Love Letters from Former Nuns: Maude

Maude is apparently a member of a minority group because she does not plan on telling her father when she loses her virginity.

This decision has nothing to do with trust and honesty or a lack thereof. Maude’s father does not stand firm on certain religious beliefs that preach damnation to any person who explores his or her own sexuality. (Although, as a result of a Catholic education, Maude’s father did believe hair would grow on his palms if he masturbated, a belief he held for longer than he would care to admit.) Maude simply does not relish the thought of discussing her sex life with her father. She would prefer if he believed she were still a virgin even after the birth of his first grandchild.

Maude had not thought it weird that she did not want to discuss the loss of her virginity with her father. She stood corrected on a Tuesday in fourth period English. Maude had enrolled in the Personal Narratives English elective because she was sick and tired of analyzing the works of Henry James and Geoffrey Chaucer, and creative writing was more her speed anyway. She suspects many of the other students in the class enrolled because they liked to talk about themselves. Indeed, the teacher’s prompts allowed the class to, in bits and pieces, tell their life stories. Some nuns told too much of their life stories.

On this particular Tuesday the teacher, Mary, had assigned an essay on womanhood, a topic open to interpretation. Maude wrote an unapologetically feminist essay about how womanhood was, in part, learning to be graceful and strong in the face of adversity. Maude’s best friend, Eleanor, wrote about tampons. Mary told her class to pair off and discuss their essays, so Maude and Eleanor got together and discussed Downton Abbey, because they already knew more than enough about what the other had written and, quite honestly, had better topics of discussion.

Mary then asked each nun to pick an excerpt from her essay and read it aloud to the class. The other students had not interpreted womanhood in the same way Maude and Eleanor had. A brief explanation of the loss of each girl’s virginity was given between giggles. Maude and Eleanor became increasingly disgusted as Karen, Evie, Rachel, Sierra, and Alice shared their experiences telling their fathers that they were no longer little girls. What made it worse was that the rest of the class nodded in agreement as though this were a perfectly normal father-daughter discussion. Maude could not imagine how such a conversation would go with her father, but she could imagine how such a conversation went between Sierra and Sierra’s father:

“Hey Dad. We need to talk. Do you remember Trent, the guy you met two weeks ago at Starbucks? He was wearing ripped jeans so low they were practically around his knees, but his jawline is so chiseled that I have chosen to forgive his fashion indiscretions. Oh okay, you do remember him? Great! We had sex in my childhood bedroom while you and mom ran to Pottery Barn. He came in three minutes and promptly fell asleep. Oh, and he made me move my American Girl dolls because he felt their stares were distracting him from rocking my world, his words, not mine. Anyway, I’m telling you all this so that you know I am not your little girl anymore.”

And how does a father respond to this? It’s probably not by saying, “Thanks for telling me, princess. I’m proud of you!” Maude assumes it’s more along the lines of dissociating followed by intense, prolonged screaming.

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