My mother had a unique talent. She could make use of vulgarities in such a way that, if she were a character in the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, they would have had to change the rating from “R” to “X”. Her creative and vulgar insults often included commands involving a mixture of sexual acts and dead mothers (directed at my father). If there were a way to track such a metric, I believe my mom would hold the record for the most uses of the “F-word” in a lifetime. What’s ironic about all this, is that if any of her children uttered even the most benign of profanities, she would have slapped us silly. Which brings me to what has become known in our house as “The Pimp Affair.”
I was five years old when my brother, Stephen, was fourteen. Stephen was the proud recipient of whatever musical and artistic genes run throughout the family, whereas my sister and I got none of the musical genes, and just some of the artistic ones that were stuck to the bottom of the gene pool. But it in our family at least, it appears that the musical and artistic genes also come with the genes that make it necessary to get glasses, braces, and a hell of a lot of acne cream. Given our age difference, Stephen and I did not “hang out” together often, but when we did, we generally got along well. Generally.
Perhaps the most dreaded of phrases used by my siblings and me was “I’m telling Mommy!” because we knew that if we were in the wrong, then at best we had a verbal lashing coming to us. At worst, we would be chased around the house by my mother with a cigarette hanging from her mouth trying our best to avoid her free-flyin’ hand that was at times indistinguishable from a loose firehose. For this reason, there was an unwritten and unspoken code that existed between us Bennett kids: we allowed each other to get away with minor offenses before we called in the big guns (i.e., our mother). For example, I could get away with calling Debbie a “jerk” but never a “bitch.” I could call my brother a “poo-poo face”, but never a “shithead.” Exact wording mattered, and so did context.
“The Pimp Affair” was aptly named because, in a moment of childhood fury, I called my brother a “pimp.” Apparently, in our family, this was the equivalent of calling the Pope a douchebag. For some reason unknown to me at the time, my brother responded to my insult with a look of both shock and terror. A look that someone might have when walking in on their spouse having sex with a goat. Stephen immediately uttered the dreaded phrase, in what appeared to me like slow motion, “I’m telling Mommy you said that!” Starting to question the innocence of my smack talk, and dealing with confrontation the best way I knew how at the time, I hid in our hallway cabinets under the blankets, crying tears of fear and regret, hoping I would never be found.
Moments later, I hear my mom calling for me. To my surprise, it wasn’t the Mrs. Hyde mother I was expecting, but the more level-headed one—the creator of my moniker “little baby Jesus.” Sensing the calmness in her voice, I cautiously came out of hiding to meet my fate.
“Bo, where did you learn that word?” said my mother in an unruffled and inquisitive tone.
“I made it up,” I said. “It’s short for ‘pimple’!”
Realizing that my childhood innocence was still intact being unaware of the roles played in the sex trade industry and realizing the unnecessary trauma I was put through for the misunderstanding, my mother gave me one of her big hugs filled with unconditional motherly love, showing me the true nature of this big-hearted woman I called “Mommy”... then she slapped the shit out of my brother.
Who says justice is blind?
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What is a “normal childhood?” Does it include almost being murdered by your sister with an ax? Speeding around town in the back of a station wagon because your mom is chasing an “alien spaceship”? Being busted by the police for intent to light a pond on fire? Tackling your mom to the ground and wrestling a knife out of her hand because she was trying to kill your dad? While my stories may be unique, readers will be able to relate to the broader themes are part of a normal childhood such as sibling rivalry, eccentric parents, doing stupid things, and frequently preventing one’s parents from literally murdering each other.
Although some of the subject matter is not something one would generally laugh at, you have my permission to laugh. Social rules don’t apply here; my rules do. It works for me, and who knows, after reading the stories from my past, you might be inspired to see your own screwed up past in a more humorous light.
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