Sexual Feelings in Childhood, Part One

Tony the Tiger, the sexy hero of my childhood
Been thinking lately about what my “sexuality,” if I had one, was like for me as a child. Early on, it meant being attracted to Charlie the Tuna, the handsome, cartooned face of a tuna representing the Starkist company. Charlie had big, dark, masculine eyebrows, glasses, and a flirtatious smile, tongue slightly revealed in that inimitable cartoon way and lips almost scooping the viewer up. I realize now he shares some of the ineffable qualities that draw me most compellingly to my wife, Karen. How could I try to name these things? “Masculine, affectionate mischief?” A funky and winking confidence, plus goofiness and muscle?

“The debonair?”

When I say “attracted” I mean I believe I was actually sexually attracted to that cartoon tuna. I think I also imagined his taste, and a sense of sexy “slipperiness” that I have learned is certainly true of tuna sushi. Some of my friends, men and women, say that they masturbated from a very young age. This was not true for me, but I did feel discernibly “erotic” feelings for animated characters, for a few foods, and for certain smells.

At around five, I had been even more attracted to Tony the Tiger, the champion of Frosted Flakes. In fact I can’t stop thinking of Karen now when I see Tony’s sexy leap across the cereal bowl in the commercials of today. Tony leapt, then and now, with paws that looked like arms ready to embrace a person. He stirred me in a way I couldn’t explain.

Sometimes at 47, I will smell a particular “crazy, sweet smell” that made my nostrils flare when I was 3 and a half feet tall. It still stirs me, hard, so that I come to attention like an Army private. The scent was on my bamboo bathroom towel today, but what is it, smells like the woods in June, like an animal, like an armpit? It pushed my brain’s pleasure centers in a way that made me want to take it to my nose and smell it again and again and again, like (later) some girls’ panties. Did I encounter it en route to a family picnic, through the car window? Was it a forest animal’s pheromones?

[To be continued…]

(c) Donna Minkowitz 2012

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