Comedy has always proved elusive to me. What one person may find hilarious, another can find deeply dull or downright stupid. And often, Child Two finds uproarious 11-year old boy humor in things I find utterly disdainful. But we were both completely in sync when it came to the brand of humor in this particular movie. Minute after unfunny minute passed and we hung in there, thinking surely this must pass and surely the comedy would kick in any second.
Finally, we got to the “dinner” of the “Dinner with Schmucks” and the Schmuck explains why his wife left him. He lost her clitoris, he explains to a roomful of guests. He didn’t know what it was and so he didn’t know WHERE it was. At one point he thought maybe it was under the couch but that turned out to be just a piece of gum. On and on he goes about the lost bit of anatomy and deeper and deeper I sink into my seat, stealing sideways glances at Child Two and praying that he is not stealing sideways glances at me. “Please,” I pray silently, “please don’t let him lean over and ask me what a clitoris is.”
The moment passed and I sat rigid through the remainder of the movie hoping he wouldn’t remember this particular bit of unfunny to bring up as we discussed the myriad unfunny moments throughout the unfunny film. Thankfully, Child Two let slide this wildly uncomfortable PG-13 moment. Perhaps he knows what a clitoris is and doesn’t need to ask. Perhaps he doesn’t know what it is but knows enough to know that asking would yield a wildly uncomfortable conversation better had with his father than his stepmother. Or perhaps he doesn’t know, didn’t recognize my discomfort and just brushed it off as yet another unfunny moment he didn’t quite get. Whatever the reason, I escaped unquestioned and deeply grateful.
Two nights later, I was talking to a friend who sat through the same movie with his nine-year old son. My friend brought up the same scene, the same twinge of discomfort, the same lack of little boy response. We laughed about it and I walked away feeling slightly better about what I had assumed to be my failing as a stepmother – my inability to confront questions of sexuality with my stepson. I had assumed that stepmotherness inhibited my ability to speak frankly with Child Two about the female anatomy. But it turns out my failing was entirely unrelated to my step-status. My failing is simply that of the typical adult.
Sig Other, I’m sure, would scoff at my prudishness and declare it uniquely American. He would most likely have used the opportunity to launch into a technical discussion of labia and its surrounds that would have mortified Child Two in the moment but fascinated him in the long run. And I would have simply ducked for cover. But Sig Other was not at the movie and so Child Two suffers no such embarrassment. I, however, am left wondering when (if not already) the boy will know that a clitoris is truly not something that looks like a piece of gum under a couch…