December 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Excerpted from Reflections of a Porch Sitter by Sandy Richardson


Everything I ever really needed to know, I learned on the front porch of my grandmama’s house.  Tucked just off the main thorough fare from New York to Miami, most afternoons and evenings were spent right there in rockers or gliders watching the cars go by and discussing life’s important issues—not the least of which was where babies come from. We went through the usual stories of the stork, the cabbage patch, and one time my granddaddy said babies grew in the swamps under cypress stumps.

But at age nine, my cousin Donna was convinced that babies were summoned to earth by lots of prayer, and being desperate to have a baby sister, she decided on a plan.  Donna and I, along with another friend, broke into the church, donned choir robes, and performed Donna’s version of a fertility ceremony.  She arranged and lit candles on the altar railing, then loudly begged God to send her a baby, after which she commanded our friend and me to dance in circles around the altar.

Dancing in circles caused dizziness.  Dizziness caused a stumbling, bumbling kind of walk, and stumbling and bumbling naturally led to candles being knocked over, wax spraying across the carpet, and burnt holes in the new church carpet.

We were in BIG trouble.

After hysterical crying and excuses on our part, mama and my aunt got the church cleaned up and arranged for the carpet to be repaired. But afterwards on the front porch, my mama asked us, “What in the world possessed you girls to do this?”

“I want a baby, and Mama says she’s not ever having any more babies, but I want one, so that’s why we did it,” my cousin answered with a glare sliding sideways toward my aunt.  She then went on to explain how she had come to have this crazy ritual idea in the first place.  It seems she’d been reading some very different kinds of books on spells and rituals in the ancient world.

Good Methodists that they were, both adults turned slightly pale, and that’s when they decided it was time we knew the real facts about where babies come from.

Mama, rocking nervously in an old wooden rocker, explained to us that when a man and woman fell in love and got married, the man would fertilize the woman’s egg, and nine months later, there’d be a little baby.

Now, growing up in the country as I did, I knew a lot about chickens, eggs, and fertilizer, but I just couldn’t imagine how all this related to a man and woman having a baby.  But Donna promptly decided that it happened orally.

“You mean the woman eats a chicken egg, and the man feeds her some fertilizer to make it grow?”

There were stifled giggles coming from mama’s end of the porch, and my aunt looked furtively around avoiding eye contact with everyone.

“No, the man uses his penis to fertilize the woman’s eggs, not chicken eggs.” Mama was choking on her words.

Donna’s eyes filled up her face. She swallowed loud.

“You mean he puts his penis in her MOUTH?”

My aunt left the porch.  Mama bent over to search for something underneath the rocker.  I was lost.

Finally Mama straightened back up and looking just above our heads, she said,

“No, not in the mouth…(tee, hee, hee) .  In her privates, you know,

‘down there.’ ” She waved her hands around that general vicinity.

And just like the proverbial light going off in a cartoon characters head, Donna

ended the conversation with a satisfied nod and one quick observation.

“Uh-huh.  I see.  I always knew THAT was down there for something besides going to the bathroom.”

Mama left the porch.

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