The Facts of Life

Things always change

I know we got a problem with misinformation these days, but some things we can’t blame Facebook for.

We can blame my mother-in-law, Ms. Larda and The Baby Boat. 

Every one of the Gunch kids got the same story from her when they asked, “Where do babies come from?”

She said they come from The Baby Boat, which docks at the foot of Canal Street every month. All the babies are set out on the deck in tiers, so the mommies and daddies and grandparents waiting at the dock can look them over.

Then she’d always say, “This one time, there was a CERTAIN baby that was prettier and cuter than any other baby on the boat. All the mommies and daddies wanted that baby. When they let down the gangplank, everybody raced up to get that baby, but we got there first. And that’s how we got YOU – the best baby on The Baby Boat.”

Well, who was going to argue with that story?

Ms. Larda also taught her kids the name of their private parts: boys got a weenus and girls got a hoo-ha. 

Now Ms. Larda’s own daughter Gloriosa has three children, and the middle one, Momus Marie, is 10 and don’t believe in The Baby Boat no more. She starts asking questions.

So Gloriosa takes her, along with her older brother Comus and the baby Flambeau, to the library. There’s a certain book there – she always thought of it as “The Birds and the Bees, Keep an Aspirin ‘Tween Your Knees,” but the librarian informs her that ain’t the correct title.

She knows right where it belongs though. Top shelf, third bookcase from the window. And sure enough, it’s still there. 

She hands it to Momus, who immediately plops down on the floor and starts frantically paging through it. 

Comus says, “C’mon Momus. You know this stuff. You’ve seen dogs do it.”

“Thanks for spoiling the ending!” says Momus.

But evidently she doesn’t really understand what the dogs are doing, because when she gets to THAT part, her  eyes bug out and she says “Whoa!” 

Comus says, “Just think – Mom and Dad did that THREE times!”

 When they get home, Momus runs up to her room. 

When she comes down again, she says she has another question. It’s about what Ms. Larda calls, “ladies’ monthlies.” Momus says, “That book don’t talk about boys’ monthlies. I never hear anything about that. When do they have their monthlies?” Gloriosa says they don’t have any, it don’t work like that. Momus sits awhile, then she says, “ No. That’s not fair.  I choose not to believe that.” And she flaunts off to her room.

A while later, Gloriosa goes in the kitchen – not that she needed  a quick belt of wine or  anything – and notices the door under the sink is open. She asks Comus, who is staring into the fridge, if he got something from under there. “Momus did. She took the floor wax. Said she’s old enough to wax her legs now,” he says.

Floor wax? Gloriosa tears up to Momus’s room, and there Momus sits on a towel, with dripping wet  legs. “All it did was make the hair shiny,” she wails. 

Gloriosa wraps her in a hug. “That means you’re too young, sweetie. Wait a couple years and I’ll get you some special wax,” Gloriosa tells her. “Let’s get that washed off now.”

“When honesty don’t work – lie,” Gloriosa tells me the next day, over very strong coffee.

“Maybe it’s the shock of all this new knowledge that makes teenagers so weird,” I say.

“Next thing she’ll be wanting tattoos. And to pierce parts of herself that ain’t her earlobes,” Gloriosa moans.

Yep. She probably will.

And the thing is, tattoos and piercings will eventually go out of style. Look at them older ladies who shaved or plucked off their eyebrows back in the ‘50s and to this day, have to draw them on every morning with eyebrow pencil. 

But the kids won’t believe it. Neither will their own kids, who will one day dream up even weirder stuff – growing flowers out their navels or something.

Blame it on The Baby Boat.

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