Wednesday, June 15, 2005
The Question


It was Thanksgiving.

My boyfriend Michael's parents had invited us over for dinner and, naturally, I was eager to make a good impression. His family were staunch Catholics, and his mother had a particular fascination with Virgin Mary sightings. In a shameless effort to win brownie points, I bought her some books on the subject and made sure I casually mentioned how I had wanted to be a nun when I was little. It seemed to be going well. While his mother basted the turkey, I slipped outside for a bit of fresh air.

"There you are," I felt Michael's arms around me as he nuzzled my neck. "All this nun talk is making me hot."

"You," I told him with dignity, "are a pervert and are going straight to hell."

He laughed and, turning me around, kissed me long and hard. "I can't help it. You make me crazy. Want to sneak off to the bathroom for a quickie?"

"No, I do not." I said reproachfully. "I'm trying to make a good impression here. The last thing I want to do is make your mom think I'm corrupting her son. Besides, I need to check on the kids."

"Actually the kids are doing great. Last time I looked, Amber was teaching my cousin Ned a card trick. "

"Well just don't let her talk him into a game of poker. She pretty much took her entire third grade class for their lunch money last week. I think she's figured out how to count cards."

"Smart girl," he laughed.

. . . . . . . . . . .

Back in the kitchen, I was helping Michael's mother and sister prepare vegetables for the side dishes. As I was rinsing the carrots in the sink, my six-year-old son wandered into the kitchen and tugged at my shirt.

"Mommy?"

"Yes baby?" I smiled.

Brian looked up at me earnestly. "What's a prostitute?"

Silence.

I furtively looked at Michael's mom who stood frozen in astonishment over a partially dissected green pepper. Every adult in the room was staring at me in dead silence, waiting to see how I would handle the situation.

Now I've always tried to be fairly frank and open with my kids when it comes to questions about sex. I figured if they were old enough to ask, they were old enough to be told. Although Brian's timing couldn't have been worse, I didn't see a graceful way out of this one.

I knelt down so that I was eye level with my son and took a deep breath. "Well honey, a prostitute is a woman who has sex with men for money."

Ohhhhh," he said, his face brightening. "Like a hooker."

Satisfied, Brian trotted out of the room.

Michael's mom was looking at me disapprovingly, obviously wondering what sort of household I raised my children in.

I couldn't help it. I sat down on the floor and laughed until tears ran down my face.

When you desperately want to make a good impression, leave it to a child to keep it real!
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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