“Where did I come from?” asked Shadrach as we pulled up to his football game at Fleigenbaum Field. Having never been married, I thought I’d be exempt from ever having this discussion with a 6-year-old quarterback, so I never put much thought into what I’d say if asked. Looks like I was going to have to punt.
“Well, Shadrach, each month, in one of your mommy’s two ovaries, a few immature eggs develop into follicles. The mature follicle releases an egg during ovulation, which turns into the corpus luteum. Progesterone prepares the endometrium in anticipation of the embryo. Then, your daddy’s sperm travels up the fallopian tube where it fertilizes your mommy’s egg, mixing her X chromosomes with his Y chromosomes to create a zygote and blastocyst. Thanks to Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin, nine months later you were born!”
“I just meant what town was I born in?” said Shadrach. “Meshach said it was Toledo, but Abednego thinks it was Cleveland.”
Since I’d already opened the door to the wonders of human reproduction, Shadrach had me cornered for “the discussion.” Evidently, neither of his parents wanted to get involved. I don’t blame them. My father never sat me down, either. Instead, he just sent me into my bedroom with a stack of National Geographics and told me to figure it out myself. I learned the rest from Tommy Flugelman while walking to school.
I decided to take the conservative approach by mixing simple human reproductive biology with basic street knowledge. “Based on whether we’re a boy or a girl, each of us is born with some basic equipment. Boys have a monkey and girls have a beaver. When your mommy wants something special from your daddy (like $4,500 for that fur coat she saw at Macy’s), she’ll let daddy’s monkey play with her beaver.” I could tell that this made no sense to Shadrach, so I asked him to be patient and hang in with me. It would all come together soon.
“Is that when I hear all the screaming coming from mommy and daddy’s bedroom?” asked Shadrach. “It sounds like he’s hurting her.”
“Yes. That’s right,” I said. “But, mommy actually likes it when your daddy lets his monkey out. In fact, mommy likes it so much, when daddy is at work and she’s home all alone, she imagines that daddy’s monkey is playing with her beaver. She calls it tickling the taco, paddling the pink canoe or parting the red sea.”
“Will I ever learn how to tickle my taco?” he said. “I’m glad you asked that question, Shadrach. You see, boys are different from girls. While you don’t have a beaver or a taco, you do have a bald-headed yogurt slinger. Sometimes we refer to it as a bologna pony, one-eyed trouser snake, pocket rocket or Russell the love muscle. With those, you get to choke the chicken, flick your bean, slap the salami, polish your knob, spank your monkey or shake the creamer. But, you have to be careful, Shadrach. If you flog your log too much, you’ll grow hair on the palms of your hands and everyone will know what you do when you’re alone in your bedroom.”
“This morning,” he said “my one-eyed trouser snake was pointing straight out of my pajamas and left a pool of man chowder on the sheets – or at least that’s what Tommy calls it. Has that ever happened to you?” I told him, “There’s nothing wrong with waking up in the morning to a little baby gravy in your jammies. They call it a wet dream and it just means that your man plumbing works. But, I wouldn’t leave your bedroom until it crawls back into your peejays.”
Shadrach thought that over for a minute, then came up with another one.
“When Uncle Phil slept over during Passover, I noticed that his body was covered with hair. It was disgusting! Will that ever happen to me?” I thought about the question for a minute and told Shadrach he’d just have to wait until he got a little older to see. “Generally, if you start going bald by the time you’re 25 or 30, the hair on top of your head will slide down to your back, shoulders and around your bologna pony. Some people think it’s sexy.”
“I know what you mean,” said Shadrach. “I caught Uncle Phil’s man friend kissing him all over and touching his pocket rocket. Then he tried to put his Russell muscle into Uncle Phil’s brown-eyed Willy, but Uncle Phil said he couldn’t because he didn’t have a condom. I don’t know what a condom is, but they ended up getting into a big fight and Uncle Phil’s friend stomped out of the bedroom saying ‘There will be no more Lewinskis for you.’ I asked mommy what condoms and Lewinskis were while her Bridge Club was here. Mrs. Bickler turned bright red, fell off her chair and they had to call an ambulance to take her to the hospital. Then, mom locked me in my room. I never did find out what they were.
Sensing the discussion was taking an uncontrollable and hopefully unneeded trajectory, I tried to reel it back in by talking about the opposite sex.
“Shadrach, have you started to notice the girls at school yet?” He said he had, but he wasn’t sure he liked what he saw. “Last year, Marisa Berkowitz used to be shorter than me, so I usually won all our wrestling matches behind the cafeteria. Over the summer, she got HUGE and grew a moustache. To make matters worse, she has these big bumps on her chest. She won’t let me touch ‘em, either. Will I grow bumps on my chest?”
I assured him that it was part of the natural growth process for girls Marisa’s age and he shouldn’t have to worry about that for a while. “When you get to be 65 or 70, you’ll probably grow man bumps, and have to wear a brassiere. But, wearing a bra at 70 years old will be the least of your worries. By that time you probably won’t be able to pee anymore and your love stick will stop standing up on its own. If you want to continue playing hide the hot dog with your wife, you’ll have to drop $400 a month on these little blue pills called Viagra just to make sure you’ll be able to tickle her taco.”
“Sheesh,” said Shadrach. “Life gets really complicated when you get older, doesn’t it?” I had to agree. Things are simpler when you’re a child from somewhere in Ohio.