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February 7, 2007

The questions we ask.

One afternoon when I was in high school, I remember helping my mom clean the house. I am using the word "helping" very loosely here. Anyway, she was working away and I was mainly trying to keep my little brother, The One Who Cried A Lot, occupied long enough so that she wouldn't run off and leave us for some other family, one that didn't have teenagers and crying babies in it.

I had become very concerned right around then with one Matt M. who I was just sure I would soon marry, right after we went to prom. I was very ready to begin being an adult, of course that is how teen-age girls are, especially Southern ones. I had spent plenty of time "studying" with Matt at that point and my blinding white-hot love for him was staggering. While I was quite sure I would become married one day, until I fell head over heels for "that boy with the hair-do" as my dad called him, I had not really thought about the mechanics of marriage before.

So I started asking my mom some questions. Things I figured she would want me to know, since she allegedly loved me and should have wanted nothing but happiness and rainbows for my future.

Mostly I had one very pressing question.

"What do you do if you're asleep, like in the same bed, and you have to fart?"

"Oh my God," answered my mom.

"Well, I need to know," I said. "You have farted before, right?" I wasn't actually sure. My mom is not the sort of woman who says the word "fart" so I couldn't be absolutely sure she was the sort of woman who did such a vile, apparently uncouth thing.

She tried very hard to change the subject, but I was undeterred. Now I really REALLY wanted to know. How on earth did married people manage to spend a whole life together in the same bed each night without such a thing happening?

I couldn't tell if her whole face was beet red from house-cleaning exertion or from perhaps shame that her child was so curious about her bodily workings. I may have cajoled a little. I may have even threatened to set the baby down, which would have meant instant howling. She finally caved in.

"If you have to ... well, pass gas, you just politely get up and go into the bathroom or another room," she answered. I didn't keep questioning her since she used the "and that is final and we are not discussing it further" voice.

But I was very curious.

So a couple of days later, we were driving to the bank or some other errand and I asked, "Well, you know that thing we were talking about the other day? I mean about how you should go to the bathroom all politely and everything?"

Sigh. And it wasn't just any sigh, it was the deep and sad and mornful sound of a woman who really, really needs a vacation from her children.

"Yes...?" she answered.

You could hear the dread creeping into her voice. I am sure it was maybe the first time ever she prayed the baby would start banshee screaming. Luckily for ME, he was happily shoving goldfish crackers into his mouth and making the backseat into an orange crumb carpet.

"Well, do you really get up out of bed and have to go fart somewhere else? What if they ask why you are all the sudden getting up? Do you say you're politely farting or do you make up an excuse?"

I think I actually saw her hands clench on the steering wheel.

"You and your questions! I swear you're worse than a five-year old!"

"Alright alright," I said. "But what do you do if you're asleep and you far... um, I mean, pass gas and you don't realize it until the horror of the gas-passing event has woken you right up outta your sleep?"

She looked at me, dead even in the eye, and said very quietly:

"Well, Laurie, I guess you just fall over dead from the shame of it."

She saw the stricken look of panic on my face. Then I do believe she chuckled a little to herself.

Looking back on it, I think she discovered the only way to finally shut me up. And so for ten blissful minutes she had the car all nice and silent, and she could listen to the radio in peace, until the goldfish ran out and I had more questions.

Look at that grinning fool.

Also, if anyone can please explain that crazy-ass outfit I am wearing I would be forever grateful. Because that is just so wrong on so many levels. Yet in the picture I am smiling SO MUCH because I believe I am the hotness. Teenagers!

Posted by laurie at February 7, 2007 9:43 AM