V is for well, this is kind of awkward...
I was at work yesterday at the bookstore, throwing down the kind of high quality customer service that helps me pocket an enviable 25 cent raises every review period, when I spied a pair of young boys scanning the shelves. With lightening speed, I closed in on them and offered my assistance. The older boy, who fell somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12, asked for several titles, and my quest to find them began. While checking inventory and searching the children's department, I made the kind of small talk that results in the usual grunts and monosyllabic declarations I've come to expect from young boys, but I didn't let that discourage me. Eye on the 25 cent prize, friends! Armed with several books, I turned back to the boy to hand them to him when I noticed a large white bumper sticker-style sticker with a heart and large red letters slapped across his chest.
"Huh," I thought, my eyes quickly flitting over the sticker. "This young boy's love for Virginia is so great he felt it necessary to share that with the world by means of a large sticker on the front of his shirt."
Now, I know Virginia is for lovers, but this seemed an unusual declaration for such a young boy, so I took another quick peek.
"Oh! Angina! It appears this young boy 'hearts' angina!"
If Virginia confused me, you can imagine how odd I thought it was that a boy between the ages of 10 and 12 would be a fan of a chest pain that may be a symptom of coronary heart disease, but what do I know. I'm old enough to actually HAVE an angina, so I'm probably not hip to all the cool happenin' scenes kids are into these days.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I stepped closer to the boy to better hear him spell a word in the title of a book I'd never heard of and was able to get a closer look at his giant bumper sticker. Suddenly, I felt like I was in a classic episode of The Electric Company with Morgan Freeman. Do you remember the silhouette blends they'd do on that show to teach the parts of speech? No? Well, here's a reminder for you.
As my eyes locked upon the sticker, one half of my brain said "va," the other half said "gina" and the two came together to say "vagina."
The kid's giant sticker slapped upon the front of his shirt didn't read "I 'heart' Virginia!" nor did it read "I 'heart' Angina!" It declared for all the world that this young boy who fell somewhere between the ages of 10 and 12, hearts vagina.
"I 'heart' Vagina!"
Listen, I'm no Nellie Olsen. I'm nobody's idea of a prude. Truth be told, I, too, heart vagina. So, so much! In fact, I might possibly be one of vagina's biggest fans! Why, if vagina had a fan club, I'd sign up for the exclusive membership just so I could have the official t-shirt, autographed photo, and special members-only holiday message I'd listen to while penning some sweet vagina fan fiction I'd keep tucked away in my Trapper Keeper. Here's the rub, though. I'd probably only wear that t-shirt when I was at home. Alone. I'd not even wear it out to grab a gallon of milk if all my other clothes were filthy, and I definitely wouldn't let me sons, who fall between the ages of 8 and 12, borrow it. Ever. And if I had daughters, they'd not leave the house wearing a sticker that declared their love for vagina's more extroverted friend, the penis. Seriously, would any of us? Because that's what I've been wondering all day since encountering this kid.
"No worries!" you might be saying. "You're not this kid's mother, so don't dwell on it!" Good point. In fact, I could take a cue from the kid's mother, who, oh, yes, was also present and was sucked back toward the boys and I by the vacuum created in the atmosphere when my jaw dropped to the ground after reading the sticker. I looked to her. Then I looked to the sticker. Then I looked back to her, and back to the sticker, my mind racing with silent 'mom speak,' hoping she'd pick up on my silent question. "Hey, do you realize your kid has a love letter to the secret garden pinned to his chest?" and she'd say something, like "Oh, that? I know, but kids, huh! What are you going to do?"
She apparently had no issue with her son's declaration of love, and that's fine, really. Parenting is hard enough without taking on all the battles, but I wonder what you'd think. Everyone I've mentioned this to today expressed a variety of opinions. My own 12 year old son told me he didn't think it was cool, which means I don't have to worry about him stealing my imaginary fan club t-shirt (it's one of those sweet baseball-style ones, too, with the word 'vagina' spelled out in glittery rainbow decal letters, by the way), but how about you?