Getting Disgusting at the Table
Photo: Hazel Bregazzi
Frankly, one of the things I was thinking of least when considering our compatibility as co-parents, was my wife and my level of tolerance for grossness or rude behavior. Yes, there were the obvious disgusting parts: who will be changing the diapers and will they retch every time they do so? Do either parties sneer at spit up, have difficulty with blood, or blanch at mucus? But beyond this my mind did not venture. And I didn’t even think about getting used to the word “fart.”
Actually, we were both pretty weak in the stomach when we were starting out; my spouse has always admitted a hair-trigger gag reflex and I was easy prey to my sadistic older sister who could reduce me to a nauseated masse with a few well chosen words on bodily fluids. But when we got down to brass tacks on who would be popping out and changing those babies full-time, we knew it would be the one who used to clean a pet store for a living, and not the one who failed to rid herself of rat-phobia by working in the science lab in college.
Yet despite my willingness to be elbow-deep in rodent cages, bird shit and diaper pails, I used to be a pretty prissy gal. There were only sisters in my family-of-origin, in my mother’s generation, in her mother’s generation, and the one before that. All of them (here I venture to speculate) the same kind of hypersensitive, flatulence-denying, I’m-too-cerebral-for-corporeal-concerns kind of woman. And despite breaking masses of feminine molds in my time, I am who I am and like things a little refined, thank you very much.
My wife is, naturally, my polar opposite. She has a more realistic, salt-of-the-earth, some might say “childlike” attitude toward the excretions and noises common among human bodies, even if she heaves at the word “snot.” This is good, because with two teenagers, a six-year-old, an ancient Labrador and a semi-housebroken puppy, it is often a simply disgusting state of chaos around here.
I have tried to draw some lines in the sand, delineating “at home behavior with family only” versus behavior in front of any other adults, anytime, even though their other mom, “the fun one,” sets a consistent example of why potty-mouths don’t have to disappear at adulthood, and makes sophomoric humor look damned good. She’s also the queen of frankness, and I recently learned that “cluster-fuck” is one of her favorite words.
This came in very handy during discussions of sex, when frankness is best, and prissy-ness comes at a high cost. It does mean, however, that any conversation at our house can involve words like “semen,” “erection,” jokes about getting rug-burn on your knees and a demonstration of the estimated volume of an ejaculation using a shot glass.
And so, I suspect, years from now, when our children bring home prospective mates, and these potential mates are subjected to a jaw-rattling round of rude noises, doggy-snort imitations, vocabulary that could singe your eyebrows and jokes centering on road-kill, scat and the scents associated with young children (in an oratory homage to our family history together), it’ll be a good proving ground. Get this issue out right away with your mate, or you never know what will be happening at your table twenty years hence.
Blogger Bio: Beren deMotier is a Carol Brady in Levis/tattooed lesbian mama in a mini-van, obsessed with safety, doing the right thing and the amount of dog hair on her wood floors. She is a regular contributor to both Curve and Black Lamb, and has written for Hip Mama, And Baby, Pride Parenting, ehow.com, and for her blog, “That Lesbian Mom Next Door.” Her multi-award-winning book, The Brides of March: Memoir of a Same-Sex Marriage, recounts her giddy leap through a legal window, straight onto the barbeque pit of public debate when she and her partner married in Oregon in 2004, their three children along for the raucous ride. (berendemotier.com)