NONFICTION June 5, 2020

His Mother’s Dildo

Owen’s got his mom’s dildo in his hand. He’s crying a little bit. We’re sitting in the parking lot of a sex shop crammed between a bail bondsman and a jewelry shop. The kind of place where all the windows have bars. And we’ve just been robbed. I want to turn to Owen and say, I think I took this too far,but all that comes out is: “You’ve got your mom’s pube on your shirt.”

He vomits.

This happened when I was like sixteen. I forget exactly when because my memory’s been burnt to shit by years of taking blunt after blunt straight to the dome like a total fucking burnout. And that’s what Owen and I are looking for: weed. At his parents’ house, after school, looking for his dad’s secret stash.

Owen’s digging through his dad’s bedside table, and I’m digging through his parents’ dresser. I open the top drawer and it’s full of women’s underwear. I’m gonna throw a pair on Owen’s head. But when I pick up the underwear, I see it.

A big, pink vibrator. Dildo. Whatever. It’s one of those classic plastic kinds with the black bottom you twist to turn on. I pick it up, hide it behind my back.

Owen says, I found it. And holds up this bag of weed that looks more like Play-Doh. Hash, not weed.

But as he holds up this bag, I’m already real close to him. Dildo in my hand. And I twist the bottom. Turn it on. BZZZZZZZT. I shove it in his face and scream, What the hell is this thing for?

And because of some primordial defense mechanism or whatever, he slaps it out of my hand.

The dildo goes flying across the room toward the bathroom. Smacks the door. Ricochets off the bathroom counter. And when it hits the bathroom floor, it shatters. Plastic skittering over the tiles. Microscopic pieces shooting all over the place. Half the battery compartment lands in the toilet.

But the fucking thing’s still vibrating.

So we’re sitting there looking at his mom’s broken dildo, vibrating across the floor. My mouth drops, and Owen goes absolutely pale. Like drained-animal-at-the-slaughterhouse pale. And he turns to me and says, real serious—

You broke my mom’s dildo.

See: I have a problem with taking things too far. I’ve never learned my lesson—even in life-and-death situations. Like the time I pretended to drop my grandpa’s casket at his funeral. Even though my family’s Irish, they didn’t find it funny—but I did. So then I laugh. Hard.

And he panics. What’re we gonna do? Why the fuck did you do this? What the hell’s wrong with you?

I say, What about the weed?

So we smoke the hash, cramming huge lumps into a half-crushed Coke can. The stuff burns the throat like swallowing turpentine—yes, I’ve done it—and halfway through the second lump we know we’ve smoked too much. My mind can barely run through all the ways of fixing the dildo: Tape? No. Glue? God no. Put it back and act like it never happened? That’s a possibility, but someone’ll have to answer for it, and I’m not that guy. And Owen is sure as shit not gonna go up to his mom and say, We were playing with your dildo and broke it. I’ve never seen him share more than twenty words with his mom.

I don’t know what we’re gonna do. Then he says, We gotta buy her a new one.

So we get in the car, high on hash, which we’ve never smoked before. It feels like my body’s being weighed down, like every dildo on the planet’s been stuffed under my skin. My eyes are a special shade of red saved for impending nuclear threat. My hands feel like feet and my feet like dicks. So naturally I start driving.

But what neither of us knows, what we find out pretty quick, is that you have to be eighteen to get into sex shops. Of the three shops we manage to find, all of them ask for ID, and all of them tell us to get lost. And this isn’t like buying booze or cigarettes. We can’t stand outside and stop the first guy walking toward the entrance and say, Excuse me, sir. My friend and I broke his mom’s dildo. If we give you twenty bucks can you go in and get us one?

So we keep driving around, the hash high settling in like a nightmare. We’re either driving thirty miles an hour too slowly or we’re driving with the recklessness of a chimpanzee—it’s hard to tell which. I’m pretty sure I hit a car or a curb or a baby stroller, but I laugh it off like it never happened. Did it? I still don’t know. Either way we’re in one of the worst parts of Houston. The kind of area where even the Mormons don’t go door to door. We’re hopeless, almost ready to give up and try to piece the vibrator back together with Gorilla Snot.

And then we see it.

The sex shop between the bail bondsman and jeweler. No sign out front with an age restriction. Definitely not the kind of place with rules—and probably not the kind of place an underage guy like myself should enter at like two in the afternoon. Especially alone.

But Owen says, I’m not going in. You broke it, you go in. And I’m too high to argue. So I go in, sort of float up to the counter, to the clerk, put the broken vibrator on the counter, and say, I broke this dildo and I need a new one just like it.

And there’s not even a question. The clerk, this Joan Rivers-looking lady who talks like Hulk Hogan, says, I think I got that, sifts through the wall of toys behind her: silicone fists, sixteen-inch double-sided floppy things, squeaky toys, beads, plugs, whips. All this shit that I, at the time, have no fucking idea what it’s for. And all I’m doing is giggling like someone whispered pee pee during naptime. I see a make-your-own-dildo kit: stick your dick in a mold and make a loved one a usable replica of your penis. Should I get it? It’d be the ultimate fucked your mom joke, right?

No . . . too far.

Joan Hogan comes back with a dildo that’s perfect. Might even be the same model. So I buy it. Problem solved.

I get into the car, give it to Owen. He opens it and tries to turn it on, but it doesn’t twist. It’s not a vibrator.

So I go back in, slam the fake dildo on the counter, and say, Hey listen, lady: you sold me a fucked vibrator. I want my money back.She smiles and points to a sign behind her that says Absolutely no refunds.

And when I say, That’s bullshit,her Hulk Hogan side comes out. She steps from around the counter, but I don’t wait to see if she’s gonna clothesline me or give me the piledriver. I haul ass. Gone.

Back in the car, Owen’s holding the two dildos next to each other. This is when he starts crying. And after I spot the pube and he vomits, I decide I’ve taken it way too far.

See, I know Owen’s family. His dad’s a little abusive. And again: I don’t know whether his mom even likes him. So him crying about this dildo isn’t that he’s embarrassed or that he let his mom down. It’s that this’ll further remove him from a family dynamic that already consists of three private islands: mother, father, and son.

I know what I have to do.

We go back to his house, wait for his mom to get home from work. Now, Owen and I have been friends since we were like five years old. And up to this point I’ve interacted with his mom maybe twice. His dad, less so. So that’s probably why she stands there like death just showed up at her door while I hold both her broken vibrator and the replica dildo out to her like little gifts.

I say, I broke your dildo.All the false confidence knocked out of me, the hash high long gone. And then I add, But I bought you this one. It doesn’t buzz, but it’s the best I could do.

She stands there, taking it all in. I think for a second she’s going to faint. And then she looks me dead in the face and says, That’s not mine.

No. That’s not what happens. It’d be funny, but it’s not the truth. The truth is she runs me out of that house. Not allowed to go back there and never want to. And I never see his mom—not until Owen dies years later.

When I learn of his death, I have this stupid idea to find a vibrator like his mom’s. Except now I don’t have to leave my house. I order one off Amazon, have it shipped in a few days.

I bring the vibrator to the funeral. I plan on leaving it in the casket if it’s open, or tossing it into the grave before they start with the dirt. But I see he’s been cremated. Nowhere to put this thing. So I sit in the church, listen to the eulogy with this vibrator in my jacket pocket.

Everyone says their goodbyes, gives prayers and best wishes, hugs one another, and leaves for the reception at his parents’ house. I stay behind, wait until the church is empty. I pull out the vibrator, trying to figure out where to leave it. Maybe I can put it in the urn, stick it in the ashes . . .

So I’m standing there with the vibrator in my hand, and I start crying. Not because he’s dead. But because I let him down. A part of me feels responsible for how far he took himself, how low he got. Did I bully him? Were things like this in good fun? Meaning: was he my joke? Even now I can’t help but think I’m using him to create this slightly amusing anecdote. A clown even in death.

I wish he could be right here, listening to this. And I could ask him these questions, see whether he feels the same. Or I could say, Dude, I can’t see a dildo without thinking of you.

He’d probably laugh. Or vomit.

As I turn to leave the church and join everyone at the reception, his mom’s there, standing at the exit, watching me. She sees the vibrator and rolls her eyes. I’m tempted to give it to her . . .

But instead I keep it, carry it with me everywhere.

So yeah.

Tex Gresham is the author of Heck, Texas (coming September 4, 2020 by Atlatl Press). His work has been published or is forthcoming in The Normal School, Hobart, F(r)iction, Back Patio Press, among other places. He currently studies screenwriting in Las Vegas, where he lives with his partner and kid. www.squeakypig.com