My Jean - Chapter 17
My said something to Jean in a low voice, then
nodding her encouragement, gently pushed her away. Jean glanced
at me, eyebrows furrowed in a worried expression, then back at
Mom. Our mother, in a slightly louder voice, said, "It's OK,
Jean. It'll be OK. Now go on in and let me talk to Billy."
I suppose one of the more dreaded expressions I might hear
from my would be, "I'd like to talk to you." I
immediately catastrophize, leaping far into the future, thinking
of what bridge I might live under and if I can really stay alive
selling pencils. If I sank any lower into the hot tub, my head'd
be under water.
walked over to the tub and and said, "Well, this caught
us both by surprise, didn't it?"
I made a millisecond eye-contact and numbly nodded.
"Billy, we have to talk and there'll never be a better
moment than this. Don't you agree?"
Again, the acquiescing nod, still not meeting her eyes.
"Tell you what . . . you get dressed - get warm - and we'll
also sit on the back deck. It'll be private."
And then she added with a chuckle, "Unless someone's sitting
in the hot tub."
After donning sweats, I walked the final mile to the
guillotine and waited for Mom. How could things have gone so
wrong, so fast, I wondered as I sat there, remembering that a
short while ago everything had been normal? Or had it? I
suppose not. My addict's mind wanted to think that nothing was
wrong, but the more-normal kid who lived in my head suggested
"For Christ's sake, Billy. You've been trying to get into
Jean's pants for months - your for cripes sake! And you
think that's normal? And then Jean tells and *she's* gonna
think it's normal? Yeah, right."
My impending suicide was thwarted by sitting next to me
and laying her hand on my arm, saying. "Try to calm down, Billy.
It's going to be alright. Believe me."
Do they tell you to be calm before your exiled? Gonna be
alright under the goddamn bridge?
I tried to talk and croaked instead. "Uh . . . I don't know
what to say . . . I didn't . . ."
"Didn't plan this?"
"Plan it? I couldn't have imagined it!" Then I looked at
her and added, "I don't know what to say."
"Try starting with the truth, why don't you?"
"The truth? You KNOW the truth. Jean told you the truth.
It's true, what she said. Except that she took too much
responsibility for what we did. I was the one that was pushing
it all the time."
"Billy, Billy . . . I'm not sorting out who did what. And
I'm *not* attempting to apportion blame. It's not a blame thing
. . . at least as far as I understand it. But I need to know
more. That's why we're talking."
I glanced at her. She gave me a soft smile and squeezed my
forearm. I still didn't know what to say so I did what I did
best. I just sat there like a lump.
"Son, I always knew I'd have these personal talks, these
talks about sexuality with Jean and I suppose I assumed that your
dad would do the same with you. I know now that that's probably
an erroneous assumption. Your dad is very smart and he's well
educated and quite articulate, but as you know, there's an
unapproachable emotional side that shields him from things like
this. I'm afraid he'll never get it together to chat with you.
So, like it or not, you get me."
"Mom, you know I can't talk to dad about things like this.
Cripes, I don't know how I can talk to *you* about it."
"We'll do OK, Billy. Let's start with general things. I
gather you don't disagree with Jean's story, at least not in most
I mumbled, "No, I agree . . . at least mostly."
"Do you have anything to add? Anything that might help me
see things better?"
I was about ready to admit I didn't have a thing more to
say, that there was nothing I could add to the story. Instead I
began talking. "Mom, I can't tell you how much I care for Jean.
I'd do anything for her and I never wanted to her. Oh,
there's a part of me that thinks of sex all the time - and Jean's
a sexy girl, I can't deny that - but below that, I care for her
too much to ever allow myself to her."
"I know that, Billy. I never doubted that."
"You see, we just became really close, really good friends.
I needed someone to talk to about . . . about my own feelings. I
knew Jean would never make fun of me and that when the chips were
down, she'd support me. As I would her."
I know that, too."
"We talked about it and talked about it. We didn't fit any
mold of how a and aughta be, at least about sex,
but it just happened that way. We thought that if we always told
each other the truth and if we always cared for each other, we'd
"Go on, Billy."
"Gee, . . . the rest is about . . . you know . . . sex."
Smiling, she said, "Yes, I'm getting that."
"But, I feel funny. Talking about sex with you, I mean."
"Billy, you heard me tell Jean that sex is not a dirty
subject. Private, certainly. And at times, very intimate. It's
true that we don't talk about it with just anyone, but not
because it's wrong, or bad or dirty. It's private. Well, this
conversation is private. What you say here will stay here. No
one else will hear what you tell me unless you tell them. I know
kids think that *they* invented sex, that their got off
the sexual boat yesterday . . . and mostly that's not the case.
At least not with me. I'm a sexual woman. I was a sexual and not much has changed. They still do it the same way last I
I could feel my face burning. I didn't look at her and
mumbled, "Yeah, I guess so."
"Guess so, SHIT!"
My head shot up and I turned to look into her flashing eyes.
"Don't patronize me, Billy . . . don't be so damn superior.
I don't know everything, but I'll bet a nickel I've seen more,
imagined more and done a darn sight more that you've ever thought
of. I'm an intensely erotic woman and proud of it! You could do
a damn sight worse than talking with me, dude."
My mouth fell open. I stared at her, astonished, open eyed.
"So let's start over, shall we? I'll respect you. I expect
no less from you. OK?"
Finding me tongue, I stumbled over my words. "I'm sorry
Mom. I didn't mean that . . . I never thought . . . Cripes, I
don't know what I'm trying to say. But I AM sorry for my
attitude. Forgive me, please?"
"Forgiven. Now let's get down to plain talk. Don't beat
around the bush. Whatever words you'd use with your buddies,
with Jean, you can use with me. Don't give me any of that
penis-vagina crap. Say it like it is, OK?"
Wow. Where did this woman come from anyway? I've never
seen her like this.
How do I talk with her? I mean, how can I turn around a
life-time of behavior?
"Well . . . OK, I'll try . . . no . . . I'll DO it. What
were we talking about anyway. I forgot."
"I think you were trying to tell me that you wanted to screw
Gulp. "I hadn't thought to say it in just those words . . .
but yes, I guess that's about it. But I didn't! We never did
Softer, "Yes, I believe you, Billy. You don't have to
convince me. What I'm more interested in is how you support each
other, about how caring you are for each other. I'm far less
concerned about conventional morality than I am about our
capacity to love and care for each other. No mater what you two
have done, if you've done it with honesty and love, things will
be alright. I just don't want you to sweep it under the rug,
that's all. So tell me, where do you see this going?"
"In the long run? I've no idea, Mom. It's pretty clear to
me, all I can handle, the only thing I can control, is my actions
right now. I've been told over and over to do the footwork and
let go of the outcome, that there's no way I can control the
outcome of anything. So, I've no idea where this is all going.
But I do know this. I *can* control who I am and what I do
"And what does that mean to you? In terms of you and Jean?"
"Well, it means that I can show up each day and tell the
truth. That I can think of Jean's welfare more than I think of my
own. That I can be a today. Or at least try to be."
"You know, kid, I think you may have a chance. A chance in
life that is. It may surprise you, but I've been watching you a
long time and I think you're a good guy at heart. More, you're a
good guy in your actions. So, tell me, how do you see yourself .
. . no, how do you FEEL about yourself and your sexuality"
We'd been talking just long enough for the terror of the
moment to have abated in me. My mouth wasn't as dry and I could
breath in and out, even unconsciously. I'd slipped into that
place where I wasn't considering what I was saying. I was just
letting it happen. Of course, had I seen this, I'd have frozen.
"Mom, I know I've never received any judgmental stances from
you or from Dad. You never told me - us - that sex was bad or a
moral thing. Yet, I've received that message repeatedly from lots
of other places. You know . . . school, TV, and especially church
. . . places like that. I've never attempted to weigh you against
them, but I suppose I *have* been influenced by those messages,
those shalt nots."
"Yeah, it's impossible not to hear them. They're there and
on all levels. You OK with it now or are there still demons to be
"Mostly I think I'm OK. At least, I'm not aware of any
really deep issues. I suppose there are the superficial,
social-shame issues. You know, the fear of ridicule or rejection
if I break social taboos. I'd be red-faced if I left my fly
open, but I wouldn't be emotionally crushed and wouldn't think I
was a bad or evil person."
"Boy, your mind floats away, doesn't it? At times, you're
so darn cerebral, Billy. Let me ask this. How do you feel when
you spring a woodie around Jean? Or when you have a wet dream?"
"It's still difficult to forget you're my mother. I keep
forming phrases in my mind that I hope won't be too offensive.
I'll try to be real, Mom. How do I feel about a woodie? When
it's Jean? At first I was embarrassed. Then I came to accept it.
More, to enjoy it. I began to look forward to the sexy feelings
I'd get around Jean. I was always trying to look up her dress or
catch a glimpse of her . . . er, tits."
"Sounds pretty normal to me."
"Anyway, whatever it is, I was stuck with it. Jean told
you. We sorta drifted into being more open and even a little
sexual with each other. I felt wonderful. For the first time in
my life I could be honest with another person about my sexual
feelings. I loved it."
"And you wanted to jump her bones?"
Yeah. Something like that. I admitted to her right away
that I wanted to . . . you know."
"I think that's the expression I used, yes."
"And she didn't want to?"
"No. She wanted to. And I wanted to. But both of us were
scared. She more than me. I told her that I supported her all
the way, but that I was so terminally horny, that if she ever
gave in, I'd give in. It was kinda a threat, huh?"
"Or a promise."
"Hmmmm, hadn't thought of it that way. Whatever. We've
played bathroom games. I love watching her. I know she told
you. We've had oral sex - once for her and once for me. And, oh
yes, we dry humped once in the grass on the hill above the house.
We both seem to enjoy the thrill of seduction, of almost doing
it. That make sense?"
"Billy, you don't have to tell me every little detail,
although I must admit that I enjoy hearing about it. Brings back
memories. Really what I wanted to do is gauge how open and
honest you kids were with each other. To get an idea if you
might yourselves or each other."
"And what do you think, Mom? We a danger?"
Laughing, "Probably are, but I must say, you're both
psychologically more healthy than most adults I know. Certainly
better adjusted that I was at your age. I'm impressed with you.
Still, I'm concerned for both of you. This is dangerous stuff.
You know that, don't you?"
"Intellectually I do, but emotionally somehow I think I'm
OK. I'm not trying to argue with you. Just trying to tell you
how I feel."
"Yeah, I can see that. So what I'm going to do for the
moment is nothing. I still think there's the potential for harm
here, but I'm not going to fall back on some shame-based
sanctions. I love you two and I trust you. Trust that
you'll try to act honorably. But please understand, I'm not
telling you that everything's alright, that there's no problem,
no worry. What I am telling you is that I understand what you're
feeling and what you're facing. I want you to continue to show
caring respect for Jean, and she for you. I know you have no
control over you sexual feelings. They're just there."
She put her hand on my arm, I guess for emphasis. "Around
me, you two can be yourselves. You don't have to hide your
affection. My Jim is cool. I'll talk to him. He'll
understand. It's your dad I'm less certain about. So prudent
judgment would suggest that you stay underground around him, at
least about the sexual stuff between you and Jean. OK?"
I sat there, more dazed than not. I couldn't believe how
we'd gone from some place of utter fear to rational
communication. About sex. With my Mom!
"Mom, right now I'm so confused. It's clear, I need help.
I'll do whatever you tell me to do. I'll do it your way."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, guy. How about a
compromise. Let's do it *our* way. And for that to happen, we've
got to keep avenues of communication open. You've got to be able
to talk to me and I've got to be able to talk to you, each of us
without apprehension. This can't be the last talk we have on the
subject. Do you agree with that?"
"Agreed, but I know if I wait until the moment *seems*
right, I may wait forever. Let's make a date. Right now, for
later. Tomorrow say? Even if it's just a brief check in, I'll
feel better if I know I have a date to talk with you . . . about
"Boy, a date with my son!"
"I'm not gonna bring flowers or anything."