The History of the (Whole) World

my progress as I write, revise, send to my editor, re-revise, fact-check, galley-read, and promote my books, including (but not limited to) a multi-volume history of the world. While living on a farm, educating my kids, and teaching. And doing a few other things too.

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One of those conversations…

April 6th, 2010 by Susan

Yesterday I took my mother and my daughter shopping. Ladies’ morning out: new bathing suit for daughter, conference clothes for Grammy and me, ice cream. We’re sitting on the bench outside Baskin-Robbins, licking our ice cream cones thoughtfully, when Emily asks, in a very loud voice, “What’s a prostitute?”

Now, although we’ve had a basic version of what a friend of mine calls The Plumbing Talk, I don’t think that her understanding is going to stretch to encompass a complete answer to this question. Plus, if I were going to give a complete answer to this question, it wouldn’t be in Colonial Williamsburg, on the bench outside Baskin-Robbins surrounded by tourists and their children on spring break. Oh, and my mother.

Me: (stalling slightly, but also genuinely curious) Where did you hear about…that?

Emily: It was in my audiobook.

(Mother’s eyebrows rise. I think to myself that I must check and see what she’s listening to these days, since it clearly isn’t Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm. Of course, it’ll probably turn out to be the Old Testament.)

Me: Well. Ah. When two people are married, they keep each other company. You know, so they won’t be lonely.

Emily: (unimpressed) Yeah.

Me: So some men don’t have a wife to keep them company. And they can’t find a wife because they, er–

(I’m thinking, “Lack the capacity to form real human relationships.” Paraphrase, paraphrase.)

Me: –er, don’t really want to keep someone else company. They don’t want to be lonely, but they’re selfish. They don’t want to put any effort into having a real wife, they just want company sometimes. When it’s convenient for them.

(This is turning into a long explanation. Emily has gone back to the ice cream cone. Not sure she’s listening any more. Mother is, though.)

Me: So they pay someone to keep them company.

(Emily looks unshocked. I guess that sounds like a pretty rational solution.)

Me: Which is BAD. Very, very, bad.

Emily: Can I suck the ice cream out of the bottom of my cone?

You know, I’m supposed to be a writer and good with things like, you know, words.

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