Racism at Six

 

The boy touched everything within his reach. The cash register, the combs, the hair brushes, the hair sprays, a blow dryer and the bowl of Christmas candies. Since he was behind the counter, I assumed that he was the son of the salon owner. The space behind the counter was cramped with both the child and the beautician getting in each other’s way.

The beautician said nothing to the child as she made change of my twenty-dollar bill while silently suffering the child’s body blocks, and hand thrusts. She was blushing. She seemed embarrassed. She smiled at the boy, and at me while reaching over his body to hand me my change.

I had just had my monthly haircut. While getting my haircut, the woman told me that she recently immigrated from Russia. Her English was limited. Perhaps that was why she said nothing to the child. Clearly she was not of Cossack descent, or she would had closed the register on the boy’s puffy little fingers, as he reached for the dollar bills. I was poised to make a corrective comment to the child, when a woman emerged from a near-by cubicle.

“Joshua, what are you doing?”, she said, while gently primping her newly blown coiffure.

“Oh nothin”, he replied, as he grabbed another handful of M & M’s and mashed them into his dark chocolate cavern called a mouth.

The woman was attractively dressed. Her leather jacket had a mink collar. She wore designer jeans, Nike sneakers, and a grey Tenafly Athletic Department sweatshirt. Her nails were new and artfully designed, although needing pruning. Her hair was painfully teased, and her nose was surgically bobbed. As she approached the candy cane kid, he declared,

“I don’t like dark hair. Your hair is dark.”

“Yes”, she said, with seeming indifference to his comment.

“But mom, your hair is too dark, I don’t like it.”
I wondered if he would get some punitive action.

“Joshua, my hair is dark brown. It is always dark. “  She didn’t show the slightest bit of annoyance.
“Mom, only Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair. I don’t like it.” His voice was firm and strident. In the best of all parental worlds he would have gone through a wall. The wall was untouched.

The mother turned toward him, although she appeared to look through him toward the mirror on the wall behind her son. Perhaps she was assessing the hair color, and its possible ethnic roots. She then looked at the cashier, and then at her walled, her money, the change, and casually she walked to the door of the salon. Following behind, her son pleased, “but mom, only the Chinese and the Koreans have dark hair.”

He looked to be six years old.

Drowning in Lentil Soup

If my brother is in my Mother’s stomach, then where does the lentil soup go? My Mother had just finished her bowl of hot soup, and I was staring at her swollen stomach. With each spoonful of soup she ate, I winced, thinking of my baby brother swimming for dear life in that cauldron called her stomach.

I knew her stomach was really big, but was it big enough to hold a baby and all that hot soup?

I should never have asked her where I came from. She told me that I grew in her stomach. For a little child, the imagery is full of danger. How do you breath in there? How do you eat? Most of all, how do you get out.

Getting out of the stomach may be the most incomprehensible event. Did the doctor just cut open the stomach, reach in and take the baby out? Even if a Mother chanced identifying the vagina as the exit, there was no way a child could reconcile toilet function with the birth of a baby. Phooey! Gross!

We are still left with the dual functioning stomach – food storage and baby brooder. Fortunately, most children do not ask about the food function. If they did, Mother’s would be required to recognize the possible existence of a womb or uterus, or perhaps, a “special place”  just below the belly button. Once another compartment is identified, the confusion can be eliminated. Without some attempt at clarifying the mysteries of birth, a child must wish for their Mother to starve for nine months.

“I hope mommy doesn’t drink a lot today, or my baby will drown.” That night my Mother called me into her room. I came over to her bed, and she pointed to where the baby was kicking her side. Thank God. The baby survived the lentil soup.

Sometimes when I felt the “leg” kick, I was certain that the baby was fighting for life. If the “leg” kick was at the top of the swollen stomach, that meant the baby’s head was at the bottom – right in the middle of lunch!

By the way, how did my Mother know it was a leg and not an arm, or elbow? How could she tell? She couldn’t! It was an educated guess. It may not have been a guess at all, but rather a Mother’s need to answer the unanswerable queries of a child who would believe anything a Mother said.

Pregnancies and birth are unique and memorable events for all except little children. For the young child the magic is gone, because Mothers can account for everything. It is in the accounting that the magic dies and the terror and fear are born.

Signs of Danger Missed – Again

 

Monday, February 27, 2012 , T.J. Lane, 17, admitted taking a .22 caliber Ruger semiautomatic pistol to Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio. He killed three students and wounded two other students.  Why? What motive? Who knew something that day, or days before, or months and years before that deadly day? What were the signs of danger? Perhaps an abusive home life, a psychopath, a loner, friendless, bullied and dozens of other possibilities. The events of that Monday remind one of the Red Lake Massacre in March, 2005. Jeffrey Weise, age 16, killed 10, and wounded 7.

At Red Lake Minnesota,  2005 , a 16 year old kills five students, a security guard, a teacher, his grandfather, the grandfather’s companion, wounded seven others, and then he commits suicide. We all are stunned by the violence of his actions, and once again we ask how come we missed the danger signs. In fact, the danger signs were not missed at all, but rather many foreboding events were clearly noted by various persons, including peers, authorities, educators, and family members. The following are some of the danger signs reported after the horror.

The child’s stepaunt stated that the school or authorities could see the event coming in that,”the clues were all there….but did they not put two and two together? This kid was crying out, and those guys chose to ignore it…”

The high school principal, “…felt like this was a troubled young man, and someone whose problems we felt like we were addressing.”

Internet pen pals reported that they missed warning signs including a gory zombie, Columbine references, a killer who committed suicide, and his statement that he might disappear unexpectedly. On various internet postings, the child used German words translated to mean: forsaken, abandoned, death’s head, and skull. He reported taking anti-depressants, seeing a therapist, and he had new cuts on his wrists. He stated, “The law of existence requires uninterrupted killing…So that the better may live.”

During the prior school year the child claimed to have been accused of threatening to “shoot up” the school. The school principal declined to confirm such an event.

An internet administrator reported that the child wrote that his mother physically and verbally abused him. He wrote an internet story depicting a character dressed all in black, a teacher with a Hitleresque moustache, and references to the Columbine shootings.

Another adult resident of the community, and cousin of one of the victims stated, “There were a lot of signs of real trouble…and he had said last year that he was to kill himself. But somehow I was never scared of him. I don’t know why not. He never really showed that it could be directed this way.”

Fellow students saw his drawings of people with bullet holes in their heads, half-living people with blank stares and skeletons. “He was different, you could say, out of place around here.”

The likelihood is that as the investigation unfolds there will be other ‘signs’ of danger that will be revealed.  Other recollections by friends, family and information retrieved from his computer will torment us as to the possibility that the killings could have been avoided. Dr. Katherine S. Newman of Princeton University suggests that, “it is exceedingly difficult to see these kids coming, to put it together and see the pattern.”

Putting it together from such disparate, non-communicative sources is not only difficult, but often impossible. Only after the fact are we sometimes able to comprehend the behavior of a child so pathetically disturbed. How and when would the various reporters encounter one another, and share their information? What is the likelihood of informed collaboration between a website administrator, internet pen pals, a school principal, a stepaunt, community residents, and therapist? How much, if any, information could have been gleaned from the Grandfather and his companion? Why were they killed? What was happening in his Grandfather’s home?

Everyday we read of killings, by children, adults, men and women.  We are often left to wonder why the deaths couldn’t be predicted and hence avoided. Observations of children’s behavior are often disturbing, yet frequently ignored by peers, and adults alike. Reports of aberrant behavior are often kept privileged by educators, therapists, and other authorities. Acting-out and delinquent acts are seen as typical of a certain age, or sub-culture. Earnest reports are too frequently seen as over-reactions by the reporter. Peers are usually very indulgent of their mate’s bizarre actions, and they will keep the information from their parents, or other authority figures. Keeping secrets is a seen as a virtue amongst many youths.

Jeff Weise, the 16 years old, and T.J. Lane, the 17 year old knew all the facts. Jeff, and T.J.  bore all the tormented feelings. Only Jeff and T.J. lived with all the signs of danger. We owe them and their victims the resolve to speak out, to insist upon being heard, to resist our fears of retribution, to trust and to share our insights and best guesses, to act with a sense of urgency, to require responses to our queries, and to even violate the privileges of privacy when we believe that our actions will protect another’s well being. We can no longer view our children as personal property. We must as a society appreciate the communal responsibility for our children. The signs of danger must be seen, not as troublesome signals, but rather as clear evidence of crisis, peril and vulnerability.

THE FIRST POST-PARTUM DEPRESSION

Cold, not just a typical winter night. Bitter cold, gale wind without pause, and snow so thick that only memory led Joseph to the pub. The fireplace was ablaze, and the warmth brought immediate relief to Joseph’s shivering body. The regulars were at the bar. Seated at one end was Rachel and her brother Issac. Samuel, the local butcher, and his wife Muriel were busy talking to Moshe the bartender. Joseph sat on a stool just alongside Samuel, and with his head in his thawing hands, Joseph was gently sobbing.

Moshe: Joseph are you alright?
(no response from Joseph – just muffled sobs)

Moshe: Joseph, Joseph what is the wrong? Why are you crying?

Joseph: (barely audible) He is not mine.

Moshe: What? What did you say?

Joseph: He is not mine.

Rachel: Say Joseph can we buy you a drink?
(no response from Joseph)

Issac: Joseph, what’s up?

Moshe: Joseph, please- please tell me what is the matter?

Joseph: My son….
(Moshe interrupts)

Moshe: A son. Joseph you have a son!

Issac: A son – did you say a son – you have a son.
(all gather around Joseph)

Muriel: Mazel tov, Joseph. Mazel tov.

Samuel: That is great. Wow, wonderful, wonderful.

Joseph: (shouting) He is not mine.

Moshe: What are you talking about? How is Mary?

Muriel: And the baby, how is the baby?

Joseph: (Plaintively) Please leave me be. My son is not mine – he is not mine!

Moshe: Joseph, you are not making any sense. Mary has given birth to a son. What are you talking about?

Joseph: Mary says that my son is not mine. Do you all hear me? My son is not mine.
(Joseph gets up from the stool and heads toward the door)

Samuel: (grabs Joseph). Stop. Joseph you are not going anywhere. Please tell us what has happened.

Rachel: Yes. We are so thrilled for you and Mary.  We don’t understand what you are saying.

Joseph: Mary tells me, not once, but over and over again that my son is not from me – he is not mine.

Moshe: What happened? Why this crazy talk. You are not making any sense.

Joseph: And there are men in the stable, and camels. Big smelly camels, and three men with funny costumes, and weeds or plants that stink. The camels are stomping on our things. I cannot understand what the men are sayings. And Mary greets them as if they were our family. She is acting like they are kings – some kind of royalty.

Samuel: Did they talk to you? Did they introduce themselves?

Muriel: Is Mary save with them? Should we all go to the stable? I am worried for Mary and the baby.

Joseph: Mary says that I could go and not worry cause she was expecting the men. They came from far away, and followed a star to the stable.

Rachel: The more you talk, the crazier it sounds.

Moshe: Joseph I want you to sit down, and let’s go over all that occurred tonight. We are your friends, and we will help you, Mary and your son.

Joseph: Moshe. You do not understand. The boy is not my son. Can’t you understand?

Rachel: Look Joseph. Mary is your wife, right. Mary was pregnant, right. Mary gave birth this night, right.

Muriel: You hear Rachel. Is she correct?

Samuel: Joseph there is no need to talk anymore. We are going to the stable and find out what is happening.

Joseph: We can’t go back. Mary says she is fine. Not just fine, but perfect. She told me to go, and not to worry.  She told me that tonight is the most special night for all mankind. She told me that she loves me.

Isaac: Okay, so what is the problem?

Joseph: Isaac what is the problem? Are you serious? How would you feel if your wife told you that your first child – your son was not yours. How would you feel?

Moshe: Joseph, my lovely dear friend Joseph. I feel so bad allowing you to suffer so much. At times my memory fails me. My dear Joseph you have nothing to fear or worry about.

Joseph: (stunned) What are you saying Moshe? What do you mean I have nothing to worry about?

Moshe: Everybody listen up. Our dearest Mary is just depressed. Simply depressed. She means no harm. She is just suffering a POST PARTUM DEPRESSION!

With that pronouncement, all gather together and hoist Joseph on the shoulders of Isaac and Samuel and they joyfully head to the stable.

The Burden of Primary Residence…

During the divorce proceedings one parent may be designated as the Parent of Primary Residence. The other Parent will have some form of parenting time with the children. Surely there are court decisions wherein both Parents will share residency custody, but such a decision is less frequent.

The Parent who is awarded primary residence is now in an extremely powerful position as regards the life of the children. Daily decisions about schooling, health, and social activities are in large part mediated by the residential parent. Depending upon the age of the children, the Parent with whom they reside has not only extensive decision making power, but can significantly affect the quality of the child relationship with the ‘visiting’ parent.

As a simple example, the residential parent determines whether the child is well enough to have visitation with the non-residential parent. A simple cold, or tooth-ache can be used as the reason for cancelling a visit with the absent parent. Another typical situation involves access to phone calls from the ‘visiting’ parent. Often the non-residential parent will not be able to fulfill court ordered phone time with their child, and the gate keeper is the residential parent. Why not allow the phone call? The answer may be that the child is doing homework, punished, sick, busy on a computer game, or the child just does not want to speak with the calling parent. What is the actual case? Is the denial of phone contact due to malice, or a child suffering flu symptoms?

It is critical that when ordering a residential decision that the Parent awarded primary residence be advised that the role is not one of ownership, and ultimate control. The Parent of primary residence bears the responsibility to advance the child’s relationship with the non-residential parent.

The designation of Parent of Primary Residence does not necessarily mean a determination of ‘better’ parent. The decision has various determinants, such as age of the children, nature of the physical residences, and the work schedule of the parents.

Any existing alienation and bitterness felt by the residential parent must be suppressed so that the children can prosper with the non-residential parent. If the child support payment is late, or short-changed, the residential parent is not to use access to the children as retribution. If the non-residential parent must change the schedule, or comes late, or returns the children late, availability of the children cannot be used as punishment. It is important to appreciate that many children would not agree to the court’s decision regarding primary residence, and as such the residential parent bears an additional burden of having to deal with disgruntled children.

The consequences of divorce are fraught with anguish in the best of circumstances, and that is particularly true when children are involved. Faced with the loss of an intact home, and the comfort of knowing that both Parents are present, the artificial, but necessary fracturing of that life space requires a level of parental maturity that is all too often inadequate.

Bring It Home…

There is a constant drum beat to allow the States to control various decisions for residents, e.g. abortion rulings. The assumption is that any one state is so homogenous that decisions would be reflective of a popular agreement. Maybe yes, but maybe no. Let’s use New York State as an example. Were we to offer a state-wide referendum on abortion, we may find a great divide between folks in New Berlin , New York and East New York, Brooklyn.  Perhaps we would do better to have such decisions closer to home rule and have the decision made at a county level.  Better yet, any town, hamlet, or village could  possibly offer the most agreement on just about any issue. If all else fails, we could appeal to the basic family unit, and then before we go to sleep just ask the pregnant woman sleeping next to you what the hell she wants to do.

A Case for Incinerators

“Take out the garbage”

A command that brings shudders to all within earshot. In a split second the kitchen is empty. Not a soul is in sight.

Mother cries out: “ Take out the garbage, please. “

Once again the house echoes with an earnest appeal to health and sanitation.

Mother hears some movement in the living room and she pleadingly says, “ Peter, will you take out the garbage? “

No answer. She puts down the neatly packaged Hefty bag, and she looks into the living room. It is only the cat she heard. The cat is eating the leaves of the poinsettia plant. The leaves of the poinsettia plant are supposedly quite poisonous, yet the cat has spent the last two months defoliating the remains of the Christmas season. We have looked for signs of illness in the cat, but none have surfaced. Perhaps the plant becomes non-toxic as spring approaches. Mother knows there is no time to worry about the cats’ health – the garbage waits. Besides the cat has nine lifes.

The distance between the packaged garbage and the outdoor garbage can is approximately 15 feet. It might as well be 15 miles. Mother shouts again, “Susan, would you come down here?” Susan is glued to her television. She is studying the Alpo commercial. Susan has never been so focused, so concentrated, and so deaf. Her room is on the second floor, just near the stairwell. With a slight movement of her left foot, she gently closes her bedroom door. A muffled sound comes through the door, and sifts through the barks of twelve Alpo satisfied Cocker Spaniels.

Peter is in the basement trying desperately to find his homework assignment. Peter is resolved not to take out the garbage. Peter is convinced that he is the unofficial house garbageman. In fact, he rarely takes out the garbage. He thinks about it the most, and he worries about it the most, but he also avoids it the most. Nonetheless, Peter is convinced that he has disposed of more Hefty bags than anyone in the family.

When Sigmund Freud wrote,“ Civilization and its Discontents” he must have been thinking about family garbage and Peter. Peters’ development was progressing quite well, until he discovered the meaning of, “Peter will you take out the garbage. “  At that critical moment, Peters’ bonds to the family were forever weakened. Peter was, for the first time, aware of the enormous demands of family living. He would never be the same obedient son.

What is it about the phrase, “take out the garbage,” that can so undermine the unity of a family? How can one common chore cause such personal and group havoc?

At one time the problem with garbage may have been the messiness of the plain, brown, union made garbage bag. Refuse such as sauces, grease, and egg yolks would melt the paper and cover your hands, clothes and stairways. Today we are blessed with the Hefty bag. The plastic garbage bags of today insure cleanliness in the home: garbage can, sanitation truck and in the dump!

If messiness is not the problem, perhaps the word garbage is the cause of such disunity. Said with either an American accent, or an English accent, e.g. Garrrbaaaage, the word is rather unappealing.

No, I am certain that it isn’t the word, garbage. I believe that the core issue is the act of, “ taking out,” the garbage. “ Taking out “ means finding shoes, putting on pants, coping with rain and snow, stuffing an already overflowing garbage can, missing the final touchdown, hanging up the phone, and in general disturbing the peace and tranquility of the home. After a day of work, school or play, home is where the heart is, and not in the garbage can.

 

DNA and Guilt

You said that you felt guilty not having responded to my last correspondence. David, this is important. As to your feeling guilty, you have no choice. Many years ago, and I mean many – like several thousand years there was an earth shattering event. Much more calamitous than meteor effects, or black out of the sun, or even Genesis. The most significant effect of that event was a dramatic change in the DNA of the human species.

It may have effected other species, but we do not have evidence of such an effect on dinosaurs, elephants, ants, etc. You wonder what event could have so dramatically modified the DNA of mankind. Well I will tell you. Simply put it was a very subtle genetic modification that produced GUILT. I need not tell you the clinical symptoms of GUILT, but what was so remarkable was that the modification initially only manifested in Jews!!!

Obviously, after thousands of years of cross-breeding the symptoms of GUILT have crossed ethnic boundaries, but never with the clarity and intensity that effects Jews. Jews carry the original DNA structure with little modifications. Yet me make it clear, there are some modifications as to the causes of GUILT, and that has been the province of Jewish Mothers. No other parent has the capacity to modify the GUILT DNA  as do Jewish Mothers.  I leave you with one final thought – bo-ruch a-toh ado-noi e-lo-hei-nu etc.etc.etc.

Sex Education Begins At Home – Good Luck!

Against his better judgment, but with the urging of his wife Adele, Sam agrees to speak with his son, Tom, about sex. Sam, a man of 45 years, has been avoiding such a discussion for the past two years. His wife, Adele, has pleaded with Sam to have a ‘man to man’ talk with their son about “the birds and the bees.” Tom just celebrated his 14th birthday. Adele has been anxious about Tom’s increasing romantic interests in their neighbor’s 16 year old daughter, Samantha. “It’s just puppy love”, has been Sam’s response, but Adele has been insistent about the need for homebound sex education.

Sunday morning’s bagels, lox and cream cheese have been devoured by all, and Sam asks Tom to join him on the patio. At the furthest end of the patio, out of earshot, Sam arranges two lounge chairs. Tom follows his Dad, and they sit side by side. Actually the chairs are touching, allowing for even a whispered communication. Sam clears his throat, takes a deep breath, and begins…

Sam: Tom I think that it is time for us to talk.

Tom: About what Dad?

Sam: What do you mean about what?

Tom: About what, Dad?

Sam: Something very important.

Tom: O.K.

Sam: Keep it down Tom. Stop shouting.

Tom: Shouting? I’m not shouting.

Sam: O.K. that’s better.  Just keep it down.

Tom: Dad is something the matter?

Sam: No, not at all. I just want to talk with you.

Tom: (concerned) Is Mom alright?

Sam: Mom is fine – she’s perfect. I mean she’s okay. This isn’t about your Mother.

Tom: Great. (relieved)You really got me scared Dad.

Sam: I’m sorry Tom I didn’t mean to scare you.

Tom: Dad…

Sam: (startled)What?

Tom: Oh nothing, but I was gonna meet Peter and Mark downtown.

Sam: Oh good. Well I guess we can talk tomorrow. It’s not a big deal.

Tom: No Dad. I’ll give them a call. I’ll see them later.

Sam: Oh fine, that’s fine. Well I guess we can talk today.

Tom: Yeh. I kinda like this Dad.

Sam: (Incredulous) You do?

Tom:  Yeh. Well what is this about Dad?

Sam: Well your Mom, well your Mom and I think that it is important for us to discuss things about men and women and things like that.

Tom: (excited) Yeh sounds good!

Sam: (vexed) What do you mean, sounds good?

Tom: You know Dad, sex and things like that…(giggles)

Sam: It’s not all sex. Everything is not about sex Tom.

Tom: I know that Dad. In health class we talked about pregnancy, babys and things like that.

Sam: Oh you do?

Tom: Yeh. We learned about STD’s and marriage and family.

Sam: STD’s. What’s that?

Tom: Sexually transmitted diseases, Dad.

Sam: Oh yeh, sure. That’s good.  I’m glad you learned about them.

Tom: Yeh, so am I.

Sam: That information will come in handy someday.

Tom: That’s for sure.

Sam: (abrupt) What do you mean by that?

Tom: Nothin. Say Dad, I better get going.

Sam: But I want to tell you…On second thought we can talk tomorrow. See you later, son.

Later on the same evening, Sam and Adele are in bed.

Adele: Sam, how did it go?

Sam: What?

Adele: How did the talk go with Tom?

Sam: Fine – just fine.

Adele: Great. I feel much better. I was so worried. I know it wasn’t easy for you.

Sam: No problem – no problem.

Ten minutes later. Sam is attempting to go to sleep, while Adele is reading. Her side of the bed it lit by a small bedside lamp.

Adele: Sam.

Sam: Uh.

Adele: Are you awake?

Sam: Sort of.

Adele: Sam, I was wondering what Tom had to say.

Sam: About what?

Adele: You know. Did he have any questions?

Sam: Adele, can’t we talk about this tomorrow? I’m really beat.

Adele: Sure we can honey. I was just curious. You know how I am.

Sam: Yes.

Adele: Was he comfortable talking to you Sam?

Sam: (annoyed) Adele, I’m really tired. Can’t we just go to sleep?

Adele: (insistent) Just tell me what he said!

Sam: (angry) Adele I’m serious. I’m exhausted!

Adele: I know. I’ m sorry, but I am so concerned. You know how kids are nowadays, and with Samantha next door. Sam, you understand don’t you?

Sam: Adele, I’m almost asleep. Goodnight.

Adele: Goodnight, Honey, Goodnight.

Next morning. Breakfast table. Seated are Tom, Sam and Adele

Adele: Tom would you like more pancakes?

Tom: No thanks Mom. I’ve got to get going.

Adele: Dad tells me that you and he had a great conversation yesterday.

Tom: Yeh.

Adele: I guess you must have felt a little funny.

Sam: (annoyed) Adele, enough.

Tom: No, Mom. I felt fine.

Adele: I mean wasn’t it a little….

 

Sam: (interrupts)Adele, Tom has to get going. He’s going to be late for class.

Adele: I was just interested in how you both felt. I mean it isn’t everyday that a father and son speak about personal things and…

Sam: (shouts) that’s it. Tom get going. Have a nice day.

Adele: Sam, what’s got into you?

Sam: Nothing. Well honey. I’ve got to go. See you later. (gets up and gives

Adele a kiss on the cheek).

Evening. Tom’s bedroom. Sam is outside the bedroom door. He knocks on the door.

Sam: Tom are you busy?

Tom: No Dad. Come on in.

Sam: How was your day?

Tom:  Good Dad.

Sam: Great. You know yesterday I wanted to talk with you about relationships between guys and girls.

Tom: I know Dad.

Sam: What do you mean, you know?

Tom: Sex. You wanted to talk about sex – right?

Sam: Well not exactly. Actually you’re right. Let’s talk about it. Your Mother thinks it’s important to discuss sex with you. Okay?

Tom: Sure Dad. It’s okay.

Sam: Okay. Tell me what you know, and if you have any questions ask me.

Tom: I really don’t have any questions. I mean I feel kinda funny talking about this with you.

Sam: Relax. We’re both men. If we can’t talk about these things who can you talk to?

Tom: Mark, and Peter.

Sam: Oh yeh. I understand, but they’re your age. Perhaps they don’t have all the information.

Tom: Well maybe you’re right.

Sam: So go ahead. Tell me what you have on your mind.

Tom: Well Dad, it’s not exactly a question, but can I get a subscription to Playboy?

Sam: (stunned) What?

Tom: I’d like to get Playboy, or maybe Penthouse.

Sam; Are you serious? I can’t believe you. Just forget it!

Tom: (hurt) Forget it Dad. I knew I shouldn’t ask you. Just forget it.

Sam: Why? Why do you need them?

Tom: Well every time I read them…

Sam: (aghast) You read them? Where? Where did you get them?

Tom: Peter’s dad has Penthouse. I read them at Peter’s house.

Sam: His dad has Penthouse? He lets you read them?

Tom: No, his dad doesn’t know.

Sam: Tom you are much too young – much too young.

Tom: But Dad, when I look at the girls, it’s easier to masturbate.

Sam: (shocked, stunned) What the hell! Just watch yourself Tom. Take it easy.

Tom: Now you’re mad. I knew I should have just shut up. Dad I better get to sleep.

Sam: I’m not mad. I’m just surprised.

Tom: Didn’t you ever read Playboy? Did you?

Sam: What difference does that make? I’m your father. I can’t believe that Peter’s father lets him read Penthouse.

Tom: I told you Dad. His father doesn’t know. Peter sneaks it out of his dad’s bedroom. Peter thinks his dad is really horny.

Sam: Tom, that’s enough. I don’t need to know about Peter’s dad.

Tom: Dad. How old were you the first time you masturbated?

Sam: (stunned, bleary eyed) What did you say?

Tom: I was wondering when you first jacked-off?

Sam: Tom, just watch your mouth.

Tom: I’m sorry Dad, but I was just curious. Being a guy, Dad, I just thought I could ask you that.

Sam: Well you took me by surprise. I mean I’m supposed to answer your questions, but…

Tom: I understand Dad. I apologize.

Sam: Tom, I’m sorry I jumped on you.

Tom: Say Dad, did you ever use condoms?

Sam :(shouts)  Shut the fuck up. Just shut your fuckin mouth.

Tom: But Dad…

Sam: You want to know about jacking-off, or condoms or whatever, just ask Mark, or Peter, or maybe Peter’s Dad. Not me!

Tom: I’m really sorry Dad, but you said we should talk about sex.

Sam: Right. But not about my sex!

Late that same night. Sam and Adele are in bed.

Adele: Sam, why were you shouting in Tom’s room?

Sam: Oh, nothing much. We just got into some heavy talk.

Adele: Like what?

Sam: Good night, Adele.

Adele: Sam, please don’t shut me out. This is important.

Sam; Adele, just forget it.

Adele: Sam, I am your wife. I can help.

Sam: Help, help with what. I don’t need your help Adele. Just go to sleep.

Adele: Why are you so upset?

Sam:  Why, I’ll tell you why. Your son – your son asked me about jacking-off.

Adele: What? What did you say?

Sam: Tom wanted to know how old I was when I first masturbated.

Adele: He did?

Sam: Yes he did. And did I ever use condoms.

Adele: I hope you told him that you did.

Sam: Listen Adele, if you want to talk to your son about your sexual acts, techniques, and equipment, go right ahead. I’m not!

Adele: Alright, calm down. Enough. Just relax.

Sam: O.K. Good night.

Adele: Good night Sam.

Several minutes later

Adele: Sam, are you up?

Sam: Barely.

Adele: Sam.

Sam: What?

Adele: How old were you when you first masturbated?

Fin……………………………