My grandfather got really pissed at the Biffster once because he wasn’t being manly enough to please his old world sensibilities. Mostly he was terrified that the Biff might be “queer.” I mean there were so many clues to justify his concern, like the fact that Biff wasn’t hitching up his jeans, scratching himself or strutting while both horking and spitting. My grandfather was a keen observer of all things life. He didn’t just leap to his conclusions, he defied all gravity and flew across Grand Canyons of expanse to reach them. He was a gifted gifted athlete!
I remember a conversation around one dinner table where “homosexuality” came up and then the word “lesbian.” I forked my cheek when I heard the words. Not that I didn’t know what they meant, just that we were learning about dangerous chemical reactions in school. Put two volatile ingredients together in a contained space and anything could happen. I was pretty sure sex and grandparents were both ingredients at the top of that list. The fact we were adding the unknown “alternative lifestyle” into that mixture probably meant we were all going to die.
Aardvark didn’t know what “lesbian” meant. Watching Humpydora try to explain it to him while she pushed her peas around her plate with her fork and dabbed a dainty hanky to her mouth was kind of like waiting in a park with a picnic lunch for the train wreck that was about to happen . . . there on the blanket . . . on your plate . . . right through the potato salad.
“You know Aardvark, it is two women . . .” she started and stopped mid sentence. She was glancing furtively around the table at us kids … her motherly gears kicking into overdrive, needing to protect our prepubescent innocence from the horrors of the world but at the same time giving us enough air in our water wings to keep us afloat. She looked at Aardy, and then at us kids and then back at Aardy . . . unspoken messages of “please Aardy not in front of the children…”
Aardy was not above just giving us both a kick off the edge of the pool with his boot, into the deep end, forget about water wings.
“TWO WOMEN WHAT????” Aardy asked, bellowing in his best frustrated obtuseness. He sounded a lot like the bull out in the field that bellowed and all the cows took cover. I am pretty sure there were cows ducking behind tractors and under piles of straw when he hollered that day. Humpydora however, had nowhere to hide.
(This is where I like to involve the reader in the story. As you read out Humpydora’s parts your voice needs to waiver a little and you will need to hold your housecoat up to your mouth to simulate a napkin being forced into your mouth hoping to muffle the sound of what you are about to speak. Muffled talk of lesbianism is much more palatable than outright understandable words. Make sure you look fondly off into the sky sort of cross-eyed because you are both frustrated with Aardy and feeling the pressure of all that religious upbringing to self flagellate or wash out your own mouth with soap.)
“Well, two women …. homosexual … you know … instead of two men… you know . . . two women …” Eyes straight down with the peas …. be one with the peas ….her voice trailed off in a whisper.
I started thinking to myself, “how the hell does the Humpster know these things? EWWWWW …. think of something else, think of something else!” Snorking was out of the question because old Aardy was not moving. He was frozen in his chair, eyes speeding back and forth – evidence his brain was in overload and he was about to explode as he considered what Humpydora had just said. We waited breathlessly, I already had my hand clenched into the appropriate position under the table, on my lap. If Aarvark blamed me for anything I was ready to point at Biff. It was every man for himself.
Then it happened. Aardvark sat straight up and moose-called across the prairies …. “Well I can understand what two men do (don’t go there Aria, DO NOT go there) but what the HELL do two women do???” I projectiled my peas across the table into Humpydora’s plate. In her mind Humpydora leapt across the table, one hand and one foot over my ears and the other two over Biff’s screaming “save the children save the children.” I think she may have suffered with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. In reality she simply escorted my errant peas across the plate to an isolated edge and pretended that she needed salt which she asked Biff to pass. Then she instructed us all on the benefits of protein and vitamin c in our diets with 3 words, “eat your peas.”
We all knew the drill to perfection – pretend nothing had happened.
We ate our peas. It was only a matter of time before Aardvark processed the information and made it into some type of evidence of the world going to hell in a hand basket and the leap from that to “not MY son, not on MY watch,” was inevitable. One day while I was busy knitting Aardvark’s Christmas present, a nice moosey sweater with the word “Homophobe” stenciled in around the antlers, Aardvark descended on the Biffster to slap him upside the head, rip the bedazzling gun out of his hand, and tell him to be a man. I had tried my best to teach Biffy – he just never really caught on to horking properly. Aardvark told him to “grow a set of balls” and I was like, “cool, I got this.” And right there and right then, because what good is a sister if she can’t share with her own brother, I pulled the golf balls outta my own pants … and handed them to the Biffster.
I thought it was really nice that my brother phoned my girlfriend and told her she should probably not try to drop by and see me for a few days.
It’s really dark in the root cellar you know …