…or how I learned that it’s important to ask if you don’t know.

As a young girl, on occasion I’d have to shower in my mom and dad’s bathroom instead of my sister’s and mine. It was always kind of special to be in the “master bath,” and there was this cool thing in their shower that we didn’t have in our regular one. This apparatus hung on the shower door. I figured it was some sort of cleaner (very astute assumption, what with it being in the shower and all). It was a hot water bottle with a hose connected to it that had an interesting looking white thing at the end. It had holes in it with a nicely rounded tip. I imagined it was a cool personal mini-shower, because when I filled up the water bottle, a lovely spray would come out of the end.

I thought it would make a fine microphone that would spout while I sang. Around that time, Tom Jones’ “She’s a Lady” was a popular song. My sister and I would always giggle at how when Jones performed it on TV, he would practically swallow the microphone on the “whoa, whoa, whoa, she’s a lady” part. We used to goof around and sing it while making the same gesture. Of course, this was a song high in my rotation when I would sing with my special microphone…And you can imagine how very close to my mouth this lovely little “spout” was…in fact, I can assure you that I would let the water that came out of it spray into my mouth. Yes. Therapy has been a part of my life.

My mom was not a proponent of talking directly about things related to “womanhood.” To put it in perspective, she never uttered the word “vagina.” It was either “birth canal” or, if she was feeling particularly forthright, “vaginal canal.” But never full-on vjayjay. So one day my mom came in while I was singing with my special mic and had a look come over her face that let me know that all was not right with the world. “What are you doing with that??” she asked… “Nothing. Just singin’.” She promptly suggested I end my song and not use it again. This was an era of child rearing where one did not hear a lot of “But whhyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?????” like one does nowadays. The look my mom gave said “follow directions and don’t ask questions.” And I did follow, and I didn’t ask. And she turned on her heel and left the bathroom. There was no follow-up to this conversation.

Though her behavior made me curious (and a little freaked out), I don’t think I pursued the answer right after that. In fact, I don’t even remember how I came to understand that my spray microphone was really a “feminine hygiene product.” It was probably the lovely Massengill Douche commercials that helped me piece the puzzle together…And when I did, I was absolutely mortified. It still makes me shudder to think that I got that indirectly close to my mom’s lady business.

The moral of this story? Never assume a microphone is a microphone. Though this experience alone didn’t provide an “a-ha moment” that taught me to make sure to ask questions, it did add to my overall desire to find answers to things I don’t know. Like looking up the word “offal” when I read it as a kid because I thought it was a weird way to spell “awful.” And…I kinda do find offal awful. Thanks, but I’ll pass on the haggis.

In essence—both real and metaphorical—life’s douchebags have taught me to seek the truth. And that is indeed good to know.

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