I was asleep, as most people are at 3 a.m., when my husband shook my shoulder to wake me up. “What the hell is this?” he demanded, practically shoving my phone under my nose. Having been unconscious just half a second before, my reply was perhaps not as pleasant as it could have been as I replied something to the effect of, “What the hell are you talking about and why am I awake right now?”
That was the beginning of the most awkward thirteen hours of my adult life.
What he was showing me was one of those dating-but-really-let’s-just-meet-for-sex hookup sites he’d found in my phone’s browser history, and to say he was not happy about this discovery would be an understatement.
My husband and I are in mutual agreement about how we spend our solo sexy time, and one of those agreements is that sites specifically like this are off limits. He respects that, and I do, too, so this glaring violation was a problem. For me, especially, because I was getting the ass end of some righteous anger, but I hadn’t done this thing over which I was currently getting glared at with the WTAF eyes.
“Why was your husband snooping through your phone?” Well, he wasn’t snooping, although I don’t mind if he does. He was specifically looking through the history for a link to a site he’d lost. He browses on my phone often because mine is bigger and better than his.
“Why was it on your phone if you weren’t visiting that site?” Now that’s is the $64,000 question, isn’t it?
After much sleuthing through my phone, his phone, my laptop, and our PC, we determined that it wasn’t actually my phone. It was the shared/synced browser history. Which meant it could have been any device in the house. And that’s where things got strange.
I pulled the site back up and enlarged the photo on the profile at the link. There was no face, just a photo of someone’s genitals. Someone male. Someone who was apparently in our guest bathroom, judging from the background. Someone who was most definitely not my husband.
Are you guys following me right now? I need to make sure you’re with me on this journey.
At just before 4 a.m. on a random Tuesday morning, I was standing in my living room looking at a photo of my teenage son’s penis on the Internet.
The profile didn’t have a real name on it, just a screen name I won’t embarrass anyone by repeating, a location (which thankfully turned out not to be our actual town, because my IP pings elsewhere, thank God), and an age listed as 18.
My son is NOT 18. He’s 17. A minor. With a dick pic out there on the Internet forever. Probably more than one. And several messages from interested parties who would love to see it up close and in person.
Jesus Christ on a cracker.
After reassuring ourselves that neither of us were seeking our satisfaction elsewhere, we were pretty much spent, and mutually agreed we were going to go to bed and we’d take this up with my son later the next evening. But be clear when I say “we” I mean “me,” because my husband wasn’t going to touch that conversation with a ten foot pole.
I couldn’t sleep. I laid in bed and thought of how I just saw my son’s penis, all the ways in which this upcoming conversation could go, how I saw my son’s penis, how I should present myself in this convo in order to be understanding but effective and informative, how I saw my son’s penis, what I should say, how I saw my son’s penis, what I should not say, how I could have lived for the rest of my entire fucking life without seeing my son’s erect fucking penis, what points I should bring up to impress how problematic this situation was, and how I never want to see my son’s penis ever again.
I didn’t say a word about it as I sent the kids off to school the next morning, but I then spent a fitful day at a loss. I couldn’t really concentrate on anything other than how much I did not want to have this conversation and how much I desperately needed to have this conversation and how badly I needed to make sure it was a good one that would stick. We’d talked about porn before, but I hadn’t thought to bring anything like this to the table. It just wasn’t on my radar until that day.
After eight agonizing hours, they finally got home from school, and I sent the youngest to his room with a snack. I sat my son down on the couch with a “We need to talk” and we went over what had happened. I allowed him the luxury of lying to my face about doing it just because he was bored while pretending to believe that, and then we got real and discussed underage naked photos, safe sex, hookups with strangers, internet dangers, and his rapidly diminishing WiFi privileges.
It was a good talk. It was awkward AF, but it was a good talk.
He’s a good kid that makes dumb choices sometimes. But in a few short months, he’ll be 18 and off to conquer the world on his own.
It’s my job to make sure he’s ready to do that without me. I accept and embrace that responsibility. I just don’t remember shit like this being covered in my instruction manual.
And I’m still haunted by that damn image.