I was reading the Chicago Sun-Times. Mayor Richard J. Daley was promising one t'ing en dat was dis: if dem protesters show up at my kinvention dey're gun meet wit brute force. Me and my friends were all going. It was then that I heard the thick-thick-thick of my mother's slippers coming up the basement stairs, her steps angry and determined -- she found my pot! "What's this?"
She's holding a large jar of Vaseline. It's mine. "What IS THIS?"
I knew what it was but not what she meant. And thus she knew — she knew she knew, which is the worst kind of unknowing.
Unforgiving then and now, she turned and stomped upstairs, leaving me to blink for 30 years.
Of course, I quickly explained the purpose of the large jar of Vaseline, which was to condition the surface of modeling clay to accept skin textures for the double-mold plaster casts I was making — plus it was a good release medium for foamed latex mask parts, and plus it conditioned the rubber to accept makeup. I was an artist in art school. I made stuff. And I had absolutely no idea what would cause my mother to become crazy at the thought of Vaseline.
So I talked with my friends and they all agreed: it must be something sexual. Sexual? was my only response, because sex, like farting, was something my mother had never done.
Her response to my apology, by the way, was "Yeah yeah yeah," and later, "Ok ok ok," and finally, "All right already!" and it was spoken of no more.
It took me years to realize that clearly my mother had discovered I was using lubrication for sex, which was laughable but gross since Vaseline was something you put on your butt, and besides, all the girls I was having sex with hardly needed lubrication.