Hang Dong

@theo

Once we’re alone, Dad breaks his lotus and lets out the longest sigh any human being has ever exhaled—to the extent that he actually seems to deflate slightly. He nods at me, smiles. “I’ve got a secret.”

“You do?” I ask.

“Mm-hm.”

I wait.

“Going into this,” he continues, “I was going to play the backup support card and let your mom do all the talking. But the sex doll, the condoms and dildos and pie charts—I think you and I can make more miles if we just keep it simple. Sound good?”

Anything’s better than dildos and sex dolls! “Yeah,” I agree.

Dad laughs. “Anya’s New Age stuff, it’s either really, really good, or it’s really, really bad. There’s no in-between, is there?”

I chuckle nervously.

“Okay. The Talk.” Dad stares straight ahead. He thinks for a moment. “You know how the equipment works. Whatever you don’t know you’ll learn through consensual trial and error. That’s not what this is about. What it’s about is…well, let me put it this way. When I was a little younger than you, my grandpa caught me looking at a dirty magazine. His version of The Talk was to sit me down, hand me a pack of condoms, and bestow upon me these words of wisdom. ‘The day you get a girl pregnant is the day you become a man. It’s also the day you move out of my house.’” Dad puts his arm around my shoulder. “I’m passing his words down to you, Theo.”

“Uh…thanks,” I murmur. Surprisingly, I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t more to it.

“No problem. Any questions?”

Now it’s my turn to think for a moment. “Why do they call it the birds and the bees?”

Dad grins. “Because they’re too chicken to say ‘dicks and pussies.’ Don’t tell your mom I used the non-scientific terms.”

I laugh, and most of the awkwardness I’d felt coming in now drains out of me. I’m kind of glad we had this weird yoga sex talk thing. I start to get up, uncrossing my legs—and the heel of my foot somehow hooks into my towel, pinning it to the mat as the rest of me, now naked as a jaybird, goes upright. And for a brief, horrifying moment, I’m totally exposed in front of Dad. There goes a brilliant flash of golden light, an angelic chorus chant, a robust whiff of the Santanas—

“Oops,” I mutter, playing it cool, stooping quickly and grabbing my towel, fastening it around my waist again.

The light vanishes.

The choir is silenced.

The breeze subsides.

But the damage is done. Dad saw me, saw it, saw everything. There’s blood trickling from his now sightless eyes, his soundless ears; rivulets of snot escape his nostrils; his hair is mussed, his skin clammy. He’s totally shell-shocked.

The flight part of my fight or flight instinct kicks in— “Umgoodnightdad,” I mumble quickly, and rush for the door.

While Dad’s rasped, Bowman-esque response haunts me on the way out: “My God, it’s full of stars…”

* * *

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Jesse Gordon

Geek. Writer. Supreme overlord of the SUPERMEGANET pseudoverse. Author of THE OATMEAL MAN, DOOKIE, and other such wasteful nonsense.