No. 3 and proud of it
October 3, 2002
It has been more than a year since my mother passed away, so I guess it’s safe to have a discussion about s-e-x and share the results of my Internet birth order personality test.
The subject of sex came up when I read that AARP (the organization formerly known as the American Association of Retired Persons) released a study last month that claims the generation gap of the 1970s is over.
The study reports that we “senior” boomers are more likely to share the same attitudes as our children, thus eliminating the generation gap of the 1960s and 1970s when we espoused widely different beliefs about sex, marriage and ethics than our parents.
Sixty-one percent of parents of boomers surveyed in the 1970s reported that their children had more liberal attitudes; the boomers said it was more like 90 percent. Today, according to the report, 86 percent of boomers and their children agree that young people have more liberal attitudes toward sex.
All this means is that we have agreed to disagree.
One issue my mother and I would have agreed upon is that if anyone asked her about sex, she would have fainted. She was a well educated woman, but a product of her times.
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My parents’ twin-beds marriage produced four children, but sex was a subject best left to the professionals, in this case the good sisters of St. Agatha Grade School. My mother distributed the instruction manual, but there was no 24-hour, toll-free technical support available if we had questions.
When my friends and I compared notes in the schoolyard, it was obvious that the situation was the same at their houses. So, we did what all inquiring minds of the day did: we consulted older siblings or great literature. My sisters weren’t much help, but I was a precocious reader. I will always be grateful to author Mary McCarthy for writing “The Group.”
I discovered the birth order personality test while researching AARP. I swore off online quizzes after my Internet IQ test came back 86, but sometimes I can’t resist.
You find the test on the parenting.com Web site. You are asked 10 multiple choice questions such as what best describes you, and what famous person you most admire or who more closely resembles you. Your choices are Tom Cruise, Rosie O’Donnell, Ronald Reagan, Julia Roberts, Franklin Roosevelt, Steven Spielberg or Oprah Winfrey. Then you are asked to choose what career path most interests you or what you envision yourself doing.
Are you a perfectionist? Do you compete with your siblings? Are you a problem solver, social butterfly or take-charge kind of person?
I took the test twice and both times my responses most closely resembled that of the “only child.” This should come as quite a surprise to my sisters and brother.
According to the results: “Only children embody many of the qualities that make for a successful human being: They are confident, self-assured, organized, ambitious, list makers, logical, and scholarly. Only children trust their own opinions, and they’re not afraid to make decisions. They also tend to be voracious readers and accumulators of information and facts. If you want a good problem solver who will really think things through, turn to an only child for help. You won’t be disappointed.”
Sounds like me, doesn’t it?
Where I really belong in the family lineup is the middle — No. 3 out of 4. Here is the real me: “Middlers are known for being secretive, mentally tough, and independent. They can be sociable, friendly, and outgoing — or loners who are quiet and shy. And while middle children may appear to take an easygoing approach to life, they can also be quite stubborn and very hard to deal with once they get riled.”
The middle child hall of fame includes Napoleon, George Bush (it’s not clear which one), Fidel Castro, Madonna and Britney Spears, me, and, damn it, my older sister.
Sheila Gardner is the night desk editor of the Nevada Appeal.
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