What's a Dildo?

February 1978 – Houston, Texas

My brother keeps calling me a dildo as we run around the Galleria with 15 minutes before we have to be back at David Webb to meet Grandma Ida and my parents. “what’s a dildo? What is it” I whine to him over and over. I figure it’s some kind of stupid, girly doll. It’s got that “toy” sound and he’s always making fun of me since I admitted I wanted the Charlie’s Angels action figures. “Hey dildo” he says again and runs off, knowing I have a shitty sense of direction.

After about a half hour I see the signs Davidoff, Dunhill and finally my eye reaches the golden letters of David Webb. Before my relief sets in, I feel a tight, painful squeeze constricting my arm. “Who do you think you are” he says in a stern voice just below a shout. My father, with his enormous hand around my arm is towering over me, eyes bulging from his head. “But…” I attempt, and he blocks it with “NO BUTS. COME ON”. I determine that my brother told them I ran off.

We all huddle into the chocolate brown Oldsmobile, Ida in the passenger seat, my dad in the driver seat and the rest of us are squeezed in the back. New car leather and deodorizer blend with the last of the thick outside air as the windows roll up and the AC kicks in with it’s gritty start. Shortly after that my knees begin to freeze and my teeth start to chatter. It’s 83 degrees outside and 0 in the car. My dad and grandma go on about who died, who got divorced and all the rest of the Houston gossip we get to hear for 10 days during our Winter vacation. All the while my mother who is sitting between my brother and me is complaining about her knees, breathing heavily and rolling her eyes.

Through industrial neighborhoods and suburban stretches, ranch style houses and residential traffic, my dad bitches to my grandmother how we “should have taken the freeway”. She insists he take Fondren every time, and I know for a fact that no matter which route we take we always arrive at the same time. My dad likes constant movement.

The consistency of the route argument, the repetition of the stories…my father’s first car, his accident when he was 15, the folks who own the town, the complexes bought up on Fondren…signal ticks..tick.tick.tick..turn on Beechnut…into the driveway on Duffield and we arrive. I get to press the Genie and the garage door magically opens to a dark and steamy interior. I’m the last one out of the car and I make the regular announcement to Grandma Ida, “don’t close the door on….” and she slams it on my leg…every time.

I barely get a chance to thaw out before we head Inside the house. It’s slightly less cold than the car with the central air thermostat set at a winter’s climate. Dad goes down for a nap. My mother tries to escape when her mother in law stops to ask her, “would ya be a dear and comb my haiyur” in her southern drawl. Ida’s hair is a neatly set web of light weight, silver wool with curved shapes, which all slope over and stop for a turn just at the base of her neck, right above the round of her shoulders. My mother’s job is to “fluff” it out with a triple spiked metal pick that tings when it bounces from a tuft.

After I take a pee I present myself to the ladies and proceed with, “Grandma? What’s a dildo?”


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