In the 60s and 70s, things were great in Kenjonesland as long as nothing ever got too serious. My dad was all about a laugh, a smile, the Kansas City Royals and, most importantly, knowing when to take cover in his bedroom in front of the TV.
My mom, the parental barracuda of our household, pretty much gave my father his Ward Clever, 50s-era-father lifestyle which he gladly accepted despite the fact that she has reminded him of this “gift” every day for the past 55 years.
But the day 10-year-old me brought home a condom purchased from the bathroom of the neighborhood Sinclair Gas Station, there was no place private enough for Ken Jones to hide. He almost had to move out of the house.
My friend Jeff and I had returned home earlier from a day of neighborhood bike riding and public-restroom shopping, ready to fill our newly purchased condoms with water (as alternatives to traditional water-balloon weaponry) only to discover that they resembled boobs when filled and paired together.
Snicker. Snicker. Snicker.
As we made our way through the house with our quite innovative water-logged flying breasts, we passed my mother in the kitchen on our way to the garage. With the knowledge that we basically had nothing to hide, her inquiry of “What do you have in your hands?” simply resulted in two bulbous waterrubbers being held up to her face.
My mother dropped a meat loaf on her foot.
After about three minutes of exasperated yet unintelligible mumbling/limping, my dismayed mother resolutely announced that my dad was going to field this awkward issue alone and unprotected, so to speak.
Of course, I was never embarrassed when it came to interrogating my parents on any issue. I would probe and query until all details were disclosed to my satisfaction. Yet another characteristic that, though annoying at times, has served me well throughout the years.
My young dad hiding in front of the TV.
“Wow dad, I didn’t know that…so how does a rubber really work? How do you wear it? When do you wear it? Can I keep it and try it on later?”
Do not think I am making up this line of questioning. It is all true.
Ken Jones was clearly in over his head. And just like Mr. Crowell in my 5th grade Sex Education Class, dad nervously jingled the loose change in his pocket as he attempted to explain the appropriate use of condoms on an adult-sized penis.
To this day I will never know why one, much less two, adult men would associate a discussion on sex with pocket change. I suppose this is just one of the many mysteries of the male species I will never understand.
Flash-forward to the late 90s when it was my turn to be put on the hot seat.
When I told my children about sex, on the same day at the same time as per their mutual request, I used my extremely limited artistic skills to draw pictures of the male and female anatomy.
And now it was my partner Derek’s turn to run and hide in the bedroom as he was having none of this. I even found myself wishing I could wallop each child with a waterboob if only to distract them long enough to go running from the house myself.
But I held my ground as it shifted wildly below my feet.
“Maribeth, wouldn’t you rather wait and discuss this with mommy?” And her not-so-subtle reply, “NO! TELL ME NOW!”
Like it or not, the “sex talk” is a parent’s job and I was stuck, all by my lonesome, without the advantage of Maribeth’s mother to lead the unavoidable discussion on the uses and misuses of a woman’s “Va-JJ.”
So there we gathered, trembling father alongside pre-teen son and daughter at the kitchen table. I was armed with a piece of paper, a Bic pen, a quickened pulse rate and somewhat vague memories of 7th grade biology.
When I accidently peered toward my right shoulder, I swear I caught a quick glimpse of a miniature red-devil version of my dad pointing at me and laughing hysterically.
Kevin absorbed the information with relative ease—as he always does. “OK. Thanks. I’m going back to my PlayStation now.”
Whew. One down. One to go.
But it was Maribeth who provided the payback for my reign of terror on my own father some 25 years earlier. However, already armed with a playgrounders arsenal of half-truths, Maribeth hit hard: “So, is it really water that breaks?,” “Will my boobs be bigger than Aunt Paula’s?” and the ultimate attack on my nervous system, “How long does it take for the penis to finish?”
In hindsight, I am surprised I did not die.
As I reflect on my pocket-change-free experience, I hope I didn’t scare them to death about sex. Or perhaps, subconsciously, I wanted to scare the shit out of them. For example, the penis-to-body size ratio on my male illustration showed an alarmingly huge penis guaranteed to fit absolutely nowhere that I can think of.
And my drawing of the female reproductive system resulted in Maribeth’s keen 11-year-old observation, “Daddy, your female reproductive system looks like a moose head.”
I looked more closely and she was correct. It did look like a moose head.
Paybacks are hell.
Marketing guru, business humorist, professional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of RediscoverCourtesy.org and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.