I wasn't very smart when I was a kid.
Sure, I may have figured out sex on my own, but I was the kid that thought for a long time that the lady at the bank drive-thru always sounded like she was a robot (instead of it just being a poor intercom system), and that the fleshy sac between my legs was a reservoir for urine (instead of for another bodily fluid). I've learned a lot in the passing years and have long since wrote most of that stuff off, but there are some times when a memory surfaces and I shake my head in disbelief. Let's just say that it lends credence to those pictures my parents have of me at various ages with bruises and cuts on my head.
I must have been around five years old when my dad taught me how to properly use my underwear.
According to my parents, I was a little bit behind in being successfully potty trained, and I finally kicked the diaper habit when I was five. I graduated to briefs, ones that had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Spider-man on them. I have a vague memory of being excited to wear them, my budding geek mind thinking that they might give me super powers of my own. They never did lend to me any special abilities, but that's probably because I didn't use them properly at first.
Whenever I had to go to the bathroom, I'd walk up to the toilet, lift the seat, tuck my shirt up under my chin, and drop my pants. I'd then pull my underwear completely down, joining my pants piled around my ankles. There I'd stand, bare-assed and assuming the position, ready to urinate freely. Towards the end, to make sure I didn't dribble on my clothes, I'd lean forward with my groin so that the toilet bowl caught the last few drops. A few perfunctory shakes, and then up with the underwear and pants.
I'm not sure how long this went on before my dad pulled me aside. I had just finished peeing and washing my hands, and my dad knocked on the bathroom door.
"Can I come in?"
"Yeah, Dad," I said.
He opened the door and came into the bathroom, closing the door behind him. He sat on the edge of the tub and placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Want to know something neat?" he said. I nodded my head, always eager to learn from my father. "There's something really cool about underwear."
"Underwear?" I asked, confused. I couldn't think of one neat thing about underwear.
"Yeah. On the front of your underwear, there's this little cloth flap. You know what I'm talking about?" he asked, speaking slowly.
I nodded. I had always wondered what it was there for.
"Well, instead of pulling your underwear completely down when you have to pee, you can pull the flaps apart and... pull out Mini Mike. That way you don't have to be just about naked to pee."
"Oh," I said, and looked down at my feet. I suddenly felt a little silly for not picking up on that on my own. It made a whole lot more sense than what I had been doing.
"Hey, there," my Dad said encouragingly. I looked up at him, and he squeezed my shoulder. "It's alright. My dad had to tell me about that, too."
Few life lessons have been that easy to learn, but I'm glad I learned it, and I'm sure the general public is glad, too. These days, people would get the wrong idea about a guy standing bare-assed at a public urinal. I mean, just look at what happened to George Michael.