Rueful amusement ensues when I start reading an article along the lines of the "Can this marriage be saved?" series that used to appear regularly in Ladies' Home Journal. The patterns are always pretty much the same: he does this, she won't do that, and eventually, as Carly Simon once put it, "the couples cling and claw and drown in love's debris." There is, indeed, rather a lot of flotsam and/or jetsam when a relationship crashes on the shore. And I look at this collection of random junk and offer thanks to the Deity for sparing me the experience.

At which point, a memory pops unbidden into my head, usually one of the few positive ones I've somehow manage to preserve from what I laughingly call my love life, and clouds appear on the slope of my brow. And I recall how the brain seizes on ideas it really didn't have — they originated, as the phrase goes, elsewhere — and lays claim to the memory, despite how little it contributed to the process.

Jump back to the 1950s. My Mexican grandmother is presiding over a truly mundane experience: the changing of the diaper. She offers the following useful advice: "Make sure you get his little po-po cleaned." And since she had similarly presided over all of us who had po-pos, we assumed (1) that this was a correct term for the body part in question and (2) it would, of necessity, be little: parental units of the day went out of their way to make sure you didn't see anything that might interfere with your childlike notions.

Came eleven or twelve, and with it the wonder of, um, variable dimensions. Information from the older folks was not forthcoming. And one night, having found myself with what I thought was a bad case of swelling, I wondered if this was just something that happened to me just then, or if other guys had similar issues. Did Lee Marvin, to pick an example at random, have to deal with an enlarged po-po? And really, wasn't "po-po" a silly word for it in the first place? I knew the "official" word, the one that was in all the dictionaries, and I didn't much like the sound of it. There was, of course, an abundance of slang terms, but I suspected that the use thereof would earn me no gold stars; under no circumstances was I going to call "Dad, my dick feels funny." First order of business, though, was to get the swelling down, and after a few minutes of what we shall call "massage," the offending organ did return to its previous size, accompanied by some ... some stuff. "Oh, God, I broke it!" I thought.

Eventually, through the good offices of the Church, I received instruction in some of these matters, at least those which could be done with the approval of the Holy See. It would be much later before I heard tell of some officially disapproved moves and maneuvers, and some of them seemed unlikely to me: why would she want to put it in her mouth, fercryingoutloud? Surely she can't actually enjoy that. And after I got married and discovered that indeed, she didn't actually enjoy that, I put it out of my mind.

After the marriage ended, I had a few brief encounters, and to my surprise, all those women performed that service on the first trip to the sack without any discussion. To this day I couldn't tell you if they actually liked it, or if they simply felt that it was expected of them. Maybe it doesn't matter. Inasmuch as that part of my life is effectively over, I'm not going to be doing any further research on the subject — at least, not out in the field.

The Vent

  1 January 2018

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