"Hey, Mom, check out my awesome, new, pink vibrator," doesn't exactly roll off the tongue the way that, "I just got a great new scarf from Anthropologie," does. At least it didn't in our very Italian, very Irish, Catholic home.
Growing up, I was one of three sisters who had a Catholic education from elementary school through college. I always felt like our denomination followed us around like a big ol' birth mark. We were Catholic school girls for life and so any mention of vibrators, condoms and birth control was pure blasphemy.
Let me put it to you like this, the first time I let my high school boyfriend put his hands under my shirt I swear I went home and said the Act of Contrition. God had to know I was sorry and that I would try not to allow it again. So when my mother found a suggestive email that I had written to my boyfriend months later, I was sure that I would need more than just a prayer to get me out of that one.
If you think I am descriptive now, just imagine a seventeen-year-old, hormonal teenage girl describing the way her boyfriend’s lips felt against her neck. You feel more than you actually think at that age because if you are lucky, you haven’t been totally tainted yet by love.
Tell my mother that though. Tell her that me challenging Justin to leave a hickey on my neck the next time he was home from school on a weekend was OK because we were young and in love. While you are at it, tell her that the new bra that I had carefully described my breasts as “perky and round” in was perfectly kosher as well, being I bought it at Mandee’s (to the rescue) for a discount price.
Talk about ashamed. My mother didn’t even raise her voice once; which was far worse. She simply walked into my room, shut the door behind her and placed the printed email on my desk.
“What’s that?” I inquired excitedly. I was standing next to my closet, assessing what I would wear to the Quinnipiac open house I would be attending the next day with my best friend. It was senior year of high school and my friends and I were deciding on what colleges we would be attending in the fall.
I grabbed the piece of paper and sat down next to my Mother on my bed, figuring it was information on one of the schools I was looking into.
As soon as I read the subject line, “To my Pookie,” I wanted to vomit. At the time, dial-up internet was still very common in most households, as was one email account. I had sent my boyfriend the email from my mother’s account and had forgotten to erase it…. No brains Delaney.
“It was so lovely waking up to a well-written narrative about my daughter’s insatiable need to have her boyfriend’s hands all over her body,” she began as I fought to keep my turkey sandwich from coming back up. She continued, “Do you want to be referred to as that easy girl that lives on the Fenway? She not only puts out, but she will write you a memoir about it?”
Feeling my eyes beginning to well up with tears, I shook my head feverishly and began to reply. Mom held up her hand, she was not done…
My mother had a talent of knowing exactly what to say to each of her children. For my sisters a talk like this would have probably turned into a speech on birth control, but I was a different breed. I needed more discipline because I had a wilder spirit than they did. It was the Gestapo or bust. Don’t be a slut. Period. You are better than that. Period. Respect your body. Period. You think you are old and wise, but you are only a teenager. Period. There will be time to be sexy, but now is not the time. Period.
I was exhausted after her obviously well thought out and persuasive speech. I wanted to crawl into a hole, but my mother’s arms were so much warmer. We sat on my bed and hugged until the tears had no more reason to stream out. I could always count on her to show me the mirror, along with a side of sass. After that, the topic of sex didn’t come up again for quite some time, but when it did it was always entertaining.
Take for instance the time my Mom called me down from my room in the fall of 09’. It was a few weeks after my engagement and there was a noticeable lightness in the air. My mother was already planning my shower and we hadn’t even decided on a wedding date. When she loved, it was with everything she had and family events gave her the opportunity to pour out that adoration. She could have truly run her own event planning business.
“Nikki, hurry, come down here!” Mom hollered upstairs to me.
I ran down our carpeted staircase to our welcoming kitchen and took my usual spot across the counter from my mother. Maybe another engagement present had come? Maybe she had gotten something else monogrammed with my soon-to-be new last name on it?
“Your father bought me a gift and I wanted to open it with you and Christy,” My mom said with her eyes wide and animated, “I wonder what he could have gotten me.”
Mom’s birthday had passed a few weeks prior so I thought nothing of it. It was typical of my Dad to give my mother one last gift as a surprise. There was an immeasurable love between those two.
I looked down and saw a Victoria’s Secret Box. Oh Lord.
“Ah gross. Don’t tell me Dad got you lingerie!” I squealed. Christy laughed in agreement with my interjection.
Mom didn’t even react to me, but instead quietly opened the top of the box, folded over the tissue paper and took a book out.
It was a Kamasutra book…….. My father had given my mother a Kamasutra book.
“Ya think your dad is trying to tell me something, or what?” Mom said with a laugh.
“I can’t believe he got you that,” I exclaimed.
When I looked closer I noticed something. The book looked vaguely familiar. Could it be? My best friend had just given me that same book.
“Why is it so hard to believe? We aren’t that old,” Mom retorted, “Christy, can you bring this up to my bedroom? May as well place it on the night stand. Ya know, easy access,” she said with a wink.
“Mom!” I yelled.…Madison, if you ever wonder where I get my fresh side from, remember this story.
“Do you even know what this kind of book is?” My mother inquired of me.
“Then, should we maybe give it to you as an engagement gift?” Mom suggested. Christy snickered next to her. “I mean, I am more than sure my daughter is still a virgin, so I have no doubt that you may need some instruction,” Mom said with a glimmer of sass in her eyes.
“I already have that book,” I blurted out.
“You? My innocent daughter has this book?”
I explained that Corinne gave it to me as a spoof engagement gift.
“Haaaaa,” My mother said in her signature way. She handed me the book, “Save some of this for the honeymoon, will you?”
“It’s yours though,” I said confused.
It turned out that the book was mine all along. I had left the book out on the staircase leading up to my room. So I basically baited my mother into finding it. No brains Delaney strikes again.
Had it entailed something more risqué than stick figures in provocative positions, I probably would have been more embarrassed. The positions were not exactly text book Kamasutra. We are talking the, “Ahoy Matey,” where two people meet on a boat and enjoy a little romp on the deck. Or there was the “Splash Landing,” where the man sits in the tub and the female literally jumps in on top of him, with a splash…. It was more like Spoofutra. You can see that I choose best friends that uphold my family’s flare for zany.
So my darling, Madison, when you come of age, know that there isn’t anything you can’t come to talk to me about. I’ve heard it all and probably in some way, shape or form- have done it all. Don’t allow your mind to wonder on that point however, my dear. A mother has to maintain some kind of mystique and regimen. As far as you know my wild years were during the first few years of my marriage. After all, MeMa always said that it’s more provocative to be mysterious. So embrace your inner suggestive Goddess and keep your hands to yourself. Sorry, I had to throw that in here. Besides, I hear that chastity belts are becoming very popular again and will prevail in, say, about ten to fifteen years. So you may as well get used to it…..