I am 10-years-old. My friend Laura asks, “Do you know where babies come from?”
I don’t like her tone; it is more of a taunt. Laura is as close to being a woman of the world as a neighborhood kid can be. She knows stuff the rest of us don’t and doles it out in jaw-dropping snippets. I sense she is trying to scare me, but ha! I happen to know the answer to this question thanks to my infallible source, aka my mother.
“A man and a woman fall in love and from their love comes a baby,” I say.
“Uh-uh. A man and a woman fuck.”
“No they don’t!”
“Yes, they do. They FUCK!”
Although I don’t understand the “F” word, I know that it does, indeed, have an “f” in it and is somehow related to the penis spray painted onto my elementary school’s wall. I don’t understand penises either, other than I don’t have one and wouldn’t want one based on the graffiti artist’s depiction.
I decide not to argue with Laura. She sounds far too confident, and, besides, I am crying. I run home, burst through the door and scream at my mother: “Where do babies come from?!”
I don’t remember her answer but likely it was less authoritative than her first. She hands me off to my father.
My father is a writer, not an artist, so it is quite confusing when he sits me down and starts drawing flowers and bees. He waxes poetic about pollen. I don’t know what pollen is but get the sense I don’t want to either.
Enter my sister, three years my senior and another woman of the world. She looks at my father’s sketches. “You’re teaching her the facts of life, aren’t you,” she says in her trademark superior tone.
I look from her to my father to his drawings and I struggle to find a connection: Flowers, bees, pollen, men, women, fucking, penises and facts of life. Facts? Like the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock in 1620? That 5 x 7 = 35?
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