During my semi-annual car bathing today, I balanced my wet Hooter’s tee shirt and short shorts with a little NPR. Terry Gross was interviewing a novelist named Ayelet Waldman, who just published a memoir called Bad Mother, a title that refers to some pretty unchristian criticism she received after publishing an essay in the New York Times with the following statement:
If a good mother is one who loves her child more than anyone else in the world, I am not a good mother. I am in fact a bad mother. I love my husband more than I love my children.
Whoa. Lady Waldman may be the only mom since Mary-Mother-of-Jesus to admit that sort of Hallmark-kiling sacriledge, and she was married to God. My mother, however, loves me more than anyone else in the world, which I know because she sends me texts like, i❤ u bestst 4 eva., so Lady Waldman’s discount mothering isn’t really something I can relate too, nor what I really want to talk about.
But Mz Waldman’s memoir isn’t just about hating her spawn. It’s also about sex. Specifically, the anticipation of her children reaching that parent-dreaded period of early sexuality. At 14, her oldest daughter is precisely the same age the author was when she dropped her pimento. Ignoring that slightly disturbing fact—disturbing, at least, to a late bloomer still waiting for those buds to bud—Mother Of The Year Waldman has a good 21st century attitude about sex and discussing it with her young’uns. When relating the unfortunate tale of her unfortunate hymen-breakage to her daughter, her advice was to not go into a room with a 21-year-old Israeli soldier with a drinking problem and a boner, which seems like a good idea to me. (Apologies for the anti-semetic implications here. I’m not anti-semetic but I do have a fear of the awkward hand gestures used to bridge language barriers. And boners.)
After the interview ended and NPR returned to the usual communist/botanist/astronomist propaganda, I cleaned my cigarette lighter with a Q Tip and Windex and pondered that thorniest of horniest issues: sex and kiddie….
My parents told my sister and I about the whole bio-ween/vagine thing when we were relatively young. And when I say “told,” I mean they gave us a book called Where Do I Come From? after B– said “stop sexing me” after our mom gave hugged her. The book was cute. Sperm were dapper in top hats and tuxes, eggs matronly and welcoming in aprons and bonnnets—the kind of cells you would want to catch lightning bugs with. Where Do I Come From included such insight as, “If sex is so much fun, why don’t we do it all the time? Well, because sex takes a lot of work. Jumping rope is fun but you couldn’t do it all day, could you?” This particular statement was proved problematic after I told my gym teacher that I didn’t want to jump rope because I was tired and you can’t have sex all day.
Sex wasn’t really something I discussed with anyone in my family, which is sort of surprising considering that my father taught Human Sexuality and regularly enlisted my siblings and I to help him grade quizzes on autoeroticism and self-flaggelation. He is also the proud owner of a New Guinea penis sheath, a vibrator from the ’20s, and a penis pump once reportedly owned by Rodney Dangerfield. Even though we are progressive folk, the kind of folk who are more likely to get a letter of recommendation from Sinead O’Connor than the Pope, sex in my younger years was only discussed when promient God-fearing d-bags got busted for some man-of-the-cloth/altar boy action in the confessional at the local diocese.
I haven’t gotten any more comfortable talking about sex with my folks, no matter my age. I think it’s great that some mothers advise their daughters on keeping the maritial bed busy when the kids are asleep, but that will never be me. At this very moment, for instance, I’m sitting in my parents’ living room while they’re watching Law & Order. The victim of this particular drama is a high school sophomore who’s into sending photos of her naked self to her mans via cell phone. And even though I’m 25 and I’m in graduate school and I live alone and I got my oil changed and my car inspected today, my mom just leaned over to ask if I’ve ever heard of “sexting,” and I am now fighting the urge to flee from the room as fast as a tween to a Jonas. The mere acknowledgment that sex exists when I am in the same air space as my parents makes me feel like I’m ten years old and Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze are doing that thing with the clay and the wheel and I am so embarrassed that I would rather tell my third grade teacher Mrs. Sheapard that I love her (which I do) than sit here for another goddamn second.
Yes, I am perfectly happy to tell the Internet that I have only a vague idea of how many people I’ve slept with because my definition of sex changes to suit my needs at any given time, but the idea that my parents realize that I have been and may currently be a sexually active person induces the sort of panic other people feel when stuck between Rick Warren and a Twinkie. Ignoring the things that make me uncomfortable (swine flu, for instance, and Ohio) is one of my more refined attributes, so it’s easy enough for me to maintain the illusion of my parents’ ignorance. That is, until my mom discretely places a dozen Gardisil pamphlets in my bathroom.
But it’s not just talking about sex with ma and pa that makes me feel like a Mexican jumping bean. It’s also the gay thing, and this is especially weird because the vast majority of my tongue kalestenics come via the discussion of gay people, gay music, gay jobs, and gay hair. But every time my mom asks if I’ve been keeping up with the WNBA, I hate that little gay gene and it’s blonde tips inside of me as much as Larry Craig hates the foot-rubbing bottom inside him. It’s not like my parents even give a fuck that I’m homo. In fact, I bet they prayed to the Flying Spaghetti Monster that at least one of the twins would be either black or gay. I mean, what’s better than having a gay daughter to a couple of left-wingers? A gay son, of course, but a dyke will do as long as there are a couple of Asian babies in a Prius somewhere in my future. Shit, I didn’t even come out to my parents—they came out to me. When I asked who told them, my mother said, “No one. Your father has gaydar.” And yet, every time my mom suggests we watch Boys On the Side, my gay ass knows the hometown reprieve has come to an end.
Oh, fuck. Lil Kim is on Dancing With The Stars. I gotta get out of here.