More times than I care to admit, I was more fool than father when it came to raising my sons. This next story illustrates that point perfectly.
Middle son Rob was a Sophomore in high school when it dawned on me that perhaps it was time to have a conversation with him about ‘the facts of life.’ He was starting on the basketball team, becoming something of a clothes horse and when the phone rang at home (you remember land lines), more and more frequently, it was a young lady on the other end of the line. All signs, I deduced, that it was time for The Talk.
I should mention here that I was never the recipient of a father- son conversation regarding sex. My paternal pedigree did not include this particular discourse. Did my dad and I converse? Of course, but the topics were always matters of more import: boxing, baseball, labor unions and fishing were all fair game; the fairer sex? Never! Not that I didn’t have a need to know. I did. But my source for answers regarding questions about all things female wasn’t my dad, it was Bobby Delaney.
Bobby was one of the Bottom Boys. He was several years older than I and was always willing to opine on the topic of girls and the seduction of same. As I look back on the conversations I realize two things. First of all, I never learned a damned thing. Secondly, Bobby preferred the Socratic method of discourse:
“Bobby, what’s it like to ‘do it’ to a girl”?
“Well Garner, I wonder why they always have to pee right after”?
Me (with a confused expression): “Huh”?
Bobby: “Isn’t that the damnedest thing”?
Me: “Huh”? And so it would continue on for hours.
To say that my education in such matters came later in life is to state the obvious. As to my teachers and mentors, that is grist for another mill and another post at another time. Back to Rob and The Talk. Time and place are of prime importance in these matters. So I waited for the perfect moment and place. It finally came.
We were alone in the car coming home from a basketball game. It was dark and I had to focus on the unmarked, winding roads of rural New Jersey, so there was no direct eye contact permitted between driver and passenger. Perfect! I turned the radio off and looking straight ahead said to my son “Well Rob, at your age I guess you know all about the birds and bees”. This was said as a statement of fact, not posed as a question.
“Yes, dad” my son replied.
We continued on in silence for another ten minutes. Just before turning into our driveway and still looking straight ahead I said “Well, son, I feel better now that we have had this talk.
Now, all of these years later, my son is married to a beautiful young woman with two handsome young sons of his own. I can’t wait for him to have The Talk with my grandsons. Twice!!!