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The Horse Shit Bar Mitzvah

My mother sat between my brother and I,
insurance against public humiliation
resulting from fights over popcorn
or Sour Patch Kids.

“What did he just step in?”
I whispered in the darkness to my mom,
confused by the audience’s vocalized disgust.

My mother, cupping her hand 
to shield her words from prying ears
and perhaps my little brother,
replied “Horse shit.”
My semi-toothless mouth dropped open, 
at hearing this from a woman who only used 
more socially acceptable synonyms
like “poop,” “#2,” or “B.M.” 

Of course, my momentary discomfort faded
when I realized why she must 
have chosen to use it this time.

She was letting me know my time to be a man had arrived.
Ten years of growth had finally paid off,
and the door to manhood had been 
swung open for me by my mother.

What other explanation could there be?
She was initiating me into the world 
of curse words, R movies, Playboys, guns,
and whatever else resided purely in the adult domain.

Among the squinting moviegoers 
in the sunny parking lot outside the theater,
I decided to exercise my newly-appointed freedoms,
declaring, “Fuck, that was a good movie.”
I saw her hand coming, but falsely predicted it 
would be a playful smack on the ass between adults.
Instead, I knew my manhood theory must have been wrong 
as it came down on my “behind” with the fury 
of a woman horrified by a child’s dirty mouth.
Though I did note she didn’t ask the customary
“Where did you learn language like that?”

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