Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Birds and the Bees

Last night's Californication episode reminded me of an anecdote my Uncle Paul shared over Christmas about "the talk." Yeah, birds, bees, whatnot. He told me about how my grandpa explained it all to him back in the day. And I laughed for the entire night.

My uncle was not exactly the model child... he was quite the hellion, to put it mildly. (It's become kind of a tradition that whenever the cousins are around my uncle, we make him tell stories about all the crazy shit he used to do. It definitely makes us feel better about minor transgressions in our past that our mothers freaked out about.) And my grandpa definitely was a no-nonsense kind of guy. He had no tolerance for bullshit. He did not like to talk in the morning. And nobody else was allowed to either, believe you me. He was old school. He ruled with an iron fist. For instance, my mom was at a family bar with her cheerleading team and their coach after a game (it was a team event), and he came in to the bar and dragged her out by her ear because "what the hell is a 16 year old doing at a place like that?!" And there was no discussion about it. That's just the kind of guy he was. He ran Endicott Johnson shoe company. He was a powerful guy. (And an awesome guy.) And he had no patience for antics. Period. So you can imagine just what the birds and the bees talk must have been like. Well imagine no more...

One day after school when my uncle was 16 (uh a little too late!), my grandpa told him to get in the basement immediately. (My uncle thought this was a godsend, because usually when he was in big trouble my grandpa would tell him to get in the car and he would drive him to somewhere REALLY far away, like the middle of Pennsylvania, and lecture him the entire time inside a car he couldn't escape.) Apparently my grandpa had gotten wind that my 16-year-old uncle was interested in some girl who was 14, which is what prompted the talk. This is how it went:

Grandpa sat Uncle Paul down at a table and slammed a HUGE book down in front of him, with a big marker inside it. He told my uncle to flip to the marked page. "And READ what it says, the ENTIRE thing. Right now."

Guess what the page was? No, not the human anatomy, not when a man loves a woman, not even a working definition of sex. This was a LAW BOOK.

And the page?...

The definition of statutory rape.

Grandpa said: "Do you understand that?" Uncle Paul: "Yes." My grandpa: "Are you sure you understand? That says that even if everyone thinks it's a good idea, even if she thinks it's great and you think it's great and oh la di da everyone's just sooo happy and it's such a great idea... YOU GO TO JAIL." And he slammed the huge book shut. "You got that? You hear me? YOU..." and pointed right in his face... "YOU! Go. To. Jail."

And he stormed upstairs.

And there you have it folks, my family's rendition of the birds and the bees. My uncle said he was scared to pee for a month because he thought the cops might show up. :)


erinire said...


Erik said...

Not sure why I imagine this in the voice/demeanor of Daniel Day-Lewis in "There Will Be Blood".