Friday, November 20, 2020

My mom, the birds, the bees, the books

HUMAN FACTS MACHINE: The Expositor staff

Hands up everybody whose mom was a nurse. Now those of you with your hands up, how many of your moms told you the facts of life?

Just as I thought. 

Nurses might know about where babies come from and what goes where but did they ever share? No-o-o-o-o-o.

I have decided that my mother the late Huena Carter (nee MacIsaac) studied hard and worked for next to nothing to become a nurse just so she wouldn't have to tell her kids about biology or sex.

Instead, she let us learn the way God intended: By osmosis and her supply of lurid nurse texts. (Text books. The other kind hadn't beeen invented.)

Some facts of life, I got from a kid in our neighbourhood though I didn't believe a thing he told me. 

I was single-digits old,  I could name who I was with but won't, and  the crazy scenario he painted about what people got up to was just way too weird to believe and in fact from my little boy perspective physically impossible. 

Had the same feeling a few years later when my older Eddie told me about the president of the United States' friends breaking into hotel rooms. I was like, "That could never happen. How stupid do you think I am?"

We soon learned.

Some facts of life I got from a book one of my older sisters bought. 

It was called Sex and the Single Girl and it got left it in a little cupboard in our upstairs john within easy reaching distance. After it had been read through a few times, it fell open to the best parts. 

And that reminds me of a poem, by Frost; my pal Rodney Frost that is. He penned it in honour of the  Manitoulin Expositor Bookshop, which was part of the Manitoulin Expositor newspaper, where I used to work.

ROD THE POET HOLDING TIGHT HIS WHIRLIGIG, 
which actually sounds like one of the many euphemisms
my mom had for body parts

The poem went like this: 

"The bookshop's shelves are full of books
Some dirty and disgustin'
But you can tell the worstest ones,
They never need no dustin'."

Speaking of bookshelves, in the basement of the house we grew up in, there were hundreds of books and on the second shelf from the bottom, down on the right hand side, close to the downstairs bathroom that only my dad had the guts to use, sat a couple of mom's nursing textbooks.

I remember one about surgery, the best part of which was black and white pictures of all sorts of deformities--brains growing outside people's heads and little boys with leprous arms and other grotesqueries; horrifying enough to cause nightmares but impossible to not look at.

But the book that never ever needed any "dustin'" had about three quarters of the way through, a chapter on human anatomy. With miraculous acetate overlays. At one point, you'd be looking at some bare bones; then with one acetate sheet, there'd be veins on the bones; another would add muscles and then  the last -- tu-duh --showed us what a bare naked person of the opposite sex looked like.

If the book had words, I sure never read any of them. 

Besides, I may not have known how things worked, but I knew what they were called. Huena had so many names for our private parts I could do an A-Z list of them, and still have some left over. 

But I'll hold on to them for now. Wait. That didn't come out right.




 



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