Jessica Anya Blau's debut novel, The Summer of Naked Swim Parties, is semiautobiographical and wholly entertaining. Here, she shares "The Good and Bad of Growing Up in the '70s."
GOOD: You are not freaked out by the human body in all its shapes and forms — you have seen so many naked people that you understand that nudity is a normal human condition. This comes in handy when you have to help a sick hospitalized friend navigate some intimate part of her body with tubes and wires.
BAD: You know what your father’s penis looks like because he always swims naked, and when he shaves, he stands at the vanity in his bedroom, naked, with the bedroom door wide open.
GOOD: When you are 14, you aren’t embarrassed with confusion when someone hands you a bong because your mother has already shown you how to use a bong.
BAD: You’re smoking pot at 14.
GOOD: Pot has no rebellious thrill and you quickly lose interest in it and never really smoke it again in your life.
GOOD: You will not get pregnant in high school because your mother will make sure that you are using birth control.
BAD: You have to discuss birth control with your mother, who has no problem imagining you having sex.
GOOD: Your sense of the world goes beyond the physical as you are introduced to things like aura readings, séances and Ouija boards.
BAD: You lie in bed terrified of the spirit world invading your room. You fall asleep each night with your arms crossed over your stomach because your mother told you it would prevent spirits from entering your body.
GOOD: Your best friend, whose mother ran off to be the tambourine girl in a band and whose father is in graduate school, is invited to come live with your family for as long as she wants.
BAD: Your parents, who barely have time or energy for you, now dote on your best friend and will only give her the keys to the car because you failed your driver’s test three times and don’t drive as well as she.
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