Whenever my family visited Grandma Willis’ house, I chose to hang out with Grandma and Mom instead of my younger sisters and assorted cousins. Apparently, my status as the oldest grandchild made this scenario acceptable. I usually sat quietly, with my mouth shut and my ears wide open, as Mom and Grandma talked and laughed. Their stories were much more interesting than anything my peer group had to say.
One day, when I was about eleven years old, the conversation turned to the subject of masturbation, a word that was new to me. I had no idea what they were talking about, but it sounded naughty, so I paid attention. Then Mom started telling G. about something my Dad had told her, which involved me. He told her that he had seen me taking a bath and had noticed that my inner labia protruded. That indicated to him that I masturbated, and he was shocked and horrified. Mom, of course, thought that idea was not only preposterous, but also very funny. Zelda would never do anything like that! So she and Grandma were laughing about how silly and amusing it was that Daddy would think that about me. Of course, I laughed along with them, since I wanted to seem like one of the girls. Then I asked Mom, “What does ‘masturbate’ mean?”
She turned to me, with a slight frown, and said, “It means to play with yourself.”
At that point, I must have turned bright red, and her frown grew fearsome as she said, “You don’t, do you?”
“No, no, never, uh-uh.” I felt like my face was going to melt off of my skull.
Grandma kept quiet as Mom continued to give me the evil eye, but with no more to go on, she changed the subject and pretty soon we were all laughing again, about something else my funny Daddy had said or done.