Thursday, January 17, 2008

Me, Mom & Polish Sausage

There are some things you should never tell your mother.

I've learned this lesson late in life. I am not talking about the obvious stuff. Generally, I avoid telling her anything that might cause her to worry more than she already does. Why would I want to make more work for myself? As it is, she panics when I get a headache, something about tumours and microwaves.

Last summer, for instance, when I was injured by a bicycle-ramming pervert in a city park, I just didn't mention it to her. Though I was tempted to tell her -- particularly when I mused that the remaining scar on my knee is a perfectly shaped "p" for "pervert"-- I resisted. She wouldn't understand how I could make light of the incident. She would want to think that was the worst thing that's ever happened to me, and it would bother her that apparently it's not.

The year before, some drunk opened fire in my direction during Easter weekend celebrations in Honduras. I knew immediately it would be one travel tale she would never hear. It remains a favourite of mine, primarily because I didn't die, but I know my mother, and she would stop listening before I even got to the part about life mimicking TV, when my friend yelled, "Hit the ground!"

No. These stories are kept in the same box that I keep my how-I-accidentally-lost-my-virginity account. Now that I have been an adult for nearly twelve years, everything else is fair game. I've really opened up to her about my dating and sex life, likely for no greater reason than to see her squirm, and she has become a true, albeit reluctant, confidante.

When a new guy I was dating avoided having sex with me, I called my mom. She suggested that perhaps he was just a little old fashioned and was taking it slow, that he was probably very sweet and respectful. She also said that any nice woman should take at least six months to get to know a man before jumping into bed with him. When I was done laughing, I mocked her until she hung up. Since then, she's redefined her idea of a "slut" because she doesn't want me to be one. You can imagine the pleasure I took in informing her that it wasn't that the guy was taking his time, it was that the anti-anxiety medication he was on had triggered some sort of erectile dysfunction. She muttered something about cows and free milk, and I said something about how practice makes perfect, and she let it go.

Still, she has become quite comfortable with the idea that, if not the degree to which, I am a sexually active woman. Perhaps I overestimated her level of comfort, but I definitely took it too far this Christmas. Mom, I am sorry.

We had a few last-minute groceries to pick up before settling in for the holidays, and as we pulled into the carpark, I recalled how much I used to hate shopping with her there. It had little to do with her, aside from her love of kielbasa, and everything to do with the deli counter staff. When I was sixteen, he was in college, and I had already nurtured a two-year crush on him. When I was in college, he became the deli guy, and every time I came home to visit, my mom would take me to the grocery store and have me stand in front of him and talk about Polish sausage. I would blush, he would smirk, and my mom was never the wiser.

He has since moved on, perhaps to bigger and better deli counters, and so I thought I might finally be able to tell my mom my story. I began gently, and tested the waters.

"Mom, you are comfortable with the concept that your daughter has sex, right?"

"Pfft!" she said. "By now? I'd certainly say so."

"OK, well I have a funny story about the deli guy who used to work here."

She tried to remember him.

"You know how you always bought his sausage? Well, he was the first guy I ever gave a blowjob, and so, in a way, he gave both of us sausage. Ha!"

That was my punchline. What was I thinking!? It's not even funny. She'd had been less disturbed had I defecated in the aisle. It threw me off my game, and I regretted bringing up fellatio. It was too much for my sixty-year-old mother.

"I thought you were comfortable with me having sex," I said, cringing.

"I said I was comfortable with you having SEX!" she yelled through her teeth, "but not..."

At first she couldn't bring herself to say it, and eventually she hissed and spit the words, "...not ORAL sex with the sausage guy!"

Her delivery was perfect and, momentarily, I forgot that I regretted telling her the story. Then, with a cruelty of which only mothers are capable, to punish me, her next sentence began with, "You know, your father and I..."

I didn't stick around for the verb. Even as I escaped down another aisle, I could hear her cackling in victory. There are some things you should never tell your mother and, likewise, your kids.