“Can I ask you a question?” my mom asks me quietly, as I am driving us back home one night from dinner.
Here’s the thing; I don’t mind this question. Sure, it sets my teeth on edge, but I prefer this over other set ups for life altering conversations. (See: “We need to talk.” And also, “Where is this going?”) But when it comes from my mom I can ALMOST GUARANTEE some manner of inappropriateness, the likes of which I will never recover from, are likely to follow. My mama, while delightful, is notsomuch with the boundaries when it comes to me. My tactician’s mind is trying to jump a few steps ahead to see what she could POSSIBLY be about to ask me. The last time she uttered these words to me, I wound up telling her I had a girlfriend.
I need an escape plan.
“Sure you can.” Silence.
And more silence
Sweet queen Coretta.
“Do you… I mean have you… Or I guess do you…” She trails off more times than a suspect on the First 48 trying to figure out how to explain the blood on their clothes and gunpowder residue on their hands.
This is gonna be all bad everything. I can already tell.
“Do you have a vibrator?”
In my mind, I can hear the leading story on the 11 o’clock news;
An unidentified young woman slammed her SUV into a median head on while driving east on I-10 this evening, apparently in an effort to end a conversation she didn’t want to have with her mother. She pulled her mother from the car and to safety, but the retreated back to the burning SUV saying, “I can’t do this with you.” No word yet on whether or not she survived. We will have more as the story develops.
Yeah, that’s how I feel.
The thing is though; I am even more ridiculous in real life than I am online. Unlike many people, whose online personas are them on full throttle, I dial back a lot. I share what I feel comfortable with, and keep what I need to protect. In my actual life, however, I am full on, high-definition, Dolby surround sound fantastic and fuckery filled. My mama, who is not as ridiculous as her daughter, knows this almost as well as anyone, even without specifics. I generally try to dial down my foolishness for her. She’s my MOM. But as such, I can’t really lie to her.
Plus, I know she has already been all up and through my bedside table so, there’s no real point in trying to convince her those silver things she saw were just, um… you know… bracelets. Connected bracelets.
“Yeah. I do.”
“Do you, um… like them?”
“HELL YES!” I say despite myself.
“I’ve never had one.”
In my mind I say, I didn’t need to know that. Aloud I say, “They’re awesome.”
“What do you have?” By now I am squirming in my seat. The median is looking awfully good to me in comparison. But, I’m no pussy, and dammit, I’m and ADULT and she ASKED, so I run down the types I have.
“Well, what’s the difference?”
I explain that to her too.
“Don’t men sometimes get intimidated?”
“Not unless he’s a prude, in which case, I can’t imagine how he thinks he can handle me.” I blush before I even get to the period of that sentence. There is NO REASON you should EVER tell your preacher mom in no uncertain terms that you turn it out in the bedroom.
And sometimes outside of the bedroom.
I could die.
“Does it make you not wanna have sex with people?”
“HELL no. A bullet isn’t gonna replace a man-“ especially if his head game is on point and he does that thing where he hits it from the side- “if you have feelings for him and you guys have sexual chemistry.”
“You know, I never had anyone to teach me all of this. You girls, you younger ones, are lucky. “
I guess in many ways, that is probably the root of my mom’s lack of sexual boundaries with me. Much of what I have explored of my sexuality has largely been of my own accord. There was no encouragement of that growing up, no support of it for a girl christened Catholic and raised Baptist. In heart of the confederacy. Born to a mother who came of age decades before to an equally conservative mother at a time when that sort of thing was even less encouraged.
“I think your sexuality is just like your emotional well-being or mental health; you learn yourself,” I tell her. “You figure out your likes and dislikes, your desires, your passions. You figure out what’s good for you. And then you can teach it to someone else who, hopefully, shares a number of those things. Or is open to sharing them. And you build a safe space in which you give yourself permission to explore who you are sexually, just like you do when you grow emotionally or mentally or any other kinda way.”
She looks at me and smiles, that wry mom smile she offers up without even realizing it when she recognizes that her daughter, her eldest, middle and baby child is actually a grown up.
“How did you get so smart?”
“I dunno,” I say with a shrug, “Cosmo and porn?”
She calls me by my first and middle name, which is how I know I have pushed enough that we can end this uncomfortable ass conversation. I may be grown now, but I would be lying if I said that the petulant teenager in me didn’t enjoy the idea of pushing her buttons. She kinda brought that on herself.
I hope though, if one day I have a daughter, we can talk about sex openly and frankly, without shame or judgment. Sure, I won’t be passing on my favorite lube recommendations or tips on how to make reverse cowgirl most beneficial, but I hope that at the very least this cycle of unexplored sexuality, of shaming sex and the women who have it and enjoy it however they see fit, ends with me.
Well, mostly that.
Largely, I said all of that to say, if my mom asks me to go with her to buy a vibrator, I’m going to kill myself.