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Monday, June 9, 2008
Totally Recalling Awkwardness
The first female breasts I ever saw were on that three breasted mutant lady on Total Recall. You know how the ending to Casablanca reminds you that, even with our propensity to do untold harm to each other, human beings have the singular capacity to find goodness within themselves, that no matter how bleak the situation might be, we maybe able to illuminate it with the sliver of light within each and everyone of us? That’s what it was like. Except replace the problems of “three little people” with “three medium sized breasts.” I turned off the vcr and ran and told my parents. “That movie had scenes I shouldn’t be seeing. Also, uh, couple of questions…”
We had strict rules about movies. No sex. No sex at all. If I was watching a movie that they had rented for me that had sex, I was to turn it off and go tell them. And I did it everytime. What was worse, though, was when scenes would show up during movies I would watch with my parents. The rules were simple. Bury my head in the pillow as my dad fast forwarded through the offending scene. It was worst when you could kind of see it coming.
“Hey, thanks for helping me with the Nazi brigade back there. You wanna come up for some coffee?” (Oh shit. No. No please don’t go up for any coffee. My mom and dad are right here.) “I don’t drink coffee.” (awesome!) “Well, honey, you won’t have to.” (Noooooooo!)
Cue the very specific windy/whirry sounds of fast forwarding as I bury my face in a pillow.
It felt horrible, just the implicit acknowledgment that sex was about to occur, that I somehow knew the kinds of wordplay and verbal jousting that led to these scenes. I certainly had moments where I mistakenly buried my head in the pillow expecting love making. And then had to emerge from my pillow of shame a little embarrassed when the scene changed. “I totally thought she was into him.”
Here is the worst of these occurrences. Watching a movie with my parents, the sex scene happens, I bury my face in the pillow. Except there is no fast forwarding. My mom yells my dad’s name. “Fast Forward it!” “I don’t think the battery is working.” And then I sat there, my face in a pillow, the sounds of simulated sex filling the air as my dad fumbles with the remote control, trying to change batteries. The moaning gets louder with each fumble, or maybe it just seems to get louder. My mom is yelling my dad’s name, I can hear my dad trying to get the batteries in the right way, as the two people on screen moan towards faked ecstasy. One giant moan, and then silence. And then, when its obviously too late, the windy whirring sounds of fast forwarding. There has never been a bigger disconnect between the way characters have felt on screen and the way that an audience has felt watching them. Or, in my case, hearing them. What I felt was the exact opposite of having sex. We all emerged from the episodes changed. That moment took something from each of us.
The weird thing, however, was that we could watch the most violent movies ever made. And that was fine. Somehow, watching a man kill another man was better than watching the natural act of sex. I watched all the Rambo movies, all the Rocky movies, and every single horror movie I could get my hands on. I still don’t really understand this double standard. We watched the most gleefully sadistic scenes without a hint of awkwardness, but then would be reduced to quivering heaps of embarrassment as soon as two characters decided to spoon. What would get a worse reaction from my parents:
“Mom, dad, I had sex for the first time last week.” vs. “Mom, dad, I murdered someone for the first time last week. You know, one thing led to another, and next thing I know…”
Now that I think about it, I actually wouldn't be surprised if it was the former.
"What did you do? Have you no shame?!? This is not how we raised you!" vs. "Go hide in the basement. We'll bring you food down twice a day. We love you very much."
Also, what awkward sex movie moments have you guys shared with your parents?