Author’s Note: If your mind leads you down the path of twisting tasteful innuendos and a dose of cleaver sophomoric humor – all with a relevant message! – into your own biased views of “inappropriateness,” skip this piece, as it requires maturity (and a semblance of empathetic humor), to read.

By Mark E. Smith

In my 41 years, I don’t recall anyone asking me that question. I mean, people have asked me a lot of blunt questions, but I don’t recall anyone asking me that. Maybe someone did along the way, and I’ve long forgot. However, I think I’d recall such a blunt question, especially about that.

I’ve had friends with disabilities tell me that they’ve been asked that question, but in my experience, my relationships always unfolded naturally, where when a woman truly got to know me, any questions or apprehension that she may have had toward that was put to rest, unsaid. And, I suppose that, logically, the fact that I have a teenage, biological daughter these days says it all.

But, this time seemed a first. Right in the middle of a bustling restaurant, over appetizers, stone sober, she just blurted it out while dipping cocktail shrimp in sauce: “So, can you have…?”

Without missing a beat, I leaned over mischievously, and said, “You mean right now, here?”

Surely, anyone who knows me knows that in acknowledging the seriousness of her question, I’m going to playfully address it with some humor and charm – and a gigantic dash of complete inappropriateness. At 19, I would have been embarrassed or offended by the question – my insecurities at that age would have certainly warranted a serious reaction. However, at 41, after – let me do the math – 23 years of doing that, the question was among the most hilarious that I could be asked. As a gentlemen, I would never dismiss or mock the woman for asking it – ask away! – but if one asks me such a question, you can bet that I will push the subject as far as my wit allows, admittedly for the sophomoric entertainment value.

“Maybe we should at least sneak into the bathroom,” I had to add, purposely going way too far, 0 to 100 in an instant, just to see her reaction.

“No, really, can you have…?” she asked again, leaning into me with an intent look that was …well …more creepy than flirtatious.

“Why do you want to know?” I asked, taking a sip of Coke. ”Are you testing the waters?”

“It’s just something I’ve been thinking about,” she said, dipping a shrimp in sauce, and feeding it to me. “These are good, aren’t they?”

Damn, she had me – I hate ambiguity! Was she thinking about that out of creepy curiosity, or was she thinking about that with me, specifically? Was she a creepy chick, or was she just into me? Wait! There was a third possibility: Was she a creepy chick who was into me? I’ve had enough creepy chicks into me – I want possibility number two, a chick who’s just into me!

“Do you remember Tone Loc, the rapper from back in the day?” I asked.

“Of course,” she replied, taking a sip of her water.

“Well, Baby, if you’ll be my queen, I’ll show you what I mean, doing the wild thing,” I said, destroying the lyrics to the song as I tried to rap them.

“You’re ridiculous,” she said, laughing.

“OK, let’s seriously think about this,” I said. “I have a 15-year-old daughter. I think that pretty much answers the question.”

“Really I wasn’t sure about it all,” she said, wiping her hands on her napkin.

“Heck, I can even show you how it works some time – it’s really not complicated,” I said, and she laughed, hitting me with her napkin. “If you’ve ever done it, you know it’s not rocket science. I saw on MTV that even teenage drop-outs do it – and have babies. Those silly teen moms….”

“I was just wondering, Jerk,” she said with a smile, going back to her shrimp.

We finished dinner, went to a dance club, and danced till 2:00am, and had a fantastic time. And, what I later learned was that her blunt question was based in very practical experience. She’d known of a married couple, where the husband was paralyzed to an extent that he could no longer naturally father children, so my friend attributed that to ruling out all possibilities. And, in a way, I think that her asking me the question so directly spoke a lot to her character, where even at such an early stage of our friendship, her honesty – and trust in me not to get offended – were really positive traits. (…Or, she’s just creepy, and my poor judgment in women continues!)

We went back to my house, and knowing that my daughter was at my sister’s house, I had every guy’s dilemma as we pulled into my garage: Should I call it a night, or use the sleaziest line ever, So, do you want to come in?

Nope, not my gig – I, of course, opted to call it a night. One, despite poor humor, I’m always going to honor my integrity after such a night, and keep all above board. And, secondly, why ruin the mystery for her? After all, as far as I know, she’s probably still trying to figure out exactly how that works – the wild thing.

Comments
  1. Matthew Peel says:

    Yeah… I’ve been asked that one many times and I’m only 22… I feel like some people ask out of a morbid curiosity and some just because they are considering you and want to know how it would affect future life.

  2. Carol Anne Cherry says:

    I just had to respond to this one. I have been asked a couple of times about if I was able to have sex but funny more people have asked my friends if I could “do it”. So I have actually given this quite a bit of thought. You know there is an element of noseyness here…I get that. But I also think people are asking the question because they really don’t know the answer. Sure it is a bit politically incorrect…well and a bit dumb given that I have three children…still there are people out there who are wondering for a variety of reasons. I decided to take matters in hand and address the issue publically. I am a poet and was giving a public reading and spoke of this issue. Let me tell you the audience was riveted. I explained that while I would not counsel anyone to randomly ask people with disabilities…or anyone for that matter if they could “do it”, I understood some legitimate curiousity and that there was an opportunity to learn something about each other. So I explained that we have the same feelings, wants, needs and desires as anyone does. Then I read several poems I had written on the subject that seemed to resonate with the audience. Several people came up to afterward and thanked me for my openness as they had considered a relationship with a person with a disability but were afraid to ask the question or to make assumptions and just opted to not do it. What a shame! Fear is a limiting thing and it is not only present in people with disabilities where relationships are concerned. So I say, if you are comfortable, why not answer some of these difficult questions. I know that night after the reading, a gentleman I spoke with asked a woman in a wheelchair for a date. I will leave you with one of the poems I read. Hopefully it is not too offensive to some.

    Hallelujah

    We move in time
    to anonymous four.

    Matching rhythm
    note for note.

    Building to the crescendo,
    of the hallelujah.

    When suddenly
    time fractures.

    Brilliant crystalline shards
    stream like rainbows.

    Now only gasping breaths
    and utter peace.

    Carol Anne Cherry

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