There’s not a teenage boy alive who wants to talk to his own father about sex. We’ll just watch that “Miracle of Life” DVD once in health class and call it good, thanks. But this idea persists in our culture that, as one of fatherhood’s rites of passages, a man sits his boy down and tells him about “the birds and the bees.” It’s right there in the movies. I remember watching “Boyz N The Hood” in the summer of 1991 and seeing Laurence Fishburne’s “Furious Styles” break it down for his son Tre on a fishing trip. All I could think was, “Good God, I hope my dad never tries that with me.” As it turns out, he didn’t.
In anecdotal research for our new book, “Good Talk, Dad,” my father Bill Geist and I found that not many of us are actually having the talk we all assume everyone is having. We are not a nation of Furious Styles. We are a nation of Bill Geists, and I’m here to tell you there’s nothing wrong with that. My father says he learned about sex from leafing through the pages of medical encyclopedias owned by the father of one his neighborhood friends. I learned from watching the love scenes between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis in “Top Gun.” Following Maverick’s example, I always showed up late to dinner dates, wearing a bomber jacket, and sweating from a tough game of shirtless volleyball with the fellas. When it’s my kids’ turn to wonder, I’ll turn things over to my good friends Larry and Sergey. Punch in “Birds and Bees” and you get 35,800,000 hits in 0.25 seconds. Google has all the answers. I do not.
If you’ve got the kind of kid who responds to an arm around the shoulder and a big father-son talk about sex, more power to you. Pour him his first beer and tell him how all the gears and levers work. The rest of us will remain silent, even as our kids fumble around in the dark, embarrassing themselves during middle school games of “Seven Minutes In Heaven” during which six minutes and 45 seconds are spent staring silently at the linens in Mom’s closet alongside that girl from Algebra class. I happen to think the fumbling is the thing. The on-the-job training is part of the deal. And isn’t there something creepy, really, about test driving those moves your dad taught you? My father tells me these days, “Hey, you have two kids. You figured it out.” And there it is: our brief, after-the-fact talk about the “Birds and the Bees.”
In "Good Talk, Dad," TODAY anchor Willie Geist and father Bill Geist catch-up on the conventional heart-to-heart discussions most fathers and sons are expected to have.