I really dislike bumper nuts—you know, those chrome or plastic imitation scrota designed to dangle beneath the rear end of a truck or SUV. If you have never seen these bizarre accessories, consider yourself lucky. (Someone who feels the need to drive an oversized vehicle and give it genitalia is clearly overcompensating for something.) You can look them up on the internet; if they seem appallingly tasteless on a web site, you should see them in traffic.
I do, however, owe a reluctant debt of parental gratitude to these insignia of insecurity, or at least to one in particular. While sitting at a red light, my children and I were admiring a souped-up sedan in the lane next to us. As the light turned and the car pulled away from us, my ten-year-old son spotted something large and shiny swinging below the rear bumper.
“What’s that hanging off the back?” he asked. I laughed to buy some time, took a deep breath, and answered, “Those are supposed to represent testicles.” Silence filled the car.
“You know what testicles are,” I prompted. A glance in the rear view mirror was not reassuring. Their faces wore expressions of mild puzzlement and deep suspicion. Oh, geez, I thought with dismay, I know we’ve talked about this stuff before! Trying not to appear flustered, I launched into what I hoped was a matter-of-fact description of testicles. After a few sentences, my seven-year-old daughter’s face brightened.
“Oh, you mean balls!” she exclaimed.
“Uh, yes,” I sputtered, caught off guard, then added weakly, “I didn’t realize you knew that term.” A chorus of “Duh!” from the back seat dissolved the tension, and I attempted to reclaim the intellectual high ground by emphasizing the correct medical terminology. That brought “weenie,” “boobs,” and “butt” into the conversation as further examples of slang terms for body parts.
Suddenly self-conscious about where his question had led, my ten-year-old slumped in his seat and buried his face in a large book. Never one to shy away from sensitive topics, his sister pressed on with all kinds of questions, and we had our most detailed sexual information talk to date. I swear I looked in the rear view mirror and saw my son’s ears appear around the edges of his book as he strained to hear every word. All my nervous preparation for a “teachable moment” just like this was finally paying off, and by the time we got home I felt like Supermom!
Call me ungrateful, but I still really dislike bumper nuts.