We all remember shocking, life altering moments in vivid detail. What were you wearing when JFK was shot? Where were you when you heard Princess Diana died? What doll were you cradling in despair when you discovered there was something called “sex” and that your parents were having it?
I was cradling Molly, the nerdy American Girl. If she was strong enough to get through World War II as her father fought overseas, perhaps she was strong enough to bring me comfort in troubling times.
Here’s how it happened:
My sister, 10 years older than me, had a friend over. They were chatting about some movie, flipping through magazines. I was casually reading a book from the “Little Critter” series, when I overheard something very interesting. My sister’s friend glanced over at me and, acknowledging my innocence, carefully said, “They were trying to get pregnant so he took her to a fancy hotel.”
I adjusted myself loudly in my plastic, bright pink, blow up chair. It never occurred to me that something had to happen for a woman to get pregnant. How were babies made, anyway? And, what does a fancy hotel have to do with it? I took mental note of my clues. Mom would have to be interviewed immediately if this mystery was going to be solved. It took a few attempts to roll out of my blow up chair when my sister and her friend invited me to go get ice cream.
The investigation was going to have to wait.
That evening my mom was tucking me in and reading my favorite story, “Hilda the Hippo.” The story would ask if Hilda would rather eat a food item or non-food item based on the alphabet, and I would pretend I didn’t know the answers and feign disgust at the mere thought of it all. Normally when my mom would ask, “Does Hilda want to eat an apple or an automobile?” I would scream in abhorrent delight ...
“An AUTOMOBILE?! Who would EVER eat an AUTOMOBILE?! Get SERIOUS!”
But not this night, I had something on my mind.
“Well?” my mom said after asking me Hilda’s preference.
“Mom, put the book down,” I sighed, “we need to talk.” Her eyebrows furrowed.
“Jenny’s friend said that babies are made in hotels. But I don’t get how babies are made in hotels?”
My mom took a long sigh.
“Well, a mommy and a daddy make a baby with their bodies.” I didn’t know where this was going, but I knew it wasn’t going somewhere good. “Girls have three holes - two we go potty out of and we have a third hole that babies come out of.”
To that, I made the same face then that I made last week when I tried to figure out how much a bra was going to cost after taking 35% off.
I was hanging in there, but things were getting tense.
I sensed my innocence slipping and it was putting me on edge. My first tip was when my mom started using her hands as an illustration.
“A man has a penis,” up went her pointer finger.
“And he puts it in the woman’s hole the baby comes out of,” up went the circle made from her other pointer finger and thumb. My eyes grew like saucers as the pointer finger penis went in and out of the baby hole circle.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I sat up on my elbows and started to panic.
“It’s very wonderful, actually. If a man and woman are in love, they’ll do it even if they don’t want to make a baby.”
My head was reeling. How could adults DO such a thing?! On PURPOSE, no less?!?!
She continued on about sperm and eggs ... blah blah blah, I wasn’t listening anymore. A penis and a baby hole make a baby? Trying to comprehend it was like trying to comprehend flying. I know I'm flying in a metal machine above the clouds, but am I really flying in a metal machine above the clouds?
The concept felt magical in the most frightening way possible.
I need to pause here, to provide a little background. I was and still am a daddy’s girl. We were buds back then. Thick as thieves. We got in trouble with my mom together. He snuck in chocolate chips in the bowl of raisins my mom would give me as a snack. He would play games I made up with no rules FOR HOURS and carry me around on his shoulders because - obviously - that's way more awesome than walking.
Now, we’re back to bed time. My palms sweaty and my eyes wide as my mom drones on and on about baby making.
That’s when it struck me. WAIT. I was a baby once. That means ... oh no, please no ... no, no, no, this can’t be ...
“You and Daddy did this?!” I asked, desperately hoping I was born from alternative means.
“Yes, of course.”
“Do you still do this?!”
“Well, we’re married and in love aren’t we?”
Oh this is too much. THIS IS TOO MUCH! How could my dad betray me like this?!!
So you’re telling me that the entire time we’re sneaking treats together, playing games together, laughing and being carried on shoulders together ... he’s doing THAT?!
ON THE SIDE!?
I sank in to my pillow in despair.
“Well, what do you think about all this?” my mom asked me.
I don’t remember my response, but I do know I wanted her to leave. I needed to be alone.
Soon she left and turned off the light, and I laid there trying to let it all sink in. Someday I'd change my opinion about sex, but no - not yet. Not now.
All I could do was grab Molly and hold her tight in my arms. Someday, I would have to explain this to her. But not tonight.
Tonight we’ll just hold each other and pretend I never asked about baby making in fancy hotels.
As an aside, Molly wasn't as empathetic as I had hoped.
This post was originally published on HaHas for HooHas July, 19th 2012.