Sometimes I glimpse my mother inside of myself; I might see her face in mine when I round the corner into the bathroom, my lips fixed just so. Sometimes I’ll hear her in my voice, inside the very timbre of my words, and marvel at how they echo the sentiments I once considered fatalistic – those cars are driving way too fast down this street, the music is awfully aggressive, isn’t it? do you really want to wear that out to dinner, honey?
Mothers have a way of turning into their mothers in at least one way, if not another.
My mother might offer advice to strangers, even; if she happens to have first-hand knowledge of a sort that they appear to lack. Mothers enjoy being helpful after all. It’s one of the things they do best. Nurturing spirits long not only to provide care.. but to educate.
But my mother would not have poked her nose into the business of four teenage girls riding the Express A train from Brooklyn to Manhattan. At least not the four teenage girls that this mother (that would be me) encountered last week. No, I am pretty sure Mom would have been a tad bit mortified by their conversation, or at the very least bemused. And surely she’d have kept her mouth shut (if it weren’t hanging wide open, that is) — the certainty with which I say this has its basis in the assumption that their conversation’s topic is not in her area of expertise.
But it is in mine.
I couldn’t help but listen in. Two of them were sitting right next to me on the bench so the access was easy, the other two sitting across on the other side, legs draping the floor of the train. They were all wearing skinny jeans, tight tees and low-top Converse, and carrying little purses, the contents of which I could probably guess – lipgloss, money, metro card, gum, cell phone, condoms. The short-haired girl sitting on the other side of the one sitting next to me was up in arms about some boy she liked, or at least did like, until she decided he must be gay…
“Do you know what he told me?” she hissed at the girl sitting just beside me, “He said that Molly stuck a finger in his ass and it made him laugh! Can you believe that? I mean, he just let her do that and he thought it was funny?”
I looked over at her and I swear I saw fire flames dancing inside her pupils. Her friend responded, “What’s the problem exactly?”
“The problem? The problem is that that means he’s gay! Any dude who lets anyone put a finger or anything else in his ass MUST be gay!”
Her friend, the one sitting next to me, just shrugged. I looked toward the other two girls across the width of the train and their glassy-eyed, teenaged stares pulled me backwards in time – the faces of friends who either have no opinion or have no inclination to offer it. These other girls know their place in the hierarchy, I thought; the short-haired girl is obviously the righteous ruler in this particular pecking order.
“God, I can’t believe it, I mean, can you believe it? I can’t believe he’s gay, I like really liked him, ya know?”
This is where I interrupted. And I interrupted her not in order to save this poor boy from being unduly railroaded in the middle of a westbound train, but more to save her poor little friends from having to endure any more of her insistent whining, whining which had no foundation in fact.
Plus, I have been known to offer advice to strangers. You know, whenever I have first-hand knowledge that they apparently lack…
“Um, excuse me. I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation and I just wanted to say something. There are actually a lot of nerve endings in the anus and it’s because of this that the ass can be a great source of pleasure for men. Women too.” The short-haired girl just stared at me, but her friend piped up, “Yeah, I heard that!”
I continued, “Think about it, regardless of our gender or sexuality, we all have assholes. Why would only gay men’s assholes like to have fingers, or anything else, in them?” The short-haired girl cocked her head at me, squinted her eyes. I kept on speaking, “I personally know quite a few straight men who love to have their asses played with. Dildos, fingers, vibrators even!”
“Really?” she asked. I peered over at her friends across the way, both of whom were smiling. I suspected they knew all of this already. They probably had encountered a few ass-centric straight guys too.
“Yep, really! And I know a lot of chicks who like anal sex. And I also know gay men who don’t like it at all. So, ya see, just because this guy let someone go there doesn’t mean that he’s gay. It just means he might like having his ass played with.”
She had one more question, “But, but … I know straight guys who won’t let anyone get anything near their butts! They get really mad about it even, because they don’t want anyone thinkin’ they’re gay. So, if it’s fun and all, why are they getting mad?”
“Well, that’s simple, hon. That’s because of the very false assumption, the one that y’all were actually furthering with this conversation, that butt play makes a dude gay. But now you know that is not necessarily true, right?”
“Wow, yeah. Yeah, I do. Thanks.” Her friends heads nodded in unison, “Yeah, cool,” as the four of them walked off the train.
With that, my motherly duty had been done. And I am certain that my own mother, had she been there sitting beside me that day, would have been able to conjure up some pride for me and my nurturing, sex-educational spirit… that is after she had picked her jaw up off the floor of the A train.