In honor of my friend and 2014 National Society of Newspaper Columnists winner (in the Blog & Multimedia Category – 100K monthly visitors or less), Darcy “So then stories” Perdu of SoThenStories.com, I want to share my own “so then…” story. If you enjoy amusing slice-of-life stories (that are better than mine), feel free to swing by www.sothenstories.com.
So then…Mom spotted our German Shepard, Shiloh, in the front yard, vigorously thrusting his hips into our neighbor’s dog.
I was only four.
Though unaware that our voyage to the grocery store would be inaugurated by a shameless demonstration of public fornication, Mom was unflappable enough to carefully choose how to address this situation as I descended the concrete steps one frustratingly slow hop at a time.
She understood that the wrong response to this brief yet deeply significant moment in time could possibly shape my future perspective of sex that would lead me down dark, perverse paths.
A typically uncomfortable parent’s options are usually:
- Pray the Child Doesn’t Notice, Thereby Delaying the Inevitable “Sex Talk”
- Overreaction – “Jesus Christ! Get in the car! Don’t look! I said get in the car!”
- Lying – “They’re playing horsy, and Shiloh is the cowboy. Giddy up, Shiloh!”
- Ignoring – “What? I don’t see anything. You must be imagining it.”
Pick the wrong option, and you just planted a seed of sexual dysfunction in your supposedly unsullied child that would begin to sprout during his teenage years.
She decided on a casual, “Oh, look, Cary. The dogs are mating.”
I briefly paused between hops down the steps.
I glanced up at Shiloh eagerly porking our neighbor’s dog.
I shrugged my shoulders.
I looked back down, focused on my drop from the middle step.
I dismissively stated, “Looks like fucking to me.”
I was only four.
To this, Mom required a moment so as to formulate a reasonable response to my obscenity. After all, her towheaded four-year-old (who enjoyed playing with Tonka trucks, binge-watching Sesame Street, and coloring) nonchalantly pronounced the Jesus of all dirty words like a twenty-something-year-old, smack-addicted lot lizard.
After we settled into the car (her behind the steering wheel; me, standing between the bucket seats with my head tilted back so I could see what it looked like to back out of the driveway upside-down – I wasn’t a normal child; the two dogs going at it in view over our shoulders) she affably said with an insinuated tone of impressiveness, “That’s a mighty big word for such a little boy. Where did you hear that?”
“[Johnny] telled me,” I said with a slightly strained voice as I stretched my neck as far back as it would bend, focusing on the driveway behind us.
The name has been changed, but the memory is real. [Johnny] was the 16-year-old grandson of our neighbor. He kept a stash of Playboys in his bedroom and thought it amusing to share them and his knowledge of sex with an impressionable youngster. As a matter of fact, one of my very first memories is of him flopping his stroke mag open to the centerfold where a fully nude, blonde with a thousand-yard stare gazed up at me with coquettish eyes and a slightly open mouth. “Look at them titties,” [Johnny] had said.
I had looked “at them titties” as he instructed, but I didn’t understand their relevance or importance. What was the big deal? I had dined from similar chest sacks just a couple of years before. Was [Johnny] hungry? Was he admiring her serving size? I could understand the latter as [Johnny] was a rather large boy, and this undressed woman had appeared capable of feeding all of Christian Children’s Fund’s starving African children.
As Mom backed her car onto the rural county road, she told me, “[Johnny] wasn’t very nice for telling you that. Maybe you shouldn’t say it again.”
Fixated on the upside-down world moving backwards along our gravel driveway, I said, “Okay,” yet I’ve been saying “fuck” in a variety of contexts ever since.