Mom was letting me wait in the car.
I felt very independent, at nine, being allowed to wait in the car while she took my sister into the grocery store with her.
I remember sitting in the front seat (those were pre-airbag, pre-child-in-backseat days). I didn’t have anything to do. Worse - I didn’t have anything to read. It’s all very well to be allowed to wait in the car instead of being forced to tag along like a little kid … but now I was bored.
Wait. There was one of Mom’s magazines sitting right next to me. Ms. magazine. I picked it up and perused the front cover. One title in particular caught my attention: “How to Tell Your Child Where Babies Come From.”
Then I put the magazine back down and gazed serenely out the window.
No, I did not!!!
I devoured the child-friendly text and illustrations in a fever of fascination.
I still remember the feeling of epiphany: ohhhhh, that’s how it works!
The primary parts in the oldest story in the world were pronounced in my mind as pennis and vageena for a long time. I remember when I finally learned their true pronunciation I was dismayed; I preferred my gentler vowel sounds. They seemed to suit those pretty illustrations better.
I remember putting the magazine back where I found it and waiting in a daze of revelation for Mom to come back.
Did I look surprised? Enlightened? Guilty?
She never did sit down and tell me where babies came from.
I don't remember that she regularly read Ms. magazine, either, despite her hip single status at the time.
So I have to wonder: did Mom leave her voracious reader of a daughter in the car that day – with the instructive reading material – on purpose? Was it easier to provide me with the information than to broach the subject herself?
I never asked.