The Butcher and I were reminiscing about the times we’ve walked in on our parents having sex, which has got to be one of those formative, mortifying moments of any teenager’s life.
The Butcher’s was traumatic, I’ll admit. He’d gotten home in the middle of the night and went upstairs to tell my folks he was home and when he opened the bedroom door to address them, there they were, spotlit by a reading light my mom had clipped to the headboard.
But I don’t think that’s as bad as mine, which happened one Christmas when we were up at my grandparents’. Now, sleeping at my grandparents’ house was traumatic enough because my grandpa would regularly fall asleep while shitting*. And so, if you waited until you really had to go before getting up to go pee, you’d go sprinting down the hall, spring into the bathroom, and be greeted by a mountain of a man wearing only a thin v-neck t-shirt with his underpants around his ankles, snoring with his head resting on his chest. Every time, it’d scare me so bad, because I wasn’t expecting it and I’d have to stifle a scream, because I sure as hell didn’t want to wake him up.
So, getting up in the middle of the night is already fraught with peril and then you get to be a certain age and nature takes its course. But as nature does, it takes its course in fits and unpredictable starts. So, there I am, having cleared the first hurdle, in actually getting in the bathroom and finding it empty, only to discover that, to my mortification, I really needed a pad, right that second, for perhaps, only the third or fourth week of my life.
Now, gentlemen, if you’re still reading, I know you can’t really imagine what this is like, but let’s say, it takes some time to get used to, and for the first little bit (okay, ten years) you’re convinced that it would be awesome if there were some female-only village filled with large tubs of constantly circulating warm water that you could sit in and get filled full of Pamprin and chocolate while older women told you uplifting stories for the whole week while you navigate emotions somewhere between mildly grossed out and supremely annoyed.
But instead, you’re supposed to remain a part of the real world.
And so I had to go into the bedroom where my parents were supposed to be sleeping and retrieve the needed item. I knocked lightly. No one said anything. I opened the door.
And there they were–knowing each other in the biblical sense.
Already on edge from the stress of the possibility of having to confront an angry old sleep-shitting German and then discovering that I was menstruating, I couldn’t help but scream. Which, of course, brought everyone else in the house running into the room before my parents even had a chance to figure out what was going on.
So, it’s hard to say who was more traumatized, me or my parents.
*Yes, perhaps we should have suspected earlier than we did that he had a brain tumor. As I recall, it was only after he started being nice to my dad that folks figured out that something was wrong.