my parents’ efforts at explaining sex and why adults have it. As a kid I avoided those chats until I reached middle-school, when biology made certain questions inevitable, I guess. Hell, I’d ask shit about shit about shit just to see someone’s face squirm. But that’s part of the eleven-year-old’s agenda, I think.
One of the most memorable (because it ended up in writing and therefore in the Filing Cabinet of Doom) was
where does the word ‘penis’ come from? I hear it’s Latin, but it sounds like Dr. Seuss needed a rhyme for ‘heinous’.
This tussle went on for years and I came out of it getting kicked out of Sunday School (because the latter day saints have infiltrated even this adorable little country) and running around with some pretty fucked up theories.
My mother apologises profusely and my father suggests a career in stand-up, then retracts the statement because “you’ll fall in love with someone who’s hilarious and probably has a lot of emotional problems and I’d have to punch him”. Aw. Because girls only go to work to make slag-eyes at male specimens. If I’m not dreaming about shoes.
But I guess if I’m calling them ‘specimens’… maybe that’s a bit much.
But Ma blames herself. Saying that she wishes she hadn’t given me such an objective view of society and human connections. I’d say that’s a pretty heavy thing for her to be accusing herself of. So I’ll try and change the subject, to no avail of course. It really is a lot more light-hearted than she may be thinking. She’ll bring up the time she found a notebook in my stuff with ‘FINDINGS ON STUPID HUMANS’ scratched into the cover. So I’ll remind her that I won a part-payment on tuition the day I decided to refine it into a readable document. Fifteen years later.
She’ll laugh a bit, but the glaze of guilt in her eyes does a number on me that hurts. She thinks she fucked me up and I’ll be fighting it forever. That’s not fair. I think she’s having a bad morning. A really bad one. I want to be funny when these things happen. She knows this.
Do you remember the Year 4 write-up?
to which she’ll say
Write-up?! Oh, oh god. AHAHAHAHAHAHHHHAAAAHAHAH (other indiscriminate noises).
Basically, a long time ago, she made a joke one morning before class that I took a little too seriously; something about not burning in hell for sleeping with the wrong people, but rather creating a hell on earth for yourself by affixing yourself to them in the wrong ways (read: I don’t trust boys your age who have leather jackets). It was a pretty well-crafted opinion, but then she used the phrase ‘drawn together and stuck together’ and it stayed in my mind. Keep in mind I was a very literal and facetious wee thing.
Later that afternoon, a well-hated teacher crosses my path while I’m sprinting to the library from the Quad before the bell rings. I’m ducking for cover, to be honest. And the library was, to me, playing the role of Switzerland in the encounter. Like if you’re gonna tell me off in there, you’re gonna have to whisper, yeah?
So he’s all, “You’re only this weird because it’s tolerated. Others think it’s cute and I think it’s irritating. I have no time for this. Put down the Eye Spy, I know it’s you there.” Followed by a silence that was almost humid. I think he started off quite diplomatically, but then we entered the logic vacuum right about here: “That’s the problem with all you Islander fucking dipshits. You don’t know where babies come from and surprise surprise, you bump uglies with someone and now your tummy hurts. And what of that? Everyone’s tax dollars and another baby daddy robbing liquor stores. YOU ARE COMING WITH ME.”
He saw me trading glances with the librarian (Mack always had my back – she could hold a stapler like it’s a weapon) and only then did he feel he was making a spectacle. Then, about six kids and two adults saw nine-year-old me go all Hicks’n’shit.
Or maybe that’s the problem with your fucking existence, not mine. Because substitute-supply teachers don’t have much money to help such lost causes like me and my mother, who actually had her first child at thirty-one years old, thanks very fucking much. With a man who married her years before it was actually conceived. But Ma knows about your kind. You and your musty tweed bullshit. Drawn in to do the bad-thing with a dick-barnacle that makes a scene whenever you say anything. I’ve seen her bark at you in the supermarket.
You should be tying her up outside. (fastforward to 4.10)
His comment on my end-of-year write-up: Lives on nervous energy. Prone to ‘bursts of outrage’ although they are never directed at people, more towards institutions and abstract concepts. She has no doubt expressed these sentiments at home. Very active mind, almost to a fault. An uncompromising, intense character, albeit very friendly and accommodating towards other students. Which brings me to her problem with authority. Her impulsive nature does not serve her well in formal situations. One to watch.
I still don’t know what to think about those sentences. So I laugh.
But I can’t help but think that my mother doesn’t mind how I turn out in terms of attractiveness or wealth or education – just so long as I know how to handle ‘people who think they’re better than us’. But, more specifically, she was pretty relieved when that same teacher let her know I passed a unit called ‘Changes In Puberty – Stories Through Time’. Of course I did.
The anecdotes were fucking priceless.