It’s the age-old question. Would you rather walk in on your parents or have your parents walk in on you? For me, there is only one clear answer. Perhaps that’s because I’ve actually walked in on my parents…twice. I know the horror. Or maybe it’s because if my parents ever had the opportunity to walk in on me, it would ease their concern that I am going to die alone, marry someone who isn’t Jewish, am a prostitute or a lesbian.
I feel that most people, even those who are oddly open with their parents, tone down their promiscuity when talking to them. If anything, I should talk mine up. I choose, however, not to discuss my “sex” life at all, leaving the door wide open for curiosity and concern.
Growing up more or less an only child, my parents took extra precaution in sheltering me from the world, from sex. Perhaps too much extra. My dad once banned my older, male, gay cousin from sleeping in the trundle bed in my room. I wasn’t even allowed to watch Friends. When I finally decided to hide upstairs and watch it anyway (the most rebellious thing I could think of) I got caught. Instead of a traditional punishment, which would have been welcomed with open arms, I received this:
“As a young woman, how does it make you feel that sex is everywhere, all over the media?”
I walked away.
Now, at 25, I’m finding my parents’ expectations to be confusing, contradictory. As a child, they refused to expose me to things I would eventually encounter, ultimately just adding years of overprotected fuel to the awkward fire. They raised me in an environment assuming, magically, I would transform into a confident, acclimated adult. Guess I proved them wrong.
Unfortunately, they seem to be facing the consequences of their actions as much as I am. Now, because my sheltered childhood manifests itself in the single, sexually inexperienced 25 year old I am today, they constantly (uncomfortably) push me towards dating, hooking up, sex.
Two summers ago, I went back to Los Angeles to get my tonsils out. Settling into the hospital bed and stunning in my backless gown, the nurse requested I complete one final pre-surgical test: a pregnancy test.
“Oh, no. I’m not pregnant. I’m a virgin.”
“Okay, that’s too much information.”
Really? I feel like it’s just enough information. Not only does it pertain to the exact task at hand because, if I’m not mistaken, it’s almost physically impossible to get pregnant if not having sex, but also, you’re a nurse. Virginity makes you uncomfortable? You know how to insert a catheter.
I told my mom about my charming interaction with the nurse, thinking she would agree that it was both hysterical and a little rude. Her response?
“Yeah…you really need to get that taken care of.”
Taken care of. Like a wart or a parking ticket.
The week before my 25th birthday, my mom came to visit me in Chicago. Happy Birthday to me, she actually carried with her onto the plane an article she printed off WebMD about involuntary celibacy. Thanks, mom.
Yes, it was like looking through a window into my soul and yes, it was a little too coincidentally also titled “Sexless in the City,” and yes, I may or may not have contacted one of the professors quoted in the article. But still.
And then, my 25th birthday. Ignoring the fact that I have completed nearly none of the things I wanted to by the time I turned 25, apparently, my father had his own list. Like a good dad, he called to wish me a happy birthday, secretly just hoping to retrieve an unnecessary amount of detail on what my plans were for that night.
“You should just grab a boy at the bar and make a kiss.”
“Make a kiss? Thanks, dad. That’s great advice.”
“I just want you to find someone.”
Little does he know, I’ve mastered the stranger-make-out, but it doesn’t change the shock value of having my 72-year-old father grant permission, encourage slutty behavior for fear I’m not putting out enough to meet someone who will want to date me.
Maybe my parents’ sudden onset of urgency in my dating/sex life is because they’re starting to worry about grandchildren; maybe they’re worried I will never be happy, or maybe they simply think I have no social skills. That is a question I will never ask but, like everything else, will probably receive the unsolicited answer to anyway.