As parents, the inevitable time comes when our children look up and innocently ask that dreaded question.
“Dad, what’s a prostitute?”
I was dumbfounded when my 9-year old son asked me this today. It was just way too much for my brain to take in, process, and then engineer a lucid response. Having not yet had “The Talk” with him, I was at a complete loss for words.
All I could muster was, “Uhhhh, it’s someone who…kisses people for money.”
“Ooo! I’d do that!”
This kid was completely jazzed by the thought of it, and as much as I didn’t want to explain things to my son, I really didn’t want to explain things to my wife when the school called to say that our son chose “Prostitute” on Career Day.
This all came about because our 15-year old had a choice in the Fable 3 video game he was playing to either spend money to save an orphanage or make money by turning the building into a brothel. Not knowing what a brothel was, he chose to make money. When he told his friends that he made $1.5 million with his brothel, they burst out laughing.
He was lost. They must have clued him in because he came downstairs all remorseful to confess that he had inadvertently chose ho’s before orphans. When I poked fun at him for supporting prostitutes, the usually oblivious 9-year old asked his question without even looking up from his blocks.
I wasn’t sure where to go with this but I came clean and explained that prostitution is illegal.
He looked confused. My wife and I kiss every day. Granted, I don’t pay her every time, but I could see that my explanation was completely missing its mark.
I went on to explain that prostitutes actually have sex with people for money and that it’s against the law. People can go to jail for it. It can spread disease, it’s dangerous, it’s immoral, and it’s a really, really bad thing to do. There was a brief pause, and then,
This kid was completely confused. Why, oh why, didn’t we send him to summer camp? There, he could sit around the campfire like I did and listen to fabricated tales of conquest and sexuality as spun by pre-pubescent boys who have absolutely no knowledge or actual experience to draw from. With sheer imagination and guesswork as their guide, they share dangerously inaccurate advice with a bunch of friends who fortunately have no intention or opportunity to do anything with it.
I had long thought of the perfect way to segue into “The Talk” with my children but in none of my million scenarios did the prostitute angle ever enter my head as a viable option. I called for reinforcements and had my wife take over so I could wander off and ease my heart palpitations.
She, too, was caught completely off-guard and told him, “Well, honey, it’s not really something someone your age needs to know about yet.” She had hoped this would dissuade him, but as with most curious kids, he said he really wanted to know.
As my wife stuttered and stammered trying to think of something to say, he asked, “Is it when two people get naked?”
Nodding in agreement, we felt this explanation was good enough for now.
Heather laughed nervously and said, “Yessss…but…it’s…there’s…you…yes, it’s when two people get naked.”
Seeing how we don’t need to worry about him getting naked with anyone any time soon, we decided to take a break from the issue and do it in stages. We agreed to address the issue when the two of us were better prepared and on some seriously strong stroke medication.
He seemed satisfied with the answer and everyone went about their business. Michael went back to his blocks, Heather went back to her book, I went back to work, and Andrew went off to dismantle his brothel.
In retrospect, I suppose we could have reminded him about the two giant tortoises we saw going at it in their pen at the Fort Worth Zoo. The female was just sitting there eating lettuce, completely uninterested, while her mate propped himself up at a 45-degree angle and started grunting like a dying wildebeest.
We all laughed, but for different reasons. Heather and I laughed because we knew what he was trying to accomplish. Andrew and Michael laughed because of the noises he made. And my dad laughed because it reminded him of his honeymoon.
But then, is this really the vision we want him to have of sex? Turtles? After what we witnessed, we wouldn’t be doing him or his future wife any favors. We’ll have the talk, just not yet.
Tonight, as we said goodnight to our kids, Heather walked by Andrew’s room and said, “Good night Mac Daddy!”
He screamed out, “I’M NOT A PIMP!”
And then, from the dark and quiet confines of our 9-year old’s bedroom, came a distant voice,
“What’s a pimp?”