The piece is called Coming Clean and it's in the voice of a youth worker who talks about his own sense of responsibility around sexuality.
If you're a youth worker or some kind of drama geek, I hope the timing and price—to say nothing of the quality of the piece—will strike you as a clear win. If you're not, I'll hope you'll find it an entertaining read.
It will seem like a win from my side of the transaction if you tell a few youth workers and drama geeks where to find Coming Clean and if they download it and use it to engage kids in a conversation about telling the truth and living together responsibly.
So, read Coming Clean here and then download it free, complete with discussion questions—normally that costs two bucks.
Enjoy! And let me know if you if you like it (or hate it).
I want to come clean with you about something tonight. OK? Is that alright with you?
Standing before you is living, breathing, proof that it is possible to grow up in this culture without falling into alcohol and sex — please, hold your applause till the end.
You may find this hard to believe, but I’ve never been drunk. People talk as if that’s inevitable — something they might as well do so they can check it off the list. Well I’m here to tell you it’s not.
And the only person I’ve had sex with is Sarah, my lovely wife. Stand up, honey; let the people greet you. Sure, you can clap for my bride. Isn’t she beautiful? Yeh.
Sex is another experience about which some people say, “Well, I may as well just get it over it over with.” Isn’t that romantic? Trust me: sex is worth the wait...Every time. (Rim shot sound effect) Thank you, thank you very much — I’m here every weekend.
Seriously, people talk as if it were impossible to make it to adulthood without falling into that stuff. Well it’s not impossible. I’m living proof.
I’ll tell you what is impossible. It’s impossible for me to say the things I just said — in the way I said them — and be 100% truthful.
Because everything I said, while technically factual, isn’t exactly true.
I learned very early in my drinking career that I have a high tolerance for alcohol — which means I could drink a lot without showing any effects, even when I was a kid. I was one of those guys who could drink everybody under the table — people who outweighed me by 50 pounds couldn’t keep up.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. A couple of you are thinking, “That would be so cool!” You know what? It was. For about a minute. Then I started learning about addiction. You know anything about alcohol addiction?
Addicts share three things in common. The first is, they drink because they get something out of it; it works for them. They get some physical or social benefit from using alcohol that makes them want to drink often and in large amounts.
The second thing about addicts is this ability to repeat the behavior frequently because it doesn’t seem to affect them like it affects other drinkers. That’s tolerance. The problem is, young drinkers mostly drink as much as they can as fast as they can because they have to be home at 11:00 or whatever. They drink to get drunk, you know? It’s not because they’re so thirsty. Trouble is, the amount of alcohol it takes to intoxicate an addict can be...well, I was gonna say toxic but that would be redundant because it’s right there in the word — toxic is the root word in intoxicate. And toxic, you know, means dangerous or poisonous. People who abuse alcohol throw up because they poisoned themselves. About one American a day dies from alcohol poisoning.
The third thing about addicts is their drinking starts to get them in trouble, but that doesn’t stop them from using. They miss school, or work or they steal or lie or break relationships because they drink. Or in order to drink. And they may feel bad about that, but that’s not enough to stop them. In fact, feeling bad is as good a reason as any to find a drink.
Well, at 15 I had two out of the three. I could drink like a fish — that’s tolerance — and I got major props for drinking so much — that’s the benefit that made me want to repeat the behavior more and more frequently.
Which I did, because I could. And since I got a certain amount of fame for drinking a lot, I drank with increasing frequency. You see where this is going...
I’m one of the lucky ones — or maybe this is evidence of God’s mercy — because I saw where it was going. I saw that, if I kept drinking, I was gonna turn out just like my father. This was not good news to me. I shaved my head because my hair was so much like his. I started going to church because he wouldn’t. I did everything I could to be different from my old man. Maybe deciding not to drink was my little rebellion at home. Hmm...I’m gonna have to think about that.
Anyway, I stopped drinking before it got dangerous. I consider myself lucky; maybe blessed. A lot of people don’t get off as easily as I did.
I don’t drink today because I’m clear about where it leads for me. I may be wrong about that — maybe I could drink alcohol moderately now that I’m an adult. I guess I’ll never find out because I refuse to put myself at risk. It’s not worth it.
So, that’s the truth behind the fact that I’ve never been drunk.
OK: that was the easy one.
The thing about only having sex with my wife? That’s technically true as well but...how to say this...
I have this friend who had an affair with a man at church. He advised her on some problems and she trusted him. He was — I don’t know what was going on in his head...actually, maybe I do, which makes me very uncomfortable...
Anyway, the two of them got intimate. A lot. Over a long period of time — several years. It wasn’t hard to come up with reasons to be together because they were at church, right? They were working on projects and reports and plans. It was easy.
And here’s the thing. They never “did it.” They never, technically, had sex if by that you mean...well you know what you mean by that.
And the man used that fact as an excuse to claim they weren’t really doing anything wrong. After all, he was unhappy in his marriage and she was single and it wasn’t like they were really having sex and blah, blah, blah.
This went on for long time and my friend got to know the man’s family and it was just awful. She felt guilty all the time but it was hard to break it off because they were involved. She said every time she called it quits, he managed to entice her back, so she just felt like a complete failure over and over and over. Which I guess she was; but certainly not more than him.
When she finally came to her senses she was just so embarrassed. She felt so foolish. He always said it wasn’t really sex but she said, “It was really sex.” It was — I’ll never forget how she said it — she said, “An orgasm is an orgasm. The fact that we didn’t exchange body fluids doesn’t mean we didn’t have sex.” If you don’t know what that means, you can ask your neighbor afterwards.
Yikes... See what I did there? This is harder than I thought. I’m telling you about my friend when what I said was I wanted to come clean with you.
OK: This is the truth as well as I understand it: The only difference between me and my friend is I’m male and I was younger than her when I got upside down on this. If, as she says, an orgasm is an orgasm, when I said I never had sex with anyone but my wife, that was not true...which makes it a lie on all but the most technical level.
When I was a kid, I did everything I could to get my jollies as often as I could while still maintaining the pretense of virginity.
I fooled around whenever I could and used pornography when I couldn’t.
The fact that I was partying so much made it easy to find girls who would fool around with me. I actually congratulated myself for being such a good guy — for keeping drunk girls from falling in with guys who would really mess them up.
The pornography thing...I don’t know. I found I could objectify another human being in a magazine or on a screen even more easily than I objectified those sad drunk girls. And I felt disgust for the women who posed for pictures. I felt they deserved my contempt. Now isn’t that rich...
It’s a handy thing, this capacity I have for self-justification. For the longest time, the beauty of that was, I could be judgmental about the next guy because he was “doing it” and I wasn’t. You see how it works? I got sexual pleasure and the reward of feeling better than someone else. What could be better than that?
You can try to let me off the hook if you want. You can say, “At least you weren’t out there spreading sexually transmitted diseases. At least you weren’t getting people pregnant and ruining their lives.”
Thank you. I appreciate your support. But you know what? What you’re saying is technically accurate. But that doesn’t make it true. The truth I had to face is that I was — that I am — as lusty as anyone I know. No more, maybe, but certainly no less. And I had to decide what to do about that truth.
So that's Coming Clean. You can download it free, along with discussion questions. Before long I'll post another free monologue titled One More Call.