In grade school I used to love those jokes where a kid would learn the wrong names of sexual anatomy and then say things like, "I saw Daddy's submarine going toward Mommy's abyss (or whatever. I forget the wording). Anyway, telling and hearing these jokes was not only a fun activity, but it implied you understood sex and sex accessories: "Swords," "Tunnels," and "Headlights."
My daughter, newly four, asked the other night at the dinner table what I would do if someone asked me to show them my penis. I had never heard her use that word before.
"Um, well I don't have a penis."
"I mean, your she she part."
"You mean, my vagina?"
My husband coughed.
"What?" I said. "If she's going to know penis she needs to know vagina. Why should we get the stupid nickname." I remembered that when I was my daughter's age (up until high school, pretty much) we'd call it 'birdie' or 'our bird.' Yikes.
My daughter corrected herself. "What would you do if someone asked to see your verchina?" Before I could answer she said, "You tell a teacher!"
"That's right," I said.
"What if the teacher's the one who asks that?" Andy said.
This confused the shit out of her.
"You tell Mommy and Daddy," he said.
"And a teacher," she said. "So, Daddy, what would you do if someone asked you to show your penis?"
"I'd tell a teacher," he said. "Unless it was Mommy. Then I'd look up in the sky to see if any pigs were flying around."
Further confusion. "Eat your squash," I said.
I remember in fifth grade during sex education our teacher, Ms. Lum (who wore this cool multi-colored eye shadow) asked the class to think of all the slang terms for vagina and say them out loud: pussy, snatch, box, oyster, choach, coochie, cunt, slit, stink hole, punani, tuna, va. Then we did the penis, beginning with the meats: sausage, wiener, and frank, then dick, rod, prick, schlong, dong, dip stick, tube steak. As we got comfortable everyone started to yell the obscenities with a crazed glee. Ms. Lum wrote our responses on the chalkboard then asked how these words made us feel. We looked at the dizzying array of bad words written out in her petite cursive. Good! I thought. They make us feel good!
I'm still not sure what the exercise was meant to do--get it all out of our system?
"You need to cover your boobies, too," Little E said while dutifully eating her squash.
"Mommy likes to show her boobies," Andy said.
"In an artful way," I said. "Do you like these pork chops?"
"Is that code for something?"
"No, I'm asking if you like the meat?"
"Do you like meat?"
Oh, for fuck's sake.