Sex in the Woods

Antheraea polyphemus

This story was told at the Sunday morning hidden breakfast of the '99 reunion by Larry Paley. I have very little recollection of it myself. Larry was my head counselor when I was an Intermediate boy in 1952.

Now, my father had been a biology major at Cornell, and had taught me a great deal about plant and animal life. He also taught me to always observe the world around me, and years later, I was able to take my own children out into the woods, and show them countless things that most people never take the trouble to see.

Thus it was that during some group activity, I was observing the flora and fauna around me as usual, and suddenly shouted to the group, "Look, everybody, two polyphemus moths, copulating!"

About the only thing I remember about the incident was that the counselors all seemed to choke audibly, although I didn't quite understand why. Perhaps they were great fans of this striking moth, Antheraea polyphemus, named, because of its eyespots, after the Greek mythological cyclops, Polyphemus.

Larry Paley said it took him twenty minutes to explain "copulating", and somehow even longer to explain "polyphemus".

The fact is, as a pre-pubescent ten-year-old, I really didn't understand very much about copulation, and I suspect I had no idea that this was something that might be done by (gasp!) people. I myself didn't have sex in the woods of Sturbridge until ... well, that's another story.

If you have any comments, you can click here to send me e-mail. I'd also like to hear about any typos, facts I have incorrectly remembered, and so on (OK, a few of my neurons have been heading south lately).

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