It's Thursday - time to trip down Memory Lane (or - given today's title - Mammary Lane. Oh, I slay me, I really do.)
It is always disillusioning when children realize that their parents are sexual beings. I imagine some folks come upon this realization slowly and gently. Some folks deny it well into adulthood. I was not afforded that particular luxury.
My moment came one Christmas when we were having a rare indoor get-together with our camping friends. We roasted hot dogs and mountain pies over the fire in the basement fireplace to try to replicate as closely as possible the camping experience. I remember someone had taken a shot at making homemade root beer and I’d wanted very much to like it, but I didn’t. And I remember there were gifts.
Not a lot of gifts, it wasn’t a huge thing, wasn’t a big part of the party.
But there were gifts.
And my dad got one.
One that it seemed everyone but me thought was wildly suited to him.
This was during the era when everyone and their mother was taking ceramics classes. They would buy greenware and paint it and glaze it and – I wasn’t completely solid on all of the particulars. My mother and I had never jumped on that bandwagon. But we were in a minority. We still certainly had our share of lighted Christmas trees. I had a cheerleader with big eyes painted in my school colors. My sister had a basketball player from the same line. Praying hands? Check. Easter eggs? Please. People loved giving away their ceramic creations as much as they liked making them.
And our hostess had made a gift for my dad.
It was a carefully rendered boob mug.
She had clearly worked diligently to establish a realistic skin tone. I don’t like to ruminate too long on her amazing attention to detail.
It sure did look like a boob.
Do I really have to tell you that the recipient of said mug was to drink through the nipple?
I thought it was funny.
A little bit funny.
Kind of funny.
The adults thought it was hysterical.
And then they all started talking about what a great gift this was for a boob man like my dad.
My DADDY was a BOOB MAN?
I felt homemade root beer churning up the hot dogs and mountain pies as they all tried to work their way back up.
It wasn’t even a little bit funny anymore. Now it was the most vulgar thing I’d ever seen. And my favorite store at the time was Spencer Gifts. Just to give you some perspective.
Suddenly I experienced a sharp, vivid memory from the past summer. We had gone to the beach. When we picked up our pictures from the drugstore, my mom had a loudly whispered confrontation with my father that hadn’t made sense at the time, but now became utterly clear,
She had asked Dad to take a picture of her, my sister and I with the ocean behind us. And he did. But when the film was developed, the foreground of that picture was dominated by a young woman sunbathing with her bikini straps undone. Very small and very much in the background was my mom, my sister and I, smiling and waving.
We are very lucky to have digital technology in this day and age, that’s all I’m saying.
And mugs without nipples.