Unpleasant Scene

You might think the biggest scare for a college grad living with his folks is Mom walking in while he’s having sex. I promise you that there’s another experience that redefines horror.
By Kyle Dowling • Illustration by Tom Richmond

Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” I moan, slamming the door and running into the hallway with my hands over my face. My eyes are closed so tightly that not even the Jaws of Life could open them; my knees are weak. I think positive thoughts: laughs (ha-ha), music (ah), friends (yes, now we’re getting somewhere), family (wait a minute …). Dad walks out, calmly closing the door while shutting his robe. His friend is still saluting quite a bit, but I’m not even going to think about that. I can hear my mother’s laughter from behind the bedroom door. “Quit being such a baby,” my father says. “You’re 22. You don’t know these things happen?” Quit being a baby! Is he kidding? Why didn’t they lock the door? Why didn’t they install the “Instant Sex Lock” doorknob? (Good idea, no?)

It’s a common fear, I feel, catching your parents in the act. But it should be mentioned that when one is told to “man up,” this situation never comes to mind. Dealing with a bully at school, the first sleepover, going to college—yes, those were times to stop being a baby. But indelible images seared into your brain, proving your parents still fornicate? Not once has that crossed my mind when I’ve considered how to earn and keep my man card.

After some heavy convincing by my dad, I find myself walking back toward the site of the incident. My
mother is on the bed, still in her—gulp—lingerie. A somewhat arrogant smile lies upon her face, but she tries to soften it with a sweet “Hi, darling!” I don’t think so, Mother! My father lies beside her in a sort of spooning position, which makes matters much worse…for me, at least.

My heart is racing, yet I can feel each thump one by one. Time is slowing. Minutes are turning to hours. I
listen to my father ramble on about his and my mother’s countless sexual escapades, with an incredible amount of detail. Given the circumstances, you’d think he’d catch his tongue at some point, but no. The examples continue for I don’t know how long: the kitchen, the living room, the car…I’ll spare you the rest (please hold your thanks). Yet all that’s running through my mind is, Dude, that’s my mom!

By the way, I’m sure this situation is not limited to parents. Anyone who has family in their life—parents,
stepparents, siblings, half-siblings, stepsiblings … whatever the blended situation—I imagine this scene would be just as unpleasant.

After a while, though, I think, Is this really such a bad thing? Don’t get me wrong: What I just witnessed was the equivalent of staring at the sun: “Look away, child! You’ll go blind!” And the way these two adults are handling the situation is rather suspect. But maybe it’s good that they’re sexually active—behind closed doors. Would I rather they loathe each other? I lift my head out of my hands and gaze at an amazing sight: happi ness. The smiles they exchange are enough to make me understand that, after 30 years, a spark still exists in their relationship. Ponder that, my friends!

Surprisingly, I’m smiling. My heart slows to its normal rate. The minutes turn from endless hours back to
mere minutes again. I am regaining stability. I rise to my feet in the middle of my father’s sentence and, before I even think it, say, “I love you both.” No response is needed. Their smiles are more than enough.

I grab the doorknob to exit, but not before securely locking the door from the inside. I walk to my room, still amazed that I have seen my mother and my father having sex and it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. Once I’m in the safe confines of my room, I pick up baby six-string and start plucking away, feeling remarkably free and happy. Plus, it helps me block out the moans coming from down the hall. They’re at it again.

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  • JR

    This was great. Amusing, insightful, heartwarming and well-written. Would like to see more from Dowling!

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