What’s fifty-six?

“Mom, what’s fifty-six?””Ah, I’m not sure what you mean.””I think it might be a… a…””Mmm-hmm?”(Whispered) “…a set thing…”Long, long pause.

    “Mom, What’s fifty-six?”

    “Ah, I’m not sure what you mean.”

    “I think it might be a… a…”


    (Whispered) “…a sex thing…”

    Long, long pause.

    “Honey, do you mean sixty-nine?”

    “Oh, yeah, that’s it.”

    “Where did you hear about that?”

    “Some kids at school…”

This is the kind of conversation one has when one has children on the verge of teenager-hood. The kind of conversation that’s easy if you’re up-tight and prudish, because you can just wash a kid’s mouth with soap or spank them or pretend you don’t understand. But when you actually talk to your kids and tell them the truth, it can be a little but complicated.

The truth. That’s the tricky part. What truth? How much?

I’m a dirty bastard. I write erotica. I know sexuality. But putting things like this into a context so it’s both understandable and appropriate; that’s difficult.

How do you explain sexuality, sensuality, to a ten year old?

Honestly though, here’s what happens when you don’t.

I had a co-worker named Suzy, long long ago when I worked at a poster store and head shop, a place connected to Tower Records. We sold bongs and rolling papers, pipes and coke mirrors. Plants and incense.

So Suzy was the honey of the crew. A little older than most of us, I was maybe 20, she was 23 or so. A suntanned California babe. A little dim, but not as dim as she acted. Not really as cute as we all thought she was, but you know, the cutest girl we actually had there with us every day. I wanted to fuck her desperately. So did most of the rest of us. And I realize now, I could have but I didn’t think to just ask.

So I wore a shirt back then, a kelly-green football jersey with a big number 69 on the back. People would comment on it, and I’d say “It was the position I played in high-school.” Some got it, some didn’t.

I used this joke on Suzy one day and got a blank stare. The sort of an embarrassed grin. She moved in close, all intimate-like, and whispered to me.

“I don’t know what that means,” she said.


“Sixty-nine. I don’t — uh…”

She paused and looked around.

“I don’t know what it means!” she finished, lamely.

I could have said a lot of things. Now, obviously, I’d suggest that I show her. And it might have worked, for all I know. She might have let me take her in the back room and demonstrate. I certainly would have gone if it’d played that way. But then, twenty years old, I had no idea what I might have gotten away with.

So I decided to go for the prank.

“Ask your mother,” I said.

It was a couple of days later when I saw her again; one or the other of us was off shift. But her face was red when she saw me, her body language all embarrassment and irritation.

She planted a punch in my shoulder, and then started poking me.

“You! You! Y-y-y-y-y-y – YOU!” she sputtered at me.


“You told me to ask her!”

“Ask who? What?” I’d forgotten all about it.

“You told me to ask my mother, what 69 is!”

“Ooooooohhhh yeahhhhh….”

“And I did!”

Her face was getting redder.

“And. She. Told me!

Poor Suzy. I doubt that’s the last sexual lesson she had to learn the hard way.

It’s very important to me that my children grow up never having to say “Oh, wow, I didn’t know that.” It’s so easy to teach them, and costs so little. I want them to be the ones who can tell their peers the truth when teen-age conversation turns to adult matters. I want them to be the ones who know what STDs are, who know how you can and can’t get pregnant. I want them to know they can come to us and ask about birth control someday.

BUt still. How do you explain sixty-nine to a ten year old?

I didn’t have to, this time. The conversation above was between mother and daughter, and handled incredibly well; matter-of-factly with enough but not too much detail.

That conversation concluded, after a couple of ten-year old Eeeewwwws and Ughs, with this:

“…And I give you full permission, now that you know this, to forget it completely and pretend we didn’t have this conversation.”

Which my ten-year-old did, and went back to her homework. But now she knows she can ask a question like that and get a real answer.

I must say though, I’m waiting for the day she asks about why daddy is always kissing people who aren’t mommy. That will be an interesting conversation.

0 thoughts on “What’s fifty-six?”

  1. Oh god, we all have 10 year olds, don’t we? All daughters. They should form a club, an Internet community, where they can swap info, bewail the fact that it’s going to be wicked difficult to ever shock us as parents, and practice being jaded and world-weary pre-adolescents.

    Second thought… nah.


  2. I can handle 4 year olds fine:

    Madison: Melanie how do babies come out?
    Melanie: that is something you might want to ask your mom
    Madison: don’t you know?
    Melanie: yes I do
    Madison: tell me
    Melanie: they come out the birth canal
    Madison: okay

    it worked. I’m glad I didn’t have to explain anymore. Lord help me when I have my own children and they turn 10.

    I don’t remember asking my mom about sex or her telling me, but I always knew. I think she was the only one of the 4 kids she felt comfortable talking about with. I am the only one who didn’t get knocked up.

  3. Y’all also realize, that from now on, I’m going to be calling it 56. (Which, as I recall, is always kinda how it worked out whenever I tried it. It’s not one of my Positions Of Choice. TMI…I know.)

    And oh. Are you-all Clixing my site? Because you should ought to be…


  4. Timely post. I’m hitting another complication of having a daughter, especially one who I had when I was 18.

    Now I’m 35, and active in my local kink community. My daughters are all aware of my wife and myself being polyamorous, but not kinky (well, we don’t talk about it; I’m sure they are aware). I’m sort of the local Japanese Bondage guy, and I run a station at the monthly fetish club event, as well as doing demos, etc.

    Anyway, a couple of weeks ago, a petite pretty young woman came up leashed to her Mistress (an old friend). The Mistress asked me to put her in “something pretty, but not too cruel” and so I did, creating a nice harness, very professional, no copped feels or anything like that. Still, it was very exciting for her, and quite pleasant for me. She told me about her husband, with the military in Japan, and how much she wished he could see it. They went on their way, I thought nothing of it.

    Yesterday, at lunch with my oldest daughter, she was talking about her boyfriend’s older sister, who she said liked going to clubs. “Maybe you’ve seen her?” she asked, describing a petite, kitteny looking woman.

    “Not unless she’s married to a soldier in Japan,” I quipped, and her eyes got wide.

    “That’s her! How did you meet her?”

    I thought about it, looked at her seriously, and said, “You really, honestly, do NOT want to know.”

    And you know? She believed me.

  5. I have the same philosophy about raising my kids. I want them to get accurate information and I want them to come to me FIRST for that info. Armed with knowledge, kids are so much safer and able to deal with situations as they arise.

    I love the way your daughter responded…and the ‘permission to forget’ statement.

  6. I told my daughter (4 years old) today that we got her from the “reduced” section at Tesco, same as her (8 day old) sister.

    I should probably re-appraise my thinking on open-ness and honesty


    (before you all shred me, she does actually know where she came from… I was just playing with her)

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