One of Thing Two’s favorite things in the world is Star Wars. This should surprise exactly no one, since Thing Two is 8 and male and lives on Earth. Nothing could be more normal than a few year obsession with George Lucas’ sextuplet*. Because Thing Two is autistic (mildly so, and someday, I’ll have to write much, much more on this topic) he becomes more obsessed with elements or ideas than a normal eight-year old. Because the universe of Star Wars is so complete and specific and well-defined, he has had ample opportunity to pick and choose for his interludes of obsession. Thus, I’ve heard all about pod racers, and the ways in which they may function, to the extent that I could win over any Lucas Arts intern in a flat second. Also, my geeky girl glasses would be a big plus.
Thing Two’s element du jour is the lightsaber and, in particular, the ways in which a true Jedi uses the weapon. He has his own lightsaber—perhaps the best $6.99 I’ve ever spent—and he plays with it daily, though he would term it “practicing” not “playing.” He makes sound effects. He spins in the air, whirls the lightsaber around, and says things like “You don’t know the power of the Dark Side.” If we are at the park, and he gets bored with the play structures, he’ll find a long stick, something resembling the Jedi weapon, and use that. He plays Lego Star Wars I and II on occasion, and he’ll pause the game during a particularly acrobatic move, yelling for me to come see. Always, there is some small character frozen in mid-air and brandishing a lightsaber. There’s a lovely composition to the scene—something graceful in it, even though it’s a video game, and it makes me understand why Thing Two loves this part of the Star Wars world so.
Last week, Thing Two lost the privilege of the lightsaber. He had knocked over a table lamp, firstly, and then, secondly, hit one of his sisters. On purpose. The sister in question screamed and a welt resulted. Thus, the lightsaber was removed from his hands and placed in one of my many bedroom shelves. A word on our house: it’s old and funky, a rental that we’ve managed to find our way into that is simply too wonderful to be a rental. It’s a 50s house, long and narrow, with a huge kitchen tiled in green and white checkerboard. The cupboards have the original silver knobs—which are huge and remind me of satellite dishes—and all kinds of kitschy architectural details (like the sea foam green toilet and matching tub). My bedroom is huge, with a corner window set looking out to the backyard and an entire wall of built in cabinets, shelves, closets and nesting drawers. When one of the kids loses a toy or item, that’s where it goes: to Mom’s closets, to a short middle shelf, amid sweaters. This is where the lightsaber was, and would be for the next 24 hours.
As one might expect, many other items find themselves stored in the small spaces of my closets. A handful of old diaries. Old pairs of jeans. A bulletin board papered in rejection letters and post cards.
And my vibrator.
Yes, my vibrator. I’d never owned when I was married, and when friends suggested I get one post-divorce, I scoffed at them. Sure, they were all bright, wonderful women who claimed such devices were essential to the single life, but I had misgivings. One, I thought there was no way a vibrator could replace the real thing, and two, good, high quality vibrators were spendy, and it seemed like a supreme act of narcissism to throw down good money on a sex toy. I’m not a prude; I just couldn’t jive with the whole “and now I shall buy an electronic device made entirely to make me orgasm.” Call me old fashioned, but I wanted dinner and a movie first. Or, at least, a wink across the bar at 1:56 a.m.
I relented when my Bevy of Gay Men friends insisted I’d be happier, or “more content and less bitchy,” as they put it, if I bought (and used) one. And when I realized that all the dating I was doing was producing less and less desirable results. And, in this case “desirable results” is equal to “people I cannot sleep with unless I plan on showering immediately afterward. With boiling water.”
So, I plunked down my hard earned money for a lovely Rabbit. It came, I opened it, and the rest is, how shall we say, blissful history.
Of course, I keep the vibrator in one of those same shelves—the top one—covered by old jeans. I chose that spot because it was not on eye-level with any of the Things. Initially, I kept it in the box and covered it with clothing, but maybe I was lulled into a false sense of security with its hiding place. The kids had never found it, didn’t ever even poke around in that shelf, and at some point I forgot to put it in the box and completely bury it each time I put it away.
Oh Reader, you know what is going to happen, don’t you?
It’s Thursday, and I’m in the kitchen cleaning blueberries. We’ve gone to a farm outside town and spent hours in the sun, picking the berries, talking, giggling, catching snakes and dragonflies. Now we’re tired and sore. Thing One is outside on the phone, stretched out on a patio chair. Thing Three is helping me with the berries. Thing Two is listless when he remembers, suddenly, that he gets his lightsaber back today. He runs into my room to pull it out of its spot. I hear my chair slide across the floor as he pulls it over to the closet.
In the kitchen, I go to the sink and rinse another colander of blueberries. And behind me, there is a noise, the sound of Thing Two imitating the electric clash of the lightsaber.
And then he says, “Mom, I didn’t know you had a lightsaber, too.”
I turn around. There, in the kitchen, Thing Two is holding my vibrator. He’s holding it in both hands, like a sword. And he’s swinging it around. And making crashing noises. And jumping. He is, essentially, fencing with a giant purple penis.
Normally, I would be able to react in a time of parental crisis, but this time, I freeze. One reason is that this “lightsaber” cost a lot of money, and I don’t want it broken. But the other reason is that my 8-year old son is holding my vibrator and treating it like something from a George Lucas gift shop. I am paralyzed. My sex life has, somehow, inexplicably, collided with Star Wars.
Thing Two stops suddenly. “Hey look, there are buttons!” he says. He turns one. The penis starts rotating. “Hey, no fair! Yours moves!”
This, thank the deity of your choosing, makes me finally capable of movement. It also makes me capable of vocalizations, because I let out a tiny scream. It does not, however, make me capable of speech, because when I pull the vibrator out of his hands, Thing Two asks “why can’t I play with it?” and no acceptable response comes to mind**
“Why can’t I have a purple lightsaber?” he asks. I’m already in my room, looking for a good place to hide the thing, somewhere none of the kids will think to look. I look around the room, frantically. Where can I store this damn thing I think. Because now it’s become an item of some interest—a goddamn purple lightsaber. Thing Two will be searching for this vibrator for weeks and if I don’t hide it well this whole scene could be repeated with bigger consequences.
Then it hits me: the tax drawer. I open the filing cabinet, part the years 2005 and 2006, and shove the purple penis in the middle. I slide the drawer shut and when Thing Two comes in, he is none the wiser.
Later, at dinner, Thing Two says “I just don’t know where anyone could get a purple lightsaber. I didn’t even know they made them.” Thing One looks at her brother, then me. “What is he talking about?” she asks.
“I have no idea,” I say.
*What is the correct equivalent of "triology" here? I swear to you, this is the closest thing I could find, but I'm cursing Mirriam and Webster.
**When I texted my good friend Badfreak a (much) shorter version of this story, he texted back “Did you tell Thing Two not to talk about his new father like that?” I nearly wrecked the car.