Monday, June 16, 2008

When I was five, my parents split up and my dad moved out. Which made our house a happier place, but meant I didn't learn any of those things that most boys learn. I never learned how to play any sports, never got that lecture about sex, never got instruction into male anatomy. Even when I got to college I was still a preschooler when it came to all those things passed down from dad to son.

Still, I wasn't completely oblivious. I had a serious crush on my first-grade teacher -- a hunky stunner with the unlikely name of Dr. Doctor -- from the very first day of school, and since all the other boys were falling over the female teachers I knew that something was very, very wrong. By third grade, I had the finely-tuned gaydar of your bachelor balletomane.

The courts gave Dad custody of my sisters and me on Wednesday nights and all day Saturday, but since preteens aren't exactly stiff competition for a brand-new bachelor pad on Wonderland Avenue he only turned up on Saturdays. One afternoon he came by in the familiar Dodge Valiant -- a car as known for its reliability as its total absence of style -- with two women stuffed into the passenger's front bench. "This is your Aunt Betty," Dad declared, nodding towards one, "and her roommate Priscilla."

My sisters smiled shyly and shook hands with the two women as I stared in disbelief. Two women, roughly fortyish. Overweight, in oversized, unflattering gingham dresses, with unstylish but eminently practical haircuts.


As the folks in the front seat reminisced about friends and family, I literally shook with anticipation in the back. Two enormous lesbians, actually sitting in the car! Now the shit would hit the fan! Dad would say something about how great Reagan was, and these two would tear him apart. He'd praise the latest John Wayne film and they'd laugh in his face. He'd talk about how modern art was all a big con and they'd stare at him like he didn't have a brain in his head. Death to the patriarchy! I'd yell in solidarity as Dad shrank into obsolescence, and then I'd ride off with my two new mothers to Topanga Canyon or the Dinah Shore Golf Classic, whichever one came first.

Every Saturday we did something free, and even though we had guests today it didn't alter the formula. Dad drove us to the Farmer's Market where we wandered through the shops, marvelling at all the cheap, colorful crap. The candy store, the toy store, the postcard store. Though he'd never cooked a meal in his life, Dad even looked into the butcher shop.

Being raised by a female, I was something of a gourmet cook. In fact, I'd been known to pester our local butcher over the quality of his skirt steak. Still, there in the front window was a platter of round, softball-sized lumps that I'd never seen before. I read the sign, but had no idea what it meant. "What the heck are those?" I asked Dad.

He peered at the sign. "Rocky Mountain oysters," he said.

Mountain seafood. Just didn't make sense. "Huh?"

"They're cow testicles," he snapped. "You know, the testicles of cows."

I thought for a second, like it'd come to me in a flash of light. "I still don't know what those are."

Dad dove into the vernacular, as if a seven-year-old is really only hip to the euphemisms used by comedians on late-night TV. "You know," he said. "Your nuts. The family jewels."

I stared blankly, which confirmed Dad's suspicions. Clearly I had to know at least one of these terms, and my continued ignorance proved I was playing some kind of strange joke just to get Dad to use dirty words. He knew there was something weird about a boy who hated the park, who was immune to the charms of the Frisbee. And now, in a tiny white building with gingerbread details, all doubt was erased. I could see it in his eyes: What else was I plotting? What would I do next? Over my milk and cookies would I try to goad him into an analysis of butt sex?

"They're balls!" he shouted in defeat. "Balls balls balls!"

I was turning to the two women for another translation when finally, somehow, it hit me. "Oh," I said as the puzzle pieces slipped together in my head. "Balls."

"We wouldn't have recognized them either," Priscilla said. She and Betty laughed loud and long, turning the heads of a hundred tourists. I was lost again, but I joined in. I liked them, my two aunts. "Death to the patriarchy!" I yelled in my head, and then I called the butcher over for a quick word about his skirt steak.


Anatomicsd said...

Holy Mother of Mercy. I've never seen bull nuts that big.

David said...

I was thoroughly enjoying this post until I came to the picture at the end. Was that really necessary?

Yet Another Steve said...

David, sometimes you just don't want to look at the meat counter. Really.

RomanHans said...

I'll admit these are a little gross, but it was the only picture I could find where they weren't already battered and deep-fried.

Anonymous said...

Its food. We eat animals. Its gross. Deal with it.

Or you could be vegetarian.