NSFW Mad Libs

(AKA: Sometimes pre-teen girls are just the worst.)


Jaws-movie-poster

“Name a noun.”

“Pussy,” said Sue.

I glanced up from the page, my pen poised to scribble down the response.

“Huh? What’s a pussy?”

Sue barked a laugh, her upper lip pulled into a slight sneer. “Don’t you know?”

I crinkled my eyes in puzzlement, and Sue laughed again, louder this time. I heard a few accompanying titters from around the room.

“How do you spell it?”

“P-U-S-S-Y.” I wrote it down, unsure about the tone in Sue’s voice. I had never met her before today, and she seemed to have it in for me.

“Name a verb, ending in –ing.”

“Pussying,” Sue responded.

I sighed in exasperation. “You can’t just say the same word twice. And I said it has to be a verb.”

Laughter filled the room — a braver, louder sound than before.

“Just write it down,” Sue said. “Pussying.”

“I don’t get it. Why is that funny?” More laughter. I decided to muster on.

“Color?” “Pussy!” “Emotion?” “Pussy!” “Adjective?” “Pussy!”

Girls all across the room were calling out the strange word now.

I could feel my cheeks getting hot, and I stopped looking up. It must be something dirty. And I’m prob’ly ‘sposed to know what it means.

Still, I wrote down each repetition from Linda’s friends. They all lived here in East Hartford, all went to school together, and all went to each other’s birthday parties. I only knew Linda, my best friend from last summer’s summer camp. Once a month or so my mom would drive me over from West Hartford, or her mom would bring her to my house. It felt like a very long way to drive. I had never been to a party at her house before.

Finally, I had to read the completed Mad Lib aloud. “It was during the Battle of pussy, and my army was pussying to the field. We carried our pussy flag with pride — ”

The room dissolved into raucous snickering. Jaw set, I refused to keep reading. Someone else took the booklet and finished the read-aloud, while I sat on the nubby brown sofa, arms crossed tight against my chest, and scowled fiercely at the shag carpet. I did not look over at Sue, perched in the plaid La-Z-Boy recliner that we could only use when Linda’s dad was out of the house. I thought I could feel her staring triumphantly.

Linda’s mother called us into the kitchen, to a yellow slab cake decorated with gritty-sweet frosting and eleven candles. As Linda closed her eyes, opened them, and with a silent wish blew the candles out, I wished that I could be transported immediately home. Or that the linoleum floor would split beneath Sue’s feet and swallow her whole. Not even the careful scoop of vanilla ice cream on my plastic pink plate eased the pain in my chest.

Pussy,” I felt certain, must be some kind of sex word, though it wasn’t one of the ones Linda had told me about before. She learned them from her brother Bob, a sullen teenager who tinkered outside under the hood of a car during my visits, when he wasn’t able to go somewhere else entirely.

The last Bob-word Linda had taught me was “humping.” It was during a sleep-over. We had just finished giggling under the tented covers and turned, each to our own side of the bed, to snuggle in. My butt touched hers.

“Hey! Stop humping me!”

I rolled back over. “What?”

“When your butts touch like that, it’s called humping. And it’s bad. Bob says don’t do it.”

We rolled to our respective sides again, backsides carefully separate this time, and I thought about Bob. I thought about his room, with the unraveling curtains he fixed himself by stapling the hem and about the Farrah Fawcett poster he had on his wall, her hair perfectly flipped and her teeth impossibly big and white. Bob had pierced his poster with pushpins where Farah’s nipples would have been, which made me feel uneasy to look at. I was sure “pussy” was a word Bob knew.

If we had been by ourselves, I would have asked Linda what it meant. Today she had laughed with the others. I glowered at her over my melting ice cream.

After cake and presents, we changed into our bathing suits for the above-ground pool in Linda’s backyard. I clung to the vinyl edge and wondered how long before my mother came to get me.

“Puuuuussy…” Sue began to croon at me softly. “Puuuuuussy…”

The other girls, none of whose names I remembered, giggled, then began to join in. Quietly, so no grown-ups would hear.

Puuussy…Puuuuuussy…

I gulped air and sank to the bottom of the pool. Once there, I turned to look up at the dangling legs splashing and kicking above me.

I thought about the movie Jaws. I thought about a giant shark, rising suddenly from the bottom of the pool and snapping at those legs, drawing each girl down, one by one, to her watery doom, starting with Sue.

I thought about just staying down there until I ran out of air.

When my mom finally did come, and I slid into the shotgun seat of the Volkswagon Rabbit, clothes clinging to my still-damp suit, I said nothing. Chlorine eyes have the same itchy, bloodshot look as eyes holding back tears.

“Was it a good party? Did you have fun?” she asked.

“. . . It was okay.”

I sat in silence as my mother drove us home.


Jaws movie poster via Jaws Wiki

13 thoughts on “NSFW Mad Libs

  1. When I was in Mrs. Froamings fourth grade class, two boys Christopher and Daniel were talking about blow jobs. I had a huge crush on Christopher and with my poets heart I always sort of followed him around. I was intrigued. What is a blow job I asked? They both started laughing at me the way boys do when they are condescending. We won’t tell you they said.
    I said fine I will just ask Mrs. Froaming.

    I did.

    She gasped and gaped at me in shock and horror.

    She said, “You will have to ask your mother about that word. Where on earth did you here it.”

    To which I pointed to the boys watching my every move and responded, “Christopher and Daniel.”

    Like

    1. Gotta wonder if either Christopher or Daniel actually knew what a “blow job” was themselves — or just that it was a term to use for embarrassing girls!

      Like

  2. Well this evoked memories, although vague ones, of this sort of awful, pre-teen taunting from my childhood. It’s been long enough that the words themselves have faded and muddled themselves into a chaotic image I can label: Every-stupid-SEX-word-I-never-knew-had-anything-to-do-with-THAT-STUFF. The feelings of shame, exclusion, and embarrassment though are still clear and sharp.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I read/remember stories like this, I comfort myself by thinking Sue never left East Hartford. She finished high school but didn’t attend college. She smokes a pack and a half a day and looks like she’s 60. She works the check-out at the local hardware store, has three kids by three different men, having had the first at age 20, and she’s missing teeth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah yes, the joy of fantasizing life prospects of our former bullies… 😉

      Me, I wonder about the power dynamics of knowing/not knowing–and how often sex and ignorance (sexual ignorance = double whammy) get deployed as weapons and as instruments of shaming. And also: how many of the girls that day (*including* Sue) actually knew the word themselves?

      Liked by 1 person

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