“Girlfriend?” I asked, with (I think) a sufficient degree of coolness (while inside I was panicking). “Since when do you have a girlfriend?”
“Since at least September,” he said, rather matter-of-factly, and actually in a bit of a snobbish tone. (That whole — sigh — “where have YOU been?” thing.)
“Huh,” I said, stalling for time, as my mind raced. Should I ask him what it MEANS that he had a girlfriend? Did he kiss her? Did they hold hands? Is this the reason A. has been talking to him about sex?
“Yeah, she decided she wanted to be someone else’s girlfriend,” he said, before I could think of what to say that wouldn’t cause this conversation to plummet rapidly into places undesireable. And of course, my heart sank. My boy got dumped for someone else!
“Who is this other guy? Do you want me to use my blue-hair superhero powers to kick his ass?” [It’s been a running joke since kindergarten that I’m freaky because I’m like a 2007 — well, at the time, a 2002 — version of Wonder Woman, or at least Hawkgirl…]
“Nah, he’s kind of a dork. And I’m really not that upset. She wasn’t that good of a girlfriend anyway.”
Whew. My boy’s heart wasn’t broken! [Or maybe he’s just saying that to calm me down?] In any case, this served as a springboard for a question I’ve dreaded almost as much as the one in which I have to either come clean or lie about my use of psychedelics in the early 90s: “How old were you when you had YOUR first boyfriend?”
Of course, I said what any self-respecting mother would: “I guess it depends on how you define a boyfriend….” [Do I really want to tell him I made out with a fourth-grader in his treehouse when I was only eight years old? Uh…. no.] And so I told him I went on my first date when I was in sixth grade, reminding him of the story I’d told him a couple of weeks ago about R.S., who punched me EVERY SINGLE DAY of sixth grade, only to ask me to go see White Nights with him at the Brauntex Theatre ($1 matinees!) the day after school let out for the summer. It was the first time I realized that sometimes boys don’t know what to do any more than girls do, and at times it sure seems like slugging someone in the upper arm is as good as giving them a kiss (and, at age 11, a lot more acceptable).
W. got bored pretty quickly with my reminiscing about my own tween years (since he met R.S. at my high-school reunion a few years back, I’m guessing he was just as unimpressed with him as I was after seeing how he’d turned into a fat pansy ass Texan good ol’ boy). The conversation turned next to the nature of reality, and we had an engaging discussion about “how do we know we’re real? what if we’re all just someone else’s dream, or characters in a video game but we don’t know it?”
For that one, I tried explaining to him that it doesn’t really matter, in all practicality (would we start acting differently if we knew we were in someone else’s dream or a game? no, we wouldn’t, because for all practical purposes, our lives wouldn’t have changed one bit… and for religious people, things REALLY wouldn’t have changed at all, since many of them already believe we’re here as some sort of big-ass video game orchestrated by God. but I digress…), but he still just WANTED TO KNOW. And so I called in the big guns by phoning A, who — as a professional philosopher — carries the sort of intellectual weight I can’t and won’t (since I’m “only” the English professor mom who studies silly things like post-modernism and existentialism). So what does A. have me do? He has me slap the kid on the middle of the train (invoking Samuel Johnson‘s refutation of Berkeley‘s idealism). And then he gives W. a weekend homework assignment: come up with evidence for both points of view and prepare to discuss it Sunday evening. [To which W. said, “All I did was ask a damned good question.” Welcome to my world, son…]