Children need role models, I am told, and this is why I am always telling my own kids so many stories. All of the time, in fact. You know: Myths, fables, fairy tales, with characters that embody some personal characteristic I’d like my kids to see and to emulate, maybe.
So someday – not today, but someday! – I will tell them a story about my old friend, Michelle. I will tell them about a time when Michelle was very scared but also very brave and knew to go and to ask others for help.
I will tell my kids the Story of the Brave Girl Who Asked for Help.
Michelle was brave because she knocked on my door without calling ahead. She was brave because, when I answered the door, she just pushed her way on in.
She pushed her way on in and she started pacing around my living room. She stared at her feet. She crossed her arms. She appeared nervous, you know?
I was eating grapes. Big red ones. Just fantastic. I kept eating and I waited for something else to happen.
And sure enough, eventually something else happened.
“You… you’re a lesbian, right?” Michelle said, still pacing.
“I am,” I said. It was true.
“Could you… Please. Um. Could you do me a big favor?” Michelle said.
I chewed. Slowly.
“Well…” I said.
“That sort of depends,” I said.
“Were those last two questions related in any way?” I said.
Michelle, well, she exhaled really loud and she lowered her head even farther and she marched into my kitchen. That was kind of brave of her, wouldn’t you agree?
She sat down at my kitchen table. She pressed her face down directly onto the tabletop. And she stayed like that for a long time while I emptied my dishwasher.
I could not foresee any scenario in which this encounter went well from here.
“Bryan and I were fooling around this morning,” she said finally, her face still implanted firmly on the tabletop.
“Okay,” I said. I started scrubbing one of the dishes even though it was already impressively clean.
“We were using this tiny little vibrator thing but we didn’t read the instructions for it,” Michelle said. She raised her head off the table. I believe she was gauging my reaction to her story. I tried to show none.
She continued: “Anyway, apparently, you’re supposed to attach it to like a… a… a cock ring, but we didn’t know that… and now it is lost up inside me.”
I nodded my head. Slowly. Thoughtfully. I remember thinking, “Maybe I should go buy some more of those grapes right about now.”
Then I started asking questions. Really, I guess I started asking a lot of half-questions.
Like, “Are you su-u-ure-?”
And, “Does it hurt? Is it… Is it o-o-on?”
-It did not and it was not.
And, “Is it…. magnetic? Maybe-e-e-?”
-They’d already tried that.
“And Bryan, he-e-e-e-?”
-Had tried to retrieve it with his fat, stubby fingers, yes.
“But my fingers a-a-a-re-?”
-Long and skinny. Plus, I was a lesbian.
I sat down. I spread my hands wide across the tabletop and I stared at them for a long, long time. While I was staring, the sunlight through the windows moved across the kitchen floor.
“You’re going to write about this on your blog, aren’t you?” Michelle said.
“I’m afraid so.” I said. “I’m sorry. It can’t be helped. You can pick the name that I use for you in it, though..”
“Joanna,” she said without hesitation.
“Joanna it is!” I said to Michelle.
After that, I talked to Michelle for a long while. I talked about how she was going to have to be brave a little more. About how she was going to have to go see a doctor. About how this wasn’t going to be the most embarrassing object that doctor ever pulled out of somebody. About how this wasn’t even going to be the most embarrassing object he pulled out of somebody this week.
Now, this whole time I went on talking to Michelle, she was still pressing her face straight down on the tabletop. Not speaking, not moving, not acknowledging I was talking at all.
Finally, I got up and started washing some more clean dishes.
I have never been comfortable turning people down when they come to me for help. I hate it! I know how hard it is to ask for help.
So this long silence of Michelle’s, it was driving me insane.
And when I was just about ready to cave, to give in, to agree to go ahead and, you know, give my friend a hand (or at least a couple fingers), Michelle raised her head back up. She got up out of the chair. She raised her right hand.
“Got it!” she said. Sure enough, there was something small and purple there in her palm.
Michelle started walking back to the front door.
I followed after her. “Were you… fishing around inside yourself this whole time?” I said.
“At my kitchen table?” I said.
Michelle walked out my front door, across my lawn, and out to her car. She did not look back.
“Goodbye!” I shouted after her. I waved. “I will tell the world of your bravery in coming here today, Michelle!”
I thought about it some more and then I corrected myself.
“I mean, ‘Joanna’!”