost every photo had a nearly identical image, or two, or four; so she only kept the best. However, even after that she had three-hundred terrific photographs. Cooper said he would have them made into a printed photo book; but that would take several weeks to get back from Kodak. From that set, she selected only those that told the story she wanted to tell to the women. To go in the first part of the set she would show to the ladies, she selected images that told of shopping and family time, white beaches and the amazing condominium tower. Importantly none of them showed anything that would seem racy. The majority of the photos she would show were sat at the beaches and pool areas where they spent almost the whole time. Because she had planned for a photo set to show the grandparents, Bonnie had made sure Cooper shot photos when she and Misty were wearing both their cover-ups and tops. A good many times both those things came off right after the photos were made. She had an unexpected problem in making even a small “grandparent friendly” set of photos. It seemed that all three of the family photographers had somehow managed to get topless women in the background in at least half of the family pool pictures. Sure Cooper had told their son not to deliberately shoot photos of women’s boobs without permission, but to Bonnie it appeared that even he made an effort to get them in the background. By the simple expedient of cropping, Bonnie cut out those extraneous topless women in all the grandparent friendly set and a good many of the set she would show her church group. She also made a point to choose images that deemphasize (but not hide) the fact they wore bikini’s that showed off their rears the whole trip. Only the last twenty photos that she planned to show her Wednesday group would reveal that both Bonnie and Misty never wore more than those tiny Brazilian bikini bottoms at the pool or beach. To further soften the impact, nearly all of those photos candid’s shot at oblique angles or as part of a busy picture. She did not include any of the many photos of her and/or Misty posing topless for the camera. On Tuesday evening she got the family to sit down in the living room and watch her photo show on the TV so as to get input on what to say about the images. They all knew it would be a big step to show even those photos to the church women.

The next day it was a full group in her living room. So, no sooner than the first woman arrived than they asked to see her photos. She let them know they were on a jump drive, they had ordered a photo book, but it would not be in for several weeks. That would give her several weeks to prepare to show the larger complete set.

Despite her hours and hours of work to make her and Misty’s attire a very small part of the photo set, her church friends were flabbergasted. Even for her more progressive friends, it took all Bonnie’s considerable pool of good will to get a fair hearing and begin to work on shifting the other women’s negative view of what she had done. It helped her case a great deal that the women who were shocked that she and Misty had gone topless in Miami had been sunning bare breasted all summer every week at her house.

Not surprisingly, it was all that her friends wanted to talk about for the rest of the summer. To be honest she didn’t blame them, even if she and Misty had only gone to the beach together in just a thong for ten minutes during the whole trip, it would still have been just as revolutionary. Her sales pitch was good and they liked and respected Bonnie. By the end of the first day the consensus was they didn’t know what to think about Bonnie’s choices, but not one condemned her. By the next Wednesday, she found that after thinking about it over the week, most had decided they admired Bonnie’s confidence in herself and in her daughter. When the book of uncensored photos arrived it did not cause any more stir since the women had all had weeks to process the new information. In the photo book the percentage that showed partial nudity rose from about 20% of the first set to 80% of this larger collection (including the photos from the snorkeling trip when their bikinis were fully see through which Lamar took pains to document). These images even included nude photos that Misty had taken of her mother that last morning in front of the hotel. After a discussion with Misty, she also included three nudes that she'd taken of her daughter that morning.

Due to the groundwork Bonnie had already laid, when the book arrived on their coffee table it didn’t shock or offend the ladies of the women’s group. Rather, most of the women praised her for her courage to take fully nude photos right in front of the condominium building. Bonnie tried to explain that even from the pool area it would be impossible to tell that she was nude and not just wearing one of the little thongs; they didn’t understand. Importantly, due to the failure to get the contact information, there were no photos from the nude beach. With no photos, it was easy for Bonnie conveniently leave that part out of her story.

Bonnie’s friends weren’t the only ones who were interested in the Campbell’s Miami Beach trip. Misty too had her own group of friends from church and school that came over to their pool that summer. While Misty’s photo class met Monday and Wednesday, a rotating group of girls from the youth group and/or school were at the Campbell’s pool every Tuesday and Thursday. Unlike her mother, Misty didn’t even try to tone down the story of their trip to her friends. She only omitted the story of the Cuban man and mom’s “near sex” with the guy from Texas A&M because her mother insisted. She did however tell and retell her own “near sex” experience. After some negotiation with her mom, which included a promise from the girls not to tell anyone at youth group what they had seen; she was allowed to show her friends the photo book when it arrived. Additionally she showed them the video clips Lamar had taken which Bonnie had thought were too dull to show her friends.

If the photos initially left Bonnie’s group aghast, they left Misty’s friends agog. To top it all off, they were insane with jealousy over the change in her relationship with her mom.

“You really told your mom you have been getting off since you were in 7th grade?!”

“No you didn’t tell your mom you made that guy cum in the swimming pool!”

On the very first week back Misty and her best friend Kelli began to wear Misty’s "Miami" bikinis at the Campbell's pool. Misty had told her mom that the other girls wanted to wear them too, but they were afraid to do so in front of an adult. So Bonnie agreed to be scarce for a few weeks while the girls experimented with the things that she and Misty had brought home from Miami. There were plenty of those little bikinis to go around given the fact that rarely were there more than three or four of Misty’s friends at the house on any given day.

By the next week when Bonnie looked out the kitchen window, she saw Caitlin & Rebecca had also adopted the ‘European’ swim dress in the absence of Mrs. Campbell. More surprising, Misty and Kelly had shed their tops as well. Misty assured the others that her mom wouldn’t object to them going topless even if she came out, but the other girls were reluctant to be that bold.

Initially they just wore Misty’s (or Bonnie’s) Miami swimsuits, but that had given way quickly to a series of small packages from Amazon addressed to Misty, but actually bought by the other girls. None of them had the nerve to have thong bikinis mailed to their own homes, though Bonnie let Misty know that the mother of one of her crew was tanning topless with the other women on Wednesdays.

The girls started calling themselves The Euro Club because Misty said they were adopting the European approach she'd seen at the Miami Beach high-rise condominium. By the end of July, all the girls had tried the topless thing at least once. Caitlin and Rebecca had joined Kelli and Misty in doing it almost all the time. All this was much to the delight of a peeping Lamar.

Bonnie was particularly pleased to see Caitlin Richards once again a regular part of the crew. Caitlin had been like Misty’s second sister for years. When the kids were in elementary school the girl had practically lived at the Campbell’s for several summers. However, she had abruptly disappeared from Misty’s life a year and a half ago. Part of it was that she had been staying with her dad in Milledgeville more often, especially on weekends. But mostly it was because, Caitlin’s mother, Gina, had come under the influence of a new man who didn’t approve of Bonnie’s role in her life. He outright forbid her to see or even talk with Bonnie or Cooper. Bonnie suspected that was because Bonnie had been very supportive of Gina’s work choices. Or perhaps Gina's long standing crush on Cooper was more obvious than Bonnie thought. Certainly there was no way Gina's new boyfriend could be aware that Bonnie had decided that Gina should be their first extra-marital playmate. But whatever the man's reason, the effect was to not only take away her best friend, but since he forbid Caitlin from visiting the Campbell's, Misty had been deprived of seeing her oldest and closest friend as well.

Bonnie had always liked Gina. Yes she was in sex work, but as far as she knew nobody in town but her knew that. She’d done OK for herself as a single mom and Bonnie refused to treat her, or Caitlin, like second class people. Bonnie also knew there were some people in town, well a lot of people, who did so for a variety of reasons. Though their girls were the same age, Caitlin’s mom was significantly younger than Bonnie. From what Gina had told her, she had been kicked out of her parents’ home for getting pregnant with Caitlin at sixteen-years-old. At the time Gina would not tell who the father was even under threat of losing her government support. Several years later she confided to Bonnie that she really wasn’t sure who Caitlin’s dad was. Finally, Social Services pressed her for all the possible fathers and this was before she started having sex for money. They conducted a series of DNA tests and found Jeff Duncan, a respectable and married, middle-aged business man in Milledgeville was Caitlin's biological father. The state took him to court for child support when Caitlin was ten years old. Bonnie wasn’t sure why he wasn’t prosecuted for impregnating a fifteen-year-old, but she was sure it had a lot to do with the fact that Gina refused to cooperate for so long. Once the process was over, and Mr. Duncan was divorced, he provided regular child support. According to Gina, he was a kind man though she didn’t know him all that well. Over time he began to play the role more of Caitlin’s uncle than one of father, even so it was good for Caitlin. Gina on the other hand continued to struggle. She just didn’t choose men well.

Bonnie had met Gina while registering Misty for 1st grade. She had been incensed in seeing how the obviously young mother in front of her in the registration line was being treated by the school staff. She couldn’t believe the blatant condescension by school officials. They all but called her a skanky whore. Since Bonnie hadn’t grown up in the area, she didn’t know Gina, nor her reputation. She couldn’t miss that, despite the cheap, worn and rather skimpy clothing she wore, Gina was pleasant and remarkably attractive. She could understand some of the women seeing this slightly provocatively dressed single mom as a threat to “their men”. But that didn’t give them a right to treat her like she was unwelcome as she registered her child for school.

After registration, Bonnie invited the young woman to go with her to a local park with their kids. That was the beginning of a lasting friendship. They never became peers exactly, more like Bonnie was a mentor or big sister. They did become close however. Gina spent many days with Bonnie over the years while the girls played. On a few occasions prior to Gina’s settlement with Mr. Duncan, Bonnie and Cooper had helped the struggling single mom out of financial binds.

Unknown to any of the kids, they had also ensured Caitlin had a nice Christmas every year, no matter mom’s financial condition. So, when at the beginning of the summer, with Misty now able to drive, Caitlin began showing up again. This was very pleasing to Bonnie in that it was like her lost child had come home.

The Campbell home had always been popular with their kids friends, but that summer had been busier than most. That was the one thing that had kept her from slipping into a full-fledged depression with the departure of her “lover”. Mom’s like her just didn’t have the time to wallow in self-pity.

As they had done for several summers, the pool time was divided up between Misty and her friends and Lamar and his. Each child got two days a week for their friends to come over, free from the annoyance of the other. And, of course, Wednesday was Mom’s day with her friends.

By the first week of August Misty’s photography class had finished. She had learned so much she couldn't believe how little she'd known before. Both of her teachers had given her encouragement to pursue her talent by praising her eye for composition. Misty was sure she would be able to stand out as one of the school photographers in the coming year. As part of her class she had begun to make up a portfolio of 8x10 prints. She had included two of the photos she’d taken in Miami: one of a brown pelican flying over the water and a portrait type photo of her brother on the beach. He might be a perv, but she found he was photogenic. Her best photo she didn’t show to her class. It was one of her mom against the sun rising on the Atlantic; the red ball of the sun shown between her mother’s legs and the camera flash lit her mom perfectly. It was a dramatic photo, but the class rules specifically barred nudes. Her mom had 8x10’s of all three photos printed, so at least Misty could use the photo in her portfolio when she was older.

As per the house rules, if Lamar and his friends weren’t using the pool on his day, Misty was free to use it. On that Monday in August, Lamar and his buddy Byron were in the game room playing video games, which they did as often as they used the swimming pool.

Misty invited Bonnie to join her at the pool for some mother-daughter bonding time. They really hadn’t had much since their trip. Bonnie had no longer even thought to wear a full coverage bikini unless they were having the church youth group over as they did every other Saturday, or their adult Sunday school class which they did one Sunday a month. She rarely went out when Lamar’s friends where at the pool. They were just too loud for her to relax and unlike Misty, Lamar didn’t really want Mommy out at the pool with him and his buddies.

Bonnie was happy to spend a few hours with just her and her girl sunning and talking. She knew that the boys were planning on playing video games all day because they hadn’t worn swimwear, so she just pulled out one of her Miami suits. Her robe was in the dirty clothes so she put on the top in case one of the boys happened to be in the kitchen when she was heading out. Misty came out similarly attired.

On the pool deck they moved the chaise lounges to face the late morning sun. Since they were using two of the lounge chairs on the shallow end of the pool, they were out of site of the game room sliding glass door. Bonnie doubted that Lamar’s buddy would surprise her so it would be fine to take off the top. Misty followed suit.

Misty chattered on about her photo class and about the latest dramas with her friends.

Occasionally Bonnie drifted in and out of sleep behind her dark sunglasses as Misty talked. She was glad they now had a much better relationship than they had before the trip.

She was in one of the semi-sleep phases when something caught her ear “and I didn’t realize that the kind of soap she uses changes the way she tastes down there.” Bonnie was now awake. Misty’s voice continued in an unbroken stream. “We’ve been experimenting and I think I like the Safeguard the best but her mom only buys Dial, so I sent her home one of those eight-packs you buy.” Bonnie was pretty sure she knew what Misty was saying, if so, her few minutes of napping had made her miss her daughter telling of an important event in her life. To help her be sure of what she was hearing she interrupted Misty’s train of consciousness talk with something that could be explicit but it could be explained away. “Your dad likes the taste when I use the Safeguard too. We’ve been using it for years because of that.“

Misty didn’t miss a beat. “Duh, how could I not have guessed you buy the soap that gets you the most oral sex.”

So, she was telling her that she and Kelli were now having full sex. It’s not like she was surprised, but it was still a little bit much that Misty was discussing it as casually as she did her photography class. Perhaps Misty could teach her mother something about being comfortable about her sexual behavior.

Misty went on “Does the brand of soap change the way a guy taste like that too?"

This was another huge step. But Misty didn’t seem to think it was any different for her to talk explicitly about her sex life than anything else. Why should she, given the way she’d been raised? Bonnie was finding she was not quite as open about the topic as she’d always liked to think she was. Bonnie answered “No, not to my experience?”

“Did Mr. Banning taste different than Dad?”

Well, the old saying is that you should be careful what you ask for because you might just get it. Bonnie wondered how much more explicit can the questions get? It wasn’t that she minded Misty knowing the answer, but there still was a tinge of embarrassment in saying it out loud. It seemed clear that Misty had no embarrassment at all. That was exactly what she and Cooper had said they wanted even before Misty was born.

Bonnie answered that and a series of other very explicitly detailed questions regarding the difference in having sex with Cooper and with Vic. Bonnie did her best to be matter of fact about comparing Vic’s and Cooper’s penis, their oral sex skill and how & why she did different things with them when she had sex. That led to questions about men she’d had sex with in college and how they compared. Fortunately she had a truthful out for most of those questions: “I really don’t remember.”

Once they turned over onto their stomachs the chatter trailed off and they both drifted off to sleep.

Initially she thought Misty was asking her something, then she realized it was Lamar. She pushed up on her hands and looked back over her right shoulder to find out what he wanted. She saw not only Lamar but Byron Simms as well. To say Byron had a deer in the headlights look would be an understatement. All Bonnie could say was “Damn.” For Bonnie that was a serious bit of profanity.

From his vantage point Lamar’s fourteen-year-old best friend was looking up from the side of her left leg at two virtually naked female asses baking in the sun. They were wearing the micro-thong bikinis and the only sign that she and Misty were not completely nude were the quarter inch wide waist bands. Bonnie wondered if the boy could even understand they were wearing thongs. In all likelihood he thought he was looking at Lamar’s mother and sister sunbathing nude.

Bonnie pulled in her elbows so as to restrict the view of her breasts, but there was nothing to do about her bare ass.

Then she realized that Byron wasn’t looking at her at all. Of course, why would he? His gaze was fixed on Misty.

To Bonnie, it did not appear that Lamar had set up this little peep show. That was good, she wouldn’t have to make a big deal about it. So why were they out here?

Laying beside her mother, Misty was more aggressive “What are you looking at you little pervs!”

Bonnie wasn’t sure what tone to use, so she just went with the default “mother” voice. “Lamar, this had better be important.”

“The power went out” he said flatly.

Bonnie just humphed. “OK, I’ll call the power company. You guys go on back inside so I can take care of it.”

Lamar turned to leave but Byron did not. Misty’s voice barked “Go, now!”

The boys left at just under a run.

Once the boys were inside, Bonnie and Misty sat up and looked at each other.

“Lamar didn’t manufacture that" Bonnie said. "You shouldn’t be mad.”

Misty just laughed. “I’m not. I just wanted them to go in.”

“Since when were you so shy young lady?”

“I’m not. But it’s a matter of status. I will be a junior next year and they will be lowly freshmen. They don’t have the privilege of ogling my ass. One must keep the proper order in the world.”

Bonnie smiled to herself and shook her head as she put on her top.

“You know Mom, you really should consider being your real self more around my friends.” Misty said, conspicuously not putting on her top. “For some reason they think you are one step from God. Of course I tell them you fart and everything, but they don’t see that.”

“What are you saying?”

“You need to make a move to make yourself more accessible. I don’t know how to describe it. They need the kind of role model I have, but none of their mom’s will ever be that kind of person. You have always been someone I can trust as an adult, which is a lot more than most of them can say about their own mothers. That was great, but it was only when you put yourself out there to let me know you didn’t look down on me, even when I do stupid sixteen-year-old things.”

“And how would I do that?” Bonnie asked.

“I think you know when our relationship made that change. At the Miami Beach bikini shop. We were browsing for over an hour, just looking at different stuff like normal. It was almost patronizing. That is what normal parents do. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t tell me that we are all in this together. Then when I stepped out topless, I was trying to manipulate you and Dad. That’s what teenagers do; we do crazy stupid stuff to get our parents to do what we want. But you didn’t shove me back in the stall like I’d expected. It was like you were telling me that you really did think I was old enough to own my life. It must have been hard on you to just stand there letting me do that.”

Bonnie nodded “Yea, it was. I so wanted to shove you back into that stall and yank the curtain closed.”

Misty went on, “But you didn’t. That was half of the transformation, the other half was when you did the same thing. I know you didn’t want to do that in the store like that. But even when you saw me talking to those guys you didn’t treat me like someone who can’t thing for herself. You could see they were just staring at my tits on display, yet you stepped right out to join me. You had no idea if that clerk would call the police and have us both arrested for being topless in his shop. What that said to me was that sink or swim, you are there for me, even if it costs you.”

Bonnie hadn’t thought of it that way. Was the earlier sex talk just leading up to this? Were those sex questions just one more test by Misty to see if the transformation of their relationship was real? Bonnie didn’t know what to say.

Misty did though. “I’ve always had a mom, a really great mom, and I haven’t lost that. If I skin my knee you will put on a Band-Aid, if I don’t do my homework you will ground me. That hasn’t changed, but when we left that shop, I had a partner: a partner for my grown up life. That is what my friends who come over want and need. That is what the youth group needs. You’ve been a parent figure for Caitlin and Kelli and Connie for years. They respect you more than they do their own mothers, but now they need you to be their partner too. Some adults try to be teenagers and they quit being adults. That is lame. Some adults are good at yelling at teens about what they should do. That just makes us want to fight. What you have done is to get in the boat with me, taking the same risks as me. Sometimes you screw up like you did when you almost let that guy really start fucking you on the beach, but in the end you came through for me. Afterward you didn’t try to cover up what had gone wrong or what you had almost given in and done. That is just who you are, and that is why I can respect you.”

Bonnie was humbled and did not feel worthy of such praise. All she could do was ask sincerely “Then what do you want me to do?”

“Well, for my friends, I want you to act around them the same way you do around me.”

“Don’t I?” Bonnie asked.

“No, they need to know you are in the boat with them. Just like you did me. We’ve only got a couple more weeks till school starts. Take a risk tomorrow when my friends come over.”

“You want me to join you guys? But they have been hiding from me for weeks.” Bonnie pointed out.

“So, be here for them when they come out, and let them know you are in the boat by laying out in front of them the same way you do when it’s just family.” Misty said.

“But this summer, especially since we came back from Miami, I’ve almost always gone nude by the pool unless we have company? Is that what they want me to do?” Bonnie asked.

“They don’t know what they want. But I do. Perhaps, just go topless at first. Let them know they can trust you because you trust them. The reason some of them don’t want you out when they wear thongs or go topless is that they aren’t fully convinced that you won’t rat them out.”

Bonnie understood, “But if I’m wearing the same thing, I can’t get them in trouble. And you think that will help?”

“I think it is a start.”

Bonnie heard the door open and knew the boys were coming out again. Bonnie picked up her top to hold it over her tits. Misty, Bonnie saw, made no move to do the same. She must have heard them, yet she did not look like she planned on picking it up. Her instinct was to tell Misty to cover up, but she stifled it.

Lamar exited the sliding glass door, followed by his friend. Bonnie knew Lamar and Byron would soon see his sister was still without her top, though her back was mostly to them. He could also see that Mom was not intervening. He was safe from punishment. He, and then his friend came to a stop at comfortable conversation range. “The power came back on.”

Bonnie said “Thanks for letting me know. I won’t call the power company.”

Misty turned her upper body to directly face the boys, “O.K., you have told us. You can go back in now. Mom and I are talking.”

Once again Lamar turned to go but his friend did not. This time Bonnie spoke up “Do you need anything?”

The mother voice snapped him out of his stunned state, and he said “No, ma’am” as he quickly went back the way he’d come.

“What was that about?” Bonnie asked “I thought they were unworthy to see your butt, yet you gave Byron a good long look at your boobs.”

“Well, I’m the queen and I can bestow favors on the most lowly of creatures” Misty said with an air of confidence. “I own that boy now.”

Bonnie stood up, “You are full of surprises. And I’ll think about your suggestion.”

She was not above learning from her daughter, so wearing her thong and tiny wedge top that just barely covered her areolas; she went through the sliding glass door directly into the game room where the boys had retreated. She chatted with them for several minutes before heading back out the door. Byron's eyes never stopped staring at her body. She was sure he was taking in the view of her behind as she left. From her room, she made a call to Trish, Byron’s mother, to give her a heads up as to what had happened. She had not expected Trish to be upset, but hearing her laugh about the whole incident made her feel better.

The next morning, after a second talk with Misty, she agreed to at least see how the teenage girls would react. “If they seem to take it in stride I’ll stay out. If not I’ll apologize and go in.” Misty agreed.

Misty had texted the girls to tell them she was off to get Caitlin so if her mom didn’t answer the door to just come on in the house and go out to the pool deck.

When Rebecca Ericson and Kelli Preston arrived, they made their way through the house to the pool area on their own. This however was not unusual for them. Both girls had been coming to the Campbell house since they were small children. Both had now grown up; however, while Kelli looked like a sixteen year old girl, Rebecca looked like a grown woman. Not an average looking grown woman, but he kind of young woman that men of all ages dream about and lust after. She could easily pass for twenty-one years old and with her long legs and a prominent bust she could likely get into any nightclub she wanted. This summer she had come to look an awfully lot like her mother, Sharon. Bonnie just hoped the daughter would be more successful in her relationships than her mother, who had been married three times and divorced twice. But she had used her good looks and outgoing personality to advantage. She had made quite a lot of money on her own in real-estate, though after marrying one of the richest men in the county she now only did real-estate part-time. So for the past two years she had been joining the women's group on Wednesdays. She was the only one of Bonnie's group who had a girl in Misty's crew. Like Cooper, her family had been leaders at St. Thomas for generations. But her outspoken liberalism alienated her from most of the church’s leadership. Cooper had more than once found himself the sole trustee supporting something she wanted the church to do (besides her father who was Chairman). She had been the one to push for Cooper and Bonnie to be named leaders of the Sunday night youth group and the two women had been allies many time over the past decade.

When the two girls realized that Bonnie was out at the pool….topless, Rebecca squealed in surprise “Oh, Mrs. Campbell! I’m so sorry I didn’t know you were out here” as she averted her eyes. Bonnie looked up from under her sun hat. “Oh, that’s quite all right. Come on out. Lamar is over at Byron’s so it will be just us girls today.” Bonnie and Misty had been sure that after the initial shock, Rebecca would not only be OK with it; she would think it was super cool that Mrs. C. (as they called her) was going topless around the girls. The real surprise was when Rebecca's said, "Oh, so we are going to do it like you and my mom do on Wednesdays?" Bonnie had no idea Sharon had told her daughter what they had been doing at women's group.

Kelli who arrived with Rebecca didn’t show any surprise. After all she knew more about Bonnie’s life than the other girls. Though Misty left out a few parts of what had happened in Miami, Kelli knew everything, even about Bonnie’s rendezvous with the Cuban man. She also knew what Misty had planned for the day. Therefore she just said “Hi, Mrs. C. Are you staying out today to tan with us?”

“Yes, unless it would ruin your day. From what Misty’s told me, I didn’t think you’d mind me out here too.”

“Not a chance”, and Kelli removed her tube top under which she wore nothing else. Her tall muscular physique contrasted sharply with Rebecca's softer curvy shape, but to Bonnie's eye they were both quite attractive. The girls took lounge chairs beside Bonnie's and they were quite chatty. She wondered if this was to compensate for their nervousness.

It took ten minutes for Misty and Caitlin to arrive. On the drive from Caitlin’s house, Misty had let Caitlin know that her mom would likely join them at the pool today. Caitlin’s only response to seeing her surrogate mom out by the pool, wearing nothing but her hat and one of the Miami thongs was “it’s about time.” Caitlin had changed clothes inside and was wearing the red, white and blue suit that Misty had worn on the snorkeling trip. Like her mother, Caitlin was simply beautiful. And like her mother, that beauty was muted by a lack of confidence.

Misty came out from the house wearing only her tiniest thong.

Connie arrived about an hour later. This was as many of Misty’s friends who had been at the house all at once this summer. If only Joanne Adams stopped by all of the so called Euro Club girls from the youth group would have been there. Bonnie wondered if Misty had tried extra hard to get everyone to the house today. By the time of Connie’s arrival none of the girls were wearing their tops. It took her longer to realize that Bonnie was out at the pool than it had Rebecca. She was already talking and laughing when she spied Misty’s mother. Also unlike Rebecca, she did not scream, but rather became befuddled as to why her friends were almost naked right in front of the church youth group leader.

Connie was a core member of the youth group although her parents rarely attended St. Thomas’s. Unlike many of the other kids in the youth group, she very publicly identified as an evangelical Christian even at school. She frequently asked deep spiritual questions and was considering going to a college that focused on training people for the ministry. She also hung on every word Bonnie or Cooper said in youth group. Despite the fact that she had heard Misty tell of the Miami trip and had seen a good many of the photos they had brought back, it was clear to Bonnie that Connie was having a difficult time processing what she saw.

Bonnie got up and crossed the pool deck. “Connie” she said “I would never want to offend you. Misty said you were fine with the beach pictures, so I thought it would be OK to join you girls today.”

Connie mumbled “Oh, yea of course. I am really happy you did.”

Bonnie took her hand “Would it be better if I or the others put back on our tops?”

“No, don’t do that on account of me.”

“How about you and I go in the house and talk for a bit?”

Connie nodded. Bonnie put on her cover up, even though it was see-through, it was better than nothing.

Once in the house, Bonnie asked. “Would you like me to get dressed?”

“No that is fine. That is a pretty cover-up.”

Bonnie didn’t know if Connie meant it or was just trying to say something. She knew Connie struggled with issues regarding her appearance. She was tall, with a long face and struggled off and on with acne. She was by no means homely, but Bonnie could understand why she often felt unattractive. She responded “Thank you, I’m glad you like it. I got it in Miami.”

This seemed to have been the right key word. “Yes, Misty told us all about your trip. I don’t know if I could do what you and Misty did.”

“Why not?”

“Well for one thing, I’m not pretty enough.”

Bonnie put her hand on Connie’s arm. “Nonsense. One thing I noticed at the nude beach was how much alike everyone looks naked. Did you know that besides wearing clothes to keep us warm, we also wear clothes to make us look less alike. Just a moment ago, when you came out to the pool and everyone was for all practical purposes naked, did you notice how much we all looked the same, much more so than when we are at church.”

Bonnie could tell Connie was thinking this over. One thing about this teenager, she was not going to just agree, she would have to be convinced. Then she nodded “Yea I guess you are right.” She paused for a moment, then asked “But at the nude beach there were guys too. Weren’t there?”

“Yes, and some of them had bigger boobs than mine.”

That elicited a real laugh from Connie.

Bonnie went on “But yes, men have certain, uh, appendages, that we girls do not have. But compared to our bodies as a whole, men and women look pretty much the same. There are Christian nudist organizations that practice nudism because it reduces class differences between the rich and poor members.”


“Yes.” Bonnie said.

“But then why did God give Adam and Eve clothes to wear?”

“Because outside the Garden of Eden, they would need them. The Bible says that God had cursed the ground to have stones to hurt their feet and briars to tear their skin, the sun would burn them in summer and they would freeze in winter. Their clothes were for survival, it was a gift from God.”

“Then shouldn’t we wear clothes?”

Bonnie nodded in agreement. “Absolutely. Most of the time it is essential to our health. The other thing I saw out on the nude beach was how fragile we humans are. Out there with their pink skin and no fur to protect them. No one stays all day on the nude beach, even using modern sun screen they would be fried. Taking off our clothes is a break from our regular world. Making ourselves vulnerable for a little while is liberating, because it ultimately tells us how much we need to be protected. As Christians we wear clothes most of the time as a symbol of our need for God's protection. And the converse is true, when we take them off, we remind ourselves how much we need God's help. But that does not mean nudity is a bad thing when the environment allows it, but in the real world such environments are rare.”

Connie seemed to be understanding “I never thought of it that way. But aren’t’ you afraid of what people will say? Won’t it hurt your Christian testimony if people find out?”

Bonnie knew she had the conscientious teen now. “I know full well that in time people will find out. There is no way in today’s world that would not happen. Given the number of people who I saw taking our pictures in Miami, I’m a little surprised no one has come up to me and say they saw me topless or nude on the internet. But, you tell me, when it does get out, who will be offended by me and Misty going naked? Will it be the lost people who don’t know about Christianity or will it be those who go to church already?”

“The church people” Connie said firmly.

“Exactly, the only ones who will see it as wrong are those who go to church already, and frankly I don’t care what they think. Jesus didn’t care what the self-righteous religious people thought of him and neither do I.”

“You are right Mrs. C. I shouldn’t have questioned you.”

“No, you should always question what you are told, even by me and Cooper. Only act on what you believe is right.”

Connie nodded.

Bonnie said, “So, it’s time for you to join your friends. I can put on a regular swim suit or I can just stay inside. You tell me what is it you want me to do.”

Connie pointed out “or you can come back out wearing what you were.”

“Yes, I could do that as well.”

Connie had already come to her conclusion. “I want you to come back out, like you were before. I might not take off my shorts and shirt, but that is because my poor body image. But just like you do on Sundays, you teach me just by being you and I know I’ll learn something more today."

Out at the pool Connie kept her street clothes on, for a while. However, piece by piece she removed articles until she was down to her rather conservative full coverage bottoms. A little while later however, somehow Connie’s full coverage bottoms transformed into one of the Brazilian ones. Bonnie felt vindicated, looking at Connie, she indeed looked much more like “the pretty girls” in that near nude state than she ever had before. At about 1:00, the girls put back on their street clothes and they all went back in the house to get out of the mid-day Georgia sun and get some lunch.

Inside the house the girls plied Bonnie with questions about her take on the trip. Kelli asked her directly what she’d thought when Misty told her that she’d tried, but failed, to lose her virginity in the condo’s swimming pool. Before answering, Bonnie gave the girls the same talk she had given Misty in the cab about why she no longer uses the phrase “loosing virginity.” They were even quicker to buy into what Bonnie said than her daughter had been. Then she honestly said she was glad that Misty had not done it; not because it would have been her first time, but because she was not on birth control and he didn’t have on a condom. But, she also told the girls clearly that she was very happy that Misty had told her all about it and that her daughter had a good overall experience that night. She assured the girls that when Misty says she is ready, even if that is tomorrow, she will get full support from her mom. She also made sure to tell the girls that she would support any of them as well if they can’t get that support at home. Bonnie knew her stock with the teen girls was at an all-time high. Honesty and openness had been the right thing after all.

Less than two weeks later classes resumed at Jefferson Davis High. At lunch time Misty began getting questions about topless swimming and her Miami Beach trip from her friends whom she had not seen all summer. Clearly at least some of the girls who had been at her pool in the past month had been talking to their friends about the summer’s activities. Though they had been warned not to share that information casually, Misty, was not mad everyone at the table seemed to know everything.

These were good friends that she trusted. Her crew had been a pretty stable lunch table since their freshman year. It began as just the girls who went to St. Thomas Methodist, but over that 9th grade year other girls of similar social status gravitated to them. Now they were juniors, upper classmen, and no longer felt like the runts of the school even though they still had little social prestige and were unlikely to ever get any. Like all high schools, the Jefferson Davis High School lunch room was divided into social castes by table, and their table was mid-level; they were neither the popular ones nor the outcasts. She found herself recounting, in a hushed voice, the highlights of the summer. She invited them to come over on Saturday and she would tell them more. Oh, and the pool is still open so you will have an opportunity to swim European style if you want. She also asked them not to make any of what she told them public knowledge.

Haley Jones said “I’ll be there and you can bet I’ll go European.” Then she looked around the table and said “And she’s right about not telling anyone. Look what happened to April Smith when that pic of her flashing at a party got around last year. She ended up home schooling because of all the harassment.” The other girls took the warning seriously. Misty, not for the first time, wondered when a pic would show up from Miami around the school. She wasn’t as worried about the Texas A&M guys as all the people she’d seen taking her picture from a distance.

On Saturday, after some deliberation, and discussion with Misty they both decided they would wear the designer swim suit with the heart shaped cut outs. Bonnie let her daughter know that she did not plan to remove her top, but Misty and the girls were free to wear whatever they were comfortable in. Both Misty and Bonnie had worn the bottoms of their designer suits quite a few times, but they had only worn the tops briefly that one time when they were in Miami. When Cooper saw his wife before he and Lamar “got lost” for the day, he couldn’t help but say it might be the sexiest bikini he’d ever seen. She replied that “It only looks sexy now because we are not surrounded by hot women with their boobs on display.”

He knew full well that was one of the times a husband should just say nothing.

Bonnie was happy to see five girls from the youth group at her house plus four girls she did not know. The church girls began the morning in the thong bikinis they had bought over the web (tops and bottoms). Misty gave the four new girls, friends from Misty's school, the chance to pick out something from her and her mom’s “Miami Collection.” The group of ten girls had a good time playing in the pool and talking about their first week of school. Misty told them how the cheerleaders now treated her like a human being since she was their only conduit to having their photo in the school's on-line paper and in the yearbook. Finally Kelli asked Mrs. C. if it was OK to take off her top. She said “Hold on a moment”, then got the girls attention. “I am very happy to have you all here. I am sure Misty has told you that at our pool, when it’s just us women, we do not require you to wear your tops. But, as soon as the first top comes off, you cannot take any pictures with your phone. Not one. Misty told me what happened to a girl at your school last spring and I will not be part of that happening to any of you.” She then went in the house to give the girls some space.

The day progressed well, the girls gained a sense of liberation by jumping and splashing and sunning wearing only a few square inches of fabric. It was not sexual, but it was exciting and empowering. Mrs. C. came out an hour later. She was not surprised that not a single girl wore their top. Bonnie could sense something different than from prior days with the girls going topless. With three or four or even five girls together, their behavior was that of individuals just being naughty. With ten together, there was something about group dynamics in play that created a new social norm, a sense of shared identity. This came better into focus after the girls came in for lunch. Rather than discussing Misty’s trip to Miami Beach as an anomaly, Bonnie heard girl after girl ask in different ways why wasn’t Miami the normal way to act and dress, instead of the way it was in Sparta. She heard mature discussion about the sexualizing of girls, from the internet to the cheerleaders; contrasted with the demonization of female sexuality on the local level. The case of April Smith was much discussed and how the boy who she had been trying to impress by flashing, and who took the pic was not in trouble, but her life was ruined.

Bonnie was impressed with their maturity, but had planned to stay on the sidelines. She was only brought in when Kelli asked if the four new girls could see their Miami photos. The conversation began to fix on “why can’t we show our breasts here in Georgia?” Hope Hopkins, a diminutive little thing that looked like a pixie with her bob haircut made a good point. “With my little boobs, if I put on a loose pair of board shorts, I could pass for a 12 year old boy if I went to the public swimming pool. No one would be hurt by the fact I am really a girl. But, if someone who knew me told the lifeguard, I’d get thrown out and probably arrested. Why?”

Bonnie finally interjected herself into their conversation. “First, I saw you out there topless, no one who is not legally blind would think you are a boy." That got both laughs and agreement. "But, let's pretend you are right and no one notices. You would be in trouble because you broke the rules. Society only exists by agreement on the rules, written and unwritten. The question is why is that rule there and should it be declared as outdated as are rules against women wearing shorts in public. Yes, if the cause is important enough we might deliberately break the law, but we would only do so if we are willing to pay the penalty.”

Joanne went back to comment on Hope’s other assumption “And Mrs. C is right. No one would be fooled into thinking you are a boy. I saw you outside. You’ve got nice boobs. They might not be as big as Haley’s or Rebecca’s but you have real boobs. I’m the only one here who could pull off going topless as a boy.”

A couple of girls tried to say that Joanne wouldn’t fool anyone either, but Bonnie had seen Joanne topless. She knew that Joanne was right, at a long enough distance, she could get away with it. However she did not look like a boy. When closer it was visible that she had well formed "A" cups, and her features were clearly feminine. Joanne was the youngest one there, she had just turned sixteen a few weeks back and Bonnie could tell from her other features that she was a late bloomer. She expected over the next year Joanne would get a good deal more shape to her figure, but for now she was almost right.

It was Connie who stretched the conversation from just female toplessness to nudity when she said “After talking to Mrs. C. a few weeks ago, I’ve been looking into Christian nudist. You know they make some really good points. I’m not going to say I’m agreeing with them, but I’m having a hard time disagreeing.” Bonnie was quite pleased that her talk to Connie had yielded fruit. Misty then pointed out that most of the art photography books have nudes in them, but they aren’t called porn. Joanne spoke up next. She was an accomplished artist as was her mother who sold her paintings at local events. She followed up with the point that she and her parents go to art museums when they travel and they all have nudes. “I’ve been going to art museums since I was a baby, and no one ever told me I shouldn’t look at the nude sculptures or paintings. My mom likes to tell the story that when I was like four years old, we were in the Chicago Art Institute; I asked her why the boy sculptures had those things between their legs. But no one ever told me not to look.”

That brought about a peal of laughter. Joanne went on “Yea, my mom likes to think of herself as progressive, but I guess she had yet to tell me about the birds and the bees. I didn’t have a brother, so how was I supposed to know?” More laughter.

This brought Misty to her own point of decision. Though Misty, Kelli and Caitlin had talked among themselves a great deal about what they knew about sex and their parent’s sex lives, the three of them had kept that information closely guarded. Over the years, they had told other girls bits and pieces, but none of the others had a full picture. And none fully knew how open Misty’s parents were with her about sex. She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t been completely open, but it was related to when child protective services went to Caitlin’s home when she was in 4th grade. The authorities had threatened to put her in foster care because she and her mom were living in a one bedroom apartment with her mom’s boyfriend. Caitlin told Misty that the social worker did not like that she slept on a kid’s bed next to the grown up bed. When little Caitlin described what her mom and the boyfriend did in the bed at night, the social worker seemed horrified. Caitlin didn’t understand why. The state did not take her away from her mother, but she and her mom had to move out of the boyfriend’s house and into a shelter that very night.

That all happened years ago when they were little, so Misty thought it was safe to counter Joanne’s experience by saying, “I never had that problem. My parents have never been shy abo