Every little girl remembers her first glimpse of a real live adult male peen.
If she’s lucky, it was an innocent and accidental encounter with her dad or older brother — a slipped towel or unlocked bathroom door, perhaps. If she’s less fortunate, it was a flasher on the subway or something far worse that precipitated years of trauma and therapy.
For me, it was some random dude’s dong in San Francisco.
Now, you wouldn’t think it would require a transcontinental flight for a 6th grader from the Bronx to peep her first real-life dick pic, but you’d be wrong because that’s exactly what it took.
It was my first trip to the west coast, and my parents and I were visiting my Cool Young Aunt Alexis. Alexis made her own jewelry and had big, beautiful curly black hair. She looked and sounded like my mom, but seemed so alluringly different—artistic and free-spirited in stark contrast to my mother’s macabre pragmatism. She had just returned from a stint living at an ashram in India and somewhere else in the mountains near Boulder, and was now in a basement apartment in the Haight.
“There’s San Francisco!,” my dad said as we came in over the bay for a landing. He let me sit on his lap at the window seat in the non-smoking section of the plane as he pointed out some landmarks. My parents were well-traveled, but I thought this trip was the coolest thing that had ever happened to me.
I fell asleep at dinner the first night because of the three hour time difference—my first experience in another time zone. We did all the touristy San Francisco things on that trip: drove down Lombard Street, swam in the Pacific Ocean, went to Fisherman’s Wharf, and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge.
But what do I remember most vividly as the most fascinating thing I saw that week? Well I’m glad you asked, because the answer is a drunk hippie’s wang. Unlike the other sights, I didn’t take a Polaroid of this one, but if memory serves this spontaneous attraction presented itself to me outside our hotel one morning.
My mom and I had walked down the street to get breakfast, and there on a bench was a passed-out dude. Being from NYC, I was no stranger to passed-out dudes on benches, so I thought nothing of it until I noticed that he was wearing baggy shorts and his ENTIRE humongous, pink junk was pretty much just hanging out in the breeze.
Something deep in my monkey DNA told me this was a fight-or-flight scenario, so I yanked my mother’s purse and leaned into her side.
“MOM!” I whisper-hissed. “I can see that man’s penis!”
My 43 year-old mother was unfazed and had never been particulary attached to her only daughter’s innocence. A Bronx-born orphan and scrapper from youth, not to mention a medical doctor, the woman had seen her share of dicks by this time and was decidedly circumspect.
She put her arm around my shoulder protectively and seamlessly steered us in the other direction. “Uch, Feh!” she shuddered in Yiddish under her breath, “Don’t look.” Of course the ONLY thing I wanted to do was look, and I was disappointed that my traveling companion didn’t share my enthusiasm.
“Remember this moment, Elizabeth,” she said when we had given the man and his genitals a sufficiently wide berth. “Because the fact is you won’t be able to forget it even if you want to.”
As with so much else, she was absolutely right.